Tag Archives: business

Doing Business 101

Excellent, lengthy presentation from Mike_FTW about doing business as a freelancer designer (via Zeldman). This applies to any field, especially startups. I am not a lawyer, nothing here is legal advice.

2011/03 Mike Monteiro | F*ck You. Pay Me. from SanFrancisco/CreativeMornings on Vimeo.


Get a contract in place before you perform any work that is reviewed by your own lawyer. Contracts are in place to benefit both parties and remove uncertainty.

Management Philosophy

A couple pieces on business management (via HN).

Matthew Stewart, founder of a consulting firm that eventually grew to 600 employees, cuts to the heart of management theory:

Between them, Taylor and Mayo carved up the world of management theory. According to my scientific sampling, you can save yourself from reading about 99 percent of all the management literature once you master this dialectic between rationalists and humanists. The Taylorite rationalist says: Be efficient! The Mayo-ist humanist replies: Hey, these are people we’re talking about!

For any given management theory, the support is from numbers (where Stewart mentions, “[pacifying] recalcitrant data with entirely confected numbers“) or emotions (where Stewart says, “And who would want to take a stand against creativity, freedom, empowerment, and—yes, let’s call it by its name—love?“).

Ben Horowitz, CEO of Opsware (acquired by HP in 2007), describes the difference between peace and wartime CEOs:

Peacetime in business means those times when a company has a large advantage vs. the competition in its core market, and its market is growing. In times of peace, the company can focus on expanding the market and reinforcing the company’s strengths.

In wartime, a company is fending off an imminent existential threat. Such a threat can come from a wide range of sources including competition, dramatic macro economic change, market change, supply chain change, and so forth.

The piece goes over the top in describing the difference in thinking of peace VS war CEOs. That said, it does a great job of explaining that different CEO roles are needed when a company is looking for the right product/market fit (aka a viable business plan) VS growing their market share.

Real Entrepreneurs Get it Done

Consider this post the TL;DR of this great Inc article by Leigh Buchanan. The article itself picks insights from a University of Virginia study by Saras Sarasvathy of 45 serial entrepreneurs.

There are two extremes of successful business people illustrated by the study:

“Sarasvathy likes to compare expert entrepreneurs to Iron Chefs: at their best when presented with an assortment of motley ingredients and challenged to whip up whatever dish expediency and imagination suggest. Corporate leaders, by contrast, decide they are going to make Swedish meatballs. They then proceed to shop, measure, mix, and cook Swedish meatballs in the most efficient, cost-effective manner possible.”

This illustrates the difference between successful entrepreneurs (think scrappy startups) and successful business people (think MBAs). Going with the flow VS sticking to a plan.

Entrepreneurs prefer lean start ups:

“Rather than meticulously segment customers according to potential return, they itch to get to market as quickly and cheaply as possible, a principle Sarasvathy calls affordable loss.”

As long as they iterate fast and bootstrap, the cost of failure is time lost. Even then, valuable lessons are learned.

Your first customers are much more valuable than investors:

“Sarasvathy says expert entrepreneurs have learned the hard way that ‘having even one real customer on board with you is better than knowing in a hands-off way 10 things about a thousand customers.'”

This makes sense when you think about it. A customer is someone who has a demand for your product. Investors can help you scale or network, but they can’t prove the market as well as a legitimate customer does.

Entrepreneurs don’t worry about competition since they don’t see themselves competing directly:

“Entrepreneurs fret less about competitors, Sarasvathy explains, because they see themselves not in the thick of a market but on the fringe of one, or as creating a new market entirely.”

As this relates to online startups, don’t worry about the existing competition since your product won’t be the same. Ask any entrepreneur and they will tell you why their product/service is different and will revolutionize the space.

The whole article is a great read as it takes advantage of many successful entrepreneurs. Sites like Mixergy profile one person at a time, whereas this article draws upon business leaders in aggregate.