Archive for January, 2011

Be as cranky as you want to be

This artificial America of high self esteem, low performance, and religious pomposity  places a premium on proper attitude. Our lives and our health are the result of fate and a divine force if good and self-indulgence and neglect if not. Well, turns out your cells and bugs really don’t care what you believe or think in A Fighting Spirit Won’t Save Your Life.

So be as cranky as you want to be, whether you’re healthy, sick, or even dying.  But it’s still always a good idea to be fit, eat right, and call your mother at least once a week.

I’m not that kind of fella

“Should You Have To Pay To Have Lunch With ME?” That’s Jason Alba’s question below.

I am in the same position as Jason.   It’s a great networking challenge.  And it’s just like dating.  People want to advance to home plate and take advantage of you without first touching all the bases.  I’m just NOT that kind of fella.

I agree to meet in the rare case where I can clearly get something out of it, such as the other party is a heavy hitter or a prospective client.

Otherwise a meeting is an interim, not the first, step.  It’s just like sending a networking introduction.  The initiator must cultivate and not force the relationship, which respect both parties’ time.   There are issues and questions that need to be addressed:

  • Is the initiator showing genuine interest by understanding me, showing common interests, writing a custom personal email and not a form letter, and flattering my zaftig shape in that sexy pink polka dot dress?
  • How exactly can I help him?
  • What do I get out of it?
  • Can I point him to other resources like my LinkedIn wiki?

I don’t put out on the first request.  I’ll start with an email exchange, advance to a phone call, and THEN meet if there is mutual interest.  I’m really not playing hard to get.  I’m building a relationship.

Otherwise if they just want to meet and use you, I agree with Jason.  I invite the other party to come to one of our DallasBlue events where he or she can meet me.  And I can be all his or hers if they want …  for the price of my consulting fee.

Marc

——– Original Message ——–

From: Jason Alba

Check out this post where I tell people why I can’t go to lunch for them unless they pay my hourly rate:

Sound crazy?  Perhaps it is.  But read the 30ish comments and then decide.
And yes, I tend to go off on people who ignorantly leave lame/mean comments … I’m really trying to get better at controlling my keyboard :p

Jason Alba
::  http://JibberJobber.com – Organize your Job Search
::  http://LinkedInForJobSeekers.com – DVD
::  DVD bundle: http://JibberJobber.com/specials
::  http://twitter.com/JasonAlba
::  Review my third book? http://ow.ly/1WhqM
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Free fone for all

I wrote about Google Voice in Free US long distance for more people.  It’s come in rather handy at the moment as I just lost my phone.  I’m suffering smartphone withdrawal while its replacement is on the way.  But my clients don’t have a clue.  All their calls come to me like normal.  It took me a whopping 30 seconds to switch my Google Voice number from my AWOL Blackberry to my office landline.

There are now numerous free calling options from Google Voice to Skype to apps for the iPhone and over Wifi.  David Pogue of the NY Times does a nice job summarizing them, including TruPhone, Fring, Line2, FreePhone2Phone, Textfree with Voice, Talkatone, Nettalk, and Whistle Phone, in the Ins and Outs of Calling via the Net and the Appendix: Apps for Free Calls to Regular Phones.

Are you dying? An entrepreneur’s life.

I get approached all the time by entrepreneur wannabe’s.  My first question – where is the blood?  Because you aren’t trying if you aren’t dying.

  • Dying because there are millions of decisions that you have to find, decide, implement, and learn from to grok your market, design specifications, and develop the minute details of the product that bears your name.
  • Dying amid insistent calls from your creditors, friends, and family as you squeeze money and time like water from a rock to enable you to survive yet another day.
  • Dying in spite of the continual volley of arrows in your face and your back of rejections as you promote your genius to anything with a heartbeat that crosses your path.

There is no reward without risk.  Real risk.  The kind that takes everything you have.  And then more.  That spills your blood from both a million cuts and a dozen gaping wounds.  That feels like dying.  And you gotta love that pain.  Either you’re in or you’re out. Which is it?

If you’re in, unless you’re already a well known serial entrepreneur, be prepared to Bootstrap. Entrepreneur Vivek Wadha lights your path while you’re slowly dying in Ditch the Biz Plan, Buy a Lottery Ticket.

His top tips:

  • Share your ideas with those who have done it before.
  • Find a way to connect with your market.
  • Start small.
  • Focus on revenue and profitability from the start.
  • Remember the importance of cash flow.
  • Think outside the box.
  • Learn to sell.
  • Prepare for the worst.
  • Never forget the importance of ethics and integrity.

Do’s and Dont’s of Entrepreneurship

Martin Plaehn presented the following list at the University Venture Fund’s annual conference*.   These are terrific tips for both new and experienced founders.

Readers of our Blue Entrepreneurs newsletter already received this.  Get your own copy and sign up now!

Do’s

1. Do ensure for yourself (as founder or chief) that you are addressing a real market and a sustainable one; where the exchange of value is transacted and measured in US currency

2. Do only hire for pre-identified expertise, operating need, and the energy to accomplish excellence; if you get more, great; don’t hire otherwise

3. Do always know your cash level, weekly cash spend and receipt rates, cash-runs-out date, and close-up liabilities amounts; start finding funding choices when you hit t-minus 6 months till operating cash runs out

4. Do money deals with money people (e.g. Angels, VC’s, banks, and credit unions); do product deals with product people (eg. Commercial companies); and do risk deals with risk people (e.g. Insurance companies). Don’t get these confused. If a product company wants to invest in your company, can they afford to take the whole thing? If not, then not.

5. Do ensure that at least one of your early formal investors has the financial wherewithal to keep investing in subsequent increasing rounds many years down the road; do make sure your different investors are really compatible

6. Do always accumulate choice; two by definition, three of four is better; then make decisions and have a back-up

7. Do let the stress of overload and/or capacity strain the triggers for expansion; demand flexing the edges of the system is usually the truest sign of real growth

8. Do track revenue and cost per employee; have trigger thresholds for when to add staff or subtract. Human efficiency and innovation is what creates value

Don’ts

1. Don’t hire of goodness of heart or friendship

2. Don’t hire anyone who you and your team are not genuinely excited about

3. Don’t tolerate mediocre engineers; for that matter, mediocre anyone. An early sign of mediocrity is when you downgrade tasks and expectations to align with an employee

4. Don’t count on your investors to take care of you when things get rough and/or protracted

5. Don’t over interpret or count on the stated operating ‘value-add’ from investors during their solicitations during fundraising

6. Don’t build out your staff or infrastructure in expectation of rapid growth; be strong enough and tolerant of market back-pressure or order/service backlog

7. Don’t keep the same sales and marketing execs if the business isn’t growing or charging for growth; no sales and marketing VP was ever fired prematurely

8. Don’t over delegate to consultants, accountants, or lawyers; even the great ones are only as good as you are as an engaged client; read and understand everything; if left alone, you must have a point of view, right or wrong

* Yes, this is over a year old but still great advice!

Tue Jan. 25 – Wine Not? Wine Business, Tasting & Networking

Wine Not? Wine Business, Tasting & Networking
with Wines.com CEO Alexander Andrawes
Presented by
Join Wines.com CEO Alexander Andrawes and our panel of experts in an evening showcasing the wine business, wine tasting, and networking. Alex presents how he built his business from the ground up along with some of the challenges and successes. Alex will guide you through a collection of wines that are prominent or up and coming wines, providing a tasting to give you that conversational piece that gets those ideas flowing. What better way to network, learn a little about wine, and get inspired about your own business?

Panel:

  • Dan Gatlin – Proprietor of Inwood Estates Vineyards
  • Lee Fuquay – Owner of Fuquay Winery
  • Melanie Ofenloch – Wine Blogger, DallasWineChick
  • Andrew Chalk – Writer, D Magazine

Alexander Andrawes is one of the longest reigning Chief Executive Officers in the history of Wine Retail E-commerce. Founded in 2000, and doing buinsess as Personal Wine, Alex began Pervino Inc. with just $30,000 in personal savings and now a successful multi-million dollar operation with over 50,000 customers and hundreds of channel partners from the Company Headquarters in Austin, TX.

In 2008 in a bold move under Alex’s direction, Pervino, Inc, acquired the Wines.com URL and has since worked to transform the way that consumers gain access to wines and wine information in one website that delivers powerful product content, video, and incorporates social media to deliver the worlds most pre-eminent wine domain. The Wines.com and Personal Wine business model has experienced high double digit growth rates in both 2009 and 2010, the most economically challenging years since the Great Depression.

Power developing

As the Web grows, so does its infrastructure.  You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, or single signon.  Just find someone else who already built it  so you can focus on the pure chocolatey goodness of your own app.

APIs are the glue that gives developers direct access to the  services of others, from big guys like Google, Twitter, and LinkedIn to new startups.  It’s especially critical in a disaggregated web-based world of cloud and mobile computing.

GigaOm has an excellent article on 5 Predictions for APIs in 2011.  The ProgrammableWeb directory lists and rates over 2,600 APIs.


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