The Best Business Advice


Just finished a phenomenal article “101 Small Business Mistakes and what you can learn from them“. It’s got to be one of the best article I’ve read in months. The following are some of my notes and personal insights.

Startup Tips:

  1. Become a leader as soon as possible.
  2. Focus entirely on the business, no 2nd jobs.
  3. Just do it and don’t look back.
  4. Spend nothing, let people know you’re only making “investments”.
  5. Bootstrapping goes beyond just startup. Ensure that all expenses are conscious.
  6. Entrepreneurs are unemployed until there are profits.
  7. Talk more about what you’re doing, not what you will be doing.
  8. Nothing will ever be perfect! Work around that.
  9. Always apply the 80/20 Rule and set short deadlines.
  10. Don’t have a master plan, have a vision.
  11. Prepare an exit strategy.
  12. Keep development short and generate a prototype quickly.
  13. Focus on Web development and e-mail marketing sooner rather than later.
  14. Hire talent not family. It’s hard to fire family.
  15. Don’t raise too much money. You’ll start looking for ways to spend
  16. Better to own a small piece of a large pie than a big piece of nothing.
  17. Never give up ultimate authority of your business.
  18. Debt is not cash.
  19. Pick the right type of incorporation. Speak to an Attorney.
  20. Know industry regulations and legal codes.
  21. Figure the most opportune time to launch, then accept capital only on the best terms.
  22. Investors will throw money at any great idea, allocate it right.

Product Tips:

  1. Research your market!
  2. Build your infrastructure before major client pulls.
  3. Keep your personality and be playful. Make your workplace fun.
  4. Never lose sight of how you differentiate from the competition.
  5. Don’t base prices on how much you think you’re worth but how much it would be worth to the customers you service.
  6. Price higher than the industry norm and do just enough ads to get noticed by the competition.
  7. Never undersell, even to lock someone in.
  8. No one ever said “We priced too high”. There are always unknown expenses and you can always make a sale.
  9. Negotiate everything. Don’t just pay based on what you value.
  10. When client applications and customer service are on the line, outsourcing isn’t an option.
  11. The costs of building a data center are quickly recouped through more efficient customer service and recurring revenue.
  12. Don’t trying to be all things to all people.
  13. Have a list of competitors that offer what you don’t. This builds your rapport.
  14. Always require an upfront percentage fee for services.
  15. Always sign a contract/terms for major deals/purchases.
  16. Don’t let referrals lead you way from your target market.

Sales and Marketing Tips:

  1. You must sell! Build your own skills, or find someone else.
  2. Your marketing ‘hook’ is critical, to grab the client’s attention long enough for the sales process to begin.
  3. Have multiple hooks for different psycho-graphics.
  4. Market locally. It’s easier and cheaper.
  5. Never underestimate the power of promotion. Plan for best/worst case scenarios.
  6. Use share-shift marketing, converting a client-base from your competition.
  7. You can’t buy instant recognition, but you can find key influences.
  8. Cross reference your events with various calendars.
  9. Inform! (clients, employees, partners).
  10. Always get testimonials when they say how happy they are. Even better, get them to recommend you.
  11. Have 4-5 on-going contracts, plus breathing room, so that the loss of one deal doesn’t set you back too far.
  12. Develop relationships with the most influential people possible in a company. (Founders preferably).
  13. Just because a contract is signed doesn’t mean the deal’s going to go through.

Operations and Big Picture Tips:

  1. If you do one thing right, hire the right people!
  2. Hire assistance ASAP for all work that doesn’t have to be done by you.
  3. Explain to people the job of leader – to build consensus and organization.
  4. Define functions and results, not personalities and process.
  5. Hire talented people who fit your culture!
  6. Recognize bad decisions and deal with them quickly.
  7. Sometimes it’s the little errors in judgment, compounded every day, that kill you.
  8. Learn when to say NO! and when to say YES!
  9. Inspect what you expect people to respect.
  10. You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
  11. Pay as you go. Partners should earn trust and their equity.
  12. Lead with authority and passion. Consensus leads to mediocrity.
  13. Listen to opinions and be open-minded but then make a decision.
  14. Employees have an expectation and a desire for leadership. Without it, everything falls apart.
  15. If there’s a will there’s a way. Go and find it!
  16. No one who provides capital lets your keep full control. So keep the cash!
  17. Always consult a cultural expert about small details before traveling to other countries.
  18. Get used to saying the words “Look. I saw things differently, but I could be wrong and I often am. I’d like for things to be right. Let’s examine the facts.”

Seth Godin’s on his biggest mistakes: “Not believing, not risking, not deciding. Holding back feels safe. When someone asks you your big mistakes, it’s tempting to talk about the stuff you did that didn’t work out. But what about the stuff you DIDN’T do? Those are the really big mistakes. Not starting Yahoo! or Google, those were big mistakes.”

Now get out there and make things happen!

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