I like getting up early and arriving early. But I find the hours late at night can unlock a lot of creativity so I often get up late unless I schedule something early. I also like working up to the last possible moment–what is it about the last few minutes before you have to leave that are so productive–that I arrive late. Starting from myself as someone with good intentions but poor follow through here are some observations and suggestions for getting up early and arriving early.
I can be very productive with a certain amount of background noise, I find it easier to write if there is music playing or I am in a moderately noisy coffee house where there are many low conversations going on in the background. But when I really need to think hard about something–typically a problem or a challenge I am facing–and give it all of my concentration and focus, then working in silence is best.
Some models I like for change management in organizations. Startup entrepreneurs frequently have to navigate the challenges managing change as a part of the sales process. Intrapreneurs should find this list useful as well. I welcome any suggestions for additions, refinements, or improvements.
Getting the best out of your team starts with careful listening and observation. This is especially true for a startup or a product team where you to want leverage input from a variety of experts around the table.
A startups social capital, the network of relationships that the founders have with friends, former co-workers and associates, and friends of friends represent a key resource for the team. It’s possible to activate this network to help you solve a variety of problems–e.g. finding a cofounder, finding early employees, finding contractors, finding early customers, finding investors, finding advisors–but you can normally only activate for one purpose at a time.
This article explores the specific experiences of an entrepreneur (who uses the pseudonym “Hard Drive,” a nickname he earned early in his career for his tenacity and decisiveness) and lessons learned bootstrapping a high-tech software as a service business in the social media space. His sustained efforts enabled him to raise $40,000 in angel funding, pull together a team of part-time contributors working for equity, establish three pilot customers and present to 11 venture capital firms. All of this was accomplished while the founder and CEO held regular, full-time employment at a Fortune 500 high tech firm.
Texas Hold’Em offers some useful models for technology startups: pick the right table (competitors) and understand how your cards best combine with common cards (the status quo and adjacent possible)
Timothy Gallwey’s “Inner Game of Tennis” came out in 1974 and sparked a revolution in coaching and how athletes should approach improving their performance. There are several lessons that entrepreneurs can use in improving their personal performance and coaching others.
PATCA had a thought provoking dinner meeting tonight on “Time Management: An Hour Saved is an Hour to Earn Revenue.” Here is my recap.
Someone recently sent an E-mail began “At the risk of sounding like an infomercial…” to a list several thousand subscribers that I am a member of and I was moved to write down a list of phrases to think twice before saying (or writing).
One of the most common questions I hear in conversations with entrepreneurs at a Bootstrapper Breakfasts, in Office Hours calls, or with clients–and not infrequently from myself when comparing notes with peers–is, “Am I making a fool of myself?” Here are some questions you can use to clarify your situation when you are starting to feel like a fool.
Christmas afternoon finds me reading “Courtesy.” It’s an essay by Ian MacLaren (pen name for Scottish author and theologian John Watson) that offers a recipe for keeping the spirit of Christmas alive in daily life. Here are some excerpts I found useful, the last finds me still clearly in the “before picture.”
As I grow older I have gained a full appreciation for Laurie Anderson’s observation: “When my father died it was like a whole library had burned down.” It’s now 97 months since my father’s death from a heart attack on October 23, 2007 and I still feel the loss.
Unreasonable entrepreneur is almost redundant. By definition entrepreneurs want to change the status quo, offering better products and services as substitutes for established and successful ones. This often requires an unreasonable amount of effort and persistence, sometimes to the point of stubbornness, in the face of not only opposition but also a concentrated lack of interest. The lukewarm response initially promises adoption until we realize it was the easiest way to get us to shut up. The challenge is not to become stubborn and parochial but to continue appreciate the realities of your prospect’s situation.
In the last decade I have switched to drinking tea from coffee. I came across a neat process description for making tea by George Orwell in “A Nice Cup Of Tea” that mirrored what I do–except for adding milk or cream to my tea. I was struck by how often we think we have come up with an approach that we believe is rare or unique and discover a similar approach described that’s decades or centuries old.
Joseph Mancuso‘s “How to Start, Finance, and Manage Your Own Small Business” contains an “Entrepreneur’s Quiz” a self-assessment for entrepreneurs. His explanation for the reasons behind some of the questions includes the following nuggets:
It’s easy to mis-assess who your real competition is. We worry the most about competition that cares deeply.
“You’re competing against people in a state of flow, people who are truly committed, people who care deeply about the outcome.”
Seth Godin in “Texting While Working“
The sad reality is that a business cannot be fun, educational, and profitable all at once. Pick boring or grinding over losing money. Christopher Morley observed, “There are three ingredients in the good life: learning, earning and yearning,” but you don’t have to get all three from your business. Without earning you don’t have a business.