Past Midway Ramblings on Business & Life

CategoryEntrepreneurship

Equality at Work

Sometime around 2005 – 2006, I was on a flight from Stockholm to New York. The flight attendant took my ticket at the gate and asked me to step aside and wait without explanation. Seemed odd, but OK. She then took boarding passes from everyone in line while I stood waiting further instructions. When the last person in line passed, the flight attendant turned to me and said the flight was...

Being the Boss & Making Mistakes

Nothing prepares you for entrepreneurship like being an entrepreneur. As the leader of your company, you are tasked with articulating the mission, setting the overall strategic direction, ensuring successful execution and establishing & shaping the corporate culture. Simple right? But few of us are excellent at leading a company, especially our first company. As leaders and managers, we fail...

Simplicity

It’s difficult to keep things simple. Whether starting a new company or launching an additional product or service, aim for the absolute minimum viable product and keep everything as simple as possible. I cannot over-emphasize this point. Strive for stunningly simple. In design. In policies. In procedures. In relationships. Simple means easy-to-use, frictionless and minimalistic. Simple is good...

No One Else Is Doing It

If the market you want to enter is wide open, without competition, you might pause to ask yourself why. There may be a legitimate reason. It is possible to be too avant-guarde. Completely original ideas without pre-existing competitors are difficult businesses to start. On top of everything a new business must do right to succeed, you really don’t want to add “educate the customer” to your TO DO...

Defining Success

You must define, early on, what success for your company means to you. You are not required to measure success by revenue, profit, growth, number of employees or any of the traditional metrics. You may have a different view from common, societal definitions of a successful company. As the owner, you get to decide the success criteria, within the boundaries of corporate survival. While different...

A Life of Its Own

There comes a time in the growth of every startup when you overhear two employees (non-founders) talking about the business, or a procedure, or discussing the best way to do something and arriving at a solution… without you. To a first-time founder, this seems almost unreal. You think, ‘Wow. Work is happening without me.’ Real decisions are being made without founder input. And it’s fantastic. I...

Looking for Opportunity

When I was working at GE Appliances (Dishwasher division) in Louisville, Kentucky as an engineer, we had an opportunity to potentially switch suppliers for the bag of insulation that covered the dishwasher. The bag served two purposes: (1) reduce noise, and (2) retain heat. At the time, the large corporation Owens Corning was the exclusive supplier. We were approached by a smaller, family-owned...

A Seat at the Table

There are challenging seasons in the life of every company. Nearly every entrepreneur who has been in business more than 10 years has at least one story about a time when they weren’t sure the company would make it. When times are difficult, the strategic conversations around the conference table sound like, “We are low on cash. We can do initiative X or Y, or neither, but not both. What should...

Scalable Businesses

Some businesses are easily scalable. Others are not. Any business that requires a linear (or near-linear) relationship between revenue-and-effort or revenue-and-capital expenditure (equipment) is not easily scalable. Low-Scalable Businesses With low-scalable businesses, you are effectively trading time for money. A sole proprietor consulting on an hourly basis can only scale by: Adding more...

Trade Skills

Business is competitive. We compete on price, skills, service, quality, speed, efficiency, demeanor and likability. Of these, one of the most fundamental ways to compete is on skills. Do you know your business, your market and, more importantly, your customer and their business and their end markets? There’s no substitute for actual time in the trenches doing the dirty work of learning your trade...

Business – Solving Problems & Creating Opportunities

All good business ideas must create something that people want. That is, there must be demand for what you intend to do. For this, your business concept must either: Solve a problem that customers are willing to pay to solve.Reduce the cost of a process or productIncrease the efficiency of a process by reducing the time or expense to make a product or to provide a service Create an opportunity...

Your Business Idea

Just as my experience with PEI was the culmination of applying an interest in databases with my experience in finance, your best ideas will likely come from your area of expertise. This is where you have the greatest chance of executing successfully. From within your area of expertise, your idea will either be a product/service/tool you wish you had, or it will be a more efficient way/process of...

Entrepreneur vs Employee

Employees Employees sacrifice personal freedom and upside potential for more predictable income – or at least a mirage of it. The employee must balance this internal desire for stability and a slow-but-generally-upward career progression against the nagging what-if questions we ask ourselves as we begin to see life in the rear-view mirror and evaluate the decisions of our youth. What if I had...

Past Midway Ramblings on Business & Life

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