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Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Wow, an inspiring company and excellent communication (2 min. read)

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If you want to be inspired by a business, please take 2 minutes to read the “2 big announcements” on 37Signals.com.

Some things that impress me about this business:

  • They have been in biz for 15 years
  • They started as a web design firm and evolved into software (basecamp)
  • They created and open-sourced Ruby on Rails and wrote some books (cool!)
  • They are at 43 people (pretty small team compared to the Dropbox, Facebook, Twitters of the world, but still one with massive respect and footprint!)
  • Last week, 6,622 co.s signed up for new Basecamp accounts and over 15M users have accounts
  • They sat down and talked about their vision for the next TWENTY years. how’s that for forward-thinking?
  • They decided to go all-in on Basecamp and are renaming the company Basecamp and probably spinning off their other products (ballsy)

Flexible, long-term thinkers who are able to focus.

Inspiring!

Thanks, team Basecamp!

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Monday, July 16th, 2012

A Uniquely Honest Story Of One Entrepreneur’s “Darkness”

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The cool thing about problems is when people are honest about them, tackle them and then share their “secret sauce” about how they did it. I’m proud to say that my friend Kamal Ravikant just nailed it in his latest book: Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It.

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Sunday, July 8th, 2012

12 Simple Outlines For Writing A Business Plan

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If you need to write a business plan I recommend you start with an outline.  I found a dozen free templates and have included them below with links to dig deeper. Good luck!

1) Ongig’s Business Plan Outline

The business plan outline I wrote for Ongig (below) was geared towards raising an angel round of funding.The 3 biggest sections were Business Model, Sales & Distribution and Financials.

  1. Why Should Someone Care (“The Grab” or Executive Summary)
  2. Company Purpose (In one sentence: the vision/mission stuff)
  3. The Problem You Are Addressing
  4. The Solution You Provide
  5. Why Is This Important Right Now?
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Saturday, September 10th, 2011

How I Use This Nerdy “Money-Making Pyramid” To Prioritize Business Activities

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Are you leading a business, new or old?

I’ve done both: I’ve started businesses from scratch and I’ve also taken over leading a business that was already a few years into the game.

Either way, the difference between success and failure is what you and your team are working on…and when!

Caution: If you entrepreneurs out there don’t grasp this, your business is very likely to fail (especially my friend who’s spending a couple of hours a week figuring out Quickbooks instead of focusing on making money!).

My marketing-guru friend and previous business partner Eben Pagan inspired the money-making pyramid (he called it the “productivity pyramid” in his awesome GetAltitude “Top Gun For Entrepreneurs” program — it’s a neat visual using a pyramid to illustrate what’s most important to work on in a business.

I’ve riffed a bit so blame me (not Eben) if you don’t like my “Money-Making Pyramid” version.

The money-making pyramid illustrates that the money-making in your business belongs at the top (most important) with the items below it less important the lower down on the pyramid.

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Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Business Is Like A Decathlon: Be Decent At These 10 Things & You’ll Win The Gold!

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I’d love to see your face on a box of Wheaties.

The Olympic decathlon — a combined event of 10 different track and field races — is a perfect metaphor for business.

Bruce Jenner didn't have to win every one of the 10 races in the Olympic decathlon to win the gold.

You can actually win the decathlon without being the best at any of the 10 races.

In fact, Bruce Jenner (winner of the 1976 Olympic Decathlon and pictured on the Wheaties box) averaged the equivalent of a little better than 3rd place in each race — and he still won the decathlon by a substantial margin.

Inspired by the decathlon metaphor, here is a 10-item checklist for succeeding in business…if you train to place in these 10 business races, you can win the business gold.

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Sunday, July 24th, 2011

These $1Billion+ Brands Began As Something Different

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Some of the most successful products of all time began as something else — I love coaching entrepreneurs on this fact!

The morale of the story is: get started on building your products because the sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll know what amazing product you can build!

Here are 10 of my favorites products that began as something else:

Bubble Wrap

Two engineers, Marc Chavannes and Aldred Fielding, sealed two shower curtains together to create a new type of wallpaper (with bubbles in it). It was later marketed as greenhouse insulation.

It wasn’t until years later that Bubble Wrap would be used to help protect IBM computers during shipping.

BubbleWrap is also ranked #22 in my list of The Top 100 Brands Synonomous With Their Product Category.

Coke

It was at first a patent medicine invented in the late 19th century by John Pemberton.

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Sunday, June 26th, 2011

If You’re Building A Startup, Leverage The Data From 650+ Startups Who Went Before You

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I just finished reading the 68-page Startup Genome Report (thanks to David Hassell for telling me about it).

The report is based on data collected from 650+ Web startups and is a must-read for anyone working on starting an Internet business.

Here are some highlights to give you a taste:

The six key stages Internet startups typically go through are:

  1. Discovery
  2. Validation
  3. Efficiency
  4. Scale
  5. Profit Maximization
  6. Renewal

The Startup Genome Report has a bunch of useful data to help you prepare starting a new business.

Internet startups that don’t move through the stages above show less progress.

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Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

The 7 Ugly Reasons Your Ideas Don’t Turn Into Reality

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“Ideas are like a$$holes…,” my friend Ralph once said: “…everyone has one!” Ralph’s gonna hate me for mentioning that one!

You hear it almost every day: “I have an idea for a new product…or a new Web site.”  Perhaps you even say it yourself.

I keep my business ideas in a Google Docs spreadsheet for easy organization.

But most often the idea dies right there…or, worse, you hear someone whine or brag about the idea later when someone else has turned it into a product.

“Hey, I thought up a car sharing service just like Zipcar five years ago!”

If you want to avoid being one of those idea-snobs, here are 7 mistakes to avoid when you have an idea that you want to turn into a reality

1) You Keep Your Idea A Secret

Many people keep their ideas a secret — they don’t share it with anyone. This is probably the worst mistake you can make.

This may you are worried someone will steal the idea or  because you fear failure or lack confidence.

I suggest that you keep your ideas in a journal…I use Google Docs (pictured above) to keep my ideas (and ideas of friends) and I rate them based on:

  • How much capital I have to put at risk to test the idea
  • How much financial upside the idea has
  • How confident I am in the business model of the idea
  • How close the business idea is to my core competencies
  • How consistent the idea is with my values
  • How fun the idea is

And I can pull up the pipeline of ideas any time on my iPhone.

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