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Showing posts from July, 2012

Closing is Hard

If you're not a closer, closing is hard.

I'll define closing as the process of bringing your prospect to the decision that you want. It could be the decision to buy your product, to hire you, give you a raise, to go on a trip, or to walk 10 miles with you to raise money for a cause that you believe in more than she does.

Every buyer goes through a decision-making process; your job during that process is to remove obstacles, provide information, narrow their choices, serve them in their evaluation, and help them come to the obvious conclusion--that your product is the best investment they can make. If you don't believe that (and if it's not true), it will be tough to convince them.

Framing the Close
I'm not a natural closer. Asking for the deal has always been tough for me. I do it, but it doesn't come naturally. I love the win, I love to see the check hitting the account, etc, but I love seeing the customer do really well as a result, which is what drives me.

So…

Evangelize, Don't Fish

Fred has a post about a new feature from one of his companies that enables job applicants to send their resume in one click from the employer's site.

It makes it simpler for the applicant. There are a bunch of negative comments--that this enables mindless volume, etc. And I pointed out that no, it's just a button; what you make people do before they see the button is up to you as an employer (like filling out an online survey that serves as a filter).

But you, my startup friend, you aren't going to use this much if at all. Try it--create a survey at SurveyMonkey designed to filter out unqualified applicants, and make the one-click button the last step.

But that's not what will get you the employees you need at your current stage. Don't fish. Evangelize.

Evangelize, network, evangelize, recruit, evangelize. You need to proactively get out there and find the right people, and the right people are the ones completely stoked by your own stokedness, your passion, your d…

Thoughts About Community

Half the summer's gone, and not a line of code. I'm perfectly fine with that; I haven't coded since late May and it's been a nice break.

So I'm going to work on the next big thing for two or three hours a day, and keep the tasks and goals small, the code clean and documented, and see where it takes me.

I have the luxury of time right now. But most of my day will be spent either outside around the lake, or reading, or researching grant proposals for Lancaster Community Gardens, which is my full-time work for the rest of the month, and a great application of my time.

Working in real-world communities over the past 6 months has really sharpened my perspective about online communities, and they both continue to fascinate me. Watching the relationships evolve in both has been really fulfilling in itself, especially the ones that directly involve me.

On Wednesday I had meetings with two people I met through AVC.com and dinner with another, and on Thursday had a dinner wi…

Too Many Options

I've had a few recent conversations with founders of a variety of startups. Like me, each of them has more than one idea. Like me, they're ambitious and want to do them all because they can see the opportunity for each.

But unless you've set up something like BetaWorks or something similar--a company generator--you really can't and shouldn't entertain multiple ideas.

Launching one startup is hard enough. Launching two, well, I'd say it's more than twice as hard, because you'd be switching contexts all the time.

Now if you had someone managing each one, perhaps you could do it. But I'd advise against chasing more than one dream at a time and just get one of them right.

And later--after you've put in your years of work to make the thing successful, then maybe you start a company factory.

For now, focus on one thing, and focus within the focus, and build that business to be sustainable and enjoyable, because you'll be doing it for some time in a…

Business by Committee

Later today I'm hopping in a car with Bear and heading north to see some friends. We've packed a tent and will be camping in one place or another--we don't really know. Bear's contribution to packing the tent has been to pace around me as I gather things--he knows something's up.

The road trip frees the mind to think--if you do it right. I have a lot on my mind right about work and my next steps.

Yesterday I sat in a meeting about social enterprise. The committee wanted to create a business that would hire ex-offenders and teach them work skills and habits, plus give them something real for their resumes. And it would be run by one of the committee members' organizations.

And that's when I spoke up. They were building a business by committee, and assuming that an employee would take ownership like, well, an owner. And that seemed far-fetched to me. And they'd have to create a successful, sustainable business simply to create the opportunity to hire, whi…

Don't Charge the Mound

Things had gotten toxic at my ex-wife's job, and she was beginning to break down. She loved working with the farmers, building the CSA, and serving the cause of local organic food. But things had gotten bad.

Overworked, underpaid, poorly treated in a male-dominated environment with a mostly Amish male board, she had trouble breaking a smile for even the silliest of antics when she was home. It was hard to watch.

So she went to one of our friends on the board--a young Amish farmer that we had had dinner with several times and visited often, especially after his leg snapped in a farming accident. 
He played harmonica quite well, but only knew hymns. Except for This Land is Your Land; the entire family knew that. Must've been 15 people singing at least 6 verses of it. I'd bring my guitar and deliberately leave it behind so he could toy with it, which was against the old-order Amish rules. 
She told him about some of the behavior and poor management on at the business, which I…

4th

In 1776, a few ruffians declared their independence from the tyranny of King George of that former bully known as England.
From what will you declare your independence today? 
See you in the comments.

July

I've just wrapped up helping HonestlyNow with its platform and model, and it's on a good path. Tereza's a passionate entrepreneur and will do well; I fully expect to see news of either a growth round of capital or an exit in the next six months (sorry if that's TMI, Tereza, but to me both possibilities look great).

At some point I'll post more about my experiences there, but what I'll say now is I really enjoyed working Tereza and her team, and didn't expect a 6-week engagement to stretch to five months.

Which leads me to July.

July's wide open, so I'm scheduling it for, well, me time. And I really mean scheduling it, because if I don't, it will be over and I'll be on to the next thing wondering what I did with the time.

Here's the plan:

work on the book 2 hours/day.surf at least 3 times a week. Waves, not web. teach my new dog Bear some tricks, like don't poop on the rug. (He's a rescue, has issues, but I'm getting him some s…