Friday, September 30, 2005

Great Resource for Marketers

Every day that I don't learn something new that is pertinent to my profession, I am creeping one step closer to becoming obsolete.

This week I found a great way to fight obsolescence.

Infinity Broadcasting offers daily free streaming audio of fantastic keynote addresses by a variety of marketing gurus. This morning I listened to a great speech by Seth Godin that was delivered just yesterday afternoon. Today at 9 a.m., I can listen to a speech by Becky Saeger, EVP Marketing at Charles Schwab.

A successful entrepreneur I know fights obsolescence by attending an industry conference at least once a month. If you don't have the budget to follow his example, this is the next best thing.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Hard Work Report

Well, I said that I would come back and report on my week. Well, its 1:21 AM (at least that's when I started this post) and I just finished preparing a presentation and writing a press release for our fine website for angel investors and entrepreneurs. That puts me at 65.5 hours of work this week.

I'm not doing this to brag. There are probably a million people out there working much harder than me, and a couple of them are probably reading this right now thinking terrible thoughts about me.

Regardless of any terrible thoughts, when you're a dumb rookie the only advantage you can have over your competition is your ability to work like a slave. Not everyone has the natural business savvy of Warren Buffet or Bill Gates, but everyone has it in them to work harder than anyone else in their organization.

I think it's important to note that working like a slave does not require one to abandon his/her responsibilities to family, church, and self. It does, however, take a lot of creative time management; i.e. waiting until your wife is asleep and sneaking away to the study to get a few extra things done, properly utilizing every trip to the men's room, waking up extra early to work and then helping your wife get the kids up and fed, and then returning to work.

What creative methods of time management have you used to balance work and family? Please post.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Good Old-Fashioned Work

Since my mixed experience with The New New Thing, I've done a lot of thinking about good old-fasioned hard work.

I've never heard of a start-up making it big without the entire management team and most other key employees logging 65-80 hour weeks for the first year or two -- which lead me to the following epiphany:

Most emerging growth companies know that measuring key metrics is key to success. Sometimes I think we overlook the most basic metric: hours worked. This obviously isn't a problem with workers that are paid on a per-hour basis. But what about your management team? Do you know how many hours your CTO put in last week? Do you know how many hours you put in last week?

Thomas S. Monson said, "When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement accelerates."

So here's my suggestion: This week, keep track of your hours like a lawyer would. (Don't worry; this is the only time I will ever suggest doing anything like a lawyer.) A lawyer can go to work every day for 15 hours and not get paid. Simply showing up and going through files/surfing the net/going to meetings doesn't bring home the bacon. A lawyer is only paid when s/he is providing a "billable" service for a client. The hours spent helping clients are called "billable hours."

How many billable hours are you logging each week? How many hours are you spending each day doing things that are adding value to your company?

Every day do an honest evaluation of your day's work, and log how many "billable" hours you put in, and tell someone that you're doing it so you can report to them. If at the end of the week, you're not logging 65-80 hours, based on what I have read, the chances of your start-up becoming an inspiring success story are slim.

Obviously, this isn't the only important metric. If you are working like a slave, but your work is focused on the wrong thing, you need to rethink your strategy. However, measuring work ethic is important and I think it is often overlooked by many start-ups.

Am I wrong here? Have you ever heard of a mega-successful company that succeeded with anything less than 65-80 hours/week? If so, please tell me.

Troubled Outlook?

FundingUniverse.com CTO Trent Miskin added an entry to his blog that could save techies everywhere hours each week: simple instructions on how to set up an account on Microsoft Outlook.

All of you non-technical types, before you put yourself on your programmer's bad side by asking him/her to set up your Outlook account, go to this page. You might also enjoy his post about the importance of angel investors.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

FundingUniverse.com Hits 300/2000 Mark

This afternoon the FundingUniverse.com staff was partying like it was 1,999. Then we hit 2,000.

Today FundingUniverse.com hit two impressive milestones in one day: 2,000 registered entrepreneurs and 300 registered investors.

As if that wasn't good enough, our Utah site was featured on the front page of one of my favorite business magazines, Connect Magazine.

Thank you, Connect Magazine, and, more importantly, thank you to the thousands of entrepreneurs and angel investors who are using FundingUniverse.com websites.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Truman Doctrine Follow-up

Last month, I blogged about the virtue of patience in business as illustrated by Harry S. Truman.

It turns out that stealing Truman's philosophy was a good move. I held off on creating the department and can see now that if I created the department in July, I would have wasted a lot of time and money. We have changed direction and need only half the staff that we needed then.

Now, we have the right number of the right kind of people. The "airlift" is over and we're about to turn a major corner at FundingUniverse.com.

Thanks, Harry!

New Blog on the Block

Utah businessman and Junto Partner Brock Blake started keeping a blog a few weeks ago. You can find it at brockblake.blogspot.com.

I was fortunate enough to spend about six months working on a project with Brock. He's a fantastic businessman and leader. You'll enjoy his blog.

The New New Thing

Most people in the entrepreneurial community consider Jim Clark the greatest entrepreneur of all time. He is the only person in history to start three multi-billion dollar companies -- Silicon Graphics, Netscape, and Healtheon. Last week I finished reading Clark's biography, The New New Thing, by Michael Lewis.

I came away from my reading with mixed feelings. One one hand, Clark is a gutsy genius who deserves all the attection he has garnered for being an otherworldly businessman and inventor. If I had half the brains and foresight of Jim Clark, you would be one of hundreds of thousands of people reading this blog. Things as they are, you are probably one of dozens. :)

That being said, I wouldn't recommend this book to a colleague for two reasons

1) The "hero" of the story is portrayed as a greedy jerk. (Disclaimer: I say "portrayed" because I don't know Jim Clark from Adam, and for all I know he's a class act.) The Jim Clark that Lewis describes is a greedy, foul-mouthed, self-centered person. At one point in the book, Clark is described by a friend and business partner as having "a clarity of vision that is prompted by the purest form of greed. Nothing clouds it."

Call me idealistic, naive, self-righteous, whatever -- but I'm a real "Kawasakian" type of guy who sincerely believes that the best kind of success is rooted in a desire to change the world and help other people. Greed just doesn't do it for me.

2) When I read a business book, I generally read for one of three reasons: 1. To learn a new skill 2. To be inspired 3. To be entertained. The New New Thing doesn't really teach a skill and, as noted above, the main character of the book isn't very inspiring.

To top it all off, the book didn't really hold my attention very well. Throughout the book, Lewis abandons the most exciting element of the book (the creation and sale sale of Clark's three multi-billion dollar companies) in favor of chapter upon chapter describing Clark's silly side project (creating the first-ever computer-run boat) that never amounts to anything.

That said, I wouldn't say the book was totally bereft of value. The New New Thing illustrated the insane amount of work it takes to run a successful start-up. Throughout the book there were references to programmers who basically lived in their cubicles, working 20-hour days. Some of the Indian engineers who worked with Clark went so far as to send their families home to India so they could focus! I'm not an advocate of families falling to the wayside in the interest of business, but the example o f Clark's programmers has helped me kick it up a notch in my worklife.

So there you have it.