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A DOZEN THINGS I’VE LEARNED ABOUT BUSINESS | 25iq 1.“If you play [your competitor’s] game, you lose every time.” Allan Benton. http://www.esquire.com/features/what-ive-learned/allan-benton-interview-0909 This quotation to me is all about moats and sustainable differentiation. A DOZEN THINGS I’VE LEARNED ABOUT BUSINESS | 25iq
How entrepreneurs really succeed. In 1969, Ted Turner wanted to buy a television station. He was thirty years old. The Sure Thing The Sure Thing
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On a Mission | Andreessen Horowitz One of the interesting things I have seen, especially in the last 10 years, is that many of the big winners in technology have been what I call “mission-driven” versus “mercenary-driven” companies. There are a lot of companies that cut corners. There are a lot of companies that have a mercenary outlook, and will dump their idealistic goal to make a business work in the short-term. On a Mission | Andreessen Horowitz
1. “Business isn’t that complicated” and “Take sales, take costs, and try to get this big positive number at the bottom.” Many people make a living trying to make “business” sufficiently complex that you feel the need to pay for their services. Their business is to make business complex, when it is actually simple. 2. “Of my mental cycles, I devote maybe ten percent to business thinking.” and [John Malone] and I are damn similar. A Dozen Things I’ve Learned about Business from Bill Gates | 25iq A Dozen Things I’ve Learned about Business from Bill Gates | 25iq
The Two Key Skill Sets Startups Must Develop To Grow The Two Key Skill Sets Startups Must Develop To Grow In "Why Winning Streaks End", Rosabeth Kantar, a professor at HBS, explains the key to maintaining momentum in any company is maintaining the discipline of every day processes. Similarly, Atul Gawande's book Better echoes this idea. For surgeons, the best way to keep patients safe and healthy is ticking through a checklist before each surgery. As I've watched a handful of startups grow, the pattern I see emerging from most of them is their ability to persistently transform chaos into process.
Seven Years • Dustin Curtis Despite being the cheapest usable tablet on the market, and although the Kindle is already one of its best selling items, Amazon cut the price of the Kindle Fire HD today from $199 to $169. At that price, it’s almost impossible to imagine any profit at all; when it was released in late 2012, some speculated that the cost of materials and manufacturing alone amounted to more than $185. It’s easy to imagine the strategy here–that Amazon expects to make money on digital content sales–but, historically, the numbers behind that strategy haven’t panned out. With billions of dollars in content sales, Apple still claims to run the iTunes store at “practically break even.” What makes Amazon think it can pull a profit when even Apple can’t? Seven Years • Dustin Curtis
I slept at work again last night; two and a half hours curled up in a quilt underneath my desk, from 11am to 1:30pm or so. That was when I woke up with a start, realizing that I was late for a meeting…But it was no big deal, we just had the meeting later. It’s hard for someone to hold it against you when you miss a meeting because you’ve been at work so long that you’ve passed out from exhaustion. Startups Are Hard. So Work More, Cry Less, And Quit All The Whining Startups Are Hard. So Work More, Cry Less, And Quit All The Whining
Willing to be misunderstood Jeff Bezos appeared on Charlie rose two weeks ago and spoke about Amazon’s history, future and best of all, its culture. In the interview, Bezos discussed Amazon’s core values: We are willing to be misunderstoodWe are obsessed with customers, not competitors.We are long term thinkers While all of them are critical to Amazon’s success, my favorite is the first because it combines three critical concepts for startups. First, it requires knowing a secret, in the Peter Thiel sense of the word, seeing something in the market that very few others understand. Second, it requires systems thinking, understanding where a new product fits into the market place and how to leverage a company’s assets to best deliver the product to customers. Willing to be misunderstood
Can-Do vs. Can’t-Do Culture | Re/code “God, body and mind, food for the soul When you feeding on hate, you empty, my n!*$a, it shows.” — Rick Ross “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – George Bernard Shaw Lately, it has become in vogue to write articles, comments and tweets about everything that’s wrong with young technology companies. Can-Do vs. Can’t-Do Culture | Re/code
Believers vs non-believers Believers vs non-believers "I’d shut down Apple" - Michael Dell, 1997. That line is from one of the most memorable quotes ever. Today Michael Dell said it was a misunderstood quote.
The ideal startup career path For most people I know who join or start companies, the primary goal is not to get rich – it is to work on something they love, with people they respect, and to not be beholden to the vagaries of the market- in other words, to be independent. The reality is being independent often means having made money and/or being able to raise money from others. A while back, I posted about how I recommend thinking about non-founder option grants. In the comments, Aaron Cohen made the point that given today’s “good” exit sizes and standard equity grants, most non-founders will not gain independence even in the (non-extreme) good cases: Most startup employees need to realize they are on a journey and that in addition to making a few hundred thousand dollars on a good outcome they are learning how to become more senior at the next company.
Is it Time for You to Earn or to Learn? This is part of my Startup Advice series I often have career discussions with entrepreneurs – both young and more mature – whether they should join company “X” or not. I usually pull the old trick of answering a question with a question. My reply is usually, “is it time for you to earn or to learn?” Let’s face it. If you’re thinking about joining as the director of marketing, product management manager, senior architect, international business development lead, etc. at a startup that has already raised $5 million the chances of you making your retirement money on that company is EXTREMELY small.
Twelve months notice
I read blog posts by Don Dodge and Glenn Kelman today about people jumping from Google to Facebook and it got me thinking about entrepreneurs. Most people have an aversion to risk, my college economics professor told me. Which means they have to be rewarded to take on that risk. The higher the risk, the higher the possible payout has to be for people to jump. We make risk/reward decisions every day, all day. Do I go skiing, and enjoy the rush of flying downhill even though there’s a small chance I’ll blow out a knee? Are You A Pirate?
The credentials trap I talk a lot to people who are deciding between startups and established companies. They’re usually early in their careers and have been exclusively affiliated with well-known schools and companies. As a result, they’re accustomed to praise from family and friends. Going to a startup is scary, as Jessica Livingstone, cofounder of Y Combinator, describes: Everyone you encounter will have doubts about what you’re doing—investors, potential employees, reporters, your family and friends. What you don’t realize until you start a startup is how much external validation you’ve gotten for the conservative choices you’ve made in the past.
Are you in a startup career path or are you one and done? Sometimes peoples' first startups are successful. More power to them. I've been pretty lucky, but not that lucky. In a startup career path, failure becomes experience for the next startup, which unfortunately will probably also fail. Repeat until success. And then repeat some more.
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