You’re Fired

Steve Jobs never let things linger at Apple. For a big company there were some huge leaps taken in months time. The best products were big bets, but also fast bets, where years weren’t going to have been wasted if they’d failed.

It meant they didn’t have time to babysits people, features, or customers.

“You guys don’t know what you’re doing. I’m going to get someone else to do the ads because this is fucked up.” – Steve Jobs

This applies to all of you bootstrappers out there.

Fire People

You can’t afford to baby sit someone at their job. Don’t tolerate it. If you have a bad feeling about a contractor or employee in the first couple of days… trust your gut and just move on. There are plenty of other people looking for work.

Fire Ideas

Say no a lot more than you say yes. You have to. Saying yes too many times makes it impossible to focus.

Fire Features

Is there a feature you’ve been working on that just isn’t working for whatever reason… stop working on it and move on. Shipped a feature that you loved, but only a couple of your customers use… turn it off. Make what’s already working well work 10% better instead.

Fire Customers

Don’t lead anyone on. Make it clear who you’re product is for and who it’s NOT for. Trying to be all things to all people will create tough situations for you trying to please someone who would be better off with a different solution.

If the wrong customer gets in the door, pays you money, and insists you make radical changes in order to please them… don’t be afraid to issue a full refund and fire that customer.

Just remember… to all the people, ideas, features, and customers getting in the way of your dreams…

You Are Fired

Why I Believe In Revenue

I believe in revenue and profits for startups.

Revenue is good.

Revenue clarifies priorities.

Revenue builds momentum.

Revenue is not a vanity metric.

Growth does not equal revenue.

Revenue is good for customers.

Recurring revenue is the best revenue.

Revenue is a signal that can be tested.

Revenue is addictive and that’s a strength.

Real businesses solve customer problems for profit.

A startup without a revenue source is a ponzi scheme.

If a business isn’t taking your money you are being taken.

If you want to control your own destiny, you need revenue.

No revenue = out of business soon with disappointed customers.

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Sign below or share this article if you agree.

Selling out your kids for fun and profit

I’m blessed with two amazing kids. My oldest was a big motivation for me to quit my job and start KickoffLabs. I think they’re my bootstrapping secret weapon. They need to eat. Lets not even talk about diapors or college funds. Point being… kids are expensive and can’t live on Ramen Noodles.

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We decided, at KickoffLabs, that we weren’t going to be ashamed of our size. We wanted it to be a strength. We wanted to appear boutique… which is what our service is right now… a niche boutique. The opposite of something like GoDaddy.  We needed to make it personal, so we got our kids involved.

They are featured on our company page and when we ask customers to tell people about us we say:

“Would you like to put a huge smile on the face of two scrappy co-founders with beautiful young children who like to eat three times a day? Do you like saving money?…”

Most companies are in a rush to grow up, look, and act bigger than they are. People expect more out of a big service (even if they shouldn’t). Why raise the bar too early? Embrace your size.

KickoffLabs is just Scott and Josh today, but our families took the plunge with us. We’ll take every advantage we can get. :)

Try before you buy life changes

A few years back I didn’t cycle, but had friends getting into it. They all had pretty expensive roadbikes and I felt encouraged to dive right in. But I needed to know if cycling would stick for me.

I had a crappy old mountain bike. You know, one with a rusty chain from before they all had fancy rear suspension. I bought cheap road bike tires and mounted them on my jalopy. I set a goal and told myself that if I made it 500 miles cycled in the summer then I must really enjoy it and could afford by buy a better road bike.

The rides were hard. I had to work more than my friends to keep up and it looked ridiculous pulling up next to these modern carbon fiber aerodynamic masterpieces. My bike was often used as a theft deterrent by being placed on the outside of the nicer bikes.

Five hundred miles later I was still at it. It was time to make a bigger investment in the sport. The next year we completed the Seattle to Portland 200-mile ride. Something I never thought I’d do, but was happy to do so on top of carbon fiber.

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Trust me… I’m happy. :)

 

Daddy, can I cook breakfast with you?

I get lots of reminders why I work on KickoffLabs. Today I was about to head into my office when Gabe came down the stairs and said “Daddy, can I cook breakfast with you?”.

“Heck yes Gabe! Lets cook your breakfast together. Daddy can work later.”

Now, I did manage to fling hot pancake batter into his eye, and he may never ask again. But it’s these little moments that provide me with the motivation to turn KickoffLabs into a huge success.

It’s a shame that investors typically skip over founders with families. A founder without kids can’t possibly have motivation like this.

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A Message to My Friends and Family

drive thru treeYou may have noticed that I’m starting to talk more about what I’m working on publicly. I’ll do my best not to spam you continually about my startup business ventures.  It’s a tough line to straddle as you are getting started.  Word of mouth is critical and ones own networks are key to spreading your message. I love all the support I’ve received. I do, however, have a few things to ask of you… and none of them involve money. Smile 

1. Do what you’d normally do and share what’s interesting to you.  It doesn’t help anyone if you blindly share things you don’t believe in… but do overshare things that are really interesting to you because your other friends might find it interesting as well.

2. Tell me what you really think. I hear “X is a good idea” enough from strangers who want to be polite. Half the time I’m tempted to just make something crazy up just to see how polite people really are. I want to know if you think something I’m working on just isn’t going to work and why. I can take it. I may think I’ve found a way through the tree… but I like to know about them coming.

3. Enjoy the ride. You all have a front row seat to learn from my adventures into being a bootstrapped entrepreneur. I’m sure there will be lessons learned along the way you may get to take advantage of someday.

4. Let Gretchen know how awesome she is. She went through starting her own business first and I wouldn’t be able to do this if it weren’t for her.  She’s an amazing woman, has shown great patience with me, and I could not be more grateful for having her and our son Gabe to be in love with. 

Practicing what we preach at KickoffLabs

beekerToday Scott and I announced the foundation of a new business with KickoffLabs. Our goal is to make it simpler for people to validate, connect, and launch their ideas with customers. Although V1 hasn’t been released yet we are going to practice what we’re preaching and start building a list of potential early adopters that can help shape the direction of V1 before we launch.

At this stage our goal, in addition to building the product, is to build an audience of people that believe what we believe… that there is a better way to launch your product, business, or service with your target audience. If that’s something that you believe then become part of our tribe by giving us your attention at KickoffLabs.com.

Why am I Recording OneDayApp?

n624372045_1718296_6740I’d probably have my new app for sale if I wasn’t using it as the subject of my training series.  But one of the things that really stuck with me after reading Rework was the concept that you can sell the byproducts of building your product.

In the 37Signals case they sell the books from creating their own product management/development process.  I figured, in my case I’d try selling some “how”s in the form of training.  One year from now it will be interesting to see if the App or the Training makes more money.  Smile

To put it another way… there’s always a dog under the desk you could sell with your work.  Chapter 3 has taken a little longer than I expected, but is almost in the bag.

Kevin Smith talks about his own “Start-Up” Experience

I wasn’t expecting entrepreneurial inspiration from the Adam Carolla show the other day. Just some laughs while I worked on the OneDayApp series. Depending on where you work it may not be safe, but there are good laughs and inspiration buried here.

Right away they talk about why no one works for the same place for 40 years anymore and the dream of making his first movie (Clerks) by maxing out his credit cards.

They also discuss:

  • Timing
  • Making awesome sauce from nothing.
  • Why a lot of people don’t “go for it”
  • Doing something to get the opportunity to do the next, bigger, something for the audience you built.
  • How doing great things will get you both fans & anti-fans.

Kevin Smith on Adam Carolla on Getting Started

Sure, it’s a little long, but worth it to have on if you were told you could listen to the radio at a reasonable volume from 9-11.