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Business Tips

For startups, effectiveness > efficiency

Written by Paul on June 17th, 2010

Chris Dixon makes an important point about not over-engineering your product in the early days:

Many products can be built much more quickly and cheaply by settling for good technology plus a bunch of hacks – human editing, partnerships, using 3rd party software – versus creating a perfect technology from scratch.

To this day, most of the work at MailFinch is still manual. Someone has to make sure a document gets printed, folded and stuffed into a …

Startup Market Positioning: Less is More

Written by Paul on May 28th, 2010

Looking back at the recent growth of MailFinch, most of the success can be attributed to what the product can’t do. We do very few things but we do those things better than anyone else in the game and we make it drop-dead simple to get started. Now Thomas Thurston, a researcher and consultant based in Portland, Oregon, has come up with a formula that predicts startup success with an 85% accuracy …

How to run a small business

Written by Paul on January 15th, 2009

A couple of weeks ago, I shared my thoughts on how to buy a small business. Since then, a number of people emailed me to ask how to actually run a small business. Easy enough!

First things first, running a “brick & mortar” business is much, much harder than anyone initially thinks. When I first took over my family’s construction company, I thought it was going to be a piece of cake. I mean, how hard can it be to …

How to buy a small business

Written by Paul on December 7th, 2008

For certain people, entrepreneurship is less about some high-tech idea put together by some college engineers and more about doing something tangible — like running a car wash or buying a bar. After all, what’s better than waking up and collecting cash from people that want to have their car cleaned every day or just want to hang out at your little dive bar?

Unfortunately, it isn’t quite that simple.

The economy is in shambles, real estate valuations are tanking and most …

How to sell luxury in today's market

Written by Paul on November 16th, 2008

While watching TV last weekend, one particular commercial made me realize just how much the market is changing. Actually, it wasn’t really the whole commercial but a particular line — their tagline was “Lowest Cost of Ownership” and referred to Lexus’ decent fuel economy, durability, and resale value.

That’s interesting because they used to run pre-Christmas ads for their “December to Remember” events featuring a loving spouse giving his or her significant other a new Lexus wrapped in a big red …

Singles and Doubles: Using metrics to grow your business

Written by Paul on November 11th, 2008

In Profitable Growth is Everyone’s Business, Ram Charan puts it perfectly:

Focus on hitting singles and doubles. Home runs don’t happen every day or even every decade.

Everyone knows Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer ever and most people attribute that success to something vague and intangible, like talent or sheer luck. But, did you know that Tiger works out every day, runs for miles and wins less than 50% of the time? Did you …

Reputation: More Important Than Brand

Written by Paul on October 30th, 2008

This is a guest post by Thursday Bram, a freelance journalist currently located in Laurel, MD.

As you’ve built your business, you’ve put a lot of effort into building a brand. You have a logo, a website, and a business card establishing who you are and what you do. But there is one thing more important than your brand: your reputation. With a poor reputation, putting more work into your brand just isn’t worth the time.

Warren Buffett understands the importance of …

Revisiting Drucker: What Gets Measured Gets Managed

Written by Paul on October 26th, 2008

Seems that everyone’s interested in analytics these days — well, maybe not interested, but there sure are a lot of people talking about analytics on the web these days. Regardless, it’s great to see that people are starting to see the value of clear dashboards and actionable metrics. Though, I do wonder how they made decisions without all the fancy new dashboards that are available out these days.

Peter Drucker once said, “What gets measured, gets managed.” Let that sink

Making money on the web, a brief howto

Written by Paul on October 22nd, 2008

If you’re a business and you’re on the web, chances are that you’ve heard all about the importance of having a RSS feed, newsletter signup, social networking links and a million other things. More importantly, you’ve probably installed a bunch of these on your site without considering how you’ll actually use them to make some money. (After all, isn’t that why you decided to get your business on the web in the first place?)

Based on a number of websites I’ve …

Businesses, enjoy the fire sale.

Written by Paul on October 20th, 2008

It’s interesting to note that many of the people that handed out business advice when the going was good have strangely gone quiet now that things aren’t looking so good on Wall Street. The reality of the current situation is that entrepreneurs still have to wake up every morning, head to work and pave a path to a better future.

Most small businesses are already focusing on aggressively cutting costs by streamlining their current business processes and focusing on cash flow …

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