Archive for the ‘Entrepreneurship’ tag


Gotta love journalists. You have to actually try to run some small biz someday to understand why so many things can go wrong.

IMHO a typical, real company always operates at a 95-110% of its resources just to handle the status quo. It can be more difficult for dinosaurs pulling big, multi-front (hardware&software&content) releases that require coordination of multi-thousand divisions and countless supply partners.

Companies like Apple and Amazon have to demonstrate insane operational jiujitsu for a long time on a daily basis to actually release something. Let alone meet release dates. Let alone get it right and satisfy customers. Let alone persistently build reputation for decades. I would call these companies and their management anomalies. It’s in human nature to suck.

Start an eatery and you’ll be pulling your hair off in no time.

Steve Jobs resigned. Listen how that sounds.

When the news hit the ground the web understandably got full of Jobs and Apple trivia, romantic stories about early tough days and the current Apple greatness. I’m as hard an Apple fan as the next guy, so I, too, read some of those.

One of the remarkable ones was from Vic Gundotra, Icon Ambulance.

While the story is beautiful and touching, it and the likes without context are dangerous for aspiring entrepreneurs and struggling companies. People tend to start with easy things never really doing the hard ones.

Apple became great because Steve Jobs has system thinking, design taste, vision for future, and high standards of quality. It’s integrity that can’t be imitated. Also he did an awful lot of work and demanded the same from other people constantly to achieve this kind of success.

I’m afraid that story gives a bad perspective. Steve Jobs definitely doesn’t review icons all day long. Delegation is one thing that a successful leader must master. It’s important not to confuse attention to detail with micromanagement.

37 signals about meetings again:

Meetings basically make things happen all at once. And that means you’re pulling a bunch of people off their work to have this “right now” conversation. It’s very disruptive for a bunch of people. So if they can communicate over a long period of time instead, it’s much better.

I think companies would benefit from giving employees a lot more autonomy and alone time to do their work. And then when they do need to come together, it can be more special and more meaningful. It’s like seeing an old friend you haven’t seen for a long time – it’s kind of a special moment for a couple hours and then you go break up and go back to your own lives and that’s fine. And that’s how we like to treat our work here.

For me all of that sounds reasonable except for the “old friend” comparison. You have to be “close” friends instead. A meeting’s usefulness drops dramatically with more people and details included – that’s the more correct point. You can afford to be “old friends” with colleagues when everybody works on a firm long-term plan. Which isn’t usually true.

A dusty draft getting outta closet – better late than never

First of all, if you start a business, by all means go buy it. Right now, I’m waiting.

Second, be aware though. It exaggerates every message it delivers. I understand where this comes from – people who have “been there, done that” can’t stress enough some ground rules that are counter-intuitive or are easily overlooked.

But some word inflation the tone of this book can lead to all the wrong conclusions.

Not to spread my rant too thin, I’ll concentrate on Jason’s idiosyncrasy about meetings. Any time a meeting is mentioned it’s positioned as a distraction from “real” work. It’s ok if you have a small team and a not so complex (in implementation) product. Go ahead, let everyone work for two weeks (as the actual advice goes) on their subtasks without any checks and course-correcting intrusions. Some people do appreciate that.

But chances are you lack time, people, communication and black magic necessary for the work to be done by itself perfectly according to your vision. Particularly, communication has one defect – it creates illusion that it happened (© someone). So choose if you want to have everything double checked at start and can make maneuvers when necessary, or you want annoying surprises down the road.

I’m a control freak, I admit. Paranoid sometimes. If you are a first-time founding CEO, congrats – there’s no Peace/War dilemma for you. You are only here to fight. Otherwise, don’t start. Getting an adequate product to the market within an acceptable timeframe is a full-blown war on its own. If all goes well you won’t be putting down your war banner any time soon. To be clear, I’m speaking about endeavors involving real employees and targeting real markets.

Don’t get me wrong, the book’s main point is to help people get rid of some of the most insidious myths and distractions poisoning small businesses. Just don’t take it literally. And by all means complement it with some reading like Only the Paranoid Survive.

RSS to email

Oct 10, '07

A lot of internet companies adopted blogging systems for news/press purposes, and a lot of internet users learned how to read RSS. This is the new, truly democratic way of syndicating and personalizing content.

The problem is that effective volumes of internet users still don’t know (or don’t want to learn) how to use new technologies. That is why direct email marketing is still relevant and is going to kick long years forward. Nothing can in visible future fully replace news delivery right to one’s inbox regardless of the curvy roads it walks – obscure SPAM/not-SPAM definition.

This leads us to the idea that one of the most useful services around the RSS phenomena nowadays is RSS to email delivery. A lot of users appreciate old and familiar newsletter subscription form instead of learning what the heck to do with your feed URL and how to use RSS readers. This is crucial to remember if your business depends on those not tech savvy. I’m speaking of old timers – usually a very purchase-driven audience.

When reviewing several RSS-to-email services I found r|mail. It does what it supposed to do right on the homepage in the best manner of Web 2.0 services. This very post is to test their delivery ;)

Oct 12 update: No email from rmail. :( Trying out other services.

Oct 15 update: This time it’s great with rssfwd. Feel free to check this service. We’re putting this to skalfa.com index page with the nearest site update.

Paul Graham

Sep 13, '07

If you plan to run your own business, or already running one; if you look to develop and grow above your head; if you just want more provocative thoughts about life in general, by all means read Paul Graham.

Paul Graham took part in one of the first dotcom era startups that was bought by Yahoo. On top of his experience and common sense he shares invaluable insights. I’m his constant reader.