More on Entrepreneurship
2 months ago
What's up with tech?
Massive Layoffs, record low VC investment, debate over crash... why is it happening and what’s the endgame?
This article generalizes a diverse industry. For objectivity, specific tech company challenges like growing competition within named segments won't be considered. Please comment on the posts.
According to Layoffs.fyi, nearly 120.000 people have been fired from startups since March 2020. More than 700 startups have fired 1% to 100% of their workforce. "The tech market is crashing"
Venture capital investment dropped 19% QoQ in the first four months of 2022, a 2018 low. Since January 2022, Nasdaq has dropped 27%. Some believe the tech market is collapsing.
It's bad, but nothing has crashed yet. We're about to get super technical, so buckle up!
I've written a follow-up article about what's next. For a more optimistic view of the crisis' aftermath, see: Tech Diaspora and Silicon Valley crisis
Insanity reigned. Last decade, everyone became a unicorn. Seed investments can be made without a product or team. While the "real world" economy suffered from the pandemic for three years, tech companies enjoyed the "new normal."
COVID sped up technology adoption on several fronts, but this "new normal" wasn't so new after many restrictions were lifted. Worse, it lived with disrupted logistics chains, high oil prices, and WW3. The consumer market has felt the industry's boom for almost 3 years. Inflation, unemployment, mental distress...what looked like a fast economic recovery now looks like unfulfilled promises.
People rethink everything they eat. Paying a Netflix subscription instead of buying beef is moronic if you can watch it for free on your cousin’s account. No matter how great your real estate app's UI is, buying a house can wait until mortgage rates drop. PLGProduct Led Growth (PLG) isn't the go-to strategy when consumers have more basic expense priorities.
Exponential growth and investment
Until recently, tech companies believed that non-exponential revenue growth was fatal. Exponential growth entails doing more with less. From Salim Ismail words:
An Exponential Organization (ExO) has 10x the impact of its peers.
Many tech companies' theories are far from reality.
Investors have funded (sometimes non-exponential) growth. Scale-driven companies throw people at problems until they're solved. Need an entire closing team because you’ve just bought a TV prime time add? Sure. Want gold-weight engineers to colorize buttons? Why not?
Tech companies don't need cash flow to do it; they can just show revenue growth and get funding. Even though it's hard to get funding, this was the market's momentum until recently.
The graph at the beginning of this section shows how industry heavyweights burned money until 2020, despite being far from their market-share seed stage. Being big and being sturdy are different things, and a lot of the tech startups out there are paper tigers. Without investor money, they have no foundation.
A little bit about interest rates
Inflation-driven high interest rates are said to be causing tough times. Investors would rather leave money in the bank than spend it (I myself said it some days ago). It’s not wrong, but it’s also not that simple.
The USA central bank (FED) is a good proxy of global economics. Dollar treasury bonds are the safest investment in the world. Buying U.S. debt, the only country that can print dollars, guarantees payment.
The graph above shows that FED interest rates are low and 10+ year bond yields are near 2018 levels. Nobody was firing at 2018. What’s with that then?
Full explanation is too technical for this article, so I'll just summarize: Bond yields rise due to lack of demand or market expectations of longer-lasting inflation. Safe assets aren't a "easy money" tactic for investors. If that were true, we'd have seen the current scenario before.
Long-term investors are protecting their capital from inflation.
Not a crash, a landing
I bombarded you with info... Let's review:
Consumption is down, hurting revenue.
Tech companies of all ages have been hiring to grow revenue at the expense of profit.
Investors expect inflation to last longer, reducing future investment gains.
Inflation puts pressure on a wheel that was rolling full speed not long ago. Investment spurs hiring, growth, and more investment. Worried investors and consumers reduce the cycle, and hiring follows.
Long-term investors back startups. When the invested company goes public or is sold, it's ok to burn money. What happens when the payoff gets further away? What if all that money sinks? Investors want immediate returns.
Why isn't the market crashing? Technology is not losing capital. It’s expecting change. The market realizes it threw moderation out the window and is reversing course. Profitability is back on the menu.
People solve problems and make money, but they also cost money. Huge cost for the tech industry. Engineers, Product Managers, and Designers earn up to 100% more than similar roles. Businesses must be careful about who they keep and in what positions to avoid wasting money.
What the future holds
From here on, it's all speculation. I found many great articles while researching this piece. Some are cited, others aren't (like this and this). We're in an adjustment period that may or may not last long.
Big companies aren't laying off many workers. Netflix firing 100 people makes headlines, but it's only 1% of their workforce. The biggest seem to prefer not hiring over firing.
Smaller startups beyond the seeding stage may be hardest hit. Without structure or product maturity, many will die.
I expect layoffs to continue for some time, even at Meta or Amazon. I don't see any industry names falling like they did during the .com crisis, but the market will shrink.
If you are currently employed, think twice before moving out and where to.
If you've been fired, hurry, there are still many opportunities.
If you're considering a tech career, wait.
If you're starting a business, I respect you. Good luck.
28 days ago
In November, I made an effort to pitch 10 brands per day. Here's what I discovered.
I pitched 10 brands per workday for a total of 200.
How did I do?
It was difficult.
I've never pitched so much.
What did this challenge teach me?
the superiority of quality over quantity
When you need help, outsource
Don't disregard burnout in order to complete a challenge because it exists.
First, pitching brands for brand deals requires quality. Find firms that align with your brand to expose to your audience.
If you associate with any company, you'll lose audience loyalty. I didn't lose sight of that, but I couldn't resist finishing the task.
Delegating work to teammates is effective.
I wish I'd done it.
Three people can pitch 200 companies a month significantly faster than one.
One person does research, one to two do outreach, and one to two do follow-up and negotiating.
In 2022, I'll outsource everything.
I felt this, so I slowed down at the end of the month.
Thanksgiving week in November was slow.
I was buying and decorating for Christmas. First time putting up outdoor holiday lights was fun.
Much was happening.
I'm not perfect.
I'm being honest.
Less than 50 brands pitched.
Result: A deal with 3 brands.
I hoped for 4 brands with reaching out to 200 companies, so three with under 50 is wonderful.
That’s a 6% conversion rate!
I needed 2%.
Here's a screenshot from one of the deals I booked.
These companies fit my company well. Each campaign is different, but I've booked $2,450 in brand work with a couple of pending transactions for December and January.
$2,450 in brand work booked!
How did I do? You tell me.
Is this something you’d try yourself?
17 days ago
This billionaire created a side business that brings around $90,000 per month.
Dharmesh Shah co-founded HubSpot. WordPlay reached $90,000 per month in revenue without utilizing any of his wealth.
Take Advantage Of An Established Trend
Remember Wordle? Dharmesh was instantly hooked. As was the tech world.
HubSpot's co-founder noted inefficiencies in a recent My First Million episode. He wanted to play daily. Dharmesh, a tinkerer and software engineer, decided to design a word game.
He's a billionaire. How could he?
Wordle had limitations in his opinion;
Dharmesh is fundamentally a developer. He desired to start something new and increase his programming knowledge;
This project may serve as an excellent illustration for his son, who had begun learning about software development.
Better It Up
Building a new Wordle wasn't successful.
WordPlay lets you play with friends and family. You could challenge them and compare the results. It is a built-in growth tool.
the capacity to follow sophisticated statistics after creating an account;
continuous feedback on your performance;
Outstanding domain name (wordplay.com).
WordPlay has 9.5 million visitors and 45 million games played since February.
HubSpot co-founder credits tremendous growth to flywheel marketing, pushing the game through his own following.
Choosing an exploding specialty and making sharing easy also helped.
Shah enabled Google Ads on the website to test earning potential. Monthly revenue was $90,000.
That's just Google Ads. If monetization was the goal, a specialized ad network like Ezoic could double or triple the amount.
Wordle was a great buy for The New York Times at $1 million.
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3 months ago
Why I quit a $500K job at Amazon to work for myself
I quit my 8-year Amazon job last week. I wasn't motivated to do another year despite promotions, pay, recognition, and praise.
In AWS, I built developer tools. I could have worked in that field forever.
I became an Amazon developer. Within 3.5 years, I was promoted twice to senior engineer and would have been promoted to principal engineer if I stayed. The company said I had great potential.
Over time, I became a reputed expert and leader within the company. I was respected.
First year I made $75K, last year $511K. If I stayed another two years, I could have made $1M.
Despite Amazon's reputation, my work–life balance was good. I no longer needed to prove myself and could do everything in 40 hours a week. My team worked from home once a week, and I rarely opened my laptop nights or weekends.
My coworkers were great. I had three generous, empathetic managers. I’m very grateful to everyone I worked with.
Everything was going well and getting better. My motivation to go to work each morning was declining despite my career and income growth.
Another promotion, pay raise, or big project wouldn't have boosted my motivation. Motivation was also waning. It was my freedom.
My motivation was high in the beginning. I worked with someone on an internal tool with little scrutiny. I had more freedom to choose how and what to work on than in recent years. Me and another person improved it, talked to users, released updates, and tested it. Whatever we wanted, we did. We did our best and were mostly self-directed.
In recent years, things have changed. My department's most important project had many stakeholders and complex goals. What I could do depended on my ability to convince others it was the best way to achieve our goals.
Amazon was always someone else's terms. The terms started out simple (keep fixing it), but became more complex over time (maximize all goals; satisfy all stakeholders). Working in a large organization imposed restrictions on how to do the work, what to do, what goals to set, and what business to pursue. This situation forced me to do things I didn't want to do.
Finding New Motivation
What would I do forever? Not something I did until I reached a milestone (an exit), but something I'd do until I'm 80. What could I do for the next 45 years that would make me excited to wake up and pay my bills? Is that too unambitious? Nope. Because I'm motivated by two things.
One is an external carrot or stick. I'm not forced to file my taxes every April, but I do because I don't want to go to jail. Or I may not like something but do it anyway because I need to pay the bills or want a nice car. Extrinsic motivation
One is internal. When there's no carrot or stick, this motivates me. This fuels hobbies. I wanted a job that was intrinsically motivated.
Is this too low-key? Extrinsic motivation isn't sustainable. Getting promoted felt good for a week, then it was over. When I hit $100K, I admired my W2 for a few days, but then it wore off. Same thing happened at $200K, $300K, $400K, and $500K. Earning $1M or $10M wouldn't change anything. I feel the same about every material reward or possession. Getting them feels good at first, but quickly fades.
Things I've done since I was a kid, when no one forced me to, don't wear off. Coding, selling my creations, charting my own path, and being honest. Why not always use my strengths and motivation? I'm lucky to live in a time when I can work independently in my field without large investments. So that’s what I’m doing.
I'm going all-in on independence and will make a living from scratch. I won't do only what I like, but on my terms. My goal is to cover my family's expenses before my savings run out while doing something I enjoy. What more could I want from my work?
You can now follow me on Twitter as I continue to document my journey.
This post is a summary. Read full article here
2 months ago
Bear market duration and how to invest during one
Bear markets don't last forever, but that's hard to remember. Jamie Cullen's illustration
A bear market is a 20% decline from peak to trough in stock prices.
The S&P 500 was down 24% from its January highs at its low point this year. Bear market.
The U.S. stock market has had 13 bear markets since WWII (including the current one). Previous 12 bear markets averaged –32.7% losses. From peak to trough, the stock market averaged 12 months. The average time from bottom to peak was 21 months.
In the past seven decades, a bear market roundtrip to breakeven has averaged less than three years.
Long-term averages can vary widely, as with all historical market data. Investors can learn from past market crashes.
Historical bear markets offer lessons.
Bear market duration
A bear market can cost investors money and time. Most of the pain comes from stock market declines, but bear markets can be long.
Here are the longest U.S. stock bear markets since World war 2:
Stock market crashes can make it difficult to break even. After the 2008 financial crisis, the stock market took 4.5 years to recover. After the dotcom bubble burst, it took seven years to break even.
The longer you're underwater in the market, the more suffering you'll experience, according to research. Suffering can lead to selling at the wrong time.
Bear markets require patience because stocks can take a long time to recover.
Stock crash recovery
Bear markets can end quickly. The Corona Crash in early 2020 is an example.
The S&P 500 fell 34% in 23 trading sessions, the fastest bear market from a high in 90 years. The entire crash lasted one month. Stocks broke even six months after bottoming. Stocks rose 100% from those lows in 15 months.
Seven bear markets have lasted two years or less since 1945.
The 2020 recovery was an outlier, but four other bear markets have made investors whole within 18 months.
During a bear market, you don't know if it will end quickly or feel like death by a thousand cuts.
Recessions vs. bear markets
Many people believe the U.S. economy is in or heading for a recession.
I agree. Four-decade high inflation. Since 1945, inflation has exceeded 5% nine times. Each inflationary spike caused a recession. Only slowing economic demand seems to stop price spikes.
This could happen again. Stocks seem to be pricing in a recession.
Recessions almost always cause a bear market, but a bear market doesn't always equal a recession. In 1946, the stock market fell 27% without a recession in sight. Without an economic slowdown, the stock market fell 22% in 1966. Black Monday in 1987 was the most famous stock market crash without a recession. Stocks fell 30% in less than a week. Many believed the stock market signaled a depression. The crash caused no slowdown.
Economic cycles are hard to predict. Even Wall Street makes mistakes.
Bears vs. bulls
Bear markets for U.S. stocks always end. Every stock market crash in U.S. history has been followed by new all-time highs.
How should investors view the recession? Investing risk is subjective.
You don't have as long to wait out a bear market if you're retired or nearing retirement. Diversification and liquidity help investors with limited time or income. Cash and short-term bonds drag down long-term returns but can ensure short-term spending.
Young people with years or decades ahead of them should view this bear market as an opportunity. Stock market crashes are good for net savers in the future. They let you buy cheap stocks with high dividend yields.
You need discipline, patience, and planning to buy stocks when it doesn't feel right.
Bear markets aren't fun because no one likes seeing their portfolio fall. But stock market downturns are a feature, not a bug. If stocks never crashed, they wouldn't offer such great long-term returns.
1 month ago
5 ways to never run out of article ideas
“Perfectionism is the enemy of the idea muscle. " — James Altucher
Writer's block is a typical explanation for low output. Success requires productivity.
In four years of writing, I've never had writer's block. And you shouldn't care.
You'll never run out of content ideas if you follow a few tactics. No, I'm not overpromising.
Take Note of Ideas
Brains are strange machines. Blank when it's time to write. Idiot. Nothing. We get the best article ideas when we're away from our workstation.
In the shower
In our dreams
During dull chats
In the gym
No accident. The best ideas come in the shower, in nature, or while exercising.
(Your workstation is the worst place for creativity.)
The brain has time and space to link 'dots' of information during rest. It's eureka! New idea.
If you're serious about writing, capture thoughts as they come.
Immediately write down a new thought. Capture it. Don't miss it. Your future self will thank you.
As a writer, entrepreneur, or creative, letting ideas slide is bad.
I recommend using Evernote, Notion, or your device's basic note-taking tool to capture article ideas.
It doesn't matter whatever app you use as long as you collect article ideas.
When you practice 'idea-capturing' enough, you'll have an unending list of article ideas when writer's block hits.
More books, films, Medium pieces, and Youtube videos I consume, the more I'm inspired to write.
What you eat shapes who you are.
Celebrity gossip and fear-mongering news won't help your writing. It won't help you write regularly.
Instead, read expert-written books. Watch documentaries to improve your worldview. Follow amazing people online.
Develop your 'idea muscle' Daily creativity takes practice. The more you exercise your 'idea muscles,' the easier it is to generate article ideas.
I've trained my 'concept muscle' using James Altucher's exercise.
Write 10 ideas daily.
Write ten book ideas every day if you're an author. Write down 10 business ideas per day if you're an entrepreneur. Write down 10 investing ideas per day.
Write 10 article ideas per day. You become a content machine.
It doesn't state you need ten amazing ideas. You don't need 10 ideas. Ten ideas, regardless of quality.
Like at the gym, reps are what matter. With each article idea, you gain creativity. Writer's block is no match for this workout.
Perfectionism is bad for writers. You'll have bad articles. You'll have bad ideas. OK. It's creative.
Writing success requires prolificacy. You can't have 'perfect' articles.
“Perfectionism is the enemy of the idea muscle. Perfectionism is your brain trying to protect you from harm.” — James Altucher
Vincent van Gogh painted 900 pieces. The Starry Night is the most famous.
Thomas Edison invented 1093 things, but not all were as important as the lightbulb or the first movie camera.
Mozart composed nearly 600 compositions, but only Serenade No13 became popular.
Always do your best. Perfectionism shouldn't stop you from working. Write! Publicize. Make. Even if imperfect.
Write Your Story
Living an interesting life gives you plenty to write about. If you travel a lot, share your stories or lessons learned.
Describe your business's successes and shortcomings.
Share your experiences with difficulties or addictions.
More experiences equal more writing material.
If you stay indoors, perusing social media, you won't be inspired to write.
Have fun. Travel. Strive. Build a business. Be bold. Live a life worth writing about, and you won't run out of material.