Integrity
Write
Loading...
Mircea Iosif

Mircea Iosif

1 year ago

How To Start An Online Business That Will Be Profitable Without Investing A Lot Of Time

More on Entrepreneurship/Creators

cdixon

cdixon

1 year ago

2000s Toys, Secrets, and Cycles

During the dot-com bust, I started my internet career. People used the internet intermittently to check email, plan travel, and do research. The average internet user spent 30 minutes online a day, compared to 7 today. To use the internet, you had to "log on" (most people still used dial-up), unlike today's always-on, high-speed mobile internet. In 2001, Amazon's market cap was $2.2B, 1/500th of what it is today. A study asked Americans if they'd adopt broadband, and most said no. They didn't see a need to speed up email, the most popular internet use. The National Academy of Sciences ranked the internet 13th among the 100 greatest inventions, below radio and phones. The internet was a cool invention, but it had limited uses and wasn't a good place to build a business. 

A small but growing movement of developers and founders believed the internet could be more than a read-only medium, allowing anyone to create and publish. This is web 2. The runner up name was read-write web. (These terms were used in prominent publications and conferences.) 

Web 2 concepts included letting users publish whatever they want ("user generated content" was a buzzword), social graphs, APIs and mashups (what we call composability today), and tagging over hierarchical navigation. Technical innovations occurred. A seemingly simple but important one was dynamically updating web pages without reloading. This is now how people expect web apps to work. Mobile devices that could access the web were niche (I was an avid Sidekick user). 

The contrast between what smart founders and engineers discussed over dinner and on weekends and what the mainstream tech world took seriously during the week was striking. Enterprise security appliances, essentially preloaded servers with security software, were a popular trend. Many of the same people would talk about "serious" products at work, then talk about consumer internet products and web 2. It was tech's biggest news. Web 2 products were seen as toys, not real businesses. They were hobbies, not work-related. 

There's a strong correlation between rich product design spaces and what smart people find interesting, which took me some time to learn and led to blog posts like "The next big thing will start out looking like a toy" Web 2's novel product design possibilities sparked dinner and weekend conversations. Imagine combining these features. What if you used this pattern elsewhere? What new product ideas are next? This excited people. "Serious stuff" like security appliances seemed more limited. 

The small and passionate web 2 community also stood out. I attended the first New York Tech meetup in 2004. Everyone fit in Meetup's small conference room. Late at night, people demoed their software and chatted. I have old friends. Sometimes I get asked how I first met old friends like Fred Wilson and Alexis Ohanian. These topics didn't interest many people, especially on the east coast. We were friends. Real community. Alex Rampell, who now works with me at a16z, is someone I met in 2003 when a friend said, "Hey, I met someone else interested in consumer internet." Rare. People were focused and enthusiastic. Revolution seemed imminent. We knew a secret nobody else did. 

My web 2 startup was called SiteAdvisor. When my co-founders and I started developing the idea in 2003, web security was out of control. Phishing and spyware were common on Internet Explorer PCs. SiteAdvisor was designed to warn users about security threats like phishing and spyware, and then, using web 2 concepts like user-generated reviews, add more subjective judgments (similar to what TrustPilot seems to do today). This staged approach was common at the time; I called it "Come for the tool, stay for the network." We built APIs, encouraged mashups, and did SEO marketing. 

Yahoo's 2005 acquisitions of Flickr and Delicious boosted web 2 in 2005. By today's standards, the amounts were small, around $30M each, but it was a signal. Web 2 was assumed to be a fun hobby, a way to build cool stuff, but not a business. Yahoo was a savvy company that said it would make web 2 a priority. 

As I recall, that's when web 2 started becoming mainstream tech. Early web 2 founders transitioned successfully. Other entrepreneurs built on the early enthusiasts' work. Competition shifted from ideation to execution. You had to decide if you wanted to be an idealistic indie bar band or a pragmatic stadium band. 

Web 2 was booming in 2007 Facebook passed 10M users, Twitter grew and got VC funding, and Google bought YouTube. The 2008 financial crisis tested entrepreneurs' resolve. Smart people predicted another great depression as tech funding dried up. 

Many people struggled during the recession. 2008-2011 was a golden age for startups. By 2009, talented founders were flooding Apple's iPhone app store. Mobile apps were booming. Uber, Venmo, Snap, and Instagram were all founded between 2009 and 2011. Social media (which had replaced web 2), cloud computing (which enabled apps to scale server side), and smartphones converged. Even if social, cloud, and mobile improve linearly, the combination could improve exponentially. 

This chart shows how I view product and financial cycles. Product and financial cycles evolve separately. The Nasdaq index is a proxy for the financial sentiment. Financial sentiment wildly fluctuates. 

Next row shows iconic startup or product years. Bottom-row product cycles dictate timing. Product cycles are more predictable than financial cycles because they follow internal logic. In the incubation phase, enthusiasts build products for other enthusiasts on nights and weekends. When the right mix of technology, talent, and community knowledge arrives, products go mainstream. (I show the biggest tech cycles in the chart, but smaller ones happen, like web 2 in the 2000s and fintech and SaaS in the 2010s.) 

Tech has changed since the 2000s. Few tech giants dominate the internet, exerting economic and cultural influence. In the 2000s, web 2 was ignored or dismissed as trivial. Entrenched interests respond aggressively to new movements that could threaten them. Creative patterns from the 2000s continue today, driven by enthusiasts who see possibilities where others don't. Know where to look. Crypto and web 3 are where I'd start. 

Today's negative financial sentiment reminds me of 2008. If we face a prolonged downturn, we can learn from 2008 by preserving capital and focusing on the long term. Keep an eye on the product cycle. Smart people are interested in things with product potential. This becomes true. Toys become necessities. Hobbies become mainstream. Optimists build the future, not cynics.


Full article is available here

Simone Basso

Simone Basso

1 year ago

How I set up my teams to be successful

After 10 years of working in scale-ups, I've embraced a few concepts for scaling Tech and Product teams.

First, cross-functionalize teams. Product Managers represent the business, Product Designers the consumer, and Engineers build.

I organize teams of 5-10 individuals, following AWS's two pizza teams guidelines, with a Product Trio guiding each.

If more individuals are needed to reach a goal, I group teams under a Product Trio.

With Engineering being the biggest group, Staff/Principal Engineers often support the Trio on cross-team technical decisions.

Product Managers, Engineering Managers, or Engineers in the team may manage projects (depending on the project or aim), but the trio is collectively responsible for the team's output and outcome.

Once the Product Trio model is created, roles, duties, team ceremonies, and cooperation models must be clarified.

Keep reporting lines by discipline. Line managers are accountable for each individual's advancement, thus it's crucial that they know the work in detail.

Cross-team collaboration becomes more important after 3 teams (15-30 people). Teams can easily diverge in how they write code, run ceremonies, and build products.

Establishing groups of people that are cross-team, but grouped by discipline and skills, sharing and agreeing on working practices becomes critical.

The “Spotify Guild” model has been where I’ve taken a lot of my inspiration from.

Last, establish a taxonomy for communication channels.

In Slack, I create one channel per team and one per guild (and one for me to have discussions with the team leads).

These are just some of the basic principles I follow to organize teams.

A book I particularly like about team types and how they interact with each other is https://teamtopologies.com/.

Aaron Dinin, PhD

Aaron Dinin, PhD

1 year ago

Are You Unintentionally Creating the Second Difficult Startup Type?

Most don't understand the issue until it's too late.

Image courtesy Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

My first startup was what entrepreneurs call the hardest. A two-sided marketplace.

Two-sided marketplaces are the hardest startups because founders must solve the chicken or the egg conundrum.

A two-sided marketplace needs suppliers and buyers. Without suppliers, buyers won't come. Without buyers, suppliers won't come. An empty marketplace and a founder striving to gain momentum result.

My first venture made me a struggling founder seeking to achieve traction for a two-sided marketplace. The company failed, and I vowed never to start another like it.

I didn’t. Unfortunately, my second venture was almost as hard. It failed like the second-hardest startup.

What kind of startup is the second-hardest?

The second-hardest startup, which is almost as hard to develop, is rarely discussed in the startup community. Because of this, I predict more founders fail each year trying to develop the second-toughest startup than the hardest.

Fairly, I have no proof. I see many startups, so I have enough of firsthand experience. From what I've seen, for every entrepreneur developing a two-sided marketplace, I'll meet at least 10 building this other challenging startup.

I'll describe a startup I just met with its two co-founders to explain the second hardest sort of startup and why it's so hard. They created a financial literacy software for parents of high schoolers.

The issue appears plausible. Children struggle with money. Parents must teach financial responsibility. Problems?

It's possible.

Buyers and users are different.

Buyer-user mismatch.

The financial literacy app I described above targets parents. The parent doesn't utilize the app. Child is end-user. That may not seem like much, but it makes customer and user acquisition and onboarding difficult for founders.

The difficulty of a buyer-user imbalance

The company developing a product faces a substantial operational burden when the buyer and end customer are different. Consider classic firms where the buyer is the end user to appreciate that responsibility.

Entrepreneurs selling directly to end users must educate them about the product's benefits and use. Each demands a lot of time, effort, and resources.

Imagine selling a financial literacy app where the buyer and user are different. To make the first sale, the entrepreneur must establish all the items I mentioned above. After selling, the entrepreneur must supply a fresh set of resources to teach, educate, or train end-users.

Thus, a startup with a buyer-user mismatch must market, sell, and train two organizations at once, requiring twice the work with the same resources.

The second hardest startup is hard for reasons other than the chicken-or-the-egg conundrum. It takes a lot of creativity and luck to solve the chicken-or-egg conundrum.

The buyer-user mismatch problem cannot be overcome by innovation or luck. Buyer-user mismatches must be solved by force. Simply said, when a product buyer is different from an end-user, founders have a lot more work. If they can't work extra, their companies fail.

You might also like

Jenn Leach

Jenn Leach

1 year ago

This clever Instagram marketing technique increased my sales to $30,000 per month.

No Paid Ads Required

Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

I had an online store. After a year of running the company alongside my 9-to-5, I made enough to resign.

That day was amazing.

This Instagram marketing plan helped the store succeed.

How did I increase my sales to five figures a month without using any paid advertising?

I used customer event marketing.

I'm not sure this term exists. I invented it to describe what I was doing.

Instagram word-of-mouth, fan engagement, and interaction drove sales.

If a customer liked or disliked a product, the buzz would drive attention to the store.

I used customer-based events to increase engagement and store sales.

Success!

Here are the weekly Instagram customer events I coordinated while running my business:

  • Be the Buyer Days

  • Flash sales

  • Mystery boxes

Be the Buyer Days: How do they work?

Be the Buyer Days are exactly that.

You choose a day to share stock selections with social media followers.

This is an easy approach to engaging customers and getting fans enthusiastic about new releases.

First, pick a handful of items you’re considering ordering. I’d usually pick around 3 for Be the Buyer Day.

Then I'd poll the crowd on Instagram to vote on their favorites.

This was before Instagram stories, polls, and all the other cool features Instagram offers today. I think using these tools now would make this event even better.

I'd ask customers their favorite back then.

The growing comments excited customers.

Then I'd declare the winner, acquire the products, and start selling it.

How do flash sales work?

I mostly ran flash sales.

You choose a limited number of itemsdd for a few-hour sale.

We wanted most sales to result in sold-out items.

When an item sells out, it contributes to the sensation of scarcity and can inspire customers to visit your store to buy a comparable product, join your email list, become a fan, etc.

We hoped they'd act quickly.

I'd hold flash deals twice a week, which generated scarcity and boosted sales.

The store had a few thousand Instagram followers when I started flash deals.

Each flash sale item would make $400 to $600.

$400 x 3= $1,200

That's $1,200 on social media!

Twice a week, you'll make roughly $10K a month from Instagram.

$1,200/day x 8 events/month=$9,600

Flash sales did great.

We held weekly flash deals and sent social media and email reminders. That’s about it!

How are mystery boxes put together?

All you do is package a box of store products and sell it as a mystery box on TikTok or retail websites.

A $100 mystery box would cost $30.

You're discounting high-value boxes.

This is a clever approach to get rid of excess inventory and makes customers happy.

It worked!

Be the Buyer Days, flash deals, and mystery boxes helped build my company without paid advertisements.

All companies can use customer event marketing. Involving customers and providing an engaging environment can boost sales.

Try it!

Aldric Chen

Aldric Chen

1 year ago

Jack Dorsey's Meeting Best Practice was something I tried. It Performs Exceptionally Well in Consulting Engagements.

Photo by Cherrydeck on Unsplash

Yes, client meetings are difficult. Especially when I'm alone.

Clients must tell us their problems so we can help.

In-meeting challenges contribute nothing to our work. Consider this:

  • Clients are unprepared.

  • Clients are distracted.

  • Clients are confused.

Introducing Jack Dorsey's Google Doc approach

I endorse his approach to meetings.

Not Google Doc-related. Jack uses it for meetings.

This is what his meetings look like.

  • Prior to the meeting, the Chair creates the agenda, structure, and information using Google Doc.

  • Participants in the meeting would have 5-10 minutes to read the Google Doc.

  • They have 5-10 minutes to type their comments on the document.

  • In-depth discussion begins

There is elegance in simplicity. Here's how Jack's approach is fantastic.

Unprepared clients are given time to read.

During the meeting, they think and work on it.

They can see real-time remarks from others.

Discussion ensues.

Three months ago, I fell for this strategy. After trying it with a client, I got good results.

I conducted social control experiments in a few client workshops.

Context matters.

I am sure Jack Dorsey’s method works well in meetings. What about client workshops?

So, I tested Enterprise of the Future with a consulting client.

I sent multiple emails to client stakeholders describing the new approach.

No PowerPoints that day. I spent the night setting up the Google Doc with conversation topics, critical thinking questions, and a Before and After section.

The client was shocked. First, a Google Doc was projected. Second surprise was a verbal feedback.

“No pre-meeting materials?”

“Don’t worry. I know you are not reading it before our meeting, anyway.”

We laughed. The experiment started.

Observations throughout a 90-minute engagement workshop from beginning to end

For 10 minutes, the workshop was silent.

People read the Google Doc. For some, the silence was unnerving.

“Are you not going to present anything to us?”

I said everything's in Google Doc. I asked them to read, remark, and add relevant paragraphs.

As they unlocked their laptops, they were annoyed.

Ten client stakeholders are typing on the Google Doc. My laptop displays comment bubbles, red lines, new paragraphs, and strikethroughs.

The first 10 minutes were productive. Everyone has seen and contributed to the document.

I was silent.

The move to a classical workshop was smooth. I didn't stimulate dialogue. They did.

Stephanie asked Joe why a blended workforce hinders company productivity. She questioned his comments and additional paragraphs.

That is when a light bulb hit my head. Yes, you want to speak to the right person to resolve issues!

Not only that was discussed. Others discussed their remark bubbles with neighbors. Debate circles sprung up one after the other.

The best part? I asked everyone to add their post-discussion thoughts on a Google Doc.

After the workshop, I have:

  • An agreement-based working document

  • A post-discussion minutes that are prepared for publication

  • A record of the discussion points that were brought up, argued, and evaluated critically

It showed me how stakeholders viewed their Enterprise of the Future. It allowed me to align with them.

Finale Keynotes

Client meetings are a hit-or-miss. I know that.

Jack Dorsey's meeting strategy works for consulting. It promotes session alignment.

It relieves clients of preparation.

I get the necessary information to advance this consulting engagement.

It is brilliant.

Matthew Royse

Matthew Royse

1 year ago

These 10 phrases are unprofessional at work.

Successful workers don't talk this way.

"I know it's unprofessional, but I can't stop." Author Sandy Hall

Do you realize your unprofessionalism? Do you care? Self-awareness?

Everyone can improve their unprofessionalism. Some workplace phrases and words shouldn't be said.

People often say out loud what they're thinking. They show insecurity, incompetence, and disrespect.

"Think before you speak," goes the saying.

Some of these phrases are "okay" in certain situations, but you'll lose colleagues' respect if you use them often.

Your word choice. Your tone. Your intentions. They matter.

Choose your words carefully to build work relationships and earn peer respect. You should build positive relationships with coworkers and clients.

These 10 phrases are unprofessional. 

1. That Meeting Really Sucked

Wow! Were you there? You should be responsible if you attended. You can influence every conversation.

Alternatives

Improve the meeting instead of complaining afterward. Make it more meaningful and productive.

2. Not Sure if You Saw My Last Email

Referencing a previous email irritates people. Email follow-up can be difficult. Most people get tons of emails a day, so it may have been buried, forgotten, or low priority.

Alternatives

It's okay to follow up, but be direct, short, and let the recipient "save face"

3. Any Phrase About Sex, Politics, and Religion

Discussing sex, politics, and religion at work is foolish. If you discuss these topics, you could face harassment lawsuits.

Alternatives

Keep quiet about these contentious issues. Don't touch them.

4. I Know What I’m Talking About

Adding this won't persuade others. Research, facts, and topic mastery are key to persuasion. If you're knowledgeable, you don't need to say this.

Alternatives

Please don’t say it at all. Justify your knowledge.

5. Per Our Conversation

This phrase sounds like legal language. You seem to be documenting something legally. Cold, stern, and distant. "As discussed" sounds inauthentic.

Alternatives

It was great talking with you earlier; here's what I said.

6. Curse-Word Phrases

Swearing at work is unprofessional. You never know who's listening, so be careful. A child may be at work or on a Zoom or Teams call. Workplace cursing is unacceptable.

Alternatives

Avoid adult-only words.

7. I Hope This Email Finds You Well

This is a unique way to wish someone well. This phrase isn't as sincere as the traditional one. When you talk about the email, you're impersonal.

Alternatives

Genuinely care for others.

8. I Am Really Stressed

Happy, strong, stress-managing coworkers are valued. Manage your own stress. Exercise, sleep, and eat better.

Alternatives

Everyone has stress, so manage it. Don't talk about your stress.

9. I Have Too Much to Do

You seem incompetent. People think you can't say "no" or have poor time management. If you use this phrase, you're telling others you may need to change careers.

Alternatives

Don't complain about your workload; just manage it.

10. Bad Closing Salutations

"Warmly," "best," "regards," and "warm wishes" are common email closings. This conclusion sounds impersonal. Why use "warmly" for finance's payment status?

Alternatives

Personalize the closing greeting to the message and recipient. Use "see you tomorrow" or "talk soon" as closings.

Bringing It All Together

These 10 phrases are unprofessional at work. That meeting sucked, not sure if you saw my last email, and sex, politics, and religion phrases.

Also, "I know what I'm talking about" and any curse words. Also, avoid phrases like I hope this email finds you well, I'm stressed, and I have too much to do.

Successful workers communicate positively and foster professionalism. Don't waste chances to build strong work relationships by being unprofessional.

“Unprofessionalism damages the business reputation and tarnishes the trust of society.” — Pearl Zhu, an American author


This post is a summary. Read full article here