Sunday, December 27, 2009

Bad weather decisions

We in Oklahoma got clobbered this Christmas eve with snow. We are not used to having 8"-12" of snow ever, let alone on Christmas. The weather threw everyone's plans into disarray and many were caught in snow drifts trying to get home.

I say this not to minimize the difficulty we all had, but to make the point that as a business owner you need to inform your (prospective) customers about what is going on.

If you were forced to close early, the least you should do is to put a sign in the door, then change the answering machine for the store phone - "Due to the weather we are closed until Friday". You should also take a couple minutes to do the same for your website main page. Both of these could be done from your own home, without requiring you to drive into the store. (You do have your phone answering machine codes and website logins at hand, don't you?)

My wife and I braved the roads on Christmas day to go see a movie. When we arrived at the theater, it was closed. We had actually called the theater beforehand, and it listed the movie times and made no mention it was closed. If my wife and I had been the only ones caught, you might have argued we were just crazy to go. But during our time there at the theater, at least 10 other cars pulled in the lot, each driving up to the door trying to go to the movies. It is not outside the realm of possibility that someone might try to go see a movie on Christmas.

Don't compound the bad weather by not considering your customers!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

You'll know when to Start your business

In a great article on 7 Things I learned from a Tech Incubator, the author and founder of a startup remarks, "Lesson 7: You’ll know when to start your startup when not starting it is no longer an option."

This sounds a bit strange, but he notes this was one of the best pieces of advice he received.

If you can do the things you want within the context of an existing business - why go through the heartache of running your own? But when you find that not doing it is no option, that is when you start.

By example, someone who is a musician is driven to play music. Not playing is not an option. That is a big difference than me plunking around occasionally in the front room on a guitar and a musician (talent notwithstanding!).

Now there are different motivations for why you feel you must start your business.
  • Vivik Wadhu from Duke University says, "...the greatest motivation is that you are tired of working for other people."
  • Maybe there is some technical problem you are consumed with, and there is no way you won't give up on it.
Whatever your motivation, if it is just "well, I will see what happens," you are liable not to be willing to put in the extra effort needed to make it happen.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Talking Around Email

In their latest posting on the 37 Signals blog, Matt remarks,
"But we kept thinking that just one more email would clear up the confusion. It was a reminder of how easy it is to waste time talking around a problem when just getting real with it can get you to consensus in a fraction of the time."

How many times do we use sending an email as a means of contacting someone? Wait until 5:05pm and watch all the email come in...with messages like "Tried to call and could not reach you - will call tomorrow" or "where are we on the McGillicuty project?"

Remember: an email is not "talking to someone". Pick up the phone or better yet, go solve the problem rather than sending another email. Another email won't clear up the confusion.

PS: sorry about the lack of posts the last week or two - I got a wicked cold last week and basically missed the entire week. Back to work today! Thank goodness for antibiotics that still work.