It ain’t over till the fat lady sings

This saying is from Wagner’s opera depicting the end of the world (of the Norse gods), where the final scene shows a buxom woman singing, followed by the end of the world (and the show). It has subsequently been applied to many circumstances in life, particularly in sport. It applies equally in business. There will be…

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Don’t fight the world

If you find yourself going against everyone, pause. It’s not impossible that you’re right, but it’s very unlikely. Ask yourself: Is it worth the fight? If the answer is “no”, then leave it. Don’t fight against the world. The world usually wins.

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You want to be a price-maker

You are a price-maker if you control the price of your goods, i.e.: the market cannot dictate your prices. Price-makers can change their prices at a whim, ensuring they always make a profit. This can only happen if you have monopoly on something. Product excellence (Apple), patents (Amazon one-click shopping), network effects (Facebook) and brands (Coca Cola) are price-makers because of…

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If you’re a price-taker you need economies of scale

Most farmers have no control over the price of the goods they sell. Milk, maize, apples, whatever. The price is set by someone else. The farmer is a price-taker. He has no say over the most important part of his business: Revenue. If the market wants to pay less than what it cost the farmer to…

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As a leader you must be liked, not loved

If you’re the leader can’t be one of the boys. You can’t gossip by the coffee machine. You can’t be friends with your staff. You can’t be loved. If you need to be loved, you won’t be able to make the hard decisions that every entrepreneur must face. If you can’t make the hard decisions, you’ll fail. Your…

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Let your staff go through the fire

The greatest gift you can give a person is to let them save themselves. Don’t bail anyone out. Don’t hold anyone’s hand. Don’t mollycoddle anyone. Let people go through the fire by themselves. When they come out the other side not only will you believe in them, they will believe in themselves.

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Happiness = Reality / Expectations

If you want to be happy, lower your expectations. Expect the worst. Plan for it. Make all surprises pleasant. This way you’re always ready for the curveballs that are inevitable in the life of an entrepreneur. Low expectations means reality will beat your expectations. If reality is 1, and your expectations are 0, your happiness is…

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Stay in the tent

Maybe you’re working for someone who’s an ass. Maybe your counterpart at your biggest customer is an ass. Maybe you’re living in a country with a president who’s an ass. It’s tempting to say: “Stuff it, I’m out. Life is to short to for this.” Chill out. Ask yourself: “Do I believe in my company?…

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There’s a difference between indispensable and dangerous

“Graveyards are full of indispensable people.” True, but in startup world, some people truly can’t be done without. A startup is simply too small to support redundancy for key technical or sales skills. Indispensable people are inevitable. Give them equity. But sometimes “indispensable” is confused with “dangerous.” Your business can survive without the person, but if…

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The medium is the message

Medium: The interface through which messages are conveyed between people. Message: A verbal, written, or recorded communication. Some people think these are two separate things. They’re not. As Marshall McLuhan famously said: The medium is the message. It doesn’t what is being said, it only matters who is saying. Or where you’re seeing it. The medium creates credibility. For example, Steve…

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Don’t confuse neglect for malice

Hanlon’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by neglect.” In business there will be times where people cancel meetings, or don’t return your calls, or say things flippantly, or do one of a thousand things that can make you feel dissed. Your instinct is to assume the action was intentional, and…

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The devil you don’t know is better than the Devil you know

They say the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know. That’s mostly true, but only for cases where the person is not the actual Devil. If you are working with a true Devil, then its better to take a chance on someone else. A true Devil will destroy your business and your…

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