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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Commission costs you nothing

Some people begrudge paying sales commissions. Why? It’s only possible to pay a commission if you’ve earned revenue. No revenue = no commission. Unlike fixed overheads like salaries, rent and stationery, commission costs you nothing. Never begrudge paying a commission, even if it’s 100 times your salary. Revenue is good for your business. Commission costs…

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There is a difference between erratic & agile

No one argues with the importance of agility in business. If you can’t react fast, you cannot succeed. Agility is the single biggest advantage that startups have over big corporations. A bureaucratic startup is dead before it starts. But there is a difference between being agile and being erratic. Agile means adapting fast whilst staying…

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Doubt is useful unless you have no options

Having doubts will save you a lot of money. Better to listen to your instincts than to heedlessly bulldoze forward. That said, doubts can be dangerous. An army won’t follow a general that shows doubt. Even if the general hides his doubts, he won’t be able to make decisions if he’s filled with doubt. Sometimes…

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When you’re having doubts, stop the bus

Maybe you’re about to buy a house, or sign a lease, or hire a manager. Maybe you’re nervous about a financial policy. Maybe you’re unhappy with an employee. If you have any doubts, stop the the bus. Most doubts can be discarded as noise. But sometimes the little voice in your head is on the…

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Unprofitable businesses rip-off customers

Steven Drucker once said its not profitable businesses that rip-off society, its unprofitable ones. If you don’t have a profitable business model, you only have one path to profit: Lying to your customer. Far better to have an openly profitable business. That way you never need to trick your customer in order to secretly make…

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There is a time for everything

If you have just started a new business, you’re probably a bit frazzled. Not only are there a million things on your to-do list, but there are a million opportunities crossing your path. How can you do everything?! Don’t panic. There will be time for everything. Pick the most important job, do it. Pick the…

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Pin the deal

Let’s say you want to buy a house. Or a company. Or anything. Before you find the money, make sure you pin the deal. It’s no use scrambling together one million Rand only to find the deal of your dreams has gone to someone else. Don’t worry about price or funding or due diligence or any other detail….

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Don’t be nasty to your suppliers

Don’t set a deadline unless its real. Don’t make someone kowtow just because you know he needs your account. Don’t be nasty to suppliers. Maybe you’ll get away with it for awhile, but eventually your best suppliers will find other customers, and you’ll have a reputation for being a terrible client. The world goes round in circles….

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