Entries from August 2010 ↓

Guest Post on A Smart Bear: Virtual Assistants and Outsourcing

A good chunk of chapter 6 from my startup book went live on the interwebs this morning as a guest post on Jason Cohen’s popular startup blog A Smart Bear. I edited the chapter for length and tone, but the five key points are intact:

  1. Why should a startup use a virtual assistant (VA)?
  2. The two points in the startup process when a VA is most helpful
  3. Case studies of my use of VAs
  4. The steps for finding, evaluating and vetting a VA
  5. The best places to find a VA

Read the full article here.

What the Beatles Can Teach Us About Starting a Company

Photo by John McNab

Popular musicians possess entrepreneurial qualities, most often the passion and drive we see in successful startup entrepreneurs.

What we don’t often think about is that although there’s luck involved in becoming a “rock star,” there are deliberate decisions a musician makes early in a career that will impact their level of success months or years later.

And so it is with starting a company.

While this article is meant as a break from the normal seriousness of this blog, I honestly believe that we can learn much from a group of founders who sold hundreds of millions (some say 1 billion) units.

Here are four lessons we can learn from the Beatles’ startup career.

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$528 Worth of Optimization Tools for $25

Don’t know if you’ve seen this crazy deal at appSumo, but it’s essentially $528 in website analytics and optimization services for $25. It includes:

I’ll be picking one up for myself this week.

Why Free Plans Don’t Work

The following is a guest article by Ruben Gamez of Bidsketch.

Not too long ago it seemed like every product I knew was offering some sort of free plan. The strategy was brilliant: get loads of people using your product and eventually turn them into paying customers. Everywhere I looked there were stories of people making money hand over fist with this approach.

When 37signals talked about giving something away for free as a marketing strategy, it made a lot of sense to me:

“For us, Writeboard and Ta-da list are completely free apps that we use to get people on the path to using our other products. Also, we always offer some sort of free version of all our apps.

We want people to experience the product, the interface, the usefulness of what we’ve built. Once they’re hooked, they’re much more likely to upgrade to one of the paying plans (which allow more projects or pages and gives people access to additional features like file uploading and ssl data encryption).”

So when I launched Bidsketch — a SaaS based proposal application for designers — offering a free plan was a no-brainer in my book. Out of all the important decisions I spent time mulling over before my launch, I gave this one the least thought.

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“Start Small, Stay Small” Now Available in Kindle and ePub Formats

When I originally published Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer’s Guide to Launching a Startup, my intention was to follow up the PDF and paperback versions with Kindle, iBook and ePub versions. That plan went by the wayside once I discovered there was no automated way to go from a Word doc to these formats.

After contacting a half-dozen ebook conversion firms I found a company that turned the Kindle and ePub versions around in two days, although the Kindle version required three rounds of QA over the course of 10 days before it was ready to be published. So 12 days and a few hundred dollars later I now have the necessary hand-coded files.

Kindle, Here I Come
So as of this morning, Start Small, Stay Small is now available in Kindle format from the Amazon website, and PDF & ePub format from the startup book website.

If you’ve already purchased the book in PDF you should have received an email with a link to download the ePub version. If you haven’t, email me.

The paperback version is also available from both startup book and Amazon, but buy it from startup book (you can pay through Amazon or PayPal) since Amazon takes more than half the revenue off the top. The economics of book publishing are pretty crazy when not selling direct to the consumer.

Speaking of that, the Kindle commission is 35% of the purchase price. That’s what Amazon pays me. Ouch! As soon as you price your book above $9.99 your commission plummets from 70% to 35% of the retail price. Now I understand why the big book publishers were having such a fit about Amazon essentially forcing them into this pricing bracket.

Bye Bye iBook
At this point it does not look like the iBook version will come to fruition.

For one, you need a Mac to publish a book to the iTunes store.

For two, the handful of iPad owners I’ve talked to indicated they use the Kindle app to read books on their iPad. Apparently, the iBook app isn’t that great and the iBook selection is small. Go figure.

Why Startup Founders Should Stop Reading Business Books

You’re a startup founder, whether actual or aspiring. You’re a constant learner; a student of life. Also a student of reading.

You own a wall of books, or perhaps a Kindle or iPad bulging at the edge of its hard disk with non-fiction you’ve earmarked for future reading. Business books are a founder’s learning tool. A way to stand on the shoulders of giants.

So let me tell you why you should stop reading them.

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Two Recent Press Appearances: Inc.com and the TechZing Podcast

As if this blog weren’t enough…

If you’re interested in hearing more of my rantings on startups, startup marketing, and even a few minutes on internet business investing, check out my two most recent interviews:

The Successful Soloist: How to Make Six Figures

Rob Walling & the Micropreneur Academy

Also, if you read this blog via RSS and haven’t been to the actual site in a while, I’ve made several changes that might be of interest to you. They include:

Keep your eyes peeled for a new post tomorrow morning. Should be a good one. I’m preparing myself for the flames as I write this.