The more you have, the more you have to…

I see it all the time. Overkill. Complexity. Waste. Owning too much stuff. Adding things without double checking if they are really needed. Putting the most difficult and complex systems in place to solve easy things. Onboarding everyone and everything, without questioning if they will add value to your business or project. Working on the extras and nice to haves before nailing the basics.

This is so wrong.

Every time you add something to your business, project or startup, you have one more thing to manage, to maintain, to take care of, to handle, to pay and to carry in your bag of things. This can go from either introducing a fancy new technology like Node.js (do you really need this? why? what value does it add to your project?) to introducing a new company policy for using the office printer (is that really what you want everyone to read and judge? who will maintain it? isn’t it more easy to just talk to that one person using the office printer for private stuff?) to buying a big house with a swimming pool, way too much rooms and a huge garden (who will clean and maintain all that? you? think twice!).

There is a hidden (and often quite big) cost in owning and adding stuff. You are less flexible, you have to spent time in managing and maintaining your stuff, you have less freedom and more constraints.The more you have, the more you have to. I know people who are slave of their stuff. The leaner you are, the more easy it is to change direction and choose what you want to do.

I run my business on a 4y old Macbook and an internet connection. That’s it. I even don’t have an official “desk” or so, I work from anywhere. My Macbook could even crash or get stolen, I can continue the next day, as everything is in the cloud: Google Drive, Gmail, Flickr and so on.

Here is what typically increases mass:

  • company policies
  • long term plannings
  • your own in house set of servers
  • long term contracts
  • suits and ties
  • policies
  • extra technology layers
  • meetings
  • CC-ing everyone in your emails
  • big teams and extra staff
  • more and complex code
  • more features
  • deviations from standard patterns
  • big, long and slow feedback cycles or communication moments

And this typically reduces mass and will free you from many overhead:

  • small teams
  • cloud software/backups/solutions
  • less code
  • standard code and patterns
  • less technology stacks (and so less point of failures)
  • simplicity
  • open communication, radical honesty
  • short and very regular interaction moments and communication

Before adding stuff, think twice.

How working less hours will make me more productive (and a better saxophone player)

During a holiday break, you often realize certain things about your way of working that you don’t see at all while you are in your day to day stream of work. A complete break of a few days will power off your working brain completely, and will give your mind the opportunity to think in a different and creative way.

One of the conclusions I made during the last Christmas and New Year holidays was that the last few weeks of 2013 I working always, everywhere, and on everything at the same time. But in reality I was never really working and never taking a real break, and because I worked on everything at the same time, I was working on nothing for real. Working very hard from early in the morning until late at night and always jumping on the next small urgency is a perfect way to look very busy – and a perfect way to be very unproductive.

There were mainly 2 problems…

First problem: there was no clear cut between work and play.

I often had my laptop next to me during dinner, just in case an urgency would pop up (not the best way to enjoy your dinner and family time). I checked my emails on my smartphone late at night right before going to sleep (not the best way to relax and get 8h of sleep). I would take my iPad everywhere with me so I could work from anywhere, just in case.

This is so wrong. Working all the time and everywhere is not a sign of efficiency or effectiveness. It’s a weakness. If the only way to run your business is by working 16h a day, you are in the wrong business. There are plenty of industries where working 8h,  6h or 4h per day (or per week!) is enough to run a very profitable business – that is, if you work smart. On average, my business does not require me to work more than 8h per day… given one works efficient, effective, to the point, dedicated, well rested and full of energy and focus.

The more time to you have to finish a task, the more time you will waste on unnecessary details, fine-tuning, procrastination, Twitter, emails, jokes, cleaning your office, trying out a new app, and all kind of distractions that have nothing to do with the real work.

So here is a very simple thing that I will try to do from today on. Each morning, I’ll spend 10 minutes setting up a very simple “work / play scheme” for that day. It looks more or less like this (and will probably be slightly different each day):

The day has a very clear separation between “work” and “play” blocks, and comes with one very simple rule:


“Uh…but what if I have a lot of work?! 8 hours is not enough!”
Well, then make sure you get it done during the working blocks. Skip the non essential stuff to finish your task. You can do it. If you know you only have 2 hours to answer that RFP, then you’ll make it in 2 hours. Without a time limit, you’ll probably work 4 or even 6 hours on it – half of your time distracted by Facebook, reading blogposts and checking your mailbox every 10 minutes.

The exact start and stop time and the length of the time block do not really matter. For me they’ll be different each day – one day I’ll start sooner, the other day later, depending on some personal things like if I have to bring my daughter to the kindergarten in the morning or not, if I have saxophone classes or not in the evening, if I’ll cook for dinner or not that day. Probably I’ll end up with an “early” variation, and a “late” variation of this day scheme.

It’s mind relaxing and stress reducing to define clearly in advance which hours you’ll work and which hours you’ll play. I’m sure it results in much more focus and attention during the work blocks. As well as much more joy, fun and pleasure during the play blocks. A clear cut between both work and play time ensures work will feel like work, and play will be like play. Actually printing out the work schedule each day and visualizing it in front of you on your desk will give even more structure to your day, since you will really feel obliged to follow your commitments and stick to the schedule.

Second problem: working on everything at the same time

The other problem was the difficulty to get into a highly productive and efficient working flow. Checking your email, tweeting, answering a phone call, reading a blogpost, writing some code and correcting a typo on your website are all very useful tasks. But not if you do them in the same 30 minutes, since there is way to much context switching. It’s so much more efficient to code for 2 hours, then spend an hour or 2 on writing a blogpost, and then cleaning your mailbox for another hour. That’s 5 hours of well oriented and focussed work. If you’d jump on every task that is thrown at you (and if you run a business or you are freelancer, there are whole lot of todo’s thrown at you all the time, everywhere, 24/7), you are switching context all day long, and you’ll never get into a deep, relaxed, focussed and dedicated working flow.

You all know how it feels to be “in the zone” or “in the flow”. Time and place disappear, you are in the now, working very dedicated on one single thing that has all your attention. It does not feel like working. But you all know as well how a hectic, disoriented, chaotic day full of urgencies screaming for attention feels like. It’s depressing. You feel like nothing has been done, although a lot of energy has been spilled and you feel very tired at the end of the day.

In order to force myself into flow, every morning – when defining my “work” and my “play” blocks – I’ll pick a set of tasks I want to get done that day, and I’ll assign them to the work blocks for that day. Today, the tasks are:

  • write a blogpost and have it published, as well as some online marketing and content sharing (content marketing is our main marketing strategy for Zorros and ArchiSnapper)
  • do a meeting with client XYZ (was already decided so I did’t actually choose this one)
  • work 1 hour for client XYZ
  • do some technical things (feature analysis, planning next release, …) for ArchiSnapper
  • set up 1 drip email for ArchiSnapper
  • review and work on our ArchiSnapper blog structure, layout, and see how I can make it convert better

Then I will assign these tasks over the different working blocks for that day, and I’ll try to get them done. Again, by being allowed to work during PLAY time blocks, I’ll have to focus purely on these tasks during the work blocks. I know upfront that if I’m too distracted with other todo’s popping up, I’m not going to make my todo list of the day. My every day goal is then to finish my little todo list for that day during the work blocks, and then disappear from work for the rest of the day.

I’m sure I’ll work less hours, more relaxed, and I’ll have more done at the end of the day.

2 birds, 1 stone: my saxophone playing and sound will get so much better!

As you have probably noticed, there is 1.5h in the play blocks foreseen for practicing saxophone. I love playing jazz and funk saxophone. Playing an instrument (just like doing sport or any other kind of complete distraction) obliges you to be only in that moment and forget about everything else. It’s a very good way to completely relax and enjoy life. During a jazz concert, you better not worry about work or your empty fridge, or your next solo might sound not so cool :-)

As with anything, if you want to become better, you’ll have to work on it. Nobody was born as a good saxophone monster. Charlie Parker practiced 14h per day during years. My teacher says that 1h of saxophone practice per day is the absolute minimum to get better, play the horn more natural, make it sound exactly what you want it to sound like and construct a nice solo. And studies have shown that you need 10.000 hours of practice to master anything like a pro. By planning in 1h to 1.5h of dedicated saxophone practice in my daily schedule, I’m sure I’ll become a better saxophone player day after day, and I’ll enjoy at least 1h per day of complete distraction from work. 2 birds, 1 stone!

Hear it yourself!
Below are 2 samples. Try to guess who is the guy who has a serious practice routine and who is the one playing the sax every now and then.



Did you hear it?
I’m sure you did notice a difference in sound, quality, feeling, expression and swing. If not, I’m sorry but then by all means don’t go for a career in the music industry :-)


Startups 101 – What I Learned The Hard Way

Ahoy there!

Yesterday I gave a presentation on what I learned over the past 3 years as a starting entrepreneur, called “Startups 101 – What I Learned The Hard Way“. The presentation is for people who are about to start a business, who recently started a business, or who run a business but work hard for little money and are not scaling well.

It focusses on entrepreneurship, startups, bootstrapping in general, with a little more focus on products, software and SaaS business here and there.

Let me know what you think of it!

Next week I’ll continue my blog post series ‘From Service To Product Business In 1 Year‘, where I describe in detail every step we take in launching our own product(s) with a strong focus on automated recurring revenue. Stay tuned.

Solve a burning pain and people will throw money at you

You are on holiday, in a warm, sunny country. A safari trip. You have been saving quite some money for this trip and you have been preparing this trip for several months.

The sun is setting. You are very tired, and since you are in the middle of nowhere and following the rhythm of nature, you set up your tent and go to sleep. You are exhausted. You close your eyes.



Damn! A mosquito!

The whole damn night you hear that annoying sound right near your ear. Just when you think it’s gone you and you are about to fall asleep…again… BzzzzZZZZZZZzzzzZZT.

You didn’t sleep all night long. You are so tired. You are irritated. You feel a burning frustration and pain.

The second night, the same story. BZZZZZZ. You didn’t sleep, the second night in a row!

MAN! You spent all your money for this trip, you have been preparing it for so long, and now a stupid mosquito will f*ck up your holidays!

You are furious. Extremely irritated. You feel a BURNING PAIN!

OK, now let’s put this story on hold. So, what is the situation you are in?

You have a problem. A pain. A frustration. How much would you pay right now for a solution (a mosquito spray for example) to remove that pain? Exactly: A LOT OF MONEY! It doesn’t really matter anymore how much you actually have to pay: if someone selling mosquito sprays would appear out of nowhere, you would tell him to shut up and take your money for this god d*amn mosquito spray.

I see so many people coming up with imaginary solutions for imaginary problems. Auch. Unless you have millions of marketing budget to create demand for your product (=make people believe that they have a problem by advertising), you better solve a real problem.

You would be amazed how much people are willing to pay you if you take away their pain.

What problem does your product solve? What pain does your business take away from your customers?

Force the luck

Hi again!

Let’s talk about luck & entrepreneurship. The guys from Google are quite lucky, isn’t it? The right place (their garage), the right time, and the best of all: they had the right idea when they woke up that morning. Too bad for all the other entrepreneurs with less luck. They should have prayed more for unicorns.

Or not?

There is no such thing as “luck” in entrepreneurship. You have control over everything you do. Or don’t do. If you give up your job, invest your own money in your startup, decide to blog, to take care of your network, if you maintain a Twitter account, polish your website, you invest your free time in reading business books, if you go to conferences, give up holidays, you call your clients to ask how they are if you learn actively from your mistakes. Then what is the contribution of dumb luck in your succes?

Telling a successful entrepreneur that he or she is “lucky” is like telling Neil Armstrong he was lucky to be the first man on the moon. As if he woke up with a letter next to his pillow like “Dear Neil, we selected you as the lucky one to be the first man on the moon. Congrats!“. Or like telling Seth Godin that he is “lucky” to have 400K subscribers to his blog. It’s an offend. Seth has been writing a blog post every single day since January 2002. No single percentage of luck involved if you ask me.

What about people with the bad-luck syndrome? People who loose their car keys once a week, especially on crucial moments like days on which they would make a big deal? Bad luck, or a lack of organization? What about people who launch their third product in a row but don’t get any customers? Bad luck, or did they fail learning from their previous mistakes? What about people who are always busybusybusy but never book progress? Bad luck, or do they invest their time in the wrong things?

“I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it” ― Thomas Jefferson

Instead of praying for little unicorns that will come and save you, force the luck. How? Just by doing. Acting. Trying. Some random examples:

  • I do speak on conferences. I often get new clients as a direct result from my presentation. Some of the deals I made a few years ago still bring in money today.
  • I blog. When I ask new clients how they did find me, often the answer goes like: “oh, I think the first time I heard about you was because a friend of mine tweeted an article you wrote“.
  • If a client signs up for one of our software products (more on our products soon on this blog, scout promise), I send them a personal mail asking how they do, if I can help, and how our software could help them. Every single client. Even if they don’t reply, often it means a lot. It means that we care about them and how our software and company could bring them value.

Any of the examples related with luck? Nope. Easy to do? Absolutely. Can anyone do it? Yup, even a monkey. Will unicorns do it for you? Nope, you’ll have to do it yourself…

What are your thoughts?

(Thanks for reading this blog. Tweet or like or share it = lots of karma for you.)

Automate your business (or life)

You can use your time for 2 things:

  • For fire killing: solving urgent problems, bugs, last minute schedule changes, chasing a new contract, bookkeeping, answering emails, handling calls, dealing with a random day to day flow of unpredictable events, sinking away in administrative duties and urgencies.
  • For working on procedures and putting systems in place in order to avoid fire killing: stepping out of the day to day rush, thinking on how you could set up rules in place so your life or business becomes an engine that runs on autopilot.

The first I call consuming time. It’s like consuming money. It gives instant happiness. You spend 10 minutes on something urgent, and hooray, it’s solved! Up to the next thing. And the next. And the next. And the next… The issue with this is that there will be a never ending stream of burning things, calls, persons, emails, issues, … that need your attention. If you keep on just consuming or burning your time for random urgencies, you or your business will never grow. You will be always the “master hero” jack-of-all-trades that has everyone’s respect, but no free time to enjoy life or to make any progress in your business.

Instead of consuming or burning your time, invest your time. Just like with investing money, investing time has an ROI (return on investment). Think wise about how you could organise and master your life and business. This is of course less instant. It’s an upfront investment, but with a return later on. By working out a clear and organized procedure to support your clients, you don’t solve the problem of the client that is calling you right now. So that particular urgency is still there. But with a clear, organized and documented procedure in place, spread across your company, all your future clients urgencies will be on auto pilot. Instead of handling support calls, text messages, emails and Twitter messages yourself in a random way, set up a centralized support email box across the company, with clear rules in place. Make this an engine. Define the rules of the game so clearly that there is no room for misunderstandings. For your clients: route them to this one central support email box. For your company: define who should handle which support request, how, what are the conventions, etc. Great, you are now on auto-pilot. Everyone is handling in the same way. There is less management or monitoring needed. You can even predict your workload and how things will evolve. You have more time for useful things (like investing in even more procedures).

Just like investing money, investing time is an upfront investment. But it pays itself back. It’s an elevator for growth, more free time, more money, confidence. It allows you to scale.

The support box example is just one of the so many areas where you can set up procedures. There are so many aspects in life and business that you could automate. The highest return on time investment is in recurring and simple tasks. Because they are recurring, you invest once, and benefit forever. Because they are simple, the rules of the game are short and clear. Client support, holiday requests, going to the store, healthy food habits, recurring payments, your email inbox, clients that call you late in the evening, a todo list, your agenda, your daily wake up routine, good sport habits, and so on. Don’t let them define your agenda.

With fire killing, you kill fires, but you never improve!

Skip the “getting rich” step, 2 stories

Many people want to be rich, in order to do things they dream of. Once they will be rich, they will have time for what they really want: playing music, diving, sailing, riding horses, running marathons. But first they want to be rich.

Here below 2 wonderful stories teaching the same lesson in life: don’t waste your time “getting rich”. Skip the “getting rich” step. You can do many (if not all) things without a stack of money on your bank account. Be creative. You want to ride horses all day? Open a horse riding school. You want to sail around the world? Sell your house and sail. Want to learn Chinese? Go live in China for a few years.

Will it be easy? Maybe not, maybe yes.

Is it possible with enough motivation and passion. ABSOLUTELY YES!

But, please, skip the “getting rich” step first. Real happiness is not in getting rich, but is in doing what you love to do.

1 – The rich man and the fisherman

There was once a rich man, very wealthy, loads of money, loads of ‘bling’. Drove a big car, had a big company, a loud voice and……. he loved to fish.

One time he went to this beautiful little island where the weather was always beautiful, the sand soft and the water crystal clear. The palm trees swayed in the wind, and he wanted to go fishing.

There was no-one to take him fishing but he spotted a lonely figure lying in a row boat, stretched out, half asleep, straw hat on his head and one fishing line in the water.

He spoke to him and offered to pay him ‘big bucks’ to take him out fishing.

When they were out on the water he asked Joe, “What do you do every day?” Joe said in a relaxed voice, “I love to fish”.

After a whole day of fishing, they caught so many fish, the rich man was excited. He said “Joe, you’re sitting on a goldmine here. You should get another boat, then catch more fish. When you get more fish, you can buy more boats, and hire staff. When more staff come in and you catch more fish, you can move up to a large fishing boat and nets and really pull in the fish and the money. Then right over there, take those trees down and build a cannery, and can the fish right here on the island and export them and make tons of cash.”

Puffing on his cigar vigorously now he continued. “You can then open several other factories on the other islands and build the company. When you’re ready, you can float the company on the stock exchange and make millions…. Then, you can just lie in a little row boat and fish all day long”.

Joe was mystified. “But I do that now!”.

The rich man had no answer.

2 – What if money was no object?

Nothing to lose

An extremist, willing to die for his religion, is scaring all of us. Why? They have nothing to lose. The less you have to lose, the more risk you want to take. That is why a younger and more naïve entrepreneur is more likely to start and grow a business than a high level manager (=employee).

The high level manager learned over the past 20 years how to make a career. This means: he has learned how to please the shareholders of his company, trading his time for money. He’ll have a company car, a high salary and insurance for his family. If he now wants to learn how to make or grow money instead of earn money, he has something to loose. Especially if he has lived according to his high standard. A high mortgage, expensive hobbies, and lots of restaurants. The more your standard of living (cost) approaches your salary (income), the more you have to lose. And the less likely you’ll dive into the making of money, instead of the earning of money.

The young naïve entrepreneur does not have anything to lose. He is broke. He can only win. He could go for the “quick win” (salary), or to go for the “long term win” (growing a company). The more easy and secure is the quick win. Find a job. The more funny and profitable is surely the long term win. You live only once, no? Then give it a shot!  Try it. Try how to make money, in stead of how to earn money.

The process of learning how to make money is slow. Super super slow. It’s not rewarding in the short term. It asks time, effort, sweat, stamina, hard work. You’ll make mistakes while finding out how to make money. If you decided that you want to learn how to make money, you’ll have hard times seeing your friends earning much more money than you do. They’ll have a company car.  They just find a job and HOP, every month they get a paycheck. While you don’t. You see time ticking away. For months. For years. While everyone earns money (trading their time for it), you are still in the process learning how to make money.

But little by little, over the years, you’ll learn how to make money. And you can repeat your small successes into bigger ones. You don’t make the same mistakes as in the early days. You are learning how to make money. They don’t teach you at school how to make money. They prepare you for earning money. So you’ll have to figure out yourself. But once you get the basics, you can repeat that process. Into bigger and bigger successes. You only get better and better at making money. You can scale it. After 10 years of focussing on the question “how can I make money” (in stead of trading 10 years your time for a paycheck), you will have learned so much that it feels as if you have your own money printing machine.

It’s never too late to learn how to make money (= become an entrepreneur)! 3 years ago, I was earning money. More than enough for a twenty ager. I had a company car, a nice salary, other advantages, I had a nice expat position in the south of Spain. But still. I felt like I was not part of a dynamic, young growing machine. I was working in a big company, trading my hours for money. I didn’t learn how to make money. I was a piece of a money generating machine, but that was it. I didn’t control that money making machine. I didn’t grow anything. I decided to give it a shot, and start learning how to make money in stead of how to earn money.

Most people think they risk big things when taking the leap. It’s not true. What will happen when someone that can not swim falls into the water? Will they sink? For sure not. They will survive, since there is no other way. They MUST swim, or they die. You risk much less than you think you do. What is the worst that could happen when you give up your job and try it yourself? Well, the worst is that you have to take another job in a few years since it didn’t work out (= the same situation as you are into right now).

If you want to learn how to make money, my biggest advice is to put yourself in a “nothing to lose” position, the sooner the better. If you have nothing to lose, you are prepared to take bigger risks. Much bigger risks. You have more energy. Do you have to speak in front of a 2000 people audience in order to succeed? OK, so it be. You have to work every day of the week, 10 hours per day, in order to launch and get your first 100 customers? OK, let’s go! I did tell my former boss I won’t come back. BAM, I was in a nothing to lose position. I HAD to find a way out, there was no other way. It’s all in your mindset. If you are fired, if you have no job, if you hate your job, you have nothing to lose. For some people, there is no other way than to succeed. Those are going to get there. It’s that simple.

Are you happy with your job? Then by all means stay there! Are you NOT happy with your job, you don’t have a job? Hooray! Good news. You are in the best position to start up something. You have nothing to lose.

Think big

What is the difference between top entrepreneurs, CEO’s, government leaders, artists … and the “ordinary man”? Why is it that some people have lots of self confidence, are attracting success and money as a magnet, without any fears or obstacles, win respect everywhere, are very popular, while others live like a gray mouse?

Is there IQ several time higher?

Did they study 5 times more than other people?
Nope. “Being successful” is not taught at school.

Are they physically stronger then average people?
Hmmnope… not really.

Do they work 20 hours per day?

They eat Kellogg’s special K more than other people?
Please, no!

They are not smarter, bigger, stronger, higher educated or what else, they dare to think bigger. Where the average person would start panicking when they face a huge problem, they look the problem straight in the face and go for it. If they can’t handle it, they at least tried. Failing is better then not trying at all for them. Where Mr. Average’s knees start shaking when he has to speak in public, Mr. Think Big keeps in the back of his head that this audience of thousands of people are all just human beings that put on their underwear in the morning, just like everybody does. Why would he be afraid? While “normal” people try to grow their revenue by 5% next year, big thinkers try to get 200 times more revenue. Maybe they’ll never reach × 200, but for sure they’ll have more than the one who aims 5%.

Sure, it is more easy to think small. You feel more comfortable doing the typical things, no? Why would you, you of all people, have the right to have such a success? Why would you be the elected one that would get famous and rich? You don’t deserve it, right? You are just one of those 7 billion people on this earth, so why oh why would you have the right to be a top sporter, a rich entrepreneur, a famous artist or be able to speak 20 languages? Most people believe they have the duty to settle for mediocre. They take it for granted.

The thing is that most people think small. Believe it or not, there is more competition for a “low level” job offer then there is for a CEO position. Why? Since most people believe they are not worth more than the average things. Very few people think big enough to hunt big results. So everyone is going for the typical jobs, the typical house, the typical career path, the typical number of children.

If you have big dreams, then think big and go for it! Successful people don’t think big because they are successful. They are successful because they dare to think big. That’s a huge difference! People with lots of motivation and persistence, a hands on mentality, and do-ers, that dare to think big, will get there eventually. The ones that aim for the typical and wait for success to come their way, will be waiting forever.

Think about which big dreams you have and pursue them. Climbing a mountain, start up a company, run a marathon, double your salary, quit smoking, sail around the world, learn 10 languages, or become a good jazz musician. Anything. If you are already convinced upfront you can’t make it, then you will certainly not make it. If you don’t allow your mind to think big, then how would your body come to big actions? In fact, it’s all in the mind. If you allow your mind to think big, and really believe in it, you can move mountains.

If you’re going to be thinking, you may as well think big.” – Donald Trump

Some random entrepreneur lessons learned over the past 2 years

Some random lessons learned over the past 2 years since I told my boss I would not work for him any longer and start up my own company. Random order, random subjects:

  • Don’t try to make things perfect. Ship the “good enough” and move to the next thing.
  • Don’t do everything yourself. Outsource, you only have 24 hours a day.
  • Ask for your money when you worked hard for it.
  • Don’t try to be the cheapest in the market, you attract toxic clients and you are worth more then being the cheapest.
  • Blog, produce content. Some of my blog articles I wrote years ago still bring in clients TODAY.
  • Build in recurring revenue. Small bits of recurring revenue, like annual licences, hosting, support, … You are building up an empire of money.
  • Patience. You can’t start your business now, and be a millionaire and employ 2000 people tomorrow.
  • Keep it simple. All things that you own, need your attention later on. The less you have, the less you have to manage and spend time on.
  • Decide and move on, don’t over-discuss topics.
  • Market first. Sell, then build.
  • You can not plan how things go. We started by making online event registration software, and ended up making niche web software for Renault car dealers (which is selling quite well these days) and some other niche products and software development services
  • Focus on the next small thing you have to do. Don’t focus on what might be needed to be done in 2 years from now.
  • Business plans are bullshit.
  • Time is your most valuable asset. Don’t sell your time for money. Invest your time in scalable things.
  • Lazer focus on very small niches. Don’t try to solve all things for everyone.
  • Put your signature (telephone, twitter account, website and blog) under every email you send out.
  • Pivot your business every week or few weeks. You learn something new every few days.
  • Don’t work too much. You have a family and your health to take care of. It’s not worth it to loose one of them.
  • Do some sport and have some hobbies.
  • Go out speak on conferences. I did it a few times, and every time (!) I had a new client within 24 hours after my talk. For some reason people see you as an guru when you are on stage and they want to sign a deal with you.
  • You don’t have to be the best in what you do, you have to show others that you are the best. That is called marketing. Technical people forget to market themselves.
  • A project is never finished. Live with it.
  • Hire great people. Be super strict on that, it’s super important for your company. You don’t have time to deal with a demotivated, lazy person.
  • Avoid as much as possible recurring costs. Keep control over your costs and watch cash flow closely.
  • Evaluate from time to time seriously what you are doing. Think deep. Is it what you really want? If no, then quit. If yes, you’ll be even more motivated.
  • Building something is not difficult. Selling it, is more difficult.
  • Don’t count on “luck” as a strategy.
  • Don’t hope for “getting viral”.
  • Use open source software, and contribute to it.
  • Say NO. If you don’t say NO to things, then clients will keep on negotiating for a lower price, people will keep on calling you for silly support, and that one person will keep on asking you to translate your software in his dialect.
  • You own the company, the company should not own you. There is ALWAYS something to do, but prioritize and organise.
  • Think big. Nothing ever great was achieved without thinking big.
  • Get enough sleep. Aim for 8 hours or more. I’m convinced that people that sleep a lot, are waaay more productive and creative.
  • Act, don’t think. Having an idea is great, but you won’t be paid for that.
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