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What's the single most important advice to give someone starting their own company?

READY. FIRE. AIMA funny thing happened on the way to a billion dollars.Sara Blakely had no office, nobody ready to do manufacturing, spent dozens or hundreds of hours trying to meet the main person at Neiman Marcus…and got an order to put Spanx in seven stores.“Only,” she told me, “I had no idea how I was going to make the product! I didn’t even have a manufacturing deal and now I had to fill seven stores of Neiman Marcus.”—-Daymond John was working in Red Lobster. It was his sixth year there. He had no money. He had just come up with a name: FUBU (“For U, By Us”) and he went to a trade show to see if he can sell some of his t-shirts and hats.He got a $400,000 order from Macy’s.You can’t just ship 400,000 dollars worth of shirts to Macy’s. You need to make about 10,000 items. Hand sewn. Buy the fabrics, etc.He had no money. “How was I going to do this?” he thought.(me and Daymond John)——Richard Branson’s flight got cancelled. He and all the other passengers were stuck on an island in the Caribbean.He found a private jet owner and said, “How much would it cost me to fly your plane from here to Puerto Rico”.The owner quoted him a price.Richard Branson didn’t want to pay the price. He only needed one seat. He didn’t need the whole plane.What does this guy think? That I own an airline?—-Ready. Fire. Aim.Of course, these are the beginnings of stories. And they have what’s called “survival bias”.We know these stories (and I’m about to say how they all ended), because each of these people built multi-billion dollar empires out of the answers.And there’s a common thread through the answers despite the fact that all three of these people had NOTHING in common at all.Richard Branson owned a music magazine.Sara Blakely was selling fax machines in Florida.(me with Sara Blakely)And Daymond John was busing tables at a Red Lobster and grew up in poverty-torn Hollis, Queens.And I can think of a thousand more examples like this - united by a common thread and nothing else.We know these stories because:YES! They got the order (Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, the plane) and they said, “Yes! I’ll do it”.They “fired” without thinking.B) That order has value. Even if it’s value that could disappear if it’s not acted on fast enough. Not everything has to have solid value. For instance, if Daymond John had a warehouse filled with hats, maybe the “yes” would have been easier because he had solid value.But the order from Macy’s had some sort of ephemeral value that would decrease with time (if he didn’t deliver, I’m guessing the order would go away).The plane’s potential to take Branson to Puerto Rico would have disappeared probably within hours.And if Sara didn’t deliver to Neiman Marcus, they would have lost her phone number and never spoken to her again.So Sara called up every manufacturing facility, explained the order, showed the proof (used the ephemeral value) and got a facility to agree. She filled the order. She quit her job. And now billions of dollars later, she sits on top of a clothing empire.Daymond John knew he had $400,000 in value if he acted fast enough.So his mother mortgaged their house for $100,000. They hired seamstresses, they bought fabrics, they worked around the clock to make 10,000 shirts. They delivered and paid back the mortgage immediately.He quit Red Lobster and has since sold $6 billion worth of product.Richard Branson put up a sign that said, “Tickets to Puerto Rico for X”. He sold out almost immediately. He played the plane owner.Then he thought. Why can’t I always do this?He started Virgin Air. Since then he sold off his first loves: Virgin Music and his magazine and his main focus now is the multi-billion dollar Virgin Air. All because he said YES before he had a clue how he was going to come up with the money for that plane.All because he Fired, before he Aimed.But it’s not: “Fire. Aim.”It’s “Ready. Fire. Aim”.Sara Blakely spent two years sketching out and making by hand her first versions of Spanx even though she had no background in fashion or sewing. She filed a patent without knowledge of how to file a patent. For those first two years she didn’t even tell a soul what she was working on.Then when she was in Nieman Marcus, she had to use every sales technique she learned from selling fax machines cold to get in the door.Then, once in the door, she still had to convince the buyer.“Come with me,” she said. And took the buyer to the bathroom. She said, “look at my butt”. Then she changed into Spanx. “Look again”.The buyer was convinced. Neiman is still buying from Sara.Daymond John was selling hats on the corner for years. Hats! Then he begged and pleaded with LL Cool J to wear a hat in a video. Not to mention, Daymond had been interested in sewing and hip hop fashion since he was a kid.So when he went to MAGIC, the hip hop fashion show, he knew what he was talking about. He was ready.Richard Branson had never started an airline. He didn’t know the first thing about dealing with Boeing to get more planes. Or dealing with Heathrow to get flight routes.But he had spent years in one of the most difficult businesses around. The record business. He had built that up from scratch. He knew the subtleties of sales and how to build a business.He was ready.Ready. Fire. Aim.This doesn’t mean you have to spend years at one thing. Then say “YES!” to anyone. Then go for it.They were all trying other ideas. They all had many dreams. If one dream doesn’t work for awhile, you can switch to another.Reinventing yourself and choosing yourself is not about pursuing just one dream at the expense of everything else in your life.It’s about getting ready. It’s about being creative every day. It’s about making learning and creativity and relationships a habit.I haven’t been always so good at this. Sometimes I’m a bit afraid to talk to people. Sometimes I’m a bit nervous about saying “yes” before I really plan something out. But I’ve gotten better and I notice even on a daily basis, the ideas of “Ready. Fire. Aim” happen all the time.It’s how we take a chance, with a bit of risk but NOT TOO MUCH RISK at making our life a little bigger than it was the day before (example: yes, Daymond John mortgaged his house for $100,000. That’s a risk. But he had a $400,000 order from Macy’s waiting for him).You practice the Ready. Fire. Aim skill on a small scale. Take a risk on the person you want to reach out and talk to. Take a risk on article you want to write, or the photo you want to take. Or the service you want to provide.And get more and more ready by constant learning. Learning helps mitigate risk. And it compounds every day.What does that mean? It means quickly you will not only only be “ready” but you’ll be “ready to fire”. Much more quickly than you could have possibly imagined.Much more quickly than I possibly imagined.One more story.Shortly after she delivered to Neiman Marcus, Sara also sent a box of Spanx to Oprah Winfrey’s company.Oprah made Spanx one of her “favorite things” of 2000.!!Oprah then wanted to film Sara working in her office, with all her employees, working on their various clothing deals.Wait. What office!? What employees!? What deals!?Sara said, “YES!”Then she figured it all out.

What prevents a cop from fabricating a speeding ticket?

Here's a fun little story that is a follow-ups to Paul Harding's (as usual) well-structured answer that contains an excellent, logical argument explaining why cops don't fabricate tickets…but that fails to deal with the complex realities of law enforcement funding, the general mindset of LE in terms of their own behavior, their detachment from reality in terms of their own power, the large chasm of grey area that separates absolute right from absolute wrong, and the LE community's definition of “wrongdoing” by its own ranks.Chapter 1: The SetupA couple of years ago, I was (admittedly) going 45 on a road posted at 35. This road served as the boundary between two different cities (and departments). I was on town B's side of the road.Going 45, I saw a police car from town B coming the opposite way from me . I slowed down. He passed me, made a U-Turn, turned on his emergency lights, sped up to get behind me, pulled me over, and told me that he had me on radar going 43.Ignorant of the radar technology used by law-enforcement, I incredulously asked ,”So you were able to shoot radar at me while driving, read the radar apparent speed (which is the sum of your car's own speed and the speed of my car since we were both going in opposite directions), look at your own speed, then subtract your speed from the total, know that it was above the speed limit, somehow document both the reading from the radar and your own instantaneous speed, then decide that you wanted to pull me over, all within a matter of about the 3 seconds from the time that I came into view from over that ridge until you had already passed me? That's a really impressive feat! I teach mechanical engineering all day, every day and perform complex calculations in my head pretty quickly, and I would have struggled to have done that in that short a period of time.”“Get out of the car.”, he ordered.Chapter 2: The Ordered Education…. right here, let me pause our little story to illustrate the steep gradient between my viewpoint and that of our constable.As you'll see, in his mind, ordering me out of the car was an educational and harmless thing to do and not at all illegal, unethical, or abusive.From my perspective, however, this guy is already pissed off that I challenged his authority and thinking, and has just ordered me (not asked) me to exit my vehicle on the side of a busy, icy roadway in the middle of winter, in spite of the hazard. Further, I knew that telling me to exit my vehicle wasn't probably a lawful order, but because he didn't ask me, I wasn't about to question him a second time and risk being charged with obstruction….So, I exited my vehicle. He was already walking back to his car. He beckoned for me to follow him, so I treaded back to his driver's side window where he proceeded to school me on modern law-enforcement technology.He showed me his radar display panel. There, in bright LED digits it showed:Measured Speed: 91Cruiser Speed: 48Target Speed: 43Posted Speed: _035_|Speed Over (Under): 8(He had typed the second-to-last entry into the system, he told me, after he had pulled me over for the system to store.)“You can see that my rig calculates all of that stuff for me. I only needed to look at your speed to see that you were well over the speed limit, so I locked down the measurement and turned around”, he said to me.“Wow. I didn't know that your system accounted for relative speed. That's pretty slick. I stand corrected.”, I responded.“Well, now, maybe you can use that as an example in one of your lectures there, professor.”, he retorted.“Heh. Yeah.”, was all that I could muster.…Let's pause again. I knew this phenomenon well and have long since become accustomed to it and work hard to avoid situations where it happens, but it still does. It comes with the territory.Whenever I bring up my occupation, people always assume that I'm being smug or condescending. As a result, I usually try to leave it out of the discussion unless absolutely necessarily. This had been a case where I should have. To be fair, though, he had schooled me on the capabilities of police radar systems….Chapter 3: Questions and AnswersAs we walked back to the car, he told me that he was going to need my driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance. I entered my vehicle again, got out the required documents, handed them to him, and waited.“Please sit right here. I'll be back shortly.”, he told me.He then went back to his cruiser to process my information. He returned shortly, gave me my documents back, gave me my ticket, explained how to pay it or dispute it, and then asked me if I had any questions for him.“The other side of the street is (town A), right?”, I asked.“Yes, sir, but officers from both jurisdictions may patrol both sides of the road. However, offenders must attend court in the actual jurisdiction that the infraction occurred in. You were on the (city B) side of the road, so you'll need to attend our mayor's court as opposed to the traffic court for (city A)…not because that's my jurisdiction, but just because you were on that side of the road.”, he explained.I thanked him. He told me to try to drive more safely. He then returned to his vehicle and drove off. I followed with my $184 ticket.Chapter 4: The MoneyI later found out that the total cost of that ticket would be another $81 in mayor's court fees if I wished to contest it…or not contest it without admitting guilt (which had the advantage of, if the mayor accepted my plea, not putting any points on my driver's license). I also subsequently discovered that all of the court fees stayed in city B while all of the money from the fine went to the state.About 15 minutes later (I was just making a trip to the post office), I saw the same officer with another vehicle pulled over.I ultimately went to mayor's court, paid the ticket and the court fees, and didn't have points added to my license. That 8 MPH over the speed limit had cost me $265 plus three hours off of work to attend the mayor's court (which I could have traded for about $275 in personal flex time) plus about $30 in travel expenses to get back and forth to court for a total of about $570 in overall expense. In fact, it would be more if I accounted for my time during the traffic stop…in fact, to be comprehensive,let's call that about $80.So, this whole incident cost me about $650. $650 for 8 MPH over the speed limit. More than $81 per 1 MPH.In the mayor's court, (there were hundreds of people there, many not residents of city B), I counted a total of forty - two people who had received tickets along the same tiny 1/2 mile stretch of road in the two hours prior to my ticket and the 7 hours after my ticket. That's 4.7 tickets per hour on average. This tells me that at least two or even three LEO's were patrolling and ticketing on that one day.Everybody in mayor's court that day paid the court fee of $81. For just the 42 on that 1/2 of road, that adds up to $3400. About $380 per hour.But wait! It gets better!Chapter 5: More MoneyApparently, my home state offers “grants” to local police departments who participate in certain law enforcement visibility events. It just so turns out that the Saturday that I got pulled over was a holiday weekend and that weekend was such an event. Any department that achieved a sufficient quantity of citations per mile of roadway patrolled received a grant of $45,000 for department expenses including gear, training, vehicles, and payment of overtime.Subsequent research on my part revealed that the target for city B would have been about 130 citations over the 3 day holiday weekend. I also learned that city B had handed out about 160 citations during that same 3 day stretch. This made city A eligible for the $45,000 grant.That's about $346 per required ticket. Add to that the $81 court fee, and the city was getting $428 per ticket written in that grant program.But wait! The whole cost of a ticket was only $81 in court fees plus the $184 ticket price for a total of $265. How could the city be getting paid the additional $163 per ticket?This is simple: the state is collecting money for all tickets, not just those during the grant events and not just those from participating departments. Further, they're collecting money from all tickets in excess of the target number of citations.So, when the city collected their $346 that they were awarded for my $184 ticket, they were also recouping $162 from another ticket written outside of the enforcement event.I learned that in total, city B had earned over $400,000 in the previous year from these grants. They had also issued about 3400 citations during that same year. That's $118 per ticket. To my simple mind, that means that the state gets about $66 (almost exactly 1/3) of the revenues for tickets and the city gets the remaining 2/3 for a total to the city of about $199 (call it $200) per ticket written!For city B, that was $400,000 plus (3,400 x $81) = $675,400 (and I learned that in this city, virtually all people paid the court fees to avoid having points applied to their licenses.So, the next time that someone in law enforcement suggests that there is no motivation for them to write tickets and therefore no reason to fabricate reasons to write tickets, remember the $200 out of $265 that city B earned for every ticket they wrote.Chapter 6: Coming and Going ( and Not)Oh, by the way. The day that I was in mayor's court. The total number of people (of the hundreds who were there) who I saw found “not guilty”?Zero.The number who pled not guilty?About 1/12These poor souls wound up paying the court fees and got points on their license.The mayor would even ask some of them, “Are you sure that you don't want to plead 'no contest’? If you do, you won't get points on your license if I accept your plea.”Nobody actually pled guilty because they could have done that by mail or by credit card online. I'm thinking that's how the non-moving violations people paid their fees because they had no points at risk.Oh, just so you know. There are “grant events” for “vehicle safety” and “roadworthiness” that target only non-moving violators. So, the money makes its way back to the cities for those violations as well.Chapter 7: Did You Catch It?Going back to the moment that the officer was showing me how his system calculated my speed, a very small number of you reading may have picked up on a huge problem with the officer who had pulled me over, but neither I nor he really addressed. I noticed it, but after his comment about me using my newly-learned facts about police radar in lecture, I wasn't about to call him out on it.In my mind, this was the greatest example of just how oblivious men with good intentions who earnestly believe that they are doing and trying to do the right things can be utterly swept up into a system of corrupt practices and beliefs and then be totally shocked when the public spits on them and calls them names.Here's a repeat of the officer's radar screen display:Measured Speed: 91Cruiser Speed: 48Target Speed: 43Posted Speed: _035_|Speed Over (Under): 8That's right!The police officer was going 48 MPH himself in a 35 MPH zone before he turned around and turned on his emergency lights. Indeed, he had no reason to be going that fast (and was doing so illegally) when he discovered that I was exceeding the speed limit. In fact, he was going 5 MPH faster than me…almost twice as much above the speed limit that I was…13 MPH over versus my 8 MPH over.So, here's the question. To all of the LEOs who profess that justice is blind and that those who violate the law knowingly while on duty should have the book thrown at them, what do you think of this guy who (up until now, maybe) you generally saw as a pretty decent, by-the-numbers cop? I mean, the guy gave me what, if the tables were turned, you guys would consider to be a “smoking gun” confession.Did he say, “Oh, shit. I guess I was speeding, too. I suppose that I'll just write myself a ticket and stand in line at mayor's court to prevent myself from getting any points on my license.”?No! Of course not. He didn't even see that he had been breaking the law himself, or if he did his demeanor suggested that IT wasn't an issue in the slightest.Had he done something so absurd, I'm virtually certain that his own mayor would have seen to it that he was found not guilty or the local prosecutor would have dismissed the charge……but it never got to that point…in fact, he never even considered doing such a thing…because his own breaking of the law is a complete blind spot for him-as is it of his co-workers and as it is of the entire justice system toward him.He doesn't think that he's above the law, he simply thinks that he's above lawlessness and such that his “crime alarm” doesn't go off even when the evidence is staring at him in the face… in his own mirror.Chapter 8: Reconsidering “The Order”The real violation of the law wasn't his speeding, though (you all do it…a lot…way too much…without your lights on…we all see it every day…you're not fooling anyone, coppers…and hypocrisy breeds contempt…just so you know).The real violation was his order (not request) for me to exit my vehicle. That was a violation of my civil rights, exposed me to unnecessary risks for the sake of winning a pissing contest against someone he thought was being aloof and was, therefore, an abuse of power and illegal.Here again, however, he saw it probably as a good thing that he did…and I did learn something. But how many citizens every single day break the law for things that they felt were the right thing to do? Even when the victim claims, “no harm, no foul”, such an individual is likely to be prosecuted.This guy never considered the fact that there he was, with a machine designed to immediately terminate my life strapped to his waist barking orders to me that I knew were illegal (hence, he already had shown to me that he was willing to break the law). This was then reaffirmed for me when I saw his speed on the display. Now, I knew this guy knew that I knew that he had broken the law. He just showed me the evidence…voluntarily…and it didn't even REGISTER to him that it was in the SLIGHTEST BIT WRONG.Chapter 9: SociopathsTHAT demeanor is what many people would call sociopathic: Breaking the law and hurting others to your benefit while being completely oblivious to the fact that you're doing so….. except that this officer wasn't and isn't sociopathic. He genuinely seemed to be a nice guy with good intentions.No, he wasn't or isn't a sociopath……but his culture and their attitudes and beliefs and values are.That's the problem.So, when people like Paul Harding say, “No. Why would we waste our time doing that?However, when someone is a real suspect in what they consider a serious crime and they have reason to believe that the timing is perfect because there's likely time-sensitive evidence in the vehicle, do they fabricate reasons for pulling that subject over? Especially if there's no way that anyone can challenge their word on it (as in communities without vehicle cameras on cruisers)?You're naive and lead a sheltered life if you don't think so.Chapter 10: Skewed Logic ISN’T“But they would never do that to innocent people.” Some might say.…and that's generally true……until they suspect the wrong person,…or somebody who looks innocent but seems to be engaged in something very suspicious,…or is driving at an odd hour of night on a street known to connect a series of bars to a residential neighborhood and there have been a number of DUI crashes on that same stretch of road,…or are driving a kind of car in a certain part of town known for drug activity, playing a certain kind of music known to be played by those involved in the drug trade,…whilst driving suspiciously close to the speed limit and obeying all traffic laws too perfectly,…because, “What's the worst that could happen? I make up some BS reason for pulling them over, I take a look inside their car and ask a few questions. They're not doing anything wrong, I turn out to be wrong. So, I let them off with a warning and they go on with their night….…unless they give me an attitude or are little punks who need someone in authority to put them into their place, then they will get the ticket……and maybe cited for two or three other things that I 'find’ if they keep it up.”That's what happens…and regardless of how “good cops” tell you they think or behave, that's the mindset and culture that they come from. Of course they don't see this as bad.They're blind to it.

As first time entrepreneurs, what part of the process are people often completely blind to?

The 100 Rules for Being a First-Time EntrepreneurIf you Google “entrepreneur” you get a lot of mindless cliches like “Think Big!” For me, being an “entrepreneur” doesn’t mean starting the next “Faceook”. Or even starting any business at all.It means finding the challenges you have in your life, and determining creative ways to overcome those challenges. However, in this post I focus mostly on the issues that come up when you first start your company. These rules also apply if you are taking an entrepreneurial stance within a much larger company (which all employees should do).Just as good to be an “entreployee” as an “entrepreneur”. Either one will help you survive this world of increased economic uncertainty.For me, I’ve started several businesses.Maybe 17 have failed out of 20. I fail quickly. I fail frequently.Entrepreneurship is a sentence of failures punctuated by brief success.I’m invested in about 28 private companies. I’ve advised probably another 50 private companies. I’m on the board of several private companies and one public company. The companies ranging from $0 in revenues to a billion in revenues.Along the way I’ve compiled a list of rules that have helped me deal with every aspect of being an entrepreneur in business and some in life.Here’s the real rules:A) It’s not fun. I’m not going to explain why it’s not fun. These are rules. Not theories. I don’t need to prove them.But there’s a strong chance you can hate yourself throughout the process of being an entrepreneur. Keep sharp objects and pills away during your worst moments. And you will have them. If you are an entrepreneur and agree with me, please note this in the comments below.B) Try not to hire people. You’ll have to hire people to expand your business. But it’s a good discipline to really question if you need each and every hire.C) Get a customer. This seems obvious. But it’s not. Get a customer before you start your business, if you can.So many people say to me, “I have an idea. Can you introduce me to VCs?”There is a HUGE gap between “idea” and “professional venture capital”.In the middle of that gap is “customer”.D) If you are offering a service, call it a product.Oracle did it. They claimed they had a database. But if you “bought” their database they would send in a team of consultants to help you “install” the database to fit your needs.In other words, for the first several years of their existence, they claimed to have a product but they really were a consulting company. Don’t forget this story. Products are valued higher than services.And almost EVERY major software product company was a service company in the beginning. Don’t forget that.E) It’s OK to fail. Start over. Hopefully before you run out of money. Hopefully before you take in investor money. Or, don’t worry about it. Come up with new ideas. Start over.F) Be profitable. Try to be profitable immediately. This seems obvious but it isn’t. Try not to raise money. That money is expensive.G) When raising money: if it’s not easy then your idea is probably incapable of raising money. If its easy, then take as much as possible. If its TOO easy, then sell your company (unless you are Twitter, etc).(if its too easy, sell your company)H) The same goes for selling your company. If it’s not easy, then you need to build more. Then sell. To sell your company, start getting in front of your acquirers a year in advance. Send them monthly updates describing your progress. Then, when they need a company like yours, your company is the first one that comes to mind.Don’t be like that guy in the TV show “Silicon Valley”. If someone offers you ten million for a company that has no revenues, then sell it. Not everything is going to be a Facebook. And even the Google guys tried to sell their company for ONE MILLION DOLLARS to Yahoo before they were revenue positive.SELL THE COMPANY.I) Competition is good. It turns you into a killer. It helps you judge progress. It shows that other people value the space you are in. Your competitors are also your potential acquirors.J) Don’t use a PR firm. Except maybe as a secretary. You are the PR for your company. You are your company’s brand. You personally.I’ve never had a good PR company. I’ve had good PR secretaries. But they are cheaper. One time I hired a PR company and they accidentally sent me the contract for Terry Bradshaw. He was paying $10,000 a month. How did they do for him?K) Communicate with everyone. Employees. Customers. Investors. All the time. Every day.Employees want to know what to do. And they want to know you are thinking of their overall career.Customers want to know how to keep their bosses calm.Investors want to be your friend and want to know they can count on you when time’s are tough.L) Do everything for your customers. This is very important.Get them girlfriends or boyfriends. Speak at their charities. Visit their parents for Thanksgiving. Help them find other firms to meet their needs. Even introduce them to your competitors if you think a competitor can help them or if you think you are about to be fired. Always think first, “What’s going to make my customer happy?”Note: EVEN if that means introduce them to a competitor. If you are the SOURCE, then everybody comes back to the source.M) Your customer is not a company. There’s a human there. What will make my human customer happy? Make him laugh. You want your customer to be happy.N) Show up. Go to breakfast/lunch/dinner with customers. Treat.O) History. Know the history of your customers in every way. Company history, personal history, marketing history, investing history, etc.P) Micro-manage software development. Nobody knows your product better than you do. If you aren’t a technical person, learn how to be very specific in your product specification so that your programmers can’t say: “well you didn’t say that!”Q) Hire local. You need to be able to see and talk to your programmers. Don’t outsource to India. I love India. But I won’t hire programmers from there while I’m living in the US.R) Sleep. Don’t buy into the 20 hours a day entrepreneur myth. You need to sleep 8 hours a day to have a focused mind.If you are working 20 hours a day, then that means you have flaws in how you are managing your time. You can argue about this but it’s true.S) Exercise. Same as above. If you are unhealthy, your product will be unhealthy.T) Emotionally Fit. DON’T have dating problems and software development problems at the same time. VCs will smell this all over you.U) Pray. You need to. Be grateful where you are. And pray for success. You deserve it. Pray for the success of your customers. Heck, pray for the success of your competitors. The better they do, it means the market is getting bigger. And if one of them breaks out, they can buy you.V) Buy your employees gifts. Massages. Tickets. Whatever. I always imagined that at the end of each day my young, lesbian employees (for some reason, most employees at my first company were lesbian) would be calling their parents and their mom and dad would ask them: “Hi honey! How was your day today?” And I wanted them to be able to say: “It was the best!” Invite customers to masseuse day.W) Treat your employees like they are your children. They need boundaries. They need to be told “no!” sometimes. And sometimes you need to hit them in the face (ha ha, just kidding). But within boundaries, let them play.X) Don’t be greedy pricing your product. If your product is good and you price it cheap, people will buy. Then you can price upgrades, future products, and future services more expensive. Which goes along with the next rule.Y) Distribution is everything. Branding is everything. Get your name out there, whatever it takes. The best distribution is of course word of mouth, which is why your initial pricing doesn’t matter.Write a blog about your industry and be very honest about all the flaws (even your own) that is currently in your industry.Authenticity is the best branding.Z) Don’t kill yourself. It’s not worth it. Your employees need you.Your children or future children need you. It seems odd to include this in a post about entrepreneurship but we’re also taking about keeping it real.Most books or “rules” for entrepreneurs talk about things like “think big”, “go after your dreams”. But often dreams turn into nightmares. I’ll repeat it again. Don’t kill yourself. Call me if things get too stressful. Or more importantly, make sure you take proper medicationAA) Give employees structure. Let each employee know how his or her path to success can be achieved. All of them will either leave you or replace you eventually. That’s OK. Give them the guidelines how that might happen. Tell them how they can get rich by working for you.BB) Fire employees immediately. If an employee gets “the disease” he needs to be fired. If they ask for more money all the time. If they bad mouth you to other employees. If you even think they are talking behind your back, fire them.The disease has no cure. And it’s very contagious. Show no mercy. Show the employee the door. There are no second chances because the disease is incurable.I don’t say this because I want anyone to be hurt. But if you’ve followed the rules above then you are treating employees well already. NOBODY should spread the disease and badmouth you or your customers.CC) Make friends with your landlord. If you ever have to sell your company, believe it or not, you are going to need his signature (because there’s going to be a new lease owner)DD) Only move offices if you are so packed in that employees are sharing desks and there’s no room for people to walk.EE) Have killer parties. But use your personal money. Not company money. Invite employees, customers, and investors. .FF) If an employee comes to you crying, close the door or take him or her out of the building. Sit with him until it stops. Listen to what he has to say.If someone is crying then there’s been a major communicationbreakdown somewhere in the company. Listen to what it is and fix it. Don’t get angry at the culprit’s. Just fix the problem.(you don’t want your employees to be sad.)GG) At Christmas, donate money to every customer’s favorite charity. But not for investors or employees.HH) Have lunch with your competitors. Listen and try not to talk. One competitor (Bill Markel from Interactive 8) once told me a story about how the CEO of Toys R Us returned his call. He was telling me this because I never returned Bill’s calls. Ok, Bill, lesson noted.II) Ask advice a lot. Ask your customers advice on how you can be introduced into other parts of their company. Then they will help you. Because of the next rule…JJ) Hire your customers. Or not. But always leave open the possibility. Let it always dangle in the air between you and them. They can get rich with you. Maybe. Possibly. If they play along. So play.KK) On any demo or delivery, do one extra surprise thing that was not expected. Always add bells and whistles that the customer didn’t pay for.This is such an easy way to over deliver I’m surprised people don’t do it 100% of the time. They do it maybe 1% of the time. So this is an easy way to compete and surprise and delight.LL) Understand the demographic changes that are changing the world. Where are marketing dollars flowing and can you be in the middle. What services do aging baby boomers need? Is the world running out of clean water? Are newspapers going to survive? Etc. Etc. Read every day to understand what is going on.LLa) Don’t go to a lot of parties or “meetups” with other entrepreneurs. Work instead while they are partying.MM) But, going along with the above rule, don’t listen to the doom and gloomers that are hogging the TV screen trying to tell you the world is over. They just want you to be scared so they can scoop up all the money.NN) You have no more free time. In your free time you are thinking of new ideas for customers, new ideas for services to offer, new products.OO) You have no more free time, part 2. In your free time, think of ideas for potential customers. Then send them emails: “I have 10 ideas for you. Would really like to show them to you. I think you will be blown away. Here’s five of them right now.”OOa) Depressions, recessions, don’t matter. There’s $15 trillion in the economy. You’re allowed a piece of it:FedEx, Microsoft, HewlettPackard, and many huge companies were started in recessions or depressions. Leave economics to the academics while they leave good business to you.PP) Talk. Tell everyone you ever knew what your company does. Your friends will help you find clients.QQ) Always take someone with you to a meeting. You’re bad at following up. Because you have no free time. So, if you have another employee. Let them follow up. Plus, they will like to spend time with the boss. You’re going to be a mentor.RR) If you are consumer focused: your advertisers are your customers. But always be thinking of new services for your consumers. Each new service has to make their life better. People’s lives are better if: they become healthier, richer, or have more sex. “Health” can be broadly defined.SS) If your customers are advertisers: find sponsorship opportunities for them that drive customers straight into their arms. These are the most lucrative ad deals (see rule above). Ad inventory is a horrible business model. Sponsorships are better. Then you are talking to your customer.TT) No friction. The harder it is for a consumer to sign up, the less consumers you will have. No confirmation emails, sign up forms, etc. The easier the better.TTA) No fiction, part 2. If you are making a website, have as much content as you can on the front page. You don’t want people to have to click to a second or third page if you can avoid it. Stuff that first page with content. You aren’t Google. (And, 10 Unusual Things You Didn’t Know About Google)UU) No friction, part 3. Say “yes” to any opportunity that gets you in a room with a big decision maker. Doesn’t matter if it costs you money.VV) Sell your company two years before you sell it. Get in the offices of the potential buyers of your company and start updating them on your progress every month. Ask their advice on a regular basis in the guise of just an “industry catch-up”WW) If you sell your company for stock, sell the stock as soon as you can. If you are selling your company for stock it means:a. The market is such that lots of companies are being sold for stock.b. AND, companies are using stock to buy other companies because they value their stock less than they value cash.c. WHICH MEANS, that when everyone’s lockup period ends, EVERYONE will be selling stock across the country. So sell yours first.XX) Execution is a dime a dozen. If you have an idea worth pursuing, then just make it. You can build any website for cheap. Hire a programmer and make a demo. Get at least one person to sign up and use your service. If you want to make Facebook pages for plumbers, find one plumber who will give you $10 to make his Facebook page. Just do it.Fail quickly. Good ideas are HARD. It’s execution that is a dime a dozen.YY) Don’t use a PR firm, part II. Set up a blog. Tell your personal stories (see “33 tips to being a better writer” ). Let the customer know you are human, approachable, and have a real vision as to why they need to use you. Become the voice for your industry, the advocate for your products. If you make skin care products, tell your customers every day how they can be even more beautiful than they currently are and have more sex than they are currently getting. Blog your way to PR success. Be honest and bloody.ZZ) Don’t save the world. If your product sounds too good to be true, then you are a liar.ZZa) Your company is always for sale.AAA) Frame the first check. I’m staring at mine right now.BBB) No free time, part 3. Pick a random customer. Find five ideas for them that have nothing to do with your business. Call them and say, “I’ve been thinking about you. Have you tried this?”CCC) No resale deals. Nobody cares about reselling your service. Those are always bad deals.DDD) Your lawyer or accountant is not going to introduce you to any of their other clients. Those meetings are always a waste of time.EEE) Celebrate every success. Your employees need it. They need a massage also. Get a professional masseuse in every Friday afternoon. Nobody leaves a job where there is a masseuse.FFF) Sell your first company. I have to repeat this. Don’t take any chances. You don’t need to be Mark Zuckerberg. Sell your first company as quick as you can. You now have money in the bank and a notch on your belt. Make a billion on your next company.Note Mark Cuban’s story. Before he started Broadcast and rode it to a few billion, he sold his first software company for ten million.GGG) Pay your employees before you pay yourself.HHH) Give equity to get the first customer. If you have no product yet and no money, then give equity to a good partner in exchange for them being a paying customer. Note: don’t blindly give equity. If you develop a product that someone asked for, don’t give them equity. Sell it to them. But if you want to get a big distribution partner whose funds can keep you going forever, then give equity to nail the deal.III) Don’t worry about anyone stealing your ideas. Ideas are worthless anyway. It’s OK to steal something that’s worthless.IIIA) Follow me on twitter.Questions from ReadersQuestion: You say no free time but you also say keep emotionally fit, physically fit, etc. How do I do this if I’m constantly thinking of ideas for old and potential customers?Answer: It’s not easy or everyone would be rich.Question: if I get really stressed about clients paying, how do I get sleep at night?Answer: medicationQuestion: how do I cold-call clients?Answer: email them. Email 40 of them. It’s OK if only 1 answers. Email 40 a day but make sure you have something of value to offer.Question: how can I find cheap programmers or designers?Answer: if you don’t know any and you want to be cheap: use Hire Freelancers & Find Freelance Jobs Online, Elance, or craigslist. But don’t hire them if they are from another country. You need to communicate with them even if it costs more money.Question: should I hire programmers?Answer: first…freelance. Then hire.Question: what if I build my product but I’m not getting customers?Answer: develop a service loosely based on your product and offer that to customers. But I hope you didn’t make a product without talking to customers to begin with?Question: I have the best idea in the world, but for it to work it requires a lot of people to already be using it. Like Twitter.Answer: if you’re not baked into the Silicon Valley ecosystem, then find distribution and offer equity if you have to. Zuckerberg had Harvard.MySpace had the fans of all the local bands they set up with MySpace pages. I (in my own small way) had Stock Market - Business News, Market Data, Stock Analysis - TheStreet when I set up Stockpickr! Your Source for Stock Ideas. I also had 10 paying clients when i did my first successful business fulltime.Question: I just lost my biggest customer and now I have to fire people. I’ve never done this before. How do I do it?Answer: one on meetings. Be Kind. State the facts. Say you have to let people go and that everyone is hurting but you want to keep in touch because they are a great employee. It was an honor to work with them and when business comes back you hope you can convince them come back.Then ask them if they have any questions. Your reputation and the reputation of your company are on the line here. You want to be a good guy. But you want them out of your office within 15 minutes. It’s a termination, not a negotiation. This is one reason why it’s good to start with freelancers.Question: I have a great idea. How do I attract VCs?Answer: build the product. Get a customer. Get money from customer. Get more customers. Build more services in the product. Get VC. Chances are by this point, the VCs are calling you.Question: I want to build a business day trading.Answer: bad ideaQuestion: I want to start a business but don’t know what my passion is:Answer: skip to the post: “How to be the luckiest person alive”. Do the Daily Practice. Within six months your life will be completely different.Question: I want to leave my job but I’m scared.Answer: same as above question. The Daily Practice turns you into a healthy Idea Machine. Plus luck will flow in from every direction.Final rule: Things change. Every day. The title of this post, for instance, says “100 Rules”. But I gave about 70 rules (including the Q&A). Things change midway through. Be ready for it every day. In fact, every day figure out what you can change just slightly to shake things up and improve your product and company.Your business is not your life. When you start a business you also get a cognitive bias that makes you think your business is GREAT.Every day make sure you are not smoking crack. The most important thing is your health so you can be persistent. If you smoke crack you can die.I hope you succeed. Because I really need that smart toilet that sends my doctors text messages after doing urinalysis on my pee every day.Good luck.

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