"Business" Posts


Why doesn't anyone want to build companies anymore?

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Business Bullet_white Comments Comments

It seems that today, the light at the end of the startup tunnel is either (1) being acquired or (2) a billion-dollar IPO. Let’s just throw out the IPO - it’s incredibly rare.

This means that many startups are created with an explicit goal to not exist in five-or-so years. Does anyone see something wrong with this?

No one talks about starting a company that becomes an extension of yourself. Warren Buffet and Berkshire Hathaway. Apple and Steve Jobs. Starbucks and Howard Schultz. Amazon and Jeff Bezos.

Why?

 

One Hundred Dollars

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Development, Business Bullet_white Comments Comments

Recently I’ve been calling a couple of customers per-week to chat about their Scout experience. One of the questions I’ve been asking comes out of left field: ”What would you pay another $100/mo for?” I’ll ask the question first to see if they have any suggestions, then run a small selection of ideas by them.

Besides asking my future wife to marry me, it’s the best question I’ve asked in years.

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Do we really need a phone number?

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Business Bullet_white Comments Comments

Like a bug zapper on a Midwestern summer evening, our company phone number attracted lots of annoying visitors: partnership offers from the Middle East, RFP requests for the wrong product, support inquires for a dating service, etc. In fact, I can only recall a handful of calls from real-life customers.

Did we have a phone number because it solved a problem or because we thought businesses – serious ones – are supposed to have one?

For now, we’ve stopped displaying the phone number on our website. While I don’t think this makes sense for every business, for a developer-focused business like Scout I’m betting it won’t be an issue.

 

How Pixar and Toy Story almost didn't happen

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Business Bullet_white Comments Comments

When Pixar was working on their first film, Toy Story, the original draft closely followed a checklist of required elements provided by Disney. Disney has been producing animated films since 1923. Lion King, released a year before Toy Story, won two Academy Awards and grossed $783 million.

Then, why was the checklist-driven draft of Toy Story so terrible that Disney shut down production?

Pixar was writing a story they didn’t own. One of the checklist items: edgy characters. Applying that edge to Woody, the main character, resulted in an unwatchable jerk.

Pixar’s crew, led by John Lasseter, rewrote the film in their own voice:

We went back to what we wanted, and that was: the characters liked each other. Because we like each other.

Focusing on telling a great story instead of a checklist worked: in the eight years since the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature was created, a Pixar film has won it six times.

Each of their 11 films are among the 50 highest grossing films of all time.

 

Behind the scenes of a self-funded business: a week on RescueTime

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Development, Business Bullet_white Comments Comments

One of the things I was most curious about before starting Scout was what my day-to-day life would look like as a business owner versus life as a developer. How much time would I spend writing code? Answering emails? Handling the business bits? Would I work more?

Three years after launching Scout, I’d like to help answer that question. I used RescueTime to track activity on my computer. Since almost all of my work is from my laptop, it’s an easy way to get a breakdown.

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The Only Two Business Metrics That Matter

By Andre Bullet_white Posted in Business Bullet_white Comments Comments

How do you spot a successful business? It’s easiest to think in terms of size: Google, Starbucks, and Berkshire Hathaway are successful.

If you’re a small business and fixate on size alone, you’ll drive yourself crazy. I will never run a Starbucks-scale company, nor do I want to. But do I want a successful company? Definitely!

Here are the two business metrics that matter at Scout:

  1. Income per employee
  2. Employee happiness

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