"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.



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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