Archive for the ‘Eight Lunches’ Category

Brilliant reading for any entreprenuer or business person

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Check out this awesome post: Marc Andreessen Visits Peter Thiel’s Stanford Class To Talk Startups, How He Invests & The Future

It’s a long read, but meaty, juicy, and overall inspiring.  I love it.

Eight Lunches Feedback from a real Accountant

Monday, August 15th, 2011

When I started getting into finances and accounting in Eight Lunches, I got nervous.

I honestly don’t like this type of attention to detail.

I have a professional bookkeeper/accountant who I outsource it to.

I like to ignore the detail part of finances, but entrepreneurs really can’t.

I was anxious to hear what some real accountants had to say.  Luckily, I have someone in my network who is an accomplished accountant and bookkeeper, and someone I count as a good friend.

Valerie Gonyea is someone I was blessed to meet in person, and then share some meals and several conversations with over the years.

Here is part of her feedback on Eight Lunches:

OK, yes, I know I am right up against your requested deadline, but I wanted to be sure that I read – and absorbed – the whole thing.

I’ll just start out with my **only** negative comment, which is that this is not my favorite type of book format, the “ongoing conversation”. But because it was YOU talking, it was much easier for me to appreciate. If I didn’t know and respect you the way I do, I probably wouldn’t be drawn to this “conversation”. That’s just me, though.

That said, I am thrilled you did this project. Although very little of the content seemed new to me, I believe that is because I read your blog so there are many common themes, obviously. They are all very good themes and very, very relevant. I can only guess that many people try to pick your brain in this way and so this book will be a great way to short-circuit those precious time-suck conversations.

… I get the homework each chapter, is there more to them? I know you follow up with some email correspondence for clarifications, but it seems like you could add some more self-reflective questions at the end of each chapter, whether you relate them to your convo or not.

This stuff is NOT natural for most people to think about when they are just getting started so maybe add some additional questions at the end of each chapter that really forces the reader to think beyond their comfort zone…or worse what they THINK they know! This is particularly relevant to lunch 3: Packages.

I, of course, really appreciate the chapter about finances. One thing that Paul says is that he’s missed entering some expenses and you make a comment about this being more of a chore part of a business rather than a key focus.

I don’t want this to sound self-serving but a good bookkeeper for 3 hours/week at $40-$70 per hour could really help with this. Paul could get some referrals and as long as he is able to give CLEAR direction as to how expenses should be categorized (and a GOOD BK can help him get clear on this) then he can get more focused on his main goals, sales and marketing. I mean I have one client who has very thin margins and he is very particular about how the expenses get categorized…we work well together because I am equally careful and I ask questions when I am unsure. I HELP him stay focused on the business and my cost is a true business benefit. Just my .02 on that.

I also think that you could clarify that this is really a 2 step process, the first step is the uncomfortable number crunching but the payoff is to get to the second step which is the conclusion drawing, as you call it.

random thought: somewhere in the passive revenue/packages convo maybe relate to ordering at a fast food restaurant….look I HATE that stuff and I really resist doing it if there is ever a better option, but in a pinch, I know I can drive up to a window and order a #3 and get a burger, fries and a drink, addressing all of my needs so I can focus on what I am actually trying to get done that day. Again, just a random thought.

Isn’t she amazing?  Thank you for taking the time to read and absorb it… !

Valerie had some other excellent suggestions, which I’m incorporating into the book.

It pays to know awesome people!

Tough Questions for your business: Alan Weiss

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Paul Copcutt, personal branding speaker and consultant, sent a link to a group I’m in to The Examined Practice, a post by Alan Weiss with a number of tough questions everyone should ask about their business.

It’s worth printing out and answering, ever year.  Some questions (read entire post here):

  • Are your revenues increasing by at least 10 percent a year? Why or why not?
  • Have you created new intellectual property in the prior year?
  • Do you have contracted business that will pay fees over the next six months, and contacts going beyond that?
  • Do you have a financial, liquid reserve equal to a year’s expenses?

These are four of the sixteen questions. No matter how you answer them now, you can use these sixteen questions as goals to work towards to answer them better next year.

Eight Lunches, Second Draft, Instructions

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

I just finished the second draft of Eight Lunches.  Whew.

If you want to review it, leave a comment here and I’ll email it to you.

Here are the instructions for the review:

  1. I’m sending a word document in case you are dying to leave anything specific in the document (with Track Changes).  I do not want too much of this, though, because last time I was overwhelmed to the point of paralysis and didn’t know how to digest it.  So, do it if you must, otherwise, see #3.
  2. I’m sending it to my editor after I compile the feedback… so don’t worry about grammar, spelling, flow, etc.
  3. I’d love one or two paragraphs, or some bullet points, of your feedback. I’m specifically looking for feedback that will help me make this tighter, better, stronger.  Feel free to be critical and negative… so I can find out what bugs people about what I’ve done.
  4. IF YOU WANT TO ENDORSE THE BOOK I CAN PUT YOUR ENDORSEMENT IN THE BOOK… with a link to your company, etc.

I think that’s it… pretty simple… again, if you want to see it, please leave a comment on this other post.

I’d like to get this to the editor in the next 30 days… so I’d appreciate any thoughts in the next week or two. If you are a deadline person, consider July 31 your deadline :)

Entrepreneur Reads from Ben Yoskovitz & Fred Wilson

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

My mind is in entrepreneurial stuff as I think about wrapping up Eight Lunches (what is the definition of “good enough??).

Here are three excellent reads for entrepreneurs:

A Postmortem Analysis of Standout Jobs: Ben founded Standout Jobs and then sold it… for a net financial loss.  Too many times we put on our smiley faces when asked about our companies… and Ben could have bragged about a “successful exit,” but he is a true blogger… very transparent.  This is a MUST read.

Paying Yourself is Not a Reason to Raise Early Stage Funding: Very important read for anyone looking to raise money.  You raise money to be able to make more money, not to reduce the stress from on founders bank accounts…

What A CEO Does: I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. It has the THREE things a CEO is responsible for (and a message about delegating the rest).

Cool stuff – worth the time to read them.

Eight Lunches, Business, Entrepreneur thoughts

Monday, July 5th, 2010

As I let the feedback from Eight Lunches incubate, and I noodle on the direction of the next draft, I’ve thought a lot about business.

I think about it as if I really were someone’s business coach.

I think it as it pertains to my own business.

I think about it as if I were speaking to a group of 100 wannabe entrepreneurs.

Lately I was thinking about starting and sustaining a successful business.  I’m sure people have thought about this a gazillion times, so perhaps there’s nothing new to this, but I’ve been trying to whittle down a model/system, so I could communicate it efficiently.

I came up with 5 steps or stages or components of this system… a system to create and maintain a sustainable business:

  1. Idea. It all starts with an idea, whether it is NEW (the better mouse trap) or old (a pasta restaurant).
  2. Execution. Not to use an ambiguous word that could be used in each of these five steps… but the idea here is to take the IDEA from step one and make it happen.  This is, create the widget, open the restaurant, etc.  This is take the idea off of paper and make it happen.  And then wait for the build it and they will come/buy, thing, right?
  3. WRONG.  Sales. This is key. This is the make-it-or-break-it thing.  Whether you sell licensing to your brilliant thing or sell widgets at 4 cents profit or sell one thing every year for a million bucks profit, you gotta sell.  Even non-salespeople have to sell – the brand, and the company.
  4. Delivery.  Once you sell your job isn’t done… you have to deliver on what you sold.  If it is a widget you put it in the mail (assuming it’s already been manufactured). If it is a custom quilt you have to sew it, if it is a consulting package or writing gig you have to schedule time to deliver on what you sold.
  5. EVOLVE.  I thought steps 1-4 was good but in the last four years I’ve found that there is this tricky little thing I call business evolution… my business has evolved dramatically from what I thought it would be (and what you would read in my business plan from 4 years ago) to what it is today. Having said that I feel like I’m in the most torrential part of business evolution… based on technology changes, competition, opportunities, economy and market, etc.  If you don’t evolve you might not live long.

Five simple steps… books can be (have been) written on each of these things… but what do you think… am I missing something (that can’t be put in one of the 5 above)?  Is there a list like this somewhere else that you like?

Eight Lunches Update

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Folks… WOW.  I asked for help and you came through, thank you!

I closed the comments from the original post because feedback is coming in and I need to digest it all and take time to rework the book.  This will be the third draft… and then I’ll send it out for another round of review.  Anyone who leaves a comment on THIS post will get an email with that draft, hopefully in the next few weeks.

I’ll share some feedback that I’ve gotten as soon as I get permission from the people who have given feedback.

THANK YOU!

Eight Lunches Excerpt & Request for Feedback

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

UPDATE: I am not sending out any more versions of THIS draft, but will send out versions of THE NEXT draft… just leave a comment on this other post and I’ll shoot it to you when I’m ready.  THANK YOU so much for helping me get this far!

I just finished editing (second draft) my third book, which is titled Eight Lunches.  You’ll see why it has that title in the excerpt below, which is essentially the intro (or, chapter zero).

Writing a book is easy and hard.  Okay, maybe it’s just hard… writing isn’t hard for me, but when SHARE my books/ideas with people, very smart people, I become vulnerable (an easy target).  But that’s the way it is… and it’s time to become vulnerable… so here goes… if you want to review my draft just leave a comment on this post and I’ll send you the book (I had people contact me directly but it’s going to be easier if you leave a comment). What I’d like is this:

  • an HONEST review – what did you like or not like?
  • SUGGESTIONS?  What needs to be beefed up?  What am I missing?
  • any grammar fixes needed.
  • confidentiality – please don’t share the book with anyone YET.

I’ll share more of my vision for this book in a future post… here’s the excerpt:

EIGHT LUNCHES

“I’m about ready to wrap it up and get a job,” said Paul, clearly dejected.

“Why? I thought things were going pretty good… what’s really going on with your business?” asked Jason. They were at Kneaders, a local sandwich shop, for their almost-monthly lunch. They started these lunches about a year earlier, after they met at a network meeting and realized they lived in the same neighborhood.

Jason’s business was a couple of years older than Paul’s and Paul asked if they could meet regularly to compare notes and share ideas and leads. They both worked out of home offices so they didn’t get the face-to-face socialization they had at their corporate jobs. There’s nothing wrong with a workday without a commute, or unnecessary interruptions by colleagues, or sharing a community fridge, but both agreed that meeting for lunch with someone who has similar business challenges is more than refreshing.

“Considering how well your business is doing, I’m embarrassed to admit where I’m at. I mean seriously, I read your blog and see all the comments and announcements and can’t even imagine having a business as successful as yours.” Paul was desperate to know how to fix his business but it was hard to open up, or ask for help, from Jason.

“Ha, that’s funny,” Jason said with a big grin, “looks can be deceiving!” Everything can be deceiving, he thought – from website traffic to blog posts to buzz about your business.

“I’ve really been thinking about my business and where I’ve come from over the last few years. I actually started writing down some ideas… principles of my success, that have helped make my business what it is today. What if we meet more regularly and talk about these principles and how they apply to your business?”

“Sounds intriguing Jason, but I’m not sure doing what you have done will help my business-our businesses aren’t even in the same industry. You market online, I sell locally. Yours is a web-based product, mine is not technical at all.”

“I realize that, but remember, I’m talking about principles. It shouldn’t matter what industry we’re talking about, or how big your business is, or even who your customers are. I’ve actually been thinking about developing a system for entrepreneurs to help them with their business. I’m not a business coach, and I don’t plan on becoming one, but I love to understand business strategies and systems. Talking about these success principles will allow me to test the ideas in a totally different industry – what do you think?”

“Sounds too good to be true,” said Paul, chuckling as he’s thinking it probably won’t help.

“Maybe it is too good to be true, but I’m game to try it! I’m sure it will help my business too, as I’ll have to critically evaluate my own business and how well I’m doing with these ideas.”

“Okay, I’m sold… what next?” Said Paul, thinking it couldn’t make his business any worse.

“How about we start next Friday? We can have lunch here every Friday from one to three, for the next eight weeks.”

“Perfect. What do I need to prepare for next week?” asked Paul.

“I don’t know – let me figure out what we’ll talk about next week. One thing, though. To make this work I want you to be comfortable sharing stuff you might not have shared with anyone else. I might ask you some tough questions and to make this work you need to be honest with me and yourself. I’ve had to ask the same questions of myself as I’ve grown my own business… agreed?”

Paul didn’t even hesitate. “Not a problem Jason, at this point I’m willing to do what I need to get my business back on track.”

“Cool – see you next Friday,” replied Jason, wondering if he knew what he had just committed to!

And then we jump into the first lunch (aka, chapter 1)!