Start Up Blog

Don’t be this person.

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 19, 2009

I had this discussion yesterday. I walked past a hole in the wall cafe. (Tiny cafe which serves take away and stand up coffee in inner city area)

Friend: Wasn’t Joey going to open a business like that?

Me: Yeh, I remember him talking about it before I had even seen one of these in the city.

Friend: What happened to it?

Me: I don’t know, I guess he just didn’t get around to it in the end. Got distracted.

Friend: That’s a shame, looks like a good little business model. What’s he doing now?

Me: He’s in the same job.

Friend: Oh. Ok.

We keep walking …

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Don’t be Joey. It at least try and fail. The old job will be waiting for you if you have to return.

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When seeking investors

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 10, 2009

Here’s some simple advice when seeking investors for your startup.

Never use the words ‘The Next’…

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Regardless of the uber successful business which follows these two words it just isn’t going to happen. For two reasons. The first is our probability of being this successful is almost non existent. Secondly if we are this successful, we wont be the next, but something new.

The main point is when people use the words the next, they lose credibility. And when someone says it to me regarding their new business venture, I find it hard to believe anything they say after that.

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Humans aren’t resources

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on March 20, 2009

Something I put on twitter referring to any business I ever run, including rentoid.com – which is certainly worth sharing with my startup blog readers:

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New York Series: Contingency Plans

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on February 25, 2009

It’s no secret I’ve spent some time abroad recently – the tile of recent entries has been a total giveaway.

One of the areas I reckon all entrepreneurs should cut their teeth in is a bit of gardening. The skills required for successful gardening happen to be highly transferable for entrepreneurs. I always keep my my garden in good nick. But this is the condition is was in upon my return.

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My beloved box hedges are not very healthy to say the least.

Sure we had some hot weather. But I knew it was the middle of a Melbourne summer which regularly gets temperatures above 40c / 100f . So why didn’t I prepare for the resources to cater for the ‘potential challenges’ the hot weather could present to my garden? It’s pretty simple really. I assumed it would be OK for a few weeks. I assumed that things would progress as normal and we wouldn’t have the hottest temperatures on record – which we did.

I failed to prepare for the worst case scenario. Actually I failed to have an infrastructure set up so things would not only continue in my absence, but have the ability to respond to extraneous circumstances. The net result is business failure. Dead garden. Which means that my garden business is still a sole trader, a side interest or maybe just a hobby.

We only have a business when we can be absent and;

  • things get done anyway
  • emergencies get attended to
  • our customers are unaware of our absence
  • we return with no ‘noticeable’ difference

So the questions we must ask ourselves as entrepreneurs, is how we are building an infrastructure which doesn’t rely on us? It’s only once this is in place, that we actually have a business.

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Quirky facts & contingency plans

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 15, 2009

Here’s a surprising, actually not so surprising business fact:

The IRS (USA tax department) tax manual has instructions for collecting taxes after a nuclear war!

Wow – that is some heavy contingency planning. Even a bit over the top….

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Although I’m not a huge fan for planning, in startup land it’s still worth having a back up plan if things really go astray. Contingency plans for things like running low on cash, losing interest in your startup, or falling out of love with your business partner. Don’t obsess over it, just have some written ideas of how you’ll deal with it, if it happens.

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Long ‘to do’ list

Quite possibly the most whined about thing in business. The never ending to do list.  We hear it from both corporate cubicle dwellers and entrepreneurs alike.

So before any of us choose to complain about all the things we have to get done we might consider the antithesis for a moment – An empty to do list.

Firstly, it’d mean we have no business ‘upside’. That we’ve run out of ideas on how to move forward. Or worse it’d mean we didn’t have any goals.  By definition we would not be engaged in, or have action plans which will improve ourselves or our business. This is the worst possible scenario I can imagine.

In fact the longer the list – the happier we should be. It should be the most exciting time in business and startup land. A time when we can be prolific and achieve the most. The long list ensures we can win because we have so many ideas to test and options we can take. The trick is not to obsess with all the stuff we aren’t getting done, but promoting the game winning activities to the top of the list and implementing as quickly as possible.

In the end it’s what gets done which matters, the projects we finish. Not how many new and groovy ideas we have waiting.

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