Start Up Blog

The wealth misconception

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 5, 2011

People so often begin their adult life (teenage?) chasing financial wealth without even thinking about it. They believe the benefits of money automatically outweigh the costs of its accumulation. That there is no downside,  and that all problems in a world of endless cash flow can be bought out.

It is certain that too much money is a better problem than not enough money. But the overriding misconceptions of wealth are simple:

We only ever have 24 hours a day.

We can only ever eat 3 meals a day.

We can only sleep in 1 bed each night.

No amount of money can change these things, or improve the relationships with those around us. It’s worth remembering this in 2011 before we embark upon a new program of attempting to garner things we might not actually want.

Have a great year, Steve.


How to win a debate

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 2, 2010

Winning a debate isn’t about proving the other party is wrong. It’s about proving you are right. In fact it’s about proving that you are more correct, even a little bit.

Then, by inference the other party must be wrong.

Although that’s a nice tip, debating is hardly the approach we need in any part of a startup business. The best advice we can give here is to never enter a debate, and let the other party believe they are right. Startups are about building relationships, not sabotaging them.


Web Success = Populate & Promote

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on February 12, 2010

I recently saw a job posted on a web developer recruiting website. It involved some people looking for coders to make a copy of my web business and livelihood What was interesting was the lack decorum shown in the coder recruiting process where the person said – build me a replica of this website. Here’s a screen print of it below.

I was a bit annoyed at first. and sent out a tweet to assess the mood of my army of advisers on twitter. I tweeted the following:

Not sure what to think of this? A compliment or IP rip off with me and @rentoid as the victims? Help! Thoughts?

The responses were varied, but all were within the theme of this person clearly does not get what it takes. Here’s some verbatim of the tweet responses:

xshay don’t worry about it – we saw a guy offering to build redbubble for < $1000 once. A) not going to happen, B) not about the tech

shandsaker same thing happened to us. Just be confident that $750 and a 2 line project brief is $750 better spent on beer :-)

TimBull if they can only spend $750 to build it, quality won’t be there and they won’t stick it – betcha the coding was trivial part

BLKMGK01 Congrats man. Business must be huge if other people want to start ripping off ur ideas. U should apply to design the site! haha.

BrentHodgson Don’t let it worry you. You know that @Rentoid is more than the sum of its tech parts – & that it wasn’t a $750 job to create.

lukerides precisely…all about execution, so I would not worry…if they do a better job than you, they were always going to anyway!

I pretty much knew this before I tweeted the issue, but it did force me to think about web marketing success, and the success of rentoid to date and I came to the following conclusion. It’s not about the tech. In fact, the tech is pretty low down on the list of things needed for any website to succeed. And if i had to give my nemesis some advice on how to succeed in copying me it would be to do these two things:

Populate and Promote.

This is what needs to be done with any classified style website to succeed, and it takes a lot of time and investment. Investment in  financial and human capital. The problem with being 2nd, 3rd or later is that all the easy promotional opportunities like this are taken by the market innovator. And populating your website to make it meaningful takes a lot of boot leather, which is something many web entrepreneurs are afraid of.


When to quit

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on February 8, 2010

This is the fifth of my crowd sourced blog entry ideas as suggested by Cameron Reilly. Cam wanted to get my thoughts on the following: When to call it a day. When to close up shop.

This is one of the most difficult propositions as an entrepreneur – when to stick and when to quit? My view is a simple analogy. When the startup or business feels like a bad romantic relationship you’ve had. The type of relationship you knew you had to get out of, but couldn’t. The type of relationship you had an unhealthy addition to, or found it too hard to leave emotionally, or was scared of the financial losses and asset split associated with leaving it. When your business feels like that, it’s time to leave. If you view your business as a relationship you have with it, then it will become clear if it’s over. Because we all know that feeling. And we usually know the truth deep down in our hearts when things are just not right.  When your startup feels like that, it’s time to shut up shop.

Here’s some simple sentences that may also help you know if it’s time to quit:

It’s time to quit when, you’ve lost interest in the project, and your only doing it for the money.

It’s time to quit when, you only keep going because of the time and money you’ve already invested.

It’s time to quit when, you can’t sustain yourself or family on the income it provides, or the little time it leaves.

it’s time to quit when, you’ve had enough and would have a less stressful life in a job.

It’s time to quit when, you’ve run out of money, time or desire.

It’s time to quit when, you know who can achieve more moving onto the next project.

It’s time to quit when, your not quitting because the newness has worn off, but the business is genuinely not working.

it’s time to quit when, you achieved multiple set milestones set and they still didn’t pay off financially.

it’s time to quit when you no longer believe in what your doing.

It’s time to stay the course when none of the above applies.


The most important startup

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 16, 2009

I am incredibly happy with the following things:

- My relationship with my family (immediate and wider family)

- The state of my health. I fit and well enough to enjoy, people life and exercise.

- Where I live. Yarraville, Melbourne, Australia. In fact so much so that I evangelize it.

- My house. A beautiful little renovated Edwardian, not big but it’s just right for me and my wife.

- The state of my country Australia. It allows us to practice any religion / or not and live a free life with opportunity.

- How I invest my spare time. I like surfing, gym and mountain bike riding.

- The fact that I am continuing a vocation of learning.  Both in life and academically in my areas of interest.

- The work I do. Running teaching at Melbourne University and writing this blog.

If any of these parts of your life aren’t right. If we are not quite happy with them, no less totally unhappy with them. Then this is the most important startup we can focus on. The start required to change it. Start today.

Picture 118

Micro Fame

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on September 19, 2009

Recognition of effort is an important to the human psyche. We actually don’t like money as much as society would have us think. We what like is the recognition that people believe money buys. In this sense the human brain of the ‘uber consumer’ breaks it down a little like this:

I want to be recognised as a worthy

I want people to know I have achieved

If achieve I will be rewarded with payment in the form of money

People can’t see my bank account and wont know how successful I am (my self worth)

So I’ll buy things with my money which are on public display (car, house, holidays, clothes)

People will know these things require lots of money

People will know I have earned lots of money

Only people who are successful at ‘something / anything’ get lots of money

I can be happy that people will know ‘I am somebody’.

I am a worthy person

Then there’s people who know all this but take the short cut and just buy stuff they can’t afford on credit cards to define their success through consumption.

Smart startupss can use this human pshyche to their advantage as well. Rather than the success, money consumption trail, they can provide something much more immediate and altruistic. They share reconigition. The reward and promote their people as part of the success process. They provide micro fame.

This can be done is so many simple ways. Ways which rarely have a large financial burden on either party, but create a union between the two players for mutual benefit. Stuff not limited to but including:

- Member ratings

- Access to exclusive services, parties, insider events.

- Recognition in digital and print media

- Crowd sourcing & revenue sharing of such User Generated Content

- View counts

- Followers / friends / subscribers

- Most forms of social quantification

- Overt branding which has ‘user personlilty rub off’

obama girl

So the question then begs:

What sort of Micro Fame is your startup or business providing its people?


Social media – Numbers are irrelevant

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on August 4, 2009

I saw this little 1 minute video from Seth Godin (Who I used to worship, and now just ‘like’) and had to post it here. Be sure to read my comments below the video.

Why the numbers are irrelevant to me….

  • My blog has few promotional elements on it (they’ll find me if I deserve it)
  • I only follow people on twitter I know. I want a conversation. Mind you if you @sammartino at some point I will follow you…. yes I’m interested in conversation.
  • Quantity loses to quality every time. Scores are misleading. Numbers are pointless.
  • Yes you can meet people on line and then create strong physical friendships. I have many times.

In summary I’d say this. If it doesn’t make sense in the real world (physical life) then there’s a good chance it doesn’t make sense on line. In ‘real life’, that is our off line life we think of our friendships and even business contacts in terms of quality. We don’t go around trying to make 1000 friends and wear a t-shirt that says ‘I have 1000 friends’. Rather, we prefer to have strong meaningful relationships which are one on one. Where both parties benefit. We don’t have a list in spread sheet with the people we’ve met. Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it?

Startups should be using social media to build relationships – not gathering numbers.

From now on I’ve changed my twitter link below on my blog posts. Can you see the change?

I am on Twitter Click here to chat with me

World of Venn

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 18, 2009

While we are bootstrapping our startups, it’s worth bootstrapping our lives simultaneously. We should be building projects with overlaps, to the extent that we end up living in a ‘World of Venn’. For the ‘un-nerds’ who can’t quite remember the Venn diagram, here’s a simple explanation:

Venn Diagram:
n.   A diagram using circles to represent sets, with the position and overlap of the circles indicating the relationships between the sets.

[After John Venn (1834-1923), British logician.]

The reason for doing this is simple. By living in a ‘World of Venn’, we are building intellectual assets which have synergy. Assets which are connected metaphysically. Constructs with similar ideals which can be shared, borrowed or stolen. The people in these worlds often overlap too. They’re often interested in learning about and helping in other areas of our Venn worlds. And importantly when one set dies or withers, it has an overlapping intersection on which we can refocus our efforts without having to start from the beginning.

Here’s a sample of parts of my world and the Venn relationships.


As you can see my worlds overlap and all build revenue streams.
–    Ideas and experiences from, give me great writing fodder and intellectual stimulation for this blog you are reading right now.
–    Startup blog has lead to more professional business writing I do for magazines and journals
–    My academic career at Melbourne University has lead to more Business writing and an upcoming book on marketing & investing.

The point is – they all feed each other, build on one another and leverage my personal areas of expertise.

Each success in one section adds credibility and strength to an overlapping area. The more overlaps we have, the larger our sweet spot becomes. When we have a great number of overlaps, life gets sweeter and the rewards are greater. This is why ‘work life balance’ is simply a hoax. Work is a large part of our life and should be joyous. To try and find time for things outside of work we actually ‘enjoy’, means we’ve got our life wrong. Once we live in a world of Venn our personal and financial growth is inevitable.

Venn is Zen. How Venn is your life?


Prices vs Relationship

A while ago Philip Welnman spoke at the Hive. (Australian Entrepreneurial forum) One thing he said struck me, and I think it’s true

“Without relationships we can’t win. We never lose business over price, it’s always the relationship, and price is the fall guy.

Sure, there’s probably some exceptions, like commodity trading. But who wants to trade commodities anyway?

Steve –

Business relationships & startups

Entrepreneurs must build all types of relationships.

  • Relationships with our suppliers and the value chain
  • Relationships with our buyers & resellers
  • Relationships with our staff and business partners / investors
  • Relationships with our audience & evangelists

In fact, when we are small have little or no revenue, the only thing we can do is have conversations and build relationships. These will lead to action and revenue. While having dinner with a colleague the other night, John Colbert of Corporate Edge training he gave me his view on relationships.

He said:

There are two important factors in relationships – frequency & proximity.

How frequently are we engaging the other person? Where frequency, is any type of conversation, communication or interaction.

And what is our proximity to this person? Where proximity pertains to the physical closeness and real world interactions we have together. Do we meet in person? Are we getting to know each other without the use of technology? Simply meeting in the same location?

The more of the above two things we have the stronger our relationships come. If we for a moment think of who we have strong relationships with, we’ll see we have both Frequency and Proximity.

The reality is humans want to deal with people they like, trust and know. This is what relationships build.

So if one of our important business relationships (those listed above) is flagging, maybe we should have more frequent interactions, get closer or do both.


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