I started with very little business know-how and virtually no helpful experience. I had no intention of ever running the business. I always knew I needed help even looking for help. In retrospect, aside from crediting a liberal arts education, many years of blogging more than anything else prepared me for what I have accomplished with the Rocketboom business so far. The following concepts are the ones I always talk about outloud around the studio or at conferences - the basic principles which got Rocketboom this far. This may seem pedestrian to some, but for others, I think it's a good start:
10 things I have leaned about entrepreneurial business in 2.0 land while trying not to do business:
1. Always work with people who are better than you. You can only do a few things really well. One of them should be understanding your weaknesses and looking for the best possible help to fill the gaps. Seek help to manage MOST of everything else it takes to run a successful business.
2. Treat everyone with the highest regards and pay the people who work for you greater than their value. While most people do not want to be leaders, most people want to feel good about themselves and be fulfilled. If people are paid better than normal, have good benefits and get a lot of appraisal and bonuses, they will be happier in life and in return will likely be more productive too. The smallest gestures, even for a poor company such as adding a bit more onto a pay check (giving surprise bonuses), paying for a cab - paying for lunch, all go a really long way. The greatest implementation of value for people is to have positions that allow for infinite growth. Nobody that works for you should ever have a fixed ceiling of opportunity. Consider cutting back on material expenses and pay more for people. Aspire for everyone to have a greater life-style. No matter how important your business is, this is life we are talking about and it's short. While being caught up with speed towards the future, remember others who live for the day.
3. Do everything right and fair. Make sure that you are always honorable, especially with yourself. Live up to your oral agreements. When it comes to operating your business, make sure and set it up correctly - pay every cent of tax that you legally owe. As long as you take the extra effort to do things right, you will eliminate a huge amount of stress. Even knowing yourself that you are keeping everything in order will make you feel better about yourself on a day-to-day basis. The people that work for you will also take you more seriously and also feel better themselves.
4. Learn to love consequence and happenstance. Things will happen all the time that will throw off your plans. Turn the stress around and into a challenge. Use the opportunity to think of new opportunities. Perhaps there are many new paths to take that you would like even more. Consequence is the stuff that artists dream of; It's what creates new technologies and drives innovation.
5. Be transparent. This is almost cliche now, though this is why it is important and should not be missed: Without disregard for being humble, the more you reveal, the more people will understand where you are coming from. It's not about blurting out some statement suddenly. It takes time to show yourself, who you really are. This motto applies to most aspects of life and business. The idea behind transparency is much more of a human personality trait. It's for you yourself and the people that you care about; It's for the audience that want to know when they ask; It gets to be that you no longer even think of this idea, it just becomes a part of your life-style. When you are fair, transparency will occur naturally because you will be proud and secure to reveal your true thinking.
6. Create a comfortable environment. A girl friend once told me about a miserable phase she went though. She and one of her girl friends were living in a basement with no windows and there were dogs, lots of mildew, low ceilings, old carpet and low lighting. It sounded dreary to say the least. She wasn't aware of the concept of space enough to understand that it was drastically effecting her mood. When she moved into a more comfortable apartment that was full of light and had higher ceilings, she regained her spirit. Having a great work environment is just the same. Websites are like spaces too. When you create your space online, consider making it equally as comfortable.
7. Listen to your audience, friends and advisors. The more you can get feedback and audience participation, the more you will understand the positive and negative effects of your efforts. The more you understand the effects you are having, the more you can understand what to do in the future. If you trust yourself to filter the ideas and information that others give you, be quiet and listen more often. Allow the audience/journalist/experts in your field to describe your activity for you.
8. Have spirit!
9. Time is of the essence. Paul Virilio is a french philosopher with a profound sense of dromology. It starts with the age-old model of speed that can be applied to everything in life. In a war, for instance, the side that obtains the information first about where the other side is will have the advantage; The investor who knows the news first will have the stock advantage. The technologist who creates the first this-or-that will have that advantage to begin with. Speed=Potential. If you have something new, take action before it becomes old.
10. Stay in control by giving control away. The more you give up control to others, the happier everyone will be. Not only will the people who work for you be happier, it will allow you more time to focus on the things you do best. With regards to the control of your business as a whole, dont be shy in keeping the end-all control. If you start the band and it's your vision and you believe in yourself to assure it's longevity in case things go wrong, make sure you maintain at least 51% when giving any control away.