Entrepreneurship

Customer Service as a Competitive Advantage

In the first season of the Masters of Scale podcast I heard Reid Hoffman tell a story about the early days at PayPal. I couldn’t figure out which episode it was from, but he told the same story to the Harvard Business Review last year: We faced this issue at PayPal. In early 2000, payment transaction volume was growing at a compounding rate of 2% to 5% per day. That kind of growth put PayPal in a deep hole as far as customer service was… Continue reading

11/7/17

Would Universal Health Care Encourage Entrepreneurship?

I’ve always thought that the answer to that question is a resounding yes. While I do think that employers have a role in the health, balance, and overall well-being of their employees, it never made sense to me that as an employer I decide my employee’s health care options any more than it would make sense for me to make decisions about their schools, parks, and roads. Nothing about running an e-commerce company makes me qualified for those types of decisions. We provide our employees… Continue reading

10/18/17

My Single-Slide Entrepreneurship Talk

A few months ago I gave a talk to the SUNY Albany Entrepreneurship class that my good friend teaches. We had been discussing previous talks, some of which went better than others. The best ones, we agreed, were interactive and conversational. I had the idea to cut my entire presentation down to one slide, the slide that I typically reserve for questions at the end. So, somewhat nervously, I got up in front of a class of 45 students, briefly introduced myself and then put… Continue reading

10/10/17

Every Business Is a Mess

Sometimes I need to remind myself that you never quite know what goes on inside a business unless you work there. Most businesses, especially good businesses, are still chaotic messes when you get right down to it. There are an incalculable number of moving parts that almost never all function properly at once. We’ve had a very successful few years. I think we have a great culture and have done a solid job of putting good systems in place. And yet, almost every day there’s… Continue reading

8/1/17

Letting Go to Grow: Why Delegating “Ownership” Matters

I accepted my first and only full-time engineering job at Schick with a few months left in my last semester of college. I had done a nine-month internship at the company. But the main reason that I decided to go back without even interviewing anywhere else had nothing to do with my previous experience there. It was my new boss. The department that he ran didn’t exist when I had interned there. He was young, energetic, and extraordinarily intelligent. We hit it off when I… Continue reading

6/13/17

Opportunity Cost

One of the concepts that we apply to our decision making almost daily is the idea of opportunity cost. Opportunity cost is defined as: the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen. Often times a decision to tackle a new project doesn’t cost us anything monetarily, or the cost is negligible. Examples would be programming a new feature, trying out a new type of promotion, or even picking up a single new product for a product line we already carry…. Continue reading

4/11/17

Why Starting a Business In College Still Makes So Much Sense

Every once in a while I’ll go back through some of my old posts. Some hold up to the test of time better than others. One of my first posts from November of 2005 that I still love is Why It’s Best to Start a Business Before Your 25th Birthday. Since that time I’ve spent a lot of time in the classroom working with college students, and that’s only reinforced my beliefs. That entire post is still worth a read, but here’s a summary of… Continue reading

3/28/17

How a Single Meeting Can Derail an Entire Day

If I’m not careful I can find myself spending my entire day performing tasks associated with running the business: checking email, taking phone calls, scheduling meetings, communicating with our employees, documenting processes, and the like. As we’ve grown it’s been harder and harder to carve out uninterrupted time to program and work on other important projects that will help grow the business. I’ve had to work harder and harder to guard my schedule. In doing so I often think back to an essay from 2009… Continue reading

11/22/16

The Benefits of Distance

Jason Fried recently wrote a really good post entitled Don’t be too inspired about how watchmaker Roger W. Smith benefits from being one of the few watchmakers in the UK. The physical distance allows him to focus on his work without too much outside influence. As Jason notes, distance – both physically and virtually – can have a huge benefit: I love that notion  —  it’s one I’ve tried to hold dear myself. Don’t be influenced too much. Be aware of what’s great, but don’t… Continue reading

10/26/16

The Business Press Problem

In a recent Tim Ferriss podcast with WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg, Matt was asked about failure (this quote is at 35:17): Especially in business press, we just see when people hit the home runs, we don’t see all their at bats. And, very rarely do we even know about all of the at bats they’ve had. So, just remember that. No matter how bad a day you think you’re having, there’s probably someone you admire who’s probably also having a bad day right this second,… Continue reading

10/12/16