Tag Archives: entrepreneur lessons

How Your Startup is Like a Relationship

As you begin putting so much time and effort into your startup, the amount of time and energy you’re putting in can start to feel a little overwhelming and confusing, but you may have more insight into the process than you think. Trying to get a new business off the ground has some uncanny similarities to being in a long-term committed relationship. Here are a few dating business tips to make your start-up successful.

Investment of Time and Energy

If a relationship is going to work you have to be fully invested, putting in enough time and energy to help the budding romance thrive. It has to be a top priority, and you have to be dedicated to its success. The same goes with your start-up. If you are going to start a business you need to be willing to devote the resources needed to get the job done, because nobody else will. You need to be committed to this business, and only this business. Don’t let your eye stray to other opportunities. Focus on always making improvements and you’ll both grow together.

Choose Your Co-founder Carefully

If you are looking for a business partner or co-founder, choose wisely. You may initially be searching for the person with the right college degree, the most experience, or the best sales skills you’ve ever seen. You may want to think again.

Obviously you want a co-founder with skills, but if you look at your start-up like a long-term relationship, you’ll realize that you are going to be spending a lot of time with this person. You need to find someone you get along with and has personality traits that match or complement yours. It should be someone who can work through emotional difficulties, sort out financial problems, and be someone who you aren’t going to get sick of seeing day in and day out.

Like your relationship, neglecting the needs of your startup could mean the end.

Like your relationship, neglecting the needs of your startup could mean the end.

Ups and Downs

Every relationship has ups and downs, and so does every startup. One minute you are positive this business is taking flight and going to make you the millions you always dreamed of. The next minute, everything comes crashing down and you wonder if you are going to be able to keep your head above water.

The best advice I can give regarding the ups and downs of a start-up is to know they are coming. A couple should not end their relationship because they had one argument. Likewise, when you hit a bump in the road or a few problems with your startup, hold on. They pass—usually. You can overcome the hardships and the company will be all-the-better for it.

The Small Stuff Matters

In a relationship, the small stuff matters. It matters if your partner saves you the last piece of chocolate cake. It matters if they offer to rub your feet after a long day at work. And, alas, you realize that the whole reason the relationship is working is because of all the small stuff that added up to mutual attentiveness and caring.

A start-up is the exact same way. You begin with a big picture and a huge goal, but you find that the daily grind is what takes over. You have so many small tasks to cover to make sure things get rolling and keep running smoothly. They may seem tedious and often uninteresting, but they are what will keep your business moving, growing and succeeding.

Sometimes You have to Play Games

Without compromising honesty, sometimes you have to play games. If you want someone to be interested in you, you may have to play a little hard to get. You may have to flirt a little then, seem a little uninterested at your next encounter.

Startup founders sometimes have to play similar games to find success and drum up interest. Whether you’re trying to attract new customers or court investors, a little (ethical) game playing may be required. Remember that your presentation is just as important as your product. Your attitude, staging and performance are often big selling points. Flirty sometimes and backing off at others can make a big difference in how you’re perceived.

Cut Your Losses

Not every relationship ends with a marriage proposal. Even if both people are great, sometimes things just don’t work out, and it’s better if they just go their separate ways. The same goes for your new company. Sometimes things just don’t work out, despite all your best efforts. This doesn’t mean things won’t ever work out for you in busines, or that you will never have a successful idea take off. It just means that you need to know when to cut your losses and move on to the next project.

Relationships require a lot of work, and if you’re not committed to seeing it succeed in the long run, you’ll end up facing problem after problem. If you’re ready to jump into a new business, be prepared for all the ups and downs, stay focused, and be ready to compromise when the situation calls for it. And above all, cut your losses before things become dysfunctional.

Mike Mann, social activist and serial entrepreneur, is the author of MakeMillions.Com, a business book focused on making money in small business in order to better serve society. Read or download the book today for insight on his philosophy on wedding entrepreneurship and charitable goals

Why I gave away my company to charity, by Derek Sivers

Recently I ran across a blog that exemplifies the spirit of social entrepreneurship. Derek Sivers is the founder of CD Baby, Host Baby, Much Work and NowNowNow. For all intents and purposes he gave away CD Baby and HostBaby. Below is a repost from his blog that explains his thinking behind the transaction.

Why I gave away my company to charity

Two friends were at a party held at the mansion of a billionaire. One said, “Wow! Look at this place! This guy has everything!” The other said, “Yes, but I have something he’ll never have: enough.

When I decided to sell my company in 2008, I already had enough.

I live simply. I hate waste and excess. I have a good apartment, a good laptop, and a few other basics. But the less I own, the happier I am. The lack of possessions gives me the priceless freedom to live anywhere anytime.

Having too much money can be harmful. It throws off perspective. It makes people do stupid things like buy “extra” cars or houses they don’t use – or upgrade to first class for “only” $10,000 so they can be a little more comfortable for a few hours.

So I didn’t need or even want the money from the sale of the company. I just wanted to make sure I had enough for a simple comfortable life. The rest should go to music education, since that’s what made such a difference in my life.

So I found a great way to do this. I created a charitable trust called the “Independent Musicians Charitable Remainder Unitrust.” When I die, all of its assets will go to music education. But while I’m alive, it pays out 5% of its value per year to me.

(Note: 5% is the minimum allowed by law. It’s still too much. I would have preferred 1%, but oh well. I’m free to use it to start new businesses to help people, or whatever.)

A few months before the sale, I transferred the ownership of CD Baby and HostBaby, all the intellectual property like trademarks and software, into the trust.

It was irreversibly and irrevokably gone. It was no longer mine. It all belonged to the charitable trust.

Then, when Disc Makers bought it, they bought it not from me but from the trust, turning it into $22 million cash to benefit music education.

So instead of me selling the company – (getting taxed on the income, and giving what’s left to charity) – that move of giving away the company to charity then having the charity sell it saved about $5 million in taxes. (That means $5 million more going to music education.)

Also, the move of giving it away into a trust now – instead of holding on to it until I die – means its investments get to grow and compound tax-free for life, which again means more goes to musicians in the end.

I’m only writing this article because many people have asked why I gave it away, so I thought I’d write my long explanation once and for all.

It’s not that I’m altruistic. I’m sacrificing nothing. I’ve just learned what makes me happy. And doing it this way made me the happiest.

I get the deeper happiness of knowing the lucky streak I’ve had in my life will benefit tons of people – not just me.

I get the pride of knowing I did something irreversibly smart before I could change my mind.

I get the safety of knowing I won’t be the target of a frivolous lawsuit, since I have very little net worth.

I get the unburdened freedom of having it out of my hands so I can’t do something stupid.

But most of all, I get the constant priceless reminder that I have enough.

best things in life aren't things

Originally posted Dec. 4, 2009 by Derek Sivers at http://sivers.org/trust.