I’ve been learning important business lessons of late that are well captured by the concept of ‘premature scaling’. So I thought I’d share my experiences in case they help you avoid my mistakes.
The vanity of team size
The first mistake I made was to equate the size of our team with success of the business. It is from this root that many future issues stemmed.
I can see why I made this mistake. When people ask you about your business you assume they are sizing you up. Perhaps they are? ‘Is this guy for real?’ they seem to wonder.
This is particularly the case in the world of website development because anyone can set up shop. So I drew satisfaction from telling people I was part of a ‘decent sized team’ (the team at White Fuse has been around or over the 10 people mark for the last couple of years). I was gratified by responses like ‘ooh that’s quite big’. ‘Yes’, I thought, ‘I have a team of ten people and therefore I have a substantial business’. Continue reading The perils of premature scaling and how to avoid it→
I love podcasts for a few reasons. I find that I learn a lot by exposing myself to different viewpoints. I can listen to them while being active, whether going to the gym or just walking. Most of all, I find they inspire me and catalyse my thinking.
Writing a business plan can seem intimidating. You know you need one, but how do you get it right? The last thing you want to do is make a fool of yourself, right?!
The first key is to understand that a business plan is not a single fixed idea. A business plan will look very different depending on the nature of the business, the stage of the business and, crucially, the intended audience of the business plan. So relax, take it easy, and follow this step by step guide to preparing a the best business plan for your circumstances. Continue reading How to write a good business plan→
I’m a firm believer in ‘inbox zero’. This is the idea that your ‘inbox’ should be exactly what the name suggests: a storage space for incoming messages. Your inbox should not be where you manage tasks, archive information, etc. The following tips are all based on the assumption that you are working toward this goal.
1. Filter & unsubscribe brutally
If you are serious about spending less time doing mundane tasks like checking email and more time doing meaningful creative work, or just having fun, then you should start at the root: how can you reduce the number of emails coming in to your inbox? Continue reading 5 easy productivity hacks for Gmail→
Considering adopting Google Apps? This post should help you!
For small businesses and charities wanting to keep things lean, Google Apps offers a great opportunity for a single, simple ecosystem of products. Google has been steadily innovating across its Apps products and has almost reached a point where an organisation can adopt their suite of products wholesale. Adopting Google Apps will require compromise in some areas but will offer massive savings on training, IT support, per user purchase cost, integration issues and centralised control.
There are so many great ideas and thinkers out there that if you are running a business, charity or enterprise of any kind and you haven’t dug into the wealth of books available, your are missing a trick. Here is a list of the books that I have found most helpful.
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey
There are a few books on this list that count as classics and this is one of them. First published in 1989 it has been republished countless times. It’s not really a business book in that it takes a fundamentally holistic approach seeing business as just one part of life that is most effectively approached by developing a deep understanding of the principles that drive you as a human being. It is then packed with practical tips on how to let those principles drive everything you do.
Being pretty old, there are lots of cheap second hand copies floating around (check out http://abebooks.com). Or if you want to find this or any of the other books on Amazon just click the images.
How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie
Even more of a classic, this one was first published in 1936 and it’s crazy how relevant it still is. You many assume from the title that the book is in some way about manipulating other people to get what you want. In reality , this short book simply explores a range of common human characteristics and draws from them lessons about how to get the best out of other people by understanding how they think and act.
For most people running small businesses, the last thing they want to spend money on is legal fees. However, the alternative is often equally uninviting: writing your own contract.
Keep your website contract simple!
During my pre-business days as a contract lawyer I developed a deep loathing for lengthy overly defensive contracts. In my experience, what really mattered was clarity and what invariably led to disputes was the parties failing to think through the contractual arrangement before signing up. For exactly this reason, long contracts are often counterproductive. It is much better to have a contract that your clients actually read rather than try to sneak in every clause under the sun and hope they don’t bother.
Get my contract for free to copy and re-use
To save you a bit of time I thought I would share the standard contract that I use at White Fuse. Of course, you likely need to tailor this slightly to your circumstances, but it should form an adequate starting point for most consultancy or design businesses.
The document works in tandem with a clear description of scope. You should make sure that the description of scope refers directly to the standard terms and that you provide the client with both documents at the time they sign (or agree by email, which is fine as long as it’s an unambiguous approval).