What's Your Start-up's "Bus Count"? 7 Myths of Entrepreneurship and Programming

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(Photo: Stuck in Customs)

For the last two years, one name has come up again and again when talking with A-class start-up investors: Pivotal Labs.

See, Pivotal Labs quietly helps dozens of the fastest-growing tech companies in the world, including freight trains like Groupon and Twitter. If your start-up needs to get good coding done quickly, as in lightning fast — or if new hires need to get good at coding quickly — top venture capitalists are likely to look over their shoulder and confide: “Call Pivotal Labs.”

I first met the Founder of Pivotal Labs, Rob Mee, when one of the start-ups I advise, TaskRabbit, began working with them.

One thing is immediately clear: Rob is obsessed with how to get obscenely high output. But that’s nothing new. Here’s the differentiator: he’s obsessed with how to get obscenely high output with sustainable effort. One of his first remarks to me was “3am with Jolt and pizza can be fun, but it’s a myth that it’s the fuel behind scalable success…” Read More

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No More Excuses – How to Make an Extra $100,000 in the Next 6 Months

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The Wilburns have created a multinational from their home.(Photo: Dana Smith)

“So, do you have any ideas?”

“Well, if we’re going to do something, it should be big. It should make people sit up and say OMFG. Make people actually do something,” I responded.

The conversation continued in front of the Thai restaurant, me pacing on my cell phone in San Francisco — foregoing food in excitement — and Tobi in his offices in Ottawa, Canada.

We decided in the subsequent 10 minutes to offer $100,000 cash as a bribe to you all. The overview?

* $100,000 for the grand winner
* $120,000 total in prizes
* 6 months starting January 1 but you can (and should) get started now
* Even if you don’t win the prizes, you should end up with a viable business at the end of 6 months

The details make it even better… Read More

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The Psychology of Automation: Building a Bulletproof Personal-Finance System

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Actor faces

Too many choices. Using automation to reduce choices and dominate your money.

I have known Ramit Sethi for several years now, first through PBWiki, which he co-founded, and later as someone I turned to with questions about the world and workings of finance. In a world of gurus who promote one method of investing and then follow another, it was refreshing to talk with someone who was willing to share real numbers and case studies from their experiments.

Ramit and I have also able to share a bottle (OK, many bottles) of wine and laugh about the downstream effects of titles we’ve tested and chosen, as both of our book titles sound like scams to most people: The 4-Hour Workweek and I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

Despite this self-imposed handicap, Ramit’s blog and advice have been featured in media such as NPR, The New York Times, and Fortune magazine. I specifically asked him if I could excerpt a few of the diagrams and call scripts from his new book. He and I both share a love of templates that enable us (and others) to duplicate results without reinventing the wheel… Read More

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The Fortune 500 4-Hour Workweek: Multiplying Output in Groups (Plus: Downloadable Checklists)

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For English subtitles, choose “Danish” from the “Choose Language…” drop-down.

There is a misconception that lifestyle design is just for entrepreneurs or CEOs.

In reality, the principles — borrowed from economics and behavioral psychology — can be applied within organizations and groups with even more dramatic effects.

Just watch the 25-minute segment above from the Danish equivalent of the BBC (DR1), where lifestyle design is tested by both an employee at insurance giant Codan and by the CEO of a fast-growing microbrewery. For English subtitles, choose “Danish” from the “Choose Language…” drop-down.

Who made more progress? The boss or the person with a boss? The results might surprise you… Read More

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Push vs. Pull Processes

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All push and no pull doesn’t work in personal or professional life. (Photo: markal)

Preface: This is a guest post from Michael Port on standardizing business processes–or personal productivity–to minimize excessive trial-and-error.

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Waste is a constraint. Reducing waste in your organization is one the easiest ways of reducing constraints.

And here’s a surprise—waste in offices is usually greater than in factories, especially because it’s easy to hide waste in cumbersome or non-existent processes. Creating unnecessary information inventory is another common waste in offices. Doing too many tasks “in anticipation” of a possible client, for example… Read More

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The Margin Manifesto: 11 Tenets for Reaching (or Doubling) Profitability in 3 Months

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Profitability often requires better rules and speed, not more time. (Photo: Jetta Girl)

I wrote this “margin manifesto” several months ago and somehow neglected to post it. Your requests for more content on start-up economics and processes reminded me.

These are the principles I review whenever facing operational overwhelm or declining/stagnating profits. Hope you find them useful.

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The financial goal of a start-up should be simple: profit in the least time with the least effort. Not more customers, not more revenue, not more offices or more employees: more profit.

Based on my interviews with high-performing (using profit-per-employee metrics) CEOs in more than a dozen countries, here are the 11 basic tenets of the “Margin Manifesto”… Read More

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Escaping the Entrepreneurial Seizure: Interview with Michael Gerber (Plus: Tim Speaking)

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Michael Gerber, the E-Myth evangelist.

Michael Gerber’s name should sound familiar.

I recommend his bestseller, The E-Myth Revisited, as the must-read classic on automation. It brief, it discusses how to create scalable businesses that are based on rules and not outstanding employees; and how to become an owner instead of constant micromanager.

Michael also had a enormous influence on me as a first-time writer. His words to me were simple during our first lunch:

“If you’re going to write a book, write a f*ing book.”

Don’t hedge and don’t think small. I didn’t hold back material for a sequel, I aimed for the top of the top, and I credit Michael’s advice as, in part, responsible for the subsequent success of the 4HWW. It was that recalibration of ambition that made it all possible.

His latest book, Awakening the Entrepreneur Within, examines how to recalibrate the scale of objectives and other facets of the core entrepreneurial experience, which we recently sat down to discuss… Read More

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