Archive

Category Archives for "Business"

Running your company, competing with 800 lb gorillas, creating a viable lifestyle business that will stand the test of time. The Transition Company model.

1

Guest post: Why Transactions Get Declined

By David Goodale of Merchant-Accounts.ca

Don’t Lose Your Customers on the Goal Line

A declined transaction is quite possibly the worst reason to lose a sale. All that’s left is to take the money. This should be the easiest part, and it’s important to do, because the cost of acquisition of for new customers is a consideration for every online business. In short, customers don’t usually fall out of the sky. Getting them to your website is hard, educating them about your product or service is harder still, and helping them through the sales funnel will determine whether your business succeeds or fails.

Considering the amount of work going into the sales process, it’s extremely painful to lose it on the goal line because of a hiccup while collecting a payment. It’s a terrible reason to lose a sale. That same potential customer can easily bounce away, and unless they are particularly keen on your product, they might not come back.

It’s important to:

  1. Be aware of why declines occur
  2. Work to prevent them from happening
  3. Attempt to recapture them when they do

Read on

1

The Redemption of Jeff Macke

A couple days ago former CNBC pundit Jeff Macke appeared on the QuothTheRaven podcast. It brought to mind his ignominious  end at CNBC which was punctuated, or perhaps precipitated by a bizarre on camera rant in May 2009. I blogged about it at the time, which is why I’m blogging about his QTR appearance now.

Chris Irons of course asked Macke to comment on that incident, and Macke obliged him, laying out the backdrop of the time (GFC meltdown) and what he was going through as a financial commentator who was expected to deliver witty repartee while many were going bankrupt and network TV was attempting to maintain the narrative (“everything is fine… Jeff, say something interesting, next up: puppies”). Read on

5

Everybody Hates Natural Language Autobots

Lately I’ve been thinking that I haven’t been writing enough here about GuerrillaCap’s core mandate – price stability and full employment. Wait, no, that’s The Fed, along with ensuring higher stock markets.

GuerrillaCap’s core mission was supposed to be talking about how small and independent businesses can compete with megacorps. The other night I was thinking about this and noted that it really comes down to one thing: customer service. That’s the one area where economies of scale work against the megacorps and in favour of the indie business. Read on

1

The Other Two Kinds Of Debt

(Read on Medium)

“Any corporation, private or governmental, that wishes to provide for a sound and equitable continuity of its business must take steps towards the systematic retirement of debt immediately after it has been incurred. Postponement of all payment for property or privileges by those who presently enjoy their benefits is calculated to bring uncomfortable consequences to them or those who succeed them.”

— Engineering Economics, by  C.R Young. 1949

We frequently hear pundits and talking heads talking about how short-sighted government policies and unfunded entitlements are in essence “stealing from the future” or at best “borrowing from the future” and I found myself thinking about the difference between the two ideas. Read on

1

Get Thee a Backup Payment Gateway

About a week ago I wrote “A Heretic’s Guide To Deplatforming” over on the easyDNS blog (my main business). It was in response to the widespread deplatforming of Gab.ai in the wake of the Pittsburgh shooting spree, in which the perpetrator posted on the social media platform before carrying out the brutal attack. The post rocketed to the first page of Hackernews (despite being flagged as inappropriate by some SJWs there) and was run on Zerohedge.

The TL,TR on that article:

While I still believe that every company has the right to kick anybody off their platform, it ultimately undermines their long term interests to do so in the manner they did to Gab.

The ramifications of the Gab deplatforming rattled me, especially the part where Stripe and Paypal both terminated their relationships with them, cutting off their financial lifeblood. Read on

Do not reply to this email

I realize I haven’t written anything here for awhile, it’s because I’m in the home stretch of submitting my manuscript for my DNS book, finally, after four years. I’m supposed to submit it today, in fact. Which I won’t because I still have a few chapters left to review. But we’re close.

But in my travels lately I always listen to audiobooks and podcasts in the car. Living in Toronto, you spend a lot of time in traffic. Brian Tracy once wrote that if you listen to audiobooks in the car (instead of listening to some morning DJ barking like a dog and discussing Survivor) you can obtain the equivalent of a university education in about 3 years.

This week I found a couple episodes from James Shramco’s Superfast Business podcast quite interesting to the small business seeking to compete with 800 lb gorillas in their space.

First up was #583 How Artificial Intelligence Can Be Used By Marketers To Enhance Performance. My takeaways here were that: Read on

1

Growth for Growth’s Sake is a Road to Nowhere

A few days ago a long time customer and CEO of a new security start-up came to see me. Ironically, given the way our conversation turned, he was in town to raise an angel round. We talked about how easyDNS will turn 20 years old this year and has never done a funding round or raised money. He promised to send me an article on Medium which talked about “Bootstrapping”, how tech companies have bucked the trend of serial funding rounds and build organically grown, sustainable businesses.

This morning he sent over “How to build a start-up Empire without Selling Your Freedom”, I highly recommend you read it.

Following on this theme it seems worthwhile to repost an article I penned on the easyDNS blog a few years back which anticipated “the bootstrapping” trend and this blog.

(Originally posted May 26, 2014)

The other day I had lunch with a colleague and he brought up Matthew Woodward’s epic rant against WPEngine  and he also mentioned Jason Cohen’s rebuttal post “Growth is Hard”  and that set us off on a long discussion around today’s tech biz climate (which is almost synonymous with the “start-up” culture, because these days everybody expects to sell their companies before they ever “grow up”)

While this post isn’t intended to single out WPengine as typical of what I’m talking about, Cohen’s rebuttal, while earnest, did seem to me to miss a point.

That point is if your growth rate is a big factor impacting your customer experience, then possibly (strictly heretically speaking), you’re growing too fast. (Jim Collins wrote a dynamite series of books, Built to Last, Good To Great, and How the Mighty Fall and Great By Choice in which he found an inverse correlation between overclocked growth-for-the-sake-of-growth rates and what he termed “10X companies” – companies that grew organically and then outperformed their industry index by 10X over a significant window of time).

It’s not that growth is bad per se. I’ve always identified more with value investing than “serial entrepreneurship” and value investors have a phrase called “GARP”, which means “Growth at a Reasonable Price”. To me the words “reasonable price” mean more than just the money.
Read on

2

The Transition Overview: Building Companies That Matter

“The terms transition towntransition initiative and transition model refer to grassroots community projects that aim to increase self-sufficiency to reduce the potential effects of peak oil, climate destruction, and economic instability.” (Wikipedia)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transition_town

Overview

The Transition Town phenomenon is a self-organizing movement to create resilient communities that can prosper in the oncoming era beyond cheap oil.

I was drawn to this concept when I first encountered it and was pleasantly surprised to find out that I lived not far away from one, Dundas Ontario is just a few miles away from my home in the west end of Toronto, Canada.

Even still, the prospect of pulling up stakes and moving there wasn’t practical when I came across the idea. But thinking about it made me realize that there was a community that I was already a part of, had been working closely with for nearly 20 years and was populated by people who held a lot of these “transition values”. Most of us are health conscious, long-term thinkers and independently minded. A few of us already source large portions of our food from a nearby farm, and we had collectively eschewed the “groupthink” of mainstream economics and politics, of perpetual “growth for growth’s sake” and ever expanding debt, and seeing it as for the most part leading society to what will prove to be counter-productive.

That community of course, easyDNS the company I had co-founded back in 1998. So while I realize that maybe personally it would be unrealistic to buy a hobby farm anytime soon, it was entirely possible for the business to someday invest in one (we haven’t yet, but we could).

Out of this realization I began researching the premise of “The Transition Company” or the “Transitional Corporation” or just a “TransitionCo” for short. Read on

Don’t have a Mission Statement. Be On A Mission.

[ Originally published November 24, 2014 on the easyDNS blog and included here to build up some base material ahead of launch – markjr] 

The 800lb Gorilla in your space has a Mission Statement. Possibly complimented by a Vision Statement and maybe even a Values/Ethics Statement for good measure.

These were either outsourced to a consulting firm or dreamed up in a series of team-building workshops.

They encapsulate values of ethics, morality, diversity, commitment to excellence, customer service and a dedication to quality.

When employees of the Gorilla hear the Mission Statement, their eyes glaze over. By the end of the Values/Ethic Statement they are comatose.

Most of the people inside the Gorilla company couldn’t tell you the Mission Statement if you asked them and none of these statements have any impact on what actually goes on inside the company.

By contrast, you are On A Mission. You have a singular purpose that drives your every move. It is what Jim Collins calls “your hedgehog concept”. It gets you up in the morning. It keeps you awake at night. You live and breathe your mission and you let nothing distract you from it. Your mission is your obsession.

Our mission easyDNS (my company) has always been “To Drive A Stake Through The Heart of Lock-In In All Its Forms”.

When my partners and I started the company back in ’98, “lock-in” was the perpetual bogeyman that made our lives, and the lives of our customers miserable. So we set out to kill lock-in. Nearly 20 years later almost every strategic move we make can still be reduced to that same core principle:

Does it set our customers free? Then we do it. Does it box them in? Then we don’t. That’s a mission.