Archive | October 2015

How do I figure out who my next important hire should be?

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Image Credit: Andertoons

This is the perennial question for startups who have started to taste success, and are ready to invest in themselves in the form of new helping hands.

The question is: How do you decide what role is most important to hire for?

Founders typically revert to whatever they’re already expert in, and decide they need more of that. So, a technical founder decides she needs another developer, or a sales-oriented founder decides she needs another salesperson.

Let’s highlight the underlying justification you’ll use to rationalize this probably-erroneous decision, so we can see how to avoid the fallacy. Here’s what you’re thinking:

I’m doing X today, which means I’m not able to work on Y and Z, which are also very important. If I hire someone to do X, I’ll have time for Y and Z.

Furthermore, because I’m an expert at X, I already know how to source and interview other people who can be excellent at X, and I know how to hold them accountable after the fact. So this is a plan I know how to execute.

It’s true, you do know how to execute this plan. Unfortunately, doing what’s easiest for the founder is not necessarily what’s best for the company.

The fallacy is this: Your plan causes you to be removed from your position of strength, in order to work inside your area of weakness.

That’s bad for the company, because it’s suboptimal for the things you’re weak at, and it’s bad for you, because you’ll be unhappy working on things you’re not naturally good at, producing results you yourself know are subpar.

Wouldn’t it be wiser for those things to be executed by people who are as amazing at those things as you are at your things?

Instead, your process should be:

1. Identify what role is missing from the company today, which also is the most vital for (your definition of) success over the next 12 months. (“Success” could mean revenue growth, great customer service, removing a large risk, or a dozen other things.)

2. Hire the best person for that role. How to determine (1)? For all possible roles, think of the perfect person for the job — a person so amazing you could never recruit them. Then ask whether the addition of that person would solve your #1 problem, or address your #1 risk, or 10x your revenue quickly, or whatever your current primary goal is.

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Examples:

You hire the VP of engineering for Facebook. Now you can scale anything — both computers and people — inside your engineering department. Does that10x the company or create a feature so important that you win your market? (Hint: If you’re not already in the scaling phase, well beyond product/market fit, the answer is: No.)

You hire the CMO who joined their current company when it was close to your current size, and built it to a company with $200m in revenue; they’ve seen the entire journey. If you could add that wisdom and firepower now, would that 10x your company in the next year?

You hire a super-effective VP of sales; would that 10x sales in the next 12 months? (If product/market fit is truly achieved, and your price-point isn’t low, the answer can be “yes,” but if you haven’t already gotten hundreds or thousands of paying customers, with a solid, effective, repeatable sales pitch, this person might not move the needle.)

You hire a director of support who has scaled teams from zero to hundreds, and has won global awards for excellence in customer service. If you created a truly world-class support organization, would that cause customers to flock to your door, or cause retention to skyrocket? Would that effect be larger than the next three features you could implement, or achieving similar excellence in marketing and sales?

You could keep going with other roles — design, content-marketing, finance, data analysis, social media, biz dev, etc..

Typically, one of these is a clear winner. That’s the role you need most today.

Even if you can’t hire your “dream person,” you’ve defined what the role entails, and created a list of titles and companies where the perfect person might be working today, which is a great way to start actually looking for that person. For example, use LinkedIn and reach out directly, or ask your network with a pointed and specific idea of what pattern you’re trying to match.

Is it really worth all this to get the best person for that role? Click that link if you want the answer; I’ve written about it previously.

As the founder or CEO, your job is to fill the company with people who will 10x the company in their role, not to take the easiest path for yourself, hiring the person you’re sure you’re capable of hiring and directing.

It’s hard to accept that, but once you do, you’re acting like a real CEO, and your future self will thank you for it.

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Social Network Features You Need To Stop Ignoring

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Image by John Liu  via flickr
Image by John Liu via flickr

Like certain spices in every rack, social networks have features that we simply pass over without giving them much thought. Sometimes we use them, but often as an afterthought with no strategy behind it. But these features were carefully thought out and built. They serve a purpose, a place in a recipe that many of us simply haven’t discovered yet.

Here are some often-ignored features of major social networks, and how you can use them to actually benefit your social media efforts.

Twitter—Favorites

While calling Twitter’s Favorites feature neglected might not really be accurate, this feature has a wide variety of at times unnecessary uses. It is often used as a quiet means of acknowledging a mention, when an @ reply would go a long way to thanking a person and potentially earning a new follower. Others favorite a Tweet as a means of acknowledging its quality without sharing, either because its racy or just not quite good enough. This is flawed, though, since you are actually sharing the message anyways. Favorited Tweets are public and may soon even appear in followers’ feeds.

Put simply, favorites have become an undervalued afterthought, and those Tweets are forever ignored after that star is initially pushed. But they can be so much more than that.

Twitter Favorites - social network features

To real get value out of your Twitter Favorites, use them as a tool for research and content curation. Create a stream within Hootsuite of all your Favorites. Then only favorite Tweets that you think you or your followers might learn from, find valuable or interesting. When you have the time, go through these posts and see if they really provide value. Only after reading content should you share it. Don’t fall into the trap of sharing based on the headline alone. Using Favorites like this will help you curate only the best content, which your followers will appreciate. Your Favorites will also become a pool of valuable sources that you can cite and reuse within blog posts and other copy.

Facebook—Interest Lists

Many people aren’t even aware of this feature’s existence, let alone making good use of it. Facebook interest lists are a means of organizing content you’re interested in that you don’t necessarily want clogging up your news feed.

Facebook Interest List Example - social network features

If you work in social media for examples, you can create a list of publications and specific journalists that report on tech trends, and then check in to see public updates from their page or profiles. In addition to being a great way to categorize your Facebook interests and create a smoother, more efficient experience, this saves you the hassle of having to Like multiple pages, and then having a newsfeed flooded with their updated (though occasional updates from your interest list will appear in the feed). This also should prevent your friends from seeing everything you like, and suffering through targeted ads based on those likes.

Add Facebook Interest Lists - Social Network Features

To create an interest list, click on the interests button in your left hand Facebook menu. From the interests page. Click the “add interests” button and then chose the “Create list” option. Search for people and pages to add, name your list, choose privacy settings and then click “done.” You can also follow existing lists and add pages to your lists as you browse Facebook. For more on Facebook interest lists, click here.

LinkedInSearch for Posts

In the last two years LinkedIn has become a great tool for content marketing. From its thought leadership program to the LinkedIn publisher, more and more users are turning to the social network to find content and share their own.

LinkedIn Posts Search - Social Network FeaturesAnd yet, most people only see the content suggested for them on their homepage. We see content from people we follow, people LinkedIn Pulse thinks we should be following, and the “related content” attached to posts. So few people are actually using one key LinkedIn feature: the “search for posts” functionality.

About twice a day, LinkedIn Pulse suggests I read some post about common resume mistakes (hint hint?) but I’m much more interested in content marketing. So, to instead of waiting for content marketing posts to appear on my home page, I click the “advanced” button beside the search bar.

In that new page, there is a sidebar on the left hand side that offers you the ability to search for posts only. Click it, type in your search term and then hit “search.” You’ll probably end up with a bunch of results by the same person, so you’ll want to adjust the search to show results by recently posts instead of relevance. Once you’ve got a hang of the search, you can check in daily for content that is relevant to you and your interests, and be the first to share it with your followers.

LinkedIn Posts Search Results - Social Network Features

Instagram—The Following Tab

Instagram Following Tab - Social Network FeaturesMost Instagram users, from the casual browser to the most social of businesses, have a routine. It often involves adding a photo, scrolling through the home feed, maybe exploring random user photos and checking their likes and mentions.

Strangely absent from this list is seeing what the people they follow are up to. This functionality, found under the “following” tab in the news section of the app (the heart in the speech bubble), is almost invisible to a majority of Instagram users. People are often surprised to see it exists when you point it out. Yet, this feature can actually provide significant value, especially if you’re trying to gain a following on Instagram.

The following tab shows you what photos the people you follow are liking, and it shows you who they are following. Essentially, then, this tab is a folder of examples for you to follow. You can see what style of photo gets the most likes and mimic it in your shots. You can see what types of accounts they follow and get inspiration from those sources. The following tab is a fantastic source of insight that is not to be ignored.

Google+—Google Analytics Snapshot

We’ve all heard about how using Google+ can benefit our SEO rankings in Google, and we’ve all dealt with needing a Google+ profile to use YouTube. But the place of Google+ in the broader Google ecosystem offers an interesting opportunity when it comes to analytics.

Under the “My Business” tab, Google+ Page owners can actually see their Google+ insights right alongside their website analytics. This means you can see your Google+ Page view growth, follower growth and engagement in the same space as your website page view and visitor growth.

Why is this quick analytics snapshot valuable? These metrics are a quick way to identify trends between your social media success and your website success. If your Google+ following is trending upwards but your page views are flat, maybe you’re not doing a great job driving your social audience to your online assets. If the reverse is true, maybe the social sharing functionality on your website needs some improvement. It’s not the most comprehensive analytics tool, but it is a great, fast way to gauge whether you’re on the right track online.

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Steps to Starting a Small Business

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CAROLYN SUN

So you’re thinking about starting a business? Terrific. About 543,000 small businesses are started each month in the United States according to data from DocStoc. However, for those thinking about starting one, it’s often the mental hurdles that prevent you from forging ahead.

Unanswered questions can get in the way of advancement. Am I ready to start a business? Do I have enough savings and time? Or, I have several business ideas — which one should I pursue?

Starting a business is exciting, heady stuff, and it’s not for everyone. Here’s some guidance to help you determine your entrepreneurial talents, whether you’re ready to join the ranks of small business owners and the next steps.

Why Start a Business?
For some, entrepreneurship is inspired by the need for autonomy, like in Jayson DeMers’ case. The founder and CEO of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based SEO agency, was 24 years old and working a full-time job at an online-marketing agency when he began a side business.

“I questioned everything and felt uncomfortable being bound by someone else’s rules,” he says. “I wanted to be free to make my own decisions, take time off when I chose to (without asking) and not have to report to anyone.”

After gathering freelance clients, DeMers was eventually able to quit his full-time job.

Image Credit: Docstoc
For others, starting a business comes from solving a problem in their own lives, like it did with Sujan Patel, the vice president of marketing at When I Work, an employee software scheduling company. Last year, Patel, 30 years old at the time, created two marketing tools to save himself time and effort in his job. After telling friends, who were also in the marketing field, about his tools, he discovered they were willing to pay him money for access to them.

“That’s when I knew I had something people really wanted,” he says. “It was a bit of an accident.”

He started two new businesses, ContentMarketer.io and Narrow.io, with the benefit of marketing his SaaS products to in an industry where he already had more than 10 years of experience.

Some entrepreneurs go into business for the challenge. Mike Templeman, CEO of Foxtail Marketing, a digital content marketing firm specializing in B2B SaaS, was at a full-time job where he’d been promoted and given a raise — and he found himself restless. He would work on side projects at night. Eventually, those projects brought in enough income to allow him to leave his full-time job and start his own company at the age of 30.

Also, a significant number of baby boomers become business owners, reveal findings from the Kauffman Foundation. Martin Zwilling, founder and CEO of Startup Professionals, a company that provides products and services to startup founders and small business owners, was 60 years old and halfway to retirement when he started his one-man business development consulting firm.

Zwilling — who’d had a long career as a software executive and tech consultant — says money wasn’t the top priority for starting his business.

“I wanted to make a positive contribution to aspiring and new entrepreneurs.”

There are many reasons for starting your own business. Putting a name to yours can help you identify if entrepreneurship is right for you.

Related: 50 Signs You Need to Start Your Own Business

Are You Ready?
While you may feel a sense of urgency to quit your job and get your business started, don’t quit just yet. How long will you be able to cover your regular expenses as you build your business? Do you have to keep your job as you work your business on the side? It’s time to assess your life situation to help you figure out the best way forward.

Sara Sutton Fell was in her third trimester of pregnancy and had lost her job shortly before she started her business, FlexJobs, an online career site with flexible jobs that include telecommuting and part-time work. Starting a business while pregnant is not something she says she’d recommend, but her business idea resonated so strongly, Sutton Fell felt compelled to do so in spite of complications about the timing.

Image Credit: Docstoc
To assess your readiness, ask yourself if you have the financial and emotional support you need to take care of yourself (and possibly your family) as you build your new business. How much savings should you have before starting?

There is no single correct answer. Some business owners have no savings when they start — not ideal — while some have enough to cover several years of expenses. The bottom line is to not be sacrificing paying your fixed expenses — such as rent/mortgage — to fund your new business. Or figuring out a way to decrease your fixed expenses, like moving in with your parents — also not ideal, but perhaps a temporary money saver — or getting a roommate, to funnel money toward realizing your new business.

Foxtail’s Templeman had a few months of savings in the bank and a secondary cash stream that met his basic monthly expenses before he quit his job. He also had a young child to support and another baby on the way when he started a his business.

“It wasn’t an ideal time,” he admits. “My wife was really wanting something more stable.”

But, he took the risk. Risk is inextricably a part of starting your own business, but the risks should be calculated and fit your lifestyle.

Deborah Mitchell, CEO of Deborah Mitchell Media Associates, a media and brand management company, took her own risks after a 20-plus year career as a television producer at CBS. Mitchell says she believes that her being single with no kids gave her the freedom to take more risks as a new business owner.

“But being single also left me with limited emotional and financial support, all vital things that you need when starting any venture,” she says.

Don’t stop there — ask and answer the following:

What you are willing to do to start a business? Examine what you will need to do to make your business a reality. Startup Professionals’ Zwilling, who had been a tech consultant for years, bootstrapped it, because he didn’t want to depend on investors to start his own company.

How will I fund my startup business? Funding depends on what you’re willing to do. Mitchell used her personal savings to start her company and runs her consulting firm as a virtual office with remote workers to save money on rent. When I Work’s Patel freelanced as a consultant to make extra money and used the income to fund his two startups.
How long can you survive the possible loss in income? Patel had to ask himself if he was willing to lose the time and short-term income by starting two new businesses.
Are you ready for the responsibilities and stresses of being an entrepreneur? When you open a new business, the buck stops with you. AudienceBloom’s DeMers asked himself if he was prepared for the responsibilities, risks and stresses of entrepreneurship.
Filling out this Personal Goals and Objectives worksheet from Start Your Own Business (Entrepreneur Press) can help you identify your business goals and whether starting a small business is right for you.

Click to Enlarge+
Personal goals and objectives worksheet (Infographic)
Also, there’s no need to put all your eggs in the one basket of your new business. Although requiring discipline and time management, building a new business while still working a full-time job is the least financially risky way to go. However, if juggling a full-time job while starting a new business sounds too difficult, consider taking a part-time or temporary job while you work on your business.

E-commerce: E-commerce is a business platform where the seller offers products or services for sale online, either on your own website or on an online marketplace, like eBay or Etsy. Some of the advantages of e-commerce is that smaller businesses can compete with larger ones in the online playing field. Setting up an e-commerce site is relatively DIY these days. For starters, you can just open a CMS on WordPress, register your domain and subscribe to a hosting service (such as GoDaddy or Bluehost) and customize your website with e-commerce plugins, which can be found for free (or a small fee) on WooCommerce, Storefront, WP eCommerce and MarketPress. (Or skip all that and, just use Shopify or Squarespace.)

Franchise: Purchasing a franchise business comes with its advantages for those wanting to start a business. You’re opting into a known-brand, so much of the responsibility of marketing and brand-building has already been done. It requires the buyer to purchase the rights to use the franchise’s logo, name and business model. The investment required for a franchise business ranges, from under $5,000 up to upwards of several hundred thousand dollars. For more information, check out 2015 Franchise 500 Rankings.

Buying an already existing business: Like the franchise business, buying an existing business comes with the advantage of not having to reinvent the wheel. You have a built-in brand, company policies and customer base. Also, it’s often easier to get financing to buy a business that has an already proven track record. On the downside, buying an existing business is more expensive than building from scratch. You’re also inheriting inventory, policies and work methods that may be obsolete. You need to be diligent about the accounting, making sure the seller can show two years of tax returns that illustrate profit and inventory.

To really understand which business is right for you is to really do your homework — on both yourself and the prospective business. Don’t do it in a bubble. Reach out and talk to successful entrepreneurs who can offer advice and stories, like Templeman did, who wrote them down in a notebook.

“Half the time when I read over my notes, it’s not to get insights,” he says, “but rather as more of an assurance that what I’m going through isn’t unique and that other entrepreneurs went through the exact same things.”

Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart.

“It can be a rollercoaster of emotions with a lot of sweat equity and very little return in the beginning,” says Mitchell, who says she’d do it again.

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Quote of the Day

“There is no better designer than nature.”

– Alexander McQueen

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The simplest secret to happiness you’ll ever find

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By: Eric Barker

Research has found about nine zillion things you can do to increase happiness. Of course, you’re probably not doing any of them. To be fair, most people don’t really do much to deliberately make their lives happier.

Researchers found that the majority of the subjects they studied were not able to identify anything they had done recently to try to increase their happiness or life satisfaction. [100 Simple Secrets of the Best Half of Life]

So you want to start? You want something insanely easy to do that research has demonstrated over and over again works? Something that the happiest people in the world all do?

Here you go: Next time something good happens, stop whatever you are doing, give it a second, and appreciate that moment.

Old clichés like “stopping to smell the roses” and “it’s the little things in life”? They’re true. The happiness researchers call it “savoring.” Here’s how it works.

What is savoring?
We’re busy. We’re multitasking. And we think this makes things better because we get more done. But the problem is that means you’re paying less attention to any one thing — and therefore you enjoy all of those things less. Do you watch TV while you eat? That means you’ll enjoy your food less.

Savoring is all about attention. Focus on the bad, you’ll feel bad. Focus on the good and… guess what happens?

The key component to effective savoring is focused attention. By taking the time and spending the effort to appreciate the positive, people are able to experience more well-being. [Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth]

People who take time to appreciate beauty around them really are happier.

Those who said they regularly took notice of something beautiful were 12 percent more likely to say they were satisfied with their lives. [100 Simple Secrets of the Best Half of Life]

Research shows that the happiest people take the time to appreciate the little things in life. I know what you’re thinking: correlation isn’t causation. Maybe they’re just wired that way. Nope. Wrong answer. Research shows it can work for anybody. Focusing on the positive and appreciating those things more leads to happiness increases in less than a week.

One group was told to focus on all the upbeat things they could find — sunshine, flowers, smiling pedestrians. Another was to look for negative stuff — graffiti, litter, frowning faces. The third group was instructed to walk just for the exercise. At the end of the week, when the walkers’ well-being was tested again, those who had deliberately targeted positive cues were happier than before the experiment. The negatively focused subjects were less happy, and the just plain exercisers scored in between. The point, says Bryant, is that “you see what you look for. And you can train yourself to attend to the joy out there waiting to be had, instead of passively waiting for it to come to you.” [Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life]

Impressive, huh? Okay, so what’s the best way to start savoring?

Savoring 101
Stop. Just for a second. Stop checking texts when your friends are right in front of you. Stop watching TV while you eat. Don’t surf the web while you’re on the phone. Just do one thing at a time that you like, and don’t hurry through it. Slow down and appreciate it.

Just doing that — that alone — caused significant decreases in depression and increases in happiness.

In one set of studies, depressed participants were invited to take a few minutes once a day to relish something that they usually hurry through (e.g., eating a meal, taking a shower, finishing the workday, or walking to the subway). When it was over, they were instructed to write down in what ways they had experienced the event differently as well as how that felt compared with the times when they rushed through it. In another study, healthy students and community members were instructed to savor two pleasurable experiences per day, by reflecting on each for two or three minutes and trying to make the pleasure last as long and as intensely as possible. In all these studies those participants prompted to practice savoring regularly showed significant increases in happiness and reductions in depression. [The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want]

In many ways time is key when it comes to savoring. Knowing something has limited days or hours helps you savor. When things will soon come to an end we don’t take them for granted. We’re grateful, we savor them, and we’re happier.

Seek out those bittersweet moments because research shows they will help you appreciate things more.

When we are fully mindful of the transience of things — an impending return home from an overseas adventure, a graduation, our child boarding the school bus for the first day of kindergarten, a close colleague changing jobs, a move to a new city — we are more likely to appreciate and savor the remaining time that we do have. Although bittersweet experiences also make us sad, it is this sadness that prompts us, instead of taking it for granted, to come to appreciate the positive aspects of our vacation, colleague, or hometown; it’s “now or never.” [The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want]

This can really help you get more out of life. And here’s the best part: You don’t have to do it alone.

How savoring can improve your relationships
Sharing good news with your partner is a happiness double whammy. It helps you savor and improves your relationship.

Sharing successes and accomplishments with others has been shown to be associated with elevated pleasant emotions and well-being. So, when you or your spouse or cousin or best friend wins an honor, congratulate him or her (and yourself ), and celebrate. Try to enjoy the occasion to the fullest. Passing on and rejoicing in good news leads you to relish and soak up the present moment, as well as to foster connections with others. [The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want]

But good news doesn’t come along every day. Is there something you can do more regularly as a couple to savor?

Create rituals the two of you can engage in. Do a toast before drinking and look into each other’s eyes. Or any little thing that slows the moment down for appreciation.

I spoke to Harvard professor Francesca Gino, author of Sidetracked, and she said rituals are a great way to promote savoring around a meal:

You can think about rituals that you yourself might engage in prior to consumption experiences. What they do, they make us a little bit more mindful about the consumption experience that we are about to have. Because of that, we end up savoring the food or whatever we are drinking more…

But what about when things aren’t so great? Can we boost our happiness when there are no good things to savor right now? Yes, you can.

Savoring is also a time machine
Savoring doesn’t just need to happen in the moment. Reminiscing about the past and anticipating the future are also powerful, proven ways to savor — and boost your mood.

People prone to joyful anticipation, skilled at obtaining pleasure from looking forward and imagining future happy events, are especially likely to be optimistic and to experience intense emotions. In contrast, those proficient at reminiscing about the past — looking back on happy times, rekindling joy from happy memories — are best able to buffer stress. [The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want]

Reminiscing about past good times with others is like sharing good news. It improves your relationship and makes both of you happier.

Researchers have found that mutual reminiscence — sharing memories with other people — is accompanied by abundant positive emotions, such as joy, accomplishment, amusement, contentment, and pride. [The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want]

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, has a four point system that I love:

Anticipate with pleasure,
Savor the moment as I experience it,
Express my happiness to myself or others, and
Reflect on a happy memory.
How much simpler can being happier get?

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Entrepreneurs Are Not Normal

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You’re a freak.

That’s right. A freak. And so am I. Don’t be offended—it’s a compliment. Every single person you have seen on the cover of SUCCESS is also a freak. In fact, they’re super freaky, and that’s probably how they got on the cover.

Let’s define freak.

freak |freek| noun: a person who is obsessed with or unusually enthusiastic about a specified interest

If that’s not a definition for an entrepreneur, I don’t know what is. No doubt you have to be “unusually enthusiastic” and pretty freaky to get on this roller coaster. Most don’t have the courage to even step into the car of this thrill ride. But you do, and that is exactly why they will call you a freak.

Not only are you rare in your courage, but it turns out you’re unusual for even wanting to ride in the first place—only about 10% of people are entrepreneurs. That means the other 90% are “normal.”

Let’s define normal.

normal |nawr-muh| adjective: conforming to the standard or the common type; usual

Yuck! The “usual,” “common type,” or “standard” societal normal (that big, herd-like 90 percent) don’t like it when a “freak” steps out of line. That kind of nonconformity threatens them. It challenges their choices and identity. Rather than step out themselves, it’s safer for them to scorn your choices and attack you, in hopes of dragging you back into the herd so they can feel better about themselves.

So, yes. They will call you freak. They will call you crazy.

And that is good.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

—Apple Inc. ad, 1997 after Steve Jobs returned to Apple.

So hello, crazy one! Welcome to the freak show! The good news is you don’t have to catch cannonballs, swallow swords, or breathe fire in order to join this freak show. (Unless, of course, your business actually is running a circus.)

The bad news is that being a freak can be painful at first.

Beware the Crabs

I was once told about a type of crab that cannot be caught—it is agile and clever enough to get out of any crab trap. Yet these crabs are caught by the thousands every day, thanks to a particular human trait they possess.

The trap itself is simple: a wire cage with a hole at the top. Bait is placed in the cage, and lowered into the water. A crab comes along, enters the cage, and begins munching on the bait. A second crab sees the first crab and joins him. Then a third. For a time, it’s crab Thanksgiving. Eventually, though, all the bait is gone.

At this point the crabs could easily climb up the side of the cage and leave through the hole. But they don’t. They stay in the cage. And long after the bait is gone, even more crabs continue to climb inside the trap. Not one leaves.

Why? Because if one crab realizes there’s nothing keeping him in the trap and tries to leave, the other crabs will do anything they can to stop him. They will repeatedly pull him from the side of the cage. If he is persistent, the others will tear off his claws to keep him from climbing. If he persists still, they will kill him.

The crabs—by the power of the herd—stay together in the cage. All the fisherman needs is a tiny bit of bait. The rest is easy. Then the cage is hauled up, and it’s dinnertime on the pier.

Like crabs, most of the human world has been conditioned by academia, corporate culture, media, and society to follow the status quo. For most people, that means becoming an employee. And that’s exactly what 90 percent of the world becomes. When you decide to walk away from the 90 percent and step onto the entrepreneur roller coaster, you’re like a lone crab trying to leave the trap.

When you chose to become an entrepreneur—to be different—and walk out on that 90 percent, something strange happens. Instead of encouraging and supporting you, your friends, family, and colleagues become crabby and start trying to drag you back down into the “trap.”

Human crabs don’t usually use physical force—they don’t rip your arms off. But they don’t need to. They have far more effective methods at hand (or in mouth, as the case may be): innuendo, doubt, ridicule, derision, mockery, sarcasm, scorn, sneering, belittlement, humiliation, jeering, taunting, teasing, and dozens more. These are the insidious tactics the human crabs around you will use to pull off your claws and kill your dreams.

But why do they do it? Many of these people love you. Why would they want to hurt you (emotionally) and kill your hopes, dreams, and desire for something more?

There are two key reasons:

1. You make them look bad. When you step outside the status quo, you become a giant mirror that reflects the reality of their life back to them. They know they should be doing what you’re doing, but they’re afraid—your choices make their cowardice all the more obvious. Instead of joining you, it’s easier to make fun of you, or try to convince you that what you’re doing is foolish, risky, or destined to fail in the hopes that you will give up, come back to the pack, and take the mirror away.

2. They simply aren’t as courageous as you. They can’t get over the idea of leaving the security of the corporate bosom—their weekly employee paycheck and their meager “benefits.” What you’re doing just doesn’t fit their model of the world, and they aren’t brave enough to follow your lead. It’s easier to mock you than follow you.

I can tell you why crabs do what they do, but it’s still easy to be caught off guard by their crabby behavior.

When friends and family reject your business, it can hurt a lot more than the rejection you might experience at a job. A customer, a prospect, even a boss or colleague, can criticize, question, or say ‘no’ while on the job, and it doesn’t hurt so much. It’s not you; it’s just work. But when friends and family reject your business venture, it feels far more personal. It hurts. ‘No’ to your work at the office is one thing. ‘No’ to your passion, your vision, the business you’ve fallen in love with feels a lot like they’re saying ‘no’ to you.

What you’ll soon realize, though, is that it’s not about you at all. They are really saying ‘no’ to themselves. They’re rejecting their own inner voice that prods them to do more. To step out. To be brave. To take risks… like you.

They aren’t resentful of you. They’re resentful of themselves.

But it still hurts. And it can derail you if you’re not prepared. Anyone who has a dream—one that might get them out of their day-job-crab-trap—had best beware of the fellow inhabitants of the trap. They’re part of your roller coaster ride, and they can be very persistent in trying to drag you from the tracks.

This chapter is about dealing with crabs and other dips and drops on the entrepreneur roller coaster. It’s about accepting and loving your “freaky” nature. It’s about facing disapproval, discouragement, and downright ridicule, and coming back stronger and more resilient than ever.

I remember a great quote from Gandhi that I think every entrepreneur needs to keep close at hand:

“First, they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

I like that. We win. Blessed are the freaks… for they shall inherit the earth.

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Quote of the Day

“Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see.”

– Arthur Schopenhauer

Brought to you by Aplus Plastic Box Co supplying all your #plastic storage solutions, Plastic Storage Containers, Australian Made,  Plastic Boxes, Plastic Bins, Plastic Storage BoxesFirst Aid Cabinets, Air ToolsToolsBone Creepers, Wheels and CastorsSpare Parts CabinetsParts Drawers and a Large Range of Coat Hangers.