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So, what’s wrong with small business?

Erik Severin points us to Who Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? The essence, I think, is that entrepreneurs think big thoughts and do big things, while small business owners settle, working their way through the day to day.

The distinction I’ve always made is that an entrepreneur is trying to make money while she sleeps, and does it with someone else’s money! That she builds a business bigger than herself, that scales for a long time, that is about processes and markets. A small businessperson, on the other hand, is largely a freelancer with support, someone who understands the natural size of her business and wants to enjoy the craft of doing it every day.

The more I see both, the happier it appears that small business people are. They often make more money, take fewer risks, sleep better and build something for the ages, something they believe in and can polish and be proud of.

Growth for growth’s sake makes less sense every day.

PS please don’t read this as anti-entrepreneur! I’m one, and proud of it. I think I was boosting the small business side more than I was tearing down the entrepreneur side…

The Rocky Horror Blog

In my free ebook about blogs (Who’s There?) I write about three kinds of blogs: cat blogs, boss blogs and blogs designed to spread ideas. Shame on me, I left out a fourth kind, a kind that is growing in popularity and influence.

Remember the Rocky Horror Picture Show? Some people saw the movie 10 or a hundred times. They knew the lines by heart. And audience interaction wasn’t just welcome, it was almost required. Throwing toast at the screen was part of the deal.

I think we’re seeing the rise of the RH blog. These are blogs with a posse, a cadre of loyal readers who participate by chat, comments or in a tightly-knit circle of blogs. The goal of the blogger is to put fuel on the fire and to keep the existing audience engaged. The ideas don’t have to be new, and they don’t have to spread, but the blog is a great way to create and maintain this community of fellow travelers.

Four things to remember

1. Ryan points us to Hello hello? XM’s Wrong Number Fiasco – Orbitcast.com. Always check the phone number and url on anything you print. Have a friend dial it, just to be sure.

2. If you have an apartment, get tenant’s insurance.

3. If you ride a bike, wear a helmet


4. Don’t put anything about a customer or a boss in an email or on a blog that you don’t want the world to see.

Enjoy your weekend.


Most marketers have one.

Often unconsciously, we use these marketing heroes to help us make decisions. We model our decisions after the ones we think they would make. What would Richard Branson do? What would David Ogilvy do? What would my dad do?

Because marketing is as much art as science, we have to acknowledge that there are no right answers, and that there are very different approaches to a problem.

There are two big opportunities for problems. The first is alignment. When you and your boss or your colleagues have different heroes, communication and implementation is a mess. And second is picking the wrong hero for the wrong project. You can do everything right and fail because you’re busy being Lester Wunderman but marketing perfume.

Off topic

My limb savior (bad shoulders) Fred’s book is hovering in the top few hundred on Amazon. I talk about it on my back pain lens: How I beat my aching back. If this is irrelevant to you, congratulations! For the rest of us, hope it helps.

Ten items or less

Ian reviews the brand new Google Checkout Payment System

Nine things marketers ought to know about salespeople (and two bonuses)

Continuing in the series:

  1. Selling is hard. Harder than you may ever realize. So, if I seem stressed, cut me some slack.
  2. Selling is personal. When I make a promise, I have to keep it. If you force me to break that promise (by changing processes, features or a rollout schedule) I will never forgive you.
  3. Selling is interpersonal. I am not moving bits, I’m trying to change people’s minds, one person at a time. So, no, I can’t tell you when the sale will close. No one knows, especially the prospect.
  4. I love selling. I particularly love selling great stuff, well marketed. Don’t let me down. Don’t ask me to sell lousy stuff.
  5. I’m extremely focused on the reward half of the equation. Salespeople love to keep score, and that’s how I keep score. So don’t change the rules in the middle, please.
  6. I have no earthly idea what really works. I don’t know if it’s lunch or that powerpoint or the Christmas card I sent last year. But you know what? You have no clue what works either. I’ll keep experimenting if you will.
  7. There is no comparison, NONE, between an inbound call (one that you created with marketing) and a cold call (one that you instructed me to create with a phone book.) Your job is to make it so I never need to make a cold call.
  8. Usually, customers lie when they turn me down. They make up reasons. But every once in a while, I actually learn something in the field. Ask!
  9. I know you’d like to get rid of me and just take orders on the web. But that’s always going to be the low-hanging fruit. The game-changing sales, at least for now, come from real people interacting with real people.
  10. (a bonus, switching points of view for a moment): I know that selling is hard and unpredictable. But if you’re going to be in sales, you’ve got to be prepared to measure and predict and plan. You need to give me sales reports and call lists and summaries. It does neither of us any good to keep your day a secret. If you don’t plan and organize, I can’t do my job of marketing.
  11. (and bonus number two): The two worst pieces of feedback you can give me (because neither is really actionable or especially effective): a. lower the price and b. make our product just like our competitors.

My seersucker suit

It’s hot enough that it came out of the closet for today’s speech.

It totally transformed the way people treated me. Doormen, people on the subway… in an increasingly casual age, I was sort of stunned by how easily a $99 suit changed the reaction people had.

When everyone (men, anyway) wore the same thing, it was pretty difficult to make an impact with your clothes. Today, it’s a conscious choice and it matters whether you want it to or not.

PS six years ago, at Yahoo, Jerry Yang caught me wearing a suit while he was giving a tour to a bunch of hotshot visitors. He sent me home.

Why does Fred have ads on his blog?

Fred Wilson (A VC) is a good friend and a terrific guy, and you really should read his blog. My guess, without seeing his bank statement lately, is that he doesn’t need the income he gets from the ads on his blog.

So why do it?

Well, I just posted on the squidblog about Squidoo’s experiment with AdSense. I think there’s something non-obvious going on here. Magazines are better with ads, and so are many websites.

Better? I know that Fred does his ads as an experiment/handshake with the firms he knows or is interested in. But for many sites, it turns out that sites with good ads ("Anticipated, personal and relevant" as I wrote eight years ago) actually give users more confidence and meaning.

In other words, even if you never cashed the checks from Google, you’d come out ahead. (Your mileage may vary, natch).

Jeremy Wright on the big lies

Ann Handley has a nice post here: What’s the Biggest Lie About Blogging? | Marketing Profs Daily Fix Blog.

Jeremy Wright had the best answer:

1. Blogging’s just a fad.

2. Always maintain a hostile relationship with your audience.

3. Don’t ever admit you did something wrong.

4. It’s just a PR channel.

5. Don’t have a personality if you’re blogging for business.

6. I can’t blog because I can’t write.

7. Bloggers should let it all hang out.

8. Facts just get in the way of blogging.

9. Without open comments, it’s not a blog anyway.

10. There are 10,000 new blogs launched every day.

11. I don’t have time to blog.

12. Fast is better than right.

13. It’s impossible to make money blogging.

Find the rest on Ann’s post…