Running your own business can be frightening. For many businesses, there’s a natural ebb and flow to sales or even some sort of seasonality. In the consulting world, the fear of no new customers or losing existing customers can push a business owner to take on the wrong kind of business or make bad decisions.
For a number of year years now—thanks to my father-in-law—I’ve appreciated Alan Weis’ perspectives on consulting. His recent post on this topic really resonated with me:
Some potential business is too small, too remote, too laborious, too demanding, too ridiculous. Some of it is unethical or repulsive. Eschew it.
Pursue that business which you are great at and love doing, provided by your ideal buyers. It’s as simple as that.
One might be tempted to think that being able to “choose a customer” is only applicable when business is booming. It’s that type of thinking that can get you into trouble.
There’s an opportunity cost to taking on the wrong customer. The biggest one being that when the right customer comes along, there’s a higher likelihood that you won’t be available to work with them.
My experience also dictates that the “wrong” customer is usually wrong for three reasons, not just one. For example, it’s likely not just about the customer being demanding. It’s that the customer is demanding, the budget too small, and the timeline too tight.
At savvy apps, we look at potential customers through three lenses:
- Do we believe in and like the idea?
Is this app something we would use? Is it focused enough? Can it continue to evolve?
- Do we believe in the people and the team?
Are they proven? Do they have key advisors and industry contacts? Would we enjoy working with them?
- What do we see as the long-term potential for the relationship?
What happens after v1.0 ships? Will this customer make referrals? Will there be new work outside of this app?
Even during slow times, we’ve turned down business that did not align with one of these kinds of tests. While turning down money is a difficult choice, I know that the right customer will motivate us to produce award-winning work and keep our attrition extremely low.
Q. Instagram and WhatsApp are not going to be branded as Facebook apps. So eventually part of your business will be apps that people don’t think of as Facebook. Is that the way to think about the future of Facebook. Is it like a conglomerate?
A. One of the things that we’re trying to do with Creative Labs and all our experiences is explore things that aren’t all tied to Facebook identity. Some things will be, but not everything will have to be, because there are some sets of experiences that are just better with other identities. I think you should expect to see more of that, where apps are going to be tied to different audiences that you can share with.
from Can Facebook Innovate? A Conversation With Mark Zuckerberg
Last week’s news about Foursquare splitting into two apps spurred this excerpt to mind from a recent interview with Mark Zuckerberg. Not only has Facebook “unbundled” apps like Messenger, it’s also experimenting with unbundling identity.
Even though both Instagram and WhatsApp were acquisitions for Facebook, Zuckerberg teased that this could be experimented with on homegrown products as well. That’s exceptionally progressive relative to say Google, which does not even allow saving of maps locations without being signed in to an account on Google Maps.
One key was thinking about what WWDC provides and figure out how to meet those needs in some other way. For me, that boiled down to:
- Social Events / Networking
Here’s a handy reference about the many substitutes available to WWDC. As James notes though, the Design and App Store Labs are irreplaceable, which really is a shame. Hopefully Apple can find a way to fill in this specific gap in the future.
If you’re looking for a quick way to backup your Campfire chats, I can highly recommend James Taylor’s Campfire Archiver. While savvy apps is now on Slack full-time, ensuring we had a backup of Campfire was a long-standing item on our to-do list. It just never got attention.
For a bonus—and possibly for those not yet abandoning Campfire—check out this script from Ron Alleva that removes files from Campfire. We’d often have to hunt down large files that would take up our allotted space and this script would have been handy. To keep our export slimmer, I actually ran the remove script against all of our rooms and then did the archive.
Dan Counsell recently published a great post entitled “Paid, Paymium or Freemium,” in which I also happen to be quoted. It reiterates what I’ve been harping on for the last couple of years, which is that paid apps aren’t dead. More generally, it should help independent developers understand the pros and cons of the revenue models available to them on the App Store.
I’m especially glad that Dan correctly labeled them as “revenue models” because it’s a pet peeve of mine when they’re improperly called “business models.” I also agree with him that paymium continues to show promise, especially for yearly upgrades.