What's the deal with Bitcoin? Inc. talked to Charlie Schrem--Bitcoin millionaire and "evangelist"--for the low down.
It's been described as both "an online form of money laundering" and a brilliant "anarchist's brainchild." The developer who goes by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto called Bitcoin simply a peer-to-peer electronic cash system back in 2008.
However you think of it, one thing is clear: Bitcoin is one of the buzziest things going on in tech and finance right now.
So it should come as no surprise that entrepreneurs and investors are gathering Friday for a conference on all things Bitcoin-related, called "The Future of Payment." Charlie Schrem is the co-founder of the payment processor BitInstant, one of the first Bitcoin millionaires, and vice chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation, which is behind the conference.
Inc. talked to Schrem about the controversial currency--and the frenzy it has caused.
Lots of people think Bitcoin is a bubble. What would you say to them?
If you look at the laws of economics, Bitcoin is really following that. People say Bitcoin is a bubble. I respond: well, which one? There were already three, and we've recovered from them already. The real answer is they're not bubbles; they're speculated bubbles that turn into market corrections. For example, you see the price growing steadily, steadily, slowly--then it shoots up over a two week period. Then early adopters who have so much say, "Hey. I think I'm going to cash out now." People start selling and the market corrects itself to its true value.
Currency. Security. Commodity. Bitcoin has been described as all three. How should it be regulated--if at all?
Bitcoin is two things. There's a capital "B" and a lowercase "b." If someone is talking about Bitcoin, they are either talking about one or the other--not really both. Bitcoin is, on the one side, the world's largest decentralized global payment infrastructure. The ability to send data or money or a unit of value from one person to another regardless of where they are, that can't be stopped or controlled any government, is a feat. It's something that has never existed anywhere in the world.
At the same time, on the other side, bitcoin is also that unit of value that is being transfered. If you look at the human body, you have blood that carries nutrients and oxygen all over the body--and they're carried all throughout the body through the veins. You look at money as the blood and you look at companies like PayPal, MoneyGram, or banks as the veins that connect the blood throughout the whole body, right? Bitcoin is both. It's both blood and vein.
Bitcoin transactions are anonymous, which as been cited as both a strength and a weakness of the currency. Where do you weigh in?
It's not anonymous. That's actually a big common misconception. It's psuedo-anonymous. Private is a better word to use. Every Bitcoin transaction is traceable. You have a public ledger that anyone can view about every Bitcoin transaction that's ever happened. And that's it. As long as the companies that act as intermediaries between the old world--like dollars--and the new world--like Bitcoin--know their customers, it's very, very difficult to have money launderers or terrorists or people like that use Bitcoin because they'll have to give their identity.
What about the early adopters who actually mined for Bitcoins? Are there records for them?
Absolutely. It's a little bit harder to know who the miners are, but let's say the miners want to cash back out into dollars--they're going to need to prove their identity.
So... do you know who Satoshi Nakamoto is?
No, no I don't. I wish.
What about cyber security issues? Are you worried about Bitcoin being hacked?
Bitcoin has never been hacked and Bitcoin can never be hacked. What can be hacked is the various websites or exchanges that hold Bitcoin. Bitcoin itself has never been hacked just like email has never been hacked--but your Gmail account could get hacked. Bitcoin is an open-sourced protocol. It's a way of sending units of value over the Internet. The code is open sourced. Anyone can read it, see it, and update it. So at this moment you have all of the world's best hackers trying to break Bitcoin. And they can't.
It seems like you practically need a PhD in computer science to understand how Bitcoin works. For it to become more mainstream--say for businesses to adopt it--won't it need to be more accessible?
There's a learning curve, just like there is with anything. It takes time to learn how to do something and it's going to be difficult. Back in the day, my mother didn't understand Bitcoin. She thought it was for techs and geeks and nerds. Now, she understands it pretty well. It's like email. You don't need to understand how email works to use email.
The Winklevoss twins are giving the keynote at the conference this weekend. Why them?
Cameron and Tyler are really interesting people. These guys know everyone--from politicians to bankers to the guys like you and me. They also have a ton of experience building infrastructure and building companies. And that's what Bitcoin needs--it needs better infrastructure, better companies, and more people involved. So aside from them being high profile, I think they can teach a lot of people in the crowd how to take Bitcoin to the next level.
As a leader, you need to articulate your clear-cut implementation plan. The second in a seven-part series on the power of communication.inc_clean_text
Make sure you see your workplace through your staff's eyes.
Most business owners like to think the culture they have created feels like a family. While that means different things to everyone, having everyone feel a personal connection to the company, take pride in what they do, and help each other succeed is the foundation.
Sure, creating a family atmosphere starts at the top, but you have to look under the surface to see if it comes to life. How can you tell? Your people being champions of the company culture, proactively coming up with ideas to make it a better place to work and choosing to hang out together on the weekends are all signs that there is a tighter connection than a day’s work and a paycheck.
Maybe most important: Never forget that your company is their company, too. If you don’t think of it as their company--well then you should just give up on the idea of having a family-oriented company culture in the first place.
There are a few simple things that I have found go a long way toward creating an environment that is both positive and professional:
Be real. All too often business leaders feel they need to project an image to those who work for them that doesn’t necessarily reflect who they really are and actually masks their true personality. It’s ok to let your people beyond the veneer of leadership. I am proud to make a fool of myself in small ways every day and feel that the ability to laugh at myself makes me far more approachable. My teams may think I am a little strange at times, but I think they know that I am the person they see every day.
Be empathetic. Remember what it was like when you were the person sitting at that cubicle wondering how you were going to get through those days filled with ungrateful customers, unreasonable expectations and a limited understanding of how to do what’s being asked of you? That’s how your teams feel most days. They aren’t looking for you to tell them how to solve their problems--ok sometimes they are--but mostly they want to believe you can relate to their world and can help THEM solve things. Think through problems with them, ask questions rather than always supplying answers and remember: Remember the worst boss you ever had. Then think about the best. What were the major differences in how they communicated?
Be humble. Nothing’s wrong with a healthy ego. It is almost impossible to lead a large group of people without the ability to stand in front of them and make them feel you know what you are doing at the times when you are not even sure you do. But there is a huge line between ego-confidence and ego-arrogance. You’re the boss, they already get that and don’t need to be reminded of how awesome you are. I believe that I am at my absolute best when everyone around me succeeds and my role is that of coach and advisor. You should be happier to get a note from a client about how great someone on your team performed that a direct thanks for something you did.
Be direct. Most people know when they’re struggling. Often they are trying desperately to figure out how to turn things around but are terrified to speak up beause they don’t know if you know how much they’re struggling. Meanwhile, it is likely that your own frustration is resulting in harsh heat-of-the-moment criticism rather than constructive advice. Wait until things calm down a bit and ask the person to meet over a cup of coffee. Tell them you know they are struggling, and that you are invested in their success. Talk to them about what’s not working and be specific about things they can do to improve, then help coach them on those items rather than getting angry. In most cases you’ll find the person turns it around. Those who can’t or won’t often take this as a signal that they should find another job. Either way things get better for you, them and all of the people around who were just as frustrated with the situation but simply worked around the person the whole time.
Be transparent. The people who work for you have made a decision to place part of their lives in your hands and don’t like to live in a black hole. It has amazed me at times that as tight knit as we are often people in the office don’t know what is going on across the business. We’ve had major pitches going on and half the office doesn’t even know we are pitching. The answer: communicate, communicate and communicate some more. It’s your job to make sure people know what’s happening--that means the good, the bad and the ugly. What you tell them will NEVER be worse than what they will be talking about behind your back if you say nothing.
Sure, perks are great--and my company offers plenty of them. But true happiness in the workplace starts with passion.
This week marks the 12th anniversary of my entertainment marketing and interactive advertising agency, Situation Interactive. I founded the company, which has offices in New York City and Los Angeles, based on my personal passion and curiosity for the intersection of technology and live experiences: the sporting event that makes us cheer, the Broadway show that makes us sing, or the vacation that leaves you in awe. As a consumer, I believe having such experiences--and sharing them with others--makes me a better, happier person. Therefore, as a business owner that helps market these experiences, I believe wholeheartedly in what I do every day.
My company has been fortunate enough to be named a best place to work by Crain's New York Business three years in a row. We work hard to provide great perks, including free tickets to cultural and sporting events, free breakfast, and an outdoor roof deck. But what I'd like to believe makes it a truly great place to work is the fact that each of my 60 employees shares my belief in the value of the live experience and my passion for what we do. Over the years, I've identified four key traits common to happy employees. Now, I keep them in mind when I'm recruiting new hires to ensure they'll be a good fit.
They believe in the greater purpose of our company.
There's nothing more powerful in a career than realizing what you do has a greater purpose beyond financial gain-;for me, it’s the fact that I believe my company makes the world a better place. Whether it’s the company’s greater purpose or the impact of each person's work day-to-day, all that matters is that our employees believe in it.
They have a personal passion for their role at the company.
For me, it's not a question of whether an employee will dread going to work each day, but if they will love going to work each day. Without a personal passion for their job, employees will have a hard time growing within the company.
Their values align with company values.
Every company has a core set of values expressed either through words or action. While it wasn't until this past year that we (literally) published on our walls our founding principle that "We believe the world is a better place when people are doing rather than having," this spirit has been central to what makes us tick since the very beginning. We continually reinforce this core principle by taking part in rewarding experiences together as a team.
Their family members (or other loved ones) are proud of what they do.
People want to be proud of what they do. One of the best ways to illustrate that is to have the acknowledgment and respect of those that love them the most. Happy employees are excited to share their work life with loved ones. They speak proudly of what they do to their mother, son, daughter, and friends. If their loved ones are proud of them, it's icing on the cake.
At an annual meeting of venture capitalists, a Morgan Stanley managing director gave five tips on how to pitch him. They're helpful for anyone making a big ask.
Get over yourself. Be nice.
That was just some of the advice venture capitalists got at the last session of the National Venture Capital Association conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.
Just as entrepreneurs have boards of directors they need to satisfy, venture capitalists have limited partners, or L.P.s. These are the managers of endowments, pension funds, and other big pools of money who give money to venture capitalists to invest.
In a panel called “Rants and Raves,” each of four L.P.s was given five minutes to say what they like the most, and what they like the least, about venture capital and its practitioners. There was plenty to like, but it was the criticisms that were the most memorable. Especially those from Jamey Sperans, a managing director with Morgan Stanley.
In his presentation, Sperans offered five things venture capitalists could do better during the fundraising process, when they're asking to manage his money. But Sperans’ comments provide excellent food for thought for anyone trying to raise money or making any kind of ask. Here are his five tips.
Sure, this sounds simple. But Sperans says he gets lied to every day. Some of the lies are doozies, while others appear to be white lies.
Sperans considers being hyper-promotional a lie. “What you ask us to do as investors is completely insane,” Sperans told the audience of venture capitalists. “We’re asked every day to give money to people we’re just getting to know for 12 to 15 years. It’s an act of lunacy. And it’s a game of trust.” Erode that trust--in any way--and it’s game over.
One Felony or Two?
Sperans said that during one negotiation, the venture capitalist said it should be the second felony, not the first, that would be cause for termination. Obviously, that negotiation ended quickly. But Sperans is making a larger point: There is information content embedded in everything you do. The way you treat your colleagues in the negotiation room, the way you treat the people on the other side of the table, the way you treat the secretary: They all matter. These are all things that tell Sperans if you’re a good person, and a trustworthy person. And as he said repeatedly, it’s all about trust.
Beware the Lake Wobegon effect
In Lake Wobegon, as envisioned by Garrison Keillor, the women are strong, the men are beautiful, and all the children are above average. Venture capitalists, he says, would also have you believe that they’re all above average. As a group, they may all be smarter than the average bear, but as an L.P., Sperans is not choosing between a venture investor and an average bear. He’s choosing between venture capitalists. And they can’t all be above average.
“By definition,” he said, “half of you are below average. As investors, very few of you are extraordinary bets. When you come to talk to people like us, who talk to people like you every day, a little humility and a little self-awareness goes a long way.”
The Great Dispersion
Average returns in venture capital are not good. Even the top 25% of venture capital funds, Sperans said, are bad as risk-adjusted bets. “I want the top decile or better,” he said. “I need the outlier event.” What does that means to the folks pitching him? “Think carefully about your business, the proposition to the entrepreneur, and what makes you guys truly extraordinary.”
Show Me Some Love
Sperans knew this one was not going to be popular. “I believe in the power of love in all things, but I believe in the power of love in business and investing,” he said. “I know you’re snickering already.” He said not many people talk about love in a commercial context, because “it feels soft or it feels like a lawsuit.”
What he’s referring to, Sperans says, is “the emotional disposition certain people have toward the work they do and the people they do it with. “ He’s sick of hearing about passion, because it’s so self-centered. Instead, in some people--both entrepreneurial teams and partnerships of venture investors, “there is a deep and abiding respect and selflessness that is really uncommon and really powerful.” He says the two groups that raised the most money from him showed business love, although he asks folks not to try to fake it. “It’s really painful if you do,” he said. He closed with a quote he attributed to William Penn: “Let’s see what love can do.”
Most successful businesses are built from a proprietary asset, not just an idea.Until that spark is in place, outside investment is a risky proposition.
The essence of building a business is creating something from nothing. But in reality, every business starts from something and results in something more ... hopefully a lot more.
Among the high-ambition business builders we talk to, we find a common misconception that good ideas by themselves attract money. Sure, there are VCs in Silicon Valley looking for the next Facebook, but in general they are placing their bets on individuals, teams, and track records, rather than simply ideas. This is a basic fundamental of finance: Why should someone invest in your risky business venture instead of placing safer bets somewhere else?
We've written previously about the lack of value in ideas (see Why Your Idea Isn't Worth Anything and Why You're Not Entitled to Your Idea). The vast majority of start-up businesses, even those that raise funding, are built from something proprietary: a reputation among a base of customers, a unique skill or expertise, a valuable asset such as a truck fleet or a desired location, or even someone's time and effort--sweat equity to build the business.
Examples are everywhere. Facebook was based on access to a captive network of Harvard students (the original users were required to have a Harvard.edu e-mail address). Apple was built when Steve Wozniak spent his time tinkering with early PCs and Steve Jobs commercialized his work. One of the companies we work with, Phin and Phebes Ice Cream, was built through the creativity and inventiveness of the founders, who created some amazing ice cream flavors. Our own business was built through the reputation and skills we built in a prior job that we leveraged with our first clients to establish an early track record.
Each of these businesses used these early sparks to ignite value. They all received capital infusions only after they had built a unique foundation for growth.
We almost always discourage businesses from raising outside capital until the conditions are perfect. A proprietary source of capital, such as your own savings or the profits from another business, should be used almost as sparingly. Most businesses can benefit from building their strategic assets first and only employing capital once a core business model can be scaled. Until then, it's important to identify your spark, and leverage it into a viable business.
What sparks did you use to start a business? When have you sourced capital to fuel the fire? Share your thoughts with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your future competitors will likely supply what you do--but from cheaper, off-the-radar sources.
There are backyard business terms, and there are--how shall we put it?--more elevated notions.
Any kid with a lemonade stand grasps "supply" and "demand."
But notions like "disruption" and "business model innovation" tend to be the province of the business literati. If you know what they mean, you've either been to b-school or read a few dozen articles (perhaps even in Build) on the topics.
This is why a recent post on TheNextWeb.com caught our attention. Sangeet Paul Choudary, author of the upcoming book, Platform Thinking, used the very friendly term "supply" to frame what, in our eyes, is a kick-ass theory on the often complex notion of disruption.
Choudary (@sanguit) explains that the key to Airbnb's disruption of the incumbent hospitality market--that is, hotels and inns--was its ability to challenge the incumbents' traditional source of supply. "Airbnb enables anyone with a spare room and a mattress to run their own BnB and benefit from a global market of travelers."
It would be one thing if Airbnb were the only upstart disrupting incumbents by challenging traditional supply sources. But in Choudary's eyes, Airbnb fits into part of a supply-challenging pattern, along with BuzzFeed, oDesk, and YouTube. What do these companies do differently?
Here's Choudary's list:1. They create new sources of supply.
No one previously imagined an inventory of travel accommodations composed of urban households with spare rooms. Likewise, the idea that a global audience would find amateur videos (as is often the case on YouTube) appealing would have been scoffed at years ago.2. These new sources of supply tend to be inferior to and less sophisticated than previously existing ones.
As the case study of Airbnb suggests, the average listing initially doesn't compare to established hotels in service quality and targets a price-conscious traveler. The same dynamic applies when comparing YouTube with traditional broadcast media.3. Over time, the supply on these platforms evolves to compete directly with mainstream competitors.
As the platform finds greater adoption among consumers, it attracts mainstream producers as well. As a result, the production quality improves as the platform gains consumer traction, something that we've seen with both Airbnb and YouTube, as well as many other platforms.
So where does all of this leave you? If you're a mid-market exec, think about what your company supplies. Remember: Your future challengers are thinking about cheaper, off-the-radar ways to supply the same thing. What can you do about it? Two things:
1. Consider the long-term vulnerabilities in whatever it is you supply. How might a new business capitalize on these vulnerabilities?
2. Take a step in this direction, even if it's just a mental step. What can you do to remain nimble and competitive, if suddenly your customers can go elsewhere--and pay less--for what you supply? A larger company could simply make an acquisition. A mid-sized company might not have such fiscal flexibility.
You're not in an infomercial, so stop acting that way on sales calls. Here's a better approach.
When was the last time someone shouted "buy, buy, buy!" at you and you went ahead and bought whatever it was the lunatic was trying to sell you?
That's what I thought. Force is not an effective sales tactic.
I know I won't buy anything from someone unless I trust the person. Whether you're pitching your personal brand, your vision, or a product or service, no one's going to buy without first developing a trusting relationship.
So stop selling and start helping. Here's how to start:
1. It's about them, not you.
Do you have a meeting with a potential customer tomorrow? Start then. Ditch the "what's in it for me?" mindset--like getting commission for a sale or affirmation from a key stakeholder--and meet this person with a new angle. Provide them with genuine interactions and guidance to build rapport. Who cares if he doesn't buy in right after the meeting--you've set yourself up as a potential option when he's ready.
2. Don't bullsh*t.
If your helpful attitude isn't genuine, people will see right through it. Drop your run-of-the-mill sales personality and provide your customer with the facts.
3. Do your research.
Consider yourself a solution-provider. How can you help someone if you don't truly understand her business? Take the time to familiarize yourself with what she does, and look for ideas on how you can help.
4. Ask questions.
Toss out your fears of being too inquisitive. Questioning potential customers is essential part of doing your job. Ask questions that clearly show you want to learn more about their needs and goals. For example, you may want to ask them about the specific type of audience they're attempting to reach with their service or product. "That's a great question" is the reply you should want to hear.
5. Focus on the outcome.
Broken-record salespeople tend to focus solely on what they're selling. This doesn't develop any emotional connection for the customer or client. Instead, go over end results and goals. Generating an interest in the big-picture achievement is far more enticing and also shows your interests are aligned.
6. Be direct.
Nothing is sure to throw off your potential customers more than complicated slideshows and PowerPoints. Treat whomever you're speaking with as a confidant. Toss out your fancy presentations and remove jargon and big words from the conversation. Instead, meet them with direct and informative conversation, and when necessary, concise materials highlighting the basic facts about your solutions.
7. Sell your team.
Stop selling your product and start selling the people behind it. Your potential customers are more likely to latch onto and connect with a person. Even if you're selling a house, focus your conversation on expressing how great the builder is--not just the exceptional craftsmanship.
8. Don't follow up too much.
Pressing calls and emails are certain to turn potential customers running in the opposite direction. Did you have a helpful idea for their vision or an introduction to someone useful to their success? Following up with your audience is important, but keep it casual and friendly with occasional reminders.
Drop the forceful marketing and simply start helping. You're certain to see better results.
Have you found success by providing guidance rather than selling your customers?
What will the future look like? Everything--including your own body--will be even more connected than it already is.
These concepts are still in their infancy--you might not see mass consumer versions of them for years, maybe even a decade. But that doesn't mean you should ignore them. By the time these tech developments become as commonplace as Facebook or electric cars, it might be too late.
1. Embeddable Electronics
Self-monitoring is nothing new. Gadgets like the Fitbit Flex, part of the growing so-called "quantified self" trend, show you exactly how many calories you're burning during the day. In the future, these sensors and electronics will go deeper--literally. Instead of wearing a chip around the wrist, people will embed directly in their bodies. "This will allow people to have better insight, hour to hour, and day to day, on the state of their bodies, and thus monitor their health and wellness in ways that just haven't been possible before," says Intel futurist Steve Brown. The chip could report when a heart attack could be imminent and alert emergency personnel.
2. Programmable Materials
Imagine the ability to program a plant to form into a specific shape when it grows larger. Many futurists say this kind of programmable biology--where materials can self-assemble over time according to specific triggers--is a key trend for the future, and businesses should take note.
According to Carlos Olguin, a materials analyst at Autodesk Research, this could lead to a "have" and "have not" scenario when normal biology and digital biology start to overlap, similar to how the analog and digital worlds intersect. "This will not only be about the separation between those who are able to understand and exploit information technology and those who cannot, but also between those who are able to be enhanced biologically and those who cannot or decide not to do so," he says.
3. Quantified Society
The Quantified Self is about to go macro. A few examples: Recently, a professor at Texas A&M's school of business revealed how he knew a student had not opened an e-book during a course. Research at West Point and Samford University in Alabama has shown how law enforcement in the future will track how often you speed and then issue a robotic ticket for frequent offenders.
"Big brother will know about everything you do, your habits, which Internet sites you attend, where you shop, your medical records, what you download to read or watch," says Dr. Tom Furness, a University of Washington engineering professor. "This will feed into custom algorithms to create advertising and inducements for the way you spend your money and just-in-time intervention for the things you need to know for upcoming events in your life."
4. Smart Cars
Cars will become much smarter, which will create new opportunities for start-ups. Today, Ford is already working on an initiative called MyEnergi Lifestyle where your car connects into a smart grid and knows when the charge rates are lowest. Brown says cars will be even more connected, safer, and efficient to drive. "Expect to see impacts to the insurance industry, the taxi industry, and people running body shops," he says.
5. Wearable Computers
And you thought that new Samsung smartphone was slim and tiny, eh? Computers are going to get much smaller, last even longer, and even become part of everyday items. "As we move to the year 2025 and beyond, computing power will get so small and so inexpensive, we'll approach an era where computing can go into everything around us," says Brian David Johnson, an Intel futurist. "A table, our clothing, and even our bodies can become computers."
6. Predictive Analytics
Tools like Geckoboard are invaluable. They help you understand the current state of your small business and help you react accordingly. And many IT companies like Applied Predictive Technologies are already helpings companies understand massive data sets. In the future, the field will become much more advanced. One key business opportunity for the future: Predicting people's health.
"Imagine a future version of a system that would scan the face or body of a person, then in the presence of a mole or facial asymmetry, the system could correlate this data against a number of other data sets, including 3-D scans of other people, the person's own genome, or the genome of other people," says Olguin. "Based on all this analysis the system may recommend the person talk to her healthcare professional."
Minimal founder Scott Wilson talks about Ooba Baby Furniture, which he launched when expecting his first child.
Partnering with a huge company can bring visibility and growth to your start-up. Here are five tips to help it go smoothly.
For a start-up, a name-brand client can be a game-changer. Big brands can mean big opportunities, but it’s important to enter any partnership with clear goals and an understanding of potential pitfalls.
In CrowdTwist’s earlier stages, we were able to grow through partnerships with organizations such as Pepsi, Sony, The Miami Dolphins and Nestle. Here are a few things worth keeping in mind if you find yourself with an opportunity to work with a big brand:
Sell to the stakeholders
Any large organization hosts multiple influential decision-makers, each with different priorities. The folks on the marketing team are going to want to see how your product or service will help them better understand, reach, and activate the public. Someone from technology will want to know what’s needed to integrate and support your system.
When you’re selling to a larger company, it’s critical to understand the different motivations of the various people involved. Take the time to listen and appreciate each group’s problems and then explain how your product can help. A one-size fits all approach is rarely effective in a complex sale.
Understand the implications of “big” versus “small”
Large companies have both advantages and disadvantages. The big ones have the capital and exposure to move the market, but size means bulk, and bulk means that things move slowly. As a small company, you don’t have as many resources, but you can adapt and move easily. Your flexibility is your best asset.
As our team grows, we recognize that fast decision-making and immediate action are invaluable assets. If a client makes a request that can move the needle substantially and makes sense for our business, we want to be able to execute quickly. Eliminating the need for extensive documentation and long approval processes allows us to be responsive and to stay innovative.
Ask for commitments
A big partnership can bring you major attention - if you ask for it and if the other party agrees to provide support. From sales references to press and marketing efforts, it is easier and more effective to define and outline those aspects of your professional relationship before a contract is signed and work begins. No matter what, large companies are powerful from a validation standpoint and can help your company grow substantially. That’s so much more powerful when they’re willing to speak publicly.
Big companies typically have a complicated bureaucracy and formal approval process for even relatively minor decisions. Something that is of the utmost importance to you may be just one of many mundane tasks for the person on the other side of the table. Your client contact has to navigate a complicated web of legal, business and creative obligations, all of which takes time. Be aware of your place in the grand scheme of things and act accordingly.
Stay true to your own brand and business practices
Don’t compromise your business goals in order to satisfy one client, no matter how big. One major partnership will not automatically make your business successful, and sacrificing your core beliefs, or devoting too much effort and time to one company, can hurt your ability to move forward with other clients and prospects.
We were once trying to work with a company that had a clear idea of how they wanted our platform to function, but their desires weren’t aligned with our roadmap and beliefs. While the client was large and the business alluring, we took the longer-term view and declined the work, based on what we felt was best both for our business as well as the success of our partnership. This meant we couldn’t expand the contract as much as we’d hoped to, but it allowed our team to remain focused on our core platform and mission. Ultimately, that led to greater success with more customers.
It is okay to turn business away or push back. Ultimately your responsibility is to make sure you’re running a business that’s delivering results you can stand behind.
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