More useful "rules" for startups

I was reading Mark Cuban’s blog that is developing some of the ideas from Jason Calacanis blog about startups.

I include it here mainly because for once I actually DISAGREE with a great deal in the piece.

Take a look at it and also spend some time on the comments as I think there’s some great advice down "below" on this post.

The things he says I disagree with are:

  • If you have an exit strategy, its not an obsession.
    • This is a nice idea and I agree with the underlying concept of total commitment, passion and wanting to change the world but I also think its dumb to not have thought about the exit. See my post on the topic.
  • No offices. Open offices keeps everyone in tune with what is going on and keeps the energy up.
    • Again I think in some cases this may work but if you are serious about the image of your business and you are not running a huge telemarketing operation it will actually be more productive to have sales and others in a quiet area where they can focus on their work and the same goes for engineers and management.
    • A better solution all together if you can make it work is to allow some team members (or many if you are very small) to work from home. This can work and not, so its very subjective. In some cases you really must all be together in a "skunkworks" but in others there’s no issue with field sales, some marketing, accounting and others working apart (perhaps when you are bigger).
    • Another core point here is that the level of productivity drops with frequent interruptions that an open office brings and if you have few resources you need to focus these like a laser on your goals and you don’t need to waste any time with unwanted "water cooler" moments or people who can hassle you without having to get permission.
    • I am with Dan Kennedy and many others on the very UN-PC idea of managing my time aggressively and NOT having an open door/office policy at all. You may want to read his book on the topic (No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs) if you want to get more effective!
    • I do agree with the very old MBWA (Management by wandering around) concept introduced by Tom Peters. In other words it’s no good hiding in your office, you need to get out with customers, suppliers and your team as much as possible and understand your business in minute detail. BUT this doesn’t mean spending every minute sitting in amongst everyone with no privacy or peace and quiet to think!
  • NEVER EVER EVER hire a PR firm.
    • Again I must qualify my response here, I agree that just to pay a PR firm on a retainer to say things about you each month is a waste of time in the main. However, for projects and people trying to get attention the right firm can be very helpful.  The key is to use PR as a weapon at the right time in the battle and in the right way.
    • Many startups have gotten approached by staff, customers and VC’s due to PR when it’s used well and it would be foolish to waste those opportunities.
    • The key is not to waste your money and do PR unless you need too and then make sure you have a clear objective and measure the results carefully. DON’T agree to a retainer, pay on a project basis and then you won’t spend money unnecessarily.

Otherwise, I think most of his "rules" are useful and worth noting, take a look and see what you think!

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