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Posts Tagged ‘startup’

The Side Project: All You Need is One

what you really look like when you multitask by ryan ritchie

In college, my screenwriting professor said that down in LA, every other person has a screen play in their back pocket. In these days of the hipster generation, I’d say that every other person has a startup, a side-project, or even a business that they’re working on in their spare time. And in tech communities like Seattle, I’d say that’s every person.

Ideas are everywhere. And the Internet makes it so easy to turn a ‘hobby’ into a business.

Are you a habitual side project starter?

You are full of ideas. You look at the world and problems that need fixing. And you know exactly how to do it.

You think up new projects and jump on them.  When you start, it’s like you’ve caught a fever — you brainstorm, purchase the domain name, snag the Twitter handle, and tell everyone you know about what you’re working on. You can’t be stopped.

But then it happens again. You get a new idea and it’s better than the one before.  You place your current project on hold or abandon it entirely.

The cycle repeats itself.

Question, are you jumping from project to project, because:

  1. You haven’t found that ‘one’ project that you really, really, really want to focus on?
  2. You believe that you can work on every single project at the same time (or switch as you follow your folly)?
  3. You don’t have the confidence that any of your ideas are ‘good enough’ to succeed?

Stop juggling side projects. Commit.

Projects, like goals, are most successful when you focus on one or two at a time. That way you can make an honest, full-blown effort at seeing one of those ideas through before choosing to go all the way or jump ship.

You need to specialize and focus on one project at a time. It’s why top companies focus their entire business on one thing, either having the best price, the best quality product, or the best service than anyone else in their industry. It’s why Zappos is known for great customer service, Southwest Airlines for price, and Apple for product (though the fan boys do help).

If you juggle too many projects at one time, you’re bound to drop one or keep them in the air at half mast. And multitasking may be bad for your brain.

If you’re constantly starting new projects, stop. Pick one and start working on it. Follow your curiosity and see where it goes. It might be everything you hoped it would be or it might be an utter failure. If it’s the latter, then scrap it and move on to the next one.

You may be surprised by what happens when you focus.

Photo credit: ryantron.

Would you stay at a job for 5 years for a $50K bonus?

Dan Schneider, founder and CEO, and SIB Development and Consulting team

This article – Keep your job for five years, get $50,000 – was published on CNN Money this morning and has been flying around Twitter all day.

The gist is this: one small business owner is offering his full-time employees $50,000 bonus for every five years that they stay with the company. The article brings up the key points:

Reward for retention – Nowadays, there is nothing that makes people loyal to a company, but Dan Schneider, the founder and CEO of SIB Development and Consulting (the company dishing out the cash) believes that a $50K retention can change that.

The average amount of time that people stay at a job is 2-3 years, especially at startups; staying at a company for 5 years is rare.

Additional bonus at 25 years – If employees stay at the company for 25 years, they will receive $250,000 cash (the article doesn’t specify if that’s the total of $50K for every 5 years or $50K for the first 5 years and $250K at 25 years).

Cut costs to train new employees – For the SIB, the bonus is really about retaining high-quality employees and not having to spend the money to train new ones over and over again.

Happy Employees

The most interesting part about this article isn’t the bonus, but the fact that every single one of the employees pictured is smiling, genuinely. Sure, it could have taken over a dozen shots to get this one photo, but if you look closely at the photo, they really look happy.

Maybe Schneider has a point. Maybe the promise of $50,000 after 5 years of service as a “thank you” is how much it costs to keep happy employees who are “not looking for work.” Maybe he’s on to something.

Why Money Talks

There have been many, many articles around the web about the key to having a successful business (and especially a startup) is to have the right people on your team and how you really need to work hard to keep them.

Mark Suster wrote a stellar article in TechCrunch earlier this year about it and while he broke down the kinds of people you specifically want involved with your startup, the title of his article said it the best: A Few Key People Really Can Make a Huge Difference.

But it’s not about having the right people on your team; it’s about keeping them. Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos.com, talks a lot about this (and unfortunately I can’t find the exact article that talks about this, so I’ll link to this one: Got talent? Competing to hire the best and motivate the rest).

Say “Thank you”

I’m going on a limb here, but maybe the reason why this bonus structure will and can work for Schneider is because he does have the right people at his company and he wants to keep them.

You have to motivate and retain your best employees. You need to say “thank you” and let them know that you are going to take care of them for them to stick around.

A company who wants to appreciate and take care of their companies? That’s as rare these days as an employee who wants to stick around for five years.

Would you stay at a job for 5 years if you got a $50K bonus?