Lessons learned from eight years in business - Digital Tool Factory blog

Lessons learned from eight years in business

FatherYesterday a friend of mine told me he was considering starting his own small business/consultancy which led me to thinking about my eight years in the solo operator field, and now in the web startup field.  Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned over the years.

  1. A customer is someone with both problems and money.  People who have no money often have many problems, but that doesn’t make them customers, no matter how much volume you can do with them.
  2. If an unpleasant situation (“feeling of unease” as Mises would put it) does not have a solution, it is not a problem, and therefore, not an opportunity for profit.
  3. Get a comfortable chair – they’re worth the money.
  4. Define your target customer precisely, down to five people say, and start there.
  5. Spend some money, not much but not free, on your accounting system, stay on top of that at least once a week
  6. Read lots of books.  They are the most important learning tools you can get.
  7. If it seems like someone is trying to scam you, they probably are.
  8. There are lots of scam artists in the world, and even more people with useful, but inappropriate products
  9. Measure every moment of your time – with RescueTime preferably, or it not that with something.  Feedback is always good.
  10. Make lots of lists and attach numbers to anything wherever possible
  11. Make sure everything is backed up
  12. If you feel like you should drop a client, do it.  You can’t make money off of every client, and your “B” clients get in the way of your “A” clients
  13. Sell only the useful parts of yourself.  Clients hire me for programming, and they like the militant technologist parts of my personality, they don’t care about the musical or political sides
  14. Focus on one area of marketing, and have that look like what people expect it to look like.  For example graphic designers are expected to be “edgy” so their sites are dark and hard to read.  I’m expected to be a technophile, so my site is basic and direct
  15. Part of what you are selling a client is reassurance.  They expect that you will do a good job, so make sure to at least seem confident in what you’re doing.
  16. Never accept the only copy of a file from a client.  For whatever reason some clients delight in giving you their only copy of something which you will later be expected to produce on demand.  In essence, you are their outsourced backup system.  Clients that do this tend to be very high maintenance in other areas, so make sure that you charge accordingly.
  17. If forced to talk politics with a client or vendor, never mention proper names, only the ideas.  Everyone will respect your position on the topic of the free coinage of silver, but not your position on William Jennings Bryan.

Creative Commons License photo credit: h.koppdelaney


This post originally appeared on the Stronico blog – with the absorption of Stronico into Digital Tool Factory this post has been moved to the Digital Tool Factory blog


Written By Steve French


3 responses to “Lessons learned from eight years in business”

  1. Hi there,

    I looked over your blog and it looks really good. Do you ever do link exchanges on your blog roll? If you do, I’d like to exchange links with you.

    Let me know if you’re interested.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright 2011 Digital Tool Factory. All Rights Reserved. Powered by raw technical talent. And in this case, WordPress.