Monthly Archives: November 2012

Social Isolation Working From Home

That’s another thing I’ve struggled with. You know, it’s like… I’m not really happy, and it’s partially because I don’t have the social network that I want/used to have. Like yeah, I have all the stuff I need, I can do what I want for the most part, and for a while I was like cool, that’s all I need. But I actually miss the social interaction part. When you don’t have it for a while, you don’t really miss it (perhaps this is a neurological defense mechanism???). But then when you get a taste of it again, and then it ends, it’s like… man, that was awesome. Forget hanging out here surfing the net on Friday night by myself. Sure, I’m content, but it’s not awesome. Doing stuff is cooler when you do it with other people who appreciate it and who are on your wavelength.

That’s not to say sometimes I don’t need time by myself to unwind, but I remember at least one day in particular when we started partying at like 1 or 2pm, and then at like 6pm they were gonna go do something but I had to go home and take care of something for like an hour or two and then I was gonna meet up with them later, and when I walked into my place it was like instant social withdrawal. I was like this sucks ass, I wish I didn’t have to do this thing. I don’t remember what I had to do, but I remember surfing the net while I was waiting for something, and I was like lol, the internet is dumb and boring. I wanna go rejoin the party. But then shortly thereafter I started to revert back into homeostasis or whatever you want to call it. I was like “well, this is pretty cool. If I don’t go meet up with them again then whatever.” Or maybe I found something hilarious on the internet that distracted me. Maybe you could say I “lost state” and went back “inside my head”? I dunno.

Like, the level where I’m at now, I wish I was there 5 years ago. Don’t get me wrong; I still suck. But I feel like I can see and understand things a bit better than I did before.

Not All Customers Are Created Equal

When you first start your business, you’ll be excited, and you’ll be even more so when you get your first order from your first client.  You’ll think, “Yes! I’m on my way!”

You’ll be enthusiastic for every client you get and every sale you make.  But eventually, you may start to realize that not every customer is the same.  You may even find that some are not worth working with at all.

Some people are never satisfied.  You can deliver exactly as promised and they won’t be happy; in fact, they may be noticeably unhappy.  You can over-deliver and they still won’t be happy.  If you know in your heart that you fulfilled your end of the agreement, then do not let this get to you; they are just unhappy, dishonest people.  Being unhappy with the final product is part of their modus operandi.  It’s not you.  It’s them.  On the other hand, if you took short cuts and cut corners, then they may actually have a reason to be unhappy.

Some people want huge discounts upfront with a promise of becoming a return client in the future.  This is just part of their strategy; they have no desire of ever becoming a return customer.  Instead, they will go onto the next person and ask them for a big discount in return for placing huge orders in the future.  This person goes from business to business trying to get discounts.  It’s how they operate.  Avoid them.  Now if you want to give discounts to return customers with a history of place orders with you, that’s an entirely different story, and there’s nothing wrong with that if it helps foster a good business relationship.

Some people will nickel and dime you to death.  They’ll spend an hour negotiating with you over $5.  Now this one needs a little clarification.  If you sell something that costs $30, then that $5 may be significant.  In that case, they’re basically asking for a > 10% discount.  Negotiate accordingly.  But some people will spend an hour arguing with you over $5 on a $5,000 transaction.  Use your own discretion.

Still other people have no shame.  They’ll ask you up front for proprietary secrets or data on your other customers.  If these people are this shady before you even do business with them, imagine how shady they will be when money is on the line.  Avoid.

As you gain experience, you will start to get a sense for the people that might not be worth the hassle to work with.  It’s hard to turn down business, but remember that time spent on a problem customer is time that you aren’t spending working on your business.

When you are first starting out, and also during slow times, you may start to feel a bit desperate for business.  You might be more willing to give people discounts that you wouldn’t otherwise give.  Remember that many businesses follows the 80/20 rule.  Eighty percent of your business will come from 20% of your customers.  It’s probably ok to turn away the ones who are going to be difficult to work with.

Choosing A Name

You would be surprised how hard it is to come up with a name for your business.  It reminds me of a commercial I once saw where this guy won a huge lottery and bought his own island, and he joked that the hardest part was thinking of a name.

A lot of people think you have to pick something descriptive of what you do.  But do you?  Look at how many companies have names that are completely unrelated to what they do, like Apple, for example.  Now of course, everyone associates Apple with computers, but that’s because of branding and marketing.  Sometimes a name is just the last name of the people who started the company.  Sometimes it’s just a made up word, like Twitter.  What is a twitter, anyway?

Maybe it’s something that sounds specific but is actually generic, like “Applied Systems.”  Ohh, that sounds cool.  But wait… what kind of systems and how are they applied?

Then you need to make sure you can get the domain name of whatever name you choose.  When people look for your company, they’re instinctively going to type your company name with a dot com at the end of it and assume that’s your website.  Is it?  This can be a huge hurdle, since as many people will tell you, “all the good domain names are taken!”  So you either need to find something weird and unused, or buy the domain name of your company from some “domaineer” (read: cyber squatter) who has been holding onto it for years and wants an arm and a leg.

And you need a logo to help with marketing and branding.  It can be fancy or it can be simple, it just has to be memorable.

It sounds simple, right?  How hard can thinking of a name be?  Ha, wait until you try it.