Browsing Business

What am I working on? Shepherd!

January17

Shepherd is like browsing the best bookstore in the world.

I want to help people discover books in a new way and help authors connect with new fans, sell more books, and build a larger fan base. It has been a blast to work on so far and the last 3 weeks have been so much fun. Right now I am emailing amazing authors to see if they will recommend five books on a subject they are passionate about. The response has been great and I hope to have my first 100 pages by the end of the month.

I am aiming to launch the beta in March or April. I am working with an amazing developer on the backend now. It is rare to find someone with whom you communicate so well with and it makes all the difference. The same goes for the designer whom I’ve been working with on a variety of projects for the last 4 years.

I got a webpage up Friday that shows some mockups so authors can understand how it will all work for them.

How does it work?

We work with authors to get the 5 best books on a topic they are experts in and why they recommend each of those books.

Then, we make it easy for readers to follow their curiosity from topic to topic. It is like browsing the best bookstore in the world.

If you are an author, we would love to work with you to create a book recommendation on a topic of your choice. Then, we promote you and your book on that same list forever. This is just one aspect of how we help authors to promote themselves and sell more books.

Fun stuff!

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My First External Office Since 2006!

January6

Today is my first day working in an external office since 2005/2006 when I had my own little office in the Dublin Enterprise Center in Dublin Ireland.

I rented an empty storefront near where we live. It is about 60m2, so a bit big, but that means I can keep my bike here and plenty of room to work on it in the dark back. Because of Covid, I wanted something that wasn’t in a shared hallway and this makes it really easy to get my back in and out. Plus I don’t have to worry about noise and I can setup my bike on a bike trainer to do some indoor rides here.

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Shutting down my entrepreneur sites.

April27

I am doing some spring cleaning and taking these 3 sites offline. They were a fun project and reminded me how much I hate working with WordPress :). I pulled the content over here for now that I had written.

I launched these to test a larger project I was playing with (to build a community for entrepreneurs). I am glad I did the tests as I learned that entrepreneurs really don’t have time for anything as most of them are in a pretty hectic place. And, I got a good look at the content mills around that entrepreneur space.

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Thoughts on where our economy goes from here…

March16

My worry is how do we get out of this mess.

Everyone is hoping for a V-shaped recovery, but I do not see that as likely.

Not only did the USA botch just about everything they could, but the current response is still too slow. Europe dragged its feet but at least now they are now serious with countrywide lockdowns. I do not think a V-shaped recovery is likely for Europe either though… especially because tourism is such a huge part of GPD here.

The USA is going to have to go into lockdown to get this under control. It is already happening unofficially which is worse than officially, an unofficial lockdown is just going to prolong the pain. At least with an official lockdown, you pick the times and everyone has to go into lockdown together to stop the spread and give the USA time to respond.

Who is most affected right now? (USA numbers)

  • Restaurant industry – 15.3 million workers.
  •  Retail – 15 million workers.
  • Air Transport – 10 million workers.

The unemployment numbers for March/April are going to be crazy as restaurants are going layoff entire teams and close for ~1 to 2 months. I can’t imagine retail is going to be much different. All these businesses have thin margins and do not have savings to weather 2 to 3 months with no sales. And, that is a lot harder to bail out than 3 or 4 big companies.

And workers? In the USA, unemployment benefits max out at ~$800 a week and they do not count tips. That is a lot of people who won’t have money to pay rent or buy groceries.

The investor Warren Buffett once gave a famous warning:

“It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who’s been swimming naked.”

Not only do we face a severe problem in labor, but we are about to see which businesses have fucked up their balance sheets with cheap debt. Given the amount of cheap credit floating around this is going to be interesting. Especially since the FED is going to do everything possible to help, but you can’t create consumer demand when you are facing an existential threat like this. I can easily see companies getting bailed out or loans at 0%, but that is adding even more dead wood to their balance sheet. It might be the only choice and hope to burn it all down later with a *natural* recession.

Some thoughts…

  • You might see the French/Spanish/Italian GDP’s crash by 5% to 10%. Tourism and what it supports is huge and that is all going bye-bye. Maybe if Europe can get this under control fast they could at least retain EU to EU tourism. And, China might step back up in a few months if Europe can clear this. But, I could easily see the EU banning the USA from visiting for a long period if they can’t get this under control (or requiring records/tests in order to visit).
  • Trump is an absolute idiot and could drive the USA right off a bridge. I could easily see him declaring no lockdown… thus putting half the USA in lockdown and half not (he has already done this with poor leadership). Then this becomes a battle between cities and states and prolongs the economic damage.
  • You are starting to see problems in the corp bonds/loans market. If companies were counting on refinancing debt or getting that to fund x project that might all disappear. Then you have fewer companies investing in the company, downsizing, and this gets even worse.
  • The USA has a terrible social safety net and the medical system is beyond broken. Maybe this will spawn real fixes to that system… but maybe not. I’d love to see us fix unemployment, improve social security, add paid sick and vacation days, and more. But until poor people and the young start to vote that will NEVER HAPPEN.

So you might ask… why not just weather the virus?

We could, but there is a huge RISK there.

Society doesn’t tolerate mass breakdowns well… if 60% of Americans get Covid the entire medical system breaks down.

You will have people dying at home from both Covid as well as other things. And, because you can’t handle the breakdown you see a much higher death rate. Say the death rate is 3.4%, which is ~7 million people in the USA. That doesn’t count all the other people who will die because they can’t get a bed at a hospital.  Even in South Korea where it is 0.8% right now, that would be ~1.7 million people (keep in mind they have a ton of active cases, their patients are way younger than the average because of the cult that caught it, and their hospital system is still working).

People are already terrified and panicked. They are not going to overcome that and go eat out and buy things while watching everyone die. And, if they have to watch 1.7 to 7 million people die over the next 12 months the political implications are HUGE. Which should scare the shit out of everyone.

I hope we see some leadership emerge in the USA. People forget how important that is in times like this. Can we get Zombie FDR back in the White House?

 

posted under Business, covid 19, Dangers To World | Comments Off on Thoughts on where our economy goes from here…

Shepherd work analytics app released!

October9

We did a big release last week of our new free work analytics app. It is based on what we have learned over the last 9 months and crunches 12 months of calendar data and shows you how much of your life you have for deep work and shallow work, how much you spend in meetings, a bunch of stats, and compares you to co-worker and global averages.

We had a good release on Product Hunt which was fun :)

We also rebranded from Execution.com to Shepherd.com, I am really looking forward to launching the wider site and new pivot in maybe 6 weeks or so.

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My digital nomad review of Project FI.

July7

As a digital nomad, the first thing I would do when I got off the plane was to find a SIM card so I could get my phone working, and my little 3g/4g modem as well (the modem was harder as you had to be able to find specific tech settings for the gateway etc). This was always a bit of a pain, especially with language differences. That is why I was really excited about trying Project FI as it is a Google-driven cell phone plan that promises your SIM works around the world the minute you land and with a low rate on data of $10 dollars per 1GB (plus if you are over a certain amount it freezes).

Why is this awesome?

I can land somewhere and not have to worry about it knowing that my iPhone works fine with fast 4G. And, for free Google will give you a data SIM for your modem that will also work. So it is super easy to get my laptop connected even if the place I am staying has internet problems.

I have been very happy with the results. I did a trip to Spain/Portugal with my wife and our phones worked flawlessly as we drove through both locations. We even got a quick stomach bug, and with internet broken at our AirBNB, I watched about 8 hours of Amazon Prime while in bed and it worked fantastically. Back home in Colorado, the service has been great too. Usually, we have problems in our house with our old AT&T plan and a bad signal, but no problems so far and wifi calling works great inside our house.

I REALLY hope to see them drive down the cost per GB soon, as that price per GB has been stuck for some time. Oh, and their iPhone support doesn’t allow you to pair with your laptop, but I just grabbed a cheapish 4G modem and their free data SIM as that is faster anyway. Otherwise, I am very happy with the service :)

If you decide to sign up for Project FI please use this link as I get a little off my monthly bill if you sign up :).

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Cool method to get a CEO’s attention.

January26

I tried a method I ripped out of this book and it worked! I wanted to get in touch with a very cool CEO (Shopify) so I created a 3 foot by 2-foot poster with a story pulled from internal culture about him. Here it is…

We exchanged a few emails so it seemed to help get some attention. Fun stuff :)

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Customer dev interviews, pretty cool!

October28

It has been about 5 weeks since I started back full time on a new business. I’ve been doing a ton of customer development interviews to test assumptions and try to narrow in on where we want to build our product. What are customer development interviews?

“Meeting with customers during the early stages of a new product definition provides an understanding of the underlying needs, opinions, and motivations behind their behavior. It validates assumptions about the problems we are willing to solve and informs a value proposition. At the same time, we have the chance to develop ideas or hypotheses to be tested with a successive quantitative research.” More here…

Basically, they are a way to learn what problems people are having, test if they are really trying to fix them with time/money, and test your own guesses. As you learn more you keep refining the interview until you feel you are ready to start building. And, the hope is you can get 5 to 10 beta clients who are willing to commit before you build your product. This is a new process so I have been learning a lot. I wish I had used this at past businesses :).

So, where am I at?

  • I’ve done 31 interviews on general meeting frustrations.
  • I’ve done 16 interviews around employee retention.
  • I’ve done 2 interviews on meeting solutions we have narrowed it down to and think we want to build a product around.
  • I’ve got another 20+ interview lined up to further test what we have narrowed down the problem too.

I really like the process and I’ve gained some insights we would not have found elsewhere. I’ll update where we end up as we figure it out…

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Starting a new business! Excited!

September27

I am back to working full time as of Sep 17th on a new business that I am starting along with a partner. I am very excited & happy to be working on something :).

The new business started as a fun project to crunch the last 12 months of calendar data and show people how much of their life they spend in meetings (you can see my meeting profile here). If you want to try it, just go here and it will generate a report on how much of your life is spent in meetings too.

The next step is to build out a company version so that a business can gain insight into how much meetings are costing them in time and money. Then we are going to help them cut down on meetings that are not needed, reduce bad meeting habits, and make meetings a joy to be in. Plus the company saves a ton of money that goes from meetings to real work, and a happier team means higher retention and drive.

This really connects me to a big passion I have… which is to see more businesses that are run incredibly well run. Which is part of my much bigger passion to build tools that empower the team to do incredible work and enjoy going to work. There are too many companies stressing out their people and not realizing that is destroying their team and eventually the company.

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Recession Time?!?!?!?

March3

Man what an awesome time to be alive in this world :)

And scary… but that is also kinda fun. I just want to see if Trump is going to start a trade war and how that affects this new globalized world we all live in. Will it cause a true depression? Recession? War even? Or maybe even help despite every economist you can find saying it is a terrible idea? Or not even make it to implementation due to incompetence? Or just be a blip that gets rolled back in 2 to 4 years?

I find it odd that Republicans want to help the country through trade protection but don’t want to protect the labor that creates those goods inside this country. Minimum wage increases or even match inflation? Nope… Increase the social safety net? Nope, they want to tear it down. Fixing health care so people can afford it? Nope…

Fun times :)

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Entrepreneurship + Parenthood

November16

My article on my fears around being a parent and entrepreneur got posted on the EO blog, check it out at Facing Your Fears: Parenthood and Entrepreneurship. Hopefully, it is a good read :).

I also started a site called Entrepreneur Parents which features crowdsourced advice from entrepreneurs on some questions around being a parent + entrepreneur. As well as a section for spouses to share their wisdom too. For example, What is the #1 piece of advice you would give to an entrepreneur who is about to be a parent? And, so far we have 3 great answers!

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ZenTribes!

July19

I am taking part in a new program co-founded by my good friend Cory, it is called ZenTribes and it brings together entrepreneurs for an 8 week program to talk about how to tackle some of the stresses and demands that life brings. We meet once a week for a few hours over video conference and I am pretty excited to be taking part. Dr. Sherry Walling is the other half of the program, and she has an AMAZING podcast called ZenFounder which is a fantastic resource for an entrepreneur and his spouse. I’ll write some more as I finish it up in 7 weeks :)

I recommend reading this post where Cory outlines how entrepreneurial groups have helped him (and his thoughts are spot on for my experiences in EO/Vistage). And, check out the ZenTribes FAQ here or the podcast here where they talk about why they created it.

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Advice For Entrepreneur Parents

May23

I just launched a new site that collects and shares advice for Entrepreneur Parents and their spouses. Lindsey and I received some great advice from fellow Vistage members and their spouses last year on balancing marriage, becoming parents, and entrepreneurship. When I looked online I couldn’t find much beyond the typical “top 10 ways entrepreneurs put on their pants”, so I decided to start a site to collect advice from real entrepreneurs on a variety of questions. Plus advice from and for spouses on how they tackle it all too.

Check out the site here, it is brand new so the advice is slowly being collected :)

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Business startup rates vs closures.

March2

Given the publicity and prestige given to startups and business owners you would think that the USA is in the middle of a huge entrepreneurship boom. The opposite is true, we are seeing some really worrisome numbers emerging around business startup rates (this is something I’ve been reading about through 2015 and 2016 and it has me concerned, still doing a lot of research).

4 scary facts!

1. The number of businesses being started has fallen for decades. For the first time in 2008 the number of businesses closing was greater than those being started. Why is this worrisome? New companies are the ones that create 95% of new jobs. Existing companies create very close to 0 jobs when you total it up. The number of employees at new companies versus established has dropped from around 3.8% to 2%.

Click to enlarge:

2. Between 2010 and 2014 only 104,600 firms were created. Between 1983 to 1987 ~500,000 were. We are in a downward trend and the question is why. Demographics? Internet? Changing employment needs or habits? What?

3. The number of metro areas with more business startups than closures has shrunk consistently over the last 40 years. Prior to 2008 80% of metro areas had positive rates, in 2009 that was only 11%. Even after the recovery from the recession only 60% have positive business startup rates (2014).

Click to enlarge:

4. Over time it also appears that much smaller number of metro areas are the ones responsible for the bulk of new firms and subsequent employement growth.

In 1983 to 1987 29 metro areas were responsible for 50% of new firms in the USA.

In 1992 to 1996 30 metro areas were responsible for 50% of new firms in the USA.

In 2002 to 2006 14 metro areas were responsible for 50% of new firms in the USA.

In 2010 to 1014 5 metro areas were responsible for 50% of new firms in the USA.

Given Americans relocate for jobs 50% less than a decade ago that means that the bulk of these advancements are happening in just 5 metro areas. You don’t even want to see the stats outside of metro areas as small town america’s business start rates are hurting really bad.

I highly recommend you read the full report that Economic Innovation Group put out. There have also been a lot of stories in the WSJ and similar over the last couple years. Thanks to EIG for some of the screen grabs I added to this post, really impressed with them spotting this trend and starting to bring attention to it.

PS. Apologies for spelling/grammer, super late when I wrote this.

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Metal Site5 Business Cards…

September10

I found these when cleaning out boxes :), this is an old Site5 marketing experiment with metal business cards for VIP customers when we were testing something.

IMG_6177

IMG_6176

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This is bwb’s personal blog so he can share his thoughts with the world, however scary or silly they might be. Plus family and friends can track what I am up too, and where I am in the world.

I am pretty simple. I love Mangos. I love the ocean, although mostly at sunset as I’m a ginger. I love to travel, eat exotic food, read, and use my imagination. I love creating and developing ideas into businesses, understanding how all businesses work, and building cool stuff. I am a globalist and see the entire world as my responsibility and playground. And, I am married to an amazing woman who makes life even more fun :)! And, we are now the proud parents of Calico Jack :).


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