Long overdue update

One thing I try to express on here, probably quite poorly, is the mental state needed to be an entrepreneur. It is easy to type out what that means. Probably because it is different for everyone.
In the talks I have done I have tried to explain that if safety and security are high on your list of needs in life then punching a time-clock is probably the better choice for you.
The reason this is on my mind right now is that my latest venture is heading into areas I am  unfamiliar with. While I am very familiar with many aspects of it, creation, marketing, sales, execution, being able to pivot ideas, and what not I am also VERY unfamiliar with certain aspects.
Because of the nature of the business I could try to Boot-Strap it (Boot Strapping is paying for it all yourself and doing most everything yourself until it generates enough income to bring on others and expand that way) BUT, if I do that I am looking at much slower growth and the real possibility of just plain running out of money before I can get the business going well enough to support itself.  So here I am searching for “angel” investment to get us rolling fast so that I can then get Venture Capital investment. This means talking to a lot of people. A LOT of people. Telling them what we have and being rejected again and again. I do not care what any person tells you, no one likes rejection. Its how you handle it that really matters. I tend to get angry. I get angry because I must not have done a good job explaining or selling whatever it was that I was pitching. I get angry with myself.
Now anyone that knows me knows full well that anger is a motivating emotion for me in so many aspects of my life. Almost every business I have started was started out of anger or frustration. I try to be a better husband and father because it makes me angry when I see people ignoring their spouse or children. I try to be honest with people, even to the point of being a jerk, because I want honesty in return. I despise small talk and “yes people”.
That all said I will most likely be traveling and meeting with people who will not see the vision I have and it will frustrate me and probably anger me. That is not as appealing as it may sound. I hate…….HATE being away from my family. They are easily the most important thing in my life and when I am not by them I get mopey.
So while I am entering something amazing and exciting in the world  of business I am also aware of the path ahead of me. It’s going to have plenty of down days.
So I guess what I am saying through all of this is that if you want to be a true entrepreneur you have to be able to think long term. You have to know that there will be short term pain in order to achieve long term bliss.

Or I could just be whiney because it is cold outside

Mobcon is more than just a made up word

I’ve spent the last 2 days at Mobcon in Minneapolis. I was invited to present in the Mobdemo competition as an up-and-coming software system with Otterology.
I presented yesterday morning and will find out today around 5 today if we win. If we win we get $25,000. Super cool and can really help us get this monkey going.
The weird part is I am not a software guy. I could not write a line of code that would ever make sense. I could not build a website if you gave me a week. I’m a guy with an idea who then brought in people to do his evil bidding.
Honestly it makes me the best possible boss for this industry. I have NO IDEA what can not be done. I just say make it happen.
A lot of the conversation seems to be based on trying to use technology just because its there. We started our company because we had a problem and could not find a solution, not because we wanted a neat new toy.
I should not be surprised. I’m surrounded by people that eat, drink, and sleep tech. I believe if something does not  actually make my business and/or life easier then what the hell is it there for?

So here I sit, unable to understand the language they speak and nodding my head.

The guy speaking right now, Alexander Muse, is the founder of Shopsavvy. This guy and I may share a brain. I get the feeling he is much more tech savvy but he is hitting points I find amusing and interesting.

Oh well, more coffee and handshaking……

TGIF my ass

Here we are again on a Friday and while most people are looking at the weekend as a relaxing getaway I am not

2 days ago I was asked to present Otterology at Mobcon next week. Mobcon is a HUGE event where anyone is is anyone in mobile technology will be. It is quite an honor as only a few people get chosen to compete in the New mobile tech competition.
So here I am on a Friday night trying to get together my 3 1/2 minute pitch to dazzle the onlookers and walk away the winner. This weekend will be spent writing and re-writing and then trying to commit to memory what I have written down. Anyone that knows my memory knows what fun this will be, BUT this is a huge opportunity  for us to shine. A chance to get real feedback and people in the industry talking about what we are doing.

In case you are wondering what we are doing Otterology converts CSV reports from Square into an inventory tracking system. It also generates complete reports on sales, inventory, Profit and Loss, and everything else a $50,000 system will do BUT it does it on an ipad, iphone, laptop, or even a desktop and it can be used for just 40 bucks a month.

What we are doing is changing the entire way business can be done for the small and mid sized businesses who can not afford $50,000 systems that are rigid and limited.

We have also figured out how to make it work with Paypal and Shopify so I guess we will just begin taking over the world right now.

Keep thinking big or small, but make it happen. Planning is fun, but action gets shit done.
Enjoy your weekend slackers. Some of us will be working on making your life easier.

Bring out the Clowns

My Friend Butch wrote this. He is an entrepreneur and owner of HUGE Improv Theater in Minneapolis.
He has been a sounding board more than once in my ventures and has such an incredibly unique look at business that I can not help but admire the way he does it. It is rarely a wonder to me why people flock to his theater and give of their time, energy, and money when you listen to him talk.

Talking to a friend of mine yesterday really got me thinking about this again.
I talk to people all the time about my experience working on/starting/opening HUGE, and one of the most common themes I hear back from people is how they would be afraid to do something like that – and I agree with them, since I was for a long time – but almost everyone gets it backwards.

99.99% of people will tell you that they would be afraid of failing.
I think almost everyone is afraid of succeeding.

Sure, the potential consequences of failure are something to keep in mind if you’re mortgaging your house or taking on massive personal risk to fund your endeavor.  Yes indeed. Don’t be stupid. These are good things to think about – but these are just the details. These are things you can be smart about and make failure perfectly survivable, so that isn’t what stops people.

I don’t think the fear of being seen as a failure stops people either – especially since we can see time and again, in example after example, how the consequences of failure aren’t really as bad as we think we think they are.  And how we idolize people for not being afraid to try and fail and try again.  So it’s not that.

In fact, failing is one of the most acceptable things to do in many areas – because we place such a value on trying. We tell our kids to try, try again. We tell stories of famous people that failed over and over and kept trying new things. It’s an admirable thing to do – as long as you weren’t being blatantly stupid, continue to learn and continue to try.
It shows bravery in a certain way.

But trying to do something and failing still allows one very important thing that success does not – a way out.

If you attempt to open a theater or start a new business and it fails you can still move on, become something else later on, make radical changes or even learn from the failure to come back to try again later.
If you succeed? Then you are expected to know what you’re doing, have a plan that stretches well into the future and commit to it on a level that will really define who you are for a long time.
Now I’m a theater owner. Now I must learn and take on all the things that I am expected to know. Now I must know what to do next. Now I have to be willing and able to do it instead of just talking about how all the romantic notions of how I could have done it…if only.

And I think THAT is the most intimidating part – locking yourself down.
If you try something and fail, you still have the option to be anything you choose. If you try and succeed, you have chosen…at least for now.

If we got the theater off the ground and it went down in flames despite our best efforts – sure, there would be financial consequences for a while. But we would have at least tried, which is extremely important and admirable – and could still try again.
But we didn’t.
I joked about it in my toast at the One Year Anniversary Show, saying “we did 12 months of really hard work, now all that’s left to do is run this thing for the rest of our natural lives”.

When you compare the two possible outcomes of trying and their duration – I am willing to bet, if we’re being honest with ourselves and one another, that what stops us from making the leap is not the fear of hard, fast failure but the terrifying possibility of having to weigh ourselves against a long and uncertain success.

Butch Roy at Google+

Long overdue post

Sure it has been almost 2 weeks since I posted anything. Sure you are probably thinking I have forgotten you.
Well you would be correct.

I have been overwhelmingly busy with our new startup OTTEROLOGY. What we have created is amazing and because it is so amazing we are releasing it to everyone in the whole world. Maybe not everywhere. I am debating letting the French use it.
With this new project comes a whole new round of fear. Fear that must be managed and controlled with information. You see we are entering into something that, while we are confident in the product, we are unfamiliar with the exact process we are about to take a journey into. Fear comes from not knowing. We are flooding our brains to gather more information about how we do this and that is helping, but still there is much to learn and we have just begun.
We have enlisted the help of a group called DealPen based here in Minneapolis. They have been wonderful in showing us how, what and why we are going to need to do to make this thing the monster it needs to be. We really are onto something big and that is starting to actually sink in.

On a personal note tomorrow morning I am getting a vasectomy. Wish I could say I was looking forward to it but the worst part for me is that for the following three days I am “expected” to take it easy and just sit on the couch. That seems easy enough for most but I am still attending a meeting at 2PM because I have to and I think the idea of sitting in a business meeting with a giant ice pack on my goodies is funny as hell. Just sitting around does not come easy to me. I watched a movie this week for the first time in a long time because I just can not sit still for 2 hours. So the jist of the story here is not that the actual procedure is bothering me, but the fact that I am expected to enjoy taking three days on my ass with some sort of pleasure.

Also I got into a debate a week ago about the working ethic of people in America. I have a VERY dim view of workers in America and the other person seems to believe that everyone should be paid a million dollars despite sucking at what they do. Sure that is an over-simplification but so was his whole argument. I find it great that I am always arguing that point with people that cash paychecks and not those that write them. People seem oblivious to their own work ethic. Everyone thinks they work hard. Most people honestly believe that about themselves. Mostly because they have NO IDEA how hard work can really be.
The whole premise came from me saying that people not born in America always seem to be MUCH more willing to work harder and longer to achieve success.  The other guys point was that we should not have to work so hard and long. I can not even begin to wrap my mind around that. It seems more like an argument for mediocority  than anything else. Just because someone does not want to work more than the minimum, and lets be honest 40 hours is the minimum, they seem to despise and hate those that are willing to work more and harder. The argument is always “Why should I have to work more at something I do not like doing?”. I could not formulate my thoughts at the time because I am always taken back by this and it honestly takes me time to process it. The answer is simple. You DO NOT have to work more than the minimum, BUT you do not get to whine about others willing to work more, and harder than you to achieve more of what they want.

All done for now. I am sure I will write more this weekend as I will be sitting on my ass with ice on my goodies wondering why I ever thought that was a good idea.