Profitable companies

Personal peace - and profit

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Today, there is a sense of things changing so radically that nothing will ever be the same. People believe we are in the midst of a big change, to the point where some are even preparing for an "escape," should one be needed.

I'm not talking about fringe survivalists. I'm talking about the types of people I work with every day: CEOs and entrepreneurs. People who run successful companies, people with employees and families and mortgages.

They are, in a word, decidedly unpeaceful right now. They are concerned, fearful, hesitant. They're still running their businesses, but at the same time, constantly looking over their shoulders or out to the horizon, trying to figure out what is going to happen next.

Forces of nature

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One part of life often teaches us lessons that we can use in other parts of life. Recently I watched as a crew of guys tried to wrestle with a very large runaway schooner, being pushed by 50-mile-an-hour gusts into the other boats in the harbor. The strong winds had caught the bow, so that instead of just backing nicely out of her slip and going out to sea as her skipper intended, the large wooden bowsprit (the part that sticks out beyond the bow) was blown into neighboring boats and was literally ripping them apart. The engine just didn't have enough power to overcome the forces of nature.

After scraping along two boats, and getting stuck up against some mid-channel pilings, the crew decided to give up and take her back to her dock. This was not her day to go out to sea.

The problem with outside investment

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I've always been more comfortable working with "bootstrappers" than the highly leveraged, venture-capital-funded companies. There always seemed to be a distinct lack of realistic thinking in the venture-backed companies.

I've always attributed the unrealistic approach of venture-funded businesses to several factors, including:


  • Multiple layers of "playing with other people's money" - in the sense that the CEO of the financed company is spending money obtained from VCs, and the VCs obtained that money from investors



  • No connection between "money the company has available to spend" and actually meeting customer needs



"Luv" those customers - and the profits

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Last week, over a 5-day period starting on Thursday, I flew to from Providence to San Jose to meet with a new client, then to San Diego and Tucson to visit family, then back to Providence. I flew Southwest all the way. It was pleasant, as it always is. Whenever I fly domestically, Southwest is my first choice.

Southwest is famous for its "love" theme, tenuously connected to Love Field in Dallas, where they started. It's such a departure from the other airlines, whose snarly bureaucratic behavior I've covered here before. What I want to focus on this time is how that "love" manifests itself in the customer's interaction with the airline.


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