A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

Not sure?

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

Not sure? Yes you are. You’re just scared. Which is understandable. But you’re sure. Is employee #2 not working out, or does she maybe just need more time? If you have to ask, you know the answer, you just don’t want to do the difficult thing.

How to simplify complex decisions by cleaving the facts

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

We all face complex business decisions for which there is no one, correct answer, and yet a strong and occasionally permanent decision is required of us. Sometimes the puzzle is created by fundamental uncertainty inherent in the decision.

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Your non-linear problem of 90% utilization

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

Does it feel like everyone is working very hard, all the time, and yet not accomplishing as much as everyone would like? Maybe this is why. Suppose a web server is running at 50% of its full capacity.

No wait, of course THAT is the single most important SaaS metric

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

The single most important SaaS metric is retention , because cancellations indicate lack of product/market fit, no matter the cause (price, features, severity of need, duration of need). If it cannot be fixed, it means the business is a failure even if other metrics are stellar.

Avoiding the trap of low-knowledge, high-confidence theories

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

We’ve all laughed at detailed renderings of constellations overlaying a paltry set of stars that are in fact quasi-random.

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Scaling by “delegation” isn’t good enough

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

Founding a company is a selfish act. It will consume every waking moment for the next 1-10 years. It’s an act of defiance and irreverence towards competitors and the status quo.

Satisficing vs Maximizing

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

“Maximizing” means expending time and effort to ensure you’ve solved something as best as possible. It requires exploration and analysis to ensure “the best” option hasn’t been overlooked, and that we have confidence in our evaluation of all options.

Should this startup exist? Converting 5W’s into existential justification

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

In American grade-school, we learn the “Five Ws” interrogatives: Who, What, When, Where, Why. And How. “How” is always tacked on like “Y” to the vowels.

The wrong question: Is now the right time to start a company?

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

The answer is always yes. But it’s the wrong question. I started Smart Bear in a recession (2002) and it went great. I’ve been explaining for eight years why recessions are a great time to start a company.

For marketing early startups: Deep, not wide

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

Watch a bunch of interviews of founders of successful companies, and here’s what you don’t hear: We tried eight different marketing channels — AdWords, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, social media, events, retargeting, SEO, guest-posting, PR, and so on.

Building in public forces true competitive advantage

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

What would happen if I forced you to develop all your precious, proprietary, secret-sauce code in a public Github repository? One thing would be: You would be judged.

The Lindy Effect on startup potential

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

The first 90 percent of the code accounts for the first 10 percent of the development time. The remaining 10 percent of the code accounts for the other 90 percent of the development time. — Tom Cargill, Bell Labs.

How do I figure out who my next important hire should be?

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

This is the perennial question for startups who have started to taste success, and are ready to invest in themselves in the form of new helping hands. The question is: How do you decide what role is most important to hire for?

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Look what we did

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

“You must be so proud of what you created” — the reflexive conclusion delivered by visitors to our building at WP Engine, struck by a beautiful place teeming with energy and activity, coming upon the little office of the founder. “What we created,” I always respond.

In its emptiness, there is the function of a startup

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

This article was originally published on the WP Engine Blog. Calm your freneticTL;DR twitchy-Twitter-brain for five minutes, and let some Chinese philosophy wash over you.

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Pricing determines your business

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

It’s often said that you shouldn’t talk about price during customer development interviews.

Why startup biz dev deals almost never get done

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

As the founder of WP Engine, I receive weekly emails from startups proposing a “win-win” deal. So far, approximately zero have resulted in an successful deal. Here’s the problem , and how you can change your approach to business development so that it can succeed.

How to measure the accuracy of forecasts

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

“There’s a 30% chance of rain today.” ” And then it didn’t rain. So, was the forecast accurate? Or what if it did rain. Does that mean the forecast was inaccurate? How do you hold forecasters accountable, when the forecast is only a probability?

What if there isn’t another 10x?

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

What if Dropbox is just an awesome file-sharing and backup service but not a universal key/value storage API? What if OpenTable is the perfect reservation system but nothing else? What if Yelp has ratings but can’t solve the logistics of food delivery?

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The unprofitable SaaS business model trap

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

Marketo filed for IPO with impressive 80% year-over-year growth in 2012, with almost $60m in revenue. Except, they lost $35m. It’s not impressive when you spend $1.60 for every $1.00 of revenue, force-feeding sales pipelines with an unprofitable product.

An eBook pricing model that resulted in $100,000 in sales

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

This is a guest post by Nathan Barry, in response to two other posts that previously appeared on this blog. Nathan is the author of Designing Web Applications , The App Design Handbook , and Authority: A Step-By-Step Guide to Self-Publishing.

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Fermi estimation for startup business models

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

Early in a company’s life, you don’t know anything. Often your best estimate of any metric or market behavior or business model component is at best accurate within a power of ten, for example “expected conversion rate between 0.5%

LARGE x RARE == DIFFERENT: Why scaling companies is harder than it looks

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

Something interesting happens when you run more than 1,000 servers, as we do at WP Engine. Suppose I told you that on average our servers experience one fatal failure every three years.

The Code is your Enemy

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

You’re a builder, a creator — whether a back-end programmer, a Linux hacker, a Javascript ninja, a UX magician, a designer. You make stuff.

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Visualizing the Interactions Between CAC, Churn and LTV

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

(Guest post by Gordon Daugherty. If you like this, go see his Shockwave Innovations blog ) Anyone that has taken an accounting class or learned basic business financials knows the interaction between key elements of a P&L (revenue, cost, expense) and a balance sheet (assets, liabilities, equity).

The only way to guarantee startup success

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

Everyone said this would be the most embarrassing moment in the band’s eight-year career. Depeche Mode had decided to play the Pasadena Rose Bowl — capacity 60,000 — for the 101st show of their 1988 tour.

Stop chopping yourself to pieces

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

My personal experience, confirmed by numerous studies, is: It’s faster to process email in batches rather than checking in 30 times/day. Humans cannot multi-task, they just complete both tasks slower, and with lower quality.

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Reframing the problems with “Freemium” by charging the marketing department

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

Seems like every third startup nowadays is using the “Freemium” business model: The lowest service tier is free, and the business is designed to get those users hooked and then upgrade to a paid plan.

The rise of the “successful” unsustainable company

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

It’s appalling what passes for “successful entrepreneurship” in the press or the Valley, but it’s not their fault.

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No, *I’ll* tell you the answer!

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

If you bet a startup will fail, you’ll be right most of the time, but not because you’re insightful.

Darwinian company growth doesn’t always select the best companies

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

“Survival of the fittest” is not the same thing as “survival of the best,” though not apparent at first glance. Fittest” means “most able to become a grandparent.” Sound weird?

Zero-sum marketing channels: Good or bad for a startup to pursue?

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

Many marketing channels are “zero-sum,” meaning that if one company wins a piece of the channel, other companies cannot also use that piece. Example: AdWords, where the price is set by the highest (dumbest?)

Refutation: An acquisition is always a failure

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

Oh how the media loves superlatives (but only because that’s what we click on and share). Jake Lodwick wrote an article on PandoDaily entitled “An acquisition is always a failure.”

“Stealth mode” and other f’ing brilliant strategies

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

Here’s some of my super-secret winning strategies from fifteen years of building startups. Stay in stealth mode until the last minute. The last thing any startup needs is people finding out about it. You can get attention later — that’s not difficult.

How Perfect Pricing got me 1500 Sales in 2 Days

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

This is a guest post by Sacha Greif – a designer and entrepreneur who recently sold thousands of copies of a self-published eBook that shows how to design a user interface step by step.

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Escorts, Startups, and the questionable promise of being your own boss

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

Why does a person shirk the relative reliability of a job to start a business? And don’t tell me about how jobs are just as unreliable.

Solving the Low-Budget Online Marketing Dilemma

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Your bootstrapped startup is finally off the ground. You’re able to spend $6000/mo on AdWords to drive leads. Sure the conversion rates could be better, and sure it’s not the best ROI on Earth, but on the balance it’s making money.

Laws of 10x found everywhere. For good reason?

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

We love stories more than science. A good story causes us to see patterns in noise. Maybe that’s the case with the idea that all manner startup phenomena conform to a sort of “10x Rule.”

How cold calling (properly) works better than AdWords

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

(Powered by LaunchBit ). Tweet. --> This is a guest post from Robert Graham — a solo bootstrapper who blogs about the experience. Robert has been working in software since 2005. He is a Ph.D. dropout who spent time working for Google. Someday he’d like to work for himself.

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The public invisibility of running mid-stage successful companies

A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks

Keith Rabois famously quipped , “I don’t know of a single successful CEO or entrepreneur who blogs regularly.” ” That was five months ago, and people are still talking about it. And agreeing. But why?

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