Tropical MBA Notes 2015

Tropical MBA

TMBA275: How Should an Entrepreneur Invest $50,000?

Date: 2015-01-01

Link: Tropical Talk Radio

When you’re an entrepreneur you’re planning on a future you can’t predict.

Staying flexible (having cash on hand) as entrepreneurs is really important.

If you have the impulse to spend money make sure you’re spending it on an asset.

Start a customer-funded business.

TMBA276: Building Startups When You’ve Got Little Time and No Money

Date: 2015-01-08

Link: Tropical Talk Radio

Just because something is a good idea doesn’t mean it is a good idea for you.

A software startup is a really hard thing to bootstrap.

Know when to quit.

How it looks to the customer is the only thing that matters.

If your business is not appealing to investors it is probably a pretty good sign it is not a decent, scalable business.

Have unique IP or something that is really hard for competitors to copy.

Retention is definitely a challenge with a services business.

Brands should be conversational.

Just because you’re successful doesn’t mean you’re smart.

TMBA277: How Does Location Independence Affect Relationships and Families?

Date: 2015-01-15

Link: Tropical Talk Radio

With a family there is more than just an individual you’re dealing with.

With the referral network it is out of sight out of mind.

Travel with family brings on stress.

Travelling with kids is trading stress you have at home for a different stress.

Do research on climate.

TMBA278: An Episode For Those Who Need a Business Idea

Date: 2015-01-22

Link: Tropical Talk Radio

When you need business ideas the most you can’t seem to come up with them.

When you have a business you have to many other business ideas you can’t get to.

A lot of times things go from services to products.

Engage with your target market right away.

Opportunity doesn’t sell businesses. Fear sells businesses.

One of the best uses of money is to buy your time back.

Don’t hesitate to come up with your own certification.

TMBA279: Can Your Mastermind Offer Insurance Against Failure?

Date: 2015-01-29

Link: Tropical Talk Radio

Masterminds allow you to put yourself in a setting of people with common goals.

You can’t fail. The embarrassment of showing up having not done what you said you were going to do is always worse that doing what you said.

Good to have people who share your business values (such as bootstrapping vs. raising venture capital).

No more than six people.

Do weekly or biweekly.

Have a hot seat (one person each meeting is focused on).

Ask the high-friction questions (the questions that make people uncomfortable).

Don’t let it turn into a social hour.

Understand how to ask effective questions. (“What are you thinking but not saying?”)

Force people to get clear on their desired outcomes.

TMBA280: How Our Software Startup Died a Slow Quiet Death

Date: 2015-02-05

Link: Tropical Talk Radio

The product needs a CEO.

Market needs to have enough potential buyers.

TMBA281: An Episode For Those Who Like to Read

Date: 2015-02-12

Link: Tropical Talk Radio

Tropical MBA

Book: The Hard Thing About Hard Things

Ben Horowitz: “The hardest skill in business is managing your own psychology.”

Book: The War of Art

Book: Kitchen Confidential.

You can find out a lot about people by the books they read.

Book: The 80/20 Principle

Book: The Fourth Economy

The three core components of business are business system creation, management, and sales and marketing. Systems create leverage. People create leverage. Sales and marketing is what drives the horse.

Book: Work the System

Book: Vietnam – A History

Book: How to Win Friends and Influence People

Don’t over think stuff.

Book: Spin Selling

Book: Open by Andre Agassi

Book: My Life in Advertising

Book: Anti-Fragile

Book: Man’s Search for Meaning

Paper: Principles by Ray Dalio

Book: On the English Language by George Orwell

Book: Linchpin by Seth Godin

Book: Shogun

Book: The Winds of War

Book: Conquistador

Book: Finite and Infinite Games

TMBA282: Starting With Productized Services: Learn a Skill, Package It For Sale, Then Scale

Date: 2015-02-19

Link: Tropical Talk Radio

Find real customers and articulate what you can do to help them.

Keep your eyes on the prize.

For investment in your business if you go with your gut it will usually pay off.

Solving the bigger problems is what is going to keep things interesting.

TMBA283: Ways the Wealthy Do it Differently

Date: 2015-02-26

Link: Tropical MBA

All problems still exist at higher levels.

You have to take control of your own destiny when it comes to (money management).

It is not necessarily the case that if you’re working really hard that you’re working really smart.

Your effort doesn’t directly correlate with your profitability all of the time.

What got you to your first level of success isn’t what is going to get you to the next level.

Relationships, even in Internet businesses, are king.

Throw yourself into new social situations.

All of the stuff at the highest level is a negotiation–it is a conversation. It is not black and white.

Spend some time in the lobby. See if you can create some serendipity in your life.

TMBA284: Why Entrepreneurs are Flocking to Spain this Summer

Date: 2015-03-05

Link: Tropical MBA

Lifestyle businesses not necessarily needs to be small. It means the owner gets to set the tone for what goes down in the business.

The biggest thing people don’t understand is how important in-person relationships are.

You have to stop being a solopreneur and start being a business owner.

Being your own boss gives you freedom.

To set up a business in Spain all you need is a really good accountant.

TMBA285: So You’ve Got Some Time and Location Freedom, What’s Next?

Date: 2015-03-12

Link: Tropical MBA

The digital nomad lifestyle is just a different way to live.

The price you charge doesn’t matter as long as you’re making someone more than that.

Get your expenses as low as possible and focus your energy on growing your skillset.

Book: Bold by Peter Diamandis

We don’t understand the opportunities we have.

TMBA286: An Audio Response to Alex Blumberg and Gimlet Media’s “Startup” Podcast

Date: 2015-03-19

Link: Tropical MBA

Book: Traction

Have your distribution strategy mapped out before you build your business.

Launch your business by telling a story.

What is scarce isn’t great stories it is great storytellers.

There is a real value in being transparent.

Startups infuse you with purpose and excitement.

Once you’ve raid venture capital you can never walk away.

TMBA287: Ask Us Anything: Relationships, Business, Living Abroad, and More

Date: 2015-03-27

Link: Tropical MBA

It is very difficult to be a U.S. citizen and stay in one place (abroad) for a long amount of time because of the visa situation.

People on the Internet need good people for customer service, for podcast editing, for Internet marketing.

It doesn’t make sense to partner up until you know the type of business you are going to be running.

Location independence is a mindset and a cash flow issue.

There is a difference between corporate people and entrepreneurs.

Get an apprenticeship with the owner of a business.

Optimize for yourself.

Part of spiritual balance is teaching people things.

TMBA288: Ask Us Anything (Business) : Starting Productized Services, Offshore, Our Future Plans

Date: 2015-04-02

Link: Tropical MBA

Two things which are really undervalued are ambition and work ethic.

You’ve got to know what you want. If you are not going to write your own script then other people are going to write it for you.

Generally the best productized services come from people who understand an industry well enough to know the weaknesses of the service providers in that industry.

Clients are different than customers.

TMBA289: A Career Opportunity With Our Team + Distributed Teams vs. Offices and Thoughts on Side Projects

Date: 2015-04-09

Link: Tropical MBA

If you are a successful entrepreneur you are sitting on a lot of value that people would die to hear that information.

Timezone syncing is a big deal.

If you are working on collaborative projects with people and you are living on the other side of the world–it sucks.

If you have side projects it shows. You can’t hide where the creative energy is going.

TMBA290: A Conversation about Bootstrapping and Drop Shipping with Andrew Youderian

Date: 2015-04-16

Link: Tropical MBA

It takes longer to scale up a business if you bootstrap (instead of getting funding) but there are a bunch of other benefits.

A lot of times throwing money at a problem is not what it needs and you just see the money disappear.

Bootstrapping means rolling with your existing resources.

When you really want to watch your company grow plow money back into product development.

Long term a brand is going to be most defensible with Amazon eating the ecommerce world.

Use discourse for forum software.

It is important when somebody comes into your community to buddy them up with somebody.

TMBA291: I’ve Got Tons of Student Loan Debt, What Should I Do?

Date: 2015-04-23

Link: Tropical MBA

The digital nomadic lifestyle is not a fantasy. It is easier than ever to live this kind of life.

Lifestyle design is that people can live like they are rich without being rich yet.

90% of businesses require voice communication with teammates or clients.

It takes years to establish a business.

When you join the real world you get to set the degree timeline.

You can build a thriving business in three years if you stay focused on it.

The way to learn how to run a business is to actually start running one.

A small business is defined as anything less than $15MM in revenue.

If you are going to be an entrepreneur you are going to have to work for free for some time.

You’ve got to be willing to sit down and work.

Your credentials aren’t going to do anything for you when your ass is in the chair.

TMBA292: Are the Days of Having to Be a Starving Artist Over?

Date: 2015-04-30

Link: Tropical MBA

There is a reason why local musicians are local musicians.

The medium you are picking nowadays matters.

You don’t have to make it big. You can find yourself a niche.

You have got to find your audience.

You don’t want to be competing with everybody.

Find an avenue to do something different with your craft.

Your art has got to provide other people with something.

You’re going to know right away if you are earning your fans or not.

Now is the best time in the history of the world to be a painter because you have the Internet on your side.

TMBA293: Start a Business This Weekend Using the Software With a Service (SWaS) Business Model

Date: 2015-05-07

Link: Tropical MBA

If you build a piece of software you surely know how to use it better than anybody else.

One of the biggest headaches of making software is actually making it usable.

The content is what is important.

You have to (at least) give a crap about the niche.

Try to get sales earlier on.

Don’t wait (to blog or podcast) until you are ready to launch.

TMBA294: A Guide to Finding, Winning, and Creating Location Independent Apprenticeships

Date: 2015-05-14

Link: Tropical MBA

Eventually an apprentice becomes a master.

You can’t fake a podcast.

You can create opportunities for yourself.

Create a strong, personal brand.

It is an amateur attitude to assume that somebody needs to give you the green light in life.

Follow sites you like on RSS.

People underestimate how much people value their time.

Fun goes a long way for everybody.

Sometime oblique moves in are better than direct moves.

TMBA295: Our Hobo in Tokyo​ – Living on the Cheap in Japan

Date: 2015-05-21

Link: Tropical MBA

The secret to low cost living is living somewhere small.

You might have to do a lot of little optimizations to get a bit of progress.

Getting people to do stuff for free is like herding cats.

TMBA296: What Would Be Your Next Steps if You Owned This Business?

Date: 2015-06-12

Link: Tropical MBA

What is the truth of what this business is doing today?

A lot of time the innovations come from the edges.

At the worst case you are learning a lot.

(Just because you raise money) does not mean you have a viable business.

Breakdown cash flow projections in order to find a break even point.

In the food world your margins are lower so you volumes have to be higher.

If you are going to run a real business you have to have some margins built in–especially at the beginning because you are going to have all of these overhead costs.

Be honest about the process and understand what the real costs are.

George Jetson’s time is now.

The language of business is spreadsheets.

Projections are never going to be actual. All the detail helps you make decisions.

If you are doing a business by yourself you can appreciate how lonely it is.

TMBA297: Why You’re Going To Have To Become an Entrepreneur Eventually (So You Might as Well Do It Now)

Date: 2015-06-18

Link: Tropical MBA

Sticking your head down in a job for forty years is not a good trade anymore.

Jobs are decreasing relative to population growth.

Market is far more important that most people realize.

Being in a good market is a lot better than being smart.

Jobs are an obscuring layer between you and your entrepreneurial life.

Never give equity for something you can pay cash for.

TMBA298: A 10 True Clients Business Model Case Study

Date: 2015-07-02

Link: Tropical MBA

Learn from people one-on-one.

What are the same questions that are coming up over and over and over again?

For press you actually have to have something interesting for people to talk about.

It is so important to hire really good people. If you hire really good people and pay them more then you don’t need to hire them for as many hours a week.

Hire a bookkeeper to setup your initial books.

Solve the things that are top-of-mind.

It is easier to be profitable earlier on with a service based business than with a product.

X/Y Planning Network

TMBA299: Getting Beyond the Blog and Connecting with Like Minds In Real Life

Date: 2015-07-09

Link: Tropical MBA

Each place whispers something to you.

Cities for summer:

  1. Barcelona
  2. Austin
  3. New York City
  4. Ho Chi Minh City
  5. Bangkok
  6. Chaing Mai
  7. San Francisco
  8. Prague
  9. Berlin
  10. Melbourne

Go in with the mentality that you are going to get as much value out of a conference as you can.

Hold a meetup around a topic for your business and community.

Go in and be vulnerable. You are there to soak knowledge.

TMBA300: Thoughts on Building a Small Business Culture

Date: 2015-07-16

Link: Tropical MBA

Everybody who has a multi-million dollar business has a team.

Even if you can’t hire people now knowing that is the direction you are going will affect how you build your business.

Understand how much a time zone change can have an effect on a business.

If you’re going to have a creative business collaboration is key.

Having four hours of overlap a day is key to getting things done.

In the beginning cut your salary in half.

Pay your people more than you make (at the beginning) because you are building an asset.

Optimize for learning not for earning (when looking for a job).

Make the culture about the business.

At the end of the day you want to build a team around people who are super pumped about the work you are doing on a day-to-day basis.

Get everyone talking to each other and not through you.

Customers have more market intelligence than you do.

Group calls of more than two or three people are wildly inefficient.

TMBA301: 2015 Packing List Updates

Date: 2015-07-30

Link: Tropical MBA

Audio-Technica 2100 microphone is a USB microphone that is dynamic.

Use a laundry sack as you really want a way to keep your laundry away from your clean stuff.

JBL Flip2 Portable Speaker

Not all cool and useful technology needs to be expensive.

Noise cancelling headphones are well worth the money if they have some durability.

TMBA302: Launch Lessons Learned and Details on Our October Event

Date: 2015-08-06

Link: Tropical MBA

Words are important.

Create a strong incentive for people to buy early.

You need to have a strong logic (when selling early tickets for an event) and be willing to stick to your guns.

(Pricing) from $0 to $1 is harder than from $500 to $1,000.

When you have high dollar product you target an audience that is not price sensitive.

Successful people don’t have a lot of time to evaluate your stuff.

Bundling is power.

If you don’t have confidence in your sales process your customers won’t trust your logic and won’t act.

TMBA303: 7 Things To Consider When Selling Your Business

Date: 2015-08-13

Link: Tropical MBA

Most small businesses you never exit from. They either wind down or you go out of business.

You should know who you’re going to meet in the process (of selling your business).

Be 100% honest and transparent with your staff.

Until you have money in your bank account there is no deal.

Get as much experience from your peers as you can.

All buyers want to feel like they are getting a great deal.

It is really important to get your financials in order from day one.

It is hard to get a good valuation number (when your business is growing).

(Buyers) are not comfortable with staff turnover.

TMBA304: The Power of Under Optimization

Date: 2015-08-20

Link: Tropical MBA

Anybody who is living the entrepreneurial lifestyle has made some very significant decisions in their life to get there. It doesn’t just happen.

Just get started.

Business is not how to handle your successes but how to overcome the daily failures.

Build SOPs.

TMBA305: Building Teams of A Players

Date: 2015-08-28

Link: Tropical MBA

When you’re 0-15 employees every one of your employees has to be an A player.

When you get up in the morning you’ve got to be motivated to work on your stuff.

As an entrepreneur your goal is to capture your best creative energy.

If you find yourself not insulated from the day-to-day business you are probably working with a lot of B players.

A players loved to be challenged and criticized. They are problem solvers. They demand to work with other A players.

A players are competitive by nature. They want to win. They want to see results.

Just as important as hiring A players is getting rid of B and C players.

When you are hiring people it is a two-way street.

A players don’t just want a job–they want the right job.

It takes between six and twelve months of somebody working in your business to find out if they are an A player. You need to have systems and processes in place to determine if they are not an A player and to kick them out as fast as possible.

TMBA306: Listener Mailbag: The Aftermath

Date: 2015-09-10

Link: Tropical MBA

It is just as easy to make a million bucks as it is to make ten.

The whole point of a lifestyle business is that it doesn’t need to change.

You need to be an A-player in order to attract A talent.

You find your people in a lot of non-obvious places because if it is too obvious a bunch of posers are going to be there.

Part of preparing for (shit hitting the fan) is preparing for success.

Money and power can cloud your vision.

People can have different trajectories.

A lot of times partnerships get created are that people are short on cash.

TMBA307: The One Where a Business Starts on the Show

Date: 2015-09-24

Link: Tropical MBA

There are some pretty clear upsides and some pretty clear downsides to starting a productized service business.

You’re almost a consultant in the beginning.

SWAS: Software With a Service (where you use a product to deliver a productized service)

Fives steps are:

  • Identifying a market problem.
  • Identifying your business goals.
  • Crafting your offer.
  • Developing your logo and branding.
  • Delivering your service.

After you’ve spent a certain number of years in an industry and honing your skills you start to realize there are best practices.

Freelancing and consulting can both become kind of a trap.

To get a business started you really need a couple of anchor clients to see what they need.

Every business starts with a sales letter.

It is important to work directly with the anchor clients and to document that process.

TMBA308: So You’ve Been Asked to Speak at a Conference

Date: 2015-10-29

Link: Tropical Talk Radio

To write a good talk takes at least forty hours.

Write paragraphs and try to figure out good stories.

Find a combination of actionable advice and good stories.

Good stories are what makes a great talk.

Nobody like bullet points.

Lead with a punch line and then tell the story.

Most successful talks have a high level concept that is then illustrated by a case study or an anecdote.

Pulling off a performance is a lot different than pulling off a talk.

In a 200 person audience the energy is only pressure (on you).

You can download free slide libraries.

TMBA309: “Though We’ve Hit Over 100k MRR in Less Than a Year, I Still Feel Like an Outsider”

Date: 2015-11-05

Link: Tropical MBA

Make work that you really love and is really interesting.

The strength of the founder ends up being the weakness of the company. The founder doesn’t make it a priority to externalize that skillset.

Face to face meetings (Google Hangouts) are really important when you are working remotely.

Goals (for a company) create a lot of anxiety in people.

Do things in your industry that other people aren’t doing.

TMBA310: A Conversation About Writing Books

Date: 2015-11-12

Link: Tropical MBA

If you’re going to be doing a bunch of hard work anyway be strategic at what life script you are investing that hard work in.

40,000 to 45,000 is the minimum for a book. to block yourself off the Internet (to force yourself to write)

TMBA311: Productized Part II : ​​”Putting Yourself Out There Can Hurt”

Date: 2015-11-19

Link: Tropical MBA

There is some uncertainty with moving forward with any business.

Putting your ideas out there for judgement isn’t always easy.

Standardization becomes very powerful.

Recurring revenue isn’t just about lifetime value.

TMBA312: Let’s Talk Tax

Date: 2015-11-26

Link: Tropical MBA

Never means you earn income now and you never have to pay taxes on it. Example is the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (Form 2555).

Later is when you don’t have to pay taxes on income earned abroad until you bring the income back to the United States.

Get good at bookkeeping. That doesn’t mean that you have to get good but you have to delegate it to a machine or delegate it to a human.

Tell the truth. Don’t bullshit on your tax returns.

TMBA313: Should I Cut Bait On This Business?

Date: 2015-12-03

Link: Tropical MBA

Think bigger.

Everybody who is in entrepreneurship has a feeling of impostor syndrome at any given time.

TMBA314: The 3D Revolution

Date: 2015-12-10

Link: Tropical MBA

There are different types of 3D printing.

There are only about 150 materials that can be used for 3D printing.

(When splitting royalties) get ready for the marriage but plan for the divorce.

It is conceivable that our children or their children will go into a store with nothing in it but 3D printers.

TMBA315: Talking Smart Drugs

Date: 2015-12-17

Link: Tropical MBA

The best time to take them depends on the effect you are going for.

Focus enhancing drugs tend to make whatever is in front of you more interesting.

There is a lot of wisdom in our bodies.

You have to be careful and you have to be self-directed.

There are huge differences in how they affect people.

The ability to take care of one’s brain is now more important than ever.

TMBA316: How Much Should I Be Meeting With My Team?

Date: 2015-12-24

Link: Tropical MBA

Never blow off meetings.

If you blow off meetings it means you shouldn’t be having those meetings.

Don’t have meetings that aren’t necessary.

One-on-one is the most efficient type of meeting.

(As the owner) when you leave the group meetings it becomes everybody else’s responsibility to move things forward.

There always has to be a leader in the meeting.

Slack can work as a watercooler but is not a substitute for meetings.

TMBA317: How to Embrace Changing Priorities

Date: 2015-12-31

Link: Tropical MBA

Portland is more artisanal than Austin.

What you do shapes a large part of your life. So does where you live.

As people are becoming more remote and mobile they are having the freedom to go somewhere and that allows people to congregate around shared interests.

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