One of The Best Articles You Will Read All Year

Aug 26 2013

I first met James Altucher when writing my other blog. I wrote a fun and money website and James, while brilliant, likes to have some fun while he’s hard at work.  James has started, sold, folded, and been part of more companies than almost anyone you will meet.  With that history he gets a ton of questions so James decided to answer all the question is one article on TechCrunch.   Here were a few that I thought appealed most to domain investors and/or their development

1) C Corp or S Corp or LLC?
C-Corp if you ever want to take on investors or sell to another company.

2) What state should you incorporate in?

6) Should you require venture capitalists to sign NDAs?
No. Nobody is going to steal your idea.

9) Should you barter equity for services?
No. You get what you pay for.

18) How do you get new clients?
The best new clients are old clients. Always offer new services. Think every day of new services to offer old clients.

19) What’s the best thing to do for a new client?
Over-deliver for the first 100 days. Then you will never lose them.

21) Should I ever focus on SEO?

24) I have lots of ideas. How do I pick the right one?
Do as many ideas as possible. The right idea will pick you

26) What is the sign of a professional?
– Going from bullshit product to services to product to SaaS product. (Corollary: the reverse is amateur hour).
– Cutting costs every day.
– Selling every day, every minute.
– When you have a billion in revenues, staying focused. When you have zero revenues, staying unfocused and coming up with new ideas every day.
– Saying “no” to people who are obvious losers.
– Saying “yes” to any meeting at all with someone who is an obvious winner.
– Knowing how to distinguish between winners and losers (subject of an entire other post but in your gut you know — trust me).

27) When should I hire people full time?
When you have revenues

29) Should I get an office?
No, not unless you have revenues

31) Should I pay taxes?
No. You should always reinvest your money and operate at a loss.

35) When should you have sex with an employee?
When you love her and the feeling is mutual.

37) When should you give a raise?

41) What if one client is almost all of my revenues?
Treat them very nicely. Don’t forget the Christmas gift basket.

45) What’s the best way to value a company?
Ask yourself (no BS): How much would it cost to recreate the technology, services, brand and customers you have already built. Then quadruple it and see what people would pay.

46) Should I ever worry about the news or the economy?
Absolutely not. The best businesses are started in horrible economies.

47) What happened to all of my friends?
You don’t have anymore friends.

50) How do I prepare for a meeting?
Know everything about the clients: competition, employees, industry. Over-read everything.

52) Should I give stuff for free?
Maybe. But don’t expect free customers to turn into paying customers. Your free customers actually hate you and want everything from you for nothing, so you better have a different business model.

55) Should I go to industry parties and meetups?

56) Should I blog?
Yes. You must. Blog about everything going wrong in your industry. Blog personal stories that you think will scare away customers. They won’t. Customers will be attracted to honesty.

57) Should I care about margins?
No. Care about revenues.

58) Should I spin-off this unrelated idea into a separate business?
No. Make one business great. Throw everything in it. Do DBAs to identify different ideas.

62) Should I have sex with an employee?
Stop asking that.

64) Should I even start a business?
No. Make money. Build shit. Then start a business.

65) Should I give employees bonuses for a job well done?
No. Give them gifts but not bonuses.

66) What should I do at Christmas?
Send everyone you know a gift basket.

67) If my customer just got divorced, what should I say to him?
“I can introduce you to lots of women/men.”

68) When should I give up on my idea?
When you can’t generate revenues, customers, interest, for two months.

73) My client called at 3 a.m. Should I tell him to respect boundaries?
No. You no longer have any boundaries.

74) I made a mistake. Should I tell the client?
Yes. Tell him everything that happened. You’re his partner. Not the guy that hides things and then lies about them.

78) Should I quit my job?
No. Only if you have salary that can pay you for six months at your startup. Aim to quit your job but don’t quit your job.

80) I have too much competition. What should I do?
Competition is good. It shows you have a decent business model. Now simply outperform them.

81) My wife/husband thinks I spend too much time on my startup?
Divorce them or close your business.

85) I undercharged. What should I do about it?
Nothing. Charge the next client more.

89) I have a lot of traffic but no revenues. What should I do?
Sell your business. There’s only one Google. (Well, there are two or three Googles: Facebook, Twitter … )

90) I have no traffic. How do I get traffic?
Shut down your business.

91) Should I hire a PR firm?
No. Do guerilla marketing. Read “Newsjacking” and “Trust me I’m Lying.” PR firms screw up from beginning to end. The first time I hired a PR firm, instead of sending me my contract they accidentally sent me their contract for “Terry Bradshaw.” He was paying $12,000 a month. Was it worth it for him?

92) My competition is doing better than me across every metric. What should I do?
Don’t be afraid to instantly shut down your business and start over if you can’t sell it. Time is a horrible thing to waste.

94) Is it unethical to run my business from the side while still at my job?
I don’t know. Did God tell you that in a dream?

96) XYZ just sold for $100 million. Should I be valued at that? I’m better!
No, you should shut up.

99) I just started my business. What should I do?
Sell it as fast as possible (applies in 99 percent of situations). Sell for cash.


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Outsmarting the Dumb, Outworking the Smart

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  1. Bernard

    Shane, could you help me understand #57? I’ve always been a ‘bottom line’ guy. It doesn’t matter how much revenue you generate if you’re operating at a loss. As someone with a brick-and-mortar business, do you find differently?

  2. Michael

    @Bernard – I think the idea is that if you’re making sales, growing your customer base, and increasing revenue you shouldn’t worry too much about the margins because you’re on the right track.

    As you grow you’ll be able to do things at scale to improve your margins that you couldn’t do from the start, like saving by buying in bulk, etc. You can’t really expect to be in the black from day one.

    Of course that’s within reason, if it costs you $10,000 to make $100 in revenue you should probably stop 🙂

  3. RJ

    I read the article on his blog yesterday – I have read dozens of business books over the years and his writing rings true – downloaded his new book on Kindle.

  4. ethan

    Theatrical. Can’t even finish the article. Trying hard to be curt and witty at the expense of sharing some bad ideas. Trying to be overconfident in expense of the lack of depth.


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