‘Captain America: Civil War’ Shows You How to Kill Your Team’s Morale

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m usually behind when it comes to movies—except when it involves the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Captain America: Civil War has raked in nearly one billion dollars since its release on May 6.

If you haven’t seen it yet, go. It definitely makes up for Age of Ultron’s lackluster storytelling. Hats off to the Brothers Russo, who had also helmed the second movie in the Captain America trilogy, Winter Soldier. I can’t wait to see what they do with The Avengers: Infinity War. (Although, I admit to rolling my eyes at the fact that it’s following in the steps of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games by splitting the last movie into two.)

Besides just being awesome, I love the fact that Civil War highlights the detriment that division has on a team. They’re a crew of fictional superheroes, but the same can apply to any group—including a business segment.

Here are a few ways Civil War shows you how to kill your own team’s morale.

NOTE: Spoilers!

Letting Ego Take the Pilot’s Seat

It was clear from the first Avengers that tension between these strong-willed (and just plain strong) characters would be an ever-present theme throughout these movies. Civil War, as the title and trailers suggest, elevates that tension to a whole new level.

Like the Avengers, you want your business to be awesome. That means on-boarding amazingly talented individuals. Some team members may have the best of intentions, but if they refuse to work together, things will eventually fall apart.

Great leaders need to read the people on their teams so that they can best address unhealthy tension before it becomes a bigger problem.

Handling Mistakes Out of Fear

In the first few minutes of Civil War, Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff (played by Elizabeth Olsen), makes a massive mistake. No one takes it harder than she.

Captain America/Steve Rogers (played by Chris Evans) acknowledges her good intentions (as well as his fault for hesitating to take out Crossbones). He also sympathizes, since their line of work is dangerous and always presents the possibility of collateral damage. Basically, he tells her to not beat herself up anymore.

Iron Man/Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey, Jr.) doesn’t see it the same way. While he also understands Wanda’s intentions, he views her as a danger to herself and others. So, in a way, he puts her under house arrest.

One can argue that Cap is being too lenient and Stark is being too harsh. The point is that she made a mistake and she can either be punished for it or grow stronger from it. If she were not remorseful, Stark’s methods would make more sense. Since she was, however, I’d have to side with Cap on that one.

Mistakes are bound to happen. With some, the damage is worse than others. Handling them out of fear rather than respect is a surefire way to kill your team’s morale and post a giant “Do Not Enter” sign for any future creative energy.

Telling Lies and Twisting Truths

Speaking of mistakes, no one has screwed up more than Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (played by Sebastian Stan). He makes Wanda’s slip-up look like child’s play.

Joe and Anthony Russo (and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely) did an amazing job developing Bucky into perhaps the most tragic of all the characters in Civil War. And it takes only a few lies and twisted truths surrounding his past activities to divide a Marvel universe.

A recent Forbes column by David K. Williams highlights the costs that “mean” people can wreak on an organization. “Mean people, or individuals who engage in ‘workplace violence,’ are perpetrators of physical, mental, or emotional abuse, bullying, or threatening behavior,” he wrote.

I knew a company that had a mean individual. Some of his colleagues likened him to Sheldon Cooper, the sociopathic character from The Big Bang Theory and portrayed by Jim Parsons. And just like Sheldon, he talked down to scientists who held only Master’s degrees as opposed to Ph.Ds. (Heaven forbid you should only have a Bachelor’s.)

Mean people like Sheldon tell lies and twist truths, like about Bucky’s past, to manipulate others into turning against each other. It’s stupid, it’s costly, and ain’t nobody got time for that.

Micromanaging the Fire Out Of People

Micromanagement is rooted in fear and distrust. While Elon Musk famously micromanages his companies to astronomical success (no pun intended—okay, maybe a little), in most work environments, it’s a fast way to kill creativity and increase stress.

On movies like Civil War, the geek in me seeks out behind-the-scenes peeks and cast and crew interviews online. After watching a few with some of the actors, including Chris Evans, Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson/Falcon), Sebastian Stan, Elizabeth Olsen, and Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton/Hawkeye), it seems that the Russos were not micromanagers when it came to their performances.

I don’t know if they were more like that in other aspects of moviemaking. But at least from the people whose faces we see on the screen, I didn’t get the sense that their directors were also dictators.

If you’ve hired amazing talent, then chances are you don’t really need to look over their shoulders with a yardstick in one hand and a cattle prod in the other. The actors in Civil War don’t seem the type to trade mediocre performances for a paycheck. They seem passionate about, and highly trained in, their craft. The Russos just gave them the environment that would naturally draw out those performances.

As a leader, you really just need to give your team the tools, the space, and the trust to take an assignment and let them unleash their own creative energy. Healthy teams will keep each other in the know and make adjustments as needed.

The freedom to do an awesome job transcends industries. Most people will work hard and work well if they are allowed to do so. In fostering division, however, no one wins.

And with that, I will leave you with the last doughnut.

Red Flags Behind Low Ball Job Offers

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Imagine for a moment that you’re on the hunt for a job. You’re invited for a couple rounds of interviews and about a week or two later you get your offer. Congratulations!

But there’s a catch. Your salary is far below competitive. You research on PayScale and Glassdoor and discover others in a similar role are making more elsewhere. So, you call your new boss to negotiate.

You might get several different excuses behind the low ball offer. Many of them are red flags that you seriously can’t afford to ignore.

Possible Excuse #1: “The salary may be low, but we have great benefits.”

Red Flag: Skewed Priorities

Unless your benefits include free food and guaranteed income when you retire, they aren’t really benefits. Health insurance is no longer a benefit in the US—it’s a mandate.

And as fun as they are, foosball tables and espresso machines don’t pay the electric bill or for your kid’s braces. You’re an adult with real world responsibilities and possibly a spouse and children counting on you. You owe it to yourself and them to get what’s fair for the value you plan to bring to the table.

Possible Excuse #2: “We are a startup/small business that can’t afford to pay competitively.”

Red Flag: Instability

This might be an indication of the health of the organization. The last thing your resume needs is an employer that is probably failing or stagnating. Not only will you likely be back on the job hunt soon, you also might not have any helpful references either.

I once came across an advertising agency that paid all of its employees nearly half the national averages. While they worked with some impressive brands and espoused a great culture, the red flag arose when I saw that they had been in business for almost 19 years. A firm that old that can’t pay near national averages is a clue to look elsewhere.

On the startup side, it may indicate the company isn’t funded enough. That shouldn’t be a turn-off completely, but it will mean a lot of hustle, late nights, and instant ramen on everyone’s part to reach profitability as soon as possible. If the salary is low and there’s no attractive profit-sharing package on the table, as well as a contingent if the company is sold and those shares made worthless, it might be better to just walk away.

Possible Excuse #3: “Your experience level is a little lower than what we were hoping for.”

Red Flag: Lack of Direction

So why did they offer you the gig? Are they saying that of all the candidates they interviewed, you’re the one that sucked the least? Do they even know what they are hiring for? A response like this is at worse insulting and at best a waste of your time and the company’s.

Something that’s (sadly) often forgotten is that companies are people—not conglomerations of skill sets. If a potential employer is hung up on the lack of what you’ve done elsewhere versus the potential of what you can for him, he is likely not going to understand or appreciate the value you bring. Your salary may start low and stay low.

Possible Excuse #4: “It’s based on what you made at your last position.”

Red Flag: Undervaluing Employees

What if you were underpaid at your last position? You were probably on the job hunt in the first place because you wanted to grow your career and sought fairer treatment.

Forbes columnist Liz Ryan says that whatever you made at your previous job is actually irrelevant to potential employers. If it’s rude for friends to ask what you make at your job, then it’s rude for strangers (including recruiters) to ask the same.

The only reason someone would want to ask for your last salary is to bargain hunt rather than to invest wisely. Bargain hunting is great when you’re acquiring socks and toilet paper—not for on-boarding amazing talent.

Bottom Line: You’re Worth It

When it comes to salary, you should definitely be realistic and not arrogant. Asking for more than what your experience and expertise calls for is entitlement—regardless if you’re a millennial or not.

Maybe you just need the paycheck for now to keep your house while you finish a degree or certification. Or the job is a strategic part on the path to your dream job. Or the work you’ll do is meaningful, helps others, and makes you a better human being. In that sense, it’s perfectly okay to take a low ball offer.

Whether you’re starting your career or have decades of experience under your belt, you know best what sacrifices you and your family had to make to get to where you are now. You’re a unique individual with life experiences and perspectives that no one will ever be able to duplicate.

You shouldn’t be afraid to ask for what is fair. After all, if your work is really as good as you know it is, then whoever hires you will reap benefits far beyond the cost to bring you into the fold.

Why Ten Year Plans Don’t Work Anymore

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I have to admit that when it comes to watching movies, I’m usually about a year or more behind—unless, of course, that movie involves certain DC or Marvel characters or the words Star and Wars in succession.

So, it’s perfectly natural for a movie like The Intern (2015) to completely fly under my radar. I hadn’t even heard of it until a good friend recommended it to me recently. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it stars Robert De Niro as 70-year-old Ben Whittaker, a widower who’s found that retirement is not all that awesome. He ends up getting hired into a unique senior internship program at a fast-growing e-commerce fashion company founded and run by Jules Ostin, played by Anne Hathaway.

During Whittaker’s interview process, he speaks to various (and much younger) company execs. One of the questions he’s asked is a variation of the common, “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” To which he rightfully asks, “When I’m 80?”

But you don’t have to be 70 for that question to be irrelevant. Ten-year plans don’t work anymore for anyone. Here’s why:

There’s No Room for Change

I’m not saying it isn’t good to make plans. Having an umbrella in hand with rain on the forecast is not a bad thing. Good planning helps gives direction, save money and time, and gives scope to metrics.

But tech has played a full deck of wild cards in the past few decades when it comes to how we work. Some hot jobs didn’t even exist 10 years ago. When Pixar worked on the first Toy Story (which came out in 1995—I just made you feel old, didn’t I?), they had computer developers and animators developing the programs to make the movie as they made the movie.

Makes you almost curious as to what jobs will exist ten years from now.

There’s No Room for Awesome

I’m reading Jon Acuff’s Start. at the moment. He uses the word “awesome” a lot. Awesome’s enemy is average. I’m not saying that plans can’t be awesome. Dental procedures going according to plan are awesome.

But living a planned life is not awesome. Success is best understood and appreciated in the context of failure. Innovation is monogamous to risk. Bravery rises in the presence of fear.

Average is predictable. Awesome is adventurous…. We want to plan the road to awesome. We want to talk about our ten-year visions. We want to detail every step before we take a single one. To make sure there’s no room for mistakes or failure. But when we do that, when we squeeze our lives and purposes that tightly, we eliminate any room for surprises…. The road to awesome, though, is defined by surprises. – Jon Acuff, Start., (Brentwood, Tennessee: Lampo Press, 2013), 34-35.

Plans with no flexibility have no room for awesome but plenty of room for disappointment.

There’s No Room for Life

After I lost my job, I was talking with my father about my next steps over dinner one evening. I had sent out resume after resume for months with cricket chirps as my answer, and I was obviously getting discouraged.

Then he asked me, “Why don’t you stop?”

Pardon?

To give you some context, I’d just spent over six years working as an editor in the communications department of a nonprofit. For a majority of those six years, he’d asked me, “So, when are you going to go work for a real company?” But now that I didn’t even have that job anymore, he was suggesting that I stop looking for work all together?

He then told me a story I hadn’t heard of before. I knew that after he was laid off over 10 years ago from his computer programming job, he and my stepmom had opened a cosmetic shop (for her) and a Vietnamese radio station (for him). What I didn’t know was that they had put everything they had into those two businesses. They were in their 50s and 60s at the time. If either small business failed, they didn’t have anything to fall back on. Fortunately, their little businesses became profitable, and they continue to run them today.

I’m sure that back when my father was hired at his last company, being laid off and starting his own business was not part of his ten-year plan. After all, he was from the generation that stayed with a company for decades before retiring.

So, he made a suggestion that I never thought he would to me—to stop looking for work and start building something for myself. He even offered to give me some start-up capital. “And don’t be afraid to fail. If it doesn’t work out, try something else.”

If you’d asked me ten years ago that I planned to lose my job and start selling clothes online, I would’ve asked you to stop smoking whatever mess you were into. Now, I dare you to find someone who has led a perfectly planned life. If you do, I’ll show you someone who is not an expert at living. He’s just been great at not dying (yes, I totally stole that from The Croods).

It’s great to have goals and dreams. We can’t live or grow without them. But we rob ourselves of the joy in the journey to those desired destinations if we plan too much and too far. That may prove the greater failure in the end.

3 Reasons Why You Need a Side Hustle

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Back when I was an editor with a salary and benefits and I told people what I did for a living, I usually received a polite nod followed by a change of subject. I surmised this response was for one of two reasons: 1) they didn’t know what editors did and/or 2) they didn’t care. (Maybe a bit of both.)

Now that I’m not an editor anymore and my answer to the “work” question is “I sell stuff online,” you wouldn’t believe the questions that follow. Actually, you could, because most are, “What do you sell?” (clothes), “How did you get into it?” (long story), “Where do you get the stuff you sell?” (mostly charity stores), and “Which website do you sell on?” (eBay).

Many have also told me they’ve thought about selling on eBay on the side but don’t really know how to start. Truth is I didn’t know either. Up until the summer of 2014, my knowledge of e-commerce was chopping an old tower computer I had in high school and selling off the parts.

There are buckets of blogs and articles out there that will tell you how to get started selling stuff online, so I won’t go into that here. But I will say that it’s a pretty simple way to bring in a few extra bucks with relatively little investment and commitment.

If selling used stuff online is not your thing, you may still want to find a side hustle. Even if you have a well-paying full-time job that you love, you may find other benefits more useful than cash.

1. Diversifying your income

You might hear about income diversification more within the realm of investment, such as this article that appeared in Entrepreneur back in March. In a way, starting a side business is an investment.

I started my online shop when I lost my job. Up until then, my only income was my paycheck. If I’d started my current business as a side gig while I was still earning my salary and benefits, it would’ve been far easier than starting from scratch.

I really hope you never lose your job. Trust me—it sucks. But if you do experience a sudden and unexpected loss of your primary income, cash coming in from a side business can make things easier as you look for another job. Or, if you so choose, you can use your newfound freedom to grow your side business into your main one.

2. Tax deductions

A side business can really help at tax time, even while you’re still working for someone else. Since I print shipping labels and packing slips, my toner is deductible. Whenever I look for inventory, my mileage for each shopping trip is partially deductible. One of my close friends is an accountant, so if I have accounting questions for her, we can chat over dinner and I can deduct her meal and mine.

Last summer, my family wanted to caravan out to Florida for vacation. Since I had to shut down my shop for a week, I wanted to make the trip work for me. So, I scheduled some stops in Louisiana to find inventory. I worked with my CPA and found that I could take deductions for my mileage, meals, lodging, and of course whatever inventory I bought.

Depending on the type of business you have, possible tax deductions lurk in all kinds of places, such as workshops and seminars, books and other educational materials, art supplies, photography equipment, and even child care expenses. Check with your CPA to see what deductions qualify. He or she might even help you find more.

3. Trying something new

Let’s face it. Even if you have an awesome job, it can get dull sometimes. Having a side hustle that’s different from your day-to-day is a great way to break up the monotony, learn something new, and/or just have fun (like an income-generating hobby).

Before I started my tiny business, I didn’t know the first thing about fashion or e-commerce. I just knew that I liked Lucky Brand jeans, so I started with a few pairs I found at a charity store that I thought were cool and in great condition.

Imagine my surprise when they all sold in a couple weeks and netted me twice as much as what I had paid for them. I felt like I was committing fraud. (I learned from a buyer later, however, that he hated shopping. So, he was happy paying me a premium if it meant someone else could do the digging and have his items delivered straight to his doorstep.)

Fast-forward to nearly two years later and I still don’t know a lot about fashion or e-commerce. But I know more than when I started, like the difference between denim and chambray. I also know more about SEO than I did before. I’m even building relationships with other individuals who do what I do, exchanging tips and sharing especially great deals.

Maybe you like photography and want to make engagement or family portraits on the side. Or you’re a developer and don’t mind doing a little extra coding as a freelancer. Perhaps you make art or jewelry or leather goods and want to sell your creations on Etsy or your own Shopify. Whatever you’re into, it’s easier than ever to start a side hustle and reap the benefits. So what’s stopping you?

Still No Guaranteed Paid Time Off for US Workers

I am currently in the South of France on the second leg of a five-week jaunt through Europe. I found an apartment near Monaco through HomeAway.com that has a not too horrible view.

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Image Credit: Christine Dao

This is a trip I’ve wanted to do for a while. When I had my Salary and Benefits, it was immensely difficult to get any time off (let alone a month or more). I suppose when you have a job with loads of tight deadlines, you pretty much don’t have a life outside of work (unless you just don’t sleep).

But now that I have a tiny business, I have more flexibility to live life beyond work. I started this trip about two weeks ago in the UK to visit with my cousin and her family. She used to live in Australia, and we started talking about work practices in different countries. And we agreed that workers in the US work far more than people in other parts of the world. That can be both a good and a bad thing.

Without a doubt, many (though definitely not all) Americans know how to hustle, how to put in the extra hours, and how to give 110 percent. That drive and ambition can be really constructive—in the proper context and the proper timing. But not always.

Everything, from a car to a plot of farmland, shows that any system under continuous stress WILL (not may) fail if not given the time to rest and receive proper maintenance. And yet the US is still the only developed country that does not require employers to guarantee paid time off. It also doesn’t require guaranteed paid maternity leave.

I’ve never really understood why this is. I don’t condone laziness (obviously!), but I also saw first hand in my own working experience how quickly someone can burn out if he or she isn’t able to just get away from the grind once in a while. And anyone knows that weekends are never enough, what with all the catching up on things that had to be put off during the regular week.

I understand that private business wants the government to be hands off. But with so many regulations on health and safety and what not, shouldn’t insuring that workers have a certain amount of time off out of the year be a no-brainer? Of all the things our government requires of us, I would think that it’s the least that can be done.

But I guess that doesn’t really affect me now, except when the post office is closed for an observance or holiday—like today for Labor Day.

Do you get paid time off from your employer? How do you spend it?

When Credit Cards Can Be a Tiny Business Owner’s Best Friend

Image from Flickr.

Image from Flickr.

I started my tiny business with $200, and I didn’t want to go into any debt. Everything I made in the first few months rolled back into the business to help it grow.

I didn’t know at the time, but I apparently had been using what Zeev Farbman, CEO and co-founder of Lightricks, calls “The Bakery Model.” In essence:

You make a bagel, sell the bagel, buy ingredients to make more bagels, sell those bagels and on and on you go. (source)

I think most people who sell for profit on a platform like eBay use this model naturally. Different types of products and services might require some kind of outside funding. But in the case of the Denym Dystryct, I was using an existing and high-traffic marketplace platform that made it simple for me to simply acquire inventory with the limited funds I had on hand and start selling.

In early 2015, however, I needed some printer toner, storage bins to safely store my inventory, and a few other things to make my tiny business run more efficently. I had cash from sales in my PayPal account at the time, but it would take at least a few days for it to transfer to my bank, and I had wanted to take advantage of some promotional prices at the time. So, I used my credit card. And at the end of the month, I paid it off.

That’s when I started to see that credit cards don’t have to be evil if they are used properly. In fact, they could be really beneficial to a tiny business.

Credit cards are easier to get than business loans.

Anyone who has tried to get a loan for anything recently knows that it’s a pain in the eye. Even if you have excellent credit. I was also admittedly too lazy to go even apply for one.

But I didn’t need thousands of dollars. I just needed a few hundred. So, I applied online for a credit card that I could use solely for tiny business purchases.

Fortunately, I have excellent credit, so I was approved in seconds and I got my new card in the mail the following week. Way less painful than begging a bank for a loan.

Credit cards can help buy equipment and build inventory.

As my sales grew, I needed to have enough stock on hand to fill orders, and I had to make sure that my equipment was in working order. Otherwise, I could lose orders and momentum (eBay is a huge marketplace, and if I didn’t have what someone wanted at the time, he or she could easily find another seller).

When I increased my inventory by a manageable amount using my credit card, I was able to increase my store’s offerings. My sales went up.

Credit card benefits can be (gasp) beneficial.

The credit card I use for my tiny business purchases has cash back benefits. I prefer cash back, and I use it towards my balance when enough points have accumulated. There are a lot of cards with different benefits out there, and sites like CreditCard.com can help you figure out which one works best for you if you need one.

It is important to note, however that credit card benefits are just that—BENEFITS. The cash back is pennies to the dollar. And while getting it is a perk, it doesn’t excuse the fact that I have to still pay back what I borrowed. So, I only use it when I know I can pay it off fast. If I can’t, I have to wait or figure something else out.

Credit cards can help track business expenses.

I still keep receipts from my tiny business purchases, but it’s good to know that I have a record of those same purchases on my credit card statement as a back up. Having a record of all my purchases comes in super handy during tax season. And some credit cards can put your spending into pretty little pie charts online to show where you’re spending the most (i.e., stores, gasoline, cellphone bill, etc.). That way, you can adjust your spending accordingly if you need to.

Credit card companies can help dispute charges.

A few months ago, I bought a lot containing 13 pairs of jeans from a liquidation auction site. According to the photos and the description, I understood that some of the jeans would not be sellable.

But if at least half of them were in good condition, I could still turn a decent profit on them. When I got the lot, however, I was severely disappointed. Nearly all the jeans had some significant damage, such as broken zippers, holes in the seats, broken belt loops—stuff that I would never intentionally list in my store. When I contacted the liquidation auction site with photos of the damaged jeans and asked for a refund, they basically said, “Nope. Sucks for you.”

So, I contacted my credit card company, told them what had happened, and they started looking into it. During that time, they put a hold on the amount I had paid for the lot and the shipping, which meant I didn’t have to accumulate any interest on that amount while they were doing their thing. A couple weeks later, my credit card company contacted me back and said they finished their investigation and returned my money in full. (Win!)

Suffice it to say, I won’t be doing business with that liquidation auction site again. Or probably any liquidation auction site ever. But that was the first time I had ever contacted a credit card company to dispute a charge, and it’s good to know that I can do it again if I have to (hopefully I won’t, though).

Credit cards are not evil if you treat them with respect.

After I graduated from college, I had an uncomfortable amount of credit card debt that took me a few years to pay off. After that, I didn’t carry a credit card balance again for a while.

I started using cards again earlier this year for my tiny business, but with the understanding that I have to use them wisely. That means only buying what I really need for my tiny business and nothing else. It also means paying off balances fast so I don’t have to pay a lot in interest.

So that is my experience with using credit cards with my tiny business so far. Do you have any other advice to add?

Parameters for Starting My Tiny Business

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Image from Flickr.

When I started my tiny business in August 2014, I admittedly didn’t know what I was doing. My degree is in journalism with a business minor, but I hadn’t used that business minor for years and had forgotten buckets of what I had learned at college.

Fortunately, I’m a millennial. And millennials know how to use Google. I was also able to ask one of my friends, an accountant, some bookkeeping and limited tax questions. And a friend of my parents who had an eBay store was also helpful in the beginning.

When I was getting started, I had to set some parameters for my tiny business.

Parameter #1: No debt.

For several years after college, I had worked freaking hard to pay down my student loan and credit cards. At the time I lost my editor job in late 2013, I had no credit card debt and I didn’t want to get into more unless I had a good reason (more on that in a future post). I had excellent credit (still do), but I didn’t want to take out any business loans because, again, I didn’t want more debt and I just didn’t want to go through the hassle of applying for a loan.

Since I didn’t want to go into debt to start my tiny business, it made coming up with the other parameters pretty simple.

Parameter #2: No massive overhead.

Investopedia defines overhead as:

An accounting term that refers to all ongoing business expenses not including or related to direct labor, direct materials or third-party expenses that are billed directly to customers. Overhead must be paid for on an ongoing basis, regardless of whether a company is doing a high or low volume of business. (source)

Basically, stuff like rent, utilities, and Internet connection are considered overhead. Since I didn’t want to go into debt, that meant I had to work with what I had at the time—an extra room in my parents’ house and Internet access.

Parameter #3: No massive investment.

I had $200 to start at the time, so I wasn’t in a position to go out and make massive investments into equipment and whatnot.

Parameter #4: No marketing.

Once upon a time, I moonlighted as an independent fiction author. And I learned that a) I’m a sucky storyteller and b) I’m a sucky bookseller. And I suppose a lot of that had to do with the fact that I was awful about marketing and using social media to garner an audience and establish a platform. So when I started selling jeans, I knew that I didn’t want to invest anything (especially time) into marketing.

So those were the four parameters that I began with. In retrospect, these look really restrictive and not really risky. But again—I didn’t know what I was doing. And somehow, it worked out. I’ve relaxed a bit on Parameter #1 (again, more on why in a future post). But at present, I still operate my tiny business under the other three pretty well.

What tiny or small business parameters did you (or would you) start with?