Tonearm - 9:36 am on Apr 1, 2012 (gmt 0)
Everyone, thank you for taking the time to write.
5. whether or not I should initiate some sort of profit-sharing or stock option thing in order to motivate technical people to do a good job and to stick around
Profit share is good, but it kicks in after <some minimum number of months). Equity is not good unless it kicks in after x years. You may not want a few equity owners who are not connected with the company after they leave, but you may be OK with this if they were great contributors when they worked for you.
I first started thinking about this recently after hearing for the 100th time that the early Google employees got rich once the company went public. For some reason it clicked the last time I heard it and I realized that Google must have been handing out equity even in the very early stages of the business. Surely this was done in order to motivate people to do a good job and to stick around, and it worked.
slow to hire and quick to fire
This is a policy repeated several times in this thread. Please consider it adopted.
In my experience, technical people are far more autonomous and easy to manage even across the world, compared to a general laborer in the same room as you.
I would like very much to believe that's true. Have you had much experience managing technical people remotely?
Critical for doing things remotely and managing a distributed workforce is an effective system of objectively measuring each worker's productivity. This doesn't guarantee effective workers, but it is a necessary tool for management. Choose your platform carefully, it isn't easy to get everyone to change systems later.
I'm really interested in this. We have a very rudimentary system in place for this in the warehouse. You mention platforms. Are there software packages for this sort of thing?
Hire a good accountant first, to keep all your payroll and tax issues in order. This is critical, and too specialized to handle yourself and still manage your business.
I'm glad you brought this up. I don't see why accounting needs to fill even a single part-time position, but I'm sure this is due to my own naivete. From my perspective, accounting is made up of bookkeeping, income statement preparation, payroll twice a month, payroll tax each quarter, and income tax each year. I've always done all of this myself except in the last 2 or 3 years I've had a CPA do my income taxes for $250 and I just trained my wife to handle payroll and bookkeeping. Income statement preparation is just a click. Payroll taxes are a hassle (and expensive!) but it's only every 3 months. When is a "good" accountant necessary?
Read up on corporate structures, processes, procedures etc; you won't reinvent this wheel in your lifetime.
I have to admit my instinct is to reinvent this wheel. I've read about and been inspired by the unconventional aspects of Google's processes and procedures.
Does a general liability insurance policy usually cover this sort of thing?
Look at systemizing and building processes so that a monkey could do it. Remember: a good business isn't one that requires good employees. That's a flaw in the system. A good business is one that can take mediocre employees and through a good system produce superior products.
This is a big deal and I think it ties back in to what I wrote above about Google's processes and procedures. From what I understand, they're focused on hiring good employees and empowering them to make a lot of autonomous decisions. To me, this is scary but also intriguing. Obviously Google is thriving.
Hire for personality, train the skill. I can't emphasize this enough. You can always teach people skills but you CANNOT teach someone to be a good person.
Brilliant. I love this. Can you elaborate on what sort of personality traits you look for?
There's two types of leaders: 1. Those that plan a direction, then find people to do the tasks and 2. Those who hire good people and then figure where to go. In 1. you're screwed if it doesn't work out as you planned. It never works out. In 2. you don't know where you're going but you'll eventually get somewhere good.
Counter-intuitive but super-intriguing. Any other thoughts on this?
I run my company remotely. But really, if you do it right, it won't even need you.
Are your technical people employees or contractors? I'm really curious how well either can be managed from a remote location.
Don't worry about keeping your "secrets" safe. The truth is, your system and processes are your secrets. Not your ideas or your code.
Any other opinions on this? This sort of mindset is very attractive, but I wonder if it could lead to disaster.
I'd rather say don't.
Arguments about in-house , contracting outside all revolve around your capacity to adequately manage the issues of your business SWOT.
I've read about SWOT, but could you elaborate on this a bit?