I was forced to read the book "E-Myth Revisited" as my course material. It gave me incredible insight into delegating and many of the fundamental issues with running a small business.
Without my accountant and a few key, incredibly supportive clients, my business would have gone under a long time ago.
My business coach had started and sold a number of businesses, and was able to advise me on things that I would never have done on my own. Look for someone like this in your life, even if only temporarily.
My wife started helping with some aspects of the business as well, and I couldn't do it without her. You need help, period. I've trained 2 of my kids to build websites, one has moved on to college in some other industry and the other is interning at a bigger company (building websites). And I plan to teach my other kids as well, and have them help where possible.
What this taught me was that I can't do everything myself, and I don't want to anymore, it just sucks to do it on your own.
The best thing that happened recently is making friends with another local business owner, who also builds websites, but our business interests don't conflict, and we respect the others perspective a lot, so we get to hang out from time to time just to talk and have coffee. We understand the world in a way most others cannot. The struggle, the freedom and preasure, etc..
Keep looking for answers to your specific problems before giving up on your business.
I read the original, here's the newer one:
Besides being fairly short, and having a lot of general good advice, such as, to use my own wording, making sure every essential hat is worn by someone, e.g. you probably won't start out with a CFO, but make sure one of the founders or earliest employees wears it, it goes into a thesis that you should write up a manual of how your business runs as if you were going to franchise it.
Plenty of good justification for writing this up at some level of detail can be found in the other comments in this topic, although I'll admit the book is not oriented toward high tech businesses.
But they're still businesses, and for that focus I highly recommend, probably after one or more books on customer development, which refine many of the ideas in it, Walking the High-Tech High Wire: The Technical Entrepreneur's Guide to Running a Successful Enterprise (https://www.amazon.com/Walking-High-Tech-High-Wire-Entrepren...). It's a story about a company that made and sold novel at the time discrete semiconductor devices, how they did their customer development, how they realized doing custom work for various customers was a loser, etc. It'll help reify what you'll read in good customer development books.
The canonical example is Bingo Card Creator:
A book you must read for perspective is
One of the best books out there on how to build and grow a business.
It's accessible and realistic, and a good starting point for getting your mind in the right place.
Related to the pivot idea, I can's seem to find an asset manager that will work for my organization. They are either tied to business processes (e.g. selling products), don't allow custom attributes, etc. I work for a non-profit tied to govt/education and we have incredibly strict rules for managing inventory. Sadly, it is all being done by Excel and is a brutal mistake prone system.
That said, it's possible "Follow your Passion!" is still a useful lie... I'm not sure, it's certainly a prevalent lie.
The first is the "E-Myth" -- great book on the difference between a manager, technician, and entrepreneur. Start here for the vocabulary and basic concepts you'll need: http://amzn.to/cn4BHT
The second is a little-known personal favorite, "A Good Hard Kick in the Ass". It's a little dated, but it's a great book about generally separating what's important from what isn't. I found it was a good book to learn attitude. http://amzn.to/hLi5xc
The last book is the book I'm currently reading: "Start Small, Stay Small" http://amzn.to/ictZdR I haven't finished it all yet, but the entire premise of the book is the move between coder and entrepreneur. It exactly answers your question.
From there, you can move on to blogs (which are great, but I find them a little too much in bulleted format for my tastes) or books about the nuts and bolts of what makes a great startup, like customer-driven development, or lean startups, or how best to handle yourself during the development process, like that stoicism book I read last year. Another awesome book. Lots of other great material out there. Too much, in fact.
Hope that helps you get started. I've got an entire site dedicated to answering the question of how hackers become entrepreneurs, http://hn-books.com Might want to check that out too. The initial book list was generated by a google search on Hacker News (hence the "hn" in the title) for books that we consistently recommend to each other here. Your question, or variations on it, is one of HN's recurring themes.
Check out the Amazon reviews, they're telling:
We have been successful in a general sense, generating about $350k in revenue at the end of our first year. After reaching this point, we realized the marketing game was where the real successes and failures were determined. In the wedding business, your customers won't look for you until that very moment they need your product, during the planning stages of a wedding. If your ad or search listing isn't in the top X, all the creativity in the world won't matter.
We continue operating http://trulyweddingfavors.com at a healthy margin, but are focused on innovating in other markets with more viral potential.
If there's one tip I could offer: read "the e-myth" ;)
Somewhere between 110k and 733 hours of labor is an asset you are just looking to throw away.
If you look at subbing it out to someone else(though they get full source, i mean they have to) and if you pay this/these guys 60/hr, you are looking at paying out around 44k-ish a year plus lazy bloat so probably 60k a year.
You should hopefully realize you have built something pretty awesome, you are just missing the steps covered by: http://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-Abou...
which basically means that you need to put processes into your system where you can sub yourself out as needed and someone else can handle this. Support requests and RFQs going to your personal email aren't conducive to this. Using things like zendesk, some other support app etc would be really beneficial.
So really you have 25k a year + a hose of consulting money you can divvy up/spray around as you see fit.
You really have something cool here, you should value it correctly. People buy jobs all the time, isn't that what college is all about?
I wish I'd read it two start-ups ago. It's downright scary how well he describes the exact path my companies took.
Musashi was one of the greatest (maybe the greatest) swordsman of all time. He invented a Japanese longblade/shortblade mixed style of swordsmanship, at one point fighting himself out of an ambush when he was attacked by over 30 men. He was undefeated in over 60 duels, including defeating arguably the second best swordsman in Japan at the time while fighting with a wooden oar he carved into a rough swordlike shape.
Here's Musashi's Wikipedia page:
The book by Eiji Yoshikawa is historical fiction - it's period accurate and follows all of Musashi's most well known story. It fills in some other details we don't know of Musashi's life - how he might have trained, some minor scuffles with bandits of the day, and it added a love story.
The book is exceptional. Musashi has immense amounts of raw talent, but is in conflict with himself in the world, arrogant, keeps getting into problems and trouble until he comes to more mastery and wisdom. Seriously, I read a lot, and this is hands-down my favorite book of all time. It's a hell of an enjoyable read, really pleasant and beautiful, fun and adventurous, but also filled with deep wisdom. It's a great swashbuckling story, but also teaches you about thinking critically, tactics, strategy, training, tradeoffs, and so on. Just a masterpiece. Easily the most influential book of my life.
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Whilst on subject, I'll also recommend Husain Haddawy's translation of Arabian Nights, which is uproariously funny and also contains a lot of wisdom, and "The E-Myth Revisited" by Michael Gerber, which I consider the Bible of small business. I buy a copy of E-Myth and make anyone I'm going to partner with read it before I'll do business with them.
Edit: Wow, that's quite a few upvotes pretty quickly. If you pick a copy of one of these and enjoy it, feel free to shoot me an email if you want to chat about it. These books have been huge for my life, and not enough people read, so I don't get to talk books as much as I'd like. Also, people with similar tastes feel free to make recommendations either commenting here or by email. Lurkers too! I'm always looking for great books.
What I did with the dealership is Im more or less, followed the advice in E-Myth (http://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-Abou...) and created position contracts for all our employees (7 of them now.) This has cut my involvement in the dealership tremendously. Now, I only put out fires, make sure management is going smoothly and handle some of the accounting.
At the head of the dealership is my brother, whom I trust. He makes sure that all manuals are updated and are followed. I make sure his position contract is followed.
This way of doing things will be much harder if you don't have a partner that you can trust to handle his part. Specially when things start growing.
The best tech startup book I've read, by a founder of a company that came up with a unique semiconductor device. They had to create their market (it had great advantages but they had to convince EEs to do something unconventional), they had to discover what made them money (selling parts or services (consulting)), etc.
If your company is going to have a lot of people and has repeatable processes (i.e. you're not developing software) The E-Myth by Michael Gerber or I suppose its revision (which I haven't read): http://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-Abou...
He suggests that you build up any company of this nature as if you're going to franchise it.
He also has a lot of other good advice; one that comes to mind is to make sure that there's a head for every "hat", i.e. make sure every critical function is the responsibility of someone, don't let anything fall through the cracks simply because of oversight.
At the other end of the spectrum, it's no accident that Robert X. Cringely's Accidental Empires: How the Boys of Silicon Valley Make Their Millions, Battle Foreign Competition, and Still Can't Get a Date is still in print: http://www.amazon.com/Accidental-Empires-Silicon-Millions-Co...
Read/skim it if for nothing else but the lesson of how Intel, after it had gotten quite big almost died due to the innocent well intentioned actions of one man. He makes the point that high tech companies, even if they enter the Fortune 500, aren't like "normal" ones.
There's the conceit that when a company gets big enough, no one person can kill it. His example is only one of many you can find where screwing up at the technical level can with frightening speed put a high tech company on a terminal path (see the recent "When the elves leave Middle Earth" HN item for another example of this: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1007750).
Derek Sivers has a good collection of his notes (and many other biz-centric books) here: http://sivers.org/book/EMythRevisited
His opening line nails it: "Everything needs to be a system. Think of your business as a franchise prototype. You should be able to hand the "how-to" manual to just anyone, to do it as good as you."
"The dream of running a small cafe has nothing to do with the excitement of entrepreneurship or the joys of being one's own boss—none of us would ever consider opening a Laundromat or a stationery store, and even the most delusional can see that an independent bookshop is a bad idea these days. The small cafe connects to the fantasy of throwing a perpetual dinner party, and it cuts deeper—all the way to Barbie tea sets—than any other capitalist urge. To a couple in the throes of the cafe dream, money is almost an afterthought. Which is good, because they're going to lose a lot of it."
That happens to a lot of good people, sadly. Michael Gerber covers it pretty well in "The E-Myth Revisited", which I consider the Bible for small business owners. I make anyone I work with read it before we work together. Any entrepreneurial-minded person who hasn't read it would do well to check it out. Amazon, no affiliate link:
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Great book - my most highly recommended and most frequently gifted business book.
It talks about setting up clear roles and expectations from the beginning. Contracts typically aren't worth the paper they're printed on - where you're at in life right now, you're not going to go to court if you fall out with someone. Contracts protect you a bit if you're further along, but a contract isn't worth a damn thing without a good relationship and clear expectations. The most important thing a contract can do is to lay out clearly, in writing, what you both expect to do and have roles set up. But so many of your assumptions will likely be wrong that you might have to redraw some elements of it over time. It happens - but getting down who does what, when, where, and how they're measured is huge. A basic operating agreement goes a long way. Check out E-Myth, it reads fast. Probably my favorite book on small business ever.
My favorite book on small business and why things usually go wrong:
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