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Re: One small business "nugget"
I'm replying to this and cc'ing all the attendees (that I can
remember) of the ELC small business BoF this year. Not everyone at
the BoF is subscribed to the small business mailing list. I've
forgotten a few names, so please take a look through the cc: list and
let me know who is missing.
If you want to subscribe to the Linux small-business list, the
subscription link is here:
It's a low traffic list, so it will not lkml your inbox.
On Tue, Apr 20, 2010 at 12:31 AM, John Bonesio
Grant Likely, B.Sc., P.Eng.
Secret Lab Technologies Ltd.
One small business "nugget"
I was at the Embedded Linux Conference this year, and I participated in
the small business BoF. I thought it was a good idea, and I thought I'd
continue that helpful spirit by sharing here something that I've learned
along the way. Hopefully this will be helpful to someone else as well.
You may have noticed my email address and are wondering what I was doing
at an Embedded Linux Conference. I have over 20 years experience doing
software - a lot of it embedded work and a lot in Linux. I'm doing some
software contracting right now. At the same time I'm also trying to get
a financial coaching business off the ground.
So I'm working two businesses, and ...
learning a lot.
I thought I'd share an insight I have had recently. This insight is
this: Our attitude and our motivation for doing business makes a big
Answer the question, "Why am I in business?"
If your answer is, "to make money," you will approach your business very
different than if your answer is "to help my clients."
If your answer is, "to make money," cold calling is really hard because
it almost turns into a con game where you're trying to convince the
person to give you their money. Closing the sale is hard because you're
trying get their money rather than providing the value of your service.
If your answer is, "to help my clients," cold calling is easy. You're
looking to see if they have a need you can meet. Closing the sale
becomes easy because by then the client agrees you can help them. "It
sounds like this would be useful for you. Why don't we get together next
week and discuss the details? Would a M-W-F work better for you, or a
T-Th? Is morning or afternoon better? Good. I have 10:00am on Thursday.
I'm looking forward to working with you."
Ultimately when your business is more about you than about the client,
you end up devaluing your service in your own mind. Your thought process
is "How can I get the next job?" "Who can I get to pay me?" Your mind
stops thinking about how you can benefit the client. You're not even
thinking about it... until maybe you're almost losing the sale.
When your business is about the client, there is a mental shift that
takes place. In your mind, you are thinking, "I can help you and here is
how..." Your mind automatically starts going over the benefits of what
you can provide.
When your real answer to the question is more about you than about the
client, you can't fake it and pretend that it's really about the client.
Your true motivations will eventually bleed through, often in ways you
So what do you do if you want to but don't have client motivations for
your business? Well, I believe there are options. Here are a few:
1) You can try to find a different business where you can care about
your clients. I think this is a bit drastic and I definitely wouldn't
try this path first, unless you find you really dislike your business.
2) You can think back to why you first started your business. The reason
you started the business might be different than what is motivating you
now. You might have started the business for client benefit reasons. If
this is true for you, you need to recapture those original motivations
and make them true again.
3) If you were never client motivated in your business, maybe you can
just decide you're going to make your business client motivated going
forward. Now I said you can't fake it, so you need to change your heart
not just change your persona.
One way to change your heart is to create a mantra for yourself. Create
a short phrase that you repeat over and over in your mind. For example:
When you start connecting with new folks, "I Help my clients be
successful." When someone calls and asks you a question, "I Help my
clients be successful." When you're in front of a client working out a
contract, "I Help my clients be successful." Eventually you don't need
to remind yourself so often and your behavior and attitude becomes more
and more automatic.
That's the nugget I wanted to share: Make your business about benefiting
your client, and money will follow.
Let me know what you think. Was this too short? Too long? Just right?
Was this useful?
Jump in and share another "nugget" that you've learned along the way.
Steam Engine Financial Coaching
Phone: (916) 783-2622
Re: Introducing myself
Grant Likely wrote:
Leon Woestenberg wrote:Hi Leon,just found out about this mailing list while browsing for the upcomingHi Leon, welcome to the list.
Ithamar and myself will at least be present on ELC Europe (Grenoble) in October this year, no plans beyond that yet.
As Michael Opdenacker suggested in a previous message, we might do a pilot BOF/ mini presentation there so to introduce our companies and the peeps behind it and discuss issues like you mention.
Re: Introducing myself
Leon Woestenberg wrote:
just found out about this mailing list while browsing for the upcomingHi Leon, welcome to the list.
This list was set up after discussions between various small business
owners and consultants at ELC this year in San Francisco. A lot of us
are having similar experiences around running our businesses, so we
decided it would be good to organize a bit to get together at conferences
to talk about business issues and to do some networking.
I think the most challenging issues for small companies are:Indeed, neither of these are trivial. I find that when I take on larger
projects I'm forced to exercise project management muscles that I haven't
had to use before. It also takes more effort to keep the client informed
with what is happening in the project.
- working on one system remotely (I have seen this work with a FPGAYup, me too. It took quite a bit of effort to get setup in a way that I'm
happy with, but I've got most of the equipment in my lab controllable
remotely. Its sometime hard to justify the time and expense at the start
of a project, but I think it is well worth it in the long run.
One idea: what if we "join" each others company? (No strings attached,I find that subcontracting works quite well for me. I'll bid a project,
and then pass on parts of it to other folks who I know can do the work.
Most of the time the client isn't concerned with the details of what the
relationship is between me and the other people working on a project as
long as the work gets done to their satisfaction. So even though I've
got two or three subcontractors on a project, the client just sees my
company, Secret Lab.
And the reverse is also true. I'm happy to take on subcontracts from
other people in my network.
I hope to be able to join and meet face to face again. Who is coming to where?I'll be at LinuxCon/Plumbers in September this year, at Japan Linux
Symposium in October, and at ELC next year.
Grant Likely, B.Sc., P.Eng.
Secret Lab Technologies Ltd.
Leon Woestenberg <leon.woestenberg@...>
just found out about this mailing list while browsing for the upcoming
ELCE and RTLWS event details, in the hope to be able to participate.
Let's introduce myself (includes shameless plugs).
I am working as a self-employed Linux systems designer at Sidebranch
(this currently is besides my part-time job as systems architect at an
I can take on small projects myself, mostly involving customers
stepping into the world of Linux based designs.
Additionally I work with other self-employed software and hardware
peers in bigger projects or own products.
Software systems design. Linux device drivers (from I2C to PCI Express
Scatter Gather DMA subsystems), Linux kernel development, hard
real-time programming (device drivers and POSIX user space), systems
and application software. Mostly in C.
Hardware systems design (FPGA's, ASICs, SOPC, PCI, PCI Express busses,
DDR2/3, SoC, Processors) down to the schematics, where I have to hand
it off to and work with a hardware designer to get the details (via's,
matched pair routing, impedance, ...) right.
I think the most challenging issues for small companies are:
- taking on a project which is bigger than one can handle one-self,
trusting on the help from peers.
- working with peers in a way to builds trust towards potential customers.
- working on one system remotely (I have seen this work with a FPGA
I have spoken with Michael Opdenacker on small business cooperation
once (FOSDEM 2008 or 2009?) and we agreed it's hard to get started
One idea: what if we "join" each others company? (No strings attached,
just being interested in taking on potential projects can be enough).
It would be great to have access to each others area's of expertise
and expose this to customers.
I'ld love to hear your opinions on this.
I hope to be able to join and meet face to face again. Who is coming to where?
ELCE 2009 - Small business BOF proposal
Small Business BOF
Proposed leader: Michael Opdenacker
Conferences like ELC and ELCE are excellent opportunities for small
companies to meet, exchange experience and know each other better. This
possible to cooperate on customer projects which are too big for a
and to take advantage of the specific skills of each partner.
We invite small business owners and employees to join this BOF.
Here are suggested topics:
- Introducing one's company and main areas of expertise
(2 slides max per company, to be sent to michael@...
before the BOF)
- Working with clients (preparing quotes, estimating, invoicing, etc)
- Marketing, advertising, and building the business.
- Project management
- Relationship with the community, and with similar service providers
- Relationship with vendors
- Interest in an "Embedded Linux small business miniconf" at ELC 2010?
Ideas for this BOF can be added to the elinux.org wiki:
Michael Opdenacker, Free Electrons
Kernel, drivers and embedded Linux development,
consulting, training and support.
+ 33 621 604 642