Reader Mail: June 2010

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Virtual Reality

The April cover story ["The Office Is Dead. Long Live the Office"] helped ease the "virtual" pains I've been feeling since foundıng my office-free marketing agency. The testimonials were inspiring, and the tips have revived my management (and entrepreneurial) spirit, reminding me why I went virtual: freedom. Thanks for the lift, Inc.

Jessica McKimmie
Owner and chancellor, Sneaker Academy
San Diego

I opened the April issue before I closed the mailbox door, and the virtual office story screamed, "Read me!" As a small-virtual-business owner for more than four years, I could not wait to see what Inc. employees had to say about working virtually. It seems they found that, contrary to popular belief, it is not the perfect option for every company or every employee.

Indeed, creating a daily schedule is very important, as is maintaining a business attitude. You will not get your work done if you are playing on Facebook or IM'ing all day. Skype and videoconferencing can ease the feeling of isolation, along with attending business events or taking a client to lunch. Virtual work isn't for everyone, but it can be a great option if you can handle it.

Robin a. Holstein
Owner and president, Robin's Desktop
Diamond, West Virginia

Having owned two virtual companies (one back in the '90s, when we had to send contracts by fax and wait, sometimes days, for redlines that were hard to read), I can say it is absolutely the way to go. The virtual office has been empowering for me and my employees. We find ways to build company culture into every communication, rather than relying on half-yearly picnics or staff meetings/pep rallies. We go out and network to build our business assets, sometimes together and sometimes individually.

For me, the financial savings are only the beginning. Far more valuable is the agility that has become central to the DNA of my company. We have learned to work from anywhere, with anyone, and to tackle new challenges as part of a regimen. Personally, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Josh Levine
CEO, Rebel Industries
Los Angeles

I'm glad to see Inc. join the virtual revolution, albeit for a brief span. I work for a regional publisher in Salt Lake City that went virtual last July. Editors, salespeople, and even our publisher work virtually. We maintain a home office with art directors, production, and circulation staff who deal with large data files.

The biggest obstacle we've faced is wondering if people were getting any work done at home. But our employees are pros who are proud of their work. Plus, the proof is in the pudding: If they aren't working, then deadlines will be missed, and they'll be held to the accountability and the wrath of the rest of the team.

Heidi Larsen
Senior art director, Salt Lake magazine
Salt Lake City

Persistence Pays

I'd like to express a sincere appreciation to your magazine's crew for remaining so fresh, positive, and editorially diverse during the economic downturn. While other publications delved into perpetual negativity, Inc. pressed on with solutions and with vigor.

Frank Reynolds's story ["What Makes Frank Run," March] is an exemplary case in point. Second chances are priceless in life and in business today. Now more than ever, persistence is the true mantra for achieving breakthrough results. My company has encouraged our rural and metropolitan clients throughout South Carolina to drink deeply from Inc.'s pages. Please continue publishing such a wide range of intelligent articles.

Baron Christopher Hanson
Principal and lead consultant, RedBaron Consulting
Charleston, South Carolina

A Burger Company Worth Its Salt

I suspect any company that would consider buying Five Guys Burgers and Fries [How I Did It, April] would be interested in the business model as well as the quirkiness of the current management, which has obviously helped the company enter a very saturated burger market with success. I wouldn't discount the fact that profit, not change, is the key motivator for any potential buyer. As the executive director of an angel investment group, I am always concerned when business owners assume selling their thriving organizations will result in instant negative change. Do they really think some suited executive will want to change their formula for success?

Michael Quatrini
CEO and executive director, Village Cultivators
Orlando

Back to the Drawing Board

I believe there's an important and rarely discussed reason that Quark failed to keep up with Adobe [Case Study, April]. In the mid-'90s, Adobe realized its software would not survive another decade, because it was based on outdated code, so it started to build K2 - later called InDesign - from scratch.

Around that time, Quark also said it was rebuilding QuarkXPress from the ground up, but because of factors such as a high level of engineering turnover and, perhaps, a lack of vision, it was unable to pull it off until four or five years ago.

Sometimes, the most important thing you can do is start with a clean slate. I hope Quark excels in its new direction.

David Blatner
Co-host, InDesignSecrets.com and author,
Real World QuarkXPress and Real World InDesign
Seattle

Unconventional Wisdom

Jason Fried's advice to focus on things that matter now instead of worrying about what could happen in the future was great [Get Real, April]. After running several small businesses, I, too, tossed out conventional wisdom and concentrated on providing a superior product and stellar customer service. And guess what? This company is growing steadily with much less effort than my other ventures, even though every single bit of it goes against advice from business, Internet, and marketing gurus. Treating people the way I want to be treated, creating products with real value, and running things based on my experience has made things 1,000 percent better.

Karen Decrane
Partner, Traffic Tsar
Phoenix

Let the Logo Buyer Beware

I have another piece of advice to add to the story about online logo services ["Logos for Less," April]: Don't think paying more for a corporate identity from a firm will result in superior work. When I was vice president of business development for a design firm, I was working on an identity program for a client whose company name started with the letter V. The designers were loaded up with work, so they simply took trademarks originally designed for a company with a name starting with A and turned them upside down. Fortunately, the client knew a rat when he saw one and fired the firm, saying, correctly, that the work was uninspired.

So when interviewing firms, dig beneath their portfolios. Ask for a list of corporate identity clients. If a name is on the client list but there isn't any work from that client in the firm's portfolio, call the client to find out if the relationship worked. You might be surprised by what they tell you.

Michael Ostrofsky
Founder, Five Pet Place
Mission San Jose, California

Getting a Leg Up on the Outside

I applaud Inc. for the feature about Brian Hamilton and his Inmates to Entrepreneurs program [Passions, April]. I am an incarcerated subscriber to the magazine in my mid-30s. I will finish my sentence next year. As a convicted felon, I have a slim chance of getting a job, so going into business for myself is probably the most viable solution. For ex-cons, finding meaningful employment is perhaps the biggest factor dividing those who succeed and those who return to prison. I, for one, am looking forward to getting out, staying out, and being successful. Like many others, the only thing I am lacking is a bit of guidance from someone like Mr. Hamilton. I sincerely wish there were more businesspeople like him in the world.

Danny Grote
Metropolitan Correctional Center
Chicago

Happy Losers, Happier Winners

During my 31 years in sales and marketing, I have heard the word no many times, but not until I read Inc.'s Q&A with G. Clotaire Rapaille ["The Secret of Their Success," April] did I come across the term happy loser. I understand Rapaille's point: Rejection is a big part of the game. The key is to learn something from each loss and improve your odds of winning, which is true happiness.

Peter Paul Bud
author, How to Be a Best Seller
Canandaigua, New York

CORRECTION

On How I did It of our April issue, we stated that Jerry Murrell, founder of Five Guys Burgers and Fries, attended Michigan State University. Murrell attended the University of Michigan.

To submit a letter, write to mail@inc.com or Inc. Letters, 7 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007-2195. Letters may be edited for space and style. Submission constitutes permission to use. To alert us to an error, send an e-mail to corrections@inc.com.

Last updated: Jun 1, 2010




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