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Reader Mail: February 2011

Responses to recent stories, including Jason Fried’s column about raising prices and Meg Hirshberg’s column about entrepreneurship and divorce.

An Elegant Success

Our article about clothing designer Eileen Fisher [How I Did It, November] drew comments on Inc.com from entrepreneurs who are just starting out. "I recognized the name Eileen Fisher because my wife loves her clothing," wrote Wayne Parker, co-founder of Belle Terre NC in Lincolnton, North Carolina. "As a newbie to the entrepreneurial game, it is nice to hear inspiring success stories, especially since there is way too much gloom and doom right now. Keep the good news coming!" Syieda Penn, founder of Pastiche Group in Silver Spring, Maryland, echoed Parker's sentiments. "This story was inspiring, to say the least," Penn wrote. "My firm is still in its very infant stages. Articles like this make it possible to believe that doing good work, and doing it right, will lead to success."

A Small Price to Pay

Jason Fried's column about raising prices [Get Real, November] evoked a strong response from readers. "You hit the nail right on the head," wrote Hussain Kitabi, CEO of ImpressionZZ in Houston. "People have started to sell software so cheaply that they are making good software developers an object of ridicule when they charge fair prices. We have to understand our worth better."

Fried even won over some critics with the column. "I don't always agree with what Jason has to say, but this is spot on," wrote Brad Farris, principal adviser at Anchor Advisors in Chicago. "The more you charge, the more you will attract the clients for whom you are exactly the right fit. It works for everyone." Lisa Wagner, CEO of Piranha Marketing in Tempe, Arizona, expressed a similar opinion. "Higher prices bring in a different partnership between clients and companies, and a much more mutually responsible dynamic," she wrote.

Mir Rooshanak, a business analyst at UPrinting.com in Los Angeles, cautioned that raising prices can easily backfire. "If you have a product that is separate from the competition, which Fried seems to have, then you can charge a higher price and get away with it," Rooshanak wrote. "Otherwise, you are just preying on your existing customer base, and there are few things worse for business than customers who think you are ripping them off."

Divorce, Inc.

Readers also had a strong reaction to Meg Hirshberg's column about how entrepreneurship can spell the end of a marriage [Balancing Acts, November]. "I am sure if I worked with my husband during the first 10 to 15 years of marriage, I would be divorced," wrote Holly Sher, president of Evanger's Dog & Cat Food in Wheeling, Illinois. "But I bought this company eight years ago, after we had already been together for a long time, and I am very grateful every day that my husband works for me." Ingrid Brown, owner of The Villager and AuburnArt.com in Auburn, Alabama, said business stress contributed to her recent separation from her husband. "We've been separated for months now, and our businesses are still the most important aspect of our relationship," she wrote. "For our businesses to survive, it requires both of us."

At Your Service

Our story about companies that are tapping into nonobvious pools of profitable demand ["The Demand Economy," November] resonated with readers who are doing just that. "For the past 20 years, I have specialized in working with the elderly and their families," wrote Connie Lambert, CEO of Our Generations in Columbus, Ohio. "Businesses such as GrandCare are doing the kind of forward thinking that will totally change the landscape of eldercare. Baby boomers have no intention of aging in the same way they witnessed their parents age." Joe Entwisle, senior policy analyst at Health & Disability Advocates in Chicago, suggested another high-demand market. "This is a great article, but you missed people with disabilities," Entwisle wrote. "They are the largest minority group in the U.S., and they tend to be very brand loyal."

Dressed to Kill

Mary Campbell Gallagher, founder and president of BarWrite in New York City, was pleasantly surprised by our article about Lani Hay, the stylish founder of Lanmark Technology [The Way I Work, November]. "Finally, Inc. shows its readers a chic business owner," Gallagher wrote. "The tieless, unshaven men in your pages may be successful, but who wouldn't prefer to emulate a well-dressed, civilized business owner like Hay?" But Kevin Shoesmith, owner of Factory Interactive in Vancouver, British Columbia, thought Hay's life was anything but glamorous. "I'd never want my life to be like this," Shoesmith wrote. "It sounds like a kind of hell."

Let us know what you think. Submit a comment to Inc.com, e-mail us at mail@inc.com, or send mail to 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.

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