Jason Fried's article about making money ["How I Got Good at Making Money," March] sparked a lively discussion on Inc.com. "Fantastic article, Jason," wrote Richard Hull, co-founder and CEO of GetInToo.com in Southaven, Mississippi. "Bootstrapping is the only way to keep your company yours. You appreciate each little win that much more, and every little stumble stings a bit more." Anita Wilcox, owner of Violette Enterprises in Burlington, Massachusetts, agreed. "It's great to see an article that's not all about how to get venture capital," she wrote. "Starting small gives you a chance to test out the market, so you don't buy a shipping container full of widgets that nobody wants (even if you think they're cool). Thanks for the down-to-earth advice."
Not everyone agreed wholeheartedly with Fried's strategies. "This was an inspiring article, but Fried seems to be advocating breaking the law when he talks about creating his own catalog from a competitor's material," wrote Jeff S. Saxman, president of Jeff S. Saxman Photography in Richmond, Virginia. "I realize he was young and just starting out, and I applaud his work ethic, but one's success sometimes comes at the expense of others." Michael Dubakov, CEO of TargetProcess in Amherst, New York, thought Fried's stance against outside funding was a bit extreme. "Venture capital can be useful in some cases," he wrote. "I bootstrapped TargetProcess with no outside funding. But if you want to build something huge, you can wait 10 years and generate enough profit to fund it, or call a VC."
Women business owners were inspired by our story about Jamie Latshaw, a work-at-home mom and co-founder of the defense contractor Lexicon [The Way I Work, March]. "You are an inspiration to all of us trying to follow in your footsteps," wrote Jen Petty, co-owner and VP of marketing of Petty Details in Sulphur Springs, Texas. "It is truly great to see your kids grow up while also dedicating yourself to the prospect of building a life for yourself, instead of being chained to a desk at a corporation." Jennifer Colgan, owner of Katie's Charms in Hopatcong, New Jersey, added: "As a mom of three also running my own business from home, it's nice to know there's someone else working at 1 a.m.!"
Lisa Sperow, founder of online resource Start Your Own Business, had some advice for Latshaw: "The mommy guilt never goes away! It sounds like Jamie is running an incredible business and still spending quality time with her kids, but chances are, she'll never feel like she's giving enough. The trick is to understand that there will be seasons in which we are better mommies than businesswomen, and vice versa. And that's OK."
Our special report on customer service ["How May We Help You?," March] struck a chord. "Kudos to Crutchfield for finding ways to add value for the customer instead of trying to compete with Walmart on price," wrote A.J. Horst, president of 3Boost in Addison, Texas. "This is a fantastic case study on how small businesses can never win based on price alone."
Jessica D. Chapman, founder of Room to Breathe Professional Organizing in Sacramento, weighed in on the customer service makeover at Drybar. "I disagree with Drybar's decision to continue using the phrase no problem," she wrote. "This is one of my pet peeves. When I say 'thank you,' the appropriate response is 'you're welcome.' When someone says 'no problem,' it implies there was one in the first place."
Meg Cadoux Hirshberg's column about passing a business to the children [Balancing Acts, March] evoked responses from readers who have taken the reins of family companies. "We are very lucky that things are running smoothly here, as we are now nine years into the second generation's term of leadership," wrote Hilary Halstead Scott, vice president of Halstead Bead in Prescott, Arizona. "A sense of humor is a must. Nothing knocks you down a peg like your father sharing your most awkward teenage moments with your colleagues or showing them your baby pictures."
Lisabeth Rosenberg, co-owner of Arrelle Fine Linens in Chicago, had a less positive experience. "Once my husband and I got involved with his mom's business, sibling jealousies ruined the family dynamic," Rosenberg wrote. "Even if parents are evenhanded when dividing things, sometimes there is no avoiding conflict."
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