How to be your own boss. Fred Wilson offers 10 different ways in a presentation he gave at the 99% Conference. The main point he stresses? "You don't have to be Twitter or Foursquare to be your own boss and do what you're passionate about."
Low inflation squeezes margins. The Wall Street Journal reports that consumer prices fell by 0.2 percent last month. That's good news for consumers (cheap stuff!) but, with commodity prices climbing, bad news for some businesses (that cheap stuff is expensive to make). "[M]any companies [are] in a bind as they digest rising wholesale prices, which push up their production and operating costs," the article says. "Across the economy, budding concerns about inflation coming out of the economic downturn have morphed into worries about inflation being too low as products face intense price pressures." Inc.com has lots of good advice on pricing strategies, if you're wondering what to do.
The case for working at a start-up. Paul Graham tried to make it last night at a new conference designed to help start-ups attract top employees. TechCrunch recaps with a few pieces of advice for entrepreneurs wondering how to compensate early employees. Short answer: Equity. Graham says that single-founder start-ups that have raised no money can expect to give up 50 percent of their equity to a top early employee. For companies that have raised angle funding and have two founders, it's 5 to 10 percent; and for companies that have raised venture capital funding it's 1 percent.
How to raise a seed round. Fresh off closing a round of seed financing, BlockChalk shares the lessons they learned along the way. A sampling: Start by finding early supporters. Sign up for AngelList, a service that sends screened start-up pitches to interested investors. And when you do get in a room with a potential investor, be wary that your prototype can easily be misinterpreted as a sum total of your efforts. Pitch the team, not just the product. (Hat tip Venture Hacks.)
The key to stopping a sales slump. For Denny's it's going after baby boomers (via AdAge). "We're embracing--because we're open 24 hours--[that] different dayparts lend themselves to different segments," says a company spokesperson, proving that Denny's is as good at producing jargon--"dayparts," really?--as it as at serving flapjacks at 2 a.m. For more on how to think about customer demographics, see this article.
How to motivate without money. Dan Pink posts a short video arguing that the old carrot-and-stick method of motivation is outdated (via VentureBeat). In the video, Pink cites an MIT study that challenged people to a series of tasks. The better they performed, the higher their monetary reward would be. For mechanical tasks, this system worked like a charm. But for cognitive ones, it crashed and burned. "When a task gets more complicated, when it requires some conceptual creative thinking, those kinds of motivators, demonstrably don't work," Pink explains. The true motivators when it comes to innovation, he says, are autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
Learning from Toy Story 3. The third chapter of Pixar's charming animated series about talking toys opens this weekend. It's good! And, if this article in Wired is to be believed, it's a case study in how companies can be creative. (The secret: Have a group of seasoned employees who trust one another completely.) Have a great weekend, however you spend it.
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