Cool, determined, and under 30? I would say so. What an inspiring group of young entrepreneurs [cover story, October]. These days, the media are obsessed with talk of the next Great Depression, but I found this article to be a refreshing guide for those of us trying to keep our companies headed in the right direction. I was moved by the fact that several of these men and women have built their businesses on audience collaboration, not just their own individual vision. It's great to see a generation of entrepreneurs building companies on what are essentially acts of sharing.
Hamilton Square, New Jersey
Great piece on the lives and challenges of young entrepreneurs. The Millennials you profiled certainly seem to have the courage and confidence to succeed. But many of them don't seem to worry about creating actual business plans. They seem more concerned about launching their services and figuring it out as they go. Does this remind anyone of thedot-com entrepreneurs of the late 1990s? I hope, with the mentoring some of these entrepreneurs are seeking, they will be able to avoid some of the mistakes made by previous generations of young go-getters.
Director of internal audit services
New York City
Joel Spolsky's column about sales commissions [How Hard Could It Be? October] was right on the money. When I was in commissioned sales, my boss decided I shouldn't be paid for ongoing business with clients that I had brought to the company. This had the unintended consequence of forcing me to go after only new business, in which I would enjoy full commission, rather than taking care of the current customers' needs. Who knows how much business we lost because of that shortsighted decision? Salespeople shouldn't even concern themselves about commissions, as that removes focus from the customer. You never really know where an account is going to lead. In my sales career, relentless focus on the customer -- and not on my pay stubs -- has always paid off.
Recreational yachting consultant
Arkansas Electric Boat Company
Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
Joel Spolsky is right: The absolute best way to turn a motivated employee into a slacker who does the bare minimum to get by, while hating you and his job, is to institute some sort of token recognition plan. Hand your employee of the month a $50 bonus, and he will be merely the least demotivated of an entirely demoralized crew. The same goes for your CEO and his golden parachute. He will be flying the enterprise as fast as he can into the highest mountain it will reach before he jumps out of the cockpit. Incentives always backfire; they are hugely destructive even if they work as designed.
Andrew M. Shaw
New Providence, New Jersey
Norm's Ten Commandments
Norm Brodsky's column in your October issue should be required reading for all new entrepreneurs. For the past four years, I have been running my business by the seat of my pants (albeit profitably). Norm's advice was a wake-up call. You will see the results of the column on my bottom line next year.
Bel Fiore Bridal
Norm Brodsky's guidelines for running a business were tremendous. As a business owner and adviser to entrepreneurs, I have time and again witnessed a fatal mistake made by small companies: the failure to learn and understand the basic fundamentals of business before plunging into the market.
The days of easy money are gone. In today's economy, entrepreneurs would do well to heed Brodsky's commonsense approach.