Tyler from Less Annoying Business here. Here's what's new:
In this episode, we discuss how the recent economic uncertainty might impact bootstrapped businesses.
Charge Less [Podcast]
In this episode, we talk about how conventional wisdom around pricing is sometimes wrong.
What I'm working on
Because Less Annoying CRM is built around hiring entry-level talent (as opposed to hiring people who are already domain experts), we've always invested heavily into our internship program. Prior to the pandemic, we'd hire roughly one intern for every two full-timers.
This created a really special seasonality to my work life. Summers were busy and chaotic because of all the new people, but they were also full of energy and potential. Everyone at LACRM felt it, not just me. Even setting aside the main benefits of interns (recruiting + the work they got done) I think it was worth having an internship program just for the morale boost to the rest of the team.
The pandemic obviously changed things. We did still have interns, but we were fully remote, and it just wasn't the same. Sure, they got some work done. We even ended up hiring a couple of them. But the seasonality was lost. Unless you were working directly with the interns on a project, you were basically unaware they existed.
I'm really excited that this summer we're back in person, and we just had a great group of 9 interns join the company. It feels like old times again. Mentoring talented young people is one of the most rewarding parts of my career thus far.
I'm sorry that I don't have a great newsletter for you this month. I haven't had time to write a new blog post, and I don't have any interesting updates on what I'm working on because I've been working with the interns pretty much full time. But I guess I'll leave you with this: If you don't currently act as a mentor to people less experienced than you, I strongly recommend giving it a shot. It doesn't have to be via an internship, but if you have valuable experience working in tech, you can provide tremendous value to less experienced people with relatively little work on your part. It has the potential to change their lives, and if you're anything like me, it'll be a refreshing change of pace from your normal work.
Good stuff on the internet
We Need A Middle Class For Startups [Blog post]
This is a great article that addresses how there is an often overlooked middle ground between giant tech companies and small lifestyle businesses. It uses the term "Mittelstands" for these types of companies.
I recommend reading the article. I agree with almost all of it. The one thing I'm not sure I agree with is that it predicts that more Mittelstand companies will/should go public as a way to provide liquidity to the founders and employees.
This touches on one of my main complaints about startup rhetoric: People act like fundraising is totally separate from running a business. Like, if you want to raise, go for it! If you don't, that's cool too! Either way, you should run the company to fit your values and goals.
This just isn't how it works at all. When you raise money, it's no longer about your goals and values. It becomes at least partially about what the investors want. When a company goes public, it eventually becomes a vehicle to maximize shareholder value. You can't just decide that you don't care about growth, or that you're going to leave extra value sitting around for customers and employees to capture. It doesn't matter what the founders or employees want after a certain point. So I love the idea of Mittelstands, but I don't think they can exist at scale if they're intertwined with public financial markets.
May 17th 2022
I hadn't thought about this before, but yeah, people talk about "network effects" a lot, and most of the time they're actually talking about something else entirely. I hadn't heard the term "platform effects" before this tweet, but now it's an important part of my business vocabulary.