Tyler from Less Annoying Business here. Here's what's new:
Startup to Last is back! After an almost 6-month hiatus, Rick and I have restarted our old podcast. This episode looks back at 2021, and forward to 2022. Because it's the annual recap episode it's looong (84 minutes) but typical episodes will be more like 60 minutes going forward. We plan on publishing bi-weekly.
Founder compensation - How to decide what to pay yourself [Blog post]
Because our society has weird emotional baggage around money, it's weird to talk about your compensation, but I wish that weren't true. That's why I wanted to be transparent about how I think about my own compensation at LACRM.
What I'm working on
One of my favorite things about recording the podcast recap episode each year is that it forces me to reflect and think about what I want for the next year. I had two main learnings from that I'd like to share:
Work more, but on my own terms
My theme for 2022 is to work more, but on my own terms. In reflecting on 2021, I realized that I worked close to a standard 9-5 schedule, and I sort of regret that. My happiest work days normally involve both longer hours (I love getting in the zone and working all night) but also less pressure to work during standard business hours (there's nothing better than a 2-3 hour mid-day nap). What's the point of starting your own business if your day-to-day is just like any other job?
As my role at LACRM has shifted from individual contributor to manager, I've naturally ended up with a more standard schedule. To some extent that's unavoidable, but I think I can find a better balance than I had last year. Now that we have a more experienced management team in place, I think I can set aside more time for myself to work on my own terms which will be good for me (more naps!) and good for the company (I think I can put in 20% more total hours with this approach).
You can listen to the podcast for more info on that, but one specific thing that this means is that I want an individual contributor project that I can spend time on this year...
I want to focus more on design
I've always been the main designer at LACRM, but I have no formal training, and I haven't given myself the space to do it really well. There are two things I want to do better this year:
- I want to give myself more dedicated time to work on design. Design is a creative activity where productivity comes in bursts. In order for me to get my best work done, I need long stretches of uninterrupted time (this is one reason I like working at night instead of during the day).
- I think I'm pretty good at usability design (making things that are easy to use) but I'm not great at visual design (i.e. making things look pretty). I just started an online course to hopefully improve where I'm weakest.
Related to that, I'm working on a design update for LACRM. Here's a preview if you're interested. If you have feedback, I'm all ears, but I should mention that I'm intentionally not changing anything about the layout or the individual page content. I'm only touching the common components that are on every page (so mostly the navigation, colors, fonts, etc.). I want the app to look nicer without requiring customers to learn a new UI.
What are your goals for 2022? What wasn't true in 2021 that you want to be true this year?
Good stuff on the internet
January 23rd 2022
This tweet really resonated with me. This might sound weird, but sometimes I think the startup world is too positive. Criticism is important!
I don't mean that people should be uncivil to each other. But there's a type of startup discourse I see on Twitter a lot which looks something like, "I don't get why people feel the need to criticize X. Just ignore it if you don't like it."
NO! Entrepreneurship and tech are all about progress. It's about wanting something better in the future than what we have now in the present. If you can't call out the things that need to be improved, how do you expect to make progress? Shutting down criticism because you don't like the negative is cowardly and unconstructive. Every time you build something new, you're saying that what already existed wasn't good enough, and that's ok to say!
This is a great thread. If you're feeling at all complacent with your business, read through this, and give yourself some time to explore each method. I especially like this one: Imagine you wake up one day and your competitor has launched an amazing new feature or product, and it's your worst nightmare come true. What would that be?
Sometimes looking at yourself from the eyes of someone else (an investor, a competitor, a potential employee) can be a great way to gain perspective and come up with ideas.
Another question that I like to ask myself that's in this same genre: Imagine a private equity firm acquired your company. What's the first thing they'd change? Normally my answer is that they'd do something terrible that I'd hate. But even if that's true, it's still helpful to have a sense of what someone else would do with your business, even if it's just so you have stronger conviction about why you're the right person to run things.