Category Archives: Startup

How to be a startup rebel

Last year I spoke at the Happy Startup Summer Camp – an awesome event for startups who want to do things differently.

I also did a workshop on happiness at work at the camp (happiness being the foundation of success for any startup) but in my main speech I focused on how to be a startup rebel.

Because let’s face it: Starting your own company requires you to take risks, ignore any-sayers and not be afraid to be yourself. You can see the whole speech above.

Ask the CHO: Diplomacy with customers

Say no to difficult customers

An anonymous reader sent me this question:

I’m struggling with my work/happiness situation. I want to be return to graphic design as a career, but I realize that in order to be successful at it, I will have to find a way to become a better diplomat when I come across very difficult clients: clients who think they know better, belittle the importance of the work (“it’s so easy I could do it”), are experts at everything and generally make the creative process hell.

Most people are not like this, but I would like some pointers on the difficult side of pleasing people, while still trying to maintain happiness at work.

Excellent question.

There is one realization that I think every independent worker and startup company needs to arrive at:

Some customers ain’t worth it.

I know that as a fledgling company you may worry about making ends meet and consequently think that every customer is a good customer.

But the fact of the matter is, that some customers are more trouble than they’re worth. They make you fight to convince them of the value of your work, they make every meeting a battle of wills and they demand subservience before they will grant you their business…

Their money may be good – their company, however, is toxic.

I previously wrote two blog posts that touch on this. One is about why “The Customer is Always Right” is wrong, and shows that some customers are not only wrong, they’re wrong for your business.

In another blog post I wrote about how I learned to say “No!” to customers. How some of the toughest most demanding customers may actually come around and respect your work, providing you tell them “No!” when they make unreasonable demands.

So my advice to any contract worker, startup company, independent consultant or is this:

Dare to say No to bad customers!

Yes, you will lose out on some business here and now, but consider the cost of accepting a bad customer’s business. The constant struggle will make you tired, annoyed, depressed, demotivated and much less able to go out and find nice, fun customers.

Working with happy customers, on the other hand, will make you happy. This will increase your energy and motivation. You will do better work. You will get more referrals and more repeat business. You will have more confidence in your own abilities and therefore do better in your sales meetings, getting you even more happy customers.

What’s your take? Have you tried saying “No!” to a difficult customer? What happened? How do you treat difficult customers?

Top 5 reasons to make your startup a great place to work – and how to do it

Happiness leads to profits

When I co-founded an IT company back in 1997 we had many dreams, but one overarching ambition: We wanted to make it a happy place to work.

We’d tried working for organizations that cared only about sales, billable hours and profits and we were determined to break away from this mentality and make our company a place where people had fun, did great work, constantly learned and developed and had time for their private lives and families.

It turned out that we were right on the money. The company became happy and successful and four years later when the dot-boom happened and the company’s very survival was threatened, that is what saved us – the fact that everyone at the company loved working there and were willing to go extraordinary lengths to save it.

Quite simply, happiness at work saved our startup.
Continue reading Top 5 reasons to make your startup a great place to work – and how to do it