Thursday, July 10, 2014

Book Review: Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton

You might be wondering how the word ‘tweet’ came from. And yes, it is now an official word. Tweeting was formed through an application website called as Twitter, of which some of us are into the craze right now. And in this book called Hatching Twitter written by Nick Bilton, we will know the story of the four men responsible for the birth of Twitter, as we know it.

Nick Bilton writes the Bits Blog for the New York Times and is an expert on technology culture, privacy, design, business and the way the Internet affects everyone’s lives. Nick is also the author of I Live in the Future and Here’s How It Works.

Hatching Twitter is basically about power, politics and how hidden interests are devastating friendship.  Moreover, it also talks about victory, loss, achievements and reaching your dreams despite the business aspect of it. Anyone who uses Twitter are the target audience of this book; those who are interested in Twitter’s impact and origins; those who are working on a start-up; and anyone interested in personal lives of others like the dangers of mixing business with friendship.

Having read the book, these are some of the most interesting events that were written and the most intriguing facts anyone would want to know about Twitter and its foundation.

The drama behind Twitter is painstakingly painful. And it is true. Twitter is one of the technologies that have had the biggest impact on our daily lives. With this saying, Twitter is used to retweet information for the rest of the world to read, to share groundbreaking news and allow people to create close connections with politicians, celebrities and world-leading thinkers. During the course of this review, we will also learn how a few strange but brilliant and creative developers, some of whom never finished college, but were able to build this multi-billion-dollar behemoth called Twitter.

Before founding Twitter, Evan Williams helped start the blogging craze with the site Blogger.  Ev, who was a college dropout, initiated everything. With the eagerness to start a business, Ev built a journal like website which is now known as Blogger, but because of the lack of leadership skills, was then bought by Google. And gaining from the millions of dollars was the genesis of Twitter.

After selling Blogger to Google, Ev joined up with a neighbor to work on an audio blog platform. Friendships came as Ev met Noah Glass and started another audio blog platform called Odeo. Noah hired staffers namely Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone, which made the office spin out of control. Noah was incontrollable due to his chaotic mind which then turned Odeo financially unstable, Ev jumped into the opportunity and became Odeo’s CEO.
While Odeo was struggling to survive, a few employees had an idea for a way to share their statues with friends.  And this is where Twitter came out in the open. Noah had this idea in mind of connecting with people through sharing their statuses, what they are doing, eating or watching at the moment. But due to Ev’s doubting over Noah’s leadership skill, Ev told Biz and Jack to start with the status update idea without involving Noah.

With this chaos, their relationships as founders also struggled especially when it comes to leading the company, as Twitter grew. Jack and Ev were now battling over Twitter’s development.  Eventually ownership and structure of the company was formalized: Ev had personally financed Twitter and kept 70 percent while Jack would be CEO and get 20 percent. The rest of the staff and Biz would split up of what’s remaining.

Despite its enormous success, Twitter was constantly blighted by boardroom disputes. With this, conflicts between Ev and Jack grew including their investments in the company and who really was the inventor of Twitter in the first place. Lies and many more lies came and vengeance was sought. Until Ev finally confronted Jack that there was not one single inventor of Twitter—but the life Jack made was already too big to control.

Twitter became more popular and as it grew in size and success, it was already a struggle to keep on top of running the business for Ev. Just like Noah and Jack before him, Ev was having trouble guiding Twitter. Which makes it more chaotic than ever. A coup against Ev took place, ousting him out of Twitter making Jack the CEO.

With everything that has been put through over a single successful application such as Twitter, there are stories that will surely make you realize that growing a business with your friends is sometimes not a good idea. There will really come a time that stressful relationships will spring out and will eventually kill the essence of friendship just for business sake. Power is also one big factor in this story and it is undeniably present basing on the story.

To summarize, the book Hatching Twitter is a must-read especially to those who have very ambitious ideas. This book, among the other true to life stories of failures and successes in business, serves as a reminder that relationships are more important than power.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Book Review: 100$ Start-up by Chris Guillebeau

Care to know how to start a business with only less of an amount for a capital? In this book 100$ Startup, Chris Guillebeau made a guide for people who want to leave their eight-hour-day work and start their own business. Mr. Guillebeau is an entrepreneur and a writer who loves travelling. To him, visiting every country in the world is a success. He is also a dedicated individual regarding self-employment and encourages people to live their lives with fulfillment. With over 300, 000 visits on his blog site, The Art of Non-Conformity; he sees to it that every reader can gain insights from him.

100% Startup is created to help individuals, who started leaving the hierarchies and rules of traditional employment, to do what they love, follow their passion and start their own business to make a living. Moreover, this book also talks about Chris Guillebeau’s advice to microbusinessmen who are interested in successful small-business ideas and to individuals who wanted to grow their microbusiness and increase their income.

Reading through the whole book, it is informative in such a way that anyone who was able to come across it would be interested in a scheme such as self-employment. It is not a walk in the park, but if one is determined to be his own boss of his company and earn money from it, then this book can definitely help a lot. Also, experiences from around 50 different entrepreneurs who started with a capital of only $100 or less, became an inspiration and a source of motivation for this book and for interested individuals who wanted to venture on this type of money-making method.

The following are some insights from the book that are helpful in making one realize that joining microbusinesses is fun and exciting:

Break away from the nine-to-five and become your own boss—it’s a lot simpler than you think.  One of the most important stages in the whole process is making the choice to act. And yes it is true. Many entrepreneurs often feel that struggles come from competitors or market forces, but it is the other way around. Having those internal insecurities and fears can make you go one step back because it involves risk-taking. But the reality is, you have to take a leap of faith. We never know, you might just see some gold coins at the end of the rainbow.

Passion is not enough for business success; you also need customers and the right skills. Finding your sweet spot where your passions, your skills and the needs of others meet is the best recipe for success. And it is also important that you provide value to your customers.

Understand your customers’ deepest needs and craft your offering accordingly. Knowing your customers is one important thing for a startup entrepreneur to begin with so it is essential that you reach out to your customers and ask them what their passions, skills and needs are. From there, you will know what they are interested in and can start a move on how to advertise and showcase your products to your prospects. 

Get creative with your marketing, and focus on the benefits that your product provides. In crafting messages, don’t dwell too much attention to the features of your products but instead focus more on the core benefits for the customer: how it will help them. And with this, you also need to hustle with your marketing strategies to be able to gain better results and build up more audience.

Successful launches rely on thorough preparation and instilling a sense of urgency.  Essentially, every entrepreneur should plan and prepare their launch meticulously. A few of the techniques that an entrepreneur could do is to engage your audience prior to the big launch, say you are going to build up their anticipation by telling them proactively about your on-going project.

A business needs to make money, so stay focused on your costs and income. This means you need to consider things like your funding, your costs and most importantly, your income. Moreover, every entrepreneur should be proactive about business development. For example, asking yourself about how to make more sales, know if there are long-standing problems that needs to be fixed and so on, to keep focused on the lifeblood of your company.

Get paid more than once, price your product ambitiously and use small tweak to make a big impact in profits.  Make sure that your pricing is based on the benefits you provide, not the cost of producing a service. On the other hand, you also need to raise your prices periodically, which can be an indicator that you are much more than what you charge.

Make your business as big as you want: stay small or grow by bringing in other people. In business, it is okay to have different ambitions. And as your business grows, you may soon find out that you simply cannot manage everything by yourself. And this where the need of bringing people in is important.

Keep plans simple so you can focus on the action. Action beats planning when it comes to starting and running microbusiness, every time. Business plans should be simple and essential things such as what to sell, to whom you should sell your products and how you’ll get paid should be noted. 

Below is video of Chris Guillebeau talking about The Business of Inspiration.

In conclusion to the insights from the book 100$ Startup, Chris Guillebeau wants every aspiring entrepreneur who have decided to leave the workforce and start their own business, they will typically find a lot of people giving unsolicited advice. Moreover, this book reminds ever individual that you do not need anyone’s permission to be successful. You should learn to trust your own judgment and take the leap. You won’t believe how good making that first sale will feel.

Overall, this book is a big yes for recommendation. It is a good-read and with the very concise approach, the impact is big that it would make you think of ideas on how to start your own microbusiness.