About Robert Spiegel

Rob Spiegel is the author of Net Strategy (Dearborn) and The Shoestring Entrepreneurs Guide to Internet Start-ups (St. Martin's Press). You can reach Rob at robspiegel@comcast.net.
Balancing Too-Much and Not-Enough Work

What’s more stressful? A workload that requires a long stretch of 10- to 12-hour days? Or a slow and quiet flow of work that forces you to eat up your financial cushion and leaves you borrowing to make your mortgage payment? Both extremes are troubling beyond measure and both are common in the unpredictable world of business ownership. Even the largest companies stretch and contract with the business cycle and with changes in the marketplace.

Light Your Fuse Now

Have you been thinking about launching a company? Or perhaps you’re considering an expansion of your existing business. Finally, current economic conditions are conspiring to offer you the best environment for a business start-up. Current conditions are as favorable for start-ups as any time we’ve seen since late 1982, the year we were just beginning to emerge from a deep and prolonged recession and enter a 20-year expansion that was interrupted only briefly in 1991.

Grab Discipline from Desperation

On most mornings, you wake up a good couple hours before the sun, long before your little family members rise. You set the coffee machine last night, knowing that you were going to make your European and East Coast calls during the hours when the neighbors are sleeping. By the time the sun cracks over the mountains, you’re more than halfway through your contact list, with the most difficult calls crossed off.

Business Success is Rooted in Sales

When I launched my first business I had a wildly mistaken view of what business actually is. First off, I thought an enterprise was about money. I thought business was about the accumulation, budgeting and the careful spending of dollars. Certainly that’s part of business. But it’s not the important part. I also mistakenly thought business was about creating a high-quality product or service that was compelling and clearly needed. Nope, not even close.

Magazines Online: They’re Finally Getting It

Looking back it’s amazing to recall that magazines were once considered the best-positioned companies to succeed online. In the ancient days of the early 90s, magazines seemed to have it all: a brand name, years of archived editorial content, a deep list of advertisers who could be lured to the exciting new world of banner ads. Banner ads would produce the revenue to make it all profitable. Banner ads.

Singing Your Way to Success

Entrepreneurs can take a lesson from Sheryl Crow hit, “Soak up the Sun.” During the chorus she sings, “For every time I feel lame; I’m looking up.” For those who start and build a new enterprise, the need to keep “looking up” is critical for success. An entrepreneur is like a salmon trying to swim upstream through rapids. It takes an unnatural degree of effort, and the dearest struggle usually comes while all outward signs present a negative face.

Bye, Bye Sales Force

Gary Brighten, a GM engineer, logs on the Williams Controls website and goes to the GM-secure area. He clicks to the file he’s been working on all week, a CAD program that lets him design the farm equipment part he needs. He finishes the design and sends the program over to the sales department after filling out the online purchasing order. In six weeks, 278 GM farm equipment dealerships will receive a supply of the part. He didn’t visit with one sales rep. He didn’t fax over a paper purchase order. He never talked to a human being. It didn’t even take a sales rep to get him to participate online. Brighten’s boss talked Williams into offering the service.

Launching the Net Company

One of the most common questions I get from readers is, “What does it take to start an Internet business?” The assumption is that launching an Internet business is somehow different from starting an offline business. In truth, getting a business off the ground is no easier or less expensive online than it is offline.