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Establishing and successfully running a business takes a great deal of effort, and in the early years at least, doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for much else.
But Collis Ta’eed, co-founder (along with his wife Cyan) and CEO of Envato, which is one of the world’s most successful digital marketplaces and creative educational networks, firmly believes it’s important to devote some of that leftover time to learning from other entrepreneurs who have gone before you.
He credits reading these business books as being instrumental, at least in part, in his business success, and we’re delighted he’s chosen to share the three business books that changed his life with us.
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Dan Pink
As Envato has grown over the years from a couple of people working from home, to an office stacked with people, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand how people work. Before Envato I’d only ever worked in very small businesses. So learning about people stuff has been one of the biggest learning curves I’ve had as an entrepreneur.
I originally came across Dan Pink through an amazing TED talk (are there any other kind?) he had given in 2009. So when one of my team handed me a copy of Drive, my curiosity was already piqued.
Pink’s main thesis is that businesses should pay attention to, and encourage basic motivators for people to succeed at their jobs such as the need to achieve mastery over their roles, to have work that has purpose and to be given as much autonomy as possible. These ideas are intuitive in many ways, but contrary to a lot of conventional thinking.
The book has been very influential for me, particularly as we’ve worked to create a great work culture at Envato. [...]
So I’ve been playing a little game with myself. It’s been going on for a while and I thought it was time I shared it with you.
It’s called The Email Game.
This isn’t a euphemism for anything. It’s an actual game. About email. That you play with yourself.
If you have an inbox of exploding proportions like mine, any help to slay it is most welcome. Until now, I’ve tried a range of strategies ranging from setting rules, only checking at certain times of day, being ruthless about deleting and so on.
But none of these have ever left me feeling anything less than overwhelmed by the sheer volume of emails I receive.
I’ll admit, I don’t answer them all. That would be impossible.
Within those gazillion emails are legitimate queries that require legitimate responses. But trying to conquer them can sometimes feel like trying to climb Everest.
Until The Email Game came along. [...]
As you know, I love hearing about (and telling) stories about the challenges and triumphs faced by entrepreneurs. Whether you’re starting a business from your shed, or trying to conquer the universe with a team of 200 people, I find it fascinating to hear about these journeys. This week, I chatted to Eddie Machaalani and Mitch Harper, who first met in an internet chat room before launching their business Bigcommerce. They inspired this week’s post on Enterprise.
A chance meeting in an online chat room may lead to what Eddie Machaalani and Mitchell Harper both hope will one day become a billion dollar company. The pair are co-founders and co-CEOs of Bigcommerce, an online platform that helps small businesses create online stores.
It was 2002 when Machaalani and Harper met in a chat room about computer programming. Ten years later they are business partners of an organisation that powers nearly 30,000 online stores and has processed more than $1.2 billion worth of sales in its first two-and-a-half years.
For Machaalani, 34 and Harper, 30, the chat room meeting was serendipitous. Discovering they had common interests and similar desires to be their own boss, the pair founded Interspire in 2003. It offered different products for small businesses to create an online presence. According to Machaalani, they were able to double their revenue every year. By 2009, they had 15 staff.
But this success came at a price. Both co-founders were working 14 to 15-hour days, often seven days a week. They achieved this growth not only through sheer hard work but also by bootstrapping the business. However, they knew they wanted to grow bigger. Much bigger. [...]
Changing your name is no easy task. But that’s exactly what we did this week. And let me tell you … it’s freaking exhausting.
In case you missed it, we changed our name to Australian Writers’ Centre. For the past seven years, we’ve been building the Sydney Writers’ Centre brand and business. Through lots of hard work and, yes, some sleepless nights, it’s a brand that has gained recognition, established a good reputation and become a favourite among many students who learn with us. So the decision to evolve our name hasn’t been easy.
Over the past couple of years I’ve wrestled with the idea of changing our name. Canvassing the possibility resulted in a range of responses:
“But you’ll lose your SEO.”
“Oh I like the word ‘Sydney’.”
“That’s a really bad idea.”
“Go for it!”
“Have you bought your new URL yet?”
For some time, I almost convinced myself that keeping the word “Sydney” could work. We could run the “Sydney Writers’ Centre” in Melbourne, right? Ummmm, no. Well, not without a great deal of difficulty and ensuing confusion anyway.
I knew in my heart that the name had to change. And once I made the decision to rebrand to the Australian Writers’ Centre, I just knew it was the the right thing to do. [...]
When my friend Robert Gerrish told me that he was going to work in the nude as a celebration of the freedom he has thanks to his life as a solopreneur, I thought … “Good Lord. Robert’s gone nuts.” Well, it turns out he won’t be the only one in the nuddy.Many other members of the Flying Solo community have also pledged to follow suit in their respective birthday suits. “Work in the Nude Day” inspired this week’s Enterprise post. [...]
My life in a minute: Breakfast with Twitter, Power Stories to launch in Brazil, Join our Summer School
I’m usually a hermit. I love nothing more than being cocooned at home with my furry babies.
However, my diary had other plans for me this week. So what’s been on the agenda?
Power Stories to launch in Brazil
Big news this week is that my book Power Stories: The 8 stories you MUST tell to build an epic business will be launched in Brazil. The publishers are busy translating it into Portuguese as you read this.
I can’t wait to see the version they sell in Brazil. I won’t be able to read a word of it – but I’m sure I’ll be excited anyway!
Breakfast with Twitter
Sean Callanan at @SportsGeek organised breakfast at the SCG with Mike Brown, Twitter’s head of international growth, this week. Twitter is expanding its reach here. My friends know that getting me to an early breakfast appointment is nothing short of a miracle. Getting me to the SCG is an even bigger one.
Nevertheless, it was worthwhile to hear from the likes of Mike, Wendell Sailor (yes, he’s massive), Scott Dools (yes, he’s funny) and Shaynna Blaze (yes, she’s gorgeous). [...]
This week I had to drive to a restaurant I’ve never been to before. When I’m driving to unfamiliar places I use my car’s GPS system. So I looked up the address of the restaurant. Its website simply stated the street name but no street number.
I don’t know about your car’s GPS system, but mine insists on me typing in a street number before it will even allow me to progress to typing in the street name. In the past, when I haven’t known the street number, I’ve typed in a random number in the hope that I would spot my destination (if it’s a store, cafe, or place with signage) by driving up and down the street. Tip: this is not productive. Especially if you’re on something like Epping Road or Pacific Highway. [...]
You gotta love someone who is prepare to put themselves out there. That’s why I like this YouTube video so much. Mike Larsen is normally a pretty straight-laced, serious corporate guy who recently jumped ship to found his own startup, InsideTrak.com.au. In order to spread the word about his new business, he’s done his very own Ricky Gervais impression in this online video.
His antics – which included taking out an advertisement on his competitor’s website – inspired this week’s Enterprise post. [...]
This week I popped into the Lululemon store in Balmain. Now, if you’re familiar with Lululemon you’ll know that it’s the sort of place that sells workout gear, sports bras and yoga clothes. As I’m currently on a health kick, I picked out some pieces to inspire me and headed to the checkout.
An odd collection of books
When I got there I spied a row of books that looked like they were for sale. I was expecting to find books on meditation, health, fitness and mung beans. But instead (as you can see from the picture), the books included: [...]
I love stories about entrepreneurs. I’ve sure you’ve figured that out by now. It always amazes me how much some entrepreneurs will put it all on the line to turn their business dreams into reality. It’s not just the financial commitment, it’s the stress and sleepless nights that go with it. So when I heard John Allen and Mitch Fraser’s story, I wanted to share it.
John Allen and Mitch Fraser know what it’s like to fail. Three years ago, their entrepreneurial dreams were dashed and they almost walked away from what has now become successful home loan comparison site, Tomorrow Finance.
Allen, 28 and Fraser, 29, learnt a hard lesson after investing a combined $80,000 into a business that they thought would disrupt the home loan industry.
Tomorrow Finance works in a similar way to a mortgage broker. But while mortgage brokers often receive trailing commissions (which they receive for the life of the loan), Fraser and Allen negotiate one-off fees with the banks. Because the banks don’t have to pay ongoing fees for the life of the loan, Allen says this results in a cheaper home loan for consumers.
Taking the plunge
The pair had so much faith in their new idea, they plunged headfirst into the business at the end of 2009 and spent the next four months negotiating arrangements with banks. Allen quit a job at professional services firm PwC and moved back home with his mum. Fraser scaled back his own web development business in order to focus on the new venture. [...]