Presence to Competence to Mastery

I think this framework is something is scribbled down from Hajj Flemings.

The central idea is that there are three phases to consider:

  1. Online presence
  2. Online competence
  3. Online mastery

I’ve heard this described by a small business expert in Philadelphia as:

  1. Kindergarten business
  2. Sixth grade business
  3. Twelfth grade business

Doughnut Shop Business Wisdom

In the December 2017 issue of American Way, a few mom-and-pop doughnut shops in Los Angeles were featured by Andy Wang. A few key takeaway quotes for me are:

“Our customers are like our family. We’re not going anywhere.” —Teresa Ngo of blinkiedonuts.com

“It’s been a great joy to say that it’s all because of Primos Donuts and because he and I devoted our life to doing what the customer wants.” —Celia Primo of primosdonuts.com on her husband and partner Ralph

“She made sure the customers are taking care of. When she saw a car, she knew who it was. She had their coffee and donuts ready. She would talk to the customers and build great relationships.” —Jim Nakano of thedonutmanca.com on his wife and partner Miyoko

“People would rather have a hard-working immigrant family’s hand-cut donut that’s freshly made several times a day than something that’s just shipped frozen or made once a day.” —Mayly Tao of dksdonuts.com

“You don’t need to have 2 million dollars to go into business. You just have to have an idea and persistence.” —Stan Berman of stansdoughnuts.com

I especially love:

“… because he and I devoted our life to doing what the customer wants.”

This is definitely how this felt like for me growing up in a small business. —JM

Homepage Hero

My barber Kirk is one of the wisest people that I know. In the event that you’re looking for a perfect haircut in Massachusetts with a side-serving of puh-lenty of wisdom, Tri-Con Barber Shop is where to go.

In my YouTube video today, I re-count a story Kirk told me about his recent outreach to a person online who was causing some problems for a brand. So Kirk talked to him over the telephone to give him his social media tips. And balance was restored thanks to this hometown hero … or more accurately this “Homepage Hero” that Kirk has become for me and others online.

💈 Tri-Con Barber’s site is: https://triconbarber.wordpress.com

No Plan B

Sitting with Hajj Flemings at WordCamp US, I heard a phrase from Hajj that stuck with me. He was describing the entrepreneurs he’s working with as folks who weren’t born with a silver spoon in their mouth. So they had no backup plan. No plan B.

They HAD to succeed. Failure wasn’t an option because they were out of other options.

Hajj then shared some wisdom from Mike Tyson,

“Everyone has a plan until you get punched in the mouth.”

It was a way to describe how someone who has already lost all their chances for success simply needs to get … back … up …. And doesn’t have the luxury to “design thinking” themselves with a slick 7-page PPT slide deck back to victory.

I’ve heard this moment described as the “oops moment” by a small business expert in Philadelphia. It is the moment that a miscalculation has been made — like having too much inventory on hand that isn’t selling, or trusting the wrong vendor to deliver on time — and the business goes bankrupt, immediately.

Because there is no Plan B available to these small business owners the way you can more often see in tech circles where some of the entrepreneurs are lucky to come from wealth circles where there is always access to more cash for them. They get to have the luxury of a good Plan B, Plan C, etc. Mind you, this isn’t all tech entrepreneurs of course.

The “no Plan B” mindset is also evident in the JUGAAD mentality in India — because extreme conditions can lead to unexpected innovations. So abundance of cash may not be the only way to see innovation occur — and for that reason you see a lot of innovation in the small businesses out there because they have no other recourse but to outrun their competition with everything they’ve got, and having nothing in reserve to draw upon if they fail.

Small businesses owners give me similar inspiration to what I took in from Silicon Valley startups while at Kleiner Perkins — I am so excited to get to learn from these “No Plan B” entrepreneurs. —JM

A Small Business Is Big Work

I had both the fortune and misfortune of growing up in a family-run small business. I say “fortune” because it shaped my later years of life in positive ways as it gave me a work ethic that has served me to this day; and I say “misfortune” because it meant that I was always working for my family after school as a child and all throughout my middle and high school years. But I wouldn’t re-live my life any other way.

It was a little shop in the International District of Seattle — a true “hole in the wall.” My parents woke up super early in the morning (between 1am and 3am) and worked into the late afternoon (5pm to 6pm) for six days a week. Often they’d work seven days a week. And myself and my siblings would be along for “the ride.”

This experience has helped me understand the small business owners that I have the privilege to get to meet these days by working at Automattic. I thought I’d share some of what I learn on this site to paint a picture of what “being your own boss” really means — which is hard, hard work. This is my first post! —JM