You’re the Expert, not the Accountant. What Financial Data Should You Watch?

Uncategorized May 05, 2021

A friend of mine was hired as the first outside CEO of a 30 year old family run business. When he took over he asked reasonable questions about inventory turnover, returns on key accounts, asset value, and so on. They didn’t have any information and referred my friend to the accountant. It turns out that for years the only numbers the family tracked were year-end revenue and profit, and these were reported with the tax filings: five months after every...

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Create a Sales Process

Uncategorized Apr 16, 2021

Running a scientific company is difficult.

Unlike a home business, your overhead is high because you need trained technicians, expensive instruments, and a dedicated place to put them.

As an Expert in your field, you probably knew a few people who became your customers when you started up.

So you had some revenue quickly, and you’ve been able to find some more - otherwise you’d be out of business and paying the costs of a failed experiment.  

But inevitably you run out...

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Should You Promote or Fire Yourself?

exit strategy Apr 01, 2021

In the popular business book “The E-Myth Revisited”, Michael Gerber says that every business owner is really three people: the Technician, the Manager, and the Entrepreneur. 

I often use the term “Expert” to define the scientists I work with who have deep technical knowledge, the quintessential Technicians – who founded the business to deliver value to customers that only they can deliver. 

Are you buried in the Technician role?

...

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Where is the Road Map?

Uncategorized Feb 16, 2021

Where is the road map for a scientist to build a profitable business, build a team and scale up without burning out?

Your scientific training is a great foundation for building on your expertise, developing a contract services, supply, or consulting business. You have the valuable skills of analysis, information sourcing, research, problem solving and the mind-set of objectivity and skepticism.

This means instant credibility and the ability to quickly gauge the credibility of others.

You...

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If You Don’t Uncover the Skeletons in Your Closet, Your Buyer Will

Uncategorized Dec 07, 2020
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Tartine Country Loaf at home, some shortcuts

Uncategorized Dec 03, 2020
 

I've been making this loaf weekly for a couple of years, since pre-Covid times, and have been asked about the recipe.  Honestly there are lots of people working with the basic approach from the Tartine Bread book.  My approach has some shortcuts but I'm not going to claim that I invented something new - this is just the easiest way for me to make a consistently great loaf of the best tasting bread.  Enjoy.

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What I Learned from a Candidate Phone Bank

sales skills strategy Oct 29, 2020

Pro tip: Easy way to practice telephone prospecting: phone bank for a candidate!

Last night I volunteered to take a 90 minute shift making phone calls for a local political candidate. In local races in a presidential election year, candidate name recognition is a big problem. Finding volunteers to make calls is tough - no one enjoys interrupting people, and the chances of being on the receiving end of a hang up are high.

But the telephone works! I kept thinking of Jeb Blount's great 2019 book...

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Why You Must Price Based on Your Value

Uncategorized Sep 27, 2020

In my first years as founder/CEO of a contract research organization, I tried to figure out the best way to price what we could do.  My lab manager and I took a detailed look at several projects, tracking hours and materials, and developed a spreadsheet for calculating our costs based on scope.  We added what we thought was an appropriate profit margin and used that model for the next couple of dozen projects. 

What we found was that 1) we were not good at estimating...

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Something to do during Covid - Attics of My Life

Uncategorized Sep 20, 2020
 

I'm putting this up for fun.  No video, just an audio recording of my own four part arrangement of Attics of My Life (Grateful Dead, from America Beauty (1970)).  Made for church choir, but given that we can't sing together these days, I recorded and mixed all four parts (OK, I sang soprano an octave down).  It was hacked together as a recording pretty quickly at the end, but I admit it took me some time to arrange before that!

Stay creative!

Tech notes: 

Recorded on...

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The Number Two Issue for Consulting Scientists

Uncategorized Jul 28, 2020

Based on our survey, the second big issue or problem scientists face in trying to grow their consulting business is "Potential clients want free advice, but often don't sign".  Let's break this down:

1. They want free advice.  Of course they do.  And to establish your authority, your bona fides, you really have to give them some.  

2. The don't sign.  OK, why not?

2a. "I don't know."  Did you ask?  Asking might give you an opportunity to correct a...

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