Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Not so fun..
Published on October 1, 2005 By Draginol In Blogging

"Having your own business".  It's a phrase I have heard friends and others use.  But what most people think of when they say "Having your own business" is having a business that includes themselves and maybe a couple other guys.

In nearly all cases of companies that have 30 or more employees, the company is founded either by venture capital or through a group of friends/associates who build the business together.

My business I founded on my own.  I didn't have partners.  I don't have investors. And it's reached a size in which it's the operation of the business has become a job unto itself.  When you have 30 some people, it's difficult to keep all aspects together.

Up till this year, I used to pride myself on how low our turn-over was.  I could count on one hand the # of people who had left voluntarily over the first 10 years.  But when you start to have quite a few people, turn-over becomes a percentage. No matter how great your company environment is, you're going to have some % of people leave each year.  I've heard that the typical company turnover rate is 25%.  If you have 35 or so people, that's over 7 people per year.  I can't even imagine what it would do to us to lose 7 people per year.  Even if we keep it down to 10%, that's still over 3 people each year which seems high.

I like the environment that the company has. But I feel like more and more of my time is spent "running the business".  I am working on building up our management team further. But in the meantime, I end up doing a lot of the business development duties which, on top of the software development and project management duties means I'm working between 60 and 80 hours per week.  I just can't keep doing that forever. I have a family. I have two perflect little sons and a wife that I want to spend time with. 

And I don't really care very much about money. Growing up poor has meant that the financial "rewards" of having a company have little meaning. But I can't lower my hours until I build up our management team (particularly in the biz dev area) so that I can work fewer hours.  It's also becoming increasingly apparent that it's difficult to find good biz dev people. People who know how to sell and market but have enough technical knowledge to understand the market and the strengths of our product line.

Oye.  Just rambling basically. 


Comments
on Sep 28, 2005
completely understandable ramble. that's why i made me hours 9-5 and stuck to it. but then i'm what they call an 'inner-city slacker'

"no-one pays you enough to have a heart attack" or "you're a long time dead" are the phrases that leap to mind, that and th eoffice dalek going "delegate!"
on Sep 28, 2005
get up tommorrow morning, look into the mirror and point at yourself and say "brad I am the boss, you been working hard with long hours, take the next day or two off, spend some time with your lady.
on Sep 28, 2005
I really wish I had some advice for you, but you're the one with a successful business, and I'm not. I like to think I could do it, but I have not taken the initiative to do so. Finding dependable intelligent people *is* hard.

You strike me as someone who has quite a lot of capacity for handling business matters. I'll tell it like it was explained to me by a professor in college. She guessed that I had at least a 130 IQ. In reality, it has been professionally tested while I was still in public school for some reasons, and I scored 150. The professor asked me to consider my dealings with the "average" person, who, by definition, has an IQ of around 100 points. Then consider that mentally retarded is generally 70 points or below. She then asked me to consider the fact that there was as much difference between myself and the "average person" as there was between the "average person" and someone who was retarded. That went a long way to understanding why, from my viewpoint, the "average person" is incredibly stupid. Of course, the "average person" would see that simply as intellectual elitism, but that's their problem. My standards for what a person should be able to understand are simply higher than most people are able to achieve.

You are facing the same problem when you strive to find people who meet your standards for business acumen. You have shown yourself to be a success. You can handle all of these different items on your plate at the same time, and not lose track. In looking to lessen your load, you are (rightfully) reluctant to choose someone for your team who cannot perform as well as you do, knowing that their lack of performance can lead directly to a failure of the business. Unfortunately, the average businessperson is not cut out for entrepreneurship, and is simply 'average'. They know how to perform the duties, to push the paperwork, and talk the talk, but come up short on the results in the end. Those few who meet your standards are few, and most of them are prized where they are at.

I wish you luck in snagging a few.
on Sep 28, 2005
I so know how you feel. If you were hiring, and I lived near Stardock, I would love to apply!
on Sep 29, 2005
completely understandable ramble. that's why i made me hours 9-5 and stuck to it. but then i'm what they call an 'inner-city slacker'

"no-one pays you enough to have a heart attack" or "you're a long time dead" are the phrases that leap to mind, that and th eoffice dalek going "delegate!"


To borrow a line from the movie "Starship Troopers 2", What, you wanna live forever?
on Oct 03, 2005
No offense Brad, but you have one of the most hostile enviroments I could ever imagine for sales/biz guys at Stardock. Not only does Stardock lack the basic systems and methods required for a successful business team, but it lacks the leadership required to make those systems effective and workable. You have Kuperman, comfortable with his status-quo of cherry picking emails for sales and sabotaging any new additions to your team for fear they will disrupt his gravy train. Then you have an operations director in a position of power by virtue of marriage, wholely unqualified for the position, and worse, with a bad attitude.

Maybe you'd be better off selling the company, or at the least, firing a good portion of the people that are obviously a roadblock to any advancement of your business team. Replace them with true business professionals, with the experiance and qualifications to make your company grow substantially. Without doing this, you'll never have a successful business team in place, and never have any marketshare in areas which you should be dominating. I don't even know how you can stand to go in to work everyday there, the place is like a creepy cult.
on Oct 04, 2005
Let go Brad! Similiar to Kursk. Give them rope to climb or hang themselves. Is your goal growth? If so, then you cannot do it alone, which is what you are doing now, although from the sounds of it, you are trying to correct the situation.
on Oct 04, 2005

No offense Brad, but you have one of the most hostile enviroments I could ever imagine for sales/biz guys at Stardock. Not only does Stardock lack the basic systems and methods required for a successful business team, but it lacks the leadership required to make those systems effective and workable. You have Kuperman, comfortable with his status-quo of cherry picking emails for sales and sabotaging any new additions to your team for fear they will disrupt his gravy train. Then you have an operations director in a position of power by virtue of marriage, wholely unqualified for the position, and worse, with a bad attitude.

Maybe you'd be better off selling the company, or at the least, firing a good portion of the people that are obviously a roadblock to any advancement of your business team. Replace them with true business professionals, with the experiance and qualifications to make your company grow substantially. Without doing this, you'll never have a successful business team in place, and never have any marketshare in areas which you should be dominating. I don't even know how you can stand to go in to work everyday there, the place is like a creepy cult.

Wow Bob aka Kursk, you certainly enjoyed "the cult" plenty until you were forced to resign.  Is this your attempt to become a Wikipedia entry under "disgrunted ex-employee"?  My favorite part is the assertion that someone was put in power (as if by magic) simply because I met them through my wife. Oh my The horror.  Because when people go into business for themselves, they never consider bringing on friends and family to help them out. No, it's much better to start a business and stick with only total strangers. Hire people you already know personally? Insane.

This is the part of the response where I would point out the myriad of awards, articles, and of course, our undeniable business success in order to drive home that people who are in positions of authority here got there because they earned it.  Being friends or relatives or whatever might give someone an in for an interview, but no friend or relative has ever been hired into a managerial position at Stardock.  I meet people through the Internet, through friends, through family, through Monster.com, through want-ads and try to gauge their talent, ability, integrity.  Some people make it up the ladder through hard work, talent, and effort.  Sometimes, some people are forced to leave (or terminated out-right) due to non-performance, unethical behavior, etc.  Sometimes you even discover that those people you let go or forced out were even worse than you thought they were as they continuously, month after month return as anonymous users writing petty comments on news posts.

BTW, here's a graph of Stardock's yearly revenue growth:

It would appear that the "cult" and incestuous, gravy-train loving, team with bad attitude seem to be managing okay.

on Oct 04, 2005
So how many people are on the Sales/Biz team at Stardock after all this time? You seem to think the reason it is so hard to build a quality sales/biz staff is because there is a lack of qualified people out there, which is very wrong. There is plenty of talent out there, but the environment for sales/biz people is so hostile there, that it would be virtually impossible for any real sales/biz pro' to function in it. I figured you'd of realised all of this already, but I think you let your ego get in the way.

on Oct 04, 2005

Try to work through your logic there, Bob.  Let's assume that the work environment at Stardock makes hell look like a picnic.  The would-be future victims don't know that until AFTER they've been hired.  You see the problem with your logic?  Now, given our very low turn over rate over the years, I would submit that our environment must not be too bad to work in.

Let me put it simply: The problem isn't keeping talented people, the problem is finding them. 

 

on Oct 05, 2005
Disgruntled ex-employee, Brad???
on Oct 05, 2005
Let's assume turnover is pretty low there as you put it. How many sales/biz guys have departed ways from Stardock, 4? 5? (should we count Martin who was going to act in a biz capacity inhouse there and later declined?) So based on that number it seems that the majority of your turnover is in your sales/biz department, correct? Also, how many just backed out at some point during the interview/hire/offer stage of the game because they saw what was coming? Still how many declined immediately because they got compensation offers about 75-300% less than the industry average for sales/biz pros? How many potential aces were turned down because they didn't like the Simpsons or know anything about Stardock products?

My point is that in 10+ years you've failed to build a viable sales/biz team for very specific reasons which i've already pointed out. You will continue to fail to build a viable sales force unless the issues i've pointed out above are addressed (and i'd put a gentlemens wager on it) - bottom line - Stardock isn't an environment that is conducive to sales/biz professionals. I can assure you that there is no shortage of sales professionals out there, especially in the midwest. I'm a territory sales manager right now for a rather large company based out of California, responsible for the hiring, expanding, and overseeing a sales force for the entire tri-county area. Everytime I post a job opening, I have literally hundreds of resumes sitting on my fax machine in the office. Of those, i'd say well over half are well qualified for the position. The talent is there, but you have to be willing to pay the market rate, have systems and structures in place to support their efforts, and at the very least, have a qualified and competant management team to drive, motivate and reward their efforts. The company I work for routinely uses headhunter firms to pluck talent, one local firm we've used a few times (Sales Executives Inc., feel free to visit their website) is based in Farmington Hills and has a database of 90,000 resumes - exclusively of sales/biz pros. But I should point out that the going market rate for professional biz-dev guys in this area is 100-150K+.

Recruiting and developing a competant sales and business force isn't the same as hiring a few programmers, tossing them in a cubicle, and telling them to program some games or icon package applications. I think you figured it out already, but you have no idea how to cure the systemic problem or you'd of done it already. I told you how in this thread, that'll be my good deed for the month for Stardock. You have quite the delima there pal, no question about it.
on Oct 05, 2005

Bob, it's getting pretty hard to keep playing with the kiddie gloves with you.  You didn't leave voluntarily. You had the choice between resigning and being fired. 

You were not sabotaged by someone else. It was your actions that caused you to have to go.  Since one of your issues was in the area of telling the truth, it's hard to take anything you say very seriously.

I don't deny being very selective in who we hire.  We've become considerably more selective since you were here since we realized that bad hiring choices can lead to some pretty negative results (I mean come on, it's been over half a year and you're still stalking around the forums trying to rewrite history for your own peace of mind I can only presume).

Sales execs are a dime a dozen.  Good, talented, motivated, sales executives are more difficult to find -- particularly in the technology industry in this area.   Building a direct sales force hasn't been our focus since our main business is so profitable as-is.  It is an area for expansion and we continue to find and bring in talented people as we find them.

In the meantime, I'm not inclined to take advice from someone who's obviously got some serious issues with both the truth and reality.  Besides, according to one of your other rants, we should be out of business any time now.

 

on Oct 05, 2005
edited out.
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