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This week, we discuss the Bplans article, 12 Signs You Need to Hire a Manager. Our guest and COO of Palo Alto Software, Noah Parsons, shares his favorite online tools to get your business up and running. We recommend our top picks for TV shows and podcasts that we think you’ll love.


Show notes:

  • 12 Signs You Need to Hire a Manager – (:31)
    • QUESTION: Do you have a story about adding a manager to your team? Are there signs you shouldn’t hire one? Tweet or email us with your answer
  • Online Tools for Startups (with Noah Parsons) – (13:17)
  • Our TV and Podcast Top Picks – (25:08)
    • Jonathan: Silicon Valley (HBO)
    • Peter: Halt and Catch Fire (AMC)
    • Noah: Startup (podcast)
    • Other TV shows and podcasts mentioned: Shark Tank (ABC), PlanetMoney (podcast), This American Life (podcast), Mad Men (AMC), Breaking Bad (AMC), Game of Thrones (HBO),
    • QUESTION: Do you have a TV show or podcast you’d like to recommend? Tell us on Twitter

Audio transcript:

Peter: We’re talking about an article today and it’s on bplans.com and that’s our style.

Jonathan: Yeah, it’s called, “12 Signs You Need to Hire a Manager,” by Scott Gerber of the Young Entrepreneurship Council.

Peter: That’s great. Is that a mister manager or just a regular manager?

Jonathan: I think he’s just a regular manager.

Peter: I see. I think you and this is … Not to get too mad at here, but you is you the entrepreneur, you the CEO, the business owner, so you the listener.

Jonathan: Right. Not you Peter or me, Jonathan.

Peter: It could be.

Jonathan: “12 Signs, Me Need to Hire a Manager.”

Peter: Grammar be damned, let’s go with this. I think we can fly through these and just talk through each one. Let’s just review them all and see what we like, see what we don’t like.

Jonathan: Yeah, sounds good to me.

Peter: This is good. I think the 12 points here are given from individual entrepreneurs. One point each. Number one, when your days are getting longer, from [Ron Fulton 00:00:51]. When your days are getting longer, that’s a sign that you need to hire a manager.

Jonathan: Yeah, there’s a myth out there that good entrepreneurs have to work in an 80 hour work week or else you’re not going to be successful.

Peter: Yeah, maybe they’re working every waking hour. I know some of these folks are literally rolling out of bed and walking right into their shops. That’s great. You can always find work to fill the space of time, but how do you know whether to hire a manager? I don’t know if I’m going to go with this first two.

Jonathan: Okay, so you don’t buy it, huh?

Peter: I think it’s a good sign. I don’t think it’s a good way of indicating whether you should hire a new manager or not.

Jonathan: Okay, that’s fair.

Peter: Let’s go to number two, what do you say?

Jonathan: Yeah, number two is when business development slows down and that’s from Andrew Thomas SkyBell Video Doorbell. He says, “The big sign for us was when we had a hard time continuing to focus on our business and strategic development.” Yeah, what do you think about that Peter?

Peter: Yeah, I love his idea here of pulling leadership away from identifying new opportunities and building relationships. Now, that’s key. If you’re a CEO, you’re one of the only people who can get out there at a strategic level and really form some of those key relationships especially at an early stage.

Jonathan: Yeah, and number three is when you start a new phase of growth.

Peter: Yeah, this one is interesting to me. There’s two ways you can take the idea of a new phase of growth. On one hand, there’s this idea of like a new sector. You’re expanding from one type of audience to another. One region to another. One storefront to a second storefront. The new phase of growth is very literal change in the way in which you’re presenting that business. It almost always comes with that person who is the expert in that space.

It’s a very clear cut, very sort of easy way to say, “Okay, is this space viable? Am I going to be profitable in this new area? If so, who is going to help me run with that idea?” I think that one is great, but then there’s this other conceptual idea where you say a new phase of growth might mean we’re all in one building. We’re all still serving that same audience and like here at the LivePlan team, we’re just getting bigger and bigger. Our audience is getting bigger and bigger which means the CEO’s job becomes more oversight over a larger group of people.

Jonathan: Yeah, it’s about scale.

Peter: You might want a manager who then takes care of, let’s say, the marketing team and the development team separately, when in the past, that was a single person. I think it was a great point that new phase of growth is usually an indicator that you have to have some kind of manager in there to help you handle that growth in what scenario, in which cases it’s going to be up to you. Again, if you’ve got some questions or cases that you’ve run into in the past, definitely let us know.

Jonathan: That brings us to number four which is when you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, just feeling really overwhelmed Peter, is it time to hire a manager?

Peter: No, I don’t agree with this one at all. I don’t feel good about it.

Jonathan: Why is that?

Peter: Everyone always feels overwhelmed. If you’re an entrepreneur, you felt this way, you’re not going to give up and you’re tenacious and that’s gray, but being overwhelmed is probably a feeling that you will have. I do not like the idea of the feeling of being overwhelmed, being an indicator explicitly of you should hire a manager. It’s happened to all of us. It doesn’t mean we all need to hire managers.

Jonathan: Yeah, and it feels a little bit too subjective to be honest. You could have a season where you are overwhelmed. That might be a month or two. If you make the decision to go ahead and hire somebody during that season and you aren’t overwhelmed in about a month, now you have an additional person on your team, then what are you going to do with them?

Peter: It’s a great point. I will say this is number four on the list. Reza does go into a great description of course here and it’s going to mirror some of the other tips on the list. Not trying to knock Riza’s tip number four here.

Jonathan: Sorry Reza.

Peter: Just the wording.

Jonathan: Okay. Number five is when more and more mistakes start getting made.

Peter: Again, there’s kind of two ways of looking at this. Brook who wrote this one is actually talking about this concept of internal mistakes. I would actually turn that on its head a little bit and say, “Think about what the customers are actually noticing.”

A lot of times, especially as a business grows and especially as we start to cede control as the owner of that company, you are going to start to notice that the people you’re hiring in are making mistakes. They’re doing things in a way that you wouldn’t have done them. That’s okay.

It has to be okay to a certain level and you have to accept that there will be things that aren’t done perfectly. As long as your clients aren’t noticing. As long as those mistakes aren’t translated into the final product, that’s okay and that’s just part of everyday life.

Jonathan: Number six is when you’re only fixing, not creating. This comes from Vanessa Van Edwards of Science of People and she says, “You need to hire people when you become a firefighter.” I can understand where she’s coming from with that. You spend too much of your day going from one crisis to another and not making strides on the things that you need to be pushing forward.

Peter: Yeah, it becomes sort of a mundane day to day sort of approach to being a business leader when really, the reason you’re in that position is to steer the ship. That is the business. Not deal with whether the ropes are tied correctly. That’s an extended metaphor by the way.

Jonathan: Wow, that was beautiful.

Peter: Do you feel good about that?

Jonathan: I feel great about it.

Peter: Moving forward to number seven. When you find yourself repeating tasks …

Jonathan: I’m sorry, what was that?

Peter: Moving forward, when you find yourself repeating tasks.

Jonathan: I didn’t catch. Can you …

Peter: When one finds themselves repeating tasks.

Jonathan: Still didn’t catch that. Can you [crosstalk 00:06:20].

Peter: I don’t know if this joke is going to play in audio format. We’re just wasting people’s time with it.

Jonathan: I think it works.

Peter: You think?

Jonathan: Yeah.

Peter: They’re laughing.

Jonathan: Number seven is when you find yourself repeating tasks.

Peter: As the business owner, as the CEO, as soon as you are doing something exactly the same way several times, it’s time to start thinking about how do you replace yourself in that field. As soon as that’s happening. I mean literally like once you’re doing it three times, think about not doing it the fifth time.

If you’re doing something 10 times and you can be replaced by a robot, a lower paid employee, somebody else who isn’t as critical to the overall vision and strategy of the company, you really need to be thinking about how to get that person in place and how to do that quickly. That is the best way to grow. Again, this to me is one of the better tips on this list.

Jonathan: That takes us to number eight which is when you know someone can do it better. Yeah, it’s going to take a little bit of humility too to realize that you can’t do everything perfectly. You can maybe take things a certain level to maybe hit a plateau, but there’s going to be other people who have the expertise to take it to the next level.

Peter: Exactly.

Jonathan: Number nine is when you aren’t focusing on the fundamentals. What do you think about that?

Peter: David is trying to indicate here that when you realize the business is managing you and when you aren’t focusing on the fundamentals, it’s time to free up to focus on the key fundamentals. I’m not in love with this tip.

Jonathan: I think it speaks for itself is what it does.

Peter: It is what it is.

Jonathan: Number 10 is when you’re trying to do everything.

Peter: The question everyone should be asking of course is, well, every solopreneur does need to do everything. Isn’t that right?

Jonathan: I don’t know if that is right. Why would that be right?

Peter: You need to pay the bills. You need to keep the lights on. You need to make sure the mail gets delivered. At a certain level, if you don’t have any employees at all, trying to do everything is absolutely a necessity to keeping the business alive, right?

Jonathan: Yeah, but I mean that’s kind of the point of this whole article though, isn’t it? If you’re trying to do everything and then it starts to become too much, it might be the time to bring somebody else on to help out with that.

Peter: Right, but there’s a danger in that recommendation. We can’t just go recommend that every small business owner hires employees just because they feel like they’re already doing everything. I think most of our listeners already feel like they’re doing everything.

Jonathan: Yeah. It goes back to that feeling overwhelmed thing.

Peter: Yeah, and also that concept of kind of planning for the profitability of a potential hire. I would say there’s a little bit more to it than feeling like you’re trying to do everything. It’s a little bit more than this idea of the CEO as the person who is the master craftsman of all the fields that the company encompasses.

You also need to think pretty critically about which pieces you can carve off and whether that in fact helps the business. Maybe this is a good warning flag, but you need to take a next step before you go and hire that manager.

Jonathan: Okay, yeah. Another sign that you might need to hire a manager is when you’re unable to stay on top of employee progress.

Peter: Yeah. This might be a little bit further down the line than the solo entrepreneur.

Jonathan: Yeah, we’ve moved pass that point on.

Peter: I feel like that’s true. I mean, this is maybe when you’ve got 10, 20, 30, 40 people working for you, but I’ll say that there are a lot of small business out there that have a large staff, but a very small management team. A restaurant, a factory floor, a production house, that kind of thing.

If you’ve got five employees already, four of whom are much older in terms of their tenure at your company and they’ve seen it all. They could possibly expand into other management roles. If you are in fact completely out of touch with their progress, with their capabilities, it maybe time to see if one or two of them can step up in their own roles.

This hire from within idea and become a little bit senior in their ability to either manage that team, manage their progression or manage other members of that team’s progression as well and become that kind of manager from within.

Jonathan: Cool. Our last sign, sign number 12 is when your time distribution is uneven. That comes from Jayna Cooke from EVENTup. She says, “It’s time to hire a manager to oversee employees when the majority of your day is spent managing each team.”

Peter: I think the interesting point here that Jayna is making is different from the idea of repetitive tasks as a red flag. A repetitive task is different from personnel management, but if you find yourself only managing and not doing the things that you went into business in the first place, not exercising your primary skillset, then you may be missing the point.

There maybe a time when you want to hire upper level management. I think to some entrepreneurs, that sounds gross. You don’t want middle managers mocking up your system, adding an efficiency, that kind of thing, but there are of course efficient ways to have a VP of sales who takes care of the day to day management of your 10 person sales team, right? Of course.

As a CEO, even if you’re a very sales oriented CEO, you can still be that person to those 10 employees and to your one VP, but that way, you can go to conferences, get out there and do work on your own. Make those strategic partnerships and the bigger level attachments and deals and programs that you’re known for and that you hopefully went in to business to do in the first place and allow your team to actually work on their own and a little bit more independently.

Jonathan: Those are the 12 signs you need to hire a manager and we want to hear from you. Have you hired a manager before?

Peter: Or maybe if you, as a listener out there, have any tips on when not to hire somebody, what would be a good sign that it’s not a good time to hire someone new into the field? Maybe make some efficiencies internally.

Jonathan: Yeah. Maybe it was too soon for you and you regret making that choice.

Peter: Tell us your stories of regret here at Bcast.

Jonathan: Send us an email bcast@bplans.com or you can reach out to us on Twitter, @bplans.

Peter: @bplans.

Jonathan: @bplans.

Peter: Yes. Send us notes how are we doing, what do you want to hear about, what’s new in your world, what’s going on out there in the world of entrepreneurship and what should we be covering next.

We got Noah Parsons here helping us from the perspective of small businesses talking about what kind of tools does small business need and I think we’re talking about e-tools, electronic tools.

Jonathan: Yeah, definitely not hammers and nails. Not those kinds of tools.

Peter: Okay, good, because I don’t know anything about this anyway.

Noah: Yeah. I was going to talk about tools for startups today for the most part. Things that you might use to get going in the early stages. I thought I’d start out with your logo and your brand. Those are important things obviously. Once you have your business name, you need to look good doing it.

Having a nice logo and then transition that into a brand which is your color pallet and how you describe and market your business. We really like PrestoBox. They’ve got this really neat thing they called the brand genie and it really is kind of this wizard that comes out of a bottle and you answer a series of questions like, “If you are a body of water, what kind of body of water would you be?” Like choosing an ocean or a river. I don’t know if anyone ever thought about their business that way. I certainly hadn’t. I don’t know if you guys …

Peter: Which would you choose?

Noah: I think I chose a waterfall.

Peter: It’s very TLC up there.

Jonathan: Yeah, don’t go chasing those.

Peter: Yeah, absolutely. It’s good. It’s good entrepreneurial insight. Jonathan, what body of water would you be as an entrepreneur, not as a person?

Jonathan: Right, because as a person …

Peter: No, I’m talking about as an entrepreneur.

Jonathan: As an entrepreneur like a raging rapid clearly, obviously.

Peter: Weird. Really?

Jonathan: Definitely.

Peter: All right.

Jonathan: You don’t get that vibe …

Peter: I’m like that zen, the brook that makes a cool sound. Yeah, sleepy time sounds.

Noah: Back to the PrestoBox. Definitely give them a shot. It’s free to try it out if you want to get the logo that they create for you and the brand guide and all that. When you’re done, you can pay for that. It’s really affordable, I think 19 or 29 bucks for the logo. A little bit more for the brand guide, but definitely very affordable and quickly of putting that logo and brand guide together.

If you don’t buy it from them, you still had a really fun experience figuring out what color pallet your business represents, so worth the 10 minutes. It’s a lot of fun.

Jonathan: Awesome.

Peter: Yeah, I was messing around with that. I had a god time too. I forgot about the body of water question, but the other thing is the folks who run PrestoBox are running a brand challenge on Bplans, so those who are listening in a timely way can check that on bplans.com, look up brand challenge.

Jonathan: Yeah, that’s right. We’ve got a brand challenge going on right now. It’s happening this week, so chances are if you’re listening to the podcast, you probably are either catching it at the tail end or maybe missed it, but we’re going to give you the opportunity to sign up at your own leisure, take the branding challenge and get five sets of emails. They kind of walk you through the process, so don’t worry if you’ve missed the first phase of that. You can definitely do it in your own time too.

Peter: That was pretty good. We’re projecting into the future. Our voices are traveling through time and space.

Jonathan: Anyway, Noah.

Noah: Speaking of time, you might need to create a website quickly if you’re a new business. It’s actually surprising the number of businesses out there that still don’t have websites. I know when I’m looking for, especially local services and looking up local businesses, it’s quite common actually for businesses do not have a website, but that’s really a necessity and there’s no reason that you shouldn’t have one these days.

I really like Weebly and Squarespace. They’re both great tools. If you used PrestoBox that I just talked about, they integrate with Weebly and they’ll help you create a website there. Also, Squarespace is a great option. Super customizable. You can add commerce. If you want to sell stuff online, you can make your website look beautiful really quickly and easily. These are both really affordable options if you’re just getting started. I think they also have some free trials. You can just poke around and give them a shot.

Once you got your website going, getting your email marketing going is really an important thing. All of us around here just love MailChimp. It’s easy to use. It’s free for up to your first 2000 subscribers. For most small businesses, you’re probably applying under that number to start with so you can get a good handle on it. Even once you start paying, it’s inexpensive.

Email is just a fantastic way to communicate with your customers and prospects and announce sales and things like that. Starting to collect email addresses of your customers and of people that are interested in your business is a great thing to do and MailChimp makes it really easy to send newsletters and announcements to that group of people to get them to come back to you.

Jonathan: I’m glad you brought that up, because I always thought it was actually pronounced, “Mail Kimp?” No, it’s MailChimp. Okay, good to know.

Peter: It sounds like a cross podcast reference.

Jonathan: I think it is. Maybe people might know that reference.

Peter: I don’t know if our listeners listen to any other podcasts, so we got to be careful there.

Jonathan: I’m pretty sure they listen to any other podcasts besides ours.

Noah: They shouldn’t be listening to any other podcasts besides this one.

Jonathan: There you go.

Noah: Moving from email, people still pick up the phone, as much as I’d love for the phone to go away. Personally, much rather people communicate via email at least in my life. It’s much easier, but most businesses still need some kind of a phone system. I like Grasshopper. Not the animal.

This is an actual phone system where you can continue to use your cellphone or your regular phones, whatever, but you get that press 1, press 2 kind of experience. It’s a great inexpensive way to seem like you’re maybe much bigger than you actually are. That’s a really cool one.

The other one that I like is RingCentral if you’re looking for more of a step up and robust phone system that has routing rules and the fancier things as you’re growing you might need. Or if you have a customer service team within your company.

Jonathan: With either one of those tools, are you able to set up kind of like an international or toll free number that can route to you?

Noah: Yeah, exactly. Both of these I think for small additional chargers, you can add 800 numbers, you can have multiple ones. If you want to do really neat things like in your print ad in a magazine especially under number so you can later see. Well, the people see the add and actually call me because of the ad. You can actually find out if some of that advertising is effective.

Jonathan: Wow, that’s really cool.

Peter: It’s great.

Noah: Moving on from that. To regular email and office documents and all that kind of stuff, I just have to say use Google Apps. That’s the easiest way to have shared document storage, collaborate on documents and spreadsheets. Get reliable, professional email if you want to have email like your own domain, yourname@yourcompany.com. They do that for you for really affordable price. It’s really bulletproof. It’s what we use here at Bplans actually and it’s been incredibly reliable. We collaborate with this stuff all the time.

Moving beyond that, really a more specific thing. If you need to get signatures on documents and contracts, that’s actually one thing that Google doesn’t yet, but they should. Are you listening Google? There’s great companies that deal with that and I like either HelloSign or DocuSign. Both of those like you upload contracts or anything you need someone else to sign, if you’re a real estate agent, these things are awesome. You can get rid of all those piles of paperwork and having to bring documents to your client to sign. That’s a total nightmare for everyone really.

These things make it really easy for people to sign documents digitally. They’re legally binding and make everyone’s life much, much better. Plus, they create a really awesome archive of all of your signed official contracts. Definitely worthwhile. Check those out if you have clients or partners that need to sign paperwork for you.

Jonathan: Yeah, definitely. One of the things that we’ve been talking about is the article, 12 Signs That You Need to Hire a Manager, but it sounds like a lot of these tools are ways that you can maybe get away with not yet having to hire a manager. When it comes to getting work done that you just don’t have the time or talent to do, is there another tool that you would recommend for that?

Noah: I really like … Again, we use this at Bplans quite a bit, is a company that’s now called Upwork. They must have done the PrestoBox branding challenge because they just changed their name from oDesk to Upwork. They were also known as Elance at one point. Maybe it’s familiar. Some people might recognized them from one of those brand names.

Upwork, you can go on there and find people who will help you with nearly anything. Whether it’s virtual assistant kind of stuff or you want someone to listen to your voicemail and transcribe it for you. You name it, there’s freelancers on Upwork that will help you get stuff done.

The cool thing is it’s a worldwide competitive marketplace. You post a job and people from all over the world can bid on your job, but you can read their profiles. You can also limit that too. If you would like to have only people bid from a certain region or people that only have a certain level of expertise in a particular topic or have been rated only five stars by at least a hundred other people.

You can really filter down the people that are bidding on your work, or you can make it open season and take the lowest bidder. It’s up to you, but if you need some help, you can get on-demand help from Upwork any time.

Peter: That’s great.

Jonathan: I don’t think I have prepped you for this question, but you’ve listed off these tools. I’m going to say if you can only use one of these, what are you going to take in that list?

Noah: Pry Google Apps away from my cold, dead hands. That’s such a critical part of my own work. I would use that anywhere. It just makes life pretty much easier. You need your email, you need your documents. Everything else, you can probably find another way to get done, but that one is critical and I use it all the time.

Jonathan: Okay.

Peter: I think we’re also inadvertently running an experiment here. Is Google listening?

Jonathan: We will find out.

Peter: Is Google listening?

Jonathan: Google, are you there?

Peter: This is it, we’ll found out soon. For this segment, we thought it would be fun to talk a little bit about some things in pop culture that entrepreneurs might want to/need to know about.

Jonathan: Yeah, you need to kick your feet up every once in a while and stop working and take in some enjoyment and that might be a podcast, it might be a TV show, might go see a movie, but we’ve got some recommendations for you so you can kind of step out of your world but still find some relevant things to enjoy.

Peter: I agree. Let’s pick out some of the things that you’ve liked out there. Jonathan, what’s your favorite in the last few years here?

Jonathan: Well, most recently they are coming up to the end of their second season, but Silicon Valley is a pretty hilarious show. I think their season finally is next week and yeah, just on HBO. I’d crack out just about every episode from something.

Peter: I think if you’re an entrepreneur and you’re watching the show too, for most of you out there, you’re not doing that type of tech business that’s looking for that type of funding. It’s a great way if you despise that whole scene. It’s a great sort of way to just laugh at these folks who are out there trying to do that. If you love those folks, if you’re also a software dev, there’s probably a lot of stuff that’s going to hit home while watching it. Fun show overall.

Noah: The really cool thing about Silicon Valley I think is that it actually hits really close to home if you ever worked in Silicon Valley. While it is a parody to a degree, a lot of what they go for is pretty real. There are stuff that they go through that actually happens.

Jonathan: Yeah, and you’ve got the stories from Facebook and Apple and Google and a lot of those kind of stories have been co-opted for jokes in Silicon Valley. What I like about Mike Judge in his sense of humor is pretty much no one is safe. Just about every episode you’re going to find a scathing joke that you can’t help but laugh at, especially if you don’t take yourself seriously too.

Peter: It’s a fun show.

Jonathan: A couple of highlights from Season 2 for me have been the character Jared played by Zach Woods. He’s so in the theoretical world of how to improve your business and all these different things. He’s so not in the practical aspect of it and just misses the boat hilariously so many times. He’s been a really fun edition to the show and just hilarious this second season.

Peter: Definitely.

Jonathan: Yeah. Another highlight I’d say is Russ Hanneman. He’s a guest actor for the second season and he’s been very funny because he’s a billionaire.

Peter: Is he a parody of somebody? Because he’s not like a Richard Branson, right? Is he a specific thing?

Jonathan: I think he’s kind of an amalgam of a bunch of different people, but his whole claim to fame is that he brought radio to the internet. That was his thing. Now, he’s a billionaire which means he’s part of the Three Comma Club. Just a lot of really funny things with him as the character.

Peter: I think the one I’d recommend, AMC program called Halt and Catch Fire. Probably not a …

Jonathan: That is a terrible title. I’m not going to lie.

Peter: It’s not easy to spit out and have people understand.

Noah: For fear of sounding like I live under a rock and maybe I do, but I haven’t actually heard of this show.

Peter: You’ve heard of AMC though that brought us such greats as …

Jonathan: Mad Men.

Noah: Mad Men.

Jonathan: Breaking Bad.

Peter: Sure.

Noah: Terrible shows and all of those.

Jonathan: Nobody has heard of those either to be fair.

Peter: I think the reason people haven’t heard of this one, because I’ve asked around a little bit, it was a very quiet show. It’s very slow show and not full of famous people by any means. It’s a show that does the narrative arch … It follows the narrative arch of the IBM clone phase of computers. Which is really the birth of the laptop and not to spoil or anything, but it’s also a little bit like the story of compact computers.

The way I just described, that probably sounds very boring. A little dull, and it’s in fact a really dramatic sort of view of a lot of different things. I think that applied to today’s world in a very interesting way. You’ve got this notion of innovation and in the Silicon Valley sense, it is. It’s all exciting. It’s these algorithms that are unimaginable by other people and uncopyable by Google, but in this world, innovation really equals ripping off IBM code to make your own version of kind of the same thing and put it in a slightly different box.

Is that innovation? Is it not? At the time, it was. This is what brought us the laptop, the luggable computer.

Noah: The birth of the beige box computer. It’s actually an interesting time frame and the industry was just growing like crazy at that point. Now, I’ll have to check it out.

Jonathan: Yeah, and they took, especially in the first season, they went outside of the whole Silicon Valley startup culture and it’s set in Texas, so it’s kind of outside of that, but you still … I think what I liked about it from watching the first season is there’s still a lot of …

Even though it’s set in the early 80s, relevant things to today’s startup culture, today’s technology, the conversation of women intact and just how much they have been marginalized in the sector.

Peter: Yeah, and to the point of you start asking towards the end of the season how far have we really come. There’s opportunities, sure, but is it a weird work environment? Then equality in terms of opportunity, that kind of thing.

The first season is great. You can get it on Netflix now. The second season is just starting now and it’s focused more on the software side, so I think it’s going to see a bigger audience being more about a gaming company at that time period.

Noah: Great. I’d pick a couple of podcasts, but I think the primary one that Peter had alluded to earlier and a little bit of [inaudible 00:30:18], but the StartUp Podcast. That’s Alex Blumberg, this thing from This American Life and Planet Money which is also an awesome podcast.

In the first season which you can go and you can get the entire first season right now. He is documenting every step of the way as he starts his own company which is coincidentally a podcasting company. Very nice bit-sized chunks there about 20 minutes or so each, perfect for walk to the office or a short car ride or something like that.

Jonathan: Yeah, if you own your own company, if you’re starting your own small business, or even if you’re just interested in the concept and want to know more about the behind the scenes, the StartUp Podcast is a really great podcast to listen to, because the doors are wide open and you hear every detail of that process.

I think for me, a highlight was when Alex tried to pitch his company to a venture capitalist and recorded the whole thing. You hear every misstep, every um and uh and just it kind of falls apart in his lap and it’s pretty interesting, the recovery that he makes there.

Peter: Yeah. He is charmingly transparent and surprisingly so. Upfront, he promises that he’s going to let you see it all, words and all. Towards the end, you realize he really did. He let you in and it’s I think a rare thing in that kind of media.

Noah: Yeah, and it’s not a sanitized version of starting a company which you can see on something like Shark Tank or something like that. That feels like the whole process is much easier I think.

Peter: Are you anti-recommending Shark Tank?

Noah: No, Shark Tank should be on the list.

Peter: We don’t have them as a sponsor, so it’s okay if you want to anti-recommend them. What warnings should we give about watching Shark Tank and nothing else? That’s a good aspect.

Noah: That is a good one. Shark Tank is a lot of fun. Of course, if you’re interested in starting a business and entrepreneurism, then you should watch Shark Tank. A lot of the deals that are offered on there though, you want to kind of reach through the screen and shake the entrepreneur and say, “Don’t take that deal. It’s terrible. They’re going to give you $50,000 for half of your company.”

You’re on the spot, you’re obviously under bright lights in a studio with all this pressure, but a lot of those deals that the sharks offer are not very good. They’re taking huge controlling interest in your company for not a lot of money and so I think you need to be careful. They truly are sharks for the most part.

Jonathan: Yeah, and actually, we have a couple of articles on bplans.com from people who have been on the show and just some of the lessons that they learned from it and what their takeaways were. Those are some interesting reads to check out.

Noah: You’ll be posting a link on that right?

Jonathan: No, I’ll probably not.

Noah: Okay, great.

Peter: I’d also recommend our first podcast about funding. If you are willing to give up your 50% of your business for $50,000, maybe listen to our first podcast first. Think a little bit of the other funding options that might be out there for you.

Jonathan: Nice reference.

Peter: I feel like a good close on that.

Jonathan: Yeah, absolutely.

Peter: It’s what I’m looking for.

Jonathan: Those are our top pics for things you can do on your time off; podcast to listen to, TV shows to watch. Any other recommendations or is that enough?

Noah: I’ll maybe throw a few more in the show notes. I think there are a couple of other podcasts that are worthwhile if you got the time and you have a longer commute or you’re in the car frequently. There’s a few others that we should share out there that are worth to listen. Of course, you should really want to listen to this one.
Jonathan: Yeah, listen to this one. If you’re listening to this one now, keep listening and listen to more.

Peter: Are there any small business lessons we can get from Game of Thrones or not?

Jonathan: I’m sure we could make some up.

Peter: Yeah?

Jonathan: Yeah.

Peter: Never invest in dragons?

Jonathan: Always pay your debts.

Noah: Don’t kill your employees.

Peter: That’s good. Good full circle there. Once you hire them …

Jonathan: Don’t kill them. Yeah, that’s good.

Jonathan: Do you have a question you’d like us to answer on the show? Send us an email at Bcast@Bplans.com. That’s Bcast@Bplans.com. Our theme music is by Jasinski. The Bcast is brought to you by Palo Alto Software, makers of Bplans.com and My Plan. Visit Bplans.com for everything you need to start planning and growing your business.

If you have a question you’d like us to answer on the show, send us an email at Bcast@Bplans.com or send us a tweet @Bplans.

The Bcast is brought to you by Palo Alto Software, makers of Bplans.com and LivePlan.

AvatarJonathan Michael

Jonathan is the Engagement Marketing Manager for Palo Alto Software, and has spent the last 9 years developing and implementing digital marketing strategies. During that time, he has learned that empathy and authenticity are strengths by which companies can effectively engage with individuals at every point throughout the customer journey.