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Bradley Brown
Updated: 3 hours 22 min ago

Selling Books on Amazon vs. Intelivideo

Thu, 2015-09-17 20:44
For the last couple of years I've heard that publishers don't like selling their books through Amazon.  The way I heard it described sounded like Amazon was forcing (or pushing) you to sell books for under $10.  It's actually pretty complicated as to how their pricing works, so I've attempted to simplify for you here.  If you want the details, you can read more here:

Basically you have to pick which plan you’re on.  The 35% or 70% royalty plan.  At first glance, you would ask - why would anyone pick the 35% royalty plan?  Let's see, you do all of the research, write the book, take a book through 5 edits and get it to the point of publishing and Amazon is going to keep 35 "or" 70% of the revenue generated?  Logically who would say they only want to keep 35%?  It's more complicated - i.e. strings are attached to each choice.

If you pick the 70% royalty plan, you keep as much as 70% (minus delivery costs and with about 100 other rules) of whatever they sell it for.  But according to the small print, on a number of your sales, you’ll actually keep 35% of whatever they sell it for.  Here's the real kicker - if you want to keep 70% (minus delivery costs, VAT, etc), they force you to set the list price to $2.99 to $9.99 AND by the way they will keep 65% if they sell it in other countries, etc.  If you choose the 35% royalty plan (keep in mind, they are are keeping 65%), you can set the price between $2.99 and $200.  You can sell it for less than $2.99 (i.e. down to $.99) if you have a small book (i.e. less than 10Mb footprint).  They also say that the list price must be at least 20% below the lowest physical list price for the physical book.  Wow - SO many rules!

So Amazon charges (keeps) 30% (minus delivery costs) to 65% (and it’s usually this amount) and has minimum and maximum prices you can charge and a lot of rules AND it’s Amazon’s customer (not yours).

The 2 pricing options are explained (and tough to understand) here:

And their FAQ is here:

We're soon to release (secure) eBook functionality at Intelivideo.  So how does it work?  If you pick the Pro Plan, you keep 85% of the revenue and you can set the price to whatever price you want.  We have some other fine print, but overall I can assure you that our pricing is WAY better than Amazon's offer - and it's your customer.  You can sell them more products.  You can do promotions to them.  You can upsell them.  I'm shocked by Amazon's model and now understand the frustration others have!

Loose Rules Sink Fools

Tue, 2015-09-01 21:11
You've probably heard someone talk about how awesome it is that they get to bring their dog to work.  Or how there is NO dress code.  Or they have unlimited vacation.

Many corporate cultures have what I would call loose rules.  Most people do not like confrontation - in fact, many people will do anything to avoid it.  Which means they will not tell you when you're in the gray area of the corporate culture - but believe me, they take note.

Loose rules include dress code to bringing dogs to work and many others.  Does dress code matter for the job you're doing?  What if you're in sales and NEVER leave the office?  What if you RARELY leave the office, but sometimes you do?  What if the CEO stops by and says "hey, can you run to this meeting with me (or for me) tonight.  Then they look at how you're dressed and say "maybe next time?"  Yes, you're within the "rules" but it WILL affect your career - and not usually in a positive way.

Bring your dog to work.  Where's the line?  What if someone gets a puppy, which they bring to work every day?  Yes, puppies are cute, REALLY cute. What if you're the person that brought the puppy in every day?  You spend an hour taking the puppy for a walk, taking it outside (while it has you trained rather than visa versa).  Or worse yet, every time your boss walks by, someone is distracted by petting your puppy?  They cute!  Too cute to pass!  You're negatively affecting productivity.  Again, this is not likely to work well for your career.

Many companies have gone to unlimited vacation.  What if 2 weeks after you start, you take a 2 month vacation?  According to policy that's OK, but I wouldn't expect you to have a job when you return.  Where's the line?  What's gray?   What's acceptable?

Are you within the rules in each of the above examples?  Absolutely, but loose rules have unspoken rules.  Rules nobody will actually admit to quite often.  Startups go through a number of stages in a very short period of time.  People are evaluated regularly based on the current company stage.  Some people survive from one stage to the next and others do not.  Those who are not performing or viewed as not performing (e.g. taking care of their puppy all day) do not.

Don't let the loose rules sink your career!

A Startup is Like Making a Trip to Each Continent

Sun, 2015-08-30 21:43
Maybe you realize how difficult it is to go from an idea to a successful company.  Maybe you've attempted one (or more) yourself.  Is the American dream a startup?  It is for some, but not all.  If you start a company and you're the only employee and you don't get paid, is your business a startup?  Is it successful?  Beauty and success are in the eye of beholder.  You might hear people suggest you set your sites and expectations lower so you guarantee success.  In fact, you might hear a lot of different conflicting things over your life.  In Founders Institute we call this "mentor whiplash."  One mentor says yes, another so no.  One says go and another says stop.  There's no right way to do most things in the startup world.  Set your own goals - think about your definition of success and strive for it...every day.

One thing I do know is that MOST people need a partner or partners to "complete them."  In other words, we all have gaps (and strengths) in our personality.  Your partners should fill your gaps.  If they don't, your company will have a gap.  If you're a perfectionist, you're going to want to find a partner who isn't.  If you're a detailed person, you're going to find a partner who isn't.  If you don't have any gaps, congrats!  I have many!

So how is a startup similar to making a trip to every continent?  First, when I say startup, I'm referring to a funded startup.  If you're trying to build a lifestyle company (i.e. one that provides a nice lifestyle for you), don't take someone else's money to do this - they will NOT be happy.  If you can build a business on your own and without any money, that's a dream come true for many.  That's not my dream.  So like I said, the basic premise here is that you're building a business that is going to require capital (i.e. money) to get it going.

When do you raise your first dollar?  My preference is to raise money as soon as you can.  In other words, don't spend any more of your own money to start the business than you absolutely need to.  Even if you have money.  Why?  Because in my view, if you can't get someone else to believe in your idea, it probably isn't a fundable idea.

So let's say you start your trip in a rich continent such as North America.  You can get to a lot of places by driving around.  Some might be safe, some might not.  In fact, you can probably get to your second continent without hopping on a plane - i.e. South America.  We could say that's similar to your "self funding" stage of your business.  At some point you're going to have to take off on a plane to get to the next continent.  In the startup world, continents are like "fund raising series."

The first round of funding (continent 1 - North America) is your own cash.  Make this your smallest and quickest continent to get behind you.  The second round (continent 2 - South America) is your seed round.  This is sometimes called the friends and family round.  Get people believing in your idea ASAP.  Get your seed funding ASAP.  The 3rd round, your Series A round (continent 3 - Australia) is a stretch.  It's a long and big flight.  Most companies frankly never get to this phase.  Maybe you're able to go to Europe instead and the flight is shorter.  It's still a long way and you better have the fuel you need to get to that next round.

So yes, if you start in North America, using your own money, you might have a lot of money.  You might have a nice vehicle to get to your next continent.  But at some point, to get to continent 3 of 7, you're going to have to take off.  When are you going to fuel up next?  Are you going to attempt to fly around the entire world without refueling?  Of course not.  That would be similar to trying to raise $1B in your first round of funding.  It will never happen.

Seed round valuations tend to range from $1M to $3M.  If you're a proven startup person and 100s of other "ifs," you're probably not reading my blog, but yes, you're seed round valuation would be higher.  If you only have an idea, you're initial valuation may be $0 and it could be less than $1M.

If you try to fuel up in the middle of the ocean, you're going to run out of fuel and crash.  If you stop in a dangerous place (i.e. the wrong investors, investors who run out of money, investors with the wrong expectations, etc), you could also be extorted for money.  Depending on where you stop, fuel could be reasonable or it could be expensive.  The more you need the fuel, the more expensive it is.  All of this is true in the startup world too.  If you don't make it to the next continent (funding stage) with your fuel (funding), you're done.  If you stop in the wrong place (i.e. you don't have the right metrics in place by the time you get there), your next funding round might not be fatal, but it could be VERY expensive (i.e. a low valuation equal a high percentage of stock you give up for very little money).

It's important to plan your trip (i.e. startup).  It's important that you can make it to the next continent safely.  Where you start is important.  Focus is important.  If you deliver a message like "we'll do that" for everything a potential investor brings up, they will not want to give you the fuel (cash) you need.  What if you pulled into a gas station (called an FBO in the flight world) with $1000 on you.  Let's say the FBO has a casino in it.  On your walk to the casino you notice a bar, so you stop in there.  You go into the casino and bet $500 on black.  What would your crew (your employees) have to say about your behavior?  A bit confused about the goal?  A lack of focus on the goal here?  What would your investors (i.e. the FBO employees) feel about your ability to pay for the fuel?  Have a mission and live for it.  Know what you need to do and do it.

Whatever you do, bet the farm on your focus.  One thing, not 2, not 3.  Don't try to be more than one thing.  Don't fuel up or raise money in the wrong location (i.e. bad investors) or at the wrong time (i.e. middle of the ocean).  Keep in mind that you MUST get to the next continent with whatever you have from your last funding round.  In other words, DO NOT try to raise money $30k at a time.  You'll spend all of your money raising money and you'll end up in the middle of the ocean without any more fuel.  Each round needs to get you to the next round -'s going to be costly or deadly.

Prepare for your trip.  Be ready.  Your investors are your lifeline to the next continent.  Respect them and do what they expect you to do to get to the next round.  If you don't, you both lose - unless they get your company and then they do something good with it.  But that's not what they want.  That's not what you want.  Good luck and safe travels!

Worrying about the 4th Bullet?

Sun, 2015-08-23 20:12
I love analogies that are very meaningful and get the point across.  I often hear businesses talking about different subjects that concern them.  You could say this is similar to the days of the old west where people carried their weapons on their belt and used them at will.  Back then, did people worry about the 4th bullet in the gun?  Of course not.  They worried about the 1st bullet.

So why is it that in business we're often worried about the 4th bullet that's going to kill us?  For example, let's say your business needs revenue, has expenses, is not making a profit.  Should you worry about your legal contracts?  Should you worry about employee retention?  Employee onboarding?  Other topics?

Of course those things are important, but...what's most important?  How do you get to profitability?  More revenue?  Fewer expenses?  More customers?  More from your existing customers?  The 1st bullet that will kill a business is the lack of revenue.

In real estate, the 3 most important things are location, location, and location.  In business, the 3 most important things are focus, focus, and focus (on the 1st bullet).

Focus on the 1st bullet every day, not the 4th bullet!