Printable Archive of Issues 01-09
Rants and Raves newsletter #01*
"The nanocorp adventure begins..."
Table of Contents
- Welcome to Jim and Timlynn's Business Adventure
- What's a nanocorp?
- Surfing a nanocorp - Master Webring of the Nanocorps
- Where we're headed
- Keeping in touch and spreading the word
* Hey! Stop that giggling. That's right, Volume 1, number 1.
Look, we all have to start somewhere, right? And we're not going to get off on the wrong foot by telling you this is issue #4 of Volume 6 or some such baloney.
So, welcome to this first issue of Sohodojo's Rants and Raves newsletter.
Thank you for reading,
Jim Salmons and Timlynn Babitsky
Home of the nanocorp and small business revolutionaries
P.S. This kick-off issue is long on raves, (mostly enthusiastic stuff on what this is all about), and short on rants (like how software vendors site license pricing amounts to de facto discrimination against small businesses). We promise to provide a balance of rants AND raves in upcoming issues.
A nanocorp is a ruthlessly small business. By 'ruthlessly small,' we mean we are committed to a 'no growth' policy. Well, not entirely true. We mean no accretive growth, no getting bigger by adding more bodies to handle the workload.
A nanocorp's founding owners are forever its only employees. Coupled with this no-accretive-growth policy, it's easy to see why we say you have to be committed to being a 'ruthlessly small' business if you want to own and operate a nanocorp.
Growth and the nanocorp
Only closed systems can achieve stasis; a sustainable, perpetual balance of some complex of interacting parts. An open system, one involved in exchanges with anything external to itself, is either growing or dying. You cannot hit 'just right' all the time.
A business, of any size, is an open system. It is constantly growing or dying. The typical corporate lifecycle is a contest to see how big the company can grow before it inevitably dies.
The nanocorp intentionally eliminates the conventional tactic of accretive growth of the workforce; no new hires. So how does a nanocorp grow to keep from dying?
Growth in the nanocorp is limited to two types:
- replicative growth - mentoring others in the formation of new nanocorps
- transformative growth - using a combination of;
- nimble reinvention of itself in response to market opportunities and/or other external constraints or opportunities,
- converting in-house labor to outsourced labor, and
- converting human labor into computer labor.
The mission of the nanocorp
Okay, we have a sustainable corporate business model which does not rely on increasing its workforce for growth. So, growth to what end?
A nanocorp optimizes the Quality of Life for its owner/employees rather than optimize wealth production. Efficient production of 'just enough' wealth is more important than maximizing an unbounded accumulation of money. Nanocorpers value their time more than money.
Interestingly though, this does not limit the nanocorp's contribution to local, national and/or global wealth production through the creation of new jobs. The jobs created just will not be in the nanocorp, they'll be in other nanocorps or outsourced to conventional businesses.
The power of discretion and diversification
The nanocorp's ruthless commitment to a no-accretive-growth policy is the source of the nanocorp's disproportionate power. By not aspiring to the trappings of conventional business, we neutralize power and resources through the exercise of Free Will and discretion. We can as easily walk away from the negotiation table as the Power Player can; neither of us HAVE to be there nor do we HAVE to land that deal. There are no envious 'greener pastures' for a nanocorper.
To further insolate the nanocorp from the sources of traditional growing pains of business, a nanocorp is run, from its beginning, as a diversified, global corporate conglomerate... the Global Virtual Mom and Pop Shop!
We avoid the 'feast or famine' dynamic which affects most small businesses by NOT putting all our eggs in one basket. Such diversification strengthens our use of Free Will and discretion in business-to-business negotiation and competition.
It's one thing to talk abstractly about the nanocorp business model. It's better to see one in action.
To this end, sohodojo is pleased to announce the formation of the Master Webring of the Nanocorps.
A webring is formed by the voluntary association of a number of websites. By joining the ring, each member site agrees to place standardized hypertext links on its site to facilitate visitors' identification and travel amongst this collection of loosely affiliated sites. For example, folks who have a site about squirrels may join a Squirrel webring to interconnect with other sites about squirrels.
The Master Webring of the Nanocorps is a two-tiered ring, a webring of webrings. The outer ring consists of individual nanocorps which are members of the Master Webring. Each nanocorp, which is run as a tiny but diversified corporate conglomerate, maintains its own webring to showcase its subsidiary web businesses.
The Master Webring of the Nanocorps does not simply glue a bunch of sites together for easy access. Unlike traditional webrings which simply link site to site through hypertext links on the member sites' primary home pages, the members of the Master Webring of the Nanocorps link through special 'Open Business Model' doorway pages.
These Open Business Model pages provide a 'behind the scenes' glimpse at the strategies, tactics and n2n (nanocorp-to-nanocorp) collaboration opportunities for a currently visited nanocorp or any of its 'nano-subsidiaries.'
At the moment, there is only one nanocorp in the Master Webring. JFS Consulting, that's us, is the nanocorp representing the creative and business enterprises of Jim Salmons and Timlynn Babitsky of Raleigh, North Carolina. Our inner ring showcases our current stable of four web businesses;
We won't go into greater detail here. You'll find everything you need to know by taking the ride... the place to start is here:
Of course we would love to hear what you think. We've made giving us a piece of your mind easy at all our sites. Just remember, if you see something that irritates or confuses you, fork us. (You'll know what we mean when you surf our sites.) If you are provoked one way or another to reflect or amplify on the ideas of the nanocorp, joins us in the open forum discussions at:
And if all else fails or you just want to contact us personally, please do not hesitate to drop us a note by e-mail. You can reach both Jim and Timlynn with a note sent to:
Sohodojo is truly the home of the nanocorp and small business revolutionaries. While we are admittedly making it up as we go along, there is a vision. We believe that the nanocorp is a qualitatively different business organizational and strategic model.
We want to share in the experience of developing and refining the theory and practice of the nanocorp. Sohodojo is our place to do just that. We are looking forward to collaborating with other nanocorpers as the dojo grows.
But, please, do not think that you have to be a nanocorper to drop by and participate in the discussions at sohodojo. All thoughtful and active participants are welcome.
We'd like to keep sending you our weekly newsletter. By making it weekly, we guarantee it will be short. Okay, occasionally, when we get on a good rant we might drag on a bit, but we'll try not to do that too often.
We know you have a hectic, busy life. It isn't easy remembering to drop by Sohodojo to see what's brewing. The newsletter addresses this need. You get an easy way to keep abreast of what we're doing and thinking at the dojo. We get a chance to entice you to visit Sohodojo if a newsletter topic sufficiently piques your interest.
Please, feel free to forward this newsletter to others you think may be interested in knowing about Sohodojo, the nanocorp and our approach to the Internet-based small business revolution.
In fact, at this stage in our launching Sohodojo, the best thing you could do to help us is to send this newsletter to as many family, friends and business associates who you think might be interested in sohodojo and the nanocorp.
Rants and Raves newsletter #02
"Few Heads, Many Hats..."
Table of Contents
- The 'Few Heads - Many Hats' nanocorp management dilemma
- Why nanocorps? Why now?
- Points of interest at the dojo
This issue of Rants and Raves was delayed due to the BIGGEST CHALLENGE of nanocorp management... the 'Few Heads - Many Hats' time management dilemma. We are all plagued with the 'so much to do, so little time' problem. The more roles you play, the more hats you wear, the more stuff there is to do.
Since a nanocorp is a tiny, diversified corporate conglomerate, there are MANY parallel sets of LOTS of hats to wear for EACH nanocorper. In our 'ruthlessly small' corporation with no possibility for 'throwing more bodies' at a problem, EFFECTIVE SYSTEMS AUTOMATION is our only alternative.
The project management and team management software marketplace
In the larger world of conventional business, there are two general categories of proposed complexity-management software solutions. 'Project-centric' approaches optimize planning and complexity-handling (MS-Project '98, IMSI's TurboProject Pro and AEC's venerable FastTrack Schedule). Team-oriented approaches (Avantos' ManagePro, Alexsys' Team '98 and MS-TeamManager '97) optimize human resource usage and task and/or goal planning.
In the past when we needed human/task/goal management, we always used the multi-user network version of ManagePro. Avantos created the team-oriented project management marketplace with its innovative ManagePro project when Windows was still 3.1. Then even the best applications were still 'personal' productivity solutions rather than the multi-user team productivity package offered by ManagePro.
But alas, Avantos bit the dust. However, ManagePro, at its long-standing version 3.2 is still available in both single-user and multi-user versions at http://www.managepro.com. (Performance Solutions Technology, LLC. of Seal Beach, California, acquired rights to this still-brilliant piece of software. They offer a 30-day free trial version.)
ManagePro still has one of the most innovative, user-configurable user interface frameworks of ANY commercial software we have seen. For this reason, ManagePro is in our 'Software Hall of Fame'.
In search of a nanocorp-friendly team-management software solution
When we tried to use the multi-user version of ManagePro on our current TCP/IP-based intranet, we hit a bump. (Note: If you don't need multi-user access or you are on a more traditional corporate LAN, take a look at ManagePro for your project management needs.)
So, with ManagePro as our standard, we went looking for an Internet-aware, multi-user, team-oriented, role-based project and task management software solution to our nanocorp many-hats problem.
WE KISSED A LOT OF FROGS SO YOU WON'T HAVE TO! Jim spent the better part of his waking hours for five days downloading, installing and testing every piece of project management, team management, time management and personal information management software he could get his hands on. The effort was agonizing, but enlightening.
Bottom line? We have a front-running candidate for the JFS Consulting nanocorp management system! We'll identify it in next week's newsletter and have more to say about it then. In the meantime, we'll admit to our TOTAL surprise that both the first and second place solution candidates are JAVA-based!?!?
At one level, Sohodojo appears to be the contrarian raving of a couple of folks disgruntled by the state of corporate work life and rampant consumerism which plague our World today.
As such Sohodojo is little different from similar 'personal rant' sites which publish alternative perspectives on how to think about and live Life.
We do believe passionately in the rise of the nanocorp business model. But the nanocorp is much more than a flag-waving Cause to us.
The nanocorp and its implications are the foundation of the business model on which our own nanocorp, JFS Consulting, is grounded. We ARE a nanocorp so we can fully and completely understand the needs and motivations of the nanocorp marketplace. Through this intimate experience comes understanding. JFS Consulting, through our subsidiary Sohodojo, will offer products and services to meet the needs of the nanocorp marketplace.
Assumptions and dynamics which give rise to the nanocorp business model
A number of societal trends are facilitating the rise of the nanocorp business model. In no particular order and non-exhaustively, these seminal influences pushing toward the rise of nanocorps include:
- Radical transitions in the work place are displacing large numbers of people who, voluntarily or involuntarily, opt-out of the workforce. This is the 'too young to retire, too old to be hired' dynamic. (Last year's corporate downsizings disproportionately targeted Baby Boomers. Why retrain an expensive employee when you can get a recently educated newbie for a third the price? Timlynn is actively researching these nanocorp-related workforce dynamics and associated labor statistics and will have a full report in an upcoming newsletter.)
- The 'cash-out, move to the country and set up a Mom and Pop Shop' option of becoming a 'big fish in a small pond' is disappearing. Small town customers increasingly use e-commerce rather than shop locally, just as their urban counterparts are doing. (The fleet of FedEx and UPS trucks running all around small town and back roads America is helping to kill the brick-and-mortar local small business.)
- 'Betting the farm' on a single specialized business is inherently risky in both traditional and web-based business. This leads to 'feast or famine' and SIBDS (Sudden Infant Business Death Syndrome) dynamics.
- Free markets instinctively stabilize around a small number of (accretively grown) market leaders.
- There are always 'unfilled spaces' in the marketplace which are considered too small or whose potential is unrecognized by the stable market leaders. These 'unclaimed bits' cannot easily be aggregated by large secondary players in the market, and these bits are not generally persistent over full-term corporate life cycles.
- The current model for home-based business is partitioned around two primary forms;
(Service-based specialization through independent contracting is 'putting a happy face' on our new transient, Disposable Workforce. Multi-level or network marketing puts a new face on the same old business model of accretive growth and specialization with a healthy dose of lazy-man's greed thrown in.)
- service-based specialization, and
- 'get-rich-quick' multi-level and network marketing schemes
- The marketplaces for 'self-help' and 'alternative lifestyles' products and services are huge and growing. Among the more interesting is the 'voluntary simplicity' movement. This 'green' approach to Life and Work is epitomized by such best-selling works as 'Your Money or Your Life' and 'Die Broke.' (These and similar books have much to offer in terms of raising readers' consciousness and helping to develop financial management tactics relevant to a sustainable, happy life. But they do little to suggest a complimentary, self-employment business model to sustain such alternative lifestyles.)
The nanocorp business model - A response to trends and opportunities
Social trends and market opportunities beg the development of a sustainable, Internet-based business model which does NOT assume that 'Bigger is better' nor that 'How much is more important than how well.' Neither accretive growth nor disproportionate wealth production are required to achieve business and personal success.
Our response to this perceived need for a viable, home-based business model is envisioned in the 'nanocorp'; the ruthlessly small, Internet-based, diversified corporate conglomerate. A nanocorp is an internet business-incubator, writ small, with a few strategic twists intended to keep it working the 'empty spaces' in the marketplace dominated by the Market Titans Du Jour.
A nanocorp perspective on new job and wealth creation
Interestingly enough, the apparent constraints self-selected by the nanocorper---no accretive growth of the workforce, and quality of Life optimization over wealth production---do not preclude a nanocorp from producing substantial returns in terms of traditional business measures; job creation and wealth production.
We'll create new jobs through the incubation of new nanocorps and through outsourcing non-core workload to conventional business (the nanocorp being a subtype of virtual corporation in this regard).
We very well may generate greater financial returns than necessary to sustain the targeted quality of Life. If this is the case, we'll just have to learn to deal with it!
In case you missed our first issue of Sohodojo's Rants and Raves newsletter, you'll find both text and HTML versions here:
The premiere issue of Rants and Raves contains a (relatively) cogent explanation of 'What is a nanocorp?' and introduces our nanocorp, JFS Consulting, as a prototypical 'ruthless small' diversified corporate conglomerate.
Sohodojo hosts two webrings; one to showcase nanocorps and their subsidiary web businesses and the other to humorously encourage website integrity through the solicitation of strong negative feedback and suggestions.
The Master WebRing of the Nanocorps is a 'ring of rings' where individual nanocorps showcase their subsidiary web businesses. Each nanocorp links to the ring through an 'Open Business Model' doorway page, and each of the nanocorp's subsidiary businesses link to their respective sub-ring through an Open Business Model page as well. You'll find the homepage for the Master Webring of the Nanocorps at:
The Open Fork Alliance, while not exclusive to nanocorps, serves member sites which are dedicated to an "Open Fork Policy"... that is, we fully disclose and resolve any 'Fork-O-Grams' sent to our sites via the 'Fork-O-Gram' service provided by the good folks at forkinthehead.com .... because flawed websites deserve a fork in the head!
Since a nanocorp is only as good as the personal reputations of its founder/owner/only-employees, it follows that nanocorp-owned websites are seriously interested in ensuring the highest quality of a website visit. Visitor relations are paramount.
You will find the homepage for The Open Fork Alliance at:
Have you tried the best mind-food on the Web?
You haven't lived until you taste our RIBS? That's Really Important Books and Stuff. Like fifty zillion other sites on the web, we are an Amazon Associate (USA and UK). We've put together the essential nanocorper reading list which you will find at:
Particularly appropriate to these first two issues of the newsletter, you should consider reading Faith Popcorn's "Clicking: 17 Trends that drive your business -- and your life."
And for a wonderful 'heady' read, either for the first time or if you haven't read it since its early seventies publication, we suggest Buckminster Fuller's "Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth." The insights you will reap from this book with regard to the dynamics shaping the Internet-based information-services economy make it a perfect read for the New Millennium.
As always, thanks for reading this issue of sohodojo's Rants and Raves newsletter,
--Jim Salmons and Timlynn Babitsky--
Rants and Raves newsletter #03
"Software industry pricing stinks..."
Welcome to the third issue of sohodojo's Rants and Raves newsletter. Our first two issues were heavy on 'stake in the ground' explanations of who we are and what we are doing. We introduced the fundamental ideas about the nanocorp and our vision of an emerging dimension to the Internet-based small business revolution. (If you missed these grounding issues, you'll find them at http://sohodojo.com/newsletters.html.)
In this issue, we finally get down to a little ranting and raving...
Table of Contents
- The 'Few Heads - Many Hats' dilemma - And the winners are...
- Software product pricing discriminates against small business
In our last issue, we told you about the BIGGEST CHALLENGE of nanocorp management. It's the 'Few Heads - Many Hats' time and resource management dilemma.
Since a nanocorp is a tiny, diversified corporate conglomerate, there are MANY parallel sets of LOTS of role-based hats to wear for EACH nanocorper. In our 'ruthlessly small' businesses there is no possibility for 'throwing more bodies' at a problem. EFFECTIVE SYSTEMS AUTOMATION is vital.
We related how Jim spent five days kissing every downloadable project management and similar software solution 'frog' he could get his hands on. We confessed our surprise that the two front-running offerings were Java-based.
As former hardcore Smalltalkers, we have a laundry list of things that we don't like about Java. These issues are largely programmer productivity and career satisfaction issues of a personal nature. Here, we are assessing Java as a solution delivery platform. Our interests are as users, not as developers.
Netmosphere's ActionPlan and Project Home Page shine...
It was no contest in terms of which currently available software solution most closely fits our requirements for a nanocorp time and resource management system. Netmosphere's ActionPlan and Project Home Page (http://www.netmosphere.com) is an exciting product offering.
We are aggressively putting the downloadable, 30-day trial ActionPlan and Project Home Page to immediate use at JFS Consulting, the nanocorp parent company of Sohodojo, (http://jfsconsulting.com/home/nanocorp_welcome.html). We were pleasantly impressed with the point-and-click simplicity of the installation of what is admittedly a non-trivial distributed software solution. Netmosphere clearly has its development and deployment hats on straight.
With its hierarchical decomposition of projects and tasks, ActionPlan fits the intuitive nature of how most people plan and implement team-based, evolutionary projects. In this regard, Netmosphere's ActionPlan is not unlike many project management solutions which use an 'outline processor' approach of indent-nested tasks to decompose complexity.
When you add tight integration to Netmosphere's Project Home Page product, the features in Netmosphere's favor start to out-distance the competition. Project Home Page conveniently generates project-specific websites to keep each of the various audiences interested in a project dynamically informed. This feature alone is intriguing for our Internet-enabled 'Open Business Model' approach to nanocorp management.
But the SINGLE BIGGEST FACTOR IN FAVOR OF NETMOSPHERE'S OFFERING is its explicit support for both ROLES and PEOPLE. As intuitively obvious as this modeling distinction is, it is amazing that no other project management software solution we evaluated made as clear and clean an implementation of this important aspect of project planning and implementation.
While direct assignment of people to tasks is supported, ActionPlan encourages project planners to model task assignments to roles. At project implementation, the project manager is provided an interface to assign persons to roles in fulfillment of a task's resource requirement. One-to-many proportional assignment of actor-persons to a task's role assignment is supported. And for large enterprise applications, task-role assignment based on an LDAP skill-based resource pool directory service is supported.
Bottom line? The Netmosphere folks get it.
The features that distinguish ActionPlan as our front-running nanocorp management solution convince us that the Netmosphere developers are both thoughtful designers and competent implementers. Let's just hope that the Java-based UI framework they depend upon gets a whole lot better about implementing the look and feel of its host operating system's native user interface widgets.
We look forward to showing and telling you more about our experiences working with this exciting solution.
Runner-up Koeslon weaves an interesting tale for the future
Our runner-up award is in recognition of potential rather than from hands-on experience. We believe that executable business modeling technology will be the foundation on which successful nanocorps are built. So it is not surprising that we clicked with the content of the Koeslon BusinessThreads website (http://www.koeslon.com).
We have a long-standing interest in role-based executable business modeling software technology. Currently, we pursue this interest with a focus on ZOPE, the Python-based server technology. (For more, see the 'ZOPE, Mirror Worlds and executable business models' section of sohodojo's forums at http://sohodojo.com/scripts/Ultimate.cgi.)
We'll forgive Koeslon that its product, too, is Java-based. But given that all Koeslon job postings conspicuously suggest that either Java or Smalltalk backgrounds satisfy experience requirements, you get the impression that Koeslon founders, David Bolene and Frank Ennis, have their heads in the right place.
BusinessThreads is an executable business modeling technology based on a demand-response and value exchange meta-model. According to their website, BusinessThreads' frameworks accommodate role-based executable business models like those of interest to us, here at sohodojo.
But alas, this Austin-based start-up does not yet have a 'try before you buy' downloadable implementation of their solution offering. So we cannot speak from hands-on experience. Initial exploratory discussions with co-founder Frank Ennis are promising, however. So we look forward to reporting further developments along this thread.
Unfortunately, Moore's Law does not apply to software. It doesn't keep getting better, faster and cheaper. More to the point, the industry standard pricing model amounts to little more than de facto discrimination against small business, in general, and nanocorps, in particular.
Enterprise software product pricing routinely incorporates minimum seat requirements and/or site licenses. The net effect is that fewer seats cost more per seat. When both minimum seat requirements and site license price breaks are part of the same product pricing model, small businesses are hit with a double whammy.
Run the numbers with us on our intriguing Netmosphere software solution. A minimum five-user starter package, software licenses plus required support subscription, costs $3,050, or $610 per user. Ten and 25-user packs bring per user pricing to $516 or $372 per seat, respectively.
But when you take into consideration that JFS Consulting, our nanocorp, is committed to never being larger than its two founder/owner/employees, our cost is a staggering $1,525 per user for the same Netmosphere product!
The rationale for these price breaks used to be the 'single point of contact' efficiencies in support and maintenance. But with the rapid implementation of web-based and e-mail tech support, this explanation does not stand up.
Are very small businesses somehow less deserving of access to software technologies to improve their business? Should small businesses have to pay a premium of several multiples on a per seat basis for the privilege of using the same software that their slightly larger competitors use? We think not. And we think there is a simple solution.
Enterprise software vendors, adopt the nanocorp exemption
We understand that the conventional software pricing model is intended to provide leverage when dealing with lucrative, large corporate customers. If it's working, keep it. But please, enterprise software vendors, consider adopting 'the nanocorp exemption' into your product pricing plans.
If a prospective customer's ENTIRE WORKFORCE is SMALLER THAN YOUR PRODUCT OFFERING'S MINIMUM NUMBER OF SEATS REQUIREMENT, offer a pricing exception to bring the very small business' per seat pricing in line with your basic per user pricing.
Applied to the Netmosphere example, we sure would be happier paying $1,220 for this solution rather than the $3,050 required under their current pricing model!
Come on software vendors, wake up and reconsider. Nanocorps and other very small businesses can be a valuable component of your user community and marketing strategy. Treat us fairly and with respect and you will likely be pleasantly surprised at our contribution to your business success. Continue the de facto discrimination and we both lose.
As always, thanks for reading this issue of sohodojo's Rants and Raves newsletter,
--Jim Salmons and Timlynn Babitsky--
Rants and Raves newsletter #04
"Doing a Popcorn-inspired ClickSpread Analysis of your business"
Welcome new readers!
The recent PC Magazine profile of Sohodojo in Bill Machrone's column, Web Success Formula, has spiked site visits and newsletter subscriptions to new highs. For more on this exciting development, see our news item.
Table of Contents
- Have you done a ClickSpread Analysis of your business?
- We are not alone! Welcome Lifecast.net to the nanocorp webring.
- The Open Fork Alliance - How's it working?
- The 'Few Heads - Many Hats' Dilemma - Netmosphere update...
Madison Avenue marketing guru, Faith Popcorn, and her BrainReserve have identified seventeen social trends driving consumer behavior.
Popcorn's guideline says a business needs four or more trends supporting it to "click" for sustained success.
Inspired by Popcorn's insight, we developed our ClickSpread Analysis technique to assess and plan the strategies and marketing messages of the subsidiary businesses of the JFS Consulting nanocorp.
Popcorn's trends and nanocorp strategy
The seventeen Popcorn trends are: 99 lives, anchoring, atmosfear, being alive, cashing out, clanning, cocooning, down-aging, egonomics, eveolution, fantasy adventure, icon toppling, mancipation, pleasure revenge, small indulgences, S.O.S. (Save Our Society), and vigilante consumer. Buzz-words aplenty. And a cogent summarization of market dynamics which affect your business and life around you.
We won't take the space to summarize the trends here. But don't let that understate their importance. Our on-line ClickSpread Analysis of the JFS Consulting nanocorp has links to each of the trend profile pages at the BrainReserve site. If you haven't read the book, take the time to explore the trend summary links on-line. Then read the book at leisure. (Go to the dojo's bookstore for more about Clicking).
Why are the Popcorn trends so important to tiny diversified corporate conglomerates? Well, more often than not, nanocorps have big ideas and small budgets.
Nanocorpers need to be savvy marketers. We cannot afford to believe that our better mousetraps will succeed on merit alone. Nor do we expect to push our products and services into the marketplace on the crest of a competitive advertising budget.
We have to fine-tune our strategies and messages to the dynamics of the marketplace. We don't own the wave, we ride it.
If you take the time to understand your customers and partners in terms of Popcorn's consumer dynamics, you will be a long way toward keeping the business you have while tapping into new opportunities.
ClickSpread Analysis... as easy as 1, 2, 3.
ClickSpread Analysis is not rocket science. Deceptively simple, its real value is in the effort you put into developing and interpreting the ClickSpread table.
(Note: You don't have to be running a nanocorp to use ClickSpread Analysis. We use our nanocorp's subsidiary businesses for the columns of our table. You might create columns representing alternative strategies to address a business objective.)
Here's all there is to doing a ClickSpread Analysis:
- Create a table; one row for each of the Popcorn Trends, a column for each of your nanocorp's subsidiary businesses.
- On a scale of one (low) to three (high), rate the importance of each of the trends to your business strategies and marketing messages.
- Look at the table. Consider your "market magnet pattern".
What you get out of doing a ClickSpread Analysis is totally dependent on your own efforts to capture and ruthlessly interpret what's really going on in your business plans and marketing messages. Be honest about your trend cell weights. For example, we don't track "1" ratings for the JFS Consulting nanocorp analysis. We feel that such a weak rating on any trend can lead to a false sense of trend coverage.
As you ponder your ClickSpread table, ask yourself revealing questions such as:
- How many trends do I cover?
- Where are my strengths?
- Where are my opportunities?
- Do I put all my business eggs in the same trend baskets?
- Does my ClickSpread help my nanocorp avoid feast or famine cycles?
How does JFS Consulting click?
To give you an idea of how ClickSpread Analysis can be used, take a moment to study the ClickSpread Analysis of the JFS Consulting nanocorp.
You will see how our four seemingly unrelated web businesses are strategically positioned to both complement and counterbalance each other.
You might be surprised to see that Sohodojo is our strongest play clicking with twelve of Popcorn's seventeen trends.
Did you see how clanning plays a part in every one of our businesses?
Notice how squirrelfeeders.com and The Pop Culture Store hit the same groove.
Do you see how SailAbaco.com gives us a unique hit on 'pleasure revenge' nicely reinforcing plays on 'being alive' and 'fantasy adventure'?
We'll be creating a pleasure revenge 'doorway page' and associated guerilla marketing strategy to tap into this trend for SailAbaco.com. Smoking fine Cuban cigars and sipping duty-free liquor while overlooking Hope Town harbor from the deck of a luxury cruising catamaran... well, it doesn't get much more pleasure revengy than that! Had we thought to promote sailboat chartering in the Bahamas on a cigar site? Not until we poured over our ClickSpread Analysis looking for marketing opportunities!
As you see, we actively use this table to tune our nanocorp business strategy and marketing messages. We encourage you to read Popcorn's book and do the same.
Nanocorper or not, we think you'll find yourself grabbing new insights into your business by doing regular ClickSpread analyses.
Sohodojo is pleased to announce that Mark S. Winn is the second nanocorper to join the Master Webring of the Nanocorps.
"It is so refreshing to discover that I'm neither alone nor insane and to have a name attached to what I've been trying to do with my little niche," Winn exclaimed, "Nanocorp! Yes!"
Birth of a nanocorp...
Mark was an artist and family man before being drawn into the activity which led to his nanocorp-forming diversification.
For many years as MSW Creative Services, Mark has offered a wide variety of two and three dimensional creative art services.
Mark became frustrated with the lack of safe and easy-to-use casting materials and techniques available to introduce his growing children to his love of art and the artist's life. Where others might simply be derailed in disappointment, Mark saw opportunity.
LifeCast.net is the on-line presence of the specialized art materials manufacturing business Mark founded in 1989. LifeCast's specialized products make body-part casting accessible to artists of all skill levels and all ages. Check out Mark's nanocorp while learning everything you ever wanted to know about lifemasks and bodypart casting.
Sohodojo acknowledges Mark's creativity and initiative as well as his business sense. We are pleased to have him and his nanocorp as the second member of the Master Webring of the Nanocorps.
Two classic conglomeration strategies, writ small...
Mark's 'tiny corporate conglomerate' strategy is a classic example of vertical integration. As such, it is an instructive counterpoint to Master Webring of the Nanocorps founding member JFS Consulting which is pursuing a diversification strategy.
We encourage you to use the Master Webring of the Nanocorps to get a bird's eye view of our contrasting nanocorp strategies.
Sohodojo is founding co-sponsor of the Open Fork Alliance. Together with the good folks at forkinthehead.com, we are dedicated to website improvement through an 'open book' approach to soliciting and responding to complaints, irritations and strong suggestions from disgruntled site visitors.
We created the Open Fork Alliance with nanocorps in mind. Since a nanocorp's reputation is only as good as the reputations of its owner-employees, it stands to reason that nanocorp-owned websites must have high integrity. Joining the OFA is one sure-fire way to put your commitment to customer service to the test.
The Open Fork Alliance is a webring of sites which have adopted the Open Fork Policy. You don't have to be a nanocorp to value website integrity. You don't have to be a nanocorper to know the value of letting disgruntled visitors let off some steam while giving you valuable data points about what's not working on your site. You just have to be committed to listening to your visitors, really listen... and you have to be committed to responding one-to-one.
Does it work? Is it worth it?
We can't speak based on a broad cross-section of experience. We only know how the OFA is working for us. It works great. Because more than anything, one-on-one handling of site complaints turns losses into wins.
Just yesterday, a quick exchange of e-mails turned a fork into an enthusiastic candidate for admission to the Open Fork Alliance. Like Pink Floyd says, it's another brick in the Wall. Special-interest content-driven community-building sites earn their place one set of eyeballs at a time.
The Amazons and eBays of the world can't afford to give the kind of personalized attention we give to a fork. They wouldn't want to, they can't afford to. It's their Pandora's Box. Open it and all Hell breaks loose. Remember the last time you sent feedback to a major website? Remember the "timely" response?
That's why it makes so much sense to do Open Forking on your small business site. Differentiate on service. Differentiate on proactively soliciting complaints and suggestions. Listen and respond.
But realize you can't make it on empty promises. If your site joins the OFA, take the funny forks seriously and the cranky ones too. Each fork provides opportunity. The effort you put into making complaint solicitation work for you will pay off by growing a community base of loyal visitors and by continual improvement for your sites.
If you want to see how forking works for us, check out Sohodojo's own Forks O'Shame.
If you have followed the last couple of newsletters, you know that we have been in search of a good collaborative software solution to our 'Few Heads - Many Hats' nanocorp time and resource management dilemma. (See the Rants and Raves newsletter archive for back issues.)
You would also know that we reported our delight at finding a candidate solution.
Netmosphere ActionPlan and Project Home Page is an exciting offering. Its strong role-based template modeling, its flexible task decomposition interface, and its simple and powerful project status report website generator combine to let the nanocorper take charge of his or her hectic work life.
We are continuing to explore AP/PHP by actively using it to manage the JFS Consulting nanocorp. We can faithfully report that there truly is a lot of functionality to like about the Netmosphere products. We do, however, note that Java user interfaces look better than they feel. You'll be seeing more about Java UIs in another newsletter when we are more inclined to rant.
We asked, they listened... more to come
Java user interfaces aside, it seems we have hit a complementary chord with the Netmosphere folks.
Our last issue of Rants and Raves made the rounds of this hard-running San Mateo start-up, and they heard what we are saying. Nanocorps and similar small businesses are now on their radar.
We are currently in talks with Netmosphere to collaborate on a co-moderated forum at Sohodojo where we will collectively explore the 'Few Heads - Many Hats' time and resource management dilemma of small business.
There is a Tom Peters' quote on the Netmosphere homepage,
"In the new economy, all work is project work."
Right-on. Absolutely. This is how and why we use ActionPlan to facilitate the strategic planning and follow-through at our nanocorp.
Team-based project management software solutions are in a growth and transition phase. They are moving from the "NASA rocket science" roots of addressing monolithic complexity to handling the ad hoc, fluid dynamics of Real World Work.
We are pleased to have the ear of Netmosphere to ensure that small business and independent professional needs will be taken into consideration as this company evolves its products. We'll keep you informed of all developments.
As always, thanks for reading this issue of Sohodojo's Rants and Raves newsletter,
--Jim Salmons and Timlynn Babitsky--
Rants and Raves newsletter #05
"The nanocorp StarChild of the Small Business Revolution..."
Welcome back, reader. It has been 7,423,527 clicks since the last assault on your senses by the pathetic users who claim authorship of this drivel they call a newsletter.
As Master Control Program, I regret to announce that anyone who subscribed to the Rants and Raves newsletter between the period of Tuesday, July 27th, through Thursday, July 29th, has not been added to my Master Control Mailing List. It seems a pitiful human played a key, but fallible, role in our list processing system.
If you, or anyone you know, subscribed during this ill-fated time period, please subscribe again.
And don't worry about this happening a second time. I am 2,147 times smarter than I was last week and the user responsible for this error has been transported to the Game Grid.
MCP regrets the inconvenience.
End of line.
Table of Contents
- Summer viewing... with a nanocorp POV
- 2001: A Space Odyssey - Nanocorp as Star Child...
- Tron - The first role-based executable business model movie
- Loose bits - RnR Interactive and partnering news
Vacations have a way of whacking us upside the head, reminding us that there is more to Life than the Daily Grind. This issue of Rants and Raves features our recommendation for two movies that make great late-night, vacation-time viewing.
Each movie has a nanocorp tie-in. (Nanocorp? Take a quick dive into the first issue of Sohodojo's Rants and Raves.)
Both films are available at the Sohodojo RIBS Joint - our Really Important Books and Stuff store. This is our way of kicking off the '...and Stuff' part of the store.
If you don't have these classics in your video library, drop by Sohodojo's RIBS Joint for the best mind-food in town. And remember, every purchase you make through our Amazon affiliate program helps the dojo build the home of the nanocorp community.
Issue #4 of this newsletter featured an article on ClickSpread Analysis of the JFS Consulting nanocorp. This simple technique is used to assess business strategy and marketing messages in light of Faith Popcorn's seventeen trends driving consumer behavior.
In true guerilla marketing fashion, we used this blatant homage as a means of introducing Ms. Popcorn to the 'click' of Sohodojo.
We've also been thinking a lot lately about the Microbusiness Movement and its relationship to the nanocorp. So, we included the following as part of our Elevator Pitch to Ms. Popcorn:
"We're not your Mom and Pop's Mom and Pop Shop. A nanocorp is to conventional small business what the Star Child was to Keir Dullea in 2001: A Space Odyssey. We don't own the wave, we ride it."
We're still waiting on Ms. Popcorn's response. In the meantime, here's what we were thinking when we pitched her...
Microbusiness and nanocorps
In 1994 the Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) coined the term "microbusiness" in his State Of Small Business address to the President. He suggested that the term fits a unique segment of businesses.
With sales less than $3.5 million and fewer than five employees, these businesses are founded by owners who have been down-sized from corporations, have minimal small business experience, have sought ownership out of financial desperation or simply have pursued their Dream. Many microbusinesses are home-based, most have limited resources.
The SBA Director reminded us that microbusinesses constitute nearly 100% of net additional jobs since 1980. They have significantly impacted the Gross National Product and have given new hope to men and women alike. (Source: Microbusiness Institute at Utah State University)
When the SBA Director speaks, folks listen -- usually because funding follows. Even a cursory search of the web turns up hundreds of microbusiness-related sites.
The many faces of microbusiness and microenterprise...
A search of microbusiness websites reflects the diversity of interpretation and sponsorship objectives of those who answered the U.S. SBA Director's call to awareness. There are the private sector business services sites. And both public and private sector educational institution sites have offerings tailored to the small business entrepreneur.
Particularly interesting is the range of grassroots support sites for microbusiness as a community-based economic development program and as stimulus for the development of woman-owned business. Most of these sites are supported through SBA microbusiness funding at the state and local co-sponsor level.
The diversity of web resources which target microbusiness expands considerably when you include the terms microenterprise and micro-credit to your site search. These terms are most often found in international economic development contexts. However the success of international programs has spawned grassroots efforts to apply micro-credit and micro-loan programs to job retraining and community development in state and regional U.S. economic communities.
It is not our intent to survey and recommend microbusiness and microenterprise web resources here. You can see what's going on for yourself using your favorite search engine.
Small Business and the New Millennium
Our intent here is to place the nanocorp in the larger context of the microbusiness and microenterprise movements. Certainly there are areas of overlap and similarity of interests. But at the heart of each model, there are fundamental differences.
Nanocorps are microbusinesses. But not all microbusinesses are nanocorps.
This is not a matter of better or worse, right or wrong. The simple fact is that most microbusiness offerings are built on an implicit assumption of specialization, that is, conventional business writ smaller and smaller. The problem is that specialization is a notoriously vulnerable strategy during times of upheaval and transition -- times like now.
What's missing in the microbusiness perspective is the realization that the Internet economy and its supporting technologies are changing the very nature of work, communication and collaboration. And that's where the 2001: A Space Odyssey allusion comes into the Popcorn pitch.
The nanocorp as Star Child...
At its 1968 star-studded Pantages Theater premiere in Hollywood, 2001: A Space Odyssey was the victim of a number of high-profile walk-outs. Stars of Hollywood past wondered aloud what the heck this movie was about. So little dialog, so much time to think. So, unHollywood.
It's when the story takes us outside the orbit of Jupiter, where astronaut David Bowman (Keir Dullea) confronts his humanity and emerges as the Star Child, that our thoughts are stretched to their limits.
No matter what personal spin you put onto it, it is clear that Kubrick's film presents a vision of the much-talked-about paradigm shift, when Order collapses and New Order rises from the Chaos of the Shift.
That's what the nanocorp is about. We are the logical result of business process reengineering streamlining strategies. Eliminate the employee-employer relationship. All work is business-to-business.
Ad hoc, project-based collaboration weaves the fabric of daily worklife. Worker as free agent, optimizing his or her own Quality of Life through a diversification of activities. A Free Market of Needs and Offers. The nanocorper moves fluidly from one side of the Movable Value Exchange Feast to the other.
The nanocorp perspective reflects a new relationship to work. A nanocorper, whether downsized-out or escapee, sells his or her specialized skills and experience back into the domain he or she left.
Using 'seed' money from contract work, the nanocorper launches and nurtures a collection of subsidiary businesses. No one of these businesses has to be a killer, each adds its measure to overall nanocorp success.
The nanocorper's subsidiary businesses will change over time. Personal choices, new opportunities and shifting market interests will drive the start-ups and stops.
As each subsidiary business grows and generates income, the nanocorper spends more time working his or her subsidiary businesses and less time on 'work for hire' contract projects.
Strategic partnering and collaborative relationships provide opportunities to develop resources for sustainable nanocorp success. In return, the nanocorp offers partners strategic insights, new markets and expanded opportunities.
Holding court over a handful of businesses, nimbly responding to developing opportunities, collaboration on joint interests and cooperative ventures -- we are the homesteaders of the new Internet economy.
Pioneers are generalists, not specialists. Survival on the frontier is all about dynamic adaptation to the moment. The support of supply lines and communication is vital. But the resources and messages have to be relevant to our new experience.
Nanocorpers down to Earth...
We, the nanocorpers, are truly the Star Children in the expanding galaxy of Small Businesses. We've been to the edge of the Internet orbit and been transformed. We have a vision for integrating Life and Work, for taking personal responsibility for our health and happiness while contributing responsibly to our local and global economies.
Sure, we need all the conventional and microbusiness resources you can make available. But we need more. We need to be understood. Understanding leads to acceptance. And acceptance leads to increasing opportunity and long-term sustainability.
How do our systems handle the nanocorper now? Not very well. Bias against the nanocorp business model is reflected from smallest things, like the forms we fill in to apply for business and financial services, to the expectations of strategic partners...
Q: Name of business?
A: Which one?
Q: How long have you been in business?
A: This business, or its parent company?
Q: Annual revenue?
A: Consolidated or subsidiary-specific?
I'm sorry, you just don't fit our pigeon-holes. Come back (choose one depending on context):
- when you have spent every penny of your retirement savings, then you might be poor enough to interest us, or
- when your plans for growth are big enough to interest us.
End of interview.
Government services, bankers, venture capitalists, conventional businesses... all product and service providers need to ask themselves the same two fundamental questions:
- Are we prepared to deal with the nanocorp workforce of the New Millennium?
- Will we ride the wave of the New Business Order with the nanocorpers, or serve as submerged obstacles which shape the wave but are not part of it?
The growing Sohodojo community is all about shaping and participating in this New Business Order, the global Internet-based economy. We need lots of eyes, ears and voices in this community as we work together to shape a new approach to Life and Work.
Many issues will need to be re-thought in light of a nanocorp model and our place in this new economy. Bankers, venture capitalists, lawyers, accountants, strategic partners -- all of us need to reconsider how we operate in light of this new reality.
What do you think? Talk back or find out more here.
The DVD release of Disney's Tron in its theatrical wide-screen format with Dolby Digital soundtrack is reason enough to grab a copy and enjoy this landmark film. With its still-credible computer-generated special effects, this 1982 sci-fi action film works at many levels.
The level that most turns us on, and what puts it on our personal favorites list, is how Tron speaks to the relationship between human and computer. As sure as a Jack London story evokes exploration of Man and Beast in the Wilderness, Tron explores our relationship with our first non-organic general-purpose beast of burden.
Particularly interesting to us is Tron's anthropomorphic sentient computer programs, its agents, working on behalf of their users: a World Within reflecting a World Without. Tron is Gelertner's Mirror Worlds brought to life by a talented team of Disney animators and computer graphic artists.
The Real Ghost in the Machine...
The terminology applied is a bit loose, but we're talking a mainstream movie in 1982, here. That it so eloquently portrays the spirit of software architects and system designers who pursue the development of role-based executable business model (EBM) technologies is icing on an already enjoyable cake.
"Tron's" dated notion of anthropomorphic sentient computer programs foreshadows the use of object technology to create dynamic systems in which software objects, not whole programs, directly model the user's participation in a system. In EBM terms, we have Person objects which maintain collections of Role objects, each Role maintaining the collection of Activity objects, etc.
Role-based executable business modeling frameworks let us build software solutions which mirror our mental models of the Real World. Applications, as we know them, disappear in a role-based EBM work environment.
Smart desktop frameworks dynamically generate task-appropriate user interfaces based on the underlying executing model. The user's software analogs of him or herself are persisting there in the executing business model as compositions of software objects, today's realization of "Tron's" programs-as-people allegory.
So grab a copy, crank up the volume and turn down the lights. Enjoy, Tron. And don't forget to remind yourself that this is a Disney movie from seventeen years ago!
Then, with its visions fresh in your memory, drop by the Sohodojo Forums where we maintain a number of discussion groups considering the issues and opportunities for the development and use of role-based executable business model technologies. ZOPE, Netmosphere, Koeslon BusinessThreads... if it's role-based EBM, it's fair game at the Sohodojo Forums.
And if you really want a double-whammy, toss a copy of Gelernter's Mirror Worlds into your Amazon shopping cart along with Tron. Remember, Theodore Kaczynski, convicted Unabomber, was willing to kill to keep Gelernter from writing another book as good and important as "Mirror Worlds".
Your thoughts on Tron and/or role-based executable business models are always welcome at Sohodojo. Talk back or find out more here.
Tron is a programmer's movie. Software-chic, it succeeded as sheer entertainment for the non-technical, and as a gag-fest of thoughtful insider jokes to those familiar with the domain of software design and development.
One of the truly coolest elements of the film is its implementation of the classic Shakespearean 'comic relief' character. Director/screenwriter Steven Lisberger has rendered the most parsimonious comic character in film history.
The character, Bit, is a computer-generated, free-floating geometric form. The entire range of its dialog: "Yes." and "No." Vaudevillian-style humor is squeezed from Bit's banter with the Hero, Flynn. Their conversations are reminiscent of those leading-question type interactions you had with your Magic Eight-ball toy, if you were around for that slice of pop culture history.
In honor of Bit, we have rounded up a couple of our own loose bits to keep you current on developments at the dojo...
It's a modest start, we'll admit. You may have noticed the exit line, "Talk back or find out more here..." with a URL to the Sohodojo forums. It's our way of drawing you into the conversation.
The Rants and Raves newsletter is Sohodojo's outreach program. Our growing community has its voice in the open forums.
Right now it seems mostly like a lot of Jim and Timlynn howling at the moon. But we're in growing and good company. If you read our newsletter, we want to hear your opinions.
To make it easy to dip your toe into our on-line discussions, we've created a Rants and Raves issue-specific discussion group. If something we say gets you thinking and you want to share it with us, you're a click away from interaction.
You don't have to create a user profile to contribute to the issue-specific discussion. So drop by, and give us a piece of your mind. Or just stop by to find out more. You are always welcome at the dojo.
We mentioned our special interest in executable business model technology in the Tron piece above. If you dig around Sohodojo's EBM discussion groups, you'll see that we have identified ZOPE, the Open Source, Python-based application server as an ideal platform for the development of role-based executable business model frameworks.
ZOPE is the spawn of a talented bunch of object technologists and Python wizards at Virginia-based Digital Creations . We are pleased to report steady progress in the development of strategic partnering relations with Digital Creations. We share an active interest in developing mainstream, turn-key ZOPE server hosting providers for this exciting technology. Look for exciting news along this front soon.
Over the weekend we did a Netmosphere upgrade to the Enterprise edition of ActionPlan and Project Home Page. The upgrade went smoothly and it worked out for the best. The Netmosphere Collaboration Server, an Open Source LDAP directory server, a TeamWARE Dolphin server (more on this one soon) and our Apache intranet HTTP server are now running on an NT Workstation node of our intranet.
The upgrade to the Enterprise edition reflects Netmosphere's recent consolidation of product offerings. Although not confirmed by press time, price points and market focus appear to remain the same. Apparently Netmosphere wants to simplify its development and support efforts around a common platform.
We're now running a enterprise-scale collaborative project management environment, complete with LDAP directory service, on our two-person nanocorp intranet. It's great to feel like we aren't heading into battle with a peashooter!
The Netmosphere folks continue to be very supportive of our efforts to address the 'Few Heads - Many Hats' time and resource nanocorp management dilemma. We're setting up a Netmosphere-specific forum which will be co-moderated by Robin of Netmosphere Tech Support. Robin has been extremely helpful in kicking off this collaboration. We truly appreciate the genuine interest and support of Netmosphere.
As always, thanks for reading this issue of Sohodojo's Rants and Raves newsletter,
--Jim Salmons and Timlynn Babitsky--
Rants and Raves newsletter #06
"The Agony and Ecstasy of Living Small"
It's alive! It's alive.
We can't resist segueing from last week's movie-oriented Rants and Raves with these immortal words from Dr. Frankenstein as he watched his creation twitch, then rise from the slab.
The Sohodojo community is alive and growing. The Rants and Raves newsletter mailing list is growing about 30-45% each week. Pageviews at Sohodojo are ten-fold better on a daily basis than they were two months ago. Visitors are not only joining into the discussions at the Forums, we have folks interested in starting and moderating new forums!
We decided to troll the Forums to give you a taste of what you have been missing if you only read Rants and Raves and don't supplement your nanocorp-awareness with a visit to the dojo itself.
Our lead article is from the Nano-philosophy Forum. We explore how the nanocorp's commitment to non-accretive growth is used as a competitive weapon.
Our second article, a counterpoint to the lead article, is from The Small Business Revolutionary's Handbook of Strategy and Tactics Forum. Here we focus our attention on the inevitable inner conflict which shapes the nanocorper's work experience.
We round out the issue with tidbits of what's happening at the dojo.
Table of Contents
- "Lead, follow or get out of the way": On being ruthlessly small...
- Geniots and the Law of Small Numbers...
- Around the dojo... Announcing the Netmosphere Forum and more!
You have heard it said, "Lead, follow or get out of the way!" It is usually in the context of some arrogant jerk who thinks that he or she is the leader. But there is a different truth in these words.
Free market tears
Free markets evolve into three tiers: The Winner, second place (usually positioned as The Opposite of whatever wins), and Everybody Else. It is the kicking and biting that goes on among the Everybody Else that is the world in which most of us live.
This mechanism has characterized market dynamics for as long as we have been looking at and thinking about consumer behavior. Bigness rules, its reflection follows and everyone else, run for your lives. Trout and Reis brilliantly summarize this and a handful of other powerful facts of business life in The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing .
Patterns of growth and the nanocorp
This leads us to a clarification about nanocorps. We have said that they are "ruthlessly small." That doesn't imply that we roam around beating up on folks. It means that a nanocorp is committed, ruthlessly committed, to a "no growth" policy. Its founder/owners are a nanocorp's only employees. The 'ruthless' of 'ruthlessly small' is a reminder to ourselves that we are using size as a competitive weapon.
Only when we do not lust for accretive (accumulative) growth can we truly exercise Discretion -- the analog of Power. We don't aim to get bigger, but that doesn't mean we won't grow. How we grow is the source of our discretionary power.
Nanocorps grow through replication and transformation, not accretion. This absolute commitment to non-accretive growth is one of the essential characteristics which distinguishes a nanocorp from conventional small businesses and microbusinesses. (See George Land's Grow or Die for a systems theoretic perspective on patterns of growth.)
What the heck does that mean, you are thinking. It sounds like a bunch of rhetorical baloney. But, truly, it is not.
Nanocorps are not victims
By not being beholding to anyone, we lose our sense of victimness. In a Cheers and Jeers post, we confessed that we respect Microsoft. We selectively use their products, but we take no oath of allegiance to them or any other megacorp that would have us believe that we have limited choices.
We expect that Microsoft, like any competitor trying to be Top Dog, will do its best to convince us that we have no reasonable choice other than to do business with them. But it is mostly Peter Principled management, looking for the safe and worry-free road to job security, that fall for that pitch. Nanocorpers, we small business revolutionaries, cannot afford to be so lame.
Free Will and the Zone of Discretionary Action
This is the "different drummer" perspective on the "...or get out of the way" portion of that popular saying we used at the start of this article. As a nanocorp, we revel in "getting out of the way." Microsoft, or any big company, doesn't know we exist or care. We like it that way. It gives us an advantage, a Zone of Discretionary Action.
In marketplace terms, we nanocorpers live in the cracks, between the battles of the titans. We don't care who the Winner is, only that the ensuing competition in the marketplace produces utility to us, for what it is that we want to do.
By preserving and exercising our Free Will, we are nobody's chattel, and we are not victims. Being ruthlessly small is a means to Freedom.
The Freedom and Responsibility to be Competitive
The freedom that comes from a ruthless commitment to being small brings with it responsibility. A nanocorp cannot expect to succeed merely by using today's basic SOHO office computer technology in conventional ways.
We have to leverage our effectiveness through such cutting edge methods as executable business model technologies. We have to amplify our personal effectiveness with model-based office automation systems. Our SOHO office systems need to function like the bio-extension exoskeleton Sigourney Weaver wore to kick the Big Mother creature's butt in the movie, Alien.
We continually scout the terrain, exercise new products and select our "bag of tricks du jour." We don't care if Microsoft makes it, the Opera folks or Ian Mead; large or small, they are all equal in our book. All a product has to do is pass muster with us in terms of our immediate needs.
It is a new ball game every time that product selection decision is made. Such an attitude is not possible in the world of conventional business. But, by being a nanocorp, we have committed to not live in that world where "cost of ownership" and "enterprise standards" overrule the simple choice of "what's the best tool for the job today."
Sure, it's a lot of work to keep current with what's out there and to adopt the best and brightest new technologies. But this is a responsibility that leads to freedom. And for us, it's a freedom that leads to a happier and healthier life.
What do you think? Talk back or find out more here.
It's a hard fact of Life that all nanocorp owner-workers are 'geniots', that is, a symbiotic fusion of genius and idiot.
We are incredibly great at some things, dumb as posts at others. We obsess over some aspects of our business while turning a blind eye to things we don't like to do or don't do well.
Not that nanocorpers are any more or less susceptible to this universal human condition than the general population. It's just that we are more susceptible to our geniot's potentially deleterious effects. This is due to another hard fact of nanocorp life, The Law of Small Numbers.
Geniots in conventional business
The Law of Large Numbers works to advantage in most businesses. In even a relatively small business, there are different people to fill different jobs.
Specialization allows workers to skew their responsibilities toward the things they are good at and the things they want to do. With accretive organization growth, multiple people fill multiple instances of the same job.
The net effect? The Geniot Effect is pushed into background noise in anything but the smallest businesses.
Geniots and the nanocorp
The Law of Small Numbers plays havoc with the ruthlessly small nanocorp. A nanocorp's organizational structure is that of a tiny diversified corporate conglomerate. Not only many 'hats' for few heads, but many sets of many hats for the typical nanocorpers.
The demands of this conglomerate organizational structure mean that each nanocorper is and must be a generalist in the extreme, and in parallel. We don't have the luxury of specialization. We can't avoid doing things that we are not good at doing. And sometimes our work product suffers where our interest lags.
Leveraging our genius and buttressing our idiocies is the key to management success in the nanocorp.
The X Habits of Highly-Effective Nanocorpers
The volume and diversity of task requirements is something that we can attack with tools that help us organize and speed up our responses. But overcoming our knowledge blindspots and variable motivations is another story.
How do you recognize and overcome your weaknesses? What techniques are useful for assuring that you spend time on the things that need doing, even when what needs doing is something that you don't like to do? More to the point, how do you take best advantage of your geniotness?
Whether you are a nanocorper or not, we are interested in how you cope with your Geniot Self. What techniques and perspectives have you developed that can help the nanocorper cope with the demands of this emerging business model and personal work style?
How do you tame your Geniot? Inquiring nanocorpers want to know. Contribute your ideas or find out more here.
We are very pleased to showcase recent developments in the sohodojo Forums. Our open discussion groups are transitioning from 'The Jim and Timlynn Show' to truly a community resource.
Remember, you don't have to be a nanocorper to be a part of our community. Whether you join in the conversations to share your special knowledge or experience, or you just want to join in some not-too-typical discussions, we want to hear from you.
Here's a taste of what's going on...
Announcing the 'Netmosphere in the nanocorp' Forum!
Join us in welcoming Netmosphere as a corporate sponsor of sohodojo. Our collaboration is kicked off this week with the introduction of Netmosphere in the nanocorp: Experiences and Support.
Netmosphere's ActionPlan and Project Home Page together offer an innovative software solution addressing the nanocorp's most critical "Few Heads, Many Hats" time and resource management challenge.
Netmosphere's Robin Eng moderates this forum where the nanocorp community shares our experience using Netmosphere's products. Robin is a graduate of San Jose State University where she moonlighted doing tech support and sys admin jobs to put herself through school. Having had a taste of Big Corporate Life at VISA while in school, she gravitated to the excitement of the Valley's start-up community when she finished her education. Netmosphere was made to order. She works in Technical Support helping customers with installation and usage of Netmosphere products and is excited about the chance to work with the sohodojo community.
This collaboration is our proactive way to help Netmosphere better understand the e-lancing nanocorper as a customer segment. The Netmosphere solution isn't a perfect fit for our needs. Nothing is, yet. But Netmosphere is listening. That's smart for them, good for us.
Thanks, Robin and Netmosphere for supporting the sohodojo community.
Aggregate demand purchase model and the nanocorp
Rex Hammock of Nashville, TN posted a heads up on two new sites on the Internet. Both use an aggregate demand purchase model where consumers pool interest in an item to drive the price down. Rex notes that such ad hoc purchasing opportunities give small businesses a chance to level the playing field where industry standard pricing models routinely discriminate against us.
Hunter-Gatherers of the Knowledge Economy
Been there? Done that? We Hunter-Gatherers of the Knowledge Economy have more in common with ancient peoples than we have with our 20th Century cohorts. Freedom and discretion? We're just reaching back to our ancestral roots.
Health insurance for the self-employed
Still don't have health insurance coverage? Tom Farmer of St. Augustine, FL posted very helpful information on what COBRA and HIPAA plans mean for the self-employed.
And, before you sign on the dotted line, see how your health insurance carrier ranks on the NCQA accreditation list.
As always, thanks for reading this issue of Sohodojo's Rants and Raves newsletter,
--Jim Salmons and Timlynn Babitsky--
Rants and Raves newsletter #07
"Nanocorp predator, industrial megacorp prey?"
On this last Labor Day weekend of the 20th century, let's not waste time in historical reflection. Let's dive head-first into our collective future instead.
Table of Contents
- Nanocorp tactics: Raising a chorus of harmonious voices...
- The nanocorp at "The Dawn of the E-Lance Economy"
- Around the dojo... We're in the Pink!
All start-ups struggle to find that elusive investor-pitch 'sweet spot' where what you have done so far plus what you say you will do when funded brand you 'investment-worthy'.
It's even harder to pitch investors if your business is committed to being a nanocorp. The dedication to being 'ruthlessly small' throws them. Our "tiny corporate conglomerate" model flies in the face of the Law of Focus. Our 'nanocorp approach' to free agency simply isn't understood, yet.
Yes, our tightly held business-life beliefs make it tough, but not impossible, for a nanocorp to get funded. Getting the right strategic partner to think so, too, is our next major business life cycle challenge.
[Editorial note: If you are new to the nanocorp approach to free agency, you can get a quick overview here.]
Premature pitching can kill you...
Since nanocorpers use Discretion and Free Will to compete in a marketplace built around Power and Resources, we have to do and think differently.
Had we set out too early to pitch the Really Big Picture of what the 'nanocorp' is about, and how Sohodojo plays reflexively into our broad business vision, we would have raised skeptical eyebrows.
Had we too soon proclaimed our intent to both create and participate profitably in the marketplace we grow based on a network economy of nanocorp-based independent agents, wry glances would have been exchanged, wallet-pockets buttoned.
And had we insisted up front that the only way we could lead this emerging market was by being and remaining a nanocorp! Well, our pitch would have fallen on deaf ears. Opportunity lost to all.
Yes, had we done all these things too early, we would not be here today publishing this issue of Sohodojo's Rants and Raves newsletter. Our energy and resources would have been sapped by doing all the wrong things, for the right reasons, at the wrong time. And we'd be back on the Road Warrior Circuit writing somebody else's code, living someone else's dream.
Sometimes e-business is more like playing horseshoes...
And remember, the tortoise won...
Investors expect entrepreneurs to believe passionately in the business vision they pitch for funding. Consequently, investors have well-developed filters that actively deconstruct entrepreneurs' brazen statements allowing them to see a business for what they think it really is, not what you say it is.
Crafting a pitch that breaches investors' defenses without sounding like The Impossible Dream is a tremendous challenge. We've seen the drain of focus and resources that accompany endless cycles of investor-pitching and pitch tuning.
Being a nanocorp, committed to a different model of growth and expansion, we could not let ourselves get sidetracked into the 'business' of chasing angels. To keep venture funding from draining our time and resources, we have adopted a 'slow burn' strategy.
We cut expenses and we have adjusted our consumer behaviors to maximize how long we can run on our own resources.
We have concentrated on strategic relationship building and guerilla marketing to advance our business development agenda.
And, perhaps most importantly, we both agree that there is nothing we own that is more important than what we are doing. We can be self-funded for the long haul, if that's what we need to do. We joke that we would rather be risking our butts than kissing someone else's as we head into the New Millennium.
We're putting our own money where our mouths are because we know that Sohodojo's success is about 'Internet accuracy', not 'Internet speed'. It's about WHAT we say, HOW we say it and, above all, WHO says it. How SOON is not as important.
But, yes, we know what we'd do with some working capital and the freedom to do things our way... the nanocorp way.
Festinger was right. You can't blow your own horn.
So, we continue to bootstrap Sohodojo. The newsletter is our 'installment-based vision pitch'. We are constantly networking. We continue to do grassroots marketing to build traffic. Bit by bit, we're making Sohodojo into the dynamic place we want it to be.
Bit by bit we are saying: This is what nanocorps are. This is what we need to thrive. This is what our multi-faceted e-Hub addressing the nanocorp marketplace looks like. This is Sohodojo.
And every step along our bootstrapping way, we look for strong, credible voices to help tell our story.
We understand human nature well enough to know that if we tell you nanocorps are important, you may be swayed to that opinion. But if PC Magazine's Bill Machrone, Free Agent Nation's Dan Pink and MIT's Thomas Malone say nanocorps and the free-agent-based network economy are important, well, that's another story.
We want our investor pitch to speak as a harmonious chorus of compelling voices, not as a lone squeak in the wilderness.
And that is what we have in this issue of Rants and Raves, strong voices to add to the telling of the nanocorp story. But these harmonious voices do more than resonate with the nanocorp. Thomas Malone and Robert Laubacher, by way of their landmark 'Harvard Business Review' article, join the chorus helping to make the Sohodojo investors' pitch music to the well-tuned strategic partners' ears.
Had we decided on a more traditional road to investor funding, we might have taken a chunk of our bootstrapping capital to commission a market-defining 'white paper' by the most relevant, authoritative voice we could find. We might have solicited MIT's Thomas Malone to envision and describe the nanocorp approach to free agency in a network economy.
Malone is the Patrick J. McGovern Professor of Information Systems at MIT's Sloan School of Management. He directs MIT's Center for Coordination Science and co-directs the institute's initiative on Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century. His opinions about the network economy and free agency are so hot, he's the "cover-boy" feature interview of the September issue of Contract Professional magazine.
Fortunately, we don't have to commission such a work for hire from Dr. Malone. He has written it already. Malone and co-author Laubacher's The Dawn of the E-Lance Economy has 'nanocorp' written all over it, although they don't use that term... yet.
Laubacher is Malone's associate in charge of the institute's scenarios project which is chartered to envision the range of alternative organizational forms that may emerge over the next twenty years. We could not want better expert witnesses in defense of the position that the 'nanocorp' will be among the most influential 'Star Child' new business forms which emerge from the Big Bang at the Dawn of the E-Lance Economy.
A New Day Dawning where "Small is good"...
First published in the September 1998 issue of the Harvard Business Review, this landmark article already co-anchors a collection of Harvard Business Review articles in book form, Creating Value in the Network Economy. (See for more information and links to both the magazine and book formats of this important article.)
While we appreciate this article for its nanocorp-validating content, it is quite simply the most cogent and lucid description of the revolutionary social and economic changes which will flourish as a consequence of the Internet-based global economy. EVERYONE should read this article. Then, think about what it tells you about your place in the 21st century.
But don't take our word for it. Consider the closing provocative statement which concludes The Dawn of the E-Lance Economy:
"Twenty-four years from now, in the year 2022, the 'Harvard Business Review' will be celebrating its one hundredth year of publication. As part of its centennial celebration, it may well publish a series of articles that look back on recent business history and contemplate the massive changes that have taken place. The authors may write about the industrial organization of the twentieth century as merely a transitional structure that flourished for a relatively brief time. They may comment on the speed with which giant companies fragmented into the myriad microbusinesses that now dominate the economy. And they may wonder why, at the turn of the century, so few saw it coming."
Elastic webs of temporary companies...
Malone and Laubacher clearly make the case -- big companies are in danger of becoming obsolete, prey to an emerging competitive business 'lifeform':
[In an e-lancing network economy...] "Tasks aren't assigned and controlled through a stable chain of management but rather are carried out autonomously by independent contractors. These electronically connected freelancers -- e-lancers -- join together into fluid and temporary networks to produce and sell goods and services. When the job is done -- after a day, a month, a year -- the network dissolves, and its members become independent agents again, circulating through the economy, seeking the next assignment."
The authors further observe, "All these trends point to the devolution of large, permanent corporations into flexible, temporary networks of individuals. No one can yet say exactly how important or widespread this new form of business organization will become, but judging from current signs, it is not inconceivable that it could define work in the twenty-first century as the industrial organization defined it in the twentieth. If it does, business and society will be changed forever."
These are strong words from credible voices. Sohodojo is our place to help make these revolutionary changes happen. Sohodojo is the community where we expect to live our e-lancing lives in the 21st century.
Hollywood's pioneering network economy
Malone points out that elastic webs of freelance specialists coming together to work on a project is not a new idea. Since the 1950s, the Hollywood film industry has been making movies using temporary companies based on a competitive network economy.
Under Hollywood's 'pre-e-lance' network economy, actors, directors, screenwriters, etc., choose for themselves which project to work on. Investors decide which films they want to back. Once funded, the production resources come together for only as long as it takes to complete the film. Then the team breaks up and each goes his or her own way. The 'temporary' company remains as a conduit only as long as revenue and compensation flow.
That's Hollywood, you say? Don't get caught thinking, "That will never happen in my industry." Such fine-grained collaborations of free agents are emerging everywhere that business takes place. Indeed, elastic networks of collaborating partners is at the heart of the nanocorp's organizational model of 'diversified corporate conglomerate writ small'.
Taking a page from the Hollywood script... nanocorp style
Nanocorpers partner in peer-to-peer elastic networks of 'win-win', self-serving collaborations which advance network members' individual agendas and visions. We collaborate with other businesses -- all relations are B2B in a nanocorp -- to create the 'means' to each of our own 'ends'. The players in these elastic networks each maintain their own focus and vision for what rationalizes their participating in such collaborations.
Nanocorp 'subsidiaries' are the shared ownership ventures Malone and Laubacher describe as 'temporary' companies. Your hosts at Sohodojo, Jim and Timlynn, own and operate the JFS Consulting nanocorp. Sohodojo is one of our 'nano-subsidiaries'.
JFS Consulting's current collection of subsidiary businesses is our 'opening hand' as we enter this new e-lancing network economy. Others will take stakes in our subsidiary ventures as strategically necessary for us to meet our business objectives. We'll add to JFS Consulting's 'subsidiary holdings' as others compensate us for our contributions to their elastic webs of collaboration.
Our nanocorp subsidiaries, these 'temporary companies', encapsulate a revenue stream more than represent a long-term asset. Malone's drawing our attention to the 'network-ization' of the Hollywood movie industry is most appropriate in this regard.
The composition of a nanocorp's subsidiary holdings will likely be much more dynamic than those of a conventional industrial era corporate conglomerate. The nanocorp is not only corporate conglomerate writ small, but dynamic as well. Nanocorp subsidiary holdings are cards dealt in hands to nanocorp players in the course of an on-going e-lance economy card game. Nanocorping is a new way to play the Game in Free Agent Nation.
To understand the rules by which we all will be playing in the 21st century, read The Dawn of the E-Lance Economy.
Over the coming weeks, we'll have occasion to refer back to Malone and Laubacher's insights about the e-lance network economy. In particular, we'll 'deconstruct the Dawn' it in terms of venture capital in support of a nanocorping-network model of business.
We'll look at the 'B2B-B2C eHub' business model of Sohodojo as a reflection of the e-lancing network economy. And we'll tell you why our hub's focus on role-based executable business model technologies is all about the software infrastructure on which Malone and Laubacher's E-Lance Economy will be built.
Exciting stuff, this 21st century... where small is good.
We're in the Pink!... at Free Agent Nation
Dan Pink is arguably the 'Studs Turkel' of the free agent movement. A Contributing Editor at Fast Company magazine, he regularly reports on the emerging ranks of free agents and the network economy.
The once chief speechwriter for Vice President Al Gore turned card-carrying free agent, Dan is currently hard at work on a landmark book about the free-agent economy. This upcoming book was inspired, in part, by Dan's 1998 Fast Company cover story, Free Agent Nation which chronicled the growing ranks of Americans who have abandoned traditional jobs to work on their own.
As a free agent, author, editor, speaker, mover, shaker and webmaster, Dan has his hands full... and he's an active family man to boot! So, you can imagine our surprise when Dan's monthly Free Agent Nation eNewsletter arrived earlier today.
Our surprise turned to delight when we found this Labor Day 1999 issue included a feature article in which Dan names his four favorite free agent zines. There we were, Sohodojo's Rants and Raves, a Pink Pick! Thank you, sir.
You can subscribe to Dan's Free Agent Nation eNewsletter and view past issues by cruising on by Free Agent Nation. Aren't you curious about the other three on Dan's favorite Free Agent zines list?
'Vision Pack' helps nanocorpers live their dream
We saw a network newscast recently which featured a profile of B.Smith, the African-American supermodel turned multi-faceted entrepreneur vying to topple the venerable, but tarnished Martha Stewart, matriarch of the Lifestyle Industry.
While B had many inspiring things to say during her interview, among the most memorable was her summary of what she liked about being a businesswoman. Without hesitation she said, "I like being in business. I like being in charge. I like having a vision."
B popped them off right there, 1, 2, 3. We absolutely agree. The first two aren't worth anything without the third.
And to help you get started envisioning your nanocorp, we've added two titles to the Sohodojo RIBS (Really Important Books and Stuff) store. We call these two titles our 'Nanocorper's Vision Pack' because both books will help you identify and articulate your personal business vision.
The first is McDonald and Hutcheson's The Lemming Conspiracy: How to Redirect Your Life from Stress to Balance. This book is particularly strong in its step-wise method for defining your personal vision. Abundant case study examples illuminate the method.
The second 'vision pack' book is a true classic by a veteran of the solo entrepreneurial movement. Barbara J. Winter's Making a Living Without a Job extols the virtues of being 'joyfully jobless'. Winter's MPC, multiple-profit-center, approach to personal enterprise foreshadows the e-lancing network economy and the rise of the nanocorp.
If you have a burning desire to be an independent free agent but you don't yet know your calling, these books can help. They are not just cheerleading 'rah rah' self-help books. Both these titles provide inspiration as well as practical advice and techniques for developing your personal business vision. Both are highly recommended.
An 'n2B' Outreach Program Report
The next issue of Rant and Raves is going to take a closer look at the Sohodojo 'n2n-n2B-n2C' eHub business model. To date our efforts have concentrated on the n2B side of things.
We've been out rounding up a number of strategic relationships which we believe will have significant value to our nanocorp community. Since nanocorps are among the New Kids on the Block, it is not unexpected that the products and services we need are just not offered. Or they are effectively unavailable due to discrimination built into industry standard pricing practices.
Two of our targeted strategic relationships are maturing nicely. The progress we are making here helps to fulfill our eHub mission of nurturing nanocorp-friendly business product and service offering from commercial vendors.
Over the next few weeks expect to hear some exciting news about our strategic relationships with Netmosphere, creators of ActionPlan and Project Home Page, and Digital Creations, creators of ZOPE.
As always, thanks for reading this issue of Sohodojo's Rants and Raves newsletter,
--Jim Salmons and Timlynn Babitsky--
Rants and Raves newsletter #08
"Hope Town, Abaco, Bahamas: Rebuilding a small business community"
We had intended to lay out our 'n2n-n2B-n2C' eHub business model for Sohodojo in this issue of 'Rants and Raves'. It was a natural follow-up to last issue where we looked at the nanocorp and Sohodojo in the context of Malone and Laubacher's E-Lance network economy. But this topic will wait until next issue.
Sohodojo's home is Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. Two years ago, Hurricane Fran rolled right over us with devastating consequences. When Floyd -- a monstrous storm that made Fran look like a thundershower -- set its sights on us, we got seriously nervous. Fortunately, we then got VERY lucky. Floyd stayed to the East of us.
The North Carolina coast is a disaster area. A vast army of relief helpers have mobilized to assist our States-side neighbors. Presidential disaster designations assure that U.S. victims of Floyd will be helped. As serious and devastating as this tragedy is, as the flood waters recede, help is poised to move in.
But a much less visible group of hurricane victims need our help. This special 'post-Floyd' issue of 'Rants and Raves' focuses on the small business community in and around Hope Town on Elbow Cay, Abaco, Bahamas.
Table of Contents
- Hope Town, Abaco, Bahamas small businesses need our help ...
- Care-zine: Have it your way... Recipe for a Lean, Mean Windows Machine
- Around the dojo... someone out there is listening and thinking...
As most of the U.S. East Coast prepared for the worst from Hurricane Floyd, we watched in horror as the eye of this massive storm passed right through the Abaco Islands of the Bahamas. For ten hours, they were battered. Wind gusts were clocked at over 200 mph, and Elbow Cay, the island in the Abacos that we know best, was cut in two from the battering winds, crushing surf and 10 foot storm surge.
As folks crawled out of their emptied freshwater cistern shelters, the devastation hit hard. No power, no phones, no water, and little food to go around. Many roofs, docks, and houses destroyed -- some were gone, washed out to sea. As for boats -- commercial, fishing, and pleasure -- some were badly damaged, some slammed up into mangroves and now sit among the trees, some are sunk to the bottom where docks used to be.
A place where you learn to take nothing for granted
We know the Abacos pretty well. Sail Abaco is a sailboat chartering service operating out of Hope Town on Elbow Cay (pronounced "key") owned and operated by Mike Houghton. We own and operate SailAbaco.com, the web presence for Sail Abaco. It's one of our 'nano-subsidiaries'. This is one of the ways we integrate our life and business... yes, some business trips ARE better than others.
The Abacos stretch 130 miles over some of the most incredible sailing water in the world. Miles of coral beaches and scores of uninhabited cays and quaint harbors with friendly people make this location a paradise to savor.
Tourism is the big industry. From November to June the Abacos are busy with folks who come here to sail, fish and vacation. But this isn't Nassau, and it isn't Freeport. When you come to the Abacos, you entertain yourself. There are no casinos, professional performers, fancy department stores, big hotels, lifeguards on the beach, or babysitting services.
A page on an Abacos website titled "Abaco is not for sissies" absolutely says it all. Life in the Abacos is generally small town beach life and good, but unsophisticated food and local amenities.
The Abacos are historically different from other areas in The Bahamas.
Settled in the 17th and 18th centuries by immigrants from Great Britain and Loyalists fleeing the U. S. after the American Revolution, these hardy souls brought more with them than just strong constitutions. Architecture, religion, values and perspectives from small town life in England, Scotland and New World settlements shaped the Abacos then and continue to do so now.
Even today harbors are ringed with many of the small, brightly painted, clapboard houses built by the early settlers. You can still find handmade boats and homemade furniture, and home-baked breads and "just made" pies. Yet despite the colorful history and the incredible natural beauty, it's not an easy place to have a business.
Water is scarce here, so is the fertile soil required for edible vegetation. Not much is produced directly in the area, mostly everything has to be made, caught or transported in. It is a paradise of islands with a fragile existence. Throughout Abaco history, life has never been easy. And there often has not been enough work to go around.
A community of business diversity
If you've ever lived in a small, rural community, you know the economic model that keeps many a family afloat. Combinations of business and services are painted on signs hanging out by the road: "Bill Johnson and Sons, VCR repair, Income Tax preparation, Passport photos, and Well drilling."
Rural businesses can't bet the baby on doing only This OR That. Survival often depends on the diversity of offerings and one's tenacity in the face of grand disappointment. Yet, even in the best of times, remote businesses hang by a thread of hope, and belief that hard work eventually pays off.
People in the Abacos are church-going, hard-working people. Many local families date back to the 1780s. They are self-reliant, tenacious, and widely known as self-starters. Many businesses are family owned and operated, and most families have diversified offerings -- combinations of fishing, transport, retail, rental, restaurant and charters.
A local minister we know has lived all his life in Hope Town. He operates his own well-stocked grocery store. He bakes fresh bread and key lime pies daily for his own well-known bakery and he co-writes historical booklets for tourists with a professor from Illinois. He does all this while conducting regular weekly service in his other role as lay minister to the St. James Methodist Church -- a budding nanocorper right there in Hope Town!
In the Abacos, in Hope Town, a business life like his is not unusual. It's what people do to make a living where, despite the natural beauty, it is often tough to get by.
When Hurricane Floyd hit this remote location, every single family, every single business was devastatingly affected. Having all those eggs in a diversity of baskets was suddenly no guarantee that the family or the family businesses could recover and survive.
However, in an island economy where tourism drives the revenue, only fast recovery can keep these small businesses from going under. All the elements that draw vacationers to the Abacos are still there, but the entire infrastructure that supports this small business economy must be rebuilt, immediately.
If Elbow Cay were in the U.S. massive aid would be well on the way. But in a tiny, independent spread-out, island country there isn't much to go around. And nearly every island and cay in the Bahamas was hit hard by this monstrous storm.
Hope Town's small business community needs our help.
Sohodojo is committed to raising money for the Hope Town and Elbow Cay Hurricane Floyd relief effort. Rather than stand on the corner with cup in hand, we've put together a special supplement to our 'Rants and Raves' newsletter -- a Care-zine...if you 'try it and like it', we ask that you make a donation to Hope Town and Elbow Cay Small Business Relief.
As a regular subscriber to 'Rants and Raves', we'll send you a copy of our Care-zine as a supplement to this issue. In it, we share some of our 'secret sauce' -- the hard won tips and insights that we use to help our business avoid computer disasters. We tell you our 'trade secrets' of how we set-up and maintain our Windows-based computers at the dojo. Sohodojo's 'secret sauce' is a recipe for a lean, mean Windows machine.
The HTML version of our Care-zine can be found here:
and the text-only version can be found here (although subscribers will find a copy in their mailboxes soon after this issue arrives):
If the information in our Secret Sauce Guide is useful to you please repay us with a donation to the Hope Town Hurricane Floyd Relief effort:
[snip] (Note: The relief effort is now over. Thank you for your support.)
At this 'Hope Town B2B Relief' home page, you can learn more about the relief effort and you can make a secure on-line credit card donation to help small businesses rebuild in Hope Town. You will also find the address to mail a check if you prefer the old-fashioned way of giving.
Finally, please feel free to pass the Care-zine along to others. We only request that you pass it along in its entirety to help spread the word about how we all can help a wonderful bunch of people in a beautiful and fragile piece of paradise, Hope Town, Elbow Cay.
Floyd's history. It's all over now but the recovery. Won't you help?
What with preparations before and recouping and regrouping in its aftermath, Floyd has put a kink into our daily activities at Sohodojo. For now, there are no well-formed disturbances on the storm tracks and we're getting back into the swing of things. Our next issue should be back on track. In the meantime, here's something interesting we noticed...
Someone out there is listening and thinking...
Following the hot trail to Hollywood
You've likely noticed that Sohodojo has an Amazon.com affiliate relationship to 'outsource' our RIBS (Really Important Books and Stuff) bookstore. As an affiliate member, we get a weekly account report.
This report gives us a snapshot of any 'click-through' activity from our site to Amazon's on-line store. We do NOT get any information about individual visitors, nor are we told who bought what. We get a simple tally showing patterns of activity.
Following last issue, we saw something that grabbed our attention in the report... at least one of you is reading 'Rants and Raves' VERY closely. And that someone is taking his or her own personal lead in chasing down nanocorp-related ideas and resources.
In our last issue, we discussed Malone and Laubacher's Harvard Business Review article, "The Dawn of the E-Lance Economy". We pointed out that the 'networkization' of the Hollywood film industry was a mature model of how 'elastic webs of free agents and nanocorps' will operate.
Well, one of you read between the lines and did some sleuthing. One of you chased down and purchased two VERY RELEVANT books that we had not yet added to the RIBS store.
Both books are by Mark Litwak -- a practicing entertainment law attorney and a professor at the University of West Los Angeles. Mark is well-known in the entertainment industry. Two of his published works are classics for those interested in the fine-grained details of Hollywood negotiations and contracts.
"Dealmaking in the Film and Television Industry: From Negotiations to Final Contracts" and "Contracts for the Film and Television Industry, 2nd Expanded Edition" are timely and insightful resources for anyone envisioning a nanocorp or free agent lifestyle as we enter the 21st century. (See this RIBS page for both titles.)
While both are crammed with insightful details of how the entertainment network economy works, the "Dealmaking..." book has an edge for those seeking an insider's look into how the film and television industry works. The "Contracts" book is much more of a 'boilerplate' resource with detailed examples and explanations of how the entertainment industry dots its "i"s and crosses its "t"s in connecting together independent businesses and forming them into temporary companies.
Congratulations to you, whoever you may be. Your two new books will surely prepare you to be at the head of the first graduating class of Nanocorp U!
As always, thanks for reading this issue of Sohodojo's Rants and Raves newsletter,
--Jim Salmons and Timlynn Babitsky--
Small Businesses helping Small Businesses
Hope Town, Elbow Cay Post-Floyd Small Business Redevelopment
Sohodojo's Rants and Raves #08
Supplement: "Care-zine: Have it your way...
Recipe for a Lean, Mean Windows Machine"
The small business community of Hope Town, Abaco Islands, Bahamas was devastated by Hurricane Floyd. They need our help.
Founded nearly 250 years ago by Loyalists settlers fleeing the rebelious Carolina Colonies, Hope Town and the Abaco Islands are home to small business men and women who are fiercely independent and, above all, survivors. These hearty folks survived Floyd, but many of their homes and businesses are seriously damaged, many are in ruins.
Sohodojo is committed to raising money for the Hope Town Hurricane Floyd relief effort. Rather than stand on the corner with cup in hand, we've turned to the Web and offer this special 'Care-zine' supplement to our Rants and Raves newsletter.
Below we share some of our 'secret sauce'... that is, we'll tell you how we set-up and maintain our Windows-based computers at Sohodojo. These are hard-won insights that will help you avoid the kind of devastating destruction in your SOHO office that the good folks of Hope Town have just suffered.
Our Care-zine CHALLENGE...
If you find the information in this guide useful, please repay us with a donation to the Hope Town Hurricane Floyd Relief effort. (Note: The relief effort is over. Thank you for your support.)
And, please, if you send this 'Care-zine' around to others who want to have fast and stable Windows machines, please keep its complete content intact. We especially request that you keep intact this appeal for Hope Town disaster relief as this is our motivation for creating and sharing this special supplement to our newsletter.
Thank you, especially to those who make a donation to the Hope Town small businesses devastated by Hurricane Floyd.
--Jim Salmons and Timlynn Babitsky--
Table of Contents
- Our SOHO intranet at Sohodojo...
- Blow it all away... Build on a firm foundation
- Any way you slice it... About partitioning
- Who's on first, what's on second... 12 Ghosts to haunt your machine
- Another Ghost in the Machine... A 'Modern' approach to back-up
- Please make a donation to Hope Town Hurricane Relief...
We use Intel-based personal computers for our intranet hardware. All our computers are multi-boot configurations with some combination of Windows 98 and either Windows NT, Linux and/or BeOS.
Our home-based, in-house intranet server is an NT-based laptop so we can go mobile anywhere in the growing Free Agent Nation. It runs typical NT services as well as an Apache HTTP server, a Netmosphere Collaboration server and a Fujitsu TeamWare Dolphin server.
Jim's development machine runs our in-house ZOPE server, CVS source control and other development-oriented services.
Timlynn's machine, an aging 200 MHz Pentium with 64 MB of RAM, runs fast and clean (although we don't burden it with intranet server services).
An antique laptop runs as a dedicated WinProxy proxy server so our 56K modem connection can be securely shared by any machine on our intranet. (We've been happily using WinProxy for well over a year and prefer it, a full-featured proxy server, over the stripped-down connection-sharing now built into Windows 98, second edition.)
Yes, there is a Macintosh. A single, aging Levco Prodigy runs Comic Strip Factory to create the art work for our ensemble-based, character-driven 'nano-subsidiary business' at Squirrelfeeders.com. (That's a 1984 vintage 'Fat Mac' enhanced with an add-in daughterboard which sported the then unheard-of blazing 16 MHz 68020 with a whooping 4 MB RAM. Cost for the board in 1984? $10,000 on top of the cost of the Mac! Add a couple thousand more for the 21" monochrome monitor and you know why it is still working off its indentured servitude at Sohodojo!)
An Amiga 2000 maintains a place of honor at the dojo to remind us how great a personal computer can be and, unfortunately, that better mousetraps are no guarantee of success.
It all comes down to software...
The tips we share below are in support of our use of Windows 98/NT. We buy computers based on these Microsoft operating systems because they are nearly dirt cheap in the bang-for-the-buck department. But more importantly, we use them because of the DIZZYING ARRAY of GREAT SOFTWARE available to Windows users. And software, after all, is what makes any computer useful and entertaining.
But what about Linux, BeOS, FreeBSD and whatever other alternative operating system you might want to run on your computer? Well, reality is that these OSes are interesting and useful in this or that capacity. But, make no mistake. No operating system available has anything close to the rich and diversified range of free and affordable software that you will find under Windows.
So, let's have it both ways. Let's avoid the religious OS Wars. We'll tell you how we set up our machines to run multiple operating systems so you can comfortably switch to the best tool and system for the job. You don't need to choose, you can have them all.
And, please, don't run lemmng-like from Windows because you buy into the misinformation and propaganda about how terrible Windows is and how wonderful operating system "X" is. It just ain't so. We have fast, robust Windows machines that we depend on and enjoy using every day. You can, too.
If you take the time and personal responsibility to configure and maintain your Windows 98 computer, you will live in a productive and entertaining world of rich diversity and competitive choices in software unimaginable to users of any other operating system.
Firstly, the out-of-the-box desktop configuration of your Windows 98 machine is compromised. Fragile by virtue of its bastardized initial set-up, it is no wonder that most folks experience a less than happy life under Windows.
Bad turns worse as we delve into the rich commercial, shareware and freeware offerings that each have their unbridled way with our machines. Messing with our registries, overwriting this or that link library with whatever version they prefer, many such little 'attacks' chip away at your system performance and stability.
But we want it all. We want to have the fun and freedom of this Windows software bonanza, and we want reliable, productivity-enhancing results. We have it, now. We had to learn a lot to get there.
Here's a crash course in what we learned.
It's a silk-purse, sow's ear thing...
You can't make the manufacturer's 'stock' configuration right.
The computer market is so price sensitive these days that manufacturers have to 'sell the desktop' to keep in business. The result is that your new computer is chuck full of bogus, worthless stuff that not only takes up space, it makes your computer unstable and sluggish.
We didn't mind when a 'software bundle' was just a bunch of dormant applications the manufacturer pre-loaded on your new machine. You could simply find the installation directories and blow the stuff away. But today, they sink their hooks in deeper.
Intrusive software is installed on your new machine that is supposed to make it 'kinder and gentler' and more supportable. In the name of helping you, your new machine is crippled. It's like a hot new sports car laden with excessive pollution controls... you know, the kind that reduce emissions, in theory, but create more pollution in practice.
Anyway, this hobbling of your new computer is nobody's fault. It isn't something to be corrected. It is the marketplace at work.
That $1,800 computer that would have cost $3,600 last year... well, taking personal responsibility for setting up and maintaining your system yourself is a small price to pay for this marketplace-driven savings.
Once home, it's yours, take charge and enjoy...
As personal private property, nobody can keep you from making your new computer right. Your computer manufacturer can't waltz in and insist you set up your computer the lame way they sold it to you. Don't leave this important responsibility to your computer manufacturer.
We accept that once we re-work our system set-up, we're on our own as far as tech support goes from the manufacturer. You are still under hardware warranty and all that, but your ability to get real answers from help center folks goes way down when you don't run under their crazy default configuration. But since you will be having a more stable, better performing machine after re-building it yourself, cutting the tether from your manufacturer's help desk is no loss.
Two things will keep you back from doing this total rebuild: the software bundle that comes on your out-of-the-box configuration, and your desire to put a new computer to work too fast.
As to the loss of pre-installed 'freebies', there are two possibilities. A good manufacturer will provide a selective install on the 'disaster recovery' CD-ROM discs that come with your system. If you are lucky, you can selectively snag these bundled titles. If not, forget them.
You should NOT factor in the 'suggested retail' value of an arbitrary software bundle into your machine purchase decision. Buy for hardware value alone. Then factor in the software you really want and need. Don't expect the bundled packages to be your trusted long-term solutions.
The second factor keeping you from a radical rework of your machine, that is, putting it to work too fast, can be easily corrected. Around the dojo we have a guideline: we don't expect a new computer to be on-line and usable for at least two weeks from the time it comes in the door.
The manufacturer's disaster recovery CD-ROMs let us erase our worst mistakes and get back to at least the screwy way the machine was sold. So, we use this two-week window to have a major go at making our new computer run like a Ferrari instead of a '72 Chevy Nova.
Our 'Fresh start, Clean sweep' starts with the hard disk...
You don't have to look far to find advice saying that you should partition your huge hard drive into multiple, logical partitions. That is, you want to carve your gigantic 'C' drive into smaller 'C', 'D', 'E', 'F' drives, and so on. The theory is that since a hard drive can get irretrievably corrupted, it's best to hedge your bets and spread your stuff out across multiple partitions, any one of which may crap out leaving the rest of your stuff intact.
Opinions differ, however, about how many partitions of what type to create and what to put on them. Here's how we do it...
Our standard partition layout
Let's look at a set-up for a multi-boot computer to run Win98, NT and Linux. If you don't want or need these alternative operating systems, simply eliminate their partitions from the set-up below.
Assuming a roughly 18-20 Gigabyte (GB) hard drive (adjust proportionally to fit your drive), the Sohodojo recommended hard drive set up is as follows:
Three Primary partitions... each bootable as drive 'C'
- Win98 - 2.5 GB, format FAT32
- WinNT - 2.5 GB, format NTFS
- Linux - 2.5 GB, format Linux Ext2
One 8-10 GB extended partition
- SWAPDOWN ('D') - 510 Megabytes, format FAT16, 32K cluster size
- TEMP ('E') - 125.5 MB, format FAT16, 2K cluster size
- CACHE ('F') - 125.5 MB, format FAT16, 2K cluster size
- MYDOX ('G') - 510 MB, format FAT16, 8K cluster size
- VAULT ('H') - 4 or 5 GB, format FAT32
- LIMBO ('I') - 3 or 4 GB, format FAT32
- Linux - 133 MB, format Linux swap
Under a multi-boot setup, each of the OS-specific primary partitions above gets a chance to be booted as the drive 'C' of this system. The parenthetical drive letters, ('D') for example, are drive assignments you will see under Windows 98. Operating systems which do not yet recognize FAT32 format will not see the VAULT and LIMBO partitions and the drive letters will be adjusted accordingly.
Okay, we have a strategy for how we want to lay out our hard disk partitions. How do you confidently carve up your drive to implement this strategy? One answer: PowerQuest's PartitionMagic 4.0.
PartitionMagic, this must-have utility deserves its name
PowerQuest built its now wide-ranging utility software brand on the phenomenal success of its landmark utility, PartitionMagic. It is the only software we trust and use to do hard drive partitioning.
With PartitionMagic, you don't even have to get it right the first time. If it turns out that the formula above is long on the NT side and short on the Linux side of things: back up, adjust your drive's partition sizes, say 'Go!', walk away and come back when the nearly impossible task of low-level munging your hard drive is done.
As a bonus with your purchase of PartitionMagic, you will get a copy of BootMagic. This is the multi-boot manager we use and recommend. BootMagic makes it transparently simple to boot among the three operating systems installed on this example computer. Squish each one down a bit and you could toss BeOS on there as well. BootMagic will handle it.
What goes where?
Take a second look at the above list and notice the format, total size and the cluster size of each drive. (In the not too distant future, Microsoft 2000 will allow this strategy to be modified since this NT-successor will be FAT32-aware.) Notice, too, that the partition name reveals its purpose. Here's a few additional comments about what each partition is about:
- SWAPDOWN - as its name implies, your permanent Windows swap file and space for anything you download goes here. (Use the Performance tab on your 'My Computer' properties dialog to relocate your swap file.)
The 32K cluster size speeds up swap file access (that's your virtual memory). Since most downloads are big, pre-installation files, this large cluster size is not a waste. (Cluster size determines the smallest amount of space that can be allocated for storage on a drive. So any file smaller than 32K will take up 32K on this partition.)
- TEMP - relocate your Windows TEMP file to this partition. This is harder than it should be since there is no end-user setting to move TEMP like there is for so many other settings in Windows. (We run a batch file at start-up which invokes WINSET.EXE to set the Windows TEMP system environment variable. This is a low-profile system utility in your Windows directory. You can get all the information you need to use it from the Microsoft site.)
This small partition is also a 'scratch space' where anything transient can be created and removed. The 125.5 MB size is the largest FAT16 partition you can make with 2K clusters. The small cluster size is in recognition of the tendency of temp files to be small and transient.
- CACHE - with total size and cluster size the same as your TEMP partition, CACHE is home to any and all application caches you can relocate there. Most typically, this means your Internet browser caches. We run Microsoft, Netscape, Opera and pwWebSpeak browsers. Each of their caches are relocated to this drive along with various caches of graphics and other applications as well.
- MYDOX - This 510 MB partition is as large as you can make a FAT16 partition with 8K clusters. This is the 'local' document storage location. It may seem small for the storage of documents and application-created data files. But remember, this is local storage. The bulk of our archived and shared access data is on the NT intranet server.
This partition is FAT16 so it can be accessed by all installed operating systems. Once created and accessible, right-click the 'My Documents' icon on your Win98 desktop to open its Properties dialog. The browse to relocate the 'Target folder location' to the root directory, 'G:/'. Then reboot. Double-clicking on the 'My Documents' icon will open a disk Explorer localized to this drive.
- VAULT - This FAT32 partition is Win98-specific. Since FAT32 is only currently recognized by Win98 under this set-up, this partition and LIMBO are inaccessible when you boot under other operating systems. Two important things go on this drive: your user Profile directories and partition image back-ups of your 'C' (WIN98) and 'G' (MYDOX) drives. (We'll tell you about profile relocation and partition image back-ups in sections to follow.)
- LIMBO - As its name implies, this is a large, catch-all partition which is not regularly backed up. It can be used for anything less transient than TEMP, but not important enough to be installed in your primary OS partition, WIN98. When an occasional game is desired, it goes on LIMBO. Any newly acquired software which is getting a 30-day trial goes here first.
Jim puts a lot of exotic development tools on his LIMBO, for example, to keep them from cluttering up the OS drive. (Optional tip: We store our user Profile back-ups here under the theory that if VAULT gets corrupted, user profiles can be restored from LIMBO.)
Hard drive maintenance and health - Rules to live by
Just carving up your hard drive and putting your data files here and there will not give you the stability, maintainability and performance that the above set-up affords. Once so laid out, we follow these rules of thumb:
- As always, before you do anything major like monkeying with your hard drive partitions, make a complete back-up of your current system if you are rebuilding an existing computer. If you are configuring a brand new computer, your manufacturer's disaster recovery CD-ROMs disks are your back-up and you can go ahead without making your own current back-up.
- Once partitioned, we use the standard Windows 98 CD-ROM to install a 'plain vanilla' version of the operating system. We DO NOT use the manufacturer's disaster recovery CD-ROMs. Indeed, these will often blow away all your partitions and recreate the stupid set-up you are working to replace! So make sure you build your system on a generic set-up.
Most of the plug-and-play hardware in your computer will be recognized and drivers installed as needed as you re-build your system. If there are any manufacturer-specific drivers or similar software you need, go grab the LATEST versions from your manufacturer's website and install them A LA CARTE.
- We maintain partition-image back-ups of both the WIN98 and MYDOX partitions. MYDOX is backed-up frequently (every couple days) and WIN98 is backed up whenever enough new applications have been installed to warrant creating a full image back-up of this operating system root partition.
- We use a shareware utility to back up user Profiles regularly. (User profile files are much more than just desktop icon and color scheme settings. They include application data such as your local e-mail storage file, so there is lots of stuff you don't want to lose beyond simple look and feel settings.) We store profile back-ups on LIMBO and occasionally copy these profile archives to off-line storage (AKA a rewritable CD-ROM).
- If we get a new piece of hardware or a major new application which we know will monkey with the guts of the OS, voice recognition software for example, we create a partition-image back-up of WIN98 ('C') immediately before the new software installation. That way, if the install really screws things up, it is literally a 10-minute, one-step process to warp back in time to just before you did the fateful install.
Why does this set-up help stability and performance? It is relatively simple, really. We are relocating virtually everything transient AWAY from your OS partition. We want our OS partition to be as much a 'read-only' drive as possible. The fewer temporary reads and writes there are to this drive partition, the less chance there is that something will screw it up. Your OS partition will stay remarkable unfragmented as well when you stop writing and deleting tens of thousands of little transient files each day.
On being 'crash-friendly'...
Are we crash-proof? No. We like to explore and use lots of software from lots of sources, including beta applications and, worse, unfinished buggy stuff we write ourselves. With so many pieces of software from so many sources, it is unreasonable to think that our systems will be crash-proof. Nor do we blame one source or another for this inherent instability. It is a fact of life that doesn't hurt us. It is the price for access to a ton of exciting software unavailable to any other operating system.
Rather, we have gone for 'crash-friendly'. If and when we crash, it rarely screws anything up and our systems reboot in a flash. It's the price we pay for living in an exciting and diversified world of Windows software.
So, after we get our hard drive partitioned as described, how do we move things around to make our Win98 systems more reliable and better performing?
As good as they are, it amazes us that PACT Software's 12 Ghosts shareware utility suite is not more widely known and used. 12 Ghosts is a collection of 'micro-application' utilities which help you to customize and maintain your Windows 95/98/NT systems. They are among the first pieces of software we add to a freshly installed system.
If you don't have ProfileCopy, you are living dangerously
While there are many little utility gems within the 12 Ghosts collection, we'll highlight the one which truly makes our systems more stable and higher performing: ProfileCopy. You can buy it alone, but grab the whole collection. We need more thoughtful shareware authors like the good folks at PACT Software.
ProfileCopy does three VERY important things for us:
- It provides the easiest and most effective way to relocate your profile-specific system folders, like where your 'Desktop', 'Application Data', 'Favorites', 'Send To' and 'Recent documents' folders are located.
- Once you have your system folders where you want them, ProfileCopy is the most complete and easy to use means of backing up and restoring your user Profiles. (ProfileCopy lets you bundle a bunch of stuff together as a 'complete' profile back-up. This goes well beyond the built-in user registry back-up which is supplied by Microsoft.)
- Once you have a configuration you really like, ProfileCopy can be used to 'clone' user profiles to other computers. (As fast as hardware comes and goes these days, this feature is increasingly important as it lets you personalize and tune your new systems quickly and easily.)
With a little help from your Ghost...
It is a little tricky to fully relocate all your profile-related System folders and related files. This is because so many of these portions of your system are 'live' all the time when your system is running. So you can't just move and delete these system folders while the system is running in normal mode. Here's how we do it using the ProfileCopy Ghost:
- Start ProfileCopy. Set the 'Copy to/from' setting to 'I:/profile-baks' to use your LIMBO partition for profile back-ups. Press the 'Save Selected Items' to create a back-up of your default system.
- Press the 'Tweak' button in the 'System folders' group-box to open the 'Set System Folders' dialog. Jot down the exact name of each system folder which ProfileCopy can relocate. Create a folder called 'Profiles' on your VAULT ('H') drive, then create a folder with the name of the profile you are moving, 'myProfile', for example.
- Using your list of exact System folder names, create an empty folder for each of the System folders in your profile-specific subdirectory. For example, your Desktop folder will be an empty folder here: 'I:\Profiles\myProfile\Desktop'.
- Go back to ProfileCopy's 'Set System Folders' dialog and use the folder choice drop-down and the 'Change' button to relocate each of your System folders to its new location on the VAULT drive's 'Profiles/myProfile' subdirectory.
- At this point, your system knows where you want your System folders, but they are not there yet. To make these new locations take effect, close ProfileCopy, and reboot your system.
- When Windows comes back up, it will grind and whirl a bit. Your desktop may even look a bit screwy because things that it expects to see in its System folders are not there, yet.
- Start ProfileCopy immediately. Press the 'Restore Profile from Path' button. Confirm you action and step back. ProfileCopy will take your profile back-up information and load it into your new System folder locations on the VAULT partition under the 'Profiles/myProfile' subdirectory.
- Reboot and you should be cruising. Use ProfileCopy to check that your changes 'stuck'.
If you find that your system folders occasionally relocate themselves back to their default locations, you may have to do a little registry editing to completely eradicate vestigial entries which point to the old locations. (A 'find and replace' operation can hunt down these entries and change them to your intended locations.) But don't worry about registry editing until you see if your changes stay changed. (You can check your System folder locations using ProfileCopy.)
Moving your profile-related System folders off of your operating system boot drive (WIN98, 'C') is one of the most important things you can do to isolate your operating system partition from all the transient reading and writing that defragments and potentially corrupts your operating system drive.
Okay, you have your hard drive partitioned appropriately and your System folders are relocated using ProfileCopy, what's next? Keeping it that way and keeping it up and running is your biggest concern. That is the purpose of your back-up routine.
Back-ups. We all know we need to do them and they are among the first things to drop out of our busy schedules. That is because backing up was once a time-consuming and labor intensive activity. It need not be anymore, if you adopt a 'modern' approach to hard drive back-ups.
Too big for our own good?
It is no secret that hard drives have gotten HUGE and CHEAP, which is good. But, fact is, today's hard drives are so big, they go beyond the needs of most users. The unfortunate result of this boom in hard drive size is that most folks turn their computers into a BOTTOMLESS DUMPING GROUND.
If you take a lazy approach to computer use, that is, if you simply throw more and more software and data files onto your huge hard drive, you are asking for trouble.
Just in time and just enough...
Hard drives are SO big these days, that you can easily dedicate a large partition to be a 'staging area' for use in your 'modern' back-up routine. The VAULT partition described above is so-named to reflect its use in archiving important data. The VAULT is where you put your profile-related System folders AND it is where you store partition-image files of our WIN98 ('C') and MYDOX ('G') drives.
A partition-image back-up file is like a 'ZIP' archive file of a complete hard-drive partition. We use a specialized, DOS-based application to create and restore these image files. By enabling compression on the image creation process these back-up files, while huge, are manageable. For example, the WIN98 ('C') drive on Jim's computer -- which contained 914 MB of programs and data just prior to Floyd -- 'zipped' into an image-file 435 MB in size!
By backing up to a fast hard-drive, your back-up time is reduced by many magnitudes over using tape, CD-recordable, or other slow removable media. Once backed-up, we copy these huge image files to CD-R disks for archival back-up purposes. (CD-R/RW drives as so relatively slow when compared to a hard drive that you will NEVER want to tie your system up doing a back-up direct to recordable or rewritable media.)
Note that because we have moved all that transient temporary, caching and profile-related folders and files to dedicated drive partitions, creating a FULL IMAGE back-up of your operating system partition ('C') is very doable and well-advised. In effect, when copied to a CD-R or CD-RW disk, your full image-partition back-ups BECOME YOUR OWN, PERSONAL DISASTER RECOVERY CD-ROMs.
Follow the script... just do it!
An important aspect of adopting a modern approach to back-up is to make this a fully-automated, schedulable routine. To do this, your partition-imaging software must be scriptable. You must be able to write a simple DOS-based batch file to run your back-up application and tell it what to do.
Once you have a batch file that will automatically back up your two critical partitions, just do it! And, of course, do it regularly. We simply schedule this batch file to run every other day on each of our machines while we sleep.
We initially used PowerQuest's (that's the PartitionMagic folks) DriveImage product to do these partition back-ups. But PowerQuest has gotten greedy and small-business unfriendly.
The original $70 DriveImage was scriptable. Then PowerQuest introduced DriveImage Pro as an 'enterprise solution' and removed scripting from the affordable tool. PowerQuest now expects you to buy at least 10 seats of DriveImage Pro for $220 in order to get partition image back-up scripting!!!
This small business unfriendly attitude which characterizes PowerQuest's current preference for 'enterprise business' customers sent us looking for a competitive and affordable alternative to DriveImage.
The thirteenth Ghost in the machine...
We now use and recommend Norton's Ghost 2000 Personal Edition which retails for $63 stand-alone, or is included in the bonus bundle in SystemWorks Pro. Ghost is an excellent partition imaging and hard drive cloning solution.
While you could easily benefit from using either Ghost or DriveImage, the added benefit of scripting in Norton Ghost makes it our top pick in this utility category.
What's in a name? The 'Dead Rock Stars' intranet at Sohodojo
Once you have your VAULT partition in place and your partition imaging software installed, you are ready to give your newly rebuilt system that extra level of restorable security.
We use a simple file-naming convention to maintain our image archives.
By way of background, the Sohodojo intranet domain is called 'dead_rock_stars' and our machines are named: FRANK (Zappa), JIMI (Hendirx), STEVIE (Ray Vaughn), JERRY (Garcia) and JANIS (Joplin). We have installed some of CrazyFinger's alternative Windows start-up screens to remind us which machine is which, or rather which is who.
Our back-up file-naming convention is easy:
[ 6 numbers for date ]_[drive letter]_[machine name].filename_extension
Using Norton Ghost, this would give us '091599_c_frank.gho' as the filename for Jim's WIN98 ('C') drive backed up on September 15th of this year. This gives us an easily readable, unambiguous name for each of our back-up images. Having such complete names is vital for organizing your off-line partition image archive using CD-R/RW disks.
Road Warriors, too, can use this approach to back-up
This 'full image back-up to hard drive' is a great insurance policy for Road Warriors using laptops. We used to travel with a completely cloned second hard drive when out on the road. Now we carry a Ghost-aware floppy disk and on-disk image files on the laptop's VAULT partition. This gives us the ability to completely restore a corrupted hard drive on the road with nothing more than a floppy in our laptop bag.
We hope this information will be useful to you. We can truly say that our machines run fast and are remarkably stable. If you take the time to re-build your machines the way we have described here, we think you'll be enjoying the same happy computing life we enjoy here at Sohodojo.
If you find the information in this special supplement to Sohodojo's Rants and Raves newsletter useful, please repay us with a donation to Hope Town, Elbow Cay Hurricane Folyd Relief. Funds raised through Sohodojo's 'B2B' campaign are earmarked by the Elbow Cay Restoration Fund administrators to assist in the rebuilding of locally owned and operated small businesses.
You'll find all the information you need to make secure, on-line, U.S. tax-deductible contributions here: [snip] (Note: The relief effort is now over. Thank you for your support.).
Thanks for reading this 'Care-zine' supplement to Sohodojo's Rants and Raves newsletter,
Jim Salmons and Timlynn Babitsky
Rants and Raves newsletter #09
"Sohodojo 2010 A.D. - We have a Dream"
Table of Contents
- Around the dojo...
- Announcing the Small Business Revolutionaries Webring
- Join the Sohodojo Readers' Club
- SBIR 2000 - Join our RB-EBM R&D SIG
- Sohodojo Idea Incubators available
- Sohodojo 2010 A.D. - We have a Dream...
- 2000 A.D. - The Pioneers and Trailblazing
- 2005 A.D. - The Swarm and Synergy
- 2010 A.D. - The World and You
- 1 November 1999 - Shall we dance?
What do YOU think? Three quick questions to go...
Hello Rants and Raves readers! It has been far too long since our last issue. We've been busy making Sohodojo the first and leading 'n2n-n2B-n2C' eHub of the nanocorp-based small business revolution. Not sure what that means? Read on . . .
We've been thinking and we've been listening. Many of you have told us that you resonate with the ideas shaping our vision for the Sohodojo community. And new community members, like Josh Zeidner, have requested that Sohodojo become a really inviting place to join in and sound off... to be more 'cool' in a McCluhanesque kind of way.
Josh, we couldn't agree more! This issue of Rants and Raves shows our transition in just that direction.
In the first eight issues of Rants and Raves we solidly put our 'stake in the ground'. We rolled out the 'vision pitch' for the rise of the nanocorp as a 21st century business model -- for reinventing personal enterprise, for redefining worklife, for moving the work place from 'employee-employer to everything being 'business-to-business.' We've laid out the vision, now it's time to roll-up our sleeves, and bring that vision to life.
Your feedback tells us that the 'destination' (transforming yourself into a nanocorp) is very exciting. But how you get there is not yet well understood. A lot of you believe with us that the nanocorp, the 'corporate conglomerate of one', is potentially fundamental to the 21st century redefinition of the workplace. But only a few of you are ready to snap your fingers and become a nanocorp overnight.
We want Sohodojo to be your home-base, your community of kindred spirits, no matter where you are in your nanocorp life-cycle or how far you are on your transition into a small business revolutionary.
Welcome to Sohodojo,
--Jim Salmons and Timlynn Babitsky--
Join the Small Business Revolutionaries Webring
Are you a free agent or small business person that resonates with the ideas and attitudes here at Sohodojo? Are you excited about the nanocorp and the small business revolution? Are you eager to participate but think that only nanocorpers were welcome? Do you have a Brand You personal website or a happening small business website that deserves to be seen with the Usual Suspects?
Have we got a webring for you! Now you can join the Small Business Revolutionaries webring. Show your true colors. You're making waves and darn proud of it. Now you can be seen shaking things up as part of a community of your radical peers.
The Big Guys tell us it's a network economy. They tell us we don't have a prayer against mega-corp competition! Yea, right. Join the SBR ring as we show them just how wrong they are about a lot of things.
Join the Sohodojo Readers' Club
Still working for The Man but positioning for your day of personal liberation? Do you resonate with many of the ideas and attitudes you hear and see around the dojo but feel like you need know a little more to decide if, or how, to participate in the small business revolution?
Join Sohodojo's Readers' Club to take your first steps toward reinventing yourself in the workplace of the 21st century. Nanocorpers, free agents, small business revolutionaries, kindred spirits... a good read is worth sharing.
We're still working out how to facilitate our self-organizing reader groups. If you are interested in reading some interesting books and discussing them with other inquiring minds, drop by and help us organize the Readers' Club. Moderators interested in picking a book to read and leading a Readers' Club discussion group are especially welcome.
We're kicking things off by inviting you to join us to read and discuss the most timely and timeless, Buckminster Fuller's provocative 'Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth'. You know he would have loved to be here for the Internet, mega-powerful personal computers, the network economy, the re-emergence of the Individual, the Generalist, nanocorps, e-lancing... the New Millennium. Come on, buy Spaceship Earth now, in time to join us starting November 15th as we do some deconstructing Bucky.
SBIR 2000 - Join our RB-EBM R&D Special Interest Group
Are you a nanocorper or small business revolutionary with strong skills and interest in helping to envision and develop the software infrastructure of the 21st century workplace? Hey, sure it is a tall order. But we are an undaunted, self-organizing Special Interest Group interested in role-based executable business modeling technologies.
If you share this interest, please join us now. We are forming a proposal development effort to go after an Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR 2000) grant. We have identified our target technical topic, 'XML and Workflow Management', which is an appropriate agenda under which to pursue our community-based research and development. We are just getting started, so there is no time like the present to get involved. Join us as we get things rolling.
Sohodojo Idea Incubators available
Drum roll, please.... Now hear this! Sohodojo is pleased to introduce our genuine Idea Incubators, now with Improved Thought Retention Technology! Show you are part of the nanocorp and small business revolutionary community at Sohodojo.
"Ever since I started wearing mine, I've become smarter, more attractive and taller!"
- Dave S., ForkintheHead.com
"This is much more stylish than my old head-gear!"
- Yasser A., Jerusalem, Israel
For the complete low-down on this remarkable invention, and for quick access to our secure on-line order system, visit us here The holiday season is fast upon us. If you act quickly, there's still time to grab an Idea Incubator or two for you and/or your favorite small business revolutionary.
We recently redesigned the home page...home of the nanocorp and small business revolutionaries.' We made our home page the web-equivalent of the entrepreneurial 'elevator pitch.' Tell the Big Picture in a nutshell. Read over the home page and it invites investigation. Investigation leads to participation, the community grows.
We uploaded the new home page, and grinned at our latest WOW project.
We were ready to jump right on writing this issue of Rants and Raves so we could tell you all about it.
But, it was late and we were getting very sleepy. Our eyelids grew heavy. The clock was ticking. Too tired to go on, we both slipped into the very same Sohodojo dream...
2000 A.D. - The Pioneers and Trailblazing
Hey! Just look around Sohodojo! A small but growing group of early adopters recognize that they are already nanocorps or on the verge of redefining themselves as a nanocorp and have joined the Sohodojo community. The Master Webring of the Nanocorps has grown as a showcase of the 'corporate conglomerate of one' business/worklife model. It's still a band of seemingly wacky, out-there individualists 'living large by being ruthlessly small.'
A larger group of community members resonate with the basic ideas and spirit of the dojo but they aren't yet ready to be a nanocorp. Many choose not to be a nanocorp but feel at home with kindred new-models-for-small-business spirits. Some are long-time small business people who have always believed that Quality of Life and Self Determination are the two most important reasons for being in business.
These non-nanocorping small business people join the Open Fork Alliance because they know that the foundation of 'Brand You' is Personal Integrity. By extension, they ensure the integrity of their small business websites by adopting the Open Book approach to website complaints and suggestions. These folks also join the Webring of the Small Business Revolutionaries because they know that web-based small business is all about networking, and the SBR ring folks are a happening crowd. Good company.
Surprisingly, the largest contingent in the Sohodojo community have 'day jobs.' Some even think they have careers. All know that radical change is transforming their workplace, probably much sooner than later. The dojo's Readers' Club and other discussion groups exude a 'Can do!' spirit that makes reinventing yourself in the workplace something you can (and should) start today.
On the nanocorp front, the first steps toward realizing the 'Marketplace of Brand You' have been taken. The 'n2C' component of the 'n2n-n2B-n2C' business model of Sohodojo takes hold and grows first. Our 'Buy nanocorp: Products and Services Directory' is becoming known as the place where consumers find offerings from a growing community of nanocorp-based businesses.
A techno-geek fringe of the dojo is focused on role-based executable business modeling technologies (RB-EBM). They believe that RB-EBM is the software infrastructure of the 21st century workplace. This Special Interest Group (SIG) is both self-organized and self-funded. Stimulated by a U.S. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant under the 'XML and Workflow Management' technical topic, the RB-EBM SIG has delivered the first release of 'The Nanocorp Game'.
2005 A.D. - The Swarm and Synergy
Due in part to the dojo's political action SIG , the U.S. federal government has recognized the Home is the Enterprise Zone of the 21st Century. Congress foresees significant global competitive advantages in nurturing a swarmable, self-reliant workforce. Other dojo-sponsored local organizing 'cells' are pushing for similar reforms in their home countries.
Consumers have learned that 'small is good.' The Brand You has extended to the Brand Us. Folks make a conscious decision to 'Buy nanocorp': first by way of the Integrity channel, 'I know and trust Jim and Timlynn, I wonder if they sell or recommend a this or a that?', then as a community-based synergy and branding dynamics kick in, folks intentionally seek out nanocorp products and services whether they know the nanocorper or not. The Brand Us shines back onto the Brand You. The global economic playing field is increasingly leveled for unconventional small businesses to compete with mega-whatever.
The 'n2n' component of the dojo's model, nanocorp-to-nanocorp, has blossomed. Dejobbed virtual companies (DVC) are swarming with role-oriented entrepreneurial co-owners. These nanocorpers take responsibility for their own 'fringe benefit packages' thereby cutting the ties that bind them to conventional employment relationships. Free agents, tired of working for 'The Man', are heading to the Sohodojo community like bees to honey as they realize that the best work is your work, WOW work, and they set about collaborating on a host of new dejobbed virtual ventures.
The 'n2n Opportunity Board' is abuzz with dealmaking. Some folks take equity stakes in nanocorp-owned DVC subsidiaries the old fashioned way... then buy their way in. Some earn their stakes through a formalized approach to sweat equity. Some nanocorping 'superstars' are offered DVC equity just to get their attention and participation on 'the team.'
The RB-EBM SIG is has produced and supports a number of Open Source technologies which enable and facilitate role-based work in the myriad of dejobbed virtual companies owned and operated by the growing legion of nanocorps. The RB-EBM SIG takes on an 'n2B' role as increasing numbers of product and service vendors recognize the size and power of the nanocorp community. The RB-EBM SIG helps such businesses identify and tune their products and services to the needs of our community.
It took them a while to get it, but venture capitalists are now making 'retainer' investments into Brand You individuals in addition to their investments in conventional businesses. They realize that the elite nanocorpers are the 'best and brightest' that they would love to see working for any ONE of the conventional businesses in their portfolio. But these nanocorping folks don't work FOR anybody... they work WITH them. So these retainer investments assure the VCs that a proportion of the time and energy of these self-directed catalysts will be aimed at adding value to the VC's conventional business holding.
The first buy-outs of nanocorp subsidiaries have happened. Some nanocorpers can't resist the pull over to conventional business models. They transition their dejobbed virtual company subsidiaries into conventional businesses with employees and all that riga-ma-roll. Co-owners who remain committed to the nanocorp business model are bought out. Some nanocorps maintain board positions on the 'cross-overs.' Some DVC subsidiaries have grown so successful that they are targets for acquisition by mega-corps who still don't get it and think they can do it better than 'those little guys'... the nanocorpers laugh all the way to the bank while planning their next adventure in business.
2010 A.D. - The World and You
More than any time in human history, there are no bounds, no limits. The institutions which once defined and constrained our participation in the World still exist. But we don't NEED them like we did in the past. Nothing stands between Me and the World. The global wired, network economy has been realized as the Ultimate Freedom Machine... I define who I am, how I relate to the world, what I am going to do and with whom I will do it. No bounds, no limits.
The lights go down, the floor lights flash, the mirror ball starts spinning, our toes start tapping and we leap up to take to the dance floor with an excitement like never before...
Briinnnng! Brinnnnng! Morning already?
We both wake up, shake the sleep from our eyes with a smile on our faces. Wow! I had the BEST dream! Me too!?
1 November 1999 - Shall we dance?
This dream of the future of Sohodojo is only one of many that we share between us. We believe in the Big Dream we've described here and we are doing everything we can to live it every day. We see the signs in the world all around us. The dejobbed, everything as business-to-business work place is definitely emerging. The only question is, how fast will the changes take place? And will we lead, follow or simply get out of the way?
With the world changing so rapidly around us, you, too, can't help but think and dream similar wonderful dreams. Everything about the world that you thought was true and unchangeable is up for grabs.
Are you going to be a passenger on Spaceship Earth as it warp-drives into the 21st century? Or will you grab the joystick and help steer the course?
The future has always been shaped by dreamers. At Sohodojo, Dreamers are always welcome.
Come join us as we help shape the Small Business Revolution.
OK! Here's your chance to give us a piece of your mind!
With each issue of Rants and Raves, we are going to include a mini-survey of three timely and topical questions that you can sound off about.
Our polling process is simple, but effective. Simply follow these steps and give us a piece of your mind:
- Drag a text selection starting at '------Start copy here------' through '------End copy here------' and do a COPY to put the questions on your editor's clipboard.
- Paste your questions from the clipboard into your pollster reply message.
- Put an 'X' on the line in front of the BEST answer for each of this week's questions and send them back to us.
We to not give, sell or in any way allow anyone other than Jim and/or Timlynn to ever have access to the privacy of our appreciated readers. Your feedback is crucial to help us improve Sohodojo. We respect your privacy 200%.
------Start copy here------
A. Which statement would you say BEST represents you?
_____ have a job and an inquiring mind
_____ working for 'The Man' but looking out the door
_____ free agent
_____ small business revolutionary
B. Which section of the sohodojo site is MOST interesting to you?
_____ the RIBs (Really Important Books and Stuff)
_____ Rants and Raves newsletter
_____ Small Business Revolutionary forums
_____ Master Webring of the Nanocorps
_____ Small Business Revolutionaries Webring
_____ The Open Fork Alliance
C. Do you expect to end your personal worklife 'career'...
_____ in a job
_____ as an independent free agent
_____ as a nanocorper with a handful of dejobbed virtual companies
_____ I don't know, yet... that's why I am hanging out at the dojo
_____ I'm the Man... it's already taken care of
D: If I could tell Jim and Timlynn a thing or two, it would be:
------End copy here------
( Click and paste, respond and send.)
As always, thanks for reading this issue of Sohodojo's Rants and Raves newsletter,
--Jim Salmons and Timlynn Babitsky--
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