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Hats off for Google AdSense customer service

Posted by Pelle November 17th, 2005 3 comments edit

I have been using Google AdSense for a while (click the link to the right if you’re not a member) now and never making large amounts of money. However it is enough at the end of each year that it feels like a little christmas bonus.

I registered with them when I lived in Panama, where I had a very convenient US mail box service. Basically a US postal address that gets airshipped to Panama daily. It’s very convenient for magazine subscriptions, amazon etc. So this was the address registered with AdSense. When I moved to Denmark last year I went to change my address to my new Danish address so I could receive my money intime for christmas.

But what did I see? No option to change country. My solution in the end was to use first my moms address and then a friend of mine. However that is not really satisfactory as a long term solution. In particular when I noticed that they will now do direct credits into Danish bank accounts.

I then decided to just go ahead and register a new account, which I should have done a long time ago. A day or so later I receive an email from customer support, saying that I already have an account and I can’t have 2 accounts at the same time.

I replied explaining my situation and to cut a long story short they were more than forthcoming and friendly about it and explained the procedure for flipping countries. Yesterday they sent me my new account details and I have now updated all my AdSense code to the new details. All I am waiting for now is for them to close down my old account and transfer the remaining funds over.

I have seen so many companies that are so fixated on procedure and legal compliance that they become scared to actually help customers out. I’m glad to see that AdSense has not done so and could help me out in a situation that (PayPal) for example has refused to fix.

Pavlina's $10,000 hour

Posted by Pelle November 10th, 2005 2 comments edit

Steve Pavlina has written another great bind twisting piece on changing the way you think about your time outside employment. He says we need stop focusing on our regular hourly rate, but instead focus our attention on those $10,000 hours.

It is really a great way of thinking and it really does make me think. Don’t worry about your time as such, but worry about pursuing those ideas that cause big payoff:

Almost always the $10,000 hour is the result of a great idea. And great ideas can strike at any time. When I get one of those $10,000 candidate ideas, I’ll normally drop everything and implement it right away. If it flops (and usually it does), I’ve lost an hour, but I still learned something. Most of the time it isn’t a total loss. I end up with a lot of $10, $50, and $250 ideas too. But I can afford to endure dozens of those relative flops for the chance to hit just one more $10,000 idea. And when it works, I must say it’s pretty darn nice. How to Earn $10,000 in One Hour

It just makes so much sense. The idea of putting a value on each hour of work is comes from the industrial age and does not make sense with creative types such as entrepreneurs.

The business of being a Solo ISV

Posted by Pelle October 17th, 2005 edit

John over at Daring Fireball has an interesting piece called The Life, where he talks about the economic realities of being a successfull one man ISV in the Mac world.

It is based around the NewsGator’s recent purchase of Ranchero Software, which apparently has caused a bit of frustration amongst Ranchero Software users.

He mentions many of the hard realities of being an ISV. Like support costs:

But selling software isn’t like selling books. When a book takes off and climbs the best-seller charts, that’s just money in the author’s pocket. Each software sale, on the other hand, comes with incremental support costs.

Read the full story. I think it’s still a worthy business to be in, besides the fact that it does include a lot of work. I also have to add that I think that most of the best software in the mac world comes from Solo ISV’s and I hope they keep coming up with all the great innovative software that we all know and love.

BAP #8 - Focusing on an imaginary 3 year revenue goal

Posted by Pelle September 19th, 2005 edit

Focusing on a large long term abstract revenue goal makes you loose focus and morale. Instead focus on building the first $50K of revenue. Just saw this by Wil Schroter, The First 50 Plan via Ken.

The problem with trying to think in terms of “how do we get to $10 billion in revenue in 2050” is that you lose sight of the fact that your resources are very limited today. Staying focused on earning the first $50K of revenue allows you to concentrate your resources on a very well-defined short-term goal.

This is a brilliant little trick Wil came up with. Following the same logic I was also thinking that a better or maybe earlier goal of $2k pm in regular revenues might be better for a small bootstrapped web startup. For a frugal bootstrapper this may be sufficient to break even. Once you have proven to your self and others that you can make regular monthly cashflow and not just a burst of big sales. This could be an easy metric to yourself. Lets say your $2k revenue comes from 100 sales at $20. That is something you can understand and focus on. Our goal is to reach 100 monthly sales.

Updated, Thanks to Peter for noticing a slight math error.

Meet Mart Laar the Jeff Bezos of Taxation

Posted by Pelle September 14th, 2005 edit

Just read this cool article Pioneer of the Flat Tax about Mart Laar the first prime minister of an independent Estonia.

It reads almost like the story of a typical hard headed young entrepreneur who doesn’t yet know all the reasons why something can’t be done.

Imagine a place with no tax accountants, where the annual return takes a businessman an hour to complete. Think how you could lead a country and design an economy just as you liked. Consider the joy of creating a tax system with no loopholes and exemptions, where everyone is treated the same.

When he became the prime minister of Estonia at the tender age of 32, Mart Laar saw this opportunity as a beautiful thing. The Soviet regime that once ruled his country had been overthrown, and he was starting with a clean slate – and the confidence that came from reading only one book on economics.

This table shows how it compares to UK Tax.

“Most experts advised against it and said it was a very stupid idea,” he said. “My finance minister said don’t do it, the IMF said don’t do it. But it’s not very easy to convince a young person that he is wrong and I was that type of young person. So I did it.”

This is how Bezos started Amazon. Max and Peter PayPal. Classic hard headed entrepreneurial spirit.

Thanks to Scott at Baltic Blog
for bringing this article to my attention. He says:

As an American with a screwy tax system that confounds me, even that as an ex-pat, doesn’t owe any money but can’t figure out the proper filings forms because of the Byzantine nature of the U.S. tax system, Estonian tax filing is simplicity in itself. It is all Web-based, and generally take 10 minutes to file.

As all of us entrepreneurs know, tax is a pain in the *ss. While obviously paying a huge percentage like we do here in Denmark is bad enough, I think for many smaller entrepreneurs the reporting overhead is actually worse.

Also in places like Denmark you tend to worry more about your deductions than your income. Imagine a 0% tax on your business. What kind of clarity in your daily life would this give you? Focus on your business effect and not the tax effect. I have been considering Estonia for a while as it certainly is an attractive place for a startup.

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