Dan & Ian: “What Operating System Powers Your Business” – MicroConf Europe 2013

The MicroConf Europe 2013 Hub Page with all the information can be found here Speakers: Dan Andrews (@TropicalMBA) / Ian (@AnythingIan)

Get the SOD and a lot more information over here.

Background Story

  • Just 2 normal guys back in 2005
  • We believed that building a successful business would set us free

Started in 2008

  • Pre-Sold equipment for valet agents with no design, no manufacturing
  • Now biggest manufacturer of valet equipment
  • Then started cat furniture business
  • Then started portable bar company
  • Now doing ValetUp.com – a SaaS application

Perception of career choice by family

  • 2007 – Crazy
  • 2008 – Crazier
  • 2009 – Lost it
  • 2010 – Potentially gone forever
  • 2011 – What is it that you do again?
  • 2012 – …..

How can we help?

  • How we cut our internal email volume by 30-50%
  • How you can create a business that serves you instead of the other way around
  • How to manage a team of 14 with just a few phone calls a week
  • How hiring decision can be easy to make and manage

Excuses not to hire

  1. I can’t hire, I’m broke! –> cut back on other things
  2. I can’t stand the drama! –> it is less drama than not having a team
  3. My cash flow won’t support hiring! –> sell expensive products

Strategic Operating Document

  • Mission –> Principles –> Processes
  • “dreamy” Mission
  • General Operating Principles as a general guideline on how to work the business (e.g. Every customer fault is basically OUR fault)
  • Processes spell out exactly how everything works in your business

The Implications Of Working the System

  • Before: Only I can do this
  • Empowering employees/contractors to do the work
  • After: Faster, Better, Cheaper.
  • When should we hire? – After writing your SOD the conversation is way easier – you know what it will cost
  • Weekly reports:
    • This week’s big initiative
    • Last week’s big initiative
    • KPIs
    • At the same time/day each week

Guerilla Hiring

  • Lived on minimum possible salary
  • Paid first employees more than we made
  • Went to Vietnam (to hire Drupal developers)
  • Went to the Philippines (to hire marketing people)
  • Realized a lot of people want to travel
  • Create a company worth working for…
  • Understand cash / time / mobility as a system
  • There are people in the world who want to be just like you – make them your apprentice / intern

The mistakes we’ve made

  • Thinking somebody else will grow your business for you (Hiring for growth rather than hiring for management)
  • Thinking somebody else will care as much as you
  • Spending too much time on interns
  • Not firing fast enough (implement 90 day review)

5 Things You Can Implement Today

  1. Start your SOD document. Build a culture document from day 1. Write the operating system of your business
  2. Identify a few ways you could “race” to your first full time hire
  3. Write your mission statement
  4. Start a habit for writing processes for every repeating task in your business
  5. Stop work on repeatable tasks, start working on solving the unknown


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About Christoph

Christoph lives in Munich, Germany and is bootstrapping his own SaaS application as a part-time entrepreneur.

He likes to write on this blog about anything of relevance to single-founder bootstrapped software startups.


  1. […] Dan & Ian: “What Operating System Powers Your Business“ […]

  2. […] Dan Andrews & Ian (@TropicalMBA, @AnythingIan) se svou What Operating System Powers Your Business původně na konferenci vůbec neměli být, ale nějak letěli okolo, tak se zastavili :). A dokonce z toho byl můj největší přínos této konference pro mě, protože podrobně rozebrali jejich SOD – Strategic Operating Document, ve kterém mají poznačeno jak přesně funguje jejich firma. Do víkendu jsem je slyšel o tom mluvit pouze v podcastu, ale moc jsem si to neuměl představit. Dnes už umím a už pracuju na svém vlastním dokumentu. Další poznámky. […]

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