The Hush of Closures and the Roar of Success

Amongst the startup community there is a “celebration of failure.” This phrase is intentionally shocking. Who wants to “fail fast?” What does that mean? For those in the know, it means, “we learned what not to do” and for the very best, we learned what not to do very inexpensively! In most large organizations the […]

Reflections on 2023

We published 15 blog posts for the year, including this one. This is far fewer than our earlier days, when I was ripping out 4-6 per month. I suppose one can take comfort in that I’m ranting less and working more? Our publication frequency certainly felt less intense this year than previously. Looking back at […]

Systematic Expansion

Saturday morning I finished reading the 2022 Annual Report for a large, publicly traded corporation. We do not own shares of this particular company, but it is on my list of wonderful businesses. Over the years, it strikes me that all wonderful companies have simple expansion plans. This particular company has maintained the basics of […]

Geographic Density & Industry Diversity

Little Engine Ventures serves two primary customer types. The foremost is the local, best-in-niche service business owner who wants to sell his or her company to a family member or small group of employees but doesn’t want to strap the business with debt. We provide this group an alternative path compared to selling to a […]

Work-Life Balance Is Wrong

Lots of people say they need work-life balance. They are wrong. People need congruence throughout the various areas of their life. This is not about “balance” on a hanging scale, where “life” dangles from one chain and is equally proportioned to work. These two things are not even the same thing. Are you not alive […]

Net Promoter Score (NPS) in Baby Boomer Businesses

I have yet to meet a Baby Boomer Business Owner who references their NPS score as passionately as they ought. Why is that do you think? Is it a fad? Is it common sense? I used to think so. For 10 years I assumed it was tech-speak for something I already had and understood. That […]

Onboarding New Employees

In small business land, we make all sorts of errors. The greatest among them is probably our onboarding “processes.” Most of us stink at executing systematically. Why is that? In my 20 years of small business, the number one issue is the leader. Me, myself and I. Today, I consider myself an entrepreneur turned investor. […]

Budgeting Beyond Legal Boundaries

One of the many oddities shared between entrepreneurs is their ability to budget beyond boundaries. They don’t make the same assumptions about where the lines must be drawn. The edges are more fluid. They see customer value and customer alternatives and they see new ways of assembling systems to deliver value at a profit regardless […]

Given This

Most business owners succumb to reasoning errors over time. I fall prey myself. I ask myself: “given this asset, what more could be done with it?” Just this morning I began wondering about utilization of a warehouse and forklifts that are used only seasonally within our seed businesses. Given the seasonality of their use, what […]

Obstacles to Scaling a SMB by 10x

I recently wrote about buy and build; versus buy or build. Shortly thereafter I saw a question posed on Twitter regarding the obstacles. This is my attempt to share those obstacles: Market saturation – most small, service businesses are constrained by their geography. You are not the best HVAC company in the area. You are […]