Your financials probably won’t look the same on Day 1 or even Year 2 as they will once you’ve grown to be a “real” company. In the beginning overhead might look low because the company isn't paying any salaries. Maybe it looks high because you’ve just gotten started and your internet utility bill represents 20% of YTD sales. It’s helpful to get some reference points and to monitor your current conditions against future expectations and evolving competition. There are often some helpful “industry reports” available. You’ll have to dig in on some details depending on your particular business-scape but broad guidelines are better than none at all. Sales is the number we naturally go to first, but expenses add up fast and margin needs constant attention. Margin is lifeblood. Don’t settle on a terrible margin thinking it will resolve itself in the future or with volume. If you have to settle now, what are you getting in trade? If you settle now, be clear on the steps and timeline to healthy margin. Remember, that there is no guarantee you’ll live through tomorrow so don’t start making trades with expected payoff too far out. 
Obviously we're not absolutely risk-adverse individuals or we would never have quit our day jobs. However, we've done a bunch of unproductive toe dipping rather than diving in. In order to own a space, you've got to take risk. Don't place lots of bets hoping to diversify away your risk. You'll never own a space with half a heart or half a brain. Place the biggest bet you can afford—such that if you lose you can still recover. Of course, place the bet in the thing you believe in the most. When you experience success, double down. Then repeat. 
Some fires will burn you but many won’t. Slow down enough to gauge the heat and respond appropriately. When you determine something isn’t imminently dangerous, try to figure out how to extinguish the fire now and minimize the chance it’ll likely flare up again tomorrow. We've developed lots of guidelines for ourselves since starting our business—the last couple years of trial by fire.  Almost all of these can be unified under a single theme: DUMB WORK MAKES MORE DUMB WORK. This is true tactically and seems strategically universal. You do not want to answer the same question 100 times when after the 10th time, you could take an hour to publish a well-written FAQ rather than fire off another 10min email response. You don’t want to half consider a design solution only to bust your ass trying to sell it with a hard pitch or forced to service it with an unending queue of complaints. Take a split second before tending the latest fire to ask yourself, can I solve this issue for tomorrow if I give it more of my time today. It’s a rare instance when it isn’t time well spent.

The worst thing about business books/articles is that they often make “it” seem easy. The dogma is clear, repeated over and over, and the author speaks from a dreamland rich in money, virtue, and happiness. (Still never been there.) Don’t bother quitting your day job if you aren’t:

1. Confident in your belief and ability to overcome skepticism/criticism.

2. Confident in your willingness to work hard and accommodate a constant buzz of thought in your head.

It’ll be stress at times and optimistic excitement in others, but it’s tough to clock out. In starting a small business, don’t plan to be immediately free of the things you don’t like doing. You won’t be bootstrapped and taking flight from your day job to enjoy a previously unknown levity and freedom. Plan on simply building a day job of your own design, crafting a few fully custom parts and using some required off-the-shelf components.

Welcome to our self-help manifesto. We've written many notes to ourselves while reviewing the mistakes made since starting our business just a couple years ago. Our intent is usually to provide an internal reminder of what we've learned and prevent future mistakes. We're going to start publishing them, because the best way to learn something is to teach it. More accurately in this instance, the best way to think through a problem or preserve any realizations is to write them down and publish them on the internet.

DISCLAIMER: Blog posts detail what we've learned from our experiences—a window in rather than a professorial episode. Our personal ah-ha moments are yours to leverage or mock. Just as hindsight is 20/20, rules are made to be broken and won't be universally applicable.  

Our “target customer” is one who has recently started or is thinking about starting a small, “lifestyle” business. It’s someone that is looking for relevant context that will help establish early efficiencies and avoid some of the misdirection that comes with doing something for the first time in an unfamiliar space. We live in San Francisco, so it sometimes seems that everyone is fueled by venture capital set upon a genius idea ready to change the lives of millions (or billions). Sorry neighbors, we aren’t talking to you. We also aren’t providing concise guidelines for the clever inventor looking to retire early after an infomercial sensation. That means we’re writing for most entrepreneurs, those starting or running a business without an exit plan.

Anyway, welcome to the backstage. It'll provide a chance to get a behind-the-scenes look at Spurcycle as we jot down our thoughts—a cathartic and instructive exercise for us that we're now choosing to make public. Of course, it's a blog not a thesis. It'll be somewhat wide-ranging and without a set publication schedule. We've got a few of those tidbits collected to date that we'll get posted shortly. 

Looking forward to it.