Operating Businesses and ISO 9000

  • December 8, 2015
  • Scott

Interesting post on Medium with a provocative title: “I sat down with a millionaire who operates 10 businesses while sailing around the world with his family“.  It’s a good read with some good advice.

  • Each of the 10 businesses on its own is boring and basic, but combined, the businesses create a great stream of income.  I agree. By all means focus on what other people think might be boring.
  • “Co-founding is overrated” – agree to disagree here.
  • Pick a smaller market where you can jump trends.  I’ve seen this work in Austin – cupcakes anyone? And smaller markets let you build for the long-term.
  • Be careful who you hire – apple pie.
  • Provide customers with value added services – “To be successful in business does not mean changing the world. It means meeting a need (regardless of size) well and dependably over time.” – apple pie, second helping.

Ok, so while I disagree with co-founding being over-rated, the rest of the advice sounds like business 101. Three things rang alarm bells for me, however:

  1. No one “operates” ten businesses.  Clearly they don’t operate them from a boat sailing around the world.  No, at best he “owns” ten businesses that his managers operate.  Let’s just be honest about it.  Operate would indicate day-to-day involvement.
  2. Citing his ISO9000 credentials made me roll my eyes.  Anyone familiar with ISO9000 would know this is not a badge of honor, nor something that any small business should be concerned with if they don’t have to be.  Also note that some of the companies listed as examples who use ISO9000 have had to recall significant percentages of the product they have produced due to quality issues in some years of operation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_9000 explains just the high level and is marked with a warning that it may be too technical for most readers. It is. ISO 9000 is the stuff SAP used to sell throughout industry in the 90’s, and it was mostly shown to destroy value in the companies that implemented ISO9000 at the time. http://www.favaro.net/john/home/publications/pursuit.pdf …
  3. This interview didn’t appear to take place at a port or on a sailboat in a far away port of call…

Also, if you’re building a business, co-founders can be great (I should know).  When you need to scale your business, co-founders are critical assets. 



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