[quote style=”boxed”]Action! It’s easy to talk about your great ideas, but they’re nothing until you take action to make them a reality. If an idea feels overwhelming, I find one small task I can start on immediately. If I can’t figure out how to start, I try to talk through the problem with other people. If all else fails, I just take a small step in any direction. Even if it turns out to be the wrong direction, I learned something and can correct for the next step.[/quote]
Peter Baumgartner is the founder of Lincoln Loop, a full-service tech company specializing in web and mobile development for companies of all sizes, from startups to publicly traded corporations. Peter is an expert in Django-based web development and a thought leader in entrepreneurship and tech. He now lives in Mexico with his wife and two children, and he enjoys surfing in his free time. He welcomes anyone to reach out to him on Twitter or Google+.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a whole bunch of things. Last year, we launched our first product, Ginger (https://gingerhq.com); I’m gearing up for our marketing efforts surrounding it. We’re starting up a premium screencast site to share some of our technical knowledge at http://learn.lincolnloop.com. And today, I was discussing with the team what our business goal for the next few months should be.
Where did the idea for Lincoln Loop come from?
Before Lincoln Loop, I was the local tech support guy. Over and over, people would ask me if I built websites, or tell me horror stories about their existing developers. I started taking work on the side and eventually made the leap to full-time freelance. When I started landing projects I couldn’t handle on my own, I brought in more people to help.
What does your typical day look like?
I change it pretty frequently, but lately, I’ve been waking up around 6:30 a.m. I have breakfast and coffee, and then get the kids off to school. I surf for a couple of hours, then work. I’m kind of a jack-of-all-trades at the moment. Any given day could involve some sales, support, accounting, internal development, HR, etc. I punch out around 4 or 5 p.m.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Action! It’s easy to talk about your great ideas, but they’re nothing until you take action to make them a reality. If an idea feels overwhelming, I find one small task I can start on immediately. If I can’t figure out how to start, I try to talk through the problem with other people. If all else fails, I just take a small step in any direction. Even if it turns out to be the wrong direction, I learned something and can correct for the next step.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The increasing popularity of telecommuting excites me. Giving people the freedom to work where (and sometimes when) they want is amazing. I think the technology necessary to make this a reality is finally accessible to everyone with tools like Google Hangout. Commuting is universally an unpleasant waste of time, and trading that time in for family, personal growth, and relaxation is a big win for employee happiness.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
At one point after college, I took a temp position sorting, collating, and stuffing envelopes. It taught me that my education alone wasn’t going to get me very far.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I’d embrace networking early on. I used to think networking was just for lonely people and salespeople desperate to land the next sale. Over the last few months, I’ve started branching out more and have been blown away by the results. I’ve met people who have inspired me and taught me a ton about business.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I walk away. Entrepreneurs are filled with ideas and the motivation to accomplish them. If I tried to implement every idea I had, I would work around the clock and destroy my personal relationships. It’s hard sometimes, but the best thing to do is to acknowledge that you can’t do it all. Applying Pareto’s Principle (do the 20% that yields 80% of your results) and delegating are the keys for me.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Early on, I took on a big project and brought on a really talented team, but they were all moonlighting for me. A majority of them flaked out, and I vividly remember the panic I felt when I realized we weren’t going to pull it off in time. I learned the value of having a team you can count on to be there, even when the going gets tough.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’ve met a lot of people who are making a killing selling informational products lately. If you don’t already have a business, you probably have some skills you could teach and sell. If you do have a business, you can sell your some of your knowledge by way of books, videos, or audio.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
That’s a tough one…I have a very “live and let live” attitude and realize what’s best for me isn’t best for the next person. I guess world peace is a good one. How would I go about it? I try to lead by example, but it feels pretty insignificant in this case. I do my best to teach morality to my kids, so I hope they’re on the right path. Maybe if everyone did the same, we could make some progress.
Tell us a secret.
As a tech guy, I’m woefully unequipped. I’ve never owned a tablet or smartphone. In fact, I don’t own a mobile phone at all at the moment. Detaching from the Internet is critical for my sanity, and more devices just seem to keep dragging you back in. I have a MacBook Pro and that’s it.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
○ GitHub: As developers, we live in GitHub. It helps us visualize all the stuff that’s happening in our code, and it’s significantly lowered the bar for releasing, maintaining, and contributing to open source code.
○ Xero: I still handle the day-to-day finances at Lincoln Loop, and I attribute that largely to the ease of use of Xero. It’s structured enough that it helps me catch mistakes without having to understand all the ins and outs of double-entry bookkeeping.
○ Ginger: It’s our product, but seriously, I couldn’t live without it. It’s our company’s heartbeat. We use it for brainstorming sessions, company announcements, status updates, and just about any other type of communication.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I recommend “Maverick” by Ricardo Semler. Lincoln Loop is modeled after the business described in the book. He built Semco into a runaway success by, among other things, making meetings optional and letting people set their own schedules, salaries, and duties.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
I’m not a heavy Twitter user. I use it to keep up with my colleagues, but I can’t say that any of them would be terribly fascinating to anyone outside the programming world!
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I laughed watching “Archer” on Netflix last night. It’s basically a twisted, animated version of “Arrested Development.”
Who is your hero?
Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Black Diamond Equipment and Patagonia, is my hero. He built this hugely successful business, but his focus isn’t on squeezing every last dollar from it. Instead, he focuses on treating his employees well, minimizing the company’s environmental impact, and donating to charity. I strongly recommend his book, “Let My People Go Surfing,” to anyone interested in learning more.
What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
Last year, Lincoln Loop donated $12,000 to nonprofit organizations. Every month, we nominated organizations and voted on where we wanted the money to go. I’m thrilled to be part of a company that operates as more than just a money-making machine.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Family is important to me, and I spend a lot of time hanging out with my wife and kids. When I was in Colorado, I was big on telemark skiing, kayaking, and mountain biking, depending on the season. I’ve been in Mexico for the last year and a half, and I pretty much traded in all my gear for a surfboard. Outside of work and family, surfing is my passion these days.
Peter Baumgartner on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ipmb
Peter Baumgartner on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/pbaumgartner
Peter Baumgartner on Lanyrd: http://lanyrd.com/profile/ipmb/