I know plenty of entrepreneurs who are numbers first. They tend to be highly analytical people, and before they pull the trigger, all the numbers have to line up just right.

The risk of relying on a handful of customers is not just financial. Your product also is at risk when you're at the mercy of a few big spenders. When any one customer pays you significantly more than the others, your product inevitably ends up catering mostly to that customer's specific needs.

I'm not sure a lot of companies know their story, or can explain why they exist and who they are, without just spewing just corporate speech.

Being a salesperson prepares you for just about everything in business: how to listen, empathize, and persuade; when to back off and when to step in; and, of course, how to close.

You have to live with your decisions every day. Why live with one you're uneasy with? 'Because it'll make you money' is a common reply. But I don't think that's good enough.

The reality is that companies are full of things that are left unspoken. And even when they are out in the open, the CEO is almost always the last to know.

Whenever I speak at a conference, I try to catch a few of the other presentations. I tend to stand in the back and listen, observe, and get a general sense of the room.

Give your employees a shot at showing the company a new way, and provide the room for them to chalk up a few small victories. Once they've proved that their idea can work on a limited basis, they can begin to scale it up.

I think the story is important in every business. Why do you exist, why are you here, why is your product different, why should I pay attention, why should I care?

Lots of business owners spend their lives trying to land the whale - the single, massive, brand-name account that will fatten the top line and bestow instant credibility. But big customers make me nervous.

When meetings are the norm - the first resort, the go-to tool to discuss, debate, and solve every problem - they no longer work.

If you care about your product, you should care just as much about how you describe it.

When something is working well, it becomes too easy to let things run themselves.

It's like, the front door of the office is like a Cuisinart, and you walk in, and your day is shredded to bits because you have 15 minutes here, 30 minutes there, and something else happens, you're pulled off your work, then you have 20 minutes, then it's lunch, then you have something else to do.

When you spend time with potential customers, you get to hear about their struggles firsthand. You see their eyes light up with excitement or darken with confusion. You learn things you would never find in a survey, database, or questionnaire. You learn why people buy.

I think what really people want is just a few things done really, really well. And if you think about ever day of your life, the things you really appreciate aren't the complicated things. They're the simple things that work just the way you expect them to.

The reality is, risk is variable. Those in the financial world know it.

I think that sleep and work are very closely related - not because you can work while you're sleeping and sleep while you're working. That's not really what I mean. I'm talking specifically about the fact that sleep and work are phase-based, or stage-based, events.

I like to think of myself as a leader whose door is always open. But I recently learned that an open door isn't enough.

Who you work with is even more important than who you hang out with because you spend a lot more time with your workmates than your friends.

I've seen small businesses turn into terrible midsize or big ones because they let their desire to achieve some arbitrary metric get the best of them. Whatever is compromised as a result doesn't matter anymore, as long as the company is growing.

I'd love to see more businesses take this approach - intentionally rightsizing themselves. Hit a number that feels good and say, 'Let's stick around here.'

If an employee can demonstrate results produced in a way that the company didn't think possible, then a new way forward can begin to take shape.

Remind yourself that other people's jobs aren't so simple.

When you write like everyone else and sound like everyone else and act like everyone else, you're saying, 'Our products are like everyone else's, too.'

In my mind, declaring that an unfamiliar task will yield low-hanging fruit is almost always an admission that you have little insight about what you're setting out to do.

One of the secret benefits of using remote workers is that the work itself becomes the yardstick to judge someone's performance.

Even companies that do big business online struggle to be noticed by Google users. The Web, after all, is home to some 120 million Internet domains and tens of billions of indexed pages. But every company, big or small, can draw more Google traffic by using search-engine optimization - SEO, for short.

It's easy to forget, as a leader, that when employees don't get the wide view, not only does the point of their work escape them, but it can also lead to real frustration. It's hard to feel pride and ownership when you don't understand where things are going.

When we launched the first version of Basecamp in 2004, we decided to build software for small companies just like us.

We like to bully deadlines. Pick on them; make fun of them; even spit on them sometimes. But what a terrible thing to do. Deadlines are actually our best friends.

A computer doesn't have a mind of its own - it needs someone else's to function.

Like many entrepreneurs, I started out in sales. I began at 14, when I got a job selling shoes and tennis rackets at a pro shop, and I've been selling one thing or another ever since.

We think of computers as smart and powerful machines. But your goldfish is smarter.

If you ask people where they go when they really need to get work done, very few will respond 'the office.' If they do say the office, they'll include a qualifier such as 'super-early in the morning before anyone gets in,' or 'I stay late at night after everyone's left,' or 'I sneak in on the weekend.'

I'm generally risk averse, and most great entrepreneurs I know are as well.

When time, money, and results are on the line, it's easy for tension to build.

It's incredibly hard to get meaningful work done when your workday has been shredded into work moments.

When it comes to making decisions, I'm not what you'd call a numbers guy.

When you're short on sleep, you're short on patience. You're ruder to people, less tolerant, less understanding. It's harder to relate and to pay attention for sustained periods of time.

What you do is what matters, not what you think or say or plan.

Hiring people is like making friends. Pick good ones, and they'll enrich your life. Make bad choices, and they'll bring you down.

Selling to small businesses and selling to enterprises take two very different approaches with two very different kinds of people.

If you tell your story well, it can help attract customers; it can help people understand your business better, and you are more approachable as a business and a company.

By rationing in-person meetings, their stature is elevated to that of a rare treat. They become something to be savored, something special.

I used to think that deadlines should be ignored until the product was ready: that they were a nuisance, a hurdle in front of quality, a forced measure to get something out the door for the good of the schedule, not the customer.

A fixed deadline and a flexible scope are the crucial combination.

Nearly every boss has said it. And just about every employee has heard it. Yet it's one of the most meaningless lines ever spoken in the office: 'My door is always open.'

Your employees have lots of opinions about everything - your strategy and vision; the state of the competition; the quality of your products; the vibe in the workplace. There are tons of things you can learn from them.