Archive for February, 2010

Entrepreneur or Leader or Both?

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Bluehost/Hostmonster/Fastdomain started very small. We never took a dime of investment capital, never had any debt, and were happy to wait the 18 months it took before we got our first paycheck.

This may sound quite risky to many of you out there, but for me it wasn’t at all. I could see in my mind completely the plan for success. I defined success differently back then and I honestly never planned for this business to grow this large, but I had a clear picture of exactly the steps required to succeed. In my mind it was just a matter of doing it. I never thought there was a chance that it wouldn’t succeed. This is the how an entrepreneur thinks. They solve problems, take risks, work hard, and have an insatiable desire to succeed.

Now that we have grown into a much larger company we have somewhat outgrown the stage where only an entrepreneur is needed. Now we need an entrepreneur and a great leader.

This got me thinking what the difference is. I wanted to share with you what I believe the difference is. Here is the Matt Heaton definition of each.

Successful Entrepreneur – A person who has the ability to recognize a need/deficiency, ability to differentiate between a useful need and an idea that can be a successful business, design a solution, use his/her drive and ambition to implement the solution , and then profit from that solution to the desired level of the entrepreneur.

Most successful entrepreneurs follow this path reasonably close in my opinion. The unsuccessful ones are nearly identical in almost every way to the very successful entrepreneurs except for two missing attributes. If they lack the knowledge to implement their own ideas themselves they often fail. This happens because sometimes if you rely on someone else, or outside help the ideas tend to change and the vision that they clearly saw at the beginning of their plan begins to fall apart. The second area is intelligence/education. If you have all the ambition in the world but don’t understand finances or your product or the marketplace you will almost certainly fail. I am not talking about a degree or any specific piece of paper. I simply mean that you have to be willing to put the time in to really understand the specifics of the problem you are trying to solve. If you do that you will succeed.

Successful Leader – A person who has the ability to recognize a need/deficiency, ability to differentiate between the most important goals from those that can and should wait, ability to design a solution that can be implemented with the resources he/she has available, ability to obtain currently unavailable resources to achieve the outlined goal, use his/her drive and ambition to implement the goal using the resources and people around him, and then show others how the goal solved the predetermined problem and then clearly state what the next goal is and why.

In essence, for me the main difference between a great entrepreneur and a great leader is how you achieve success. An entrepreneur literally wills his/her idea to come to life and succeed. It all comes from drive and ambition from within themselves. A great leader does the same thing through the people around them. Its easy to make myself be great (Always humble I know :) ), its MUCH harder to make those around you be great as well.

To be a successful entrepreneur from my point of view is a piece of cake. Its in my DNA, it’s who I am. To be a successful leader is much harder for me. I very much rely on my own abilities to solve many problems at hand. I am often unwilling to listen to others ideas or to give freedom to implement those ideas because they don’t fit within my vision for the business. Sometimes that can be a good thing if I feel the person would make a big mistake, but I have tried very hard to surround myself with intelligent, competent people. If I can’t trust them to do their jobs, then when they fail at those jobs it’s no ones fault but my own.

I’m still deciding if I’m the right person to lead our company in the future. I tend to lead more with a whip in hand then with a kind word and encouragement. Its time for me to decide if I’m willing to bend with the reality of having a large company or break in half from lack of flexibility required to lead a large company. Whatever path I choose I’ll make sure it the best thing for the company, for our customers, and for me.

Thanks,
Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com / Hostmonster.com / Fastdomain.com

Increase Website Speed & Cut Bandwidth Costs for FREE!

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Several months back I took my wife and five children on a 7 day Disney cruise (I *HIGHLY* recommend it by the way, and I’m a hard person to please :) ). Whenever I go on vacation the first thing I take care of is making sure that I have internet access. Thankfully, I was able to use my Verizon MiFi card while in most ports, but while at sea I had to use Disney’s on board satellite internet. It was extremely slow.

This got me thinking of how I could best increase the internet speed for our clients that have slow internet connections at no cost to them. I decided on using mod_deflate. I had used mod_gzip in the past (Almost 10 years ago) so I was familiar with how it all worked and it was simple to set up. Mod_deflate basically takes certain types of files and compresses them at the server level and then sends those smaller files to you. Images, zip files, etc don’t compress well (And so we don’t compress these, but HTML files, javascript files, css files, etc compress very well. Often we see 80% compression levels on those type of files. These files are then decompressed on the client side automatically and used. This is all transparent to the user, except that download/page load times are much faster for the user (10-25% faster).

However, there is a severe problem with using mod_deflate that no one seems to have solved. Using mod_deflate requires *significant* CPU usage on the server to use. The problem is that often CPU resources are maxed out. If you use mod_deflate while the CPU(s) are maxed out then the servers become even slower and all websites on the server will appear very very sluggish. For this reason most web hosting companies don’t use mod_deflate, and for good reason.

However, at Bluehost/Hostmonster we have a great solution for this problem! Some of you may have read a previous blog post where I mention that Bluehost/Hostmonster have a proprietary CPU protection system. Using, this system we track CPU usage in realtime. We then wrote a patch to the Apache web server (This is what serves your websites to your browser) that interfaces with our CPU protection system. This patch checks our CPU usage twice a second and if CPU usage exceeds a certain threshold then we temporarily suspend mod_deflate. When there are unused CPU cycles then it reenables mod_deflate. By implementing it this way we get all the benefits of mod_deflate with none of the detriments of excessive cpu usage causing slowdowns.

The first full day we ran this it lowered our bandwidth consumption about 600 Mbits a second (With very conservative settings). When we run it with aggressive compression we save over 1 Gig/s of sustained bandwidth. That is considerable savings/speedup for something that took about 4 days to develop, test, and deploy!

Now, next time our family goes on a cruise Bluehost/Hostmoner sites will appear much faster!

Thanks,
Matt Heaton / Hosting by Bluehost.com