My name is Mark L. Smith. I’m an engine builder.
In fact, I’m a 4th generation engine builder. My great grandfather and grandfather built both business engines and real motors (they were both auto mechanics). My father built sales engines, software engines, and hardware engines. I’ve spent my time building business engines and product engines. These days, I focus on building people and process engines for product businesses.
Engines are wonderful things. Engines are what allow humans to do things that humans can’t otherwise do. An engine gives you a handful of things that can be tuned or optimized to produce a result with a constancy that only a machine can offer.
The specific kinds of engines that I build have these characteristics:
- The business is virtual. There is no office anywhere. The team does not sit in the same building (or maybe even the same country).
- The “worker bees” making the engine go have the right skills for the right price. Sometimes that means offshore. Sometimes that means a service and not a person. Sometimes that means a high dollar, fat cat American.
- Customers buy from an online store. This could be a physical product, virtual product, or Software as a Service.
- The product is... a product. We aren’t trading hours for dollars here.
- For software products, there’s a continual cycle of customer feedback feeding into the product development. Put another way, your using your customers to tell you what to build next and what to fix.
I was a bit of a wunderkind and so I’ve been both building businesses and building technology for awhile. I built and sold software in my minor years. I built a business operating one of the first Windows based real estate MLS packages. I built and sold a business providing a healthcare service. I’m co-founder of a startup. I’ve been a consultant to startups and large companies building product engines for them.