Category Archives: Entrepreneurs & Startups

A Startup’s First Hires: What To Look For

Advice for all startups .  If you have worked in a large company prior to starting your own company, there are differences in who you should hire as your early stage employees in your startup versus your hires in your prior large company.   Human resources management.

Excerpt:  Early startup employees may not have the same direct financial risk in the business as a company’s founders, but they are certainly taking a leap of faith and putting their trust in a young entity that could crash and burn at any time. These people are critical to startups and small businesses around the globe.

The first employees of a new business must be up for more than just what’s written in a job description, because a startup is not the same as an established business that already has a foundation.

Read full article via A startup’s first hires: What to look for – Fortune Management.

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Filed under Entrepreneurs & Startups, Human Resources & Payroll

Redrawing the Public-Private Boundaries in Entrepreneurial Capital-Raising — The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance

Small business of-interest and need-to-know.

Excerpt:  In our article, Redrawing the Public-Private Boundaries in Entrepreneurial Capital Raising, we examine what the JOBS Act (enacted earlier this year) tells us about the division between the public and private spheres in securities regulation. On its face the JOBS Act broadly expands the private realm as defined by our national securities laws. It provides two new exemptions from registration (crowdfunding and Regulation A+) and will broadly expand the reach of the most-used existing exemption from registration by removing the ban on general solicitation from exempt offerings made pursuant to Rule 506, provided they are made only to accredited investor. Yet legislative reform has done little to shore up the shaky foundation of existing theory that guides how we have thought about dividing public from private obligations in this area of the law.

Read full article via Redrawing the Public-Private Boundaries in Entrepreneurial Capital-Raising — The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation.

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A Small Business Survival Guide: The First Three Years

Guest Post by Sarah Levy

The survival rate for new companies, as reported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), is as follows:

  • ·         Seven out of 10 new employer firms survive at least 2 years
  • ·         Half last at least 5 years
  • ·         One-third make it to at least 10 years
  • ·         One-quarter stay in business 15 years or more.

How do you get your small business to and beyond the 15-year mark? The SBA has the following suggestions that focus on laying the groundwork during the first three years:

 Year One: Be prepared for the unexpected.
Things rarely go as planned, no matter how carefully you set up your business initially. “You may find you need to diversify your product line or that your true niche is something else,” notes the SBA. “Maybe demand for your product goes through the roof and you can’t cope or you find your suppliers aren’t as reliable as you’d hoped.”

Rule #1, then, is to have a plan and sufficient cash reserves to make adjustments to your strategy during the first year and beyond. Writing a business plan and revisiting it often can help you keep your business on course while navigating unexpected bumps in the road. The SBA advises that you think of your business plan as a living, breathing project, not a one-time term paper.

One important part of your focus should be maintaining cash flow and financial reserves. These five tips for building a six-month cash cushion come from SCORE, America’s small business mentors:

1.      Add up all your monthly expenses to calculate what a month of personal expenses really are for you.

2.      If you’re still working a day job, set aside 5 percent of your net pay each paycheck to build savings.

3.      Start with a goal of setting aside $100 week, or $5,200 a year, to form the basis of your cushion.

4.      Be sure to set aside money for taxes whenever you take a cash draw from the company to avoid the surprise of a nasty tax bill later.

5.      Start now to create a habit of saving each week.


Year Two: Reflect on and advocate for your business.
At the end of your first year in business, reflect back on your successes, failures and shortcomings. Ask yourself what you would have done differently. Find out how to get started here.

Year Two is the time to work on your business, as opposed to working in it. That means positioning yourself as a true advocate for your business, not just a salesperson.  To do this, you’ll have to relinquish control of some of the day-to-day business operations you’ve handled since day one.

“Some of the most successful brands in the world are where they are today because the entrepreneur behind the brand is out front advocating its products, its successes, and its core values,” says the SBA, which offers ideas for doing so here.


Year Three: Grow your formula and niche.
This is the year when small business owners feel they have a good handle on their financial projections, enabling them to better prepare for market and seasonal fluctuations.

“If your niche is working for you, keep focused and stay true to it,” advises the SBA. “Stay customer-centric, look for opportunities to grow in that niche, and refine your business and marketing strategy to stay ahead of the curve.”
This is a guest post submitted by Sarah Levy of MerchantExpress.com.

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Traditional Marketing Planning Is Wrong for Your New Venture – HBR

Good read — however, for those with current startups and small businesses if you have not already realized this, you may just be LUCKY to be here.

 Excerpt:  Traditional marketing planning (TMP) activities have been a mainstay for the past four decades, but the theories behind them have limited relevance for new ventures facing extreme uncertainty. The old routine of analyzing existing markets, predicting an optimal outcome, and then designing marketing plans to capture that outcome is too slow and cumbersome for today’s startups.

To be successful, new ventures must eschew these theories and instead rely on effectual marketing planning. This strategy uses a different set of management processes focused on speedy action, learning through failure, and a premeditated approach to market experimentation that creates instant feedback. It can help new ventures be more successful, more informed, and more fully understood.

Read full article via Traditional Marketing Planning Is Wrong for Your New Venture – Peter Whalen and Samuel S. Holloway – Harvard Business Review.

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Filed under Entrepreneurs & Startups, Marketing, Branding, Sales, Advertising, eCommerce & Social Media, Small Business

45+ Social Media and Digital Marketing Events

Are you on their notification list?   We have posted his event board before, here is the current introduction and news.  Good to check out the board frequently and follow  — for all entrepreneurs and small business.

Excerpt:  Whether you’re looking to make industry contacts or learn the latest trends in advertising, technology and media, Mashable‘s Events Board has something for you

Check out full list via 45+ Social Media and Digital Marketing Events.  From Mashable

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Filed under Entrepreneurs & Startups, Marketing, Branding, Sales, Advertising, eCommerce & Social Media, Small Business, Website & Digital Media

The VC Term Sheet Decoded : Managing :: AMEX

Are you about to launch into the search for funding?  Link to the  infographic from AMEX that gives you the basic VC term sheet information and what it means.

Excerpt:  Ready to raise capital? For many new businesses, this can mean approaching venture capitalists for startup funding. And if you’re lucky enough to get them interested, you will be introduced to a term sheet. The term sheet is, in the simplest terms, the contract between investors and companies raising capital. It includes stipulations on who owns how much of the company, the terms under which the investors will supply the capital you need, and who gets what when the company is either sold or taken public. Here we decode the most important parts of the VC term sheet with the help of Jason Mendelson, co-author of Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist. This is the first step to building a knowledge base to have your funding conversations end on a note where everyone feels they are a part of a fair business deal.

Read full infographic here via The VC Term Sheet Decoded : Managing :: American Express OPEN Forum.

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Filed under Cash Management, Entrepreneurs & Startups, Infographic

What High-Growth CEOs Do Differently

Here is CEO advice from a coach  —  using his years in the field to give you expert advice.

Excerpt:  Business coach and consultant Jim Schleckser has spent years trying to understand how start-up and small business CEOs budget their time. Not suprisingly, the best CEOs–the ones that are able to build highly profitable, fast-growing companies–had a lot in common.

As part of the CEO Project, a boot camp for entrepreneurs, Schleckser advises CEOs and company founders on the most important areas of their business to focus on. At the core of his advice, Schleckser believes CEOs need to put the blinders on and focus on what truly drives growth. Here are the core components Schleckser says you should focus on.

Read full article via What High-Growth CEOs Do Differently | Inc. 5000.

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Filed under Entrepreneurs & Startups, Leadership, Operations & Innovation, Small Business

13 Tips for Negotiating With Suppliers

Good negotiating with vendors how-to in this article.   The basics you need-to-know.   For all entrepreneurs and small business owners

Excerpt:  The Young Entrepreneur Council asked 13 successful young entrepreneurs for their advice about negotiating with suppliers. Here are their best answers.

Read full article via 13 Tips for Negotiating With Suppliers | Inc.com.

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Businesses You Can Start at Home

The article references “women” but there is NO reason that these businesses are gender biased nor should they be.  The same businesses are great ideas for men and women.   For entrepreneurs and wanna-be entrepreneurs everywhere.

Excerpt:  Home-based businesses are proving to be a great solution for many women today, either as a part-time supplement to their family’s income or as a full-time alternative to the 9-5 lifestyle. Could you be the next successful business owner? Consider the following service-oriented and product-oriented businesses.

Read full article via Businesses You Can Start at Home | Entrepreneur.com.

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Analyzing a Startup, and Pivoting

Recommended for all entrepreneurs and startups.  The article addresses the basic thought process and includes some how-to —  important launch direction in your role as entrepreneur

Excerpt:  I’m involved in two startups. In both cases, we are going through the process of developing a model that evaluates all aspects of the business — our target customers, products and services, organization, infrastructure, channels, financial projections, and funding needs.

In particular, the process of building a solid financial model forces you to think through things like payroll costs, equipment purchases, research and development, sales channels, and even office space. I found myself adding new elements to every part of our business model as I focused on the financial aspects.

I was reminded this week of how important it is to view them all as a whole instead of as the individual parts. I will share the details on one of those startups in this article.

Read full article via Analyzing a Startup, and Pivoting | Practical eCommerce.

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Local SEO and Its Contributions to Start-up Businesses

Guest Post by Emma Tomlinson

Major search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing are now more advanced and sophisticated. Their search algorithms have been developed to better cater to end-users.

One particular example is local search ranking. Imagine this: when you search for “Chinese restaurants”, you normally include a place along with the keyword to specify which location you want to find such establishments. Although this is the usual practice of browsers, this is really not necessary every time you search, especially since Google most likely knows where you are—don’t be scared of that fact.

So from the perspective of businessmen, it really means that we all have to target those customers who want geographically-specific results. Why? Because they are our biggest potential clients.

Why else would they search for “[keyword+place]” if they are not interested in the products or services offered?

This is REALLY big news for us entrepreneurs. It means that we have to cater to those “localised” queries if we want to stay on top of results pages.

If you need further convincing, here is what you need to know:

Local SEO …

Allows for an affordable access point into marketing
Although the use of the words “cheap” or “inexpensive” may be relative to your definition and mine, it cannot be denied that local SEO is cost-effective.

Now what does that even mean?

With other kinds of Internet marketing endeavours like Pay-Per-Click (PPC) or banner advertisements, you are paying for each visitor to your site. But with this localised search engine optimisation, you only have to pay professionals to tweak, enhance, and promote your website. After that, you are basically getting  free and unlimited traffic from search engines.

Gives leverage to smaller and younger businesses
One of the rigours of starting a business is the fact that you still have to introduce it to the industry. And if that particular industry is already dominated by world-renowned brands/companies, it can be quite intimidating to do so.

But not with local SEO. It allows you to level up with bigger and “older” companies simply by putting you in front of Internet surfers who are using search engines to browse for “local” products and services.

But first, how does Google, Bing, and Yahoo “find” your pages? Your keywords play a great role in this, specifically if they are relevant to a query. This is why it is ideal to use search terms and phrases that are specific and location-based.

Provides long-term marketing and advertising solutions
Building a reputation or familiarity with your customers is a tricky task, and more prominently so when you are just starting your enterprise.

But again, local SEO is the solution. It allows your domain to continuously appear on search results pages, provided of course that you are implementing clever optimisation techniques. And by being a constant on SERPs, you will be more familiar to Web users in your community.

Offers enhanced monitoring and tracking of results
Because of developments in Web analytics, it is now easier to monitor and track your SEO campaigns, including local ones. The best one that I can recommend is Google Analytics. This is a free service offered by the company that allows you to view near-accurate statistics about the visitors on your site, your bounce rate, and where your visitors came from.

CONCLUSION
Local SEO has immense contributions to your online marketing efforts. But apart from it, you should also keep your conventional optimisation methods updated.

About the Author:   Emma Tomlinson is the Head of Retail at Smart Traffic, a UK-based specialist company concentrating on Search Engine Optimisation.

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Which Type of Entrepreneur Are You?

Guest Post by  Dave Conklin

Do you like to get in, get it done, and move on, or do you enjoy taking your time and seeing your hard work pay off in stages?

Your answer to this question will help determine which of the following categories you fall into:

  •          Sprinters
  •          Marathon Runners

Each category is a type of entrepreneur, and neither one is any better than the other because both have their benefits and are well-suited to the types of individuals who identify with either type.

Before you decide which type of entrepreneur you are, let me just say this: I am all about playing to your strengths because doing anything less isn’t being totally honest with yourself or those around you. If you are a sprinter, go for it! Run fast, work long hours, and accomplish your goal. Then sit back in satisfaction until it’s time to pick up the torch and do it all over again. If you prefer to run for endurance rather than short-term goals, you might be a marathon runner. You are the dependable blogger, the regular contributor, and the person who sticks around for long-term projects. You get your satisfaction from a job well done just like everyone else, it simply took more time for you to reach that point in your project. In essence, I am urging you to be yourself and identify which type of entrepreneur you are based on how you see yourself, not how you think others see you.

Rather than promoting one type of entrepreneur over the other, I propose an alliance between the two styles. If you are a sprinter, find a marathon runner you can pair up with. Someone to hold down the fort while you’re winding down from your latest project and then while you’re gearing up for the next one. If you’re a marathon runner, find a sprinter who can keep your spirits high and maybe fill in for you every once a while so that you can get some down time. When they work together, these two types of entrepreneurs form a mutually beneficial relationship that just can’t be beaten.

The more I meet with and speak to other entrepreneurs I think that very few of us are entirely one type or the other. While someone might be a marathon runner 90% of the time, there is still that other 10% that they spend sprinting and burning the midnight oil. I think this is very helpful because it slows us to recognize these traits in others and understand their processes better. If a true marathon runner and sprinter met one another face to face and tried to work together it might be difficult for them because neither would really understand the other’s way of thinking. Regardless of how much of your style hails from either side of the divide you can still get a lot of benefit out of a partnership with someone who balances you out.

What you should take away from this is that while there are two distinct types of entrepreneurs, nether type is any better than the other and achieving true greatness and success is much easier with a partner. You don’t have to walk your business path alone if you don’t want to!

Author Bio: The RankPop Team RankPop’s President and co-founder, Dave Conklin, has been in the Internet marketing industry and helping companies with their online strategies since 2000.   www.rankpop.com/  is in the business of making Internet marketing simple and AWESOME!…and affordable. With business growing so rapidly, Dave and his team are excited to be helping other businesses thrive!

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10 Must-See Documentaries for Entrepreneurs

This is a pretty cool way to learn tried and true how-to for all entrepreneurs.

Excerpt:  As an entrepreneur, you’re no doubt in constant search of new ways to grow your business. But who wants to slog through another lengthy how-to book on the entrepreneurial process?

There’s another way. If you want some entertainment with your education, the documentary film may be your medium. Grab some popcorn and sit back to take in the business lessons in these 10 must-see documentaries.

Check out these stories via 10 Must-See Documentaries for Entrepreneurs BY KARA OHNGREN | TheFoundersDesk.Com.

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No Excuse List – Education

There are many of these sources for education that are free or a reasonable cost  —  recommended for all entrepreneurs and small business owners who need “learning” in a particular task or challenge or just business generally.  Kudos to this site owner for keeping up with the listing.  A couple of weeks ago we posted several sites here that were offering education and course work  —  many of those previous posted sources are also on this list.  However, this list also adds sources not previously posted.

Check out this list of links No Excuse List.

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Looking for the ‘Next Big Thing’? Ranking the Top 50 StartUps

Entrepreneurs and small business owners of-interest.

Excerpt:  Venture capitalists are still investing in flashy Internet start-ups, but the “Next Big Thing” is more likely to be a maker of humdrum Internet plumbing for businesses.

The Wall Street Journal’s third annual ranking of the top 50 venture capital-backed companies shows a crop of contenders that overall are focused less on online consumers than in years past.

Read full article via Looking for the ‘Next Big Thing’? Ranking the Top 50 Start-Ups – WSJ.com.

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