Articles on this Page
- 08/25/15--14:00: _51 free online reso...
- 08/27/15--07:10: _Why I decided to fo...
- 08/31/15--08:06: _How a man who moved...
- 09/03/15--07:05: _How I built a 7-fig...
- 09/04/15--08:05: _5 lessons I learned...
- 09/04/15--12:07: _4 questions entrepr...
- 09/08/15--08:14: _British millionaire...
- 09/14/15--07:47: _Twenty-somethings a...
- 09/15/15--11:10: _17 steps to startin...
- 09/22/15--10:05: _9 ways you may be s...
- 09/23/15--08:00: _If you want to star...
- 10/01/15--12:11: _I turned down 3 off...
- 10/03/15--12:00: _I've talked to over...
- 10/06/15--13:10: _21 highly successfu...
- 10/08/15--09:54: _Starting a business...
- 10/09/15--11:02: _8 apps you should b...
- 10/20/15--10:17: _10 things I learned...
- 10/29/15--10:28: _I earned over $30,0...
- 10/31/15--10:00: _This CEO spent 6 mo...
- 11/03/15--09:02: _A financial planner...
- 08/25/15--14:00: 51 free online resources for starting a business
- 08/27/15--07:10: Why I decided to forgo medical school to become an entrepreneur
- 09/03/15--07:05: How I built a 7-figure business without any employees
- 09/14/15--07:47: Twenty-somethings are stepping up
- 09/15/15--11:10: 17 steps to starting a business while keeping your full-time job
- 09/22/15--10:05: 9 ways you may be sabotaging your business success
- You can add new hires at the same productivity level as the entrepreneur or the sales leader.
- You can increase the sources of your customer leads on a consistent basis.
- You have a sales conversion rate and revenue that can be consistently forecasted.
- The cost to acquire a new customer is significantly less than the amount you can earn from that customer over time.
- Customers get the right product in the right place at the right time.
- 10/01/15--12:11: I turned down 3 offers on 'Shark Tank' — here's what I learned
- 10/06/15--13:10: 21 highly successful people who rebounded after getting fired
- 10/09/15--11:02: 8 apps you should be using if you want to start a business
- 10/20/15--10:17: 10 things I learned in the first 6 months of being my own boss
- Didn’t have a business degree or background
- Wasn’t tech savvy enough to build a website, set up payment systems, etc.
- Had nothing to sell (while freelance sites like Upwork made it easy to find copywriting clients, to earn passive income I’d need to market an actual product)
- Didn’t want to risk tens of thousands of dollars starting a business
- Had no time for daily blogging, which I thought was a “requirement”
Trying to start a business is never easy.
Being an entrepreneur means sticking your neck — and wallet — on the line for a product you believe in.
It won’t be cheap.
There will be plenty of costs, some you’ve never expected.
Thankfully, there are free tools to start a business available online.
We’ve compiled this list of free tools to start a business.
Many of them we used here to help build iDoneThis.
Others we wish had existed when we started.
Building a business will be one of the hardest things you ever do.
But thankfully there are these free tools get you started building the business you’ve always dreamed of.
Marketing, sales, and growth
SocialRank helps businesses find their most valuable and engaged followers on social media. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to reach out to the right people when they start following and talking about your brand.
Strikingly makes it simple for anyone to build a basic landing page for their business or product, no development experience needed. Because a simple landing page should be one of the first things you put into the worlds to get early feedback.
Sooner or later, you’ll have to decide whether to spend on outbound marketing like buying ads. This free calculator from the people behind Qwilr helps you decide if the cost of the ad makes sense to your business.
SumoMe is stuffed with free products and free tools to build a business, brought to you by the people behind AppSumo. Co-Founder Noah Kagan has described SumoMe as “the first app store for websites.” It’s a go-to for resources on building your traffic and email list.
The gold standard of content management platforms is still free. WordPress is trusted by some of the world’s biggest brands and content distributors. It’s simple enough to set up in a few minutes and robust enough to still work for you when your site conquers the universe.
Ghose has been shaking up the content management industry with it’s stylish and super simple content management system. It makes creating a beautiful blog for your business easy but without all of the options and plugins available on WordPress.
Optimizely makes A/B testing a snap. When your young company is trying to figure out what messages customers are responding to, use the tool to experiment with different options and see what works. There’s a reason A/B testing is one of the best marking tools available.
Streak is a customer relationship management tool that lives in your inbox. It’s free for small teams and helps your track your interactions with customers and close more deals.
The team at Marketing Today put together this handy calculator that helps discover the return on investment for email or direct mail campaigns. Type in a few key pieces of data about your campaign and know exactly how much you’re getting back for your investment.
Want to know what people in your industry and your customers are sharing online? BuzzSumo helps show the top-performing content for a particular website or subject area. Important information if you’re looking to get your name out there.
Free for lists up to 2,000 subscribers, MailChimp has become the go-to service for managing email lists and campaigns. You can send emails to multiple lists and custom segments, schedule recurring emails and even wish customers a happy birthday.
From day 1 you’re going to need to know how many people are visiting your site and what they’re doing there. Use Google Analytics to track customer behavior and capture valuable information like bounce rates.
If your business involves getting money from people (and let’s hope it does) square is there for you. The popular card reader is free and Square is only paid when you are, via a small transaction fee.
A basic platform to build a beautiful website for free. Weebly offers paid subscriptions for more advanced plans. But if you need to get some off the ground quickly, with no money invested, Weebly will do the trick.
Names and design
A great image can get your company’s name and message noticed on social media. Hiring designers can be pricy and time-consuming. The folks at Buffer built Pablo, a free and simple tool that lets you build engaging social media images.
Stock images can be expensive, corny, or both. Or try pulling images from the web and find yourself in costly legal trouble. Hold on to your precious dollars with Pexels, which offers free high-quality photos with a dead-simple explanation of distribution rights.
You’re going to need a logo. The SquareSpace team offers a free logo-building tool to help make your first logo. It won’t be the world’s fanciest logo, but it will be simple, unique and free.
There’s a reason a lot of new startups are picking names by rearranging letters, dropping letters, or making up new words entirely. A lot of the names — and the URLs — have been taken. Name Mesh helps turn your inspiration into list of unique, and unconventional names and URLs to get your name going.
Here’s another free logo building tool that let’s you get your logo, and business, out in the world without a lot of fussing around. Go ahead and hire the professional designer for logo 2.0 after you’ve made some actual money.
A great brand has a distinct color scheme. Coca-Cola is red and white, Pepsi is red, white and blue, UPS is brown and gold. But not all colors go together. Your pink and orange logo might not convert a lot of new business. Adobe Color CC helps take the guess work out of color scheme and find a great palate to use on your website and logo.
Most designers know this, and you should too. Google offers a great database of free fonts available for use on your website or other materials. Steve Jobs famously obsessed over the fonts his company used. Maybe you should too.
We’ve established that traditional stock photos are pricy and lame. Death to Stock Photo delivers a batch of free, quality stock photos to your inbox every month. If you’re blogging or putting out regular content on your site, you can never have too many choices when it comes to stock photos.
You don’t need to complex Photoshop skills to make a beautiful, custom images and graphics with Canva. Canva includes preset templates and designs so you can get a customized image or graphic into the world in just a few minutes. No design training necessary.
A good vector icon is a beautiful thing, and can come in handy in your company’s website or marketing materials. And a properly placed icon for social media sharing can help your messages get shared. FlatIcon offers a huge database of free vector icons.
Photo editing software doesn’t need to be pricy and take years of training to master. Pixlr offers free and intuitive photo editing programs that will handle most — if not all — of your photo-tweaking needs. It can save you thousands you would have to spend hiring a professional.
Communication and documentation
We’re obviously big fans. We think iDoneThis is the best way to replace your daily standup and the best way to communicate on small teams. It helps you know what you’re actually getting accomplished each day, which is extra critical in the early days of your business.
Maintaining your own server for company documents is complicated and costly. Dropbox offers free data storage plans that sync across all your devices.
Box is cloud storage specifically built for businesses. It’s free for a personal plan and you can upgrade to premium plans when your business grows.
If you’re reading something online today, there’s a good chance it was written in Evernote. Evernote helps you capture and share text, images, web clippings and other material valuable to your business.
Gone are the days of the word processor file sitting on your desktop. Documents today need to be sharable and accessible from anywhere — without a tedious email attachment. Google built Google Docs is part of a suite of cloud-based apps including Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms.
If you use Google to manage your email accounts, Boomerang helps you schedule emails and set follow up reminders. It’s critical to not let yourself become buried under the ocean of emails. Boomerang helps you be proactive with your email strategy.
Unless you’re traveling back to the 20th Century to start your business, you’re eventually going to need to video chat. Many meetings, job interviews, even entire companies (like us!) are run remotely. Google hangouts is free and easy to get started with.
Remembering to follow up with someone is often them most critical piece of communication that can easily fall through the cracks. Manage your followups with followup.cc. Simple add the address firstname.lastname@example.org to any email and get a reminder at that time.
No matter how high tech you’re company, eventually some lawyer’s going to ask you to sign something. There’s the print-sign-scan-upload-send option, which is a dumb little circus act. Or there’s a tool like HelloSign, which lets you sign and send legally-binding signatures.
You’re going to need legal documents. If the business is successful, you’re going to need a lot of them. Docracy provides free legal documents for all sorts of needs. Documents are submitted by lawyers and businesses and can be privately customized to your needs.
The SBA, a branch of the federal government, offers tons of free resources and tools to start and grow a small business and information on local agencies in your area.
Shake helps you build your own simple and effective legal agreements any time you need one. You can create, sign and send them electronically.
You’re going to want a phone number for your business. Google Voice gives you a free U.S. phone number based on your area code that can be routed to your own phone and a number of others.
Another great, free tool from Google. No wonder they’re so successful. You’re going to want to know when your business or products are mentioned online. Set up a free Google alert to notify you whenever certain terms are published to the web.
Project management doesn’t have to happen in a conference room. Trello puts the white board in the cloud and lets teammates collaborate on projects. And you get a well-design visual overview of how the project is moving along.
A good business plan will make or break your entrepreneurial adventure. Enloop helps you create a free, custom business plan to get your idea up and running.
Email is great for communicating with the outside world. But it’s not the best for internal communication. It seems like more and more companies are using less email and more Slack. If you need to get you team on the same page and keep a record of what was discussed, Slack is for you. It’s free for small teams and can scale up as your organization grows.
Scheduling meetings can be a pain, especially if you’re trying to coordinate multiple people over multiple time zones. Doodle lets you send an invite to everyone in the meeting with multiple dates and times. Participants pick what time works for them without without and back and forth. It saves time.
Rapportive takes the people you’re talking to on Gmail and pulls up their LinkedIn information and other data. It takes the friction out of building and managing your network.
SlideShare is YouTube for slideshow presentations. Many businesses use it to host and share important presentations. You can promote your presentations to get visibility for your business and share information with your customers and team.
If you’re running a business, you’re going to be doing a lot of writing. Long, short, formal and informal. Emails, Tweets, thank you notes. You will write every day. You might as well be good at it. Hemingway is a free web tool that analyzes your writing and gives hints on how to make it more clear and powerful.
If you need a small business loan, Lendio is a free and simple way to see what’s available. Lend will help you research loans and see what’s available to you.
Culture, learning, and fun
Research shows that music boosts mood and productivity and provides a sense of well being. Sound like the kind of workplace you want to create? Get some office tunes going with Spotify. And check out the custom playlists designed for focus and productivity.
You are what you measure. If you want a culture of productivity, measure it. But also embrace the benefits of the short break. Many of us here at iDoneThis love using the Pomodoro technique to keep on task when we need to and not forget to take short breaks.
A series of lectures delivered originally in 2014 at Stanford by Y Combinator president Sam Altman. All of the lectures, slides and reading materials are available on the site and the audio can be accessed also as a podcast. It’s valuable information previously only available to a few startups.
Reading books is still the best and most effective way to learn about something new. Hopefully one day you can be like our friends at Buffer and offer free ebooks to all employees. Until then, Project Gutenberg opens up the world of free and open source literature available for easy upload to your e-reader. Because great leaders are great readers. And you’ll avoid a lot of Captain Ahab mistakes if you actually read Moby Dick.
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Growing up, I had it all laid out: I would graduate high school with top grades, continue on to a prestigious college where I would major in biology or some other science and then, I would get accepted into the med school of my choice.
Yep, I was going to become a doctor, just like everyone else in my family.
Why wouldn’t I?
It was a solid, stable field — the world would always need doctors, it was noble and respected — “Hello,” (deepened voice here), “I will be your doctor today.” It was just what we did in my family.
There was always lots of medical shop talk in my house; I grew up seeing the way my relatives felt really passionate about their field.
One summer in college, that all changed.
It was a long, hot summer with no real plans, and I decided to try and earn a little pocket cash. I saw that a lot of my parents’ friends had decks that could really use a good washing, so I created “Donny’s Decks,” my first attempt at a business endeavor.
I printed out a few flyers, spread the word, and before I knew it, I had more customers than I could handle. I quickly enlisted the help of some friends, and suddenly, my little power-washing idea was a full-fledged, eight-employee company that needed to be run.
By the end of the summer, I had barely washed a deck. I had been too busy managing my company — very successfully, might I add — and the seed had been planted.
This is what I want to do, I thought. Become an entrepreneur. Start my own business.
Easier said than done, they say, and boy, are they right.
When I graduated from college, I figured that the safer route would be to first get a job, get my feet wet, and learn the ropes from inside my air-conditioned office, er, cubicle. But the entry-level, staid, plain old 9-to-5 just wasn’t for me.
For various reasons, one job after another kept falling through. I couldn’t find my niche and felt like a useless cog in some big corporate machine. The “company policies,” the button-down shirts, the structured ladder of employment — it was all just so wrong. But I kept thinking I had to start there first.
I came back to my apartment one day after leaving yet another job in retail and I felt completely discouraged. I sat on my stoop, trying to figure out where I was missing the mark and what I could do differently. After circling the same thoughts over and over in my head with no progress, I heaved myself up and dragged my feet inside.
There was a worker in my apartment installing a pressurized wall so that my roommate and I could each have our own bedroom. He was a nice guy, so we got to talking.
He hated his job because of a bad boss and poor company structure. I was unemployed – again – and wanted my own company. He was ready to leave, but had nowhere to go. I was ready to start, but had nothing to do.
He was a meticulous worker with over a decade of experience installing pressurized walls — he knew the job inside and out. I had a bachelor's in marketing and a savvy knowledge of SEO and social media. It was one of those eureka moments that couldn’t have been more perfect if it had been planned. I looked at him, he looked at me, and somehow, we knew we were on the cusp of something great.
Today, All Week Walls is the largest pressurized wall company in New York City. We have been featured in the New York Times three times and installed walls for many major companies in the New York area, such as Prada, DKNY, the Four Seasons Hotel, the Ritz-Carlton, Leslie Fritz Gallery, Leila Heller Gallery, and more.
What started as two people and a dream is now a successful 15-person company servicing the entire tri-state metropolitan area.
It’s hard to follow your passion. There were many times I wanted to give up, throw in the towel and start looking at classifieds. But then I thought of that teenager, the one smug as a Cheshire cat, counting his cash after a long day of watching other people power wash and how he would have been so proud to know that he actually did it — got his business off the ground— and I couldn’t quit.
Even the most successful business has its ups and its downs, its slow times and its busy seasons, but what differentiates the ones that make it from the ones that don’t is the ability to persevere. Just keep climbing that wall and eventually you’ll get to top … or to the pressurized place within.
Donny Zanger is the founder and CEO of All Week Walls, a New York-based pressurized wall company that services the tri-state area. Zanger is also founder of Backboard.me, an upcoming data sharing and storage application, currently in Beta testing.
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When Matt Gibson left his native British Columbia in 2004, he wasn't looking for adventure.
He was looking for a way to pay off his student loans.
Gibson, now 36, graduated with about $10,000 in student loan debt, and had been working planting trees to try and earn some extra cash when he met a man whose girlfriend was in Taiwan, teaching English to pay off about $70,000 of her own student loans. His new friend quickly joined her.
"At the end of the season I emailed him and he said, 'Come on over,'" Gibson remembers.
Over ten years later, Gibson is still on the move, working as an adventure travel writer and photographer.
Here's how he's made a career of traveling the world:
Living in Taiwan and teaching English, Gibson was able to eliminate his loans soon after he arrived, working only 18 hours a week.
He soon turned his attention to another project: Creating a quarterly English-language magazine that allowed him to work in the field he'd always dreamed of — writing. "I had a degree in journalism and some ideas about how printing worked, but that's a far cry from running a magazine," he says. "As new problems came up, new problems got solved. I learned Chinese to have the basic advertising conversation and the first ones, I delivered myself. I didn't know how to find a printer — I found one. I didn't know how to prepare the magazine for print — I figured it out."
"By the end it was a pretty successful magazine," Gibson says. "I even made a bit of money on the last few issues, and then I sold it." After three years of living in Taiwan and running the magazine, he decided to focus on his freelance travel writing and blogging while traveling through Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Recently I wrote a general overview, similarly titled, of the steps someone can put in place to lay the foundation for an automated business that might give you the ability to create seven-figure revenues, without the need for employees.
Now I’m going to tell you, step by step, exactly what my co-founder and I did at BottleKeeper to accomplish this.
I do want to be clear that I’m not writing this column to plug my own company — instead, it’s being written as a direct result of feedback from Entrepreneur readers from the last piece.
Here are the details about the product and business we created that has allowed us to generate seven-figure revenues without employees, while maintaining the ability to operate the company from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection.
So, how did it happen?
It started with launching an off-the-shelf ecommerce site toward the end of a crowdfunding campaign in late 2013, which was set up on WordPress with Paglines DMS, a “drag and drop” front-end editor, and WooCommerce.
If this sounds complicated, know that anyone with a computer can set this up in 10 minutes, and there are even more simple alternatives such as Shopify and Squarespace for ecommerce needs. Once live, the site was constantly tweaked and improved as we seemingly fumbled around in an attempt to figure it out.
With the continued development came the need for solutions that were well beyond my programming expertise — which is virtually none. The good news is that you can “plug in” a solution to nearly any issue or desire that you can imagine, many of which are free and take 30 seconds to configure. In our first website we had up to 32 different plugins running simultaneously, which is a ton, but our sales processes were completely automated.
One of the most important plugins was a rewards and referral program, which was and is still aggressively based on “refer a friend, get a free BottleKeeper.” This was huge for leveraging consumer social sharing because it wasn’t the “get 10 percent off” that you typically see — we quickly learned that a bonus program must be significant to gain real traction.
The Facebook video push.
When Facebook launched its video-ad platform in mid-2014, we had been experimenting with image-based ads, but with minimal success. So I made a short video of BottleKeeper in action with an off-the-shelf camera, edited it in iMovie and posted it in the “video views” category of the new platform.
We targeted a fairly broad group of U.S.-based consumers between the ages of 25 to 64 with behavioral interests in common-sense topics such as beer, sports and outdoors, tailgating, boating, etc.
We simultaneously ran five different tag lines for the video, with a budget of just $10 per day, to A/B test for the best response. Once complete, the video was launched with the winning tag line at the same daily rate — just $10.
The response to the video was incredible and within a week was returning more than $10 for each dollar spent. This great return allowed us to scale our sales just by increasing the ad spend on the video, which has continued to work exceptionally well and automated our monthly sales revenue.
Providing ongoing support.
At this point, the daily needs at BottleKeeper are mostly built around support functions. We use Desk.com to automate customer questions, which takes inbound requests via email and does not include the ability to call us -- again, no employees, right?
Most questions, such as “when is green going to be back in stock” or “how do I use my referral link,” can be answered with a simple automated response. As we’ve continued to scale, our inbound questions have grown and it has become more difficult to manage them in the timely fashion that we require of BottleKeeper.
So we contracted a virtual assistant that is extremely capable and works on the support cases for five hours per week, which is plenty of time once the processes are set up efficiently. Note that this person is not our employee, but another company’s employee.
Leveraging social media and outside help.
As our social following grew, I was still manually creating all of the content that sparked interaction between the consumers and brand. This started with the daily posting of beer-based ecards and memes but has grown to require much more — so instead of hiring an employee to manage this process, I hired a PR company.
One of the main benefits is that for the cost of employing someone that you must manage, motivate and train, you can bring on an entire team of people that are already managed, motivated and trained. I firmly believe that, in many cases, it’s better to pay another company, whose success is built entirely upon yours, to do all the hiring and hard work.
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Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.
The longer I spent working in the energy industry, the more I started to wonder if this was true.
Sure, I had great colleagues and a secure, steady income, but I was far from passionate about my job. Every single day felt like work. (Every. Single. Day.)
Enter Pure Barre.
As soon as I took my first class, I was hooked on the workout. By the time I got a few more classes under my belt, I knew I wanted to open my own studio.
It’s easy for me to type that now, but at the time, leaving my corporate job felt crazy. Also, stupid. How could I possibly support myself?
But, life is short, so I abandoned the security of working for someone else and dove head first into entrepreneurship by opening my own fitness studio.
Here are a few lessons I learned in the process (a.k.a., the hard way) that you can and should apply to your own career — especially if you constantly hear a voice in the back of your head telling to follow your dreams.
1. Just do it
As cliché as it sounds, doing is far, far better than thinking about doing. And trust me, before this, I wasn’t a do-er. In fact, I’m an analyzer. I take time to process the pros and cons of almost all my decisions, big and small. But, at a certain point you must take action, even if that action is deciding that your idea is a bad one after all.
I thought a lot about opening a Pure Barre studio before I finally took the leap of faith. The process of doing it took about two years. Even though I knew I loved it from day one, I had a busy schedule (and that pesky, secure job).
So I kept telling the little voice in my head to quiet down. Slowly, but surely, that voice got louder and went from “I love this!” to “I could do this” and then to “I have to do this or I will regret it the rest of my life.”
2. Change is the only constant
While consistency’s comfortable, it doesn’t last long. There’ll always be new challenges and better methods to accomplish tasks.
In addition to the ever-present scheduling and staffing changes, we also have the added layer of creating a new product daily. In the fitness industry especially, if you’re not constantly changing, evolving, and growing, your clients will get bored or stop seeing results and take their business elsewhere.
This means our teachers have to be on top of their game 100% of the time, and that’s no easy task. We’re constantly working new exercises and (occasionally) new equipment into our routines to keep it fresh for clients.
3. Trust your gut
It’s right more frequently than not, and you’ll likely kick yourself (down the road) when you don’t trust your instincts. In the studio’s early days, I often questioned myself about every move I wanted to make — which usually lead me to lose confidence in my decisions. After all, who was I to know how to run this business?
Turns out I was the person to know — after all, I got into this because I was passionate about it.
I admit, I made some mistakes in the beginning, especially related to hiring, coaching, and leading the right team of people. Teaching Pure Barre is a challenging job; it’s the only thing more challenging than taking a class. It takes a lot of hard work upfront and the rewards (changing people’s lives) follow far behind — so no, it’s not for everyone.
Those who look great on paper may not interview well, and those who interview well might not the right personality to lead a large group. So, rather than running down a traditional checklist now, I look for an outgoing personality, a burning passion for this type of exercise, and natural musical rhythm — three things that can’t exactly be measured.
4. You’re stronger than you think
This is a phrase Pure Barre teachers often say when an exercise gets tough and clients want to come out of the position for a break. Perseverance always leads to better results.
Shortly after we opened, we received complaints from a neighboring business that the sound from class was carrying into its space. We tried everything to fix the problem — turning down the volume, installing new equipment, sealing the wall penetrations — to no avail.
We ultimately had to make the decision to install a drywall ceiling to solve the problem. It was an expensive and stressful process for a new business to have to go “under construction” shortly after opening, but in the end it all worked out.
Things will get tough, that’s a guarantee. When doubt creeps in and I want to curl up in a ball and quit, remembering that I’m stronger than I think helps me stick it out and get the job done. That’s not to say I haven’t learned some tough lessons the hard — read: expensive — way, but going through that process ultimately made me stronger in the end.
5. Leadership takes courage
“Heavy is the head that wears the crown,” so the saying goes.
Big decisions, such as hiring and firing, can be scary, and for the most part, that’s expected. However, even small tasks like delegating things to others, or pushing a staff member beyond her comfort level to help her grow, takes courage and trust.
Not only do you have to trust the other person, you have to trust yourself — and be brave enough to act on that when leading a team. Yes, it’s scary to be the person in charge, the person who it all comes down to every day. But it’s incredibly rewarding to watch your staff grow beyond their expectations.
I truly love my job. My staff and the fabulous clients are really what make my company a success. While it does take a lot of hard work (that opening quote is a lie, by the way), it’s fun, rewarding work that makes me feel whole and impactful. And really, what more could you ask for in a career?
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Asking questions is a sign of a curious mind.
Every entrepreneur worth his salt asks many questions before starting out, and keeps asking questions throughout his journey.
The toughest questions are the ones you ask yourself, so keep asking and listen carefully to your own answers.
The entrepreneurs I worry about most are the ones who are afraid of self-reflection.
I think just about anyone can start a successful business. But it takes gumption and there are no shortcuts. And there will be tough days along the way.
I have started a few companies and am fortunate to be the CEO and co-founder of Aha! (product roadmap software). We built Aha! because we saw that product managers needed a great tool to help them do their jobs well. I had worked as a product manager for years, so starting this business was a natural fit for me.
And I really wanted to build a business that helped others build theirs.
From the beginning, we tackled many important questions that deserved answers before we could move forward. The biggest question I asked myself was “Is this a problem that excites me?” You should ask yourself the same type of question. If the answer is “yes,” then you should follow it up by asking, “Do I want to work on this for the next ten years?”
Obviously, the answer for me was “absolutely,” because here we are in year three, and I am more excited today than I was in April of 2013 when we started the company. Helping companies set better product strategy and create visual roadmaps on the path to building lovable products is as exhilarating as it is rewarding.
I challenge you to ask yourself the same types of questions and seek honest answers, even after your business has taken off. You need to understand your own motivations and commitment because you will never win back the time you spend. Your answers will help define what you want and help you refine your plans.
1. Why do I want to start a business?
Carefully examine your reasons. Maybe you cannot stand the thought of working for someone else your whole life, or are attracted by the entrepreneurial lifestyle. Do you think it is the path to riches? Or do you see a special need to help others?
Be honest with yourself. Your reasons must be compelling enough to sustain you when business gets tough (because it will.)
2. What are my strengths?
Identifying your strengths will point you toward the kind of business to start. Work toward your obvious strengths and likes, and avoid what is obviously not a good fit.
Many people start a venture solely to make money, only to discover later they do not love what they are doing. Success has many faces and generating material wealth is just one of them.
3. What do I have to know to be successful?
Research what starting this business will mean in terms of effort. What kind of background and education do similar business owners have? Talk to them and learn how they got there. Where is the business most in demand?
How much money will it take to start up, and what licenses and certifications do you need to have? Knowing these practical details will help you grasp the size of the challenge before you.
What is my plan going to be?
Your next task — create a plan for where you want to go, and start working out the steps to get there. If your vision is to own a restaurant, find a top restaurant and learn alongside a chef you admire.
If owning a restaurant is your dream, manage one first to learn about building customer loyalty and the economics of a food business. The more you immerse yourself in a similar type of organization, the more confident you will be once you strike out on your own.
After you start your business, new questions will crop up all the time – sometimes more questions than you can handle. But the most important questions you should continually ask is this one:
Does this still make me happy? Would I be happier doing something else?
You will have good days and bad ones. Going back to this fundamental question will keep you pointed in the right direction and honest with yourself. Starting your own business may very well lead you to sustainable happiness. And that’s a goal all of us should pursue. If you plan right, starting your own business may take you there.
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British millionaire Michelle Mone is one of the country's most successful self-made women.
She grew the Ultimo lingerie empire in 1996 from scratch despite growing up in an impoverished part of Glasgow, left school at 15 with no qualifications, and got pregnant at 18.
Mone, 43, has become so wildly successful now that Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron named her as the country's entrepreneurship tsar in August.
She launched a range of other business ventures such as her self-tanning line UTan and a jewellery line for brand Diamonique.
Her strong brand translates into money. And quickly. One of her necklace ranges sold out on the TV channel retailer QVC in 1 minute and 32 seconds. Here it is:
While the Michelle Mone for Diamonique Pave Ball Necklace (which costs around £154) sold out really quickly, her tennis Bracelet (costing around £59.88) was the most popular selling item while bangles and earrings also sold out.
Mone has an estimated net worth of £20 million ($30 million). Her fortune was around double that before she divorced her husband in 2013. However, it is perhaps unsurprising that she's retained her ex-husband's surname because her name is a brand in itself.
She sold her stake in her £50 million ($74.7 million) Ultimo empire and she told Business Insider earlier this year that she helped deliver £1 billion ($1.5 billion) in press coverage for Ultimo and has since been offered 20 company board positions.
Mone also owns the self-tanning product line UTan and acts as a the government's entrepreneurship ambassador.
This is on top of OBE for her contribution to business by the Queen in 2010.
I couldn't help feeling proud while reading Stacey Ferreira and Jared Kleinert's compilation of personal stories of young success and gloriously leveraged growing pains.
The millennials whose extraordinary pluck and luck are chronicled in "2 Billion Under 20" are confident yet humble, independent yet community-oriented, wonderfully hopeful and yet down to earth and sensible.
Without denying or underplaying the challenges of an uncertain economy, a rapidly shifting business landscape and the deep scars of a world haunted by war, genocide and poverty, they affirm the magic of what is possible.
Divided into five sections — Start, Risk, Journey, Learn and Succeed — the compilation feeds into a metanarrative, not unlike a user-friendly version of Joseph Campbell's famous "Hero With a Thousand Faces," which mines the word's myths for a universal template. The book is part chicken soup for the ambitious soul and part advice on how to be open to your calling and follow through with good networking and hustle. It showcases the outstanding achievements of a large group of teenagers while, as the dedication makes clear, extending a hand to all the other "under 20s" out there (all 2 billion of them).
The resourcefulness shown by the writers, entrepreneurs, racecar drivers (!), computer geniuses and scientists in this book is, however, more than just a point of pride; it's a movement. As I encounter the many voices in this collection, I realize I am witnessing a generation's right to define itself. And what a creative, dynamic process that is. There is no one winning formula, or even a clearly defined common thread, among the more than 70 narrators. True, they are young, energetic and visionary, but the message surging through the book and animating their coming of age is one that embraces diversity and questions preconceptions, whether based on race, gender or social class.
One of the most interesting traits displayed by the millennials is their attempt to redefine education. Highlighted in the Risk section are many tales of young people defying cultural expectations to follow their dreams. One of them deliberates over whether to leave high school and move to L.A. to connect with the right people for an acting career. Another leaves the privileged path of a law student in India and thereby incurs the censure of a conservative society that views few professions as respectable.
These, among many other hard choices, eventually become the defining moments of a whole ethos, one that champions mentoring, experimentation, failure and unique contributions over obedience, conformity and the status quo. Nurtured by the fabulous flexibility and range of the Internet, these thoughtful and motivated kids prize the organic bloom of curiosity and connection over standard learning. In the process, they seem to be laying the groundwork for a new kind of infrastructure — one rooted in mutual empowerment.
They may be well connected with their peers, but they're talking to all of us. Who can't relate to having a dream, to needing hope, to feeling a great longing to lessen the suffering of our human family? Who can't relate to looking around and sensing that these are exciting times?
This book will make a great gift for the "under 20s" in your life, but it may also be well suited for those who hire, befriend or parent them. It may even function as a corrective for those who think that millennials are lazy, immature, self-absorbed or merely victimized by the bad economy. As the authors mention, when one enters "millennials are . . . " in a Google search, the results are less than promising, with auto-completes like "stupid" and "broke." My hunch is that this negative characterization does not so much reflect who the millennials are as it does the gap between what comes naturally to them and what poses a perspectival challenge for the rest of us.
Like the generations that have come before them, they deserve to be heard, encouraged and supported. It's impossible to say exactly what their contribution will be, whether they will achieve a version of the civil rights advances of the 1960s or the bravery of World War II GIs, or whether history will even remember their most meaningful victories. What we can say is that if they continue to be as driven, innovative and alive to what the world needs as they seem to be in this book, they will make amazing role models for those who come after them.
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In a recent study at Bentley University, over 66% of millennials responded that they have a desire to start their own businesses.
Yet as of 2013, fewer than 4% of businesses in the US were owned by people under the age of 30.
Clearly there is a big difference between the number of young people wanting to be their own boss and those who are actually starting their own companies.
There are probably many reasons for this gap — not least among them a lack of resources, lack of confidence, lack of motivation.
If you're serious about starting your own business and you have a full-time job that you can't walk away from, it's possible to get there from here. Follow these 17 steps to begin creating and successfully growing your business without leaving (or shortchanging) the job that pays your bills.
Following these steps is like having your own business coach. Try them out, make them work — make it happen!
1. Set your vision.
The first step in establishing your business is having a vision for the company. Your vision tells you — and others — what business you're in and where the company is headed. As you're developing your vision, focus on what you want to create. Most successful business feel a need and then find a way to meet it.
2. Determine your mission.
Your mission statement is not the same as your vision; your vision is about where you're going, and your mission is about your planned impact on your customers and society.
3. Fix your purpose.
Your purpose statement is what your business stands for. It lets people know why your business exists — not what you do, but why you do it. From the customer's point of view, it clarifies what your business is all about. The purpose should be compelling and bring meaning to your employees (once you have them).
4. Find your validation.
Is there a need in the market for your vision, for your product or service? Figure out where you stand. Market research allows you to attract attention and create interest and it gives you the credibility you need when you're starting up.
5. Develop your skills.
Are there new ones you need to learn, or old ones you need to brush up on? Will you go DIY or hire a pro? Mapping out the skills you need — and the ones you need help with — is important.
6. Figure out what sets you apart.
What's your competitive advantage? What is the unique proposition you have to offer your customers or clients that will make your business a success? What will bring them in? What will make them stay? These are the points that make or break a business.
7. Set your values.
Most companies have a mission and vision but few express their values. A set of company values provides a playbook for the choices you make and the actions you will take in your business.
8. Work through your pitch.
Start working on your elevator pitch. How will you talk about your company and express what it does? Keep it concise, understandable, and straight to the point.
9. Plan your steps and timeline.
Outline your goals and set a timeline for reaching them. Attainable realistic deadlines for yourself ensure that you don't spend a lot of time making lists and talking, but not actually getting anywhere. Develop both short- and long-term milestones.
10. Create your map.
This is, in essence, your business plan — comprehensive, with definitions and details for each point. You should have both monthly and yearly points, along with notes about what is required at each step for implementation.
To run a successful company doing everything yourself is a sure-fire path toward failure. The most successful leaders, the most successful business men and women know what they are best at and learn to delegate and outsource the rest. Even if you don't have any other employees, you can learn to delegate and find strength in diversity by asking friends and family members for help.
12. Cultivate a circle of advisors.
Start now to develop an inner circle of people who can give you feedback, coach you, and guide you along the way. Starting a business by yourself can be daunting — recruit people with experience to help you.
13. Walk the line.
Make sure that what you are starting does not infringe on or take advantage of the work you are doing now. You want to walk the fine line between creating something new but not stepping on the toes of those you work for now — who, in a way, are making it possible.
14. Be respectful.
Don't work on your new business from your current office. Get things done on your lunch break, on weekends, and after hours. Show respect to your current employer.
15. Learn about capital.
Every new business needs capital. Where will it come from and how will you raise it? Read, study, and network to learn how venture capital works. You must become good about speaking about money, because capital is one of the most important resources to start a business and stay in business.
16. Grow your patience.
Anything great takes time. One of the best qualities you can develop while you're starting to build your business is patience. Remember, not everything needs to move at 100 miles per hour.
17. Take the plunge.
There will come a time that the new business will start to take over, a time when you really feel you have your feet under you. If you've done as much of the startup homework as possible while you were still employed, and if you have enough savings to get by for a set amount of time, then it may be time to take the leap.
Starting your new business while working a full time job is daunting, but it can be done. Many entrepreneurs before you have blazed this trail — follow in their footsteps and start creating your new successful business today.
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Having a company in startup mode can be one of the toughest endeavors anyone can undertake.
Long hours, sleepless nights, and anxiety lurking around every corner are what make a positive outcome that much more rewarding in the end.
However, growing a business from scratch isn’t without certain pitfalls.
Here are nine ways you might be sabotaging your business without even realizing it:
1. Doing it all yourself
Doing everything yourself can be tempting in the beginning, when funds are few and ambitions high. While there’s nothing wrong with a hands-on approach, taking on more than you can handle, especially in areas where you lack experience, can be damaging. In the era of the global freelance economy, it isn’t difficult to find talented expertise, but you have to know where to look for it.
There are now dozens of websites and online marketplaces that provide specialized resources — from design, development, and sales to finance, legal services, and banking.
At the beginning, you can try small projects with low investments. The trick is knowing exactly what you want done and putting resources toward accomplishing tangible goals.
2. No brand identity
The biggest myth in business is that the only thing you need is a good idea. A good idea is a wonderful starting point, but finesse and execution can make or break you in the end. Design, wording, positioning, and branding are the cornerstones to success.
Your business plan shouldn’t just have growth projections, it should have ideas about how you want your business to look and feel. Most importantly, you should know how your target market is going to find out about you. Don't have a major marketing budget? Create compelling content for publisher and social media sites to get your brand out there.
3. You don’t seem credible
People are less likely to invest in you, speak to you, buy from you, or partner with you if your business doesn’t pass a simple credibility check.
No, we’re not talking size of workforce or money here. We’re talking about your personal experience and brand, your relevance/credibility to your new company, completeness of your product/service offerings, reputation, your company’s overall presence, and more.
People are intuitive, and they work too hard for their money to invest in a company they can’t be sure of. That’s why, wherever you can help it, make sure your business has the appearance of a buttoned-down organization.
4. Thinking money doesn’t matter
So, you were finally able to get the seed money you needed to get your business off the ground. You’re thinking it’s the perfect time for the office space in the city, some fancy gadgets, and a couple more employees. Wrong!
Spare every expense. The first three years are key, and once you can look into your business account and see more than just seed money, that’s when you can start making some major purchases. Until then, pinch every penny and cut every corner. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.
5. Not using social media?
If you’re the proud owner of a small business that aims to provide goods and/or services to a niche customer base, social media is a must. Recent statistics show that up to 30% of all referral traffic comes directly from social media.
Yup, that’s right, the more you tweet (the right content), the more your potential customer/partner contact grows. If you’re not sure where to get started with social media, observing others can never hurt. What CAN hurt, however, is not using social media at all.
6. Bad customer service
The worst thing that you can do is disregard your customer’s needs. We’ve all heard the old adage, “the customer is always right.”
Putting aside the clichés, responding patiently and positively to clients and customers can lead to fruitful relationships and positive word of mouth.
A 2% increase in customer retention can have the same effect as decreasing a company’s costs by 10%. To put it another way, reducing customer defection rates by just 5% could increase profitability by 25% to 130%, depending on the industry.
Successful retention starts with the initial contact a business makes with a customer and continues throughout the lifetime of the relationship. Bain Capital has even estimated that for certain industries, a 10% increase in customer retention is roughly equivalent to a 30% increase in a company’s value.
7. Not focusing on a scalable sales model
Creating a unique product and a unique brand isn't enough. It takes repeatable sales processes to create a scalable business. It is one thing to sign up a few customers; it is another thing entirely to identify, design, and implement repeatable sales and customer-delivery processes.
You have created a repeatable and scalable sales model when:
A repeatable sales model builds the platform to scale. Don't have the expertise or the resources to build a repeatable sales model? Focus on building distribution partnerships that can create a repeatable and scalable sales engine.
8. Inflexible leadership style
To continue growing, entrepreneurs, managers, and business owners must become the leader the business needs for each particular stage of growth. And since a company’s needs change at each stage, its leaders need to keep evolving at the right pace. That requires introspection, self-awareness, and a keen sense of strategy — both in the short- and long-terms.
An adaptive, flexible leadership style comes from being mindful. Our individual, interpersonal, and working lives are all interconnected. By being mindful, we understand those relationships and how best to utilize them to create, innovate, and lead.
And that allows us to arrange our lives and our organizations in a way that leads to long-term value creation. Indeed, the most sustainable way to create value is to continually invest in our capabilities, both as individuals and as organizations.
9. Anxious and stressed
Most small business owners consider managing the ongoing success of their business to be twice as stressful as maintaining a healthy relationship with a spouse or partner, nearly three times as stressful as raising children, and more than four times as stressful as managing their own personal finances, according to a Bank of America report.
The survey indicates that small business owners routinely forgo personal priorities to keep up with business demands.
The stressors can be relentless. But if you’re not happy, healthy, and motivated, you can’t create a business model that provides a positive market experience.
You also set the tone for everyone who works with you. Nobody wants to do business with a grouchy, bitter, and exhausted owner.
Therefore, investing the time and effort to adequately take care of your physical and mental well-being will further increase your chances for long-term success. Mental health is not just about going to the gym to let off steam. It’s about achieving a state of mental calmness to see you though the relentless challenges.
Serial entrepreneur and author Faisal Hoque is the founder of SHADOKA and other companies. Shadoka enables entrepreneurship, growth, and social impact. He is the author of "Everything Connects: How to Transform and Lead in the Age of Creativity, Innovation and Sustainability" (McGraw Hill, Spring 2014) and "Survive to Thrive: 27 Practices of Resilient Entrepreneurs, Innovators, and Leaders” (Motivational Press, 2015). Copyright (c) 2015 by Faisal Hoque. All rights reserved. Follow him on Twitter @faisal_hoque.
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Running your own business is challenging for a host of different reasons. If you have an idea for a product or service where there's a noticeable gap in the market, you're already breached the biggest hurdle. However, if you're unsure of how to turn your idea in a successful, full-fledged enterprise, the next step for you to consider may be registering for a business course or two.
There are tons of online tools that can help you take your first steps toward getting in the game. The Shaw Academy's Entrepreneur 101 Bundle currently listed on StackSocial is one of them. (If you've already established your company, these digital and social media marketing courses are others.)
This bundle's two featured courses — 'Ultimate Entrepreneurship Program: 1-Yr Access' and 'Fast Track Business Success Online Diploma' — cover a wide range of topics, from identifying your customer base and pitching your business to different audiences to setting appropriate goals for your enterprise and building an effective marketing strategy, among other things.
It's not going to turn you into a savvy businessman or businesswoman overnight, but with the right combination of talent, ambition, and work ethic, this bundle can help you get things off to a running start.
Hundreds of businesses have now been featured on the hit reality show "Shark Tank." Some have survived the tank; others have been eaten.
The survivors either left with a deal or left confident in their decision to turn down any offers presented.
The businesses who get eaten often walk out without an offer or lose sleep at night after taking the wrong deal.
My company, The Home T, was recently featured on the show. The sharks were as intense as ever, and I ended up receiving offers from Robert Herjavec, Lori Greiner, and Daymond John.
It was great to receive offers, but I eventually declined all three because I felt that none of them appropriately valued my company. I walked out without a deal.
Turning down three individuals who have made enormous fortunes is no easy task, and the experience as a whole will challenge even the best small-business owner.
Here are three tips that helped us survive "Shark Tank" and not get eaten alive:
1. Know your numbers
The Sharks are masterful financial tacticians. They use their supreme command of business finances to either decide your company isn't worthy of an investment or try to get the best possible deal they can on a company they think has value.
The only way to go toe to toe with experienced predators in the tank is to know your numbers. You don't have to be an accountant or a financial adviser, but knowing the ins and outs of revenue, costs, customer acquisition, and other relevant metrics is the key to staying alive.
2. Manage (or at least try to manage) the sharks
When you see "Shark Tank" on TV it's nicely edited so viewers can digest what they are seeing and hearing. In reality, the entrepreneur is getting hit with questions left and right, and sometimes they get asked multiple questions at once. When this happens it is so easy to get thrown off track.
You have to listen to the questions and, in some cases, quickly select the questions that follow the story you want to convey. If you don't manage the Sharks, and their questions, you'll quickly find yourself off track and leaving out major parts of your story.
3. Don't be scared to push back
Confidence is important. No, I do not mean you should be overly rude, though my "you're not in the circle" comment to Kevin may have been right on the line. When someone says something you are certain isn't true or disagree with, it's OK to speak up for yourself.
For instance, John kept questioning whether I was truly there for a deal, and after several mentions I finally said: "I don't know how else to say it. I'm here for a deal." Sharks don't have feet, so don't let them walk all over you.
Ultimately, every business' experience in the tank will be unique and there isn't a one-size-fits-all strategy for staying alive on the show. But knowing your numbers, (trying to) manage the sharks, and being confident enough to push back when needed gave me a fighting chance.
Ryan Shell lives in New York City and is the CEO and founder of The Home T. He is an avid cycler, amateur photographer and is dedicated to raising money and awareness for multiple sclerosis research.
When I started Entelo four years ago, I wasn't aware at the time of what was going to be the biggest perk of my job: Getting to talk with hundreds of companies about how they've grown their teams.
At this point, I've spoken with well over 500 companies about this topic and have learned an incredible amount.
There's a ton of variation between the best-performing companies and the laggards.
While we can't share confidential information about the companies we work with, these four things have stood out to me.
The best recruiting teams look like the best sales teams
Compare your recruiting team to your sales team. What's different? In those differences lie the keys to improving how you recruit. Odds are that your sales team is more data-driven than your recruiting team. Today, there's a good chance that there's more specialization across your sales team than across your recruiting team. And your comp structure probably looks pretty different for sales.
In all of these discrepancies lie the clues to better recruiting. Ask what you can do to make recruiting as data-driven as sales? Figure out ways to specialize your recruiting team in much the same way your sales team specializes (a pipeline is a pipeline after all!). And while I'll stop short of suggesting a complete overhaul of how you pay your recruiting team, think about how you can move their comp structure closer to how you've structured sales comp.
The highest-quality hires comes from two sources: Employee referrals and direct sourcing
This isn't to say that other things don't work. But rather that they don't work as consistently. Much has been said about employee referrals, and no doubt you have some sort of referral program in play today. But have you sat down lately with your top performers and combed their networks proactively? If not, you are missing out on a big opportunity.
Direct sourcing is a key too because it allows you to control for quality. You can "pre-screen" upfront for what you are looking to find and direct sourcing can actually encourage more diversity, a top priority for many fast-growing companies.
Direct sourcing isn't easy but in pays off in spades. And almost all of the fastest-growing tech companies do loads of it. You'd be wise to emulate them.
Give references as much weight as interviews
If you took a look at the split between weight on interviews vs. references in most companies, it's probably 80/20 (i.e., 80% is focused on interviews and 20% is focused on references). It should be closer to 50/50. Interviews, done well, are great sources of information on candidates and can be particularly effective for customer-facing roles.
However, we've all hired that person who interviewed well and turned out to be a lousy performer. Interviews also overweight for extroversion and "smoothness," criteria that might be important for a salesperson but is much less important for an engineer.
References are an exercise in box-checking for many companies and that's sub-optimal. The best companies do very thorough reference checks. I like to average 10+ conversations for each candidate I am considering, the majority of which are not supplied by the candidate.
It's important to be very thoughtful on reference checking, especially when the candidate is gainfully employed. But if you execute well on reference checking, you'll save your company numerous bad hires.
Give employee retention as much weight as recruiting
Another area where companies split their energy sub-optimally is around recruiting versus retention. Recruiting receives more weight in most companies. Overly focusing on recruiting is akin to a SaaS company that only focuses on signing up new customers while under-investing in customer success and preventing churn.
A company that does this simply can't grow as fast as a company that balances new business with renewals and upsells (side note: think of employee referrals from happy employees as the recruiting equivalent of upsells!).
One tip on retention is try to think of a question that you would like your employees to be able to answer with a strong affirmative. For me, that question is "Are you on the steepest possible professional growth curve?" I believe that if my team answers that with a resounding "yes," they'll stay at Entelo. If they're uncertain about that answer, they're much more likely to leave. What's that question at your company? How do you think your employees would answer?
It's not easy building teams. As Ron Conway once stated, if you're not completely exhausted from building your team, you're probably not doing it well. But there's a difference between working hard and working smart and by studying the best talent practices of the world's top companies, you'll avoid a tremendous amount of wasted energy.
Getting kicked to the curb by your employer can certainly be demoralizing.
But these successful people prove that what may initially feel like failure may just be the launching pad you need for success.
From Steve Jobs to Jerry Seinfeld, here are 21 people who turned their termination into an opportunity.
Vivian Giang and Alana Horowitz contributed to earlier versions of this article.
Thomas Edison secretly conducted experiments in his office at Western Union that got him fired.
Until one night in 1867, when he had a chemical accident at the Associated Press bureau news wire, according to "Famous Americans: A Directory of Museums, Historic Sites, and Memorials."
Edison worked the night shift so he could have more time to spend on his inventions and reading. One night when he was experimenting with batteries, Edison spilled some sulfuric acid that ate through the floor and spilled onto his boss' desk below.
He was fired the next morning, but decided to pursue inventing full-time and received his first patent two years later for the electric vote recorder, according to Bio.
Before heading to Yale, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was fired from her brief stint at a salmon cannery in Valdez, Alaska.
The former New York Senator recounted on the "Today" show on Monday that after graduating from Wellesley College, she and some friends worked their way across Alaska washing dishes, and she eventually wound up working in a fishery scooping out salmon guts.
"I was given a spoon and some boots and I was told to take out the insides of the salmon,"she said.
Clinton didn't last long in that role, however, noting that the Japanese workers who were taking out the caviar yelled at her for working too slowly. "So they literally kicked me out of that job," Clinton said.
She says they then placed her on the line packing the salmon head to tail. But when she noticed the salmon were "green and black — they looked horrible" and a peculiar stench, she questioned the man running the operation about the salmon's quality.
"When I left, I came back the next day and the whole operation was gone," Clinton said. "So I think that was the equivalent of getting fired."
During a previous inter viw on Letterman in 2007, Clinton called her stint at the cannery her "favorite summer job of all time," noting its role in her future success: "Best preparation for being in Washington that you can imagine," she said.
Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, the company he cofounded. His second act turned out to be bigger and better than the first.
When Jobs was in his 30s, the very company he created fired him.
"I was out — and very publicly out," Jobs said in a 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University. "What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating."
Jobs spent the summer of 1985 in a "midlife crisis" trying to decide what he wanted to do, from entering politics to becoming an astronaut, said Alan Deutschman, author of "The Second Coming of Steve Jobs."
During his time away from Apple, Jobs cofounded computer company NeXT, which was later acquired by Apple, and launched Pixar Animation Studios. When he returned to Apple nearly a decade later, he brought the innovation of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
I was watching the new season of "Shark Tank" the other evening with a friend.
He turned to me when it ended and said, "I need to just think of a good idea and get on 'Shark Tank.' I mean, that’s all it would take."
Yup, it’s that easy (major dose of sarcasm).
There has been a recent surge in the glorification of entrepreneurship.
It’s great — several years ago an entrepreneur was considered a nerd, geek, or lost soul that drifted off the corporate America path, causing friends and family to worry.
Now entrepreneurs are modern-era rock stars.
This new exposure has caused people to develop several misconceptions about being an entrepreneur. The private jets are few and far between — most entrepreneurs are watching fare alerts and leveraging credit card miles to book flights in coach class.
Not every startup is receiving millions of dollars in funding — most are bootstrapping and operating with a paper-thin budget. It’s a different world than what many people perceive it to be. Here are a dozen common misconceptions about being an entrepreneur.
1. Entrepreneurs can only be successful if they have large funding backing them.
If entrepreneurs sat around waiting for funding to arrive, the majority of ideas would never get off the ground. If you think you can’t bootstrap a company to success, you are very wrong. Popular dating website Plenty of Fish was started without any VC funding — founder Markus Frind bootstrapped his way to a successful acquisition— $575 million in cash.
2. Entrepreneurs have cushy hours.
There is nothing cushy about the hours required to get a business off the ground. Entrepreneurs need to be willing to give up a major chunk of their personal and family time — late nights at the office and work-filled weekends are the norm in the beginning. Be prepared to be absent from after work happy hours or weekends of just lounging around.
3. Entrepreneurs have to do everything themselves.
Many entrepreneurs go into it thinking that they need to do everything themselves. This will lead to complete burnout and failure. Assembling the right team and learning to delegate tasks is crucial. The team you surround yourself with is just as important as your idea. The wrong team can nose-dive your business, while the right team will take it to new heights.
4. Entrepreneurs need to be well connected in order to make it.
While knowing the right people is always a plus, it isn’t mandatory to be successful. What you do need is the drive and tenacity to make those connections that your business requires. If you are willing to pick up the phone, send emails, network and kick down doors you can get in front of the right people. Nothing will ever be handed to you — be prepared and willing to work.
5. Entrepreneurs have to take huge risks.
You often hear stories about a business owner that remortgaged his or her house and was on the verge of bankruptcy when they hit it big. These are the stories the media loves to focus on, because they are exciting.
A story about putting it all on the line is sexier than a story about a startup founder that worked on his or her idea in the evenings after their 9-to-5 job and bootstrapped along without going into debt.
6. Entrepreneurs need to be located in Silicon Valley in order to make it in tech.
Years ago, Silicon Valley was the place to be if you were a tech startup. Now, cities like Boston, Kansas City, Austin and several others are the breeding grounds for some of the most innovative tech companies. Also, more startups are building teams of remote workers scattered throughout the world, creating many location-independent companies.
7. Entrepreneurs are never stressed out.
It must be nonstop fun having your own business, right? No boss. Make your own hours. It’s the American dream. Not so fast — while there are plenty of positives, there is a lot of stress and responsibilities that an entrepreneur carries on his or her shoulders all the time.
Every decision that an entrepreneur makes not only directly impacts the well-being of his or her family, but also the well-being of the families of their employees. That type of pressure can lead to very stressful situations.
8. Entrepreneurs are their own boss.
Technically, yes, an entrepreneur is his or her own boss — but that doesn’t mean an entrepreneur doesn’t have to answer to anyone. If you take on VC money you have investors to report to. If you have cofounders, you all must remain on the same page. The freedom of being your own boss is often misconstrued.
9. Entrepreneurs are all wealthy.
Don’t become an entrepreneur if your only goal is to become rich. Sure, plenty of entrepreneurs find success and achieve financial freedom, but there are many that don’t.
Happiness isn’t solely based on financial success, though. Many entrepreneurs get satisfaction from bringing products and services to life and impacting people in a positive manner, and not the financial return.
10. Entrepreneurs work from the beach and Starbucks a few hours a day.
Many outlets like to paint the picture that being an entrepreneur is very glamorous. You wake up late, work from Starbucks or the beach checking emails, then pack it up and call it a day. Thanks to modern technology, entrepreneurs are always plugged in.
Expect early mornings, long days and sometimes even longer nights. Sometimes, just when you think you have some time to unwind, an important email will come though that needs to be addressed immediately.
11. Entrepreneurs have more personal time.
In order to unlock more personal time in the future, you will need to sacrifice the majority of your personal time in the beginning. Be prepared to give up casual evening get-togethers with friends and weekends without any responsibilities. If you want it bad enough you will sacrifice, knowing that hard work will eventually reward you with a chunk of that personal time back.
12. Entrepreneurs just need one good idea to be successful.
The odds of hitting it big with your very first idea is extremely rare. Has it happened in the past? Sure, but going into it with that kind of expectation is setting yourself up for failure.
My all-time favorite example is James Dyson, who made 5,162 failed prototypes before inventing the best-selling bagless vacuum cleaner. He stuck to his idea of creating a superior vacuum cleaner, but it took him more than 5,000 tries to get it right. He was relentless and giving up never entered his mind.
Jonathan Long is the founder and CEO of Market Domination Media, an SEO and online marketing consulting firm. Market Domination Media also offers SEO coaching programs for companies and individuals that want to learn how to build their brands online using search engine marketing. Follow Long on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Being an entrepreneur is one of the hardest, most physically and mentally demanding things that anyone can do.
Fortunately, like for everything else that we do nowadays, there are apps out there that can help dull the growing pains a bit.
Here are the eight best apps that every new CEO should be using through the trials and tribulations of starting a new company:
If you are trying to drum up business, you’ll quickly realize (if you haven’t already) that the last thing you want to do is send an email to some generic email@example.com email address.
This is going to get you exactly nowhere fast, but fortunately you can use Email Hunter to (hopefully) get around this issue.
Their service lets you input a domain (for example, businessinsider.com), and with that it will scan over 150 million records in mere seconds, giving you all of the email addresses that it can find that are associated with your search.
From there, you can parse this list and find the exact email addresses of the people who you’re actually trying to contact, giving you much better odds of getting in touch with them.
Like many of the other services on this list, Email Hunter is free, though you will be asked to sign up to see more than 100 email addresses per domain.
Available as an extension on Chrome.
You’re starting a new business, but don’t have a lot of money to spend, right? That’s an extremely common issue among entrepreneurs.
However you still need desks, tables, chairs, whiteboards, and more to get your work done. It’s an obvious yet underestimated cost startup CEOs tend to overlook, since they’re focusing on their ground-breaking ideas and hiring workers.
This is where the 5Miles App can help every new barebones operation. Using the GPS feature in your phone, the 5Miles app geo-locates where you are and shows what second hand stuff is on sale around you.
So any of the furniture or fixtures that you need for your new office (or garage-office), is only a few minutes away, and usually you can land quite a few deals.
On the other hand, if you need some quick seed money to get your startup running, it’s a very quick and simple way to sell unused things that are just sitting around.
The 5Mile app’s UI is heavily focused on images and is setup in a Pinterest fashion, making browsing and finding exactly what you’re looking for on your phone simple and intuitive.
As a startup, you can only take so many meetings in a coffee shop or in a client’s office.
It’s much nicer to do business in a space that you can call yours when you are trying to win over a new client or just relax and get some work done between meetings.
Breather is the app to let you do this. They offer Airbnb-style listings of a variety of spaces that you can rent by the hour in New York, Boston, San Francisco, Ottawa, and Montreal.
The app helps you find a meeting space on the fly and lets you choose a place based specifically on your needs, giving you filters for the available spaces by meeting time, the amount of seating available, and a variety of site-specific features.
Starting at only $15 an hour, and with a host of beautiful spaces that will blow the traditional conference room out of the water, Breather is a must-have for the founder who finds themselves frequently on the road.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
On October 10th I hit my 6-month milestone of being self employed. “Lauren you crazy,” you’ll say,“Why are you celebrating six months and writing about it? Shouldn’t you wait until at least a year has gone by?”
Well for two reasons: 1) because it’s my blog and I’ll
cry do what I want to.
And 2) I think it’s because deep down I always had the anxiety that I wouldn’t make it this far, that I’d fold within the first month or 90 days. But more than that I wanted to celebrate this small milestone because I’ve already learned more about who I am as a person, (and you know … business stuff) in the last six months than I have in my entire life.
Moving to NYC with no money also taught me a great deal, but that was five years ago. So I guess it’s been five years since I really, truly stretched myself by doing something even I didn’t think was possible.
My friend Paula shared this little nugget of wisdom with me when I was about to leave my job. “Time flies once you stop watching the minutes count down on the clock in your cubicle,” she said. “It’s all going to go so quickly.”
And boy was she right. Time has flown so quickly that it’s thrilling and a little bit scary all at once. Perhaps this is why I wanted to pause at the six month mark and write it all down: out of fear I’d blink and miss it if I didn’t. So, I want to add to Paula’s wisdom by sharing 10 important lessons I’ve learned from being my own boss.
1. THE INITIAL “LEAP” IS ACTUALLY THE EASIEST PART.
I tossed around the idea of making the switch from side hustler to full time solopreneur for years. Whenever I thought about it, it never seemed like quite the right time. Finally my bandwidth got so maxed out I had to make a decision: pull the trigger on working for myself, or let some clients go.
Maybe it’s the fact that once you do, in fact, become your own boss you’re thrown into a chaotic mess of to-dos that need to get finished and don’t have time to think about what you’re doing.
But making the leap, actually putting the plan in place and acting on it?
It’s been the easiest part of my journey so far. So for all of you contemplating making a switch of your own, my advice is to save your pennies and just do it.
2. PROCESSES AREN’T ALL BAD.
I was working with another contractor on an email campaign for a shared client of ours, and our weekly calls with the client would become so annoying I started to dread the call. During the call the other contractor would reference some process document, and if we didn’t have one, she’d take time out of the meeting to discuss and brainstorm creating … wait for it… another process document.
Every time she would do this, I would roll my eyes and think, “processes are for corporates. We don’t need that here.”
But after a few months I realized maybe there was a nugget of truth in her crazy extreme– processes aren’t all bad, they exist for a reason. I struggled a good bit with adding “legitimacy” to my business and managing the expectations of my clients when I swapped from side hustler to FT #girlboss. (I wrote about it in this post, here.) Processes were a huge part of making that shift, and it took me longer than it should have to realize it.
Even if it’s as simple as having a formal on-boarding process or “what to expect document,” those constructs let clients and customers know you mean business.
3. YOU’RE GONNA HAVE TO GROW A BACKBONE ... LIKE, A REAL ONE.
I love all of the items on this list, but I feel #3 is most important for bosses everywhere. It’s certainly the area where I feel most empowered and proud of my personal growth.
I wouldn’t say I’m one to shy away from conflict, but sometimes the “eager to please” part of my personality kicks in, especially when money gets involved. In the last six months I’ve found myself in projects or commitments that aren’t always to my benefit, the best use of my time, or at the level of compensation I’d like.
It’s a learning curve, but eventually you’ll realize that being easygoing all the time is taking a cut out of your bottom line.
I know, it sucks at first when you realize that there there is literally NO ONE else to have those tough conversations like there was at your old job. This is where the grit of being your own boss comes in. You can go crying back to corporate if you want … it’s definitely nice there sometimes.
But if you want to be your own boss, you have to grow a backbone. Not a fake one. A real one.
I thought the world would implode if I “made someone mad at me.” Trust me, it doesn’t. I also realized that me questioning something, or double checking/clarifying a point in an agreement didn’t make me difficult. It just makes me a business owner.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
In 2014, I was working as a freelance copywriter, when I decided to start my own online business.
Being a freelancer allowed me to make over $100 an hour working from home. But whenever I heard about someone creating a passive income stream online, I’d think, “Why not me?”
Then reality would come crashing in, as I’d painfully remind myself that I:
Then, one night, my attitude changed. My 5-year old son was struggling with a challenging math problem, and I encouraged him to persevere and figure it out. At that moment, I realized I’d been setting a poor example by not persisting to overcome my own hurdles to starting an online business.
The next day, I began noticing solutions where I’d previously seen only roadblocks. Here’s what I learned ...
I didn’t need to go to business school. There are online courses that can teach you how to start an online business in weeks, even if you have no experience and no clue what to sell. (I enrolled in Ramit Sethi’s Zero To Launch program, which worked wonders for me.)
You don’t need website-building skills. I was surprised to find “all-in-one” website solutions (like Rainmaker Platform) that allow regular people like me to get a digital commerce website up and running in hours, without any designing or coding whatsoever.
Coming up with a product wasn’t as difficult as I imagined. People were constantly asking me how to make money on Upwork and other freelancing sites, so I decided to create my own online course — Secrets of a Six-Figure Upworker — to teach them. I’ve learned that we all have knowledge others are willing to pay for. Why not start there?
It doesn’t have to be expensive. It cost me just $100 to create my course using PowerPoint and Camtasia screen recording software. My customers didn’t care — they loved it because it helped them achieve their goals.
Daily blogging isn’t necessary. In fact, my entire website contains just three blog posts, and my course has generated over $90,000 in revenue over the past 12 months. Quality is infinitely more important than quantity.
Using these tools and approaches greatly simplified the process, allowing me to launch my online business in just a few months — using only my spare time, very little cash, and basically zero technical skills.
At first, sales trickled in, to the tune of about $1,400 a month for the first 90 days.
But as I ramped up my promotional efforts, things heated up. I did some guest blogging, which brought lots of new visitors to my website, Freelance To Win. I also started offering my top five hacks for making money on Upwork — free of charge — to anyone who subscribed to my email list.
More than 6,500 people signed up, and many of them became customers of my course as well. Some wanted to earn a side income through freelancing, while perhaps eventually transitioning to full time. Some had already tried freelancing (or starting their own business), with mixed results. And others were just curious about freelancing, but didn’t know where to start.
By March of 2015, monthly sales had almost tripled.
At that point, I made the difficult decision to make Freelance To Win my full-time job. The move felt risky, especially since I’m the sole provider for my family.
But by June, it was clear I’d made the right choice, with sales totaling over $8,000 for the month. In July, monthly revenue outpaced my freelancing income, with more than $10,500 in sales. And even as I write these words, sales for October have skyrocketed to over $30,000.
My online business keeps me quite busy these days, but it’s incredibly rewarding. Not only am I earning a great living while spending plenty of time with my wife and kids — I’m also helping thousands of people learn how to make money freelancing at the same time. It’s so addictive that I may even launch another course next year.
For anyone interested in starting their own online business, my advice is to forget about all the reasons not to go for it. We all have knowledge that’s valuable to others, and as I’ve learned, sharing it is a great way to make money. And with technology and information so readily available, it’s never been easier.
Finding the right job can be difficult when you’re younger. Family expectations, choosing the right degree, and that first step into adulthood are all added pressures.
It’s journey Showpo founder Jane Lu knows all too well.
“[At school] I got a 99+ UAI [a high percentile rank used for college admissions], I studied commerce at UNSW, I got a job even before I graduated. I was definitely ticking the right boxes for being a good Chinese daughter,” laughs Lu as she tells her startup story at SydStart Thurday. “I mean, I even played eighth grade piano.”
But after landing the dream cadetship with Big Four firm KPMG, she knew it just was never going to work out.
“I just got so sick of being stuck in that boring grey cubicle,” she says.
“There was this moment where I looked at my phone and I thought: Three hours have just passed, I’m literally three hours more dead than I was and all I’ve done is remove the second referencing from this spreadsheet … how is this my life?
“So I quit.”
While she knew it was the right thing to do, many doubted her decision.
“I felt great about this (quitting) but everyone thought I was an idiot because it was in middle of the GFC [global financial crisis] and everyone was getting made redundant. And there I go quitting my job to run pop-up stores,” she says.
Business looked great for a while but one month after starting the pop-up retail stores, her business partner pulled the pin.
“So we shut the business down and that was the end of Fatboye Group,” says Lu. “Did I forget to mention the name of the business was Fatboye Group? Yeah, go figure,” she laughs reflecting on it.
“I literally hit rock bottom. I didn’t have a job … and I had way too much pride to ask for my job back.”
With no other options Lu went back into the corporate finance world at Ernst & Young, but it wasn’t long before she quit — again.
Her Chinese heritage meant the pressure to do the right thing was immense.
“I had done everything that I was meant to do,” she says. “I was on (her parent’s) ideal trajectory for a good career. So, I just couldn’t bring myself to tell them that I quit my job.
“So, there was only one logical thing to do. I didn’t tell them.”
On top of the pressure came the deception required to maintain face.
“The unfortunate thing was that I was still living at home at the time, which meant that for six months I had to get up early, put on a suit and pretend to go to work. And let me tell you the only thing worse than being unemployed is having to get up early when you’re unemployed.
“So, I’d get up early, put on my suit, have breakfast with my family. Catch the bus into the city, sometimes with my mum. And just wander around the CBD [central business district] trying to figure s--- out.”
A turn of fate
It turned out to be the best thing she could have done.
In September 2010, Lu met a like-minded girl who wanted to start an online store too.
“We instantly hit it off. One night over too many glasses of red wine we came up with the name Show-Pony,” she said. They subsequently rebranded as Showpo.
But having lost money from the first business, plus a HECS (government student loan) bill , as well as having to repay KPMG $18,000 for breaking her cadetship, Lu says her debt was sky-high.
“It was a total of $60,000 at the age of 24. Not a great place to be when you’re starting a business, or not a great place to be any way,” she says.
“That being said, Showpo turned over $10 million last year, we’ve been bootstrapped the entire way and we’ve always been profitable.”
She may have experienced more bumps in the road than the average startup founder, but the overall result has been a success.
“There is no prescribed way to achieving success,” she said. “Go against the grain and follow your gut. I’m a good example of ‘if I can do this anyone can.’”
And now that she’s made it? Well, she says all wants is to find a way to be a CEO that doesn’t have to do anything.
“I want to do as a little as possible,” she laughs. “My [social media] handle is @thelazyceo. I want to delegate out as much as work as possible.
“Remember: Work smarter, not harder. I’ll let you know how it goes.”
Who: Deja Cromartie, 25, search engine marketing coordinator, Philadelphia
Why She Wants to Be Self-Employed:“I studied communications in college and have always had a passion for helping others tell their stories. I’ve been taking on some PR clients on the side, and I’d be so excited if I could make it my full-time career one day soon.
I love to explore, and I feel that PR would allow me the flexibility to travel for work and for fun. Plus, it would be amazing to hire my own team — helping people start their own careers and be successful is really appealing.
How She’s Planning Now for the Leap Later: Nearly all of my $45,000 salary goes to living expenses. But I’m putting my PR earnings into savings, which are about $5,000 now.
I’m also trying to set goals and expectations for my future business. For example, I want to make sure I’m generating consistent income — bringing in the same amount of revenue for six months — before I quit my job.”
What the Career Pros Say: Mary Beth Storjohann, a San Diego-based Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) and founder of Workable Wealth, thinks Deja is smart to save the income from her side gig working with PR clients while keeping her full-time job as she tests the waters.
Still, Storjohann raises a concern: Deja’s lack of an emergency fund, which should ideally be the equivalent of six months’ take-home pay. She feels that Deja needs this cushion — in addition to savings earmarked for her future business.
Aimee Cohen, the Denver-based owner of Cohen Career Consulting, agrees — and adds that Deja could benefit from creating a more detailed business plan.
“Does she have exact numbers on her overhead costs? Does she know who her competition is? What her marketing plan will be? How much business she needs before she can feasibly hire employees?” Cohen says, listing questions Deja should consider. “These are all important pieces of information that many new entrepreneurs don’t think about.”
To help answer those questions, Amy Swift Crosby, founder of SMARTY, an entrepreneurial network, encourages Deja to seek out a mentor.
“Get close to someone in PR who owns her own agency,” she suggests. “Deja may choose to do it differently, but the realities will be the same.”
What Deja Thinks:“It’s good to know that I’m moving in the right direction, and I’m inspired to save even more, particularly when it comes to emergency funds.
So my next goal will be to scale back my spending, stick to my budget, and stash away that extra money so I have a big enough financial cushion to make the leap.
I’m also going to focus on picking up two or three more PR clients and look into creating that business plan — so that I’m clear on all of the details that will make my business a success.”
This post was excerpted from "Is the Financial Grass Really Greener? 3 People Test Self-Employment," originally published on LearnVest.
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