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The latest news on Entrepreneurship from Business Insider

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    gbr best and worst states for entrepreneurs

    Entrepreneurship is a cornerstone of the American economy, and it has reached record heights in recent years. Becoming an entrepreneur is a dream for many Americans; two in five employees hope to someday strike out on their own, according to a survey from the University of Phoenix Business School.

    But starting a business is a serious undertaking, and part of launching a company means getting an idea of how well your state fosters new businesses and startups.

    To find out which states are the best for entrepreneurs, GOBankingRates conducted a study that looked at the startup opportunities, existing small businesses, business tax climate and other factors in each state. 

    Based on the study's findings, GOBankingRates generated this ranking of the best states for entrepreneurs.

    Click through to see how smart it would be to start a business in your state:

    SEE ALSO: 7 things successful people never pay for

    10 Best States for Entrepreneurs

    When it comes to starting a business, location is a major factor of success. 

    The 10 best states for business owners have a strong culture of entrepreneurship and high numbers of existing small businesses, as well as a high rate of survival for these companies. They also help new businesses keep up with operating expenses thanks to lower costs of living, fewer taxes and accessible small business lending.

    Overall, these 10 best states for businesses provide the right environment for a startup to thrive. Click through to see if you already live in one of these prime spots for entrepreneurs.



    Missouri 

    Missouri has the fourth-highest business survival rate in the nation, with twice as many small businesses founded in 2013 as failed that same year.

    For entrepreneurs in Missouri, this is a positive sign that the odds of success are in their favor. Missouri also offers small businesses a low cost of living and business-friendly taxes.

    The state has a lower gross domestic product per capita, however, which could signal a slower local economy. Missouri also has below-average rates of small business loans, indicating that financing could be harder to come by in this state.

    Despite these drawbacks, Missouri entrepreneurs still have a number of factors working in their favor, including an average employee availability score, making it the No. 10 best state to start a business.



    Montana

    Montana has the highest number of startups per capita, at 195.7 per 100,000 residents. Businesses are also created at the highest rate in Montana, with 0.54 percent of residents entering entrepreneurship each month.

    Montana is small-business friendly with a high number of small businesses and employees of small businesses in the state, and it has a favorable business tax climate.

    There are a few obstacles small businesses might have to contend with in Montana, like the low availability of qualified employees due to a low college graduation rate.

    The state's below-average GDP also indicates a slow-growing economy, but Montana has a solid base of existing small businesses and conditions that could pave the way for more in the near future.

    Related: The Best and Worst States for Income Tax



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    mike LV

    Who: Mike Garuccio, 25, telecommunications server administrator, Cleveland

    Why He Wants to Be Self-Employed:“I’ve got an entrepreneurial spirit. As a high school senior, I took server administration courses at a community college, which landed me an internship at a major manufacturer and eventually led to a job.

    To make extra cash, I’ve also worked for the Best Buy Geek Squad, which has helped give me the confidence and skill set to go out on my own.

    My goal is to provide everything from web design and hosting to more traditional IT tasks, such as desktop and network management.

    How He’s Planning Now for the Leap Later: I’ve started identifying clients on Thumbtack, a small-business platform, while trying to build an audience on Facebook. I hope to convert those “likes” into business soon.

    I’ve run the numbers and know that I will need 25 to 30 clients to replace my income of about $65,000.

    I’m only working with about five clients now. But scaling up is tricky because, with my day job, people need to be willing to work within my current restricted schedule.

    My biggest concern is really whether I’m financially ready. Luckily, I have low expenses, thanks to a supportive, live-in girlfriend — and we’re renting a house from my parents. I’ve also been cutting costs anywhere I can to prepare for when my day-job income stops.

    So far, I only have about $3,000 in emergency savings, because money I’ve made from clients has gone to cover things like web hosting and business cards.”

    What the Career Pros Say: Amy Swift Crosby, founder of SMARTY, an entrepreneurial network, points out that Mike is fortunate to have another household income stream through his girlfriend, as well as a forgiving rental situation.

    “These both provide household stability, so he can sustain any surprises that may come up during his transition,” Swift Crosby says.

    However, she says it would be even better if Mike had more saved up. Mary Beth Storjohann, a San Diego-based Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) and founder of Workable Wealth, recommends that he focus on building up his emergency fund to the equivalent of six months’ take-home pay, highlighting that he should keep in mind that his earnings will need to cover personal spending as well as business operating costs.

    As part of creating a business budget, Swift Crosby raises some questions for Mike: Is the company going to be locally driven or international? Will he need employees — his own Geek Squad of sorts — to put out fires when there are emergencies?

    And looking toward the future, is he willing to dedicate the next five years to really putting in the hours to set up his company? This way, if he chooses to start a family someday, he can help avoid having to work until midnight as a new dad.

    Swift Crosby adds that thinking through these choices now will help Mike craft the ultimate situation for himself.

    What Mike Thinks:“I really appreciate the advice. Right now, I’m focused on building clients — and just managed to find two more.

    Even better, one is able to accommodate my day-job constraints, knowing that I’m trying to branch out on my own. So I can use these new clients to further build my savings over the next few months.

    I have thought through eventual plans for the business and definitely want to grow to the point of having employees. And, ideally, I’d like to expand beyond Ohio. But these plans are nowhere near defined yet.”

    RELATED: Fearlessly Freelance: 6 Experts Tips From People Who Successfully Took the Plunge

    This post was excerpted from "Is the Financial Grass Really Greener? 3 People Test Self-Employment," originally published on LearnVest.

    LearnVest Planning Services is a registered investment adviser and subsidiary of LearnVest, Inc., that provides financial plans for its clients. Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment, legal or tax planning advice. Unless specifically identified as such, the individuals interviewed or otherwise listed in this piece are neither clients, employees nor affiliates of LearnVest Planning Services and the views expressed are their own. Please consult a financial adviser, attorney or tax specialist for advice specific to your financial situation. LearnVest Planning Services and any third parties listed, linked to or otherwise appearing in this message are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for each other’s products, services or policies. LearnVest, Inc., is wholly owned by NM Planning, LLC, a subsidiary of The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company.

    SEE ALSO: A financial planner analyzes the holiday spending of a family of 4

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Couples must avoid this one thing if they want to stay happy


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    sonja LV.JPG

    Who: Sonja Salzburg, 33, quality control manager, Fort Collins, Colo.

    Why She Wants to Be Self-Employed:“The thought of working from home — with my dog at my feet and time to check on my backyard honeybees during breaks — is beyond exciting. And not commuting 30 miles each day would also be a major perk.

    As for the work itself, my real passion is photography. I have a degree in fine arts, but I took jobs outside that field after graduation. However, I’ve been building up a side business by shooting the weddings of friends and family.

    As a full-time photographer, I anticipate working fewer hours, and bringing in the same income as my current salary of about $35,000. And even if I do work as much, at least I’ll be building my own company and doing something that fulfills me.

    How She’s Planning Now for the Leap Later: As I’ve ramped up my photography, it has helped my bottom line.

    My husband, Max, and I now have about six months’ worth of emergency savings. We can easily cover our mortgage. And we rent out an apartment to a tenant.

    One potential complication is that Max quit his job a couple of months ago. Since then, he’s been helping me, drawing on his 12 years of experience in marketing and sales. He’s even worked as a second photographer with me at weddings.

    Our goal is to create a business we can both work at, while making a good living.

    Still, I do worry: If we’re both self-employed, will it be tougher to take out a car or business loan? And is it smart to take out a small business loan now — or should we start small and grow from there?”

    What the Career Pros Say: Overall, Aimee Cohen, the Denver-based owner of Cohen Career Consulting, feels Sonja is ready to embrace the self-employed life.

    “She’s been running a photography side business, which tells me she knows what’s involved and her earning potential,” she says. “And the fact that her husband offers complementary skills is a real plus.”

    But Cohen also notes that this is not to say that the couple won’t potentially face some challenges: “In reality, owning your own business is a 24/7 job that can be highly stressful.”

    As for Sonja’s worries, Mary Beth Storjohann, a San Diego-based Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) and founder of Workable Wealth, acknowledges that self-employment status can make borrowing tougher, which is why she recommends building the business organically — rather than opting to take out a small business loan.

    “The last thing Sonja needs is to be stressed about whether or not she’ll be able to make a big loan payment,” Storjohann explains. “I’d also urge Sonja and her husband to not get into any credit card debt as they adjust to a variable income.”

    Since weddings do ebb and flow, Amy Swift Crosby, founder of SMARTY, an entrepreneurial network, adds that Sonja could benefit from thinking about a strategic plan for the off-season.

    “If there are numbers on paper, it’ll be easier for them to see what the projections look like, compared to how business is actually trending,” she says.

    What Sonja Thinks:“This is a relief because I’m ready to leave my job. I know I could be even more prepared, but isn’t that true with everything in life? You’ll be waiting forever if you’re waiting for everything to be perfect.

    It’s good to know that we should start small. I’ve been daydreaming about taking out a big loan so that we can do everything we want with the business right away.

    Instead, I’m going to put that energy into plugging away step by step. And it’s exciting to know that once I quit, I’ll be able to devote even more time to my business.”

    RELATED: How We Learned to Budget With an Irregular Income

    This post was excerpted from "Is the Financial Grass Really Greener? 3 People Test Self-Employment," originally published on LearnVest.

    LearnVest Planning Services is a registered investment adviser and subsidiary of LearnVest, Inc., that provides financial plans for its clients. Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment, legal or tax planning advice. Unless specifically identified as such, the individuals interviewed or otherwise listed in this piece are neither clients, employees nor affiliates of LearnVest Planning Services and the views expressed are their own. Please consult a financial adviser, attorney or tax specialist for advice specific to your financial situation. LearnVest Planning Services and any third parties listed, linked to or otherwise appearing in this message are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for each other’s products, services or policies. LearnVest, Inc., is wholly owned by NM Planning, LLC, a subsidiary of The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company.

    SEE ALSO: A financial planner analyzes the holiday spending of a family of 4

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: What Sports Illustrated swimsuit models look like in real life


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    phone call laptopThis post by Daniel L. Jacobs appeared originally on Quora as an answer to the question "How can I schedule a phone call with a billionaire?"

    As a 21-year-old social entrepreneur who'd just moved to San Francisco with no money or connections, I realized that if I ever wanted to achieve my dreams, I needed advice from people who have been there and done that.

    So I did the most naive thing anyone could think of. I wrote to captains of industry: presidents and C-level executives of Fortune 500 companies.

    I let them know that I admired specific work decisions they'd made and character traits they'd displayed publicly, and it would be amazing if I could learn from them.

    I should have known better, right? These were the busiest people on the planet, and who was I to think that they'd respond to a 21-year-old kid with absolutely zero recognizable talents (beyond, perhaps, the ability to write an email?) and offer their mentorship?

    Then the unthinkable happened. I received an email back ... and another one ... and another. Over the next few years, I found myself learning from and mentored by people like the president of Morgan Stanley, the president of NBC, the CMO of Coca-Cola, the CMO of Intuit, and more (I'll spare names to save the unsolicited emails).

    I never understood why.

    Then one day, we'd all gotten together for a board meeting for one of my companies and someone joked that he'd gotten to know me through a cold email I'd sent him. The room went silent. Then, one by one, everyone around the table acknowledged that he, too, met me through a simple, cold email.

    Laughter.

    The president of NBC spoke up. "Do you know why I decided to meet with you Daniel?"

    I didn't know.

    "Because in 20 years in this business, every single person who reached out to me cold wanted something. They wanted money, a job, something. You were the first person who asked — only — for advice."

    I looked around the room. Everyone was nodding. I learned something important about life that day.

    Daniel Jacobs is the CEO and cofounder of Avanoo, which creates three-minute-a-day online employee training videos. Avanoo's content is created with support from over 200 of the world's most renowned experts, and their clients include Kaiser, KPMG, Cisco, NBC, and other industry leaders.

    SEE ALSO: 8 types of people who will never be able to start a business

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: We unearthed Donald Trump's Vine account from 2013 and it's incredible


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    google santa monica

    Many techies spend their whole careers hoping to get hired as a Google engineer.

    I was one of the lucky ones, chosen to work at Google for more than five years.

    I was grateful for my time there and for the technical skills I gained along the way.

    However, at the end of the day, despite the perks and the prestige, it wasn’t enough for me.

    You see, there are three valuable experiences the Google life lacks that Silicon Valley startups have in abundance:

    1. The ultimate highs (and lows)

    Outside of corporations, in the rest of the Valley, you have the chance to be part of the startup ecosystem. This is where innovation thrives and the entrepreneurial spirit is born. There’s an entire world outside of Google and big tech where VCs, angel investors, and entrepreneurs reign supreme.

    At Google, I felt isolated. The company's multiple levels of reporting made it difficult to meet these VIPs while employed — and it wasn’t until I turned in my badge that I actually connected with some of Google’s investors. Tuning in to their excitement delighted me. It felt like I was plugging into a firehose.

    On the flip side, there are challenges involved in founding a new business. For one, startups tend to be lonely. It feels like the first year stacks against you, like Newton’s Law of Motion preserves the nature of the corporate world. In a startup, everything can fail in a minute.

    You might think, “Great! I started a company!” but now you need a customer. Good luck; no one wants to be the first customer. For that matter, no one wants to be the first investor, either. Being the first is a huge risk. These seem like insurmountable challenges for fledgling founders. Few people understand the stresses involved.

    If you’re fortunate and have a co-founder (as I did), you have someone to share the burden with you. Andrew First, my co-worker at Google, was neck-deep in the trenches with me. We viewed it as our secondary jobs to keep the other optimistic. It worked. A partner made it easier to bounce ideas back and forth, tackle creative challenges, and talk through each new hurdle.

    2. The overnight learning curve

    Life as a Google engineer only lets you tap into a fraction of the knowledge spectrum. There, I abided by my set responsibilities and daily engineering projects. As an entrepreneur, the door flung open. I dabbled in fundraising, recruitment, sales, marketing, and customer support. It’s exhilarating to be part of that educational journey.

    Of course, the learning curve will take you outside of your comfort zone. Take fundraising, for instance. Asking someone to give me their hard-earned money? This felt like a ludicrous concept for a software engineer. Though it wasn’t intuitive, I had to master the art of reaching out to investors and analyzing the right combination of words for such a delicate request.

    I also had to rethink the entire hiring process. At Google, I’d meet with aspiring employees at job fairs, quiz them on technical information, and enter feedback into a system. Afterwards, I rarely found out if the candidates landed the job. At a company that large, being an interviewer doesn’t mean you work side-by-side with the interviewee. This was a massive disconnect.

    At a startup, the process is as different as night and day. Fragile startups rely on teamwork and passion to survive. It’s vital to spend extra time with candidates to understand how they fit into the culture. I need to assess whether they can rise to the challenge of a rushed deadline, unexpected bugs, and so forth. These skills are intangible, but critical for early-stage companies.

    3. The chance to create your own destiny

    By far the biggest benefit of becoming a founder is also becoming the creator of your own destiny. A large corporation will move forward, with or without your effort. Conversely, startups enable you to reap the benefits of your own work directly. If you put your best foot forward today, the next day you can see the impact. Everything you do is meaningful for the business. This notion fueled my drive for success.

    I mentioned before that I did some recruiting for Google. While there, one day I met with eight candidates. The marathon of interviews depleted my energy. At Leanplum, I bumped that number up to nine in a single day. It felt intoxicating. In the end, two of those candidates joined Leanplum as our first interns.

    They pushed groundbreaking features that helped create the Leanplum product you see today. For that reason, I could have doubled the number of interviews and still walked away excited. Knowing I was meeting with individuals who could transform Leanplum’s future kept me inspired.

    Don’t get me wrong; Google is a great opportunity for many tech professionals. But if your end game is to become an entrepreneur, consider joining a startup, where you can learn how things work from the ground up. At Leanplum, each new day is an adventure — and the future looks brighter than ever.

    Momchil Kyurkchiev is CEO and co-founder of Leanplum, a mobile marketing automation that lets you shape meaningful experiences for your users at scale, driving engagement and results.

    SEE ALSO: 6 reasons you should quit your job today

    DON'T MISS: The 27 jobs that are most damaging to your health

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 14 things you didn't know your iPhone headphones could do


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    robert herjavecIf you think you have an idea for the next highly successful social media site or fitness wearable, you aren’t alone.

    Many aspiring entrepreneurs come up with ideas that expand on things that are currently working. A new, improved version of something everyone already likes can be a wonderful idea for a new business, or so you’d think.

    But as "Shark Tank’s" Robert Herjavec points out, those “me, too” businesses don’t impress most investors, including his ilk on "Shark Tank."

    Being one of many people to take on an idea doesn’t set you apart enough to land big investment dollars.

    Herjavec took some time to talk to me during the recent Intuit Quickbooks Connect Conference, and he gave some advice on how to stand out when pitching investors.

    Approaching investors

    When entrepreneurs approach investors for funding, often they’ll make a few fatal missteps in what they say. Herjavec looks for entrepreneurs who have unique ideas, especially if they’re early to market. Because valuations are so high today, Herjavec has found that it can be difficult for entrepreneurs to land funding if they have an idea that is one of many to tackle a specific consumer need, unless the market is growing tremendously fast.

    With half of all new businesses failing in the first five years, it’s important that entrepreneurs position themselves to succeed. In addition to having a promising product, entrepreneurs must also sell investors on who they are.

    Investors ask themselves, "Is this someone I could work with for years?" and if the answer is yes, the investor feels able to work around smaller problems with a presentation for instance.

    You can’t ‘grow a market’

    It may think you’re winning investors when you use the words, "I want to revolutionize this existing market." Herjavec says he’s found that isn’t the case. To be truly successful, entrepreneurs should try to land in a market that is already growing fast.

    "I always get nervous when people come in and say, 'The potential market is this big but because I have the best new mousetrap, I'm going to fundamentally grow the market,' " Herjavec says. "I want people who are in an expanding market already. You can't grow a market. It's very, very difficult."

    A promising economy

    After the economic ups and downs of the past decade, many entrepreneurs question whether the timing is right to start a new business. Herjavec believes the economy is fundamentally good at this time.

    While we’re still recovering, he has noticed hiring is up, both in small and larger businesses, and people have real revenue and real profit. He has noticed that there is a bubble, but says it’s mainly confined to valuations of tech unicorns.

    “Most of the bubble is being created by venture capitalists who are buying equity from other VCs,” Herjavec says “Even if there is a bubble and it kind of bursts a little bit, I’m not sure it's really going to trickle down to a consumer or hurt the public markets.”

    Hitting a home run

    Entrepreneurship is the immediate goal of many recent college students, which eventually makes the demand for investment dollars more competitive. As a respected investor and businessman, Herjavec finds that he’s often asked to speak at colleges and universities.

    When he asks a roomful of college students how many of them want to run their own businesses, often almost every hand in the room goes up. The increased competition means that entrepreneurs must have an idea that stands out from all others.

    “The valuations are so high today that unless you are going to hit a home run, I'm probably not going to get my money back,” Herjavec says. “I think it's harder if you're a 'me too' business or you're one of many. I think if you really have an innovative idea and you're first to market, there's no shortage in money.”

    Whether you’re pitching to the sharks or a local angel investor, there are things you can do to stand out. As competitive as entrepreneurship has become, there’s enough money available for ventures in all industries, especially for innovative ideas that take advantage of an already burgeoning market.

    SEE ALSO: 'Shark Tank' investor Robert Herjavec shares 6 business lessons he learned from waiting tables

    DON'T MISS: The 27 jobs that are most damaging to your health

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    startupI am a giant advocate for technical founders running their own companies, but one consistent way that technical founders deeply harm their businesses is by screwing up the budgeting process.

    Yes, the budgeting process. How ridiculous is that? How does it happen and why is it particularly problematic for engineers?

    I'll begin by describing how I screwed it up in my company. Our sales were growing so fast that the biggest problem that we faced was that we literally could not handle all the customers that wanted to sign up for Loudcloud.

    To combat this and enable us to grow, I worked diligently with my team to plan all the activities that we needed to accomplish to expand our capacity and capture the market before the competition. Next, I assigned sub-goals and activities to each functional head. In conjunction with my leadership team, I made sure that each goal was measurable and supported by paired metrics as well as lagging and leading indicators.

    I then told the team to figure out what it would take to accomplish those goals and return with their requirements for headcount and program dollars. Finally, I made adjustments to their requests based on industry benchmarks (mostly reductions) to get to a plan that I thought made sense.

    Here’s the basic process:

    1. Set goals that will enable us to grow
    2. Break the goals down so that there is clear ownership and accountability for each goal by a specific team
    3. Refine goals into measurable targets
    4. Figure out how many new people are required to hit the targets
    5. Estimate the cost of the effort
    6. Benchmark against the industry
    7. Make global optimizations
    8. Execute

    Unless you are an experienced manager, you may not even see what’s wrong with this process, but it very nearly led to my company's demise. In fact, the above process is completely upside-down and should only be followed if you wish to bloat your company to the brink of bankruptcy and create a culture of chaos.

    When I asked my managers what they needed, I unknowingly gamified the budgeting process. The game worked as follows: The objective was for each manager to build the largest organization possible and thereby expand the importance of his function. Through the transitive property of status, he could increase his own importance as well.

    Now you may be thinking, "That wouldn't happen in my company. Most of my staff would never play that game." Well, that's the beauty of the game. It only takes one player to opt in, because once someone starts playing, everybody is going in — and they are going in hard.

    Gameplay quickly becomes sophisticated as managers develop clever strategies and tactics to improve their chances for winning. One common game technique is to dramatically expand the scope of the goals: "When you said that you wanted to increase our market presence, I naturally assumed that you meant globally. Surely, you wouldn’t want me to take a U.S.-centric view."

    Ben Horowitz

    To really motivate the CEO, another great technique involves claiming dire circumstances if the company fails to achieve its metrics: "If we don't increase sales by 500% and our top competitor does, we will fall behind. If we fall behind, we will no longer be No. 1. If we’re not No. 1, then we won’t be able to hire the best people, command the best prices, or build the best product, and we will spin into a death spiral." Never mind the fact that there is almost no chance that your competitor will grow 500% this year. 

    Another subtle problem with this process is that when I asked my team what they needed to achieve their goals, they naturally assumed they would get it. As a result, my team deeply socialized their ideas and newly found money with their teams. This has the added gaming benefit of inextricably tying their demands to company morale.

    When the VP of marketing asked me for 10 headcount and $5 million in program expenses, then shared that plan with his team, it changed the conversation. Now a major cutback to his plan would alarm his team because they had just spent two weeks planning for a much more positive scenario. “Wow, Ben greatly reduced the plan. Should I be looking for a job?” This kind of dynamic put pressure on me to create a more expansive expense plan than was wise. Multiply this by all my managers and I was on my way to burning up all my cash and destroying my culture. 

    My core problem was that my budgeting process did not have any real constraints. We were private and did not have a specific profit target that we needed to hit and we had plenty of cash in the bank. Drawing the line on expenses seemed rather arbitrary. In the absence of a hard constraint, I had no constraint. 

    An excellent constraining principle when planning your budget is the preservation of cultural cohesion. The enemy of cultural cohesion is super-fast headcount growth. Companies that grow faster than doubling their headcount annually tend to have serious cultural drift, even if they do a great job of onboarding new employees and training them. Sometimes this kind of growth is necessary and manageable in certain functions like sales, but is usually counterproductive in other areas where internal communication is critical like engineering and marketing.

    If you quadruple your engineering headcount in a year, you will likely have less absolute throughput than if you doubled headcount. As an added bonus, you will burn way more cash. Even worse, you will lose cultural consistency as new people with little guidance will come in with their own way of doing things that doesn’t match your way of doing things. Note that this does not apply to you if you have very small numbers. It's fine to grow engineering from one to four people or from two to eight. However, if you try to grow from 50 to 200, you will cause major issues if you are not extremely careful.

    Starting with the cultural cohesion principle, a far better way to run the budgeting process is to start with the constraints. Some useful constraints are:

    • Run rate increase– Note that I say "run rate increase" and not "spend increase." You should set a limit on the amount by which you are willing to increase what you are spending in the last month of the coming year vs. the previous year. 
    • Earnings/Loss– If you have revenue, another great constraint is your targeted earnings or loss for the year. 
    • Engineering growth rate– Unless you are making an acquisition and running it separately or sub-dividing engineering in some novel way, you should strive not to more than double a monolithic engineering organization in a 12-month period.
    • Ratio of engineering to other functions– Once you have constrained engineering, then you can set ratios between engineering and other functions to constrain them as well. 

    After applying the global constraints, the following steps will provide a better process:

    1. Take the constrained number that you created and reduce it by 10-25% to give yourself room for expansion, if necessary.
    2. Divide the budget created above in the ratios that you believe are appropriate across the team.
    3. Communicate the budgets to the team.
    4. Run your goal-setting exercise and encourage your managers to demonstrate their skill by achieving great things within their budgets.
    5. If you believe that more can legitimately be achieved in a group with more money, then allocate that manager extra budget out of the slush fund you created with the 10-25%.

    At this point, some readers may think that I've lost my mind. As a technologist, you know that the worst thing that you can do is over-constrain the problem before you start. You'll kill creativity and prevent yourself from getting a truly great outcome. That's precisely why I, as an engineer, struggled with this process: the human factors muck up the logic. Specifically, local incentives, if not properly managed, will sharply motivate human behavior and defeat the global goals.

    It’s critical to recognize this so that you don’t turn your agile, small company into a slow, big company before its time.

    Read more posts on Ben's Blog.

    SEE ALSO: 8 types of people who will never be able to start a business

    DON'T MISS: The 27 jobs that are most damaging to your health

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    young woman listening millennials

    As 2015 comes to a close, it’s time to start planning your New Year’s resolutions, where you vow to get better with your finances, save more money and find a more fulfilling career.

    For some, saving more comes down to learning how to say no to small purchases.

    And for would-be entrepreneurs, sometimes the hardest part about starting a business is taking that first step. 

    We asked best-selling author, entrepreneur and career coach Josh Felber for his top money tips for 2016. Felber offered two core pieces of advice:

     “To create real wealth, you must quit spending your future wealth on goods and services that you want today but deprive you of wealth long term.” 

    “2016 is the year to break free from mediocrity and society’s ‘norms.’ Now is time to quit your 9-to-5 job and become an entrepreneur. Start becoming the true you and creating the lifestyle you are destined for.”

    Felber is a finalist in GOBankingRates’ Best Money Expert competition held this month in collaboration with Ally Bank. He also won the title of “Best Expert” in the 2014 contest. See why 2016 is the year for you to save more and break out your inner entrepreneur.

    See: 12 Best Money Experts of 2015

    Cut spending to create long-term wealth

    Felber’s first money tip is easy for anyone to accomplish in 2016. He asks you to reconsider your immediate wants and weigh them against long-term goals. You oftentimes might explain away the cost of a cup of coffee or night out, but spending money frivolously every day or every other day weighs down your monthly budget. Poor spending habits can also leak into your business when you ultimately pursue becoming an entrepreneur.

    Concentrate spending on your needs so the money you might otherwise have spent can be put toward a new business or retirement fund. Real wealth is built and cultivated over time after all.

    If saving is a hurdle for you, start small: Cut one small purchase you make every day or week. Once you have adapted to living without that one small purchase, cut out another expense. By focusing on one cost-cutting tactic at a time, you can slowly build up how much you save every month without completely changing your lifestyle come January.

    For small business owners and to-be entrepreneurs, start picking up skills that can save you money down the road. Practicing your writing skills, making cold calls and even learning how to maintain a website can help you curb the costs associated with hiring additional personnel to handle smaller tasks.

    Related: Why You Need a Spending Plan — Not a Budget

    young man on laptop

    Why start your business in 2016?

    Felber suggested quitting your job because, too often, people fall into the routine of working full-time making other people rich. But if you’ve always dreamed of being an entrepreneur, you won’t ever find a good time to start your own business so long as you’re complacent at work.

    If you’re scratching your head over how to get started, make a list of the things you’re passionate about and your unique skills. You might discover that your flair for photography, SEO skills or knack for artisan baked goods might be in demand and lend themselves to starting a business.

    For budding entrepreneurs, banks have your back. Small business loans are seeing higher rates of approval at major banks, according to a report by Biz2Credit, an online marketplace for small business loans. In fact, the approval for these types of loans hit their highest level since 2011, when Biz2Credit first began tracking them.

    See: 10 Setbacks All Small Businesses Must Overcome

    Between January 2014 and March 2015, Wells Fargo lent more than $22.6 billion to small businesses as part of a five-year initiative to support businesses. And while approvals at small banks and credit unions have remained relatively flat, 80% of small-business owners will do preliminary research on loans online, and that amount is expected to rise in 2016.

    Alternative lending and crowdfunding sources are on the rise, too. In an industry report conducted by Massolution, a crowdfunding research firm, the total global capital raised through crowdfunding is expected to hit $34.4 billion this year, up from $16.2 billion in 2014 and $6.1 billion in 2013.

    Entrepreneurs are happier flying solo

    Work satisfaction — or rather, dissatisfaction — shows how pursuing entrepreneurship can increase overall happiness. Only 48.3 percent of U.S. workers are satisfied with their jobs, according to a 2015 The Conference Board Job Satisfaction survey.

    On the other hand, entrepreneurs who make their own rules and set their own hours appear to be happier, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2013 Global Report prepared by Babson College. The report surveyed more than 197,000 people. Even entrepreneurs with startups were more satisfied than typical U.S. workers; entrepreneurs with established businesses were even happier.

    clothes shopping boutique

    Consumers prefer small businesses

    Consumers are also more likely to take their money to small businesses, according to a 2014 report by AYTM Market Research. The report found that consumers like working with small businesses because it allows them to support the local economy and receive more personal service. Roughly six out of 10 consumers also said they would be willing to pay higher prices to support small businesses.

    Ultimately, Felber’s biggest takeaway is that you need to be in control of your lifestyle. Take chances and pursue your passions. When it comes to building wealth, learn to reel in your spending and focus on long-term goals over short-term wants.

    SEE ALSO: 8 types of people who will never be able to start a business

    SEE ALSO: The 27 jobs that are most damaging to your health

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    man silhouette

    As of this writing, I’m 22. In the last 12 months, I’ve generated a million dollars in commissions in one of the most competitive industries on the planet, where my average competitor is at least double my age with 10 times the tenure in the business.

    I have a master’s degree from a prestigious university, which I received when I was 20 after fast-tracking four years of school. I’ve traveled to more than 50 countries, completed 13 triathlons and have an extremely happy, stimulating life.

    Things are very good — but the future wasn’t always so bright.

    When I finished graduate school, I moved to California's Orange County to launch a new office for my family’s commercial real-estate business. The first couple of months were brutal, and I quickly came to the conclusion that the success we’d have (if any) would be astronomically more difficult than I could ever have imagined.

    Despite being an overachiever all my life, I found myself wondering how to truly excel in the real world when it all finally mattered.

    Related: 5 Ways Personal Growth Makes Your Business Stronger

    After reinventing the wheel for myself time and time again I’ve come to realize that the secret to millennial success in the business world is a combination of grit and creative thinking. Here are the seven mental shifts I implemented to turbo-charge my growth.

    1. Age is just a number.

    Embrace your youth wholeheartedly. If you spin your age as an asset, which can be done in a variety of ways, it can be an extremely powerful differentiator. The moment you begin to give yourself an excuse for not being successful is the moment of almost certain failure.

    If you believe you can really make it then you will make it. Besides, there is nothing people want to see more than a hard-working, intelligent and dedicated young professional who succeeds. Create a snowball of momentum that makes people want to be a part of your life.

    2. Reinvest in yourself.

    The safest investment I’ve ever made is in my future. Read at least 30 minutes a day, listen to relevant podcasts while driving and seek out mentors vigorously. You don’t just need to be a master in your field, you need to be a well-rounded genius capable of talking about any subject whether it is financial, political or sports related. Consume knowledge like air and put your pursuit of learning above all else.

    I also believe that it is critically important to spoil yourself to a healthy extreme in order to reward your hard work and avoid burnout. Consider splurging on memorable experiences and luxuries that will enhance your lifestyle. I get a weekly massage like clockwork, and it is one of the best productivity hacks I employ.

    3. Avoid decision fatigue.

    Attention is a finite daily resource and can be a bottleneck on productivity. No matter the mental stamina developed over time, there is always going to be a threshold where you break down and your remaining efforts for the day become suboptimal.

    Conserve your mental power by making easily reversible decisions as quickly as possible and aggressively planning recurring actions so you can execute simple tasks on autopilot. I know what I am wearing to work and eating for breakfast each day next week. Do you?

    Related: 7 Surprising Lessons About Success Learned From Interviewing More Than 65 Millionaires

    young man on laptop

    4. Build a resilient mind.

    The biggest differentiator between mediocrity and meteoric success is the ability to work productively for hours at a time. These long stretches are when important work is almost exclusively completed. Focus is paramount and, without intentionally developing mental stamina, you won’t be able to effectively compete with those who have systematically built up their endurance over decades in the business world.

    Fast track your skills by being mindful of distractions and recognizing when you begin to wander out of focus. Perform a thorough analysis of your daily activities each night and aggressively seek opportunities for improvement.

    5. Think big. Be big.

    The science behind goal setting and its remarkable ability to accelerate success is infallible. If you don’t already have your one-, five- and 10-year goals written out and visible to you on a daily basis, do so right now. I read mine the second I wake up every single morning. Now ask yourself, what would have to happen to accomplish your 10-year goals in just one year?

    The inherent power in maintaining consistency with your acknowledged goals can work both positively and negatively, and is cause for concern if you anchor yourself to a slower timeline of achievement. Be mindful and diligent in charting an optimal path that pushes you to your limit.

    6. Be methodical.

    Plan your work and then work your plan. Perhaps my biggest breakthrough was large-scale automation of my marketing systems. I created a process that allowed me to quintuple my marketing output while increasing my conversion rate considerably.

    The simplest way to put your own content plan in motion is to create a multi-step campaign that touches a prospect through a variety of different mediums every week for at least a month. Follow a logical order and craft your content in a persistent way, while never becoming annoying.

    Not in a sales role? You can take a similar approach to any analytical, creative or administrative position by developing rigid organizational systems that help improve your efficiency when faced with repetitive tasks.

    organized man with post its

    7. Believe in yourself.

    If not you, then who? Someone has to make it, and nothing is stopping you from being the person who accomplishes your wildest dreams. Nearly every person who has ever failed has had an excuse. Successful people have stories of the challenges that they overcame with creative solutions.

    The moment you confidently feel that there is nothing you can’t learn or develop to solve the most complex of problems is the moment of guaranteed greatness.

    If you still aren’t sure how to begin, start with a promise to work towards the achievement of consistent excellence each moment of every day. This is the basic building block and mentality with which I am building my career.

    Keep it simple and remember that success is not an entitlement. If you really want to excel, you have to get out there and earn it every day for the rest of your life.

    SEE ALSO: Why you should start a business in 2016

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    Join the conversation about this story »

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    In March 2012, Kristin Addis quit her job as an investment banker in Southern California to travel the world.

    Before she left, she'd been earning six figures a year, including commission. However, she wasn't happy with her lifestyle. "I thought there had to be more to life than that," she said.

    So she set out to find it.

    Less than a year later, Addis bought a one-way ticket to Bangkok, planning to travel overland through Southeast Asia. Since then, the now 29-year-old has largely stayed on the move, documenting her journey through her blog, Be My Travel Muse, and sharing the expertise she's gathered in her book, "Conquering Mountains: The Guide to Solo Female Travel," produced with Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt.

    Story by Libby Kane and editing by Jeremy Dreyfuss

    INSIDER IS ON FACEBOOK: Follow us here

    SEE ALSO: Check out the spectacular safari camp in Tanzania that draws celebrities like Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel

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    busy

    On top of a full-time job, I write for three publications, two of which are paid, one is my own. I just quit a digital marketing side gig of two years. I’m always working on a client website. I’m writing a fiction novella of 30,000 words. I’m designing the UI for an awesome app. I’m building a list of 250 interesting group questions for an ebook. I’m at 165 right now.

    Medium’s Ev Williams said you have to "do fewer things" in order to succeed. But to stop working on one of my projects would be like consciously choosing not to use one of my healthy arms. I’d forget and use it the next day without thinking.

    If I took Ev’s advice, I’d cut out everything and focus on doing just one of these projects. Instead, I’m keeping all of them.

    I look at it like an investment: Instead of putting all my eggs in one basket, I have a diversified portfolio of projects. Each one has the potential to scale quickly and overtake the others, but until one does, I’ll be working on all of them.

    Let’s call these two theories of early entrepreneurship the single-project approach and the multi-project approach.

    • The single-project approach is the disciplined focus on one project. One problem + 0ne solution = 0ne project. Hammer away.
    • The multi-project approach is the disciplined focus on diverse projects. Various problems + numerous solutions = many projects. Full plate.

    I used the word "disciplined" in both definitions purposely; it takes discipline to focus on just one project and it takes a different kind of discipline to focus on multiple projects. They look completely different.

    Single project entrepreneurs are told to say "no" to everything so they can stay focused. Cut your projects down to one and just do that one really well.

    To be a multi-project entrepreneur, it takes the ability to know when to say "no" and when to say "yes."

    If you can do it, the benefits of the multi-project approach are many. Here are some that I have experienced in my journey as a multi-project entrepreneur.

    juggler

    8 benefits of the multi-project approach

    1. Never burnout. I don’t limit my focus to one direction. If I’m sick of writing for a client, I design my app. If I don’t feel like looking at a screen, I get on the phone and call my development partner or another entrepreneur for inspiration. If I want to relax, I write my novel. If I only have 15 minutes, I think of questions for the ebook. I don’t limit myself to one creative outlet.
    2. Idea cross-pollination. Creativity is defined as making connections. What works for one project may work for another, achieving a sort of economy of scale. The tools, platforms, and connections I learned while working on one project I use for all my projects now — Slack, Basecamp, Reddit, and Medium, to name a few examples. One project involved learning Swift. It failed. But I learned how to better communicate with developers in three other projects.
    3. Network growth. I designed a physical journal. I’ve never designed a journal before. To learn how, I called a journal maker on Kickstarter in Brooklyn for advice. She directed me to her producer in San Francisco. The producer told me what I needed to research. Without this project, I would never have met them. Projects in different fields force you to meet people in those fields, forming a strong network that will help you later down the road.
    4. THE BEAUTIFUL MERGE. This is a huge benefit of multiple projects. The journal I designed failed as far as ecommerce. But it helped build the brand of the app I’m working on. I now have custom promo items ready to go when the app launches in a couple months. The beautiful merge is when one project rolls into another, and bolsters it, making effective use of both. A friend of mine developed a social networking app that had a strong release but faded into nothing. Instead of toiling to keep it alive, he copy and pasted the best bits of the code (and his experience) into another app project he is working on. Nothing wasted.
    5. Hyper-productivity. When I get a couple hours, I focus on one project at a time. When I hit a roadblock in one, I jump into another. My "breaks" are other projects. Example: I’m writing a blog on entrepreneurship. I don’t feel like searching the web for research, so I open my novel and pound out the next chapter. I lose my pace with the novel, so I swing over and write a 200-word book introduction for a friend who needs it by tomorrow. The deadline fuels me. The switching between projects keeps my focus high and fresh.
    6. Risk mitigation. If the one project you’re working on fails, you have to start all over. This is the same with investments. There’s less risk in a mutual fund than in a single company stock. With multiple projects in the hopper, when one fails, you have the other ones you’re working on to jump into, bringing the lessons with you.
    7. You learn to fail twice as fast. The more projects you work on, the less attached to your projects you become. The less attached you are to your projects, the better you can accept failure. The more failure you run into, the more lessons you learn. The more lessons you learn, the more likely you will succeed.
    8. More income streams. If your single project is non-paying, it will drain your time and your bank account. With the multi-project approach, I pay for my non-paying projects with my paying projects. Motivationally and financially, they play off of each other. I’ve been able to pay off my car loan and pay a development team for my app by selling digital marketing and writing services on the side.

    I’m not saying the multi-project approach is better than the single project approach. Both are needed. And it depends on who you are and what projects you’re working on. I just don’t want you to give up on (or never start) something that could be great because you are currently "buried" by another project. You can do both!

    But keep this in mind if you work on multiple projects at a time: You are in for the long play. And this is where the multi-project approach can be frustrating. It’s easy for a day to feel unproductive when I move three projects forward an inch instead of one project forward a mile. It takes discipline and patience as your projects grow slowly.

    It takes a certain type of personality to be so spread out. You must be action prone, with a thought process of ready-fire-aim. It will drive a perfectionist insane.

    Multi-project entrepreneurs will benefit by:

    • Mastering to-do lists and reminders to circle back.
    • Finding routines.
    • Eating well, sleeping well, and exercising well.
    • Teaming up and delegating as much as possible.
    • Drawing your plate. Try it. Grab a pen and piece of paper. The paper is your "plate." Fill in the plate with your projects as smaller circles proportional to their importance and urgency. Use this as a visual guide to know where you are and to help you prioritize.

    SEE ALSO: The 27 jobs that are most damaging to your health

    DON'T MISS: This simple realization could make you a much happier person

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    Natasa Lekic

    In 2011, at age 29, I left my job as managing editor of a book publisher in New York.

    My boyfriend, who was working as a trader, covered everything while I figured out my next step: the apartment, living expenses, healthcare. (A $50,000 publishing salary in New York doesn't allow for much in savings.)

    I ended up wasting a lot of time. I interviewed for jobs I didn't want, studied for the GMAT halfheartedly, and built my first start-up in the children's entertainment industry — which failed in five months.

    By January 2013, our finances weren't pretty. We didn't have debt, but to stay afloat, I needed to start making $2,500 per month.

    I decided to focus on an industry I knew well: book publishing. I thought, if self-publishing is the future, what will independent authors need? Marketing and editing. I didn't know anything about marketing, but I knew everything about editing.

    There was an opportunity in the space. Tons of freelance editors are available online, but only a small percentage of them have any real experience. Most authors pay thousands of dollars for an edit, only to end up unhappy with the results.

    Through my old job, I was connected to some of the best editors in the industry, veterans who could actually make a difference to authors. NY Book Editors was going to give authors the same editing experience they could get from a Penguin Random House or any of the big publishers.

    To work with the right editors, I needed to convince some of the most well-respected people in the industry to join a start-up they'd never heard of.

    Every time I met an editor at a coffee shop, I expected them to laugh at the idea of freelancing for this dinky new website. These were established editors who had worked on the big books of our time, the NY Times bestsellers and award-winners. Why would they associate themselves with this new site?

    To my surprise, virtually all the editors wanted to work with us. They weren't strangers to freelancing — they freelanced occasionally for friends of agents or publishers. And that was the problem. Only authors with connections to the literary world had access to these editors.

    NY Book Editors was proposing a more democratic approach. Through us, all authors could submit their work to the most sought-after editors. Editors would then decide which projects were the best fit.

    For an editor, the greatest joy and the best results come from working on projects they love.

    Once the editors were on board, finding authors became another issue.

    Starting NY Book Editors cost about $80. I built the site, paid $20 per month to Squarespace for hosting, and took an SEO class for $60. Thanks to that class, I designed a map to get out of writer's block, which went viral, got 46,000 notes on Tumblr, and helped clients find us.

    Three months later, the site had a profit of $8,000. It was less than I'd earned in publishing, and I was working harder than ever before. The fact was, I didn't know how to prioritize, what to focus on.

    In the mad rush of those early days, I did the craziest thing you can imagine. I spent every dollar I'd earned on one course: Ramit Sethi's $100,000 Summit, a two-day summit in New York which taught entrepreneurs how to set up and grow their business. We all know how to make a resume and apply for jobs, but how on earth do you grow a business? Figuring out how to find the right clients and deliver the most value to them required a practical education from someone who had done it.

    NY Book Editors is now a business that runs smoothly by focusing on editing services which help authors progress. We have a network of experienced editors and copyeditors who freelance on projects they love.

    Some of our authors have had six-figure publishing deals, two have received seven-figure movie deals, others go on to self-publish. All of our authors have one thing in common: They hold their books to a high standard.

    Natasa&Nikhil_IndiaIt costs between $1,000 and $7,000 to get an edit, depending on the length of the book and the type of edit it needs. Only authors who have completed a draft of their manuscript are ready for an edit.

    Our clients are professionals from diverse fields who know they have a book in them, from lawyers to real estate agents. Many of our clients wake up at 5 a.m., before their workday, to write for an hour or two. I'm in awe of them. They have busy schedules and they manage to write books in their spare time. We've had 215 clients, many of whom come back for another edit.

    In 2015, NY Book Editors' revenue is up to $55,000 per month.

    I have a normal workweek — 40 hours. It's surprising how much you can accomplish when you don't have many meetings and office chats.

    My role is to improve our systems, from how we communicate with clients to what kind of services we provide, to our marketing, publicity, affiliate partnerships, and I continue to meet with editors to seek out the leaders in the industry.

    What's different these days? I'm happier now, more at ease with myself, and confident. I can go to a restaurant and order without calculating the bill in advance. My boyfriend is also free to pursue his ideas. These days, I'm supporting him as he starts his own business.

    The best advice I can give to anyone who wants to start a business is to stop thinking about yourself. Think about the person you're trying to help, whether it's an author, a dog owner, or an ACT student.  Take the time to really understand their problems — then solve them. Not only will you end up with a healthy business, you'll be blown away by the support and gratitude of your customers.

    Natasa Lekic is the founder of NY Book Editors, a book editing service where authors are matched with experienced editors from the Big-5 publishers. Natasa believes every author has a unique story that can inform, inspire, and entertain readers. Follow her on Twitter @nybookeditors.

    SEE ALSO: After burning out at work, I quit my steady job and started a freelance writing career that now earns 6 figures a year

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    winding road

    Our society craves instant gratification -- we want things now and we want them fast.

    We are able to rent movies on demand, use our smartphones to have a personal driver waiting outside within minutes and Chipotle’s Twitter feed goes nuclear if someone has to wait in line for more than a couple minutes to get their burrito.

    Entrepreneurship is much cooler than it was years ago, with entrepreneurs seen as modern-day rock stars.

    The thought of being an entrepreneur is extremely appealing, which has led to an onslaught of products and courses with names similar to:

    • How to Earn Six-Figures in Six Weeks
    • Build a Six-Figure Online Empire on Your Laptop Working at the Beach
    • Make Money 24/7 While Your Sleep With This Automated System
    • Become Your Own Boss and Make Millions by Tomorrow

    Related: The Hard Truth of Entrepreneurship: You Will Suffer

    The truth is, entrepreneurship is hard -- it’s hard as s**t.

    There are no shortcuts or magic formulas to make piles of cash appear in your bank account overnight. You have to work ridiculously hard and anyone telling you different is trying to sell you something.

    So why are there so many deceiving products and courses to lure in, and eventually disappoint, aspiring entrepreneurs? It relates to the very first sentence in this article -- instant gratification. Would there be excitement and interest for course and product titles such as:

    • Work Several Years for Little to No Pay
    • How to Get 3 Hours of Sleep a Night and Constantly Be Stressed
    • Quit Your 9-5 Job and Work Twice as Hard
    • Learn How to Secure a Non-Guaranteed Paycheck Overnight

    Those titles wouldn’t sell because they wouldn’t excite anyone. Would entrepreneurship be a sexy topic if there were stories published daily about all the failures and crushed dreams? Not a chance. Instead, unicorn startups that receive billion-dollar pre-revenue valuations are featured.

    Related: 4 Things I Learned After My First Year as an Entrepreneur

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again -- the truth about entrepreneurship isn’t mentioned nearly enough. Entrepreneurs need to know it’s going to be hard and quick success is rare.

    You have to go in fully understanding failure is possible.

    Entrepreneurs are brave individuals -- knowing that there are no guarantees and putting it all on the line takes guts. Without risk, there is no reward and I would go as far as to say that you should embrace failure. You don’t want to expect it, but fully understand that it’s a possibility and be committed to learn from it if you do experience it.

    You have to be willing to put in the work.

    While a lot of courses and programs being sold promise minimal work, it just isn’t reality. Sure, there are rare exceptions, but ask most successful entrepreneurs how their days looked when they were just starting out and I'm willing to bet that they included heading into the office before the sun was up and leaving well after it went back down. 

    You have to be willing to work. Everyone has the time, but not everyone is willing to dedicate it to building a business. Gary Vaynerchuk said it best -- “Stop watching f***ing Lost … if you want this. If you want bling bling. If you want to buy the Jets. If you want to do s**t. Work. That’s how you get it.”

    You have to be willing to constantly learn.

    A successful entrepreneur is never done learning -- he or she is constantly looking to absorb information and insight. Even with little to no free time, a successful entrepreneur is making time to read books, network with like-minded people and establish relationships with mentors and influencers. There is no "off" switch, especially when it comes to learning.

    Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, but amazing things can happen when you understand that overnight success is rare and you are ready to work your ass off.

    Related: There Are Many Things That Suck About Being an Entrepreneur, But It's Totally Worth It

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    joy mangano

    There's been a lot of buzz around Joy Mangano lately, the famed creator of the Miracle Mop, a widely recognized household product.

    That's probably because she's the inspiration behind "Joy," the new film directed by David O. Russell ("American Hustle,""Silver Linings Playbook") — starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. While Mangano's trials have earned her recent fame in Hollywood, she's had to weather more than two decades of business ownership to get there. 

    Against the odds, she found success with the invention of a self-wringing mop, which she marketed through the television sales giant QVC. Now, more than 25 years later, her company, Ingenious Designs, has topped $150 million in annual revenue. (To date, she's generated about $3 billion in her career.)

    It all started back in 1991. "At that time, it appeared to be insanity," Mangano recalls, "to stand there and say, 'I have an invention. I'm a single, young mom — and I'm going to go after this.'"

    Fast-forward to 2016 — when, on January 9, Mangano relaunches her signature products. This time, she's partnering with such major retailers as Macy's, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and the Container Store. 

    "Joy" is a partly fictional film, but it borrows heavily from Mangano's emotional experiences and business journey. Some of her hardships depicted in the film are based in truth. In one scene, the entrepreneur discovers that her mold makers have stolen her patent.

    "When people in the businesses around [you] smell success, they can capture it and take it away if you're naive enough, if you're not strong enough," says Mangano, referring to her early suppliers. 

    "Many people don't have that fight in them," she continues. "This is the moment when you have to say: 'I'm going to really, really take a position here.' It's almost an out-of-body experience. I have to become somebody else in mentality."

    The infomercial titan and business icon offers some key takeaways about starting and running a business based on your own inventions:

    1. Selling on TV is a more personable approach, but retail gives you a different kind of reach.

    The relaunch of Mangano's product line signifies a somewhat unsettling shift for the entrepreneur. 

    "For 25 years, I've been standing in front of America," says Mangano. "I was able to narrate and be the storyteller of my product. Now, it'll be on the shelves — where I'm not there to grab it and tell consumers myself about the features and benefits."

    Those who've seen "Joy" may recall a pivotal scene where the inventor, played by Jennifer Lawrence, levels with the head of QVC, played by Bradley Cooper. "Who showed you the mop?" she asks. "Who sold it to you? Who taught you how to use it?" Her insistence is what convinces him to take a chance on the mop in the movie.

    Now, in lieu of her voice, Mangano will be relying on packaging to tell the same story. She hopes that a warm, purple theme — complete with chalk drawings on the wrapping — will convey the depth and true identity behind her products. 

    She adds that as customers are increasingly flocking to the internet (and away from television), embracing traditional retail, rather than selling exclusively through HSN, was an important business move.

    2. To successfully market your brand, identify and understand your core consumers.

    Mangano is quick to praise the changing landscape of entrepreneurship in America — especially as the internet continues to create more channels of commerce. But with great promise comes greater competition.

    "The path has changed dramatically," she says. "You can find a product, and be aware of all the other products out there in just seconds. That's a very attractive method for companies and consumers. At the same time, it also creates a lot of competition."

    Mangano has been able to stay afloat primarily because she identifies her target customer (someone looking for a simple solution to domestic problems) and markets her brand accordingly.

    jennifer lawrence

    3. The journey to entrepreneurial success is a lot longer than two hours.

    When asked if she would change anything about Russell's adaptation of her business story, Mangano laughs. "I would have made it five hours," she quips.

    Joy has seen considerable financial success; the movie was the third best-selling movie of the 2015 holiday season, bringing in $17.5 million in box office sales during the first weekend. It's worth noting, however, that film critics have been more lukewarm. Variety's Justin Chang, for instance, writes:

    Despite another solid performance from Jennifer Lawrence, anchoring Russell's sincerely felt tribute to the power of a woman's resolve in a man's world, it's hard not to wish Joy were better — that its various winsome parts added up to more than a flyweight product that still feels stuck in the development stages.

    Mangano brushes off the negative reception and likens it to a fussy customer.

    "It [the film] was such a love letter to me, to women, and to anybody who has a dream," she says. "If you get it, you get it." 

    4. Women entrepreneurs can get ahead (even in spite of themselves).

    The odds of reaching success for a woman in business may be better than they were in the '90s, but it's clear that society still has a long way to go. Women-owned companies make up just one-third of all businesses in the U.S., according to a 2014 Kauffman report.

    That may have something to do with a woman's failure to believe in herself.

    "It's common for people to start questioning themselves," says Mangano. "As a female, I'm going to offer the advice I gave myself: You look at your strengths, you look at your goals, and accept that you are who you are. Be true to that."

    She also peppers in some tough love for entrepreneurs: "Don't be afraid to have a reality check. Taking risks is OK, but you must be realistic." 

    SEE ALSO: Young professionals are afraid they won't be able to get ahead — and they might be right

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: TONY ROBBINS: How to pull yourself out of a funk


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    wef entrepreneurs

    Each year The Schwab Foundation searches the globe for outstanding social innovators, with business models that are proven to drive social and environmental change. 

    So what qualities do Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneurs share?

    And what can they tell us about great leadership?

    SEE ALSO: The dean of London Business School shares 4 skills you need to become a global leader

    1Great leaders have integrity. 

    Christie Peacock, Founder and Chair of Sidai Africa: “People have to believe in you, and believe that you’re true to the vision. So you have to do that in the way that you live and work, and your actions must match your words.”



    2. Great leaders don’t put up with poor performance.

    Duncan Maru from Possible knows you’re only as good as your team: “Anyone running an organization understands how important talent is. But many early stage social enterprises are impatient, cut corners on hiring, or don’t transition people out quickly enough when things are not working. You need to be aggressive and brutally honest about your talent pool.”



    3. Great leaders don’t underestimate the value of trust. 

    Take time at the start to build trust into public-private collaborations, says Ernest Darkoh, founding partner of BroadReach Healthcare: “You have to invest time upfront before you can begin to action anything meaningful.”



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    man with cameraDo you really have more freedom as an entrepreneur than as an employee?

    The answer: Yes and no.

    The primary complaint with the typical 9-to-5 schedule is that it simply leaves you too freaking tired to do anything personally fulfilling after work. From the moment you wake up, to the moment you go to bed, you’re in constant motion, either preparing to show up somewhere, plowing through something or preparing to leave.

    When I became fully self-employed, I thought I would be able to fix all the glaring problems with the "employee schedule" by simply doing the opposite of what I didn’t like. Well, I’m here to tell you that these proposed solutions did not work out like I thought they would. Not even close, actually.

    Here are three lies I was told about entrepreneurial life. How many of these do you believe?

    1. You’ll get to sleep in.

    You might think to yourself, "6 a.m. is too early to wake up! When I’m my own boss, I’ll make my own schedule and wake up when I feel like it!"

    The truth: If you read biographies or stories about the world’s most successful people, you’ll hear over and over again that they get up at INSANE hours like 3 and 4 a.m. to start working. You may even think that even if you stayed up late, as long as you get sleep, it doesn't really matter when you get up the next day. Eight hours is 8 hours, right?

    Wrong.

    Unfortunately, getting up early makes a huge difference. Waking up at 5 or 6 a.m. allows you to have an entirely different day than waking up at 10 a.m., simply because you're getting a four or five-hour jump on projects when you're primed to be most productive.

    Benjamin Franklin was right when he said "early to bed, early to rise … makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."

    And that really sucks … because everyone loves sleeping in.

    Unfortunately, entrepreneurs can't.

    2. You’ll have more free time to work on side projects.

    You might think, "I don’t have any time to work on hobbies/skills/projects I enjoy. When I work for myself, I’ll make time in the middle of the day to do things that are important. There’s no boss here except me!"

    The truth: You may be convinced that once you control your own schedule, you'll be able to do what you want, when you want, and fit everything else in around that. To an extent, that is true. You do have some flexibility in your day most of the time.

    But (and this is a big "but"), you're still accountable to many people. In fact, entrepreneurs are probably accountable to more people those with regular jobs. Even though you don’t have a boss, you'll have clients, partners, and colleagues who depend on you daily to help them with things.

    And that’s something worth thinking about. Even if you ditch your boss, you’ll still need the support of other people to make it on your own. Nobody is an island.

    Additionally, since you don’t have set work hours, any time and all the time can be working hours. If something comes up, you have to handle it. There’s no calling in sick and having someone do your job. It’s all you.

    Most days, you won’t have a gigantic block of free time in the middle of the day to do whatever you want. You may not be stuck in a cubicle, but you'll still be busy working.

    So, while nobody can tell you can't work on your passion projects, it’s not a free-for-all. Lots of things still have to get done and, just like a regular working Joe, you need to make sure you're meeting your obligations.

    (PS — When I do work on my own hobbies/pursuits, I always use the Seinfeld Solution.)

    3. You’ll be more comfortable working from home.

    You might think, "It’s so hard to stay focused at work. I’d love to be able to work somewhere quiet and comfortable, like my bed. When I have my own business, pajamas for work every day!"

    The truth: Working from home, especially from the comfort of your PJs, is a perk that infomercial kingpins have touted about self-employment for years. "Imagine the thrill of working from home!"

    The reality is that for many people, working from home sucks. Not because it’s not enjoyable, but because you simply can’t get anything done at home. Between the TV flickering in the background, the fridge calling your name and the dog running around, productive work time can be a challenge.

    You may find that you have to leave the house just to get anything done.

    Now, don't get me wrong. Self-employment is still amazing, and I wouldn't trade it for the world. The upsides definitely outweigh the downsides.

    Daniel DiPiazza is the Founder of Rich20Something, where he writes about starting a business you care about, living a happier life, and occasionally, bacon. If you liked this article, be sure to join the Tribe by signing up for his free newsletter.

    SEE ALSO: The top 10 skills that will be in demand by all employers by 2020

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    sallie krawcheck

    I spent the past couple of decades of my career at big companies and am now an entrepreneur.

    My team and I are in the midst of building Ellevest, a digital investment platform for women.

    As I’ve made my transition, I’ve gotten a lot of advice, all of it well-meaning. And some of it was bad. Some of it really bad. Here’s the worst of it:

    "Don’t start Ellevest. You don’t want to limit your business to a niche market." Women? A niche? Seriously?

    "Don’t start Ellevest. If you do, you won’t be able to come back to corporate America once you leave it." First of all, so what? And since when did expanding one’s skillset and experiences become a negative?

    "Don’t start Ellevest. You will fail. Other people have tried, and they have failed. If it were possible to get women to invest, one of those other guys would have been successful." Um, seriously?

    "Ok, now that you’re going to start Ellevest, raise money at a high valuation, because you can." That may work, up until it’s time to raise the next round. And then it might have been a terrible decision. This doesn’t take into account a more important factor – I would say a much more important factor – which is who the investor is, whether they buy into the vision, and what their time horizon is.

    I took money at a lower valuation than was on offer by others, in order to partner with the group I felt like was the right lead investor for us, Morningstar.

    "You know ‘everybody’ in the investing industry. Go hire the best of them." Yes, I do know a lot of folks. But my old industry has been successful in doing things in a certain way – and if that way worked well for women, it would have already worked well for women.

    So I hired just a few people from my old industry – and I spent a lot a lot a lot of time with them making sure they could embrace a different approach. I hired many more from outside the industry, in order to bring new thinking to bear on the issue of how to build an investing experience that women will embrace.

    "You know the answer to this, Sallie, given your experience in the business. Move fast, build the product and get it out in time for the new year." Going in, I had about ten hypotheses as to what holds women back from investing. Each of the ten was as strongly held as the other ten. My team and I committed to testing each of them – my new mantra is "Why debate something when we can test it?" We started down one road – that women would want to learn about their investing style before investing – and changed course quickly when the women told us that was not the case.

    Also nixed: that women would want to be part of an investing community. So we won’t launch by the new year, but we strongly believe co-creating this platform with the women themselves will drive a much, much better product and experience.

    SEE ALSO: Sallie Krawcheck explains how she got over not being liked by everyone

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Jeff Bezos

    It's common for a person's first job to be at McDonalds. It can be a stepping stone to significantly higher profile gigs, so why not see whose examples you can follow?

    The company has employed several people we now now know as singers, actors, or successful business people — even Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos once worked at the fast-food giant.

    We've compiled a list of some of the most successful people who can call themselves McDonalds alumni.

    Rachel McAdams

    By her own admission, McAdams wasn't a great employee.

    "I'm not sure why they kept me: I am something of a daydreamer and a dawdler, so they would only let me be the 'friendly voice' that greeted you when you entered the restaurant," she told the Huffington Post.



    Jay Leno

    Leno used to work at the McDonald's on Main Street in Andover, Massachusetts in the early '70s.



    Fred Durst

    Before joining Limp Bizkit, he was working in the morning shift at a McDonald’s restaurant in Florida.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    reading

    We all like to be inspired.

    That’s a universal truth, we all like to hear, see and engage in things that allow us to experience a paradigm shift or encourage a change in our thinking. It gives us a certain degree of motivation, and it can mean the difference between giving up on what we want to do and persevering.

    But there’s an industry of inspiration. An industry that thrives on badly written and often vapid truisms that just aren’t useful. An industry of books.

    There are some great books on business out there. And the good ones are easy to recognize. They’re well written, well thought out and highly practical.

    If you’ve ever read "The Lean Startup" by Eric Ries, you’ll know that’s the benchmark. Same goes for "The Hard Thing About Hard Things," by Ben Horowitz. When you read books like that, there’s enough hard learning and clear, actionable techniques to guide any dedicated business through validation and product development.

    The bad ones are a whole other breed. Spend a good 10 minutes browsing the business or management sections of any larger book store and you’ll uncover tomes of knowledge that are priced around $50 and will never help you grow a business.

    They’re full of crap. They’re overblown, over-hyped, and full of useless anecdotes that have very little to do with real advice and actionable lessons. They’re the literature equivalent of cheap stock photos full of old dudes in suits.

    I categorize most of these books as Cheese Relocation Management Spell Books. They use all kinds of analogies that are intended to make executives spend a bucket-load of money on consultants and seminars. And they have about as much hard data and insight as a fictional wizard’s spell books.

    When you read them, you find old school corporate "synergy" speak dressed up in innovation’s clothing. Give up on them, and give up on them early. Here’s how to spot them:

    Analogies and metaphors instead of case studies and data

    Great books will cover, in detail, the real-life business cases that the author’s management, economic, or start-up theories are based on.

    The bad books will try and use imaginative and wise-sounding stories or analogies to laboriously illustrate their points. It’s complicated, vague, and sounds incredibly wise whilst not giving any direction worth a dime.

    Name-dropping instead of citing results or research

    If every management consultant who’s ever written a book was truly contracted by Microsoft, we’d have to wonder if Redmond has stopped hiring people internally. Look, I’m not calling anyone out here, but it shouldn’t matter in the first place.

    If an author wants to convince me of his or her credentials, he or she is going to have to do more than show me a resume. The author needs to either demonstrate that he or she is an expert in the field or show me the results of his or her work.

    Carly Fiorina, I’m looking at you  —  being CEO of HP counts for nada when the results of your work are publicly available. If you ever write a book, don’t expect me to read it.

    Management-speak instead of plain language

    Synergy is not a thing, people. It’s just not. It means nothing and it says nothing. Unfortunately, it’s just one of a hundred words or phrases that sound super business-y but don’t really express a point or help to explain important concepts.

    When the business book you’re reading relies on these words either for filler or because the writer doesn’t know how to express him- or herself without spouting crap, you’re wasting your time.

    Fool-proof formulas or "silver bullets" instead of real lessons

    There’s no shortcut in life or business. There’s no easy path to success, and if a book is trying to sell you one, or is trying to teach you the formula to Google’s rise, you’d have a more productive afternoon tearing it up than reading it.

    Jon Westenberg is a start-up inspired entrepreneur, comedian, writer, critic.

    SEE ALSO: Imitating the habits of successful people is ultimately pointless

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Two Monkeys Travel   Sailing in Maldives.JPG

    Kach Medina and Jonathan Howe met in Luang Prabang, Laos, in 2013.

    Medina, 27, originally from the Philippines, and Howe, 31, originally from the UK, have been traveling together ever since.

    "People are curious about how we fund our travels," says Medina. "If you're Asian traveling the world, it's not very common. If you go abroad, it's to work and not to travel — that's the mentality. But now some people assume that Jonathan has a pot of gold hiding somewhere, or a trust fund or something."

    Howe has neither. Instead, the pair makes a point of continually developing skills that help them find work wherever they land next.

    They document their adventures on their website, Two Monkeys Travel, and on their Instagram, @Kach2Monkeys.

    Here, they explain how they afford it.

    SEE ALSO: A couple who ditched their 9-5 jobs years ago to travel the world explain how they afford it

    Medina and Howe started their nomadic lifestyle together in Hanoi, Vietnam, teaching English for about $3,500 a month.

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    Northern Vietnam!:)



    "I only knew what I was doing as far as teaching English," says Howe. "I didn't have a long-term plan. I didn't know what would happen."

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    #snorkling in #maldives Awesome and clear beach! Have you been?



    Next, they headed to India to get certified in Ayurveda massage and Tantra Yoga, a process that took about three months.

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    Holi Festival and beach yoga!!:)



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