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The latest news on Entrepreneurship from Business Insider

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    Jack Dorsey and Jim McKelvey

    Square co-founder Jim McKelvey is also a glassblowing artist who got frustrated when he couldn't sell one of his signature glass faucets to a customer with a credit card.

    That moment launched the idea behind Square, one of the most recent tech IPOs and a 2013 Inc "Most Audacious Company." 

    Jim is also an economics major, computer scientist and Missouri native.

    Even before Square, he was well known for sharing what he learns. (He wrote his first textbook before he was 20.)

    Jim sat down with a group of startup innovators and investors at 36|86 South in Nashville this week to talk about what he's learning on the entrepreneurial journey. Which of these resonates most with you?

    1. Don't invent when you can integrate

    "Most technology is already here," he says, "It's just not properly applied. In fact, the technology keeps moving so fast, every time we get a new technology, we enable a new communication." (To see the kind of thing he's talking about,  check out how artificial intelligence is reinventing how you relate to computers.)

    2. Luck is a big factor — but  no one knows how big

    "The problem with taking advice from someone who's been successful is, you don't know how much of it is luck." He says, "A lot of what I've done is because I am hardworking, smart — and also lucky. There's no way for me to tell how much of the stuff I've done that's been successful has been because my principles, my philosophies, or my luck."

    Jim says listen to the successful folks, but listen skeptically. "They will tell you what they think — but to someone who has been lucky, it doesn't feel like luck."

    3. "Invention is the last resort

    You have to invent little bits — but generally, you can avoid it by just putting rails around the technology that's already here."

    4. "My general rule is no one wants to hear about your success

    You don't want to sit next to a super successful person at dinner. You want to sit next to the guy in the body cast; he's got a good story." So when you want to tell a good story, dig deep and be real transformation is more interesting than self congratulation.

    5. "Fintech is different from most startups 

    ... Because a great team, a great idea, and resources are all you need in most startups. In fintech, you need a fourth component permission." Jim related that Square was violating probably 20 different rules — Mastercard's, Visa's, you name it, he said. "We got it up and running but we did not have permission to do it legally. It took us 18 months and two obsessive founders to get the regulations changed or actually comply with them."

    6. "Most of the best programmers are self taught

    It does not take four years of college education to become a programmer," he asserts. "Yet, if you try to get a job as a self-taught programmer without a degree, you won't get it." 

    Jim founded Launchcode, a jobs program now in six cities, to credentialize new programmers and help them get great jobs without the four year hassle. He also pointed out that even some good name colleges have programming degrees that aren't practical or tactical enough to add value in the real world.

    7. Live on the venture frontier if you can

    "There is a game at a super high level where you need the best people in the world and massive amounts of money. That game is played in Silicon Valley. We have unfilled jobs at Square that pay $10 million. We tried to open Square in St. Louis, but we realize we couldn't hire fast enough for Square without killing the other companies. So we closed that office." 

    However, Jim points out that, "Very few companies need to play at that level. If you don't need to play at that level, it's much better to get a start in a city where housing is affordable and you can have a life." One of the examples he shared about the quality of life outside of Silicon Valley was around education. "Good luck hiring someone in Silicon Valley who has kids, because the educational system is so broken even the rich people can't buy a good education. The positive dynamics of starting in a city with more normal is profound."

    8. Pay attention to timing

    "So much of my life, I've practiced how," he shared. "Knowing 'how to do it' is what we drill into people. It profoundly changed my life to realize that when you do that right thing is also just as important, if not more."

    He related a story of learning to put a foot on a glass vase, a skill he practiced for 15 years and was pretty good at. But when the best glassblower in the world showed him, he realized it wasn't just about the execution pattern, but also the precise timing, that made all the difference between a good-enough and an astonishingly beautiful result.  

    "Jim speaks to the core of the entrepreneurial experience in areas like the Southeast," says Charlie Brock, executive director of LaunchTN, which hosted the conversation. Jim was among a number of speakers,  like managing partner Scott Kupor of Andreessen Horowitz and Tyson Clark of Google Ventures, who shared openly on venture capital trends

    "Jim's comments underscored so many of the reasons why next generation technology is growing so well here in Tennessee. It's one of the top places in the United States to start and build a business."LaunchTN's network has accelerated over 500 companies and Tennessee startups have attracted over a billion in funding since LaunchTN's founding four years ago.

    SEE ALSO: YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki: 'If you are working 24/7, you’re not going to have any interesting ideas'

    DON'T MISS: Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey says these 7 books changed his life

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: These sleep gadgets promise to beat insomnia — here's how effective they actually are


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    home office

    What do Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Disney, and Hewlett-Packard all have in common?

    Aside from being multi-billion dollar corporations today, all six of these respected firms were started in the founder’s garage.

    These sterling examples show it's entirely possible to launch a business from one's home, and not only possible, but sometimes the smart choice when capital is low.

    SEE ALSO: An entrepreneur and investor gives his best 3 pieces of advice for people who want to start a business

    Starting a successful home business

    Many firms started in garages, basements, or living rooms before they moved to formal office buildings.

    At the same time, though, many others have failed to move beyond this initial stage. The difference lies partly in how serious the founders are about their businesses.

    If you want to be successful and reach the point where you can grow and establish a permanent office location, you’ll need to implement and follow these five tips.



    1. Understand the rules and regulations

    Every region has its own requirements with regard to what classifies a business and where a company may be located. Your due diligence will include checking with city and county regulations as well as neighborhood bylaws to make sure you aren’t breaking any rules with the kind of business you plan to launch.

    You can use the US Small Business Administration's permit tool to find out more about the licenses and permits required in your area. These may include any or all of the following: general business license, professional and trade license, home occupation permit, sales tax permit, health and safety permits, sign permits, construction permits, and undoubtedly more.

    The last thing you want is for your business to get into full swing, only to have someone come and shut it down.



    3. Set up a secluded office

    Every home business needs a home office. Although you might pack boxes or manufacture product in your garage or basement, there also has to be a secluded space where you can get work done without being distracted.

    You don’t have to go overboard with the space, but do what you can to make it your own. A home office that's both functional and stylish could increase productivity and output.

    It will also give your business a more professional feel. Don’t spend a ton of money on an office early in the process, but definitely address this aspect sooner rather than later.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    At Business Insider, we believe that success in business is about more than the bottom line.

    Great business leaders and companies don't just make money. They create value. And they create value for many constituencies, not just shareholders.

    4x3 the creatorsSpecifically, great business leaders and companies create value for shareholders, customers, employees, and society.

    Most celebrations of business success don't acknowledge this. Instead, they judge success by wealth or stock performance or other financial criteria. The more money you make, the implication is, the better and more successful you are.

    We believe this cheapens the mission and sense of purpose that many great business leaders bring to their companies and products. And it certainly undersells their inspiring accomplishments.

    At Business Insider, we believe the most successful and inspiring leaders create value in four specific ways:

    • They create great products and services that improve people's lives.
    • They create rewarding, inspiring, and dynamic work environments and treat (and pay) their employees well.
    • They treat society and the environment with respect.
    • And, yes, they generate good returns for shareholders.

    In short, great leaders and companies make the world a better place.

    To celebrate many of these inspiring people and success stories, we're pleased to debut the Business Insider 100: The Creators.

    Read more stories about the 100 business visionaries who are creating value for the world.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Sal Khan: Educating the world — for free


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    Kim Jordan New Belgium Brewing Company

    Twenty-five years after founding New Belgium Brewing Company, Kim Jordan still has pinch-me moments.

    From 1991 to 2015, Jordan (No. 12 on the BI 100: The Creators) was CEO of New Belgium, which she built into one of the US's largest craft breweries, with $225 million in annual revenue.

    The company's success isn't uniquely Jordan's. Since 2013, New Belgium has been 100% employee-owned, which helped solidify Jordan's intent to engage her coworkers in each facet of the business.

    In an interview with Business Insider, Jordan, who's now executive chair, discussed the road to employee ownership and how sustainability has been a crucial building block of New Belgium's success.

    From basement to brewery

    As the story goes, the creation of New Belgium stemmed from a trip Jordan's then husband, Jeff Lebesch, took to Belgium in 1988. As he cruised through the streets on a fat-tire bike and stopped to taste local beers, Lebesch yearned to bring the flavors of Belgian beer back to the US.

    Three years later, Jordan, a social worker, and Lebesch, an electrical engineer, installed brewing equipment in the basement of their home in Fort Collins, Colorado. By the summer of 1991, they were selling their two flagship Belgian-style brews, Abbey and Fat Tire, at local beer festivals on the weekends.

    At the outset, consumer interest in New Belgium was driven by a void in the market, Jordan said.

    "When we started, there was no one in Fort Collins making packaged beer," Jordan said. You couldn't go to a store and buy craft beer to take home. They decided to specialize in 22-ounce bottles of beer, and the cash flow followed.

    In their first year of home brewing, New Belgium earned $150,000 in revenue.

    Despite the early signs of success, neither Jordan nor Lebesch had quit their day jobs yet. In October 1992, after more than a year of home brewing, the pair finally moved New Belgium from their basement into its first official location in Old Town Fort Collins and took the company on full time.

    Introducing employee ownership

    In February 1992, months before relocating to the first brewery location, New Belgium hired Brian Callahan — now the company's longest-serving employee aside from Jordan — and gave him a "10% pot of sweat equity" in the company.

    By the end of the year, New Belgium was growing fast and hiring bottlers, brewers, and engineers.

    New Belgium Brewing Company employees 2013

    With a growing team and a booming new business, Jordan said she wanted to create a plan for the succession of the company.

    After reading "The Great Game of Business," a book by management expert Jack Stack, Jordan felt inspired by Stack's urge to apply open-book management, the practice of full financial and business transparency within the company.

    "It spoke to my desire to have broadly shared awareness of the business and of running the business," Jordan said. "The inclination to have as flat a hierarchy as we could manage and a really trusting, transparent, engaged group of coworkers was really important to me."

    In 1995, Jordan began teaching employees about financial statements and enlisting their input for annual planning and long-term strategy. "It was a very collaborative process with a lot of consensus," she said. But she quickly realized that if employees had a say in the company, they should also have a stake in it, and the first iteration of New Belgium employee ownership was born.

    Going forward, every employee was formally awarded stock in New Belgium upon their first anniversary at the company.

    Becoming 100% employee-owned

    In 2000, with a workforce of 90 employees, New Belgium officially transitioned to an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), a type of retirement plan that awards employees stock in the company to be distributed upon their exit. The new ESOP purchased Callahan's 10% slice, as well as a portion of Jordan's and Lebesch's shares, bringing employee-ownership to 32%.

    A year later, Lebesch left New Belgium to pursue other interests, but it wasn't until 2009 when the couple divorced that New Belgium's board of directors urged Jordan to keep control of the company in the hands of those directly involved with it. New Belgium purchased Lebesch's remaining shares and retired them, bringing the ESOP total to 41%.

    updated 25 years of New Belgium graphic

    The employee-ownership saga culminated in late 2012, when Jordan and the board of directors decided the best next step for the company would be to place it fully in the hands of employees.

    Jordan sold the remaining 59% of the company— her shares, her two sons' shares, and the management's shares — to the ESOP, making New Belgium officially 100% employee-owned.

    She announced the sale to more than 450 "thrilled" employees at New Belgium's annual company retreat in January 2013.

    Though the sale signified a huge shift on paper, Jordan said, "nothing changed, because we had this culture that we call 'high-involvement culture' deeply embedded within the organization for a very, very long time."

    That sets New Belgium apart from other iconic craft breweries, such as Dogfish Head and Lagunitas, which have sold stakes to outside investors. Jordan's sale to the ESOP represents a conscious effort to fight the wealth gap, avoid cuts and layoffs a buyer might have demanded, and keep her employees involved in the future of the company.

    "We still expect our coworkers to give us input, rather than feedback, on where the company should be going, both annually and in a longer term," Jordan said. "I think we display a lot of trust by being very open about what we're up to strategically."

    B Corporation status

    It's typical to associate mass production with unsustainable practices, but the opposite is true at New Belgium. The craft brewery is one of the largest in America and is widelyconsidered the leader in sustainability.

    While hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park shortly after founding the brewery, Jordan and Lebesch determined New Belgium's four core values and beliefs (the company now has 10). One value that persists today, Jordan said, is environmental stewardship.

    "I love beer, I love drinking beer, I love the beer industry and the people in it, but I wanted our business to be about more than just that," she said.

    In 2013, New Belgium codified its commitment to act sustainably when it became a certified B Corporation, a legal status that pushes the company to meet rigorous environmental and social standards. Whether it's the equipment Lebesch engineered to recover reusable heat from the brewing process, a recent investment of $12 million in a water-treatment plant, or installing solar panels at the brewery, every decision New Belgium makes takes into account its mission to conserve resources.

    But as hard as Jordan and her coworkers work to make environmental sustainability an integral part of the business, there's another aspect of sustainability that's incredibly important, Jordan said, and that's earning profits.

    "We can all be as groovy as we want to be, but the ultimate form of sustainability is being able to keep the doors open," Jordan said. "Having that vision that has a deeply embedded purpose to it helps to ground you, and having that commitment to making sure that the literal sustainability of the company goes forward — you need that combination."

    Change is vital to success

    In the past 25 years, Jordan has learned a number of important lessons — some of them difficult — about sustaining a business. Chief among them is the willingness to evolve.

    Fat Tire anniversary New Belgium

    "One of the things that vibrant organizations have to do is change," she said.

    In October 2015, Jordan stepped down as CEO and New Belgium president and COO Christine Perich, who's been at the company since 2000, took over.

    Jordan is now executive chair and is focusing on New Belgium's brand and portfolio, as well as strategy.

    "The pace of change in the world — more specifically, in craft brewing — has been at a pretty steady clip," she said. "You have to figure out where the right places to make change are, and what are the big bets to put your energy behind. And that's an art form."

    National expansion

    In May, New Belgium opened its highly anticipated second production location and "Liquid Center" tasting room in Asheville, North Carolina, the heart of the craft-beer movement in the South. The new location significantly increases distribution opportunity on the East Coast, and last week New Belgium rolled out in New York.

    "We definitely have our eye on becoming a national brewery — a national craft brewery — and building out our whole US footprint and then building a long-term strategy for international growth," Jordan said. "I'm excited for New Belgium. I can't wait to see what happens next."

    Read more stories about the 100 business visionaries who are creating value for the world.

    SEE ALSO: Meet the top 100 business visionaries creating value for the world

    NOW READ: Activist Marc Benioff on Salesforce's radical 1-1-1 pledge

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Sal Khan: Educating the world — for free


    0 0

    Kim Jordan New Belgium Brewing Company

    Twenty-five years after founding New Belgium Brewing Company, Kim Jordan still has pinch-me moments.

    From 1991 to 2015, Jordan (No. 12 on the BI 100: The Creators) was CEO of New Belgium, which she built into one of the US's largest craft breweries, with $225 million in annual revenue.

    The company's success isn't uniquely Jordan's. Since 2013, New Belgium has been 100% employee-owned, which helped solidify Jordan's intent to engage her coworkers in each facet of the business.

    In an interview with Business Insider, Jordan, who's now executive chair, discussed the road to employee ownership and how sustainability has been a crucial building block of New Belgium's success.

    From basement to brewery

    As the story goes, the creation of New Belgium stemmed from a trip Jordan's then husband, Jeff Lebesch, took to Belgium in 1988. As he cruised through the streets on a fat-tire bike and stopped to taste local beers, Lebesch yearned to bring the flavors of Belgian beer back to the US.

    Three years later, Jordan, a social worker, and Lebesch, an electrical engineer, installed brewing equipment in the basement of their home in Fort Collins, Colorado. By the summer of 1991, they were selling their two flagship Belgian-style brews, Abbey and Fat Tire, at local beer festivals on the weekends.

    At the outset, consumer interest in New Belgium was driven by a void in the market, Jordan said.

    "When we started, there was no one in Fort Collins making packaged beer," Jordan said. You couldn't go to a store and buy craft beer to take home. They decided to specialize in 22-ounce bottles of beer, and the cash flow followed.

    In their first year of home brewing, New Belgium earned $150,000 in revenue.

    Despite the early signs of success, neither Jordan nor Lebesch had quit their day jobs yet. In October 1992, after more than a year of home brewing, the pair finally moved New Belgium from their basement into its first official location in Old Town Fort Collins and took the company on full time.

    Introducing employee ownership

    In February 1992, months before relocating to the first brewery location, New Belgium hired Brian Callahan — now the company's longest-serving employee aside from Jordan — and gave him a "10% pot of sweat equity" in the company.

    By the end of the year, New Belgium was growing fast and hiring bottlers, brewers, and engineers.

    New Belgium Brewing Company employees 2013

    With a growing team and a booming new business, Jordan said she wanted to create a plan for the succession of the company.

    After reading "The Great Game of Business," a book by management expert Jack Stack, Jordan felt inspired by Stack's urge to apply open-book management, the practice of full financial and business transparency within the company.

    "It spoke to my desire to have broadly shared awareness of the business and of running the business," Jordan said. "The inclination to have as flat a hierarchy as we could manage and a really trusting, transparent, engaged group of coworkers was really important to me."

    In 1995, Jordan began teaching employees about financial statements and enlisting their input for annual planning and long-term strategy. "It was a very collaborative process with a lot of consensus," she said. But she quickly realized that if employees had a say in the company, they should also have a stake in it, and the first iteration of New Belgium employee ownership was born.

    Going forward, every employee was formally awarded stock in New Belgium upon their first anniversary at the company.

    Becoming 100% employee-owned

    In 2000, with a workforce of 90 employees, New Belgium officially transitioned to an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), a type of retirement plan that awards employees stock in the company to be distributed upon their exit. The new ESOP purchased Callahan's 10% slice, as well as a portion of Jordan's and Lebesch's shares, bringing employee-ownership to 32%.

    A year later, Lebesch left New Belgium to pursue other interests, but it wasn't until 2009 when the couple divorced that New Belgium's board of directors urged Jordan to keep control of the company in the hands of those directly involved with it. New Belgium purchased Lebesch's remaining shares and retired them, bringing the ESOP total to 41%.

    updated 25 years of New Belgium graphic

    The employee-ownership saga culminated in late 2012, when Jordan and the board of directors decided the best next step for the company would be to place it fully in the hands of employees.

    Jordan sold the remaining 59% of the company— her shares, her two sons' shares, and the management's shares — to the ESOP, making New Belgium officially 100% employee-owned.

    She announced the sale to more than 450 "thrilled" employees at New Belgium's annual company retreat in January 2013.

    Though the sale signified a huge shift on paper, Jordan said, "nothing changed, because we had this culture that we call 'high-involvement culture' deeply embedded within the organization for a very, very long time."

    That sets New Belgium apart from other iconic craft breweries, such as Dogfish Head and Lagunitas, which have sold stakes to outside investors. Jordan's sale to the ESOP represents a conscious effort to fight the wealth gap, avoid cuts and layoffs a buyer might have demanded, and keep her employees involved in the future of the company.

    "We still expect our coworkers to give us input, rather than feedback, on where the company should be going, both annually and in a longer term," Jordan said. "I think we display a lot of trust by being very open about what we're up to strategically."

    B Corporation status

    It's typical to associate mass production with unsustainable practices, but the opposite is true at New Belgium. The craft brewery is one of the largest in America and is widelyconsidered the leader in sustainability.

    While hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park shortly after founding the brewery, Jordan and Lebesch determined New Belgium's four core values and beliefs (the company now has 10). One value that persists today, Jordan said, is environmental stewardship.

    "I love beer, I love drinking beer, I love the beer industry and the people in it, but I wanted our business to be about more than just that," she said.

    In 2013, New Belgium codified its commitment to act sustainably when it became a certified B Corporation, a legal status that pushes the company to meet rigorous environmental and social standards. Whether it's the equipment Lebesch engineered to recover reusable heat from the brewing process, a recent investment of $12 million in a water-treatment plant, or installing solar panels at the brewery, every decision New Belgium makes takes into account its mission to conserve resources.

    But as hard as Jordan and her coworkers work to make environmental sustainability an integral part of the business, there's another aspect of sustainability that's incredibly important, Jordan said, and that's earning profits.

    "We can all be as groovy as we want to be, but the ultimate form of sustainability is being able to keep the doors open," Jordan said. "Having that vision that has a deeply embedded purpose to it helps to ground you, and having that commitment to making sure that the literal sustainability of the company goes forward — you need that combination."

    Change is vital to success

    In the past 25 years, Jordan has learned a number of important lessons — some of them difficult — about sustaining a business. Chief among them is the willingness to evolve.

    Fat Tire anniversary New Belgium

    "One of the things that vibrant organizations have to do is change," she said.

    In October 2015, Jordan stepped down as CEO and New Belgium president and COO Christine Perich, who's been at the company since 2000, took over.

    Jordan is now executive chair and is focusing on New Belgium's brand and portfolio, as well as strategy.

    "The pace of change in the world — more specifically, in craft brewing — has been at a pretty steady clip," she said. "You have to figure out where the right places to make change are, and what are the big bets to put your energy behind. And that's an art form."

    National expansion

    In May, New Belgium opened its highly anticipated second production location and "Liquid Center" tasting room in Asheville, North Carolina, the heart of the craft-beer movement in the South. The new location significantly increases distribution opportunity on the East Coast, and last week New Belgium rolled out in New York.

    "We definitely have our eye on becoming a national brewery — a national craft brewery — and building out our whole US footprint and then building a long-term strategy for international growth," Jordan said. "I'm excited for New Belgium. I can't wait to see what happens next."

    Read more stories about the 100 business visionaries who are creating value for the world.

    SEE ALSO: Meet the top 100 business visionaries creating value for the world

    DON'T MISS: Activist Marc Benioff on Salesforce's radical 1-1-1 pledge

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Sal Khan: Educating the world — for free


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    Jean-Louis Gassée

    Jean-Louis Gassée, a former Apple executive and a columnist for the tech and business blog Monday Note, has an unusual piece of advice that he likes to give to the startup founders and entrepreneurs that he occasionally advises:

    When you're pitching a VC, pay attention to their stomach.

    No, not to decide whether or not you should ask for their workout tips. But because if you do, you will notice the subtle shifts in their muscles and posture that indicate when they want to say something.

    That's when you know to shut up, Gassée tells Business Insider.

    Pausing to let someone speak or ask a question instead of making them interrupt you impresses your audience and makes startup pitches more effective for all parties. It turns it into a conversation instead of a presentation, and can help surface the best questions.

    Gassée's other piece of advice: If you're bringing a pitch-deck, then make it as dead simple as possible, with all the most important information on only three slides.

    SEE ALSO: The tongue-in-cheek way the women of Google are responding to a shareholder's sexist comment

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Sorry Apple fans — the iPhone 7 is going to be boring


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    Howard Schultz Starbucks

    Thirty years ago, Howard Schultz (No. 2 on the BI 100: The Creators) got into the coffee business with one goal in mind: to enhance the personal relationship between people and their coffee.

    He's now responsible for Starbucks, one of the world's most beloved brands and the largest coffee chain on the planet. Last year, Starbucks' profits reached $2.8 billion on revenues of $19 billion, both record highs.

    But Schultz isn't singularly focused on the traditional bottom line. He's a dynamic model of a progressive CEO who’s as animated by social issues and employee welfare as he is profit margins. Schultz has suggested that Starbucks’ creed — “to use our scale for good” — should be a model for other global corporations.

    How did Schultz, who came from a "working poor" family in the Brooklyn projects, overcome adversity and grow a quaint Seattle coffeehouse into the largest coffee chain on Earth?

    Scroll through to learn the story behind Starbucks and its leading man.

    Additional reporting by Shana Lebowitz.

    NOW READ: Meet the top 100 business visionaries creating value for the world

    DON'T MISS: Starbucks is transforming coffee shops into bars — here's what it's like to go to one

    Schultz was born on July 19, 1953, in Brooklyn, New York. In an interview with Bloomberg, he said growing up in the projects — "loosely described as the other side of the tracks"— exposed him to the world's wealth disparity.

    Source:Bloomberg



    He experienced poverty at an early age. When Schultz was 7 years old, his father broke his ankle while working as a truck driver picking up and delivering diapers. At the time, his father had no health insurance or worker's compensation, and the family was left with no income.

    Source: "Pour Your Heart Into It"



    In high school, Schultz played football and earned an athletic scholarship to Northern Michigan University. But by the time he started college, he decided he wasn't going to play football after all.

    To pay for school, the communications major took out student loans and took up various jobs, including working as a bartender and even occasionally selling his blood.

    Source: "Pour Your Heart Into It"



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    sara blakely

    Sara Blakely didn't have a business degree.

    She hadn't started a company before. She wasn't especially familiar with the process of making clothes.

    But what she did have was $5,000 in savings and a passion for the product she was pitching to manufacturers.

    It was the late 1990s, and Blakely wanted to transform the intimate-apparel industry, rendering the old adage beauty is pain irrelevant.

    Today, Blakely is the founder and owner of Spanx, a company with about $400 million in annual sales.

    So what bridged the gap between the inexperienced 20-something then and the self-made billionaire today?

    According to Blakely, it was her ability to bring a fresh perspective to the industry.

    She told Business Insider:

    "It's fascinating what people can do if you don't get hung up on, 'I don't have the specific training' or, 'I wasn't taught this in school.' Break through that because if you approach things with a fresh eye and you don't know how it's always been done, chances are you're going to do it differently and better."

    For Blakely, that meant focusing on the way her body felt in undergarments, and not how they were technically "supposed" to be designed.

    Here's Blakely again:

    "I would put the product on and I would say, 'Something isn't feeling right, right here,' and I would be relentless about it. And after maybe 10 times of asking the same question, they [the manufacturers] would go, 'Well, the yarn is spliced there and there's a motor movement there,' and I would be like, 'OK, don't do that.'"

    At first, Blakely said, the manufacturers were completely resistant to the idea of change. Eventually, however, they stopped responding to Blakely's ideas with an automatic no and started responding with "Let's see."

    Bottom line: Just because you don't have technical knowledge about a field or an industry doesn't mean that you can't break in. In fact, your relative lack of familiarity may be an advantage.

    You might be more sensitive to how customers experience the product — and what they're looking for in a new one.

    Alana Kakoyiannis contributed additional reporting.

    SEE ALSO: A self-made billionaire explains how Britney Spears helped her teach a key business lesson to her employees

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How Sara Blakely went from door-to-door saleswoman to billionaire philanthropist


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    Kim Jordan New Belgium

    Kim Jordan (No. 12 on the BI 100: The Creatorshas spent the last 25 years building New Belgium into one of the largest and most beloved craft breweries in the US.

    Along the way, the former CEO and current executive chair has learned some tough lessons about building a sustainable business. Chief among them is the willingness to evolve.

    "One of the things that vibrant organizations have to do is change," Jordan told Business Insider in a recent interview. "You have to continuously look at ‘Where are we now?’ and ‘Where is the future going?' — what’s the gap between those two things, what is the competitive landscape like, and how do we react to that."

    And you can't be easily distracted or discouraged by change, she warned. It could end up hindering you if you turn every time there's a shiny new object.

    "The pace of change in the world — more specifically in craft brewing — has been at a pretty steady clip," Jordan said. "You have to figure out where the right places to make change [are] and what are the big bets to put your energy behind. And that’s an art form."

    For now, Jordan, who stepped down as CEO last October, is putting her energy into building New Belgium's brand and portfolio, as well as planning at the intersection of midrange and long-term strategy.

    "You have to keep encouraging the organization to evolve and be relevant," she said. "[And] to not be unnerved by evolving."

    SEE ALSO: New Belgium: The craft brewery that's 100% employee-owned

    DON'T MISS: Meet the top 100 business visionaries creating value for the world

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Forget Q-tips — here’s how you should be cleaning your ears


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    S'well, Sarah KaussYou’ve probably seen a S’well water bottle out in the wild, with its unmistakable, sleek, stainless-steel physique and boldly colored exterior, or perhaps faux marble or wood facade.

    If you haven’t, you’re bound to see one soon. The company is growing rapidly and is now sold everywhere from mom-and-pop shops to nationwide retailers like Nordstrom and Target to Starbucks stores around the world.

    Last year, S’well — the brainchild of CEO Sarah Kauss (No. 49 on the BI 100: The Creators) — pulled in $50 million in sales, a mark that the company hopes to double this year.

    But S'well might never have happened at all save for some timely encouragement and wisdom Kauss received from her mother.

    Six years ago, Kauss was enjoying a much-needed vacation in Arizona with her mother. At the time, the then 35-year-old Harvard Business School graduate was working “a million hours” in a demanding but successful career in commercial real estate development. Her mother, who was celebrating five years free of cancer, began reflecting on life.

    “We had this deep conversation about ‘What would you do if you could do anything?’ — she almost felt like she had an extra life,” Kauss said. 

    Her mom decided to become a painter. Kauss, a University of Colorado at Boulder alum with an environmentalist spirit, told her mother about an idea to create a reusable water bottle that didn’t look like bulky camping gear. Her mother pushed her to take plunge.

    “I just thought the world needed a more fashionable water bottle,” said Kauss, who envisioned something both beautiful and useful that could sell in the store at the Museum of Modern Art (today, the bottles are in fact sold there).

    “I just thought the world needed a more fashionable water bottle.” 

    But beyond design, Kauss thought her idea could make a significant impact on the environment, an issue she cared deeply about. With the right blend of fashion and function, she thought, S'well could create a water bottle that's so enjoyable to use that people will stop drinking from plastic bottles — 50 billion of which clog landfills in the US each year.  

    So Kauss returned home to New York and invested $30,000 in savings to start S’well right out of her NYC apartment. 

    She spent the next six months working to get a prototype of the bottle, find a factory, and launch a website.

    “I didn’t know how big the market was [for water bottles], I thought I was building a product for me and maybe a small group of people like me,” Kauss said. 

    The Oprah effect

    The combination of style and functionality— made of non-leaching and non-toxic stainless steel, the bottle keeps liquids cold for 24 hours and hot for 12 hours —  struck a nerve with customers. A few months after launching S’well, early bulk orders came in from Facebook and Harvard, and Kauss landed in Crate and Barrel for the holiday season. 

    “Those first orders were great because it gave me a confidence that people were going to buy [the product],” she said. 

    Then Kauss got a call from a senior editor of O, The Oprah Magazine after sending her a sample bottle. The editor took the bottle on vacation and loved it. She wanted to feature it in the magazine, but had one request: Send every color you have. But the bottles only came in blue, so Kauss scrambled to create a new palate of colors and send them off to the manufacturer.

    swell 5944

    “It was sort of the moment that I said ‘OK this isn’t a project, we’re a company,’” Kauss recalled.

    About four months later, Kauss’ array of colored bottles made it into the magazine’s Must Have Things for Summer 2011 list. “What was surprising is how long those magazines live for — we have a ‘How did you hear about us?’ on the website and months and months later people would be saying they saw it in Oprah," Kauss said.

    Partnering with Starbucks

    On the heels of the Oprah feature, which caused sales to surge in the 600 small retail stores the bottles were sold in at the time, Kauss scored a trial period with Starbucks in 2012 to sell bottles in 140 stores in Atlanta and Austin. The bottles sold out, cementing the partnership with Starbucks, which would become S'well's most lucrative and lasting partner.

    The following year, S’well created a hyperlocal collection with Starbucks for its stores in New York City, Seattle, and Hawaii. The bottles were a hit, but it wasn’t until Kauss had the chance opportunity to meet Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz (No. 2 on the BI 100: The Creators) that sales really ramped up.

    Kauss spotted Schultz standing alone at the grand opening of a Starbucks coffee bar in Seattle, so she grabbed a S’well bottle and introduced herself. Schultz reveled in the story of S’well and wondered why the bottles weren’t in more stores, Kauss said. He invited her to meet with him and his senior leadership team the next day to discuss expansion.

    The impact of that meeting was profound: S'well found itself integrated at Starbucks stores around the world — 10,000 locations in North America, as well as Brazil and throughout Asia.

    “Starbucks is a beast. They’re amazing. They’re huge and they’re everywhere,” Kauss said.

    More than just sheer scope, Starbucks also shared a commitment to higher ideals, including stringent fair trade and sustainability standards. In fact, it took S’well’s factory nearly two years to meet Starbucks’ standards.

    “They do so much work to make sure everything is good for the environment and good for the workers and it makes me feel better when I go there as a customer because I know how much work they do," Kauss said. 

    Rapid expansion

    Buyers are smitten with S’well. In 2015, after rolling out in thousands of Starbucks stores, S’well reached $50 million in sales, a gigantic leap from $10 million the previous year.

    The company is continuing its rapid expansion in 2016. This summer, S’well will launch at Starbucks in another 37 countries in Europe, the Middle East, Russia, and South Africa. S’well also debuted an exclusive line at Target stores this spring called S’ip by S’well, a smaller bottle size at a lower price point ($25), which will roll out nationwide by the holiday season.

    Kauss says this year S'well sales could as much as double to $100 million.

    “It’s exciting. It’s sort of unbelievable. You’re standing at the ocean and you just don’t know how big it is,” Kauss said.swell 5994

    Part of the reason the company grew so much last year is its focus on being “on trend,” a commitment that’s grounded in Kauss’ vision to become “the bottle of fashion week.” The company now has more than 200 designs and colors — which range in price from $25 for a 9-ounce bottle to $45 for a 25-ounce bottle — and appears at the buzziest events including SXSW, New York fashion week, and TED conferences. S'well also has brand partnerships with celebrities, Kauss said, a marketing tactic that undoubtedly boosts brand recognition, especially on social media. 

    But ultimately, S’well’s success comes down to customer loyalty. On average, customers have 5.5 bottles at home, according to Kauss.

    “Our customers have this great appetite, but I thought eventually we’d run out of customers because everybody will have one that’s in the market. ... but what’s surprising is that we keep coming out with new lines — spring, summer, fall, holiday — just like a fashion brand,” Kauss said.

    Many customers also appreciate S’well’s social mission. A portion of profits from every bottle sold go to the US fund for UNICEF — $200,000 since 2015 — to help provide clean water to children, and for every wood-surfaced bottle sold a tree is planted through American Forests. But while the charitable aspect is an integral part of the business, Kauss doesn’t think it’s a make or break for buyers.

    “We don’t even talk about it that much with our customers, but it’s just the right thing to do,” Kauss said. “It’s part of our DNA, it’s part of our mission statement and part of everything that we do. I think customers are really smart and it has to come from an authentic place.”

    SEE ALSO: Why the maker of Fat Tire bucked the trend and became 100% owned by its workers

    SEE ALSO: 40 quotes from business visionaries who are changing the world

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Debbie Sterling, headshot, GoldieBlox

    Good news: Your seemingly futile college traditions may be more valuable than you think.

    Debbie Sterling, the founder and CEO of girls construction toy company GoldieBlox (No. 59 on the BI 100: The Creators), told Business Insider in a recent interview that the inspiration for her company came from a tradition she shared with college friends called an "idea brunch."

    "We’d get together once every few months and make breakfast and each person would get up in front of the group and share an idea — an art project, a company, or an app," Sterling said.

    At one particular idea brunch in 2011, a friend of Sterling's, who studied mechanical engineering with her at Stanford, expressed her frustrations about the lack of women in STEM. The friend said she'd played with her brothers' hand-me-down construction toys as a child and now realized the toys led to her interest in engineering. She wondered aloud if the absence of engineering toys for young girls was responsible for the gender gap in STEM (today, just 14% of engineers worldwide are female). The idea was obvious, yet potentially groundbreaking, Sterling recalled.

    Sterling spent the next nine months studying the toy industry and children's media, meeting with neuroscientists and preschool teachers, and observing kids play.

    "I came up with an 'aha' that construction toys do really help develop spatial skills and are a good precursor for engineering, but they have been heavily marketed toward boys for over 100 years," Sterling said. Tailoring construction toys for girls — rather than simply painting boys' toys pink — would be the key to creating a lasting product, she determined.

    In 2012, Sterling founded GoldieBlox with the vision of creating a "character franchise" similar to children's pop culture icons like Dora the Explorer, spanning toys, cartoons, video games, merchandise, and apparel. But her character universe would enter uncharted territory on a quest to "disrupt the pink aisle" and encourage young girls to explore math, engineering, and science.

    To date, GoldieBlox has sold more than 1 million narrative-driven construction toy sets, created an award-winning mobile appand landed a coveted $4 million Super Bowl spot for free.

    SEE ALSO: How construction toy company GoldieBlox is changing the next generation of engineers

    DON'T MISS: Meet the top 100 business visionaries creating value for the world

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: JAMES ALTUCHER: All successful people have this in common


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    People with iPad, MacBooks, iPhone and Starbucks

    Every year or two since I started The Simple Dollar, I've sat down and reviewed the wide variety of tools – both electronic and otherwise – that I use to manage my financial, professional, and personal life.

    These are the things that I use every single day – or nearly every single day – in order to keep track of our financial state, of the endless things that I need to do, of the ideas I have, of the appointments I need to keep, and so on.

    Why is this important? What does it have to do with finances? There are a lot of reasons, so let's walk through them a little bit.

    First of all, the tools I use primarily exist so that I don't forget things.

    I don't want to forget when bills are due. I don't want to forget when I need to review our investments. I don't want to forget when my wife's birthday is. I don't want to forget that great article idea I had the other day.

    I need to be able to store these things as efficiently as possible. It's also just as important to me to have these things be immediately available to me when I need them and, in fact, even nudge me a little bit so that I'm aware of them when I need to be.

    The financial stuff is obvious in terms of the impact on my financial life. Keeping up on my bills and my investments and my spending has an obvious positive impact on my account balances.

    The professional stuff is similarly important, as it is those pieces of professional information – ideas, appointments, and so on – that enable me to efficiently complete the things I need to complete to earn an income. Plus, the more efficiently I complete them, the more time I have available for new professional endeavors or more personal time.

    The personal stuff…well, it's a huge part of why I care about the financial and professional stuff. I love my work, but in the end, I work to live. I don't live to work. The center of my life is my family and my personal interests. Those things rank above all else in my life, and my financial and professional needs feed those things.

    There's another aspect to all of this that's just as important as not forgetting these things. The fact is that if I try to keep a long to-do list and a calendar and a bunch of article ideas in my head, that's going to eat up some of my focus. 

    For me, using the best tools to manage these things is vital. These tools keep things out of my brain, but at the same time, they ensure that I don't forget them, either. They're really an extension of my brain, which enables me to take on more things than I ever would be able to do without them.

    So, let's take a look at these tools.

    SEE ALSO: A bad habit that can make you unhappy is based on a huge misconception

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    Pocket notebook

    For taking freeform notes everywhere

    I don't like to go anywhere without a small pocket notebook jammed in my front pocket. I use it to quickly write down ideas, sketches, addresses, phone numbers, pieces of inspiration, things that need doing, lists – pretty much every piece of information that comes up suddenly.

    About twice a day, I go through the last few pages of my notebook and make sure I've dealt with each item on those pages. Have I added any things that need doing to my to-do list manager (see below)? Have I properly stored any new contacts in my phone? Have I done something sensible with every item in that notebook so I can find them later?

    I prefer to use Field Notes pocket notebooks for a couple of reasons. For one, they hold up really well in my pocket – I can get through an entire notebook without them falling apart. For another, they come in two formats I really like: gridded, which means that every page is full of grid lines, and dot grid, which means that every page is just full of rows of dots that you can connect to form a grid if you really want.



    Larger notebook

    For taking notes while learning

    I take copious notes whenever I'm taking a class (I take a lot of online classes and occasionally an offline class) or when I'm trying to extract key ideas from a book or an article. I've learned that doing this is the best way for me to actually learn what the article or book or lecture is about and extract many of the ideas and facts and actually incorporate them into my head and remember them later. If I take notes using a digital tool to type them in, it's much faster to record the notes but my mental retention of those ideas is far worse.

    So, I'll sit down with a larger notebook, start a fresh page by titling and dating it, and write down every piece of information that I read that I'm trying to mentally process, as well as my own reflections and connections on those things. I find the process of writing these out by hand goes a long way toward making those ideas stick in my head.

    I'm not too picky when it comes to notebooks – anything works. I do find that it takes a lot of time to completely fill up a notebook, so I don't mind paying more to get a notebook that won't fall apart over time. I'd rather be able to continue to reference it later on after the last page is filled. My favorite notebook is the Baron Fig Confidant, of which I've filled several; they basically still look new, even after every page is filled with writing and they lay flat when I'm writing in them. I've used – and still use – inexpensive notebooks of all kinds, though, as the Confidants aren't something I buy regularly because they're expensive.



    Pens

    For actually writing the notes

    So, what do I actually take these notes with? For me, the ideal pen is one that writes with a very thin line, doesn't leak in my pocket (meaning it has a very hard plastic case that won't break and minimizes pen leak risk, and preferably has a clicking mechanism), and writes every time. I have a preference for black ink, but that's not a deal breaker.

    I have these needs because I'm pretty much always carrying a pen in my pocket alongside my pocket notebook and when I want that pen, it needs to work 99.99% of the time. I also want a thin line so that smudging is minimized and I can fit more words on a line while still being legible later.

    For me, the best pen I've ever found to match these needs at a reasonable price is the Uniball Signo 207 Ultra Micro Point pen with black ink. I buy these pens in bulk whenever I find them on sale – and by bulk I mean 100 pens or more. These are the best inexpensive pens I've ever used – in fact, I've never found a "nice" pen that I like half as well as these. They're just about perfect for my needs and I can often get them well below $1 apiece.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    George Bell Sidebar modern pic

    The greatest risk of raising money is that it creates pressure to spend.

    Recently I did a random scan of 50 early-stage funding announcements. Despite the sluggish environment for early-stage capital, almost all the press releases blared with phrases such as: step on the gas, go faster, and accelerate growth.

    You can almost hear the eager management teams rubbing their hands together, impatient to increase their burn rate, their boards cheering them on.

    Today’s capital-raising environment is lousy, valuations are gyrating, exits have slowed.

    Patience is a contrarian conceit, but now is a good time to develop that muscle.

    Your goals must have timelines

    Capital is finite. You will run out of it, again, at some point. If your goals are not bounded by time, you can kid yourself that you are close to proving your thesis.

    Test for false positives

    Many times I’ve seen a team declare victory around an aspirational set of metrics — cost of customer acquisition, queries per second, return on social media investment, you name it. My favorite was the company that said they were ready to triple spend on acquiring customers because they had a positive resolution to the riddle of lifetime value — after serving customers on their platform for only four months!

    When you think you’ve solved a riddle, pose it differently and solve it again. Don’t rush.

    Your early adopters are likely to be misleading

    Maybe just a slight spin on the point above, but your first customers tend to be, in hindsight, more enthusiastic, more engaged, than later customers. They are likely to spend and renew in ways that your later, larger body of customers won’t. Learn to adjust your expectations, and your patience, by discounting the behavior of your first loyalists.

    Don’t count on revenue to mitigate your burn rate

    Coming off a strong year, so many companies budget their expenses to support revenue growth that doesn’t materialize. Happens all the time. It turns out every early-stage business has inflection points as its revenue grows, oftentimes, with luck, driven by the inability of internal processes to scale with growth. (Luck because the growing pains are your own, not your customers’.)

    Stress-test your revenue forecasts mercilessly. Playing short-term expense catch-up to accommodate growing revenue is a lot better than drastically cutting expenses when forecasted revenue doesn’t show up.

    Write your next fund-raising deck now

    What are you prepared to achieve, to prove, with your current cash? When you are back in the market for more cabbage, what will prove the most compelling metrics?

    Write a draft of your next funding deck now, discuss it with your team, coordinate your burn-rate with your goal achievement. Talk it over with your board. If you need to lower your burn-rate to regain enough time to maximize your attractiveness for the next round, then do it fast.

    One final tip: Know when you run out of money. I mean know the day and date. It will focus you on achieving the points above, and force you to think more deeply about where else you can exercise patience.

    George Bell is a five-time CEO and an XIR at the Cambridge-based venture capital firm General Catalyst Partners. This post is his latest in a series on startups and business: Yours to Lose.

    See more in the series:

    • 6 ways to successfully manage a team through failure

    • 9 top priorities for first-time CEOs

    • 10 tips for successfully managing your board

    • 10 rules for hiring exceptional employees

    SEE ALSO: 6 ways to successfully manage a team through failure

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    working from home

    When I first started brainstorming different ways to make money, or possible businesses to start, many things I wanted to do seemed too far out of reach.

    I didn't have hardcore "techie" skills, and I didn't have a business degree. I didn't feel like a "natural" entrepreneur. Most of all, I didn't feel like I had any relevant experience that was worth money.

    But then, it hit me.

    I remembered that somehow, some way, I'd managed to stay employed. This meant that I actually DID have at least a few skills that were valuable to someone else. Otherwise, people would never bother hiring me.

    One of those skills was as an SAT/ACT test prep coach working for Kaplan Test Prep in college (and shortly after).

    I'd never really thought about how much a skill like this was worth to the people I was providing the service for — both Kaplan and the families I was helping. I was solely focused on my hourly rate.

    This is the WRONG way to think about your skills.

    Your salary is not equivalent to what your skills are actually worth to the company that employs you. Think about it: if you were getting paid exactly what your skills were worth, the company hiring you wouldn't make a profit off of you.

    My hourly rate at Kaplan was $18, which at the time I thought was fantastic. Then I found out that Kaplan was charging the families I was helping over $100 per hour for me to come to the house and teach little Timmy quadratic equations.

    In short, I was doing $100 per hour worth of work for Kaplan, and they were taking $82 out of my pocket every damn time.

    At that point, I realized that I had a viable skill that people had proven that they would pay a lot of money for — but I was missing the connecting piece. Even if I branched out on my own, how would I find the clients?

    This is the place where many of us quit and turn around back towards the safety of our jobs. We think to ourselves, "Well, I may have a skill, but my company is the one giving me all the work. I need them."

    I needed something that worked really well — and fast.

    Then, EUREKA.

    I had an idea that changed my business and career forever.

    If I'm looking for a very specific type of customer, why not just go to where existing customers already are?

    I should look where my ideal customers are already in the buying mood … It'll be easier to get their attention and I'll have an endless sea of leads and paying customers instantly.

    That's when I developed The Marsupial Method and set up my first business in less than 24 hours.

    SEE ALSO: How I made almost $24,000 in 4 weeks freelancing online

    The Marsupial Method

    The Marsupial Method is the idea of "staying in the pocket"— finding where your customers are and collecting them — without going out and having to market to them very hard.

    Step 1: Find out who your REAL customers are

    "Real customer" = people who are actually buying your service.

    I realized that my real customers were the parents of my students. I got very specific about how to narrow my search: I wanted parents with a good amount of disposable income who were willing to pay more for extra tutoring for their kids to get into great schools.



    Step 2: Identify who your real customers are already doing business with

    In my case, I discovered the existence of private admissions companies, which help families get their kids get into the colleges they want by "packaging" them really well (working on essays, teaching them how to position themselves, telling them what extra-curriculars to take and highlight, etc.).

    The other half of "packaging" is the test prep itself.



    Step 3: Offer that person/company MASSIVE value

    I researched private admissions companies that only handled the packaging side. These companies would send their clients (the families) to Kaplan for the test prep portion.

    I saw an immediate opportunity and POUNCED. "Hey, private admissions company," I said, "I see that you're already doing business with people who want to get into great colleges. I notice you don't actually teach test prep – you just package students. Wouldn't it be great if I become your go-to test prep provider?"

    Then I laid out my credentials (worked for Kaplan before, was college educated, etc.) — and made it clear to the counselors that by sending their customers to me, it was the same thing as sending to Kaplan.

    The idea of having an "in-house" test prep counselor would be hugely valuable for the company AND would make it seem more attractive in the eyes of interested families. One less thing to think about, coordinate, and pay for.

    Then I added MORE value to my proposal. I said, "If you were to send me some of your clients, I'd love to give you a small portion of my profits [as opposed to you sending families to Kaplan and Kaplan keeping all the profits]. Plus, this arrangement would make it easier for you, because I know you often have to schedule and coordinate classes with Kaplan on behalf of the families, and make sure that the kids are doing well in their test preparation."

    "Instead," I said, "now everything could be 'in house,' and I'll give you detailed updates on all the students and their progress."

    I clarified everything to fully drive the point home (see the subtleties of my "assuming the sale" and assuming a position of power — great sales people only communicate their solutions in terms of the customer's needs): "That means, students get better scores, they get into better schools, the families are incredibly happy, you look better, I get clients, and you get money from it. It's a Win-Win-Win. A home run."

    The Private Admissions Company – BIG WIN: They get a go-to guy who they know will impress and deliver. Plus, they no longer have to do any coordinating, scheduling, or checking up.

    Me – BIG WIN: I get a ton of new clients sent directly to me. Plus, now I'm only giving a small percentage of my profits (15%) to the private admissions company — leaving me with A LOT more money than when I was working for Kaplan. That's what happens when you don't have a middleman between you and the services you're providing. And it's your business, so you collect practically ALL the money.

    Parents – BIGGEST WIN: Kaplan usually charges around $1,000 for a typical 8-week classroom course. That's no small investment. I offered my course for $500 instead (since I didn't have any overhead to pay). That might seem like a lot less, but if I'm hosting a class of 25 students … that's $12,500.

    That's me cashing out, while the parents feel like they've saved, while the admissions company collects 15% while working on other, more lucrative things.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    science fiction landscape space ships future

    The race is on to bring a jetpack to market. New Zealand-based Martin Aircraft has a jetpack which is due to go on sale this year and US-based JetPack Aviation is working on a more streamlined offering. So aviation junkies with the cash to spare will soon be able to get their hands on what has long been the preserve of science fiction.

    Jetpacks follow a long line of sci-fi inspired innovation. E M Forster’s novel "The Machine Stops" is often credited as a source of inspiration for, or at least a predictor of, the internet. The idea of 3D printing was foreshadowed in numerous books and, most famously, in "Star Trek" in the guise of “replicators”. Then you have more frivolous ideas such as the self-lacing shoes worn by Mart McFly in "Back to the Future", which shoemaker Nike plan to bring out this year.

    Visionary and imaginative writing has always been an important source of inspiration for inventors and innovators. But success has been mixed.

    The genre has been mined – not just for profound innovation – but also products that largely feed the indulgent whims of the rich. Science fiction has become a source for rapid and often failed product development. Welcome to the world of jetpacks and hover boards, diet aids and useless gadgets.

    soylent 2.0Some show promise. Soylent, named after the 1973 movie "Soylent Green", claims to have “developed a drink that contains all the nutrients and calories a person needs”. The choice of brand name is slightly disturbing, however, considering the original film ended up with the protagonist discovering that the contents of the “superfood” Soylent Green was made from human remains. But real-life Soylent is made from soya and lentils, and seems to be a healthy alternative to traditional food.

    You’ve probably read about hoverboards that catch fire or explode. And one of the big dreams of science fiction, the jetpack, is another example of a product that has been rushed to market. Lessons may have been learned, but even the latest versions are coming in at just short of £100,000 and are a long way off the prototype modelled by George Jetson.

    It remains to be seen whether these clunky, overpriced products can ever be scaled to suit an accessible, affordable and more design-conscious mass market. Currently, in their haste to wow the world’s media, some spectacular public failuresand crashes– make for watchable YouTube fodder (for the wrong reasons). Instead of being truly inspired by science fiction, they appear to be product development inspired by narrow-focus marketing.

    hoverboardOne of the men behind JetPack Aviation, Nelson Tyler, pays tribute to science fiction for inspiring him to work on jetpacks. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, he recalls listening to "Buck Rogers" on the radio when Rogers and his girlfriend emerged from a sleek spaceship in matching flying belts. “Forever it’s been burned in my mind,” he said.

    Yet Buck Rogers used his jetpack for the good of humanity. Sadly, science fiction runs the risk of becoming just another superficial marketing device. When this happens we lose touch with its true value and its potential to solve problems for the whole of humankind. It becomes, instead, a luxury for the elite.

    Science fiction has clearly played an important role in inspiring significant innovation. It has envisioned and inspired alternative energy, new forms of transport, breakthroughs in medical science and quantum leaps in automation – even the search for life elsewhere in the universe.

    jetpack jet pack martin aircraft“Imagination is more important than knowledge” said Albert Einstein. What’s more, there are many problems in the world that could benefit from much-needed innovation being put to good use.

    There is clearly a balance that needs to be struck. Much of the reported sci fi inspired innovation is, unfortunately, about gizmos for the rich. But it’s not all futuristic doom and gloom. 3D printing is now being used to create buildings and aid medical science even as its more gimmicky versions still invite us to print chocolate.

    Even jetpacks could be used in search-and-rescue work. In fact, it is possible that the bulky Martin Jetpack will be used by emergency services, as well as for border security.

    Science fiction writers often envisioned utopian and dystopian futures. They painted pictures where technology helped or harmed us. When we draw on that genre for inspiration for addressing human and environmental problems, our innovation can be smart, simple and even life-saving. When we plunder it for new marketing gimmicks we sell it, and ourselves very short.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    susie romans headshot

    As one of four siblings in the Chicago area, Susie Romans was always looking for a way to make a buck.

    "Growing up in a lower-income family, if I ever wanted anything, it was up to me to make it happen," she says. "I realized around age 10 or 11 my parents didn't have extra money."

    Romans' parents were Polish immigrants holding working-class jobs, her father in a factory and her mother first as a cleaning lady, then as a daycare worker.

    But Romans, who began offering classic kid-size services like dog-walking (50 cents) and pulling weeds (25 cents) along with more elaborate projects like backyard carnivals (10 cents a ticket), "realized I could create money out of nothing if I had an idea I could get out there."

    She put her entrepreneurial drive on hold to attend college at the request of her parents, who were determined their daughter would get her degree. Then she continued to follow the traditional career path by taking a job selling telecommunications services to small businesses.

    When she moved on to a position in marketing and social media, she realized it was "another experience of creating money out of thin air," she says. "I knew if you called enough people and talked to enough people, you could create money and opportunity out of nothing."

    When her daughter was born in 2012, Romans took on a side gig in the form of a lifestyle blog, sharing her life, relationship, and experiences in early motherhood with readers. "I had these days where I'd have like 50,000 hits and crazy traffic, and I'd call my husband at work and be like, 'Something’s working,'" she recalls.

    When her son was born two years later, Romans realized it was time to reevaluate. "I was like, here I am with two kids, a corporate career, a blog that's blowing up — something's gotta give, I'm going to go nuts here!" she says. "I had all this experience, and this blog that was getting traffic, and I didn't know what to do with it. I didn't have a business model."

    For years, she had been managing social-media sites for small, local businesses on a retainer of about $350 a month, and thanks to her connections in the business community and her corporate expertise in sales and marketing, she figured she should be able to sign some clients on her own as a consultant should she leave her corporate job.

    Romans remembers friends and coworkers thinking she was delusional to quit a good, steady job. "I had it made," she says. "They were paying me well, I could work from home, and I was getting bonuses, but there was something greater. I love inspiring people and helping others, and I knew I was meant for something bigger."

    susie romans familyPlus, she felt her $50,000-a-year job wasn't keeping up with her life. "It was a very midrange position, and I was young," she says. "I moved fast in my life in every area. I felt like I needed more than that for my lifestyle, for childcare, for a house. I had this whole family and aspirations of doing things on a bigger scale."

    In late spring 2014, she pulled the plug on her day job. "I just thought, I know I'm capable of doing more," Romans remembers. "I think this girl can make more money on her own than under this company. I'm a risk-taker — I didn't have a savings plan, I had the mortgage, but I thought I should be able to bring in about $3,000, $4,000 a month on my own."

    She based that number on figures she had gleaned from other coaches and consultants who shared their numbers. "I realized people were paid more for the consulting than the implementation," she says. "I'm thinking, 'I can actually do all this stuff, but actually consultants get paid more.'"

    She started by ramping down her lifestyle blog and buying her domain name, SusieRomans.com. She bundled some of her insights into $500 packages, branding herself as an online-marketing expert based on the results from the blog she had run for years. She started promoting to local business owners and seizing opportunities anywhere she could, taking speaking engagements everywhere from libraries to the Chamber of Commerce.

    "In 90 days, I had a $10,000 month," she says. "That was when everyone around me — my family thought I was a lunatic, doing this with two babies — that's when everyone's eyebrows raised. I've been doing $15,000, $20,000 months ever since."

    Today, 28-year-old Romans charges $1,400 for one-on-one coaching and $5,500 for four months. When she realized some prospective clients couldn't afford coaching sessions, she began offering large-scale e-courses like Sweet Freedom Academy for $975, as well as smaller courses to tackle smaller subjects that kept coming up in conversations with her clients, such as how to get past the fear of failure ($100), and website traffic and visibility ($500). She now takes on only four to five individual clients a month and works 20 hours a week at most.

    While she likes the idea of following your passion, she explains that to start your own business in consulting or coaching, passion isn't enough. "Really highly skilled people and people with a high level of expertise can charge premium rates," she says.

    "Master your skill," she advises. "Get good at something, because you need something to bring to the table."

    SEE ALSO: How I started a business that makes up to $55,000 a month after quitting my job at age 29 without a plan

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Howard Schultz Starbucks

    Thirty years ago, Howard Schultz got into the coffee business with one goal in mind: to enhance the personal relationship between people and their coffee.

    He's now responsible for Starbucks, one of the world's most beloved brands and the largest coffee chain on the planet, with a market capitalization of $82 billion as of July. Last year, Starbucks' profits reached $2.8 billion on revenues of $19 billion, both record highs.

    But Schultz isn't singularly focused on the traditional bottom line. He's a dynamic model of a progressive CEO who's as animated by social issues and employee welfare as he is profit margins. In fact, in a letter to employees on Monday, Schultz announced wage raises ranging from 5% to 15% for all US employees, effective October 3. The wage hike reinforces Schultz's longstanding commitment to investing in his employees' success, and it positions Starbucks as a key player in the biggest economic story in America today.

    How did Schultz, who came from a "working poor" family in the Brooklyn projects, overcome adversity and grow a quaint Seattle coffeehouse into the world's largest coffee chain and a model for conscious capitalism?

    Scroll through to learn the story behind Starbucks and its leading man.

    Additional reporting by Shana Lebowitz.

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    Schultz was born on July 19, 1953, in Brooklyn, New York. In an interview with Bloomberg, he said that growing up in the projects — "loosely described as the other side of the tracks"— exposed him to the world's wealth disparity.

    Source:Bloomberg



    He experienced poverty at an early age. When Schultz was seven years old, his father broke his ankle while working as a truck driver picking up and delivering diapers. At the time, his father had no health insurance or worker's compensation, and the family was left with no income.

    Source: "Pour Your Heart Into It"



    In high school, Schultz played football and earned an athletic scholarship to Northern Michigan University. But by the time he started college, he decided he wasn't going to play football after all.

    To pay for school, the communications major took out student loans and took up various jobs, including working as a bartender and even occasionally selling his blood.

    Source:"Pour Your Heart Into It"



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    cat leblanc headshot

    Being an entrepreneur, particularly being an Internet entrepreneur, is hot right now. Everyone fantasizes about quitting the 9-5. But what does it really take to start your own business?

    I’ve done it, and here’s the best advice I can give you:

    SEE ALSO: A 28-year-old quit her job to start a business that brings in over $15,000 a month — and she works only 4 hours a day

    Try not to quit your job before you start your business

    I started my business in September 2013 after emigrating from Germany to Melbourne, Australia. I had an extremely stressful job in investment banking where I worked over 80 hours a week. Starting a business on the side just wasn’t possible, so I had to quit to make time to start the business.

    In my first month of business I earned $297. It was the sweetest and most terrifying $297 I’d ever earned, but as you can imagine, it didn’t go far.

    It is common that your income will be sporadic at first. You want to be prepared financially to handle this, which in most cases means staying at the day job until you genuinely no longer need it.



    Choose a business model that can bring in cash flow quickly

    I recommend finding a consulting, coaching, or done-for-you service that you can provide using the skills you already have. The reason for this is simple: It allows you to start earning money right away and requires a very small number of clients to replace your salary.

    I started off with a package called “The Business Idea Generator” priced at $297. Once I had clients and demand, I added in “Business Startup Coaching” priced at $1,500 for three months of business coaching.

    I created these packages based on my expertise from a business I had run previously. Start with what you can do now and then add in services as your expertise grows.



    Embrace sales as soon as possible

    In 2014 I earned $35,000, considerably less than the six-figure salary I had left. The main reason for my not earning more was my hesitancy to embrace selling my services.

    In a service-based business, “sales” means selling yourself. This brings up many levels of insecurities, and like most new entrepreneurs I felt anxious positioning myself as an expert and asking for the money.

    Once I learned how to pitch my services effectively and really own my expertise, my income rose dramatically. In April 2015 I had my first $20,000 month.

    This was a huge rush. I hit that income figure while I was on vacation for my birthday with my fiancée in Byron Bay, Australia. I felt that I had ‘made it.’ Finally!

     



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Amy Truong, 30, is many things.

    She's a traveler, based in Hawaii a few months out of the year but steadily making her way across the globe. She's a blogger, sharing stories, photos, musings, and helpful hints on her website, Generic Dreams. And she's an entrepreneur who founded her own travel agency called Up and Explore while continuing to work remotely in software testing as a "digital nomad."

    One thing she is not, though, is timid. She's up for anything on her trips, whether it's scaling mountains via closed-off hikes or bribing guards to explore abandoned buildings.

    "The thing about traveling," she told INSIDER, "is that you don't want to say no to what could be a great adventure."

    SEE ALSO: Kristin Addis quit her job to travel the world solo

    Amy Truong got the travel bug on vacation time from her corporate job in tech and hasn’t looked back since.



    “I figured there's got to be a way to make this a lifestyle ... to do it more and make it a part of my life, not just a few weeks out of the year,” she told INSIDER.



    So she found a job where she could work remotely as a “digital nomad” and began traveling the world, blogging about her adventures on her site, Generic Dreams.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    A man looking tired at his desk

    Being an entrepreneur is far from easy.

    Sleepless nights, constant stress and wearing multiple hats, all are the norm.

    From the outside looking in, it might appear that it’s all rainbows and sunshine, but ask even the most successful entrepreneurs if it was easy  they will undoubtedly shake their head and smile.

    So, how do you remain somewhat sane throughout the entrepreneurial journey?

    The answer is simple: be happy.

    When you love what you do, happiness isn’t far behind.

    There are, however, some things that will hold you back. So, stop doing these eight things and you will be a happy entrepreneur. 

    SEE ALSO: Tony Robbins explains why positive thinking will get you nowhere

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    1. Seeking the approval of others

    It’s important that you learn how to trust your gut and make decisions that impact your business on your own. It doesn’t matter how amazing and achievable your ideas might be, there will always be those that oppose them if you ask for approval.

    We naturally want to make everyone happy, especially when it comes to friends and family but unless they are in the trenches with you and share the same vision, their input can only stress you out, leading you to making poor business decisions.



    2. Pointing the blame at others

    When it hits the fan  and eventually it will  it’s very easy to blame someone or something else. As an entrepreneur, you are ultimately responsible for everything that happens within your business. Even if an employee royally screws up, you are responsible. You made that hiring decision, so now you must patch the holes and fix the ship before it sinks.

    A fellow entrepreneur and CEO of Aucto, Jamil Rahman, once said to me, "The sooner you own up to your mistake, the sooner you can take action to correct it." This single piece of advice can eliminate a lot of unnecessary headaches and stress. 



    3. Not believing in yourself

    What is one trait that all successful entrepreneurs have in common? They all believe in themselves  they have 100 percent confidence that they can win  at anything and everything.

    If you doubt your abilities, those negative thoughts will dominate and defeat you. Confidence and positive thinking is a very powerful combination that can help you reach every goal you set. "Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve," concluded Napoleon Hill, author of "Think and Grow Rich."



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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