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The latest news on Entrepreneurship from Business Insider

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    looking over cliff

    People love to hate millennials, just as a decade or two ago people loved to hate Gen Xers, and so on. Every generation criticizes the one that came after it.

    Among the usual complaints are millennials' sense of entitlement, over-reliance on digital communication, and lack of respect for work ethics and professional culture.

    While it's wrong to generalize an entire generation based on often-anecdotal evidence, there are some valid trends and characteristics that are more common among those born between the late 80s and early 2000s.

    Most external criticisms focus on the trends that have outward effects. For example, the fact that millennials are poorly informed about news events compared to other generations is significant because it makes them less savvy voters, and makes them more irritating in certain conversations.

    But there's one trend that's compromising the millennial generation from the inside, and it's getting very little attention.

    The risk aversion of millennials

    Are millennials entitled? Selfish? Lacking empathy? Maybe. But one thing's for sure: They don't like taking risks. In fact, they're the most risk-averse generation since the Great Depression, when people had the perfect reason to avoid taking risks in investments.

    Why is this?

    1. Economic turbulence

    Millennials grew up or entered the workforce amidst the 2008 economic crisis, and have likely seen multiple points of rallying and falling in the stock market.

    The past 20 years or so have been extremely volatile, leading millennials to believe that the stock market is an inherently risky place where you could lose everything — and jobs can be swept out from under you at any minute. This makes millennials inherently more aware of and averse to risk.

    2. Corporate distrust

    Millennials are less trustful of corporations than generations that came before them. They trust advertising less because of how bombarded they are, and they've witnessed the effects of corporate greed on the economy. They therefore may be less likely to invest in stocks or trust major corporations (and our economic system in general).

    3. Choices everywhere

    It's a world where technology evolves at an astounding rate, and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of options for almost anything you could want, from jobs to investments to apps to dates.

    There are tons of online choices, all of them offering some degree of instant gratification, and millennials never want to stick with any one choice for too long. It's a never-ending cycle of transition and instant gratification, and anything deviating from that cycle is perceived as excessively risky.

    Stressed Law Students

    4. Student debt

    Student debt is at record levels, as is college attendance. The result is a greater portion of the population wrestling with student debt, and higher levels of debt itself to make matters worse.

    This adds pressure on millennials to find a consistent stream of work and makes them less capable of investing significant capital into projects, stocks, or other investments. They're starting in the workforce with heavier monthly expenses, and they tolerate financial risk worse than generations past.

    Why it's killing millennials' potential

    In some ways, risk aversion can be beneficial. It's encouraging more millennials to invest in and trust in themselves more than they trust a corporation, a stock, or any other kind of investment.

    However, there are ways that this risk aversion is throttling millennials' potential:

    1. Investment gains

    Millennials who avoid the stock market are missing out on significant potential investment gains. Indeed, many millennials favor investing in CDs and money market accounts, or just saving in basic savings and checking accounts.

    With lower interest rate investment vehicles, it can become impossible to outpace inflation, and eventually they end up losing money rather than gaining it.

    2. Jacks-of-all-trades

    Part of millennials' risk aversion involves a degree of job hopping, attempting to do as much as possible without fully investing in any one company or career. This can be beneficial, as it lends itself to skill development and experience in a number of different areas, but it also prevents millennials from following a trajectory of growth in any one career, and may limit them in their future income potential.

    Is risk aversion a good thing or a bad thing? Personally, I think risk aversion is beneficial in some ways, but has a broader effect of limiting your true potential. Only by taking risks and plunging into opportunities do you stand a chance of seeing higher gains — and this is especially true when you're young and nimble enough to recover from risks that go wrong.

    If you're a millennial in the workforce, or if you're considering investing, I encourage you to challenge yourself in taking more risks; start a business, make investments, or quit your job in pursuit of something better. There's no better time for your risk tolerance, and you have everything to gain.

    SEE ALSO: Why 20-somethings are miserable

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Animated map shows the best and worst states to raise your family


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    jacqui pretty headshot

    I still remember getting my first freelance editing client in May 2013 — the moment I got off the phone I started dancing around the house.

    I thought, “This is it. This is proof that I can do this.”

    And for the next year or so, things went swimmingly. My first few clients were thrilled with my work and started referring more clients, who then started referring even more. Within six months, I had a steady stream of clients and was earning enough to pay the bills, quit my job, and even spend four months working abroad. 

    Then word started to spread, and I began booking out in advance. Four weeks, six weeks, two months… I started sending emails like the one below, and I decided it was time to get help.

    Screen Shot 2016 12 28 at 4.36.23 PM

    Then came trouble. I had thought that with a mini me (or a couple of them) we’d be able to take on more work, earn more money, and launch new products and services. Before long, we could take over the world!

    Instead, hiring someone made things worse. I found myself working 80 hours a week, putting over $20k of my personal savings into the business to stay afloat, not paying myself for six months straight, and ending up emotionally and physically exhausted.

    Looking back, I made four crucial hiring mistakes. The lessons I learned from them allowed me to reclaim my time, start paying myself a salary, and start loving my business again. So let me share everything with you.

    Hiring mistake #1: Growing too big too fast

    My first mistake was taking too much on at once.

    I posted a job ad on Australia’s largest online job board with the intention to hire one person. It turns out, though, there are a lot of editors and writers looking for work. I received 165 applications in four days (at that point I took the ad down because I’d stopped looking at the new applications). Within a week, I had interviewed eight people. I found two I loved and decided to hire both of them.

    The problem? Two people cost twice as much as one. Two people take twice as much time to train. And two people need twice as much work coming in.

    While taking on my first hire would have been a challenge, hiring two at the same time was too much right out of the gate.

    The lesson: Start small

    Employees can put a lot of strain on a new business when it comes to your time, money, and energy. Lower your risk by starting small — get someone part time, consider an unpaid training period, or trial potential employees as freelancers before you commit.

    Then, if things don’t work out, you’re not putting your business on the line.

    Hiring mistake #2: Not getting more leads first

    Although business was good, when I decided to grow my team, I hadn’t done anything to boost the number of leads coming in the door. We were still dependent on referrals, and I had no idea how to bring in more work.

    This had never been an issue for me as a solopreneur — if I was booked out six weeks in advance, then I didn’t need to worry about new work coming in for another eight weeks (which it always did). With three of us, that exact same workload would only last two weeks.

    Ultimately, I couldn’t promise my new staff consistent work, and there were even times when I didn’t have enough to do.

    The lesson: Make sure you have enough business before you hire someone

    If you’re getting booked out in advance, that’s fantastic! But are you the one actively generating that business, or are you just benefitting from an upswing in the market or some unexpected referrals?

    Until you can consistently generate your own leads, hold off on growing your team. Instead, start by raising your prices.

    If you’re still getting booked after you increase your rates by at least 25%, you’ll have enough profit built in to free up some of your time. Then you can start actively generating business, rather than spending all of your waking hours working with clients and trying to stay on top of administrative tasks.

    Hiring mistake #3: Not running the numbers

    This is the biggest mistake I made — I never calculated how much employees would actually cost.

    When I hired my staff, I was charging $1,800 for our standard edit (my core product offering). I hired them at $28 an hour and thought it would take about 30 hours to edit a book, so the total cost of an edit would be $840, leaving me with a nice profit margin of $960.

    Screen Shot 2016 12 28 at 4.37.11 PM

    I discovered two problems with this formula.

    First, I’d never measured how long it actually took me to edit a book. It wasn’t until their timesheets started coming in that I realized an edit took between 40 and 50 hours (and sometimes longer). This took my expected cost per edit to $1,400 ($28 x 50 hours) and my expected profit down to $400.

    Part of it was because they were new. However, the real issue was that I hadn’t been accurately measuring how long it took me to do an edit, which meant that number was optimistic to begin with. On top of that, I hadn’t factored in the amount of work that goes around an edit (client calls, documenting and explaining the changes we’ve made, final read-throughs, and more), which added to the total tally.

    Second, I didn’t think about all of the additional costs that come with hiring employees beyond their hourly rate. These included:

    • Benefits: In Australia we have to pay Superannuation and WorkCover (the equivalent of 401k and disability insurance in the US). Costs I hadn’t factored into my edits.
    • Taxes: Aussie business owners need to start paying a 10% sales tax once our revenue goes above $75,000 a year. This would take another $163 out of my editing margin.
    • Accounting: Things become official once you hire people! I hired a bookkeeper ($55 a week). That added an extra $244 an edit.

    This means my “expected cost per edit” looked more like this:

    Screen Shot 2016 12 28 at 4.37.48 PM

    In other words, I was losing $315 every time one of my team members did an edit!

    But wait — it gets worse.

    We also had a package that offered three rounds of edits at a discounted rate of $2,500, which quickly became our most popular offering.

    The problem?

    The total cost of that package was $3,370, which meant a loss of over $870 every time one of my editors did the work.

    When I added time spent on training and in team meetings, we were losing between $2,400 and $5,000 every month. Ouch.

    The lesson: Run your numbers!

    The cost of an employee isn’t just their hourly rate — there are several expenses that go along with it. Run your numbers, raise your rates so you can cover them, and consider ways you can keep those numbers down.

    For example, can you engage someone as a freelancer instead of an employee? That will save you from some of the mandatory expenses for employees, and you may be able to negotiate a flat rate that you can take into consideration when pricing your services.

    Here’s a four-step process you can follow to make sure that hiring an employee makes financial sense:

    1. Keep a timesheet for a couple of weeks. Measure exactly how many hours it takes you to do the work you want to outsource to your new hire.
    2. List all your “hidden” costs — administrative work like client calls or final revisions. Over time, these small tasks can take up a lot of hours, which means more money that needs to be paid to your new hire.
    3. List all additional costs you will incur from hiring your first employee, including taxes, extra accounting, and any benefits or bonuses you plan to offer.
    4. Calculate the total cost of your employee per hour, including administrative tasks and hiring costs, and then evaluate the cost next to your current pricing structure. Ask yourself: Can I cover the cost of this new hire? Or, even better: Will there be profit left over?

    Hiring mistake #4: Forgetting to factor in training

    Because we were losing money on every job, I kept up my own full-time editing workload to cover the shortfall. At the same time, I was training my team members, reviewing every book they edited, and occasionally re-editing their books when they got stuck.

    Before long, I was working 80 hours a week, every week. I wasn’t spending time with my partner, and I went months without seeing my friends and family.

    At the same time, I couldn’t pay myself because all of the money from the work I was doing was covering my employees’ salaries and the expenses that went with them. On top of that, over four months, I put more than $20k of my savings into the business to stay afloat.

    I kept telling myself that it was only temporary — that my employees would get faster, that they’d soon be independent, and that I’d have my time back. But by the time we reached that point, six months had passed, I was burnt out, and I started questioning whether I was really cut out for this thing.

    The lesson: Map out your training program

    Figure out exactly how long it will take you to train your employees. It’s helpful to think about training in three separate buckets, like this:

    • Group training: This might include orientation, general knowledge around how the company works, principles you work towards in your services, etc. If you have a remote team, like me, you can do this training as a webinar and record it for future employees, which will save time in the future.
    • One-on-one training: Training my editors involved reviewing every book they edited, giving feedback, and workshopping different approaches with them. If there’s any way to automate this process, I haven’t found it yet. So whenever I start a new editor, I need to include this time in my schedule so I don’t over-commit (it also influences when I hire new people).
    • Cleaning up messes: Sometimes, s--t happens. And, if it does, you’ll be the one to clean it up. If you hire the right people to begin with you shouldn’t have too many issues, but if you do they’ll be in these early days. (In my case, the messes were when my editors struggled with challenging edits and I needed to redo them.) Think about the potential messes your employees might find themselves in, and make time in your calendar to address them, just in case.

    By considering this up front, you’ll avoid 80-hour weeks, burn out, and resenting your business altogether. And, if you build in some profit before hiring, you’ll also find it’s easier to make this time.

    Remember why you got into business in the first place

    The truth is, during all this mess, I had lost sight of why I started my business in the first place. I wanted to help entrepreneurs write great books, and I wanted the freedom and independence to manage my own time, to be able to work on creative projects, and to be able to travel.

    By addressing these four hiring mistakes, I went from running in the red each month to enjoying a profitable business. I’m happy, my team is happy, and so are my clients. And once again, I’m thrilled about the future of my business.

    Also my hours are down to 40-50 hours a week, with about a third of that time focused on ways we can grow the business with new products, services, and campaigns, rather than just trying to stay afloat.

    Hiring people can catapult your business — or it can destroy it if you’re not careful. Avoid the mistakes I shared above and you’ll be in a much better position when you’re ready to grow your team.

    SEE ALSO: How I turned my side job into a business that makes $15,000 a month

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Men working on laptop and smartphone

    We are living at a time of unlimited potential.

    Never before have we experienced such a rapid growth in the number of young entrepreneurs who've begun working for themselves.

    From app developers, to freelance writers, business consultants, creative producers, and startup founders, there's no shortage of people willing to take large calculated risks in the name of sculpting their own self-employed dream careers. 

    And why not? Every single day, many of these solopreneurs are growing their small businesses into the millions

    Yet, despite the optimistic outlook, the majority of would-be business owners still fall victim to the fear of turning their side business ideas into reality

    In a recent study from Bentley University, over 66% of those aged 18–34 cited a desire to start their own businesses. Yet, as of 2013, only 3.6% of businesses in the U.S. were owned by those under the age of 30.

    And it's not for lack of education or talent. 

    Global access to free and inexpensive online education resources on platforms like CreativeLive, Skillshare, General Assembly and others, have helped drastically cut the learning curves and barriers to entry in many industries. With valuable online learning opportunities as readily available as an internet connection, there's no excuse for not picking up new concepts and building powerful skills.

    Case in point, over the past few years, I've personally gone from first-time founder of a failed business, to freelancer, to building 4 successful businesses — all while working a full-time job

    Through my work and own experiences, I've found the 3 most common reasons people don't follow through on starting their own businesses are:

    1. A lack of confidence in themselves
    2. A perceived lack of necessary resources
    3. And most of all, a lack of motivation

    Starting a business while you're still working full-time is hard. But it can afford you many luxuries and securities that go straight out the window when you quit your job to pursue a business idea.

    From the obvious of having a steady income to fund your new venture, to forcing yourself to focus only on what delivers the highest impact and lessening the pressure on yourself.

    Now, before you take the plunge, you need to have a solid plan. 

    Here are my 10 steps to starting a side business while keeping your full-time job:

    1. Make the commitment

    This will get difficult.

    It will strain your relationships and you'll continually be forced to make tough decisions.

    Write down a list of all the activities and commitments you have during your week with the amount of time you devote to each. Take note of the ones you can afford to lessen your involvement with and let them know you are stepping back a bit to focus on a new project that means a lot to you.

    Then start to cross off the easy stuff first: Time spent watching TV, playing video games, or surfing Facebook and Instagram. The more time you can free up, the quicker you'll be able to start seeing results.

    2. Inventory your strengths and interests

    Which skill sets does your new business idea require? 

    You likely possess at least some of the necessary skills to make your business happen, but if you don't, you're now faced with a tough decision. Pause to spend time learning a new skill or outsource to someone else who can help pick up the slack?

    If you want to discover your strengths as an entrepreneur, try this exercise, which will help you uncover both your soft and hard skills and uncover your unfair advantage in business. Just remember, if your ideas and your skills don't match up, that's still OK. If you look in the right places, there are scores of talented freelancers out there ready to work with you.

    3. Validate your business idea

    When Fortune decided to ask the founders of failed startups what went wrong, the #1 reason that came up was a lack of market need for their product (almost half cited this as the reason their company died). 

    Early on in your planning you need to validate your business idea. This means getting honest feedback from actual paying customers, because as Basecamp founder Jason Fried explains:

    "The only answers that matter are dollars spent. People answer when they pay for something. That's the only answer that really matters."— Jason Fried

    It's human nature to think that we're right and that our ideas are always amazing. Unfortunately, our business concepts and product ideas are often not fully thought out, useful, or even properly researched. 

    By slowing down and building a very basic proof of concept with ongoing feedback from your target audience, you'll gradually create a solution that's guaranteed to meet their needs. You'll be able to grow from there

    4. Create a competitive advantage

    competitive advantage is defined as your unique advantage that allows you as a business to generate greater sales or margins, and/or acquire and retain more customers than competitors. 

    It's what makes your business, your business. 

    This can come in the form of your cost structure, product offering, distribution network, strategic relationships, customer support, or elsewhere in the business.

    Get honest with yourself here. Not only does your business honestly have to fill a market need, but it has to do so in a way that's different from what's available now. 

    5. Set detailed, measurable and realistic goals 

    You don't want to take your first steps without at least knowing where you might end up. 

    Without setting attainable goals and realistic deadlines for yourself, you're going to spend a lot of time spinning your wheels. In my experience, it works best to set daily, weekly and monthly goals for yourself. This constant accountability helps you stick with both the short- and long-term objectives. 

    In the beginning, your daily goals are most likely small wins or to-do list type of items, then you'll gradually start hitting milestones as you get closer to launching your side business

    6. Build a roadmap to launch date and beyond

    It's one thing to set your goals, and yet an entirely different activity to map out exactly how you're going to get to point B, C, D and beyond. 

    You need to be particularly proactive with this step and expect that you'll have to regularly adapt as things change over time. 

    Nobody can launch your business for you, but you won't be able to do it all on your own, either. 

    Your ability to problem-solve and navigate around your obstacles will determine your level of success with your business. And if you need extra inspiration, check out how some of the top leaders and companies ensure they hit their launch goals time after time. 

    7. Outsource your weaknesses

    This is all about focus. 

    Look for opportunities to outsource every possible part of your business creation that you can. Obviously, you don't want someone else planning your goals, roadmap, or telling you what your product or service should look like.

    The real point is that you need to be doing only what you do best. 

    "Concentrate on your strengths instead of your weaknesses … On your powers instead of your problems."— Paul J Meyers

    While it would be great if you could code your own website to test out your online service idea, if you don't already command a knowledge of developing, you're looking at a few months of dedicated learning time just to get to the point where you'll be able to understand the basics.

    Luckily, I know a great place to find high-quality help for your business idea.

    8. Actively seek objective feedback

    Your goal is to build a product or service that provides value to people. So it's important that you seek unbiased, outside feedback to make sure you're building something that's actually providing value to your customers. 

    Do this from day one and never stop.

    To find your early feedback group, you want to individually target people that you know will give you an honest opinion. My go-to group consists of a handful of close entrepreneurial friends and a few mentors I regularly keep in touch with. 

    From here, you can start to widen your scope for feedback and begin incorporating Facebook groups, LinkedIn Groups, Reddit, HackerNews, ProductHunt, GrowthHackers, and so on.

    9. Don't blur the lines between work and your business

    It may seem tempting to create a "better version of the company where you work," but unless your employer missed some major lessons along the way, your contract probably clearly stipulates that you've agreed not to do exactly that. 

    Plus, that's just bad practice and can destroy a lot of relationships that could instead be very helpful for you one day. 

    That's why the best business ideas are ones that enhance your performance at work and give you the opportunity to continue building your strengths outside of the office. If you're under any non-compete clauses, assignment of invention clauses, or non-disclosure agreements, then it's best to consult an attorney for personalized advice on this matter.

    It may seem obvious, but don't work on your side business during company time. You'll also need to refrain from using company resources on your business, no matter how tempting that may be. This includes not using your work computer, online tools, software, subscriptions, notebooks, or seeking the assistance of other employees unless you've specifically cleared it with your attorney.

    10. Reach critical mass before quitting your day job

    Don't get me wrong, I'm an advocate of only doing things that I'm interested in, and doing those things with 100% of my energy.

    That being said, I'm willing to take my time in fully vetting an idea, discovering my target market and testing that idea with them, before making the solo decision that "this must be great!"

    Having the time to continue thinking things through and seeking the advice of others will greatly benefit your new side business.

    Even more importantly, unless you're working on a high-growth startup and can secure investor funding (or you're able to self-fund), you're realistically going to need some form of sustainable income before your new business is able to be that sole source of sustenance for you.

    Starting a side business while working a full-time job will undoubtedly be difficult, but it's doable. There are as many paths to entrepreneurship as there are entrepreneurs in this world. Take these steps into account and you'll be well on your way to being your own boss. Imagine that awesome feeling.

    Ryan Robinson is an entrepreneur and writer who teaches over 200,000 monthly readers how to start and grow profitable side businesses.

    SEE ALSO: 11 ways to be more decisive

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    woman walking with headphones

    There's a reason that podcasts are such a fast-growing medium. They're timely, convenient — perfect length for commuting — and usually free, like a radio station you program for yourself.

    Whatever you're interested in, there's probably a podcast discussing it — politics, sports, history, music, language, storytelling — you name it.

    Unsurprisingly, business is an especially fast-growing segment. But as with anything with lots of entries, you have to sort through a lot to find the good stuff.

    I've gathered a baker's dozen of the best business podcasts here — some you may already know and hopefully some that are new to you. But they all share a common thread — they'll give you new ideas for helping your business grow, your mind expand, and your plans convert to action.

    1.The Action Catalyst, hosted by Rory Vaden

    The co-founder of Southwestern Consulting and author of the New York Times best-seller "Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success" combines pragmatic insights and powerful inspiration to lead you into action. Interviews and lessons cover everything from personal productivity to sales to entrepreneurship, with a set of action steps you can apply immediately. A must if you want to take action.

    2. Your Partner In Success Radio, hosted by Denise Griffitts 

    This podcast brings together leaders and entrepreneurs from a wide range of business disciplines, from marketing and sales to leadership and productivity, to share stories, wisdom, tips, and advice. This is a podcast that inspires success.

    3. Social Pros Podcast, hosted by Jay Baer and Adam Brown

    Recently named the best podcast at the Content Marketing Awards, Social Pros features social media experts from major brands to discuss successes, failures, strategies, and metrics. If you're serious about social media, there's no better resource, this is a must-listen.

    4. Brown Ambition, hosted by Mandi Woodruff and Tiffany 'The Budgetnista' Aliche

    Billing itself as "a weekly podcast about career, business, building wealth and living in this brown skin," Brown Ambition is a weekly conversation between two successful women of color dealing with topics of professional and financial ambition, will and so much more. Wisdom is found here weekly.

    5. The Art of Charm, hosted by Jordan and AJ Harbinger

    The hosts and experts discuss networking and success strategies for every area of life — from career to personal growth to romance. The Art of Charm podcast gets over three million downloads a month, making it one of the most popular shows in iTunes.

    6. Inside PR, hosted by Gini Dietrich, Martin Waxman, and Joseph Thornley

    A trio of American and Canadian PR pros discuss the latest thinking and events in the world of PR and social media a podcast not to be missed.

    7. Live Inspired, hosted by John O'Leary

    An inspirational speaker and the author of the best-selling book "On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life," O'Leary focuses his podcast on living intentionally so you can do more and have a greater impact in life. Each episode features a guest who shares his or story and the lessons learned along the way. Truly inspirational.

    8. The Femtrepreneur Show, hosted by Mariah Coz and Megan Minns

    With a focus on online course design and development, Coz and her guests share practical step-by-step instructions and strategies for everything from prioritizing and time management to growing a mailing list. True girl power.

    9. Entrepreneur on Fire, hosted by John Lee Dumas

    Winner of a "Best of iTunes" award, EOFire has featured more than 1,500 successful entrepreneurs sharing their worst entrepreneurial moments, aha! moments, and lessons learned seven days a week.! Are you prepared to ignite?!

    10. Accelerate Your Business Growth, hosted by Diane Helbig

    An award-winning podcast to provide small-business owners, salespeople, and aspiring entrepreneurs with diverse ideas focused on business success. It will accelerate your thinking.

    11.Conscious Millionaire,hosted by JV Crum III

    If you're a service-business owner, info-marketer, or coach who is eager to make your first million, this is the podcast for you. Guests discuss everything from mindset, systems, and strategy to marketing, personal growth, and how to make a bigger impact and bigger profits.

    12. Introvert Entrepreneur, hosted by Beth Buelow

    Wide-ranging conversations on topics dealing with business and life, all from an introvert's unique perspective. Whether or not you're an introvert, this is a great podcast.

    13. Investing in Real Estate, hosted by Clayton Morris

    Clayton's podcast is not just about real estate — it's about so much more. He believes that most people live with a fear of money and never truly become financially free. In this podcast, Clayton Morris shows you how to build true passive income by using buy and hold real estate. He focuses on action over education to help people buy their first rental property.

    I hope you'll load some of these up and give them a listen when you're on the road or doing tedious desk chores. You'll be surprised how much you can learn from these top business podcasts.

    SEE ALSO: 8 professors, lecturers, and other experts share podcasts that will help you learn something new

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    daniel dipiazza

    If I had to do it all over again, I would skip the university route. Instead, I would spend 3-4 years working on a kick---, meaningful project that actually made an impact on the world.

    I have nothing against college. In fact, I recommend you go if you want to do something specialized, like become a doctor, lawyer, or paleontologist. But if you're reading this, chances are you don't want to become any of those things.

    In my opinion, every aspiring entrepreneur needs their first "Big Project." The project should not necessarily be a job. It's best if the project is something that you choose, design, and fund.

    By deeply involving yourself in things that you really care about, you'll start gaining real, experiential knowledge. This is the type of knowledge that you can't get in a classroom. It's the sort of raw material that you can turn into an asset (a skill or product) that can eventually be sold.  

    To be clear, I'm not "anti-college." I'm "pro-options."

    Many of us aren't even aware that there is another way to find work that you love other than browsing through a catalog of majors and sitting in a lecture hall. Even if you read this and still choose to go to college (or you've already gone), you should be actively looking to improve your life and intentionally develop yourself by undertaking challenging experiences that you're deeply interested in.

    Here are a few life-changing projects to try instead of college:

    • Travel the world — Traveling will give you an entirely new perspective, and exposure to new cultures always gives you something interesting to talk about with other people. Visit places you've only read about, eat food you don't recognize, and make friends with people you otherwise wouldn't have met.
    • Start a business— The #1 thing starting a business will teach you is that failure is inevitable, and once you can get over that, you'll have a much better chance at succeeding the next time. This is old-school character building. Starting a business is also a great way to learn how to negotiate when people don't like you and convince other people to help you. Ready to get started but don't know how? Here are 25 business ideas that any aspiring entrepreneur will absolutely love.
    • Volunteer extensively— Find a cause that you really care about it and give back in the biggest way possible. Help build houses in your community. Tutor kids after school. But don't just dabble … treat it like a job. Give everything you have. Be a good human for no reason. It feels great — but you also learn a lot about yourself and others.
    • Become fluent in a new language — No, not with the same enthusiasm of high school Spanish — REALLY learn one. Work on becoming fluent, start to enjoy pieces of the culture that are typically reserved for native speakers (telenovelas, anyone?) then take an extended vacation to a country that speaks that language.
    • Create art  Painting, music, dance, sculpture; find something that really speaks to you and do it every single day — create something beautiful that you're proud of. Share it.
    • Compete in a sport — Learn a martial art, bowl competitively, or learn chess. Hell, start a running club in your neighborhood. Do something physical with your time and force yourself to get better and better. Track your progress. Compete in tournaments. This is also a great way to get in better shape without trying. I can personally vouch for bodybuilding and jiu jitsu. They changed my life.
    • Become an expert at something that fascinates you— Like quantum physics? Devote the entire year to learning everything you can about string theory and become well versed in space-time. Create your own research studies and get them published in a journal. "Regular" people don't do this. Be exceptional. Push your own intellectual boundaries and try to learn difficult concepts that scare you.
    • Write a book— There's a good chance you won't know what the hell you were talking about when you read your work again in 20 years — but the main benefits of writing are meditation, reflection, and habit building. You're learning to control your thoughts and dedicate a set amount of time to something every day.

    This Big Project will do incredible things for your life:

    1. It will show you that you're capable of coming up with an idea and seeing it through to the end.
    2. It will allow you to create in a relatively low-stakes environment. You can't really "lose" if the project doesn't go well. (Another reason why it's best not to consider your job a project.)
    3. It will teach you to creatively find resources that you need in order to complete the project. Especially because you probably don't have a lot of money yet.
    4. It will help you to see your true path and connect you with others who are also looking for their path, which is similar to yours. (The first stage of networking.)  

    If you're reading this, there's a good chance you've probably already finished college or that you're in college right now. That's totally OK! You don't have to drop out of school tomorrow or tear up your diploma in a fit of rage. It'd be funny to watch ... but seriously, you don't have to.

    That said ... no matter where you are right now, you must start the process of rethinking what it means to do your "life's work"— which is a term too few of us use to describe our journey these days.

    What do you want the impact of your life to be? What type of uniquely meaningful work can you contribute to the world to leave it a little better than when you found it?

    SEE ALSO: 6 books anyone who wants to start their own business should read

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    James AltucherLinkedIn Influencer James Altucher originally published this post on LinkedIn.

    After the third attempt and failure at starting a business I said, “That’s it. I’m never doing this again! This is clearly for other people.”

    I hated it.

    But I tried again.

    I had zero business sense.

    All I knew about business was this: If you do work for someone, you get paid, and then you pay bills.

    That’s the entire knowledge I had about running a business. It was very incomplete. But it worked.

    In what follows, I am mostly focused on my first business.

    How come? Because like most people who start their first business, I had almost zero knowledge of what an entrepreneur was.

    I had to figure it out while it happened, I had to survive, and then I had to cash out.

    After that first time, you know a lot more. So it gets easier.

    I also assume: You need to be profitable.

    99% of businesses don’t live off of “VC welfare” (i.e. they don’t have investors who will subsidize their many failures).

    So I had to start a business that was profitable right away.

    Which meant I had to provide a service that people paid for. In my case: a business that made websites for the many companies that did not have one in the mid-90s.

    A. Big vision, but small implementation

    Have a big vision (“every company will need a website”) but know every subtlety in the business (I could program a database, design a graphic, knew how to optimize the website. Knew how to market it, etc).

    Keep up with all the small in the industry, but make sure the BIG still holds.

    B. Work hard but delegate work

    The biggest day for me was when I realized I didn’t have to do everything. I could hire someone to do some of the work.

    Then I was able to work 90 hours a week but get 300 hours a week worth of work done.

    Thanks Chet for being the first person I hired!

    C. Over-promise and then over-deliver

    You have to get the job. So you have to promise the world.

    Yes, we can get it done in less than two weeks. Yes, we will be on call all the time. Yes, we will solve your personal problems and show up at your charities. Yes, we will put our best designer on the project and our best programmer.

    And then we always did more than we promised.

    We always had extra features that they didn’t ask for but we knew they would need. We would provide those for free.

    Eventually, when you are an agency, all (most) client relationships go bad over time.

    But when you overdeliver you instantly crush all competition for a long time. They can’t even think about competition.

    Trust me, they will think about your enemies later. It’s not a marriage and even many marriages disintegrate into first boredom and then contempt

    But first, overpromise and then over-deliver.

    D. Diversify, diversify, diversify

    The first 18 months after I started the business, I kept my full-time job.

    I had to make sure I would pay my bills or I would die. I couldn’t risk that.

    So I diversified in many ways to reduce personal risk. When you reduce personal risk, you can focus on what’s important.

    What is important? Doing something that you love that will make you more money than your bills.

    If this sounds brutish, so what. It’s true.

    You can’t be scared about what’s in your bank account.

    I diversified by having a job and a business.

    I also diversified at my job. I was a computer programmer but I was also pitching TV shows and even got an agent to shop a collection of short stories. And I considered other job offers all the time.

    I diversified my business by having as many clients as possible. We’d do anything to get a new client.

    And we diversified the business by trying to think of new products to offer.

    But, honestly, we weren’t smart enough or business savvy enough to figure anything out.

    If we had more business sense, we would have also diversified by raising money and making a scalable product and going public like many of our competitors.

    But we weren’t that smart.

    So we stuck to what we knew: People needed websites, we charged a lot of money for them, and we paid less for rent and people than we charged.

    [ RELATED: How to be the LUCKIEST GUY ON THE PLANET in 4 Easy Steps ]

    E. Sales

    I didn’t know anything about sales. I probably looked down on it. Like in a “Death of a Salesman” sort of way.

    But I had a natural skill for it when I cared about what I was selling.

    There’s a million books on sales and persuasion. I had read zero of them. Now I’ve read them and I think they are useful.

    But I think there are basics that every entrepreneur has to have.

    • Likability. Don’t be a “sales guy.” Do “the 3Ls” (I am making that up). Love their product. Like the client (find common ground). Listen to them.
    • Solve their big problem and their small problem. When I was pitching companies that I could do their website I knew they had one big problem and one small problem.

    The BIG problem is the Vision – e.g. if you don’t get a website, then all of your competitors will get a better one faster and you’ll miss out on an enormous audience.

    The small problem was their budget. Even big companies had none. So undercharge the competition and meanwhile help the client figure out how to impress the budget-makers enough to increase the budget for this.

    • Recommend the competition. There’s nothing wrong with analyzing the landscape of “the competition.”

    I never see a sales book talk about this. But when you analyze the competition for a potential customer you create “choice ambiguity bias.”

    It puts this fog-like feeling in their heads whenever they think about “the other companies” versus you.

    And you also appear to be on their side helping them evaluate all their choices in an unbiased way, even though you are obviously biased (and everyone rationally knows you are biased)

    • Have a champion. You can’t get a deal done if the decision maker, or someone close to the decision maker, is not your champion.If someone low-level is your champion then give up immediately and don’t waste time. You won’t get the deal.

    How do you get a high-level champion? Find as a many touch-points as possible. People in common, agendas in common, etc. Make sure they understand your ENTIRE goal is to make their lives much better. This is even more important than making their companies better.

    • Sales is all the time. Every second. You are never doing anything at all without thinking of the sales aspect of it.

    F. Love your business and hate it

    With my first successful business, I was excited every day to solve problems, and deal with all the issues.

    You have to have a problem-solving mindset and get-new-clients mindset every day.

    But I badly wanted to sell the business. And sell it as fast as possible for a lot of money.

    Cash later is never as a good as cash now.

    And for me, this was my first successful business. I had no money in the bank. Money doesn’t solve all of your problems but it solves your money problems.

    At least at first.

    Sometimes people tell me, “if I sell my business I’ll just end up starting another business like this and doing the same thing.”

    That’s ok. Do that. But even if I did the exact same thing, I still wanted more cash in the bank.

    So love your business every day, but make sure you are building value (i.e. the business can survive without you) and always have a “for sale” sign up.

    By the way, I didn’t know this then, but this is a common strategy on the path to billions. Look at Mark Cuban (sold his first software company before starting Audionet / Broadcast.com), or Elon Musk (sold Zip2, then Paypal, before starting Tesla, SpaceX, etc).

    Don’t fall in love with a company.

    G. Never get angry

    Here’s the people who angered me in my first business:

    customers, partners, employees, landlords, buyers of my business, competitors – in that order.

    In later companies add in shareholders.

    But you can never get angry.

    Life + Anger < Life.

    So how do you get rid of the anger?

    Remember this other equation:

    Anger = Fear clothed.

    Ask: what is it I am afraid of? Am I afraid the client will quit? Am I afraid the employee will damage a project? Am I afraid the partner will refuse to go along with my very personal idea for how the company can grow?

    Solve the fear. Look at the worst case scenario. Is it that bad?

    For instance, make a plan for when the client will leave you. And try to compromise with the partner (something you can’t do if you are yelling at each other).

    And if the project is not so good because of what the employee does, maybe that’s not the worst thing either. Maybe don’t have expectations so high all the time.

    H. Say yes and say no

    First, Say “Yes” to everything. Can you do X? Yes. Can you do Y? Yes. Can you do it for less than $Z? “Yes!”

    You have to get the deal.

    And the client is always right!

    But then the client is often wrong.

    So that’s when you can either say “No” or negotiate or fire the client.

    Negotiation was rare for me in my first business. I simply did everything every client asked for whatever price.

    The only times I said “No” was when startups wanted me to work for equity. Then I said “No.” Because equity is worth nothing all of the time.

    But I did the Miramax website for $1000 even though I did the website for “The Matrix” for $250,000.

    I just said “yes” to everything and soon our company was “the company that did all of the entertainment websites.”

    That brand value was worth millions during the small window that opened up when agencies like mine were being bought by public companies.

    I. Don’t spend money 

    Above I said, “delegate.” But now I’m saying “don’t spend money.”

    Real businesses have cycles. If you are as lean as possible then you can handle a downturn. I never hired a secretary, for instance. And we only moved offices when we were 40 people in a three room office.

    If your business lives on “VC welfare” (i.e. you are funded by big-pocketed investors who will put in more) then ignore all of this.

    If you live in the real world and not on welfare then you need to spend less than you charge.

    We didn’t know what we were doing. We had no sense of accounting or what a P&L was. Knowing accounting is the froth on top of a good business. It makes the business better.

    But it’s not a startup entrepreneurial mindset.

    The startup mindset is: “Do I have more cash in the bank at the end of the month (when bills are due) than I had at the beginning of the month.”

    Note that accounting often ignores that (“money owed by clients” is an “asset” on paper but not in real life).

    J. Don’t smoke crack

    Everyone thinks their business is the best ever and their employees are “the top 1% of what they do.”

    There’s a cognitive bias that describes this but I forget what it is.

    And it’s really hard not to think this way. Even if you know something is a cognitive bias, even if you know that you are probably irrational, you will still smoke your own crack.

    When I look back at some of the websites my first company made, I can see how bad they are in retrospect.

    We sucked.

    So we got a little lucky but that’s what hard work, and being good at sales, and selling the company are for.

    It’s really important to take a step back, constantly look at the landscape, and try to objectively see where you and your company fit in.

    Have a mindset of constantly trying to get better and offer more and more instead of resting on, “we’re the best.”

    [ RELATED: The 100 Rules for Being an Entrepreneur ]

    K. Have fun

    I started my first successful business with my sister.

    It was such a roller coaster. My sister was an aspiring novelist. I worked for a TV company. And her husband was a painter by training. And we had another partner who was a photographer.

    We knew absolutely nothing other than: sell, work, charge, repeat.

    We had to learn so much while we built up to millions in revenues and ultimately selling the business.

    It was really brutal. Almost all of the time we were either working hard, or running around scared. And we argued with each other a lot.

    But we did it and built it and sold it and got out alive. Many of our competitors didn’t. Because that entire sector imploded within months in 2000.

    We traveled together, we ate all of our meals together, we spent so much time together. We had to make it fun. We threw parties. We made fun side projects. My brother-in-law was best man at my wedding.

    We supported each other’s lives.

    But an “entrepreneurial mindset” is really brutal and is a raging fire that often scorches the Earth until there are no survivors.

    So now we don’t speak to each other at all. And I miss them.

    • Ask me a question on Quora…I answer questions daily!
    • To hear from me in the future, subscribe to my email by clicking here. Or visit my website to read free blog content

    SEE ALSO: 43 life-changing books that I revisit again and again

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    man on computer

    By now it's clear that business owners and other professionals who work for themselves need to take charge of planning and saving for their own retirement.

    Most small-business owners can't count on selling their companies to pay for retirement. And conventional, government-sponsored retirement plans come with hidden wealth traps.

    All of which adds up to the reason business owners, entrepreneurs and other self-employed folks need a "Plan B."

    Here are three surprisingly simple keys to finishing rich as an entrepreneur, business owner or other self-employed professional:

    1. Increase your profits and your personal wealth 

    Learn everything you can about "direct-response marketing." This tactic lets you track every dollar you spend to the return on investment you get from it. Don't let anyone talk you into any other kind of marketing, which is designed to make them rich at your expense.

    Equally important: Keep increasing the money you pocket from your business. No doubt you've seen the sobering illustrations that reveal how much money you'll need to have a comfortable retirement. Ideally, you should pocket at least $1 million a year.

    2. Keep your lifestyle in check

    British economist C. Northcote Parkinson wrote an insightful little book called "Parkinson's Law." In it, he notes: "A luxury, once enjoyed, becomes a necessity." Smartphones didn't exist all that long ago, but today most of us can't imagine not having one with us at all times. Parkinson also pointed out that "expenses rise to equal income." How true is that! Have you ever noticed how quickly your increased income is absorbed by a new "necessity?" 

    We're blasted 24/7 by advertising in every imaginable medium. How can you resist so many messages to buy, buy, buy in order to be happy, respected, sexy or successful? You simply need a few tricks up your sleeve to beat the advertisers at their own game.

    Self-impose your own 24/7 rule. Except for basic necessities, wait 24 hours before making small purchases. For larger purchases, such as a new appliance or television, wait seven days to consider whether you really need the item before you make the purchase. If you're eyeing a major purchase — think new car or luxury vacation — wait 30 days. Do this consistently for a month, and you'll be amazed by how many things you "needed" have lost their pull.  

    Use cash. Use those greenbacks for everything you can (other than paying bills). Studies show it could decrease your spending by 20%, and you won't feel a bit deprived. Debit cards don't have the same effect, even if the purchase is coming directly out of your checking account. 

    Go for the "Big Happy." No matter what Madison Avenue wants you to believe, your deepest happiness comes from experiences and relationships, not from things. We quickly get used to having new stuff. But the memory of screaming down a zip line or taking your family to swim with the dolphins can last a lifetime. 

    3. Create a safe money plan to save the difference

    It's no secret our nation's savings rate is abysmal. Many people think if they're saving 10% or 15% of their income, they're doing pretty good. By comparison, they are. But consider the reality of how much money you'll really need to accumulate to enjoy a decent standard of living in retirement — one equal to or greater than your lifestyle while working. Saving 10% or 15% won't cut it.

    You should work toward saving 20%, 30% or even 40% of your pre-tax income. It can be done. And if you increase your savings by 2% or 3% each year, you'll be surprised by how fast your nest egg will grow. You won't even feel a pinch.

    Protect your perfect 'Plan B' for retirement 

    There's a critically important difference between "saving" and "investing." Saving means placing money you can't afford to lose in a vehicle that is safe and has guaranteed growth. You're certain your money will be there when you need it. In contrast, investing involves placing money in a financial vehicle or an asset that has a certain amount of risk. You hope to make a gain, but it's not guaranteed. In fact, you might even lose your original investment money.

    The only money you should invest is money you can afford to lose — or money you're able to let languish in the market for at least 20 years, if necessary, until it recovers. Why 20 years? Because since 1929, we've weathered three market crashes that stunned the Dow so sharply, it took between 16 and 25 years to return to its pre-crash level.

    Could something like that happen again? No one knows for sure, of course, but history does have a way of repeating itself. Can you imagine the impact on your retirement and current lifestyle if you had to wait 25 years for the market to recover? That's one reason it's so important to create a safe and secure plan to pay for your retirement.

    SEE ALSO: The 30 richest people on earth

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    San Francisco California

    Entrepreneurship is essential to America's economy. New businesses create jobs, promote competition, and transform industries, but where a business sets up shop can be crucial to its success.

    As part of its 2017 best states ranking, U.S. News & World Report determined the states with the strongest business environment using two metrics: The number of new businesses formed between 2013 and 2015 and the average number of patents per 1 million residents granted during the same period. 

    California, home to Silicon Valley, the launching pad for dozens of tech juggernauts, came out on top, followed by Massachusetts and Idaho.

    Below, check out the 15 best states for starting a business:

    SEE ALSO: The 22 best places to live in America if you want to make a lot of money

    DON'T MISS: The 18 richest people in America

    15. Vermont

    Population630,000

    Entrepreneurship rank: 43

    Patent creation rank: 4



    14. Oregon

    Population4 million

    Entrepreneurship rank: 26

    Patent creation rank: 9



    13. Minnesota

    Population5.5 million

    Entrepreneurship rank: 39

    Patent creation rank: 5



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Denver Colorado

    It's been nearly nine years since America fell into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. While the recovery has been slow and steady on the whole, some states have bounced back stronger than others.

    As part of its 2017 best states ranking, U.S. News & World Report ranked each US state on three economic indicators:

    • Growth: GDP growth from 2012 to 2015, growth rate of the total population aged 25 to 29 between 2012 and 2015, and average net migration (people moving to and from the state).
    • Employment: The annual growth of nonfarm jobs from 2012 to 2015, the percentage of residents age 16 or older who participated in the labor force in 2015, and the November 2016 unemployment rate.
    • Business: The number of new businesses formed between 2013 and 2015 and the average number of patents per 1 million residents granted during the same period.

    U.S. News then combined these rankings — growth (50%), employment (30%), business (20%) — to form its list of states with the strongest economies.

    The country's most populous states — California, Texas, and Florida — all appear on the list. But it's Colorado and North Dakota that come out on top, with high marks for young population growth and job opportunities.  

    Read on to see the top 15 states where young people are moving in, jobs are plentiful, and business is booming.

    SEE ALSO: The 15 best US states to start a business

    DON'T MISS: The 15 best states for landing a job

    15. Oregon

    Population4 million

    Growth rank: 14

    Employment rank: 24

    Business environment rank: 14



    14. Georgia

    Population10.2 million

    Growth rank: 11

    Employment rank: 31

    Business environment rank: 16



    13. New Hampshire

    Population1.3 million

    Growth rank: 31

    Employment rank: 6

    Business environment rank: 11



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    entrepreneurship fair

    In today's hyper-partisan era, one goal crosses the political divide: the need for more entrepreneurs.

    Encomia are everywhere: Politicians praise them, Hollywood lionizes them, venture capitalists chase them, universities foster them.

    Entrepreneurs, from Henry Ford to Elon Musk, are embedded in American lore. In an earlier era they were popularized in Horatio Alger rags-to-riches terms; today it's the garage-to-tech-titan stories that have legendary status for Millennials.

    Could it be, however, that we've hit peak preoccupation with entrepreneurship?

    Although entrepreneurial magic is often discussed in "tech" terms, the reality is most startups involve such things as restaurants and lawn services or electricians and car services — much of which require no college degree. By contrast, the vast majority of tech entrepreneurs emerge from universities.

    Have colleges and universities received the message? The battle to have schools take entrepreneurship seriously has been won. Consider how much has changed.

    When boomers left high schools, circa 1970, there were just 16 colleges and universities offering courses in entrepreneurship, and college-centric startup "incubators" were essentially non-existent, according to Kaufmann Foundation data.

    Now, over 1,500 universities offer such courses and college-based incubators are everywhere. Unsurprisingly — and whether it's cause or effect — the share of today's freshmen who say they want to be entrepreneurs has doubled since 1970. But even with that doubling, the actual share of college students declaring such a goal remains just 3.3%. 

    Yet on some campuses, the proliferation of "angel" investment groups, start-up competitions, and mentor networks would make you think the entire point of attending college is to become an entrepreneur. And this despite the fact that the vast majority of students will become employees, not employers.

    Meanwhile, according to Gallup research, the majority of employers "think college graduates aren't developing workplace skills." These employers aren't referring to coding or computation skills, but, rather, to "human qualities" such as "relationship building, dealing with complexity and ambiguity, balancing opposing views, teaming and collaboration, co-creativity." Even though such qualities don't come naturally to all people, they are eminently teachable— the business of the university. 

    Hence the importance of distinguishing between entrepreneurship and innovation. Companies — and the country — need both. But if its jobs we're worried about, educators may have the wrong emphasis. Ultimately, it is innovation that, while critical to entrepreneurship, is more broadly vital to the economy and to companies for creating jobs.

    Of course startups create jobs. But the legendary zero-to-one-thousand employee successes — Hewlett Packard, Intel, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook — don't tell the whole story. A St. Louis Federal Reserve analysis of the past two decades reveals that tiny companies (under 20 employees), which include startups, created just 15% of net jobs. Big firms (over 500 employees) accounted for 40% of net new jobs, while small and mid-sized firms (20 to 500 employees) created 45%.

    Still, however rare, the archetype of the under-30 tech titan is very seductive. In fact, the data show that people over 45 years old are twice as likely to start a company as those under 35. And notwithstanding Peter Thiel's admonishment that many students should just skip college and go straight to starting a company, nearly 80% of entrepreneurs attended college, a share doubtless higher for tech-centric startups. 

    There is a magnetic allure to funding or fostering a new generation of geniuses who might create the next "Unicorn"— a Google or a Facebook. CB Insights counts nearly 200 so-called Unicorns (private companies valued at over $1 billion) in today's panoply of venture-funded companies. But even those vaunted companies have the same core challenge as every other well-established firm: finding talented and innovative employees. 

    This has obvious relevance for universities where, despite a profusion of stakeholder goals, the central mission remains educating the next generation. The true revolutions we hope for in every domain — from health care and transportation to energy and manufacturing — will not emerge from Shark Tank competitions around clever products. Instead, transformational advances come from the deep knowledge that emerges when people of all ages spend time studying hard problems, often collaboratively.

    However, the policies and priorities associated with such an old-fashioned educational concept don't lend themselves easily to political nostrums or campus placards. Perhaps we need to be more innovative about the idea of what constitutes entrepreneurship.

    In practice, this means educators need to foster innovation-as-a-skill. Such a re-focus doesn't mean abandoning the startup culture. On the contrary, innovation is a key feature of entrepreneurship. And the innovation skill has lifelong value for individuals, not to mention employers that necessarily need more than episodic bursts of brilliance.

    But it turns out that teaching innovation is harder than simply making the hackneyed assertion to "think outside of the box." True innovation requires cultivating the instinct to be creative and fostering a fearlessness to take up seemingly intractable challenges with the idea that "there must be a better way." This is partly a matter of character, and it may be closer to an "art" than a science.

    America was producing entrepreneurs long before the word became fashionable. Risk-taking and even "irrational exuberance" together with a contrarian spirit are part of the American DNA. Nobel economist Edmund Phelps captured this quite simply as the "dynamism" of America. Dynamism is the feature that will lead to more innovators, not just entrepreneurs — something both policymakers and educators can embrace.

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

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    UCLA Citylab ADU design

    America is in the throes of "the new housing crisis."

    New-home construction is lagging behind demand and home prices are surging in many of the nation's most desirable locales, pricing out first-time buyers.

    In California, the nation's most populous state, the effects of the crisis are especially dire. Rents are crazy-high — up to $4,170 for the median rental in San Francisco — homeownership is at a record low, and overcrowding is more than twice the national rate.

    But California has come up with a possible solution to its affordable housing shortage.

    A new state law, authored by California Sen. Bob Wieckowski, enables homeowners to build rental units on their property, whether through garage conversions, as a home attachment, or as a new, standalone structure. These types of residences are formally known as Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and colloquially as "granny flats."

    Previous versions of California's ADU law were marred by costly barriers, like exorbitant water and gas hookup fees, often put in place by local governments. Because of strict city regulations in Los Angeles, only 644 ADUs had been approved there between 2003 and 2016 (there are estimated to be about 50,000 unpermitted units across the city).

    "I see a huge latent market now that we've removed the roadblocks, removed a big dam ... now it's a matter of homeowners rushing in behind and starting to build these," Matt Regan, senior vice president of housing policy at the Bay Area Council, a business-sponsored, public policy advocacy group, told Business Insider.

    "The amazing thing about the secondary units is the land is free," Dana Cuff, a professor of architecture and urban design and planning at UCLA, and director of CityLAB at UCLA, said. "It's already there, you don't buy that. And that's the biggest expense in housing today, the land."

    Still, the sheer cost of ADU design plans and construction — which could run up to $200,000 for a new unit — are a deterrent for many residents.

    Regan says his organization and others are working diligently to develop new financing options specifically for homeowners building ADUs, many of whom are "home rich and cash poor."

    housing home development real estate san jose california

    Because current laws don't allow future rental income to qualify someone for a mortgage loan, Regan says, they're working with local and national banks, including Wells Fargo, to create an ADU-specific home loan that will take that factor into account. This will allow people to pass through who may be "in the margins of qualifying."

    But big banks act slow, Regan says, which is why he thinks a "sharp-minded entrepreneur" will swoop in with a quicker, direct-to-consumer solution that provides private financing and building.

    In the past, Silicon Valley behemoths Airbnb and Alphabet, Google's parent company, have experimented in developing affordable, pre-fab homes suitable for backyard living. But they're cautious, as The Information notes, "because of regulatory hurdles and unproven business models."

    Because cities can still tailor the state law to their local zoning regulations, including abiding by size and height restrictions, it could prove difficult for companies looking to capitalize on the one-size-fits-all model.

    Regan says the greatest benefit to homeowners will be establishing a single source to administer the ADU process end-to-end, from permitting to building to finding tenants.

    "We've created a new asset class in the housing market — someone is going to step up and make a lot of money financing these things," Regan said.

    "My suspicion is that it will come from a startup entrepreneur-type model," he said. "Someone's going to crack this nut very quickly."

    The research team at CityLAB at UCLA believes ADUs are a logical next step in the evolution of modern cities.

    Cuff says ADUs are part of a "postsuburban city," in which homeowners can benefit from cash flow from renters or space for nannies, caretakers, and aging parents. Her research suggests they're feasible for 5% to 10% of the 500,000 single-family lots in Los Angeles under the new law, enough to make a dent in Mayor Eric Garcetti's goal for 100,000 new housing units by 2021.

    DON'T MISS: Crazy-high rent, record-low homeownership, and overcrowding: California has a plan to solve the housing crisis, but not without a fight

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    Sydney

    A central European country tops a global ranking of the best places to be an entrepreneur — although several continents are represented at the top of the list.

    The index, compiled by Wharton University and market research firm Y&R, evaluates a total of 80 countries which collectively account for 95% of global gross domestic product.

    The overall ranking considers a wide range of factors to create an overall "best countries" index, including entrepreneurship, heritage, quality of life, and openness for business.

    Business Insider took a look at the "entrepreneurship" subindex, which analyses factors including connectivity, education levels, labour force skills, transparency, and infrastructure.

    Here are the nine countries which made the top of the list.

    9. Australia — The Australian start-up scene is an emerging one, and despite relatively big start-up costs associated with high wages, the country scores highly on the "entrepreneurial" sub-index on account of its connectivity, infrastructure, and transparent business practices.



    8. Singapore — The Economist newspaper has dubbed Singapore "the world’s most tightly packed entrepreneurial ecosystem," with a world-beating start-up environment. It scores highly on the Wharton index for its infrastructure, easy access to capital, and connectivity.



    7. Canada — The first north American entry on the list ranks highly for its well-developed infrastructure, transparent business practices, and educated workforce. In 2015, the country launched an innovative 'Start-Up Visa' scheme, which links immigrant entrepreneurs with Canadian private sector organisations.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    daniel dipiazza

    Starting a successful business is hard.

    But let's not presume that entrepreneurship itself is intrinsically riskier than other things that popular culture deems as "acceptable."   

    You'll never be able to completely avoid risk — either in your personal or professional life. But you can mitigate it significantly by having a solid game plan in place. You need a proven system that will help you determine which ideas are worth pursuing so that you don't become a statistic of America, Inc.  

    You want to be as certain as possible that your business will succeed BEFORE you launch. In other words, you need to "fail proof" it. And luckily for you, I've developed a process to get you as close to 100% sure as humanly possible.

    I call this process "Three Question Validation."

    How to fail proof your idea with Three Question Validation

    At its core, Three Question Validation involves asking yourself three pivotal questions to determine if your business idea is viable and likely to succeed. It's a compact method to test whether your idea holds water before you waste time, energy, and money on something that isn't going to work.

    If you can say "yes" to all three of them, you have an idea that's likely to do well.

    If you can't say "yes" to all of them, it's time to go back to the drawing board.

    1.'Is there competition in my space?'

    Contrary to popular belief, you WANT competitors in your space.

    If you find a market that's 100% unoccupied, you're either the first one there (risky in that nothing has been tested), or you didn't get the memo (other people have tried unsuccessfully and abandoned the market).

    Being the first isn't horrible, but there's less of a roadmap to follow.

    Being last doesn't mean that you can't find a way to make your idea work ... but that will take considerably more effort.

    Remember, the purpose of this freelance business doesn't have to be finding the #1 thing you want to do for the rest of your life. It's a bridge to freedom. It's a tool to bring in some more money as you get the rest of your life in order.

    Over time, you may find other things you like more — and that's totally OK.

    For now, let's try to pick something that has a high probability of succeeding, so that you can build your confidence, business savvy, and skill set.

    Pick something where there appears to be many other people doing what you'd like to do. If you can answer "yes" to this question, it's time to move on to the next question.

    2. 'Are my competitors making money?'

    A bit of a no-brainer, but very important to consider: Even if there are people doing what you want to do, you need to make sure they have enough clients and are making the type of money you'd like to make.

    This step will ensure that it's worth your time to invest in your idea. There are a bunch of different ways to tell how well your competition is doing. You could look on their websites for testimonials and client success stories. Browse through their portfolios if they have them.

    You could stop in (if they are local) and talk to them or give them a call. Ask about rates, schedule, and typical client experience. (Obviously, don't tell them why you're doing the research.)

    I love looking at unbiased third-party sites like Yelp to check and see what their ratings are and what customers have to say. You don't need to get exact revenue numbers. The point here is just to get a general sense for how they're doing.

    If other people are successfully getting clients and customers, so can you.

    3. 'Can I do my product/service/idea differently and/or better?'

    This is the question that ties everything together. You've found your competition. They appear to have some business. Now what?

    It's time to take a stand by standing out.

    In order for customers to buy your idea over (or in addition to) another company's, you must show why your product or service is different and/or better. If you can show why you're unique, you'll attract the customers who are perfect for your business. The type of clients who will buy from you time and again — and who will continually refer you to all their friends.

    This point of difference between you and your competition is called a USP, short for "Unique Sales Proposition."

    Here are five examples of how to stand out with a USP:

    1. Better (lower) price
    2. Convenience
    3. Better quality/aesthetic
    4. Better variety
    5. Better customer service or guarantee

    There's no "right" USP, and you don't only have to stick to one. Test your market. These are just some ideas to get you started immediately.

    SEE ALSO: 6 books anyone who wants to start their own business should read

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    Kristen Pumphrey

    In 2008, Kristen Pumphrey got some bad news.

    The New York-based craft magazine where she worked as an editorial assistant was folding.

    "I remember sitting down right across from my boss when she was letting me go," Pumphrey says. "She was like, 'What are you going to do now?' I was just like, 'Well, I don't know. Maybe I'm going to move to Austin and start my own business.' I'd been writing all these articles about people who were doing that and it really inspired me."

    Later that year, Pumphrey moved down to "craft mecca" Austin, Texas and eventually founded what would become P.F. Candle Co., a homemade candle business.

    She credits thinking ahead with helping her make the leap back in 2008 — not to mention bounce back from getting laid off.

    "I think it really comes down to always thinking about what your goals are beyond the current job you're in," Pumphrey says. "Because you could be in your current job and it's your dream company, your dream position, but continuing to think about, 'What is my strategy beyond where I'm at right now? What is my strategy beyond my current position?' Even nowadays, I say, 'What would happen if I wasn't working at P.F. anymore? What would I want to do?' Always think of a backup plan."

    Starting a small business turned out to be easier said than done. Pumphrey says that at 22, she didn't consider some of the struggles up ahead. She had to work part-time jobs to pay the bills — waiting tables, hosting, and working as a receptionist at an art gallery. One side business (creating pillows in the shape of states) went bust early on.

    "Now that I'm older, it would be a lot scarier to be in that position," the now 31-year-old says. "I just kind of did the leap and the net will appear kind of thing. And it was a struggle. It's not like I immediately started growing a business and had it take off."

    Eventually, Pumphrey moved again, to Long Beach, California, as her husband planned to finish up school at Cal State Long Beach. In California, she was unable to get a side job to keep her afloat, which ultimately forced her to focus solely on making her small business work out. Today, P.F. Candle Co. is based in LA and employs a team of 27.

     

    SEE ALSO: 6 simple tricks to make your coworkers like you

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    Kristen Pumphrey

    Kristen Pumphrey is the founder and creative director of 27-person P.F. Candle Co., a homemade candle business based in LA.

    However, the road to running her own business was full of bumps.

    Pumphrey, who's been making candles since stealing her sister's candle-making kit as a child, told Business Insider that some advice she received early on in her career kept her going.

    "The best advice I got was from a guy who owned a bunch of bike messenger services in New York," she says. "Right before I left, he said, 'Just be prepared to eat a lot of beans.' I was like, 'Okay, I don't know what that means.'"

    However, Pumphrey quickly figured it out after she moved from Austin to Long Beach, California, where her husband was pursuing his degree.

    "I definitely understood what he meant during the time period when we relocated from Austin to California and we were basically living off student loans," she says. "I had some savings I was living off. And then whenever we'd get an Etsy sale or something like that I'd be piecing that money together and it would be like having an entire onion for dinner and a can of beans."

    In Austin, Pumphrey had had to work part-time jobs to pay the bills — waiting tables, hosting, and working as a receptionist at an art gallery. One side business (creating pillows in the shape of states) went bust early on. However, Pumphrey could not get a side job in California, and finances began looking dire. Her craft business only seemed to take off during the holiday season, so she decided to focus on the more scalable candle products.

    "I honestly got to the point where I was going to give up and I just said I don't know whether I can continue doing this, because I just feel like I'm chasing a dream that may never happen for me," she says.

    Then, just in the nick of time, it all turned around.

    "I happened at that time to get an order from Terrain which is an Urban Outfitters subsidiary company," she says. "It was about $1,000. That allowed me to keep selling for a couple more months. This was down to the wire."

    More orders followed. Eventually, P.F. Candle Co. became a viable business and began expanding. Pumphrey is grateful her business caught a break at just the right moment: "I was really fortunate that my hard work and being at the right place at the right time paid off."

    SEE ALSO: 6 simple tricks to make your coworkers like you

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    Earlier this year I had one of the proudest moments of my career: I flew my entire team (100% remote) for an in-person meeting in Austin, Texas. 

    Because Texas

    A post shared by Ramit Sethi (@ramit) on Mar 3, 2017 at 11:30am PST on

    Besides all the sweet wildlife we saw, it was the latest step in the growth of IWT, which I started in my dorm room at Stanford. And now, look at this! It’s insane!

    ramit sethi iwt

    There are plenty of articles written for the guy on the left. Let’s call him Dorm Room Ramit. Dorm Room Ramit was a one-man “business” who didn’t sell anything. He also was severely calorically undernourished. But what about after that? How did I get to the guy on the right, CEO Ramit? (I’m in the back.)

    So what changes between one employee and dozens? What happens when “beginner” advice isn’t enough? What happens when you have more tasks than hours in the day and you have to prioritize?

    You have to rethink everything.

    As I built IWT over the course of a decade, I found myself having to reinvent my core principles, and it’s something no one ever talks about.

    After 13 years running IWT, here are five subtle but important things I changed my mind about as we grew.

    SEE ALSO: People lie to you about success all the time — and once you realize it, you can never go back

    Dorm Room Ramit: Everything needs to be perfect
    CEO Ramit: Live to fight another day

    At the start of your business (0 to $100K revenue/year), every day you’re fighting to live another day. You have to be scrappy. It’s a game of survival, not perfection.

    When I first started blogging, my site design was horrible. Everyone and their mother had an opinion on the color scheme, the headshot, and the font size. In the market, we were starting to see these beautiful “Web 2.0” websites, and I remember thinking, “I want that” and feeling like I was missing out because my site wasn’t PERFECT. And to be honest, it kept me down and unmotivated at times.

    What I didn’t realize at the time was that my lack of money was a blessing. Any wrong choice was at least an INEXPENSIVE wrong choice. And that let me fight another day.

    I also wanted sophisticated tools so I could properly segment my list, and elegantly drop readers into the perfect email funnel for them. But I didn’t know how, and I couldn’t afford new software, either.

    Instead, I bought a very basic newsletter tool, mostly used by bloggers. It wasn’t pretty — in fact, we set it up in this hack-y way because that’s all I knew how to do. We stuck with it for years, until we were practically bursting at the seams.

    Years later, it would cost us lots of money to fix that in our next software upgrade. We incurred a ton of technical debt. But at least by that point, we had the money and the people to fix it.

    If we had tried to be perfect to begin with, we would have been dead.

    When you cling to the idea of these things you want (but can’t have yet), the tension gets to you. You become myopic about the work you’re doing:

    “Oh, I can’t start writing anything until I have a beautifully designed website.”
    “I can’t invite people to join my email list until I’ve written out a 15 email auto-responder.”
    “I shouldn’t do any guest posting until I have the perfectly optimized catcher’s mitt.”

    Instead, we have to get comfortable with the idea of creating something imperfect. In the beginning, you can’t spend time A/B testing your email headlines. You need to find out if people will buy in the first place.

    Too many entrepreneurs worry about stuff they don’t need to. They think they need to read books by Warren Buffett, master Evergreen launches and build an affiliate program before they’ve successfully sold their first product.

    Not that the advanced stuff doesn’t matter. It does. But first…live to fight another day, and trust that your future self will be able to solve problems later on.



    Dorm Room Ramit: A popular blog is a business
    CEO Ramit: A profitable blog is a business

    This one I wish I framed and put above my desk when I first started the blog.

    For the first year, I was so afraid of what people would say if I tried to make ANY money, I didn’t try ANYTHING. I didn’t even create an email list. It was enough to have the appearance of a business at first. But eventually, I had to come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t running a charity.

    And neither are you.

    But when I finally decided it was time to sell, I basically apologized profusely for charging the astronomical price of $4.95 for my first ebook.

    Too many business owners track every vanity metric under the sun — visits, time on page, followers — because it feels nice to watch those numbers go up. That’s for beginners looking for any motivation to stay at it. I get it.

    Meanwhile, they completely ignore the ONE metric that actually matters: Profit.

    Time-on-site won’t pay your rent.

    Money is the marker that you’re doing the right thing because money is the ultimate value to people. When someone is willing to open their wallet and give you their credit card — they value you enough to actually pay— then you know you’re doing something to change their lives.

    And when the money starts coming in, you can use it to solve most of your other “beginner” problems.

    Too many customer emails? Now you can hire the world’s best customer service manager.
    Ugly headshots? Go buy new ones.
    Having issues with serving private video? Now you can pay $15,000 a year hosting your videos on the world’s best platform.

    Of course, we’re not saying you have to charge on Day 1 of your business or that interaction with your customers needs to be transactional. Sometimes, you just want to do it for the likes.

    But you have to be honest with yourself. If this is your business, then treat it like a business. And successful businesses need to be profitable.

     



    Dorm Room Ramit: Be good at everything
    CEO Ramit: Be world class at a few things

    When you start your company everything falls to you. You must know a little bit of everything to get the ball rolling. But eventually… it’s time to focus.

    The world does not reward jacks of all trades. We’re better off becoming really good at a few things.

    For example, early on I was writing blog posts, answering 100+ customer service emails, working directly with my friend (who was lending me his engineering skills), thinking about the logo design, and on and on.

    I’m not good at most of that stuff!

    I had a hard lesson to learn: Instead of becoming world class at customer service, and design, and engineering, and optimization (and on and on)….I really needed to become world class at building a team. The rest would fall into place.

    Here’s what I chose to become really good at:

    • Writing
    • Cracking the code on why people do what they do
    • Understanding how to create products that people want — and products that get real results

    For anyone starting out today, here are the three things I recommend you become world class at:

    • Learning how to sell
    • Writing amazing emails or blog posts that people open and read
    • Learning how to build a team (even a small one)

    Beware of choosing the wrong goals. If you choose the wrong things, even when you win, you lose. Case in point:

    • Becoming someone who’s excellent at reaching inbox zero. Who cares?
    • Focusing solely on a technical skill like Excel analysis, but never learning to build relationships and work with others.
    • Getting the coolest design on your blog. So what?



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    David SelverianPitching a venture capitalist is hard. A typical VC will have 500 face-to-face meetings per year, and less than 10% of startups will make it beyond the initial meeting.

    It's a disappointing reality for most startup founders, who see rejection as a necessary evil in the fundraising process. And failure will happen, no doubt. But that doesn't mean you need to fail as often as you do … your approach might just need a little tweaking. 

    I've reviewed hundreds of pitch decks throughout my venture career, and it's amazing how many founders overlook the same few essential elements of a pitch. These mistakes tend to fall into two buckets, behavioral and content-based. Fix these mistakes, and your chance of getting to the second stage in the pipeline will increase dramatically. 

    There are certain behaviors that will make you stand out:

    1. Know the background of the investor that you're meeting with 

    The first step to a successful meeting is making sure that the people involved bring value to one another. If you're a founder that is connecting with every investor under the sun, then you're not making the most of your time. Targeted outreach is far more effective than the shotgun approach.

    If you're able to cite the venture capitalist's investment history, the investor will know that you've done your homework, providing a bit of reassurance about your diligence in business. Additionally, the homework will help you articulate why a specific investor is right for your business, ensuring that the individuals on both sides of the table have complementary skill sets and interests.

    2. Leave time for the investor to speak 

    A conversation is give and take. It's your responsibility, as the entrepreneur, to lead the conversation, but questions will inevitably arise. Make sure to allow the investors to ask their questions so you can tailor your presentation to address their concerns. Alternatively, leave a designated Q&A period at the end of your pitch, so investors can share their ideas. Oftentimes, it's during the interpersonal conversation that an investor will learn to love your business.

    3. Come with carefully prepared questions

    If you come with questions, you appear more experienced. Any investor will tell you that the best entrepreneurs have lots of fundraising options, ask questions to financiers, and look for check-writers that provide value beyond the capital itself.

    As an entrepreneur, you should always come prepared with questions for the venture capitalist about how he or she will support your business. By doing so, you will impress the investor and put your company in the best position to succeed.

    4. Know what you're looking for in the conversation

    Oftentimes, an entrepreneur will come in without a clear ask, which deters potential investors. As a startup founder, you need to know what your company needs and the roadmap of where you're going next. Investors will consider these thoughts, assess their viability, and invest (or not invest) accordingly. If you don't have a clear ask to begin with, then the sequence of analysis can't begin.

    5. Hold your ground on the issues that matter most

    Entrepreneurs can, and should, articulate dealbreakers to their prospective investors. If there's something that's important to you and your business, don't compromise. As long as the entrepreneur's reasoning is justified, many investors will be impressed by the vision and leadership conveyed through dealbreakers.

    If you want to impress, be prepared with relevant content:

    1. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are critical, so know them well 

    Gross Merchandise Value (GMV)? Monthly Active Users (MAU)? Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)? Lifetime Value (LTV)? Bookings? Churn? What are the metrics that are relevant in your business?

    When you go into a pitch, you need to include company metrics in the pitch deck. Make sure that you're fluent in the language of business and be ready to present company-related data in real time. The questions are going to come fast, and any gap in content will leave an investor questioning your understanding of the business. If you need to brush up on your terminology, be check our resources here and here.

    2. Financial statements prove that a business is healthy

    Imagine asking a professor to assign a grade to a student without sharing the student's test scores. The professor would have no idea if the student understood the course material, and he or she would probably expect the worst.

    If an investor is asked to evaluate an entrepreneur, financial statements will have to be reviewed. Therefore, it's super important for entrepreneurs to share transparent, detailed financial statements with prospective investors. Here's a primer to help you get started.

    3. A short deck and a detail-laden appendix is the way to an investor's heart 

    An investor will spend, on average, 3 minutes and 44 seconds reviewing a pitch deck. So what's that mean for an entrepreneur? Make sure that the content of your presentation is short, sweet, and to the point.

    More than likely, an investor will want to see your pitch deck before he or she offers a formal meeting, so be sure that your slides can excite people without a complimentary pitch. Also, during the formal pitch, make sure to have a detail-laden appendix so that you're prepared to fully address any questions that come your way.

    4. Competition and defensibility will come up … every, single, time

    I know it. You know it. Every investor knows it. Your startup has competition, so please don't try to deny it. There's nothing more concerning than when an entrepreneur gets to the competition slide and tells me that there is no competition.

    Because to me, this means that the entrepreneur does not know his or her market well enough. Even in a new space, it makes sense to discuss indirect competitors that operate in tangential markets. 

    Instead of neglecting competitors, an entrepreneur should focus on emphasizing his or her startup's defensibility. Prepare an argument about why your company will be the first to market, proprietary in its value proposition, and/or 10x better than the competition.

    5. The 'next steps' documents should be prepared in advance

    Closers close — that's just how it is. If you convince an investor that your startup is worth a shot, you better be ready to follow through on the opportunity quickly. The content that you present during the first meeting is important, but being able to deliver "next steps" documents in a timely fashion is just as important.

    Be sure to have prospective terms, a roadmap, and expanded financials prepared in advance. These documents, among others, might be requested (and expected) with a short turnaround time. 

    No tips can guarantee a successful fundraise. With that being said, the tips above should certainly help. Always keep in mind that investors want to see entrepreneurs succeed, but to comfortably invest, financiers need to feel like their concerns have been mitigated.

    By coming in pleasant, prepared, and professional, you will have a significantly higher chance of receiving investment. And at the same time, you might impress an investor enough to earn a mentor for years to come.

    David Selverian is a senior at Carnegie Mellon University, where he serves as a student partner for Contrary Capital. Additionally, David is the co-founder and managing director of Scottie Ventures, an organization that teaches the fundamentals of venture capital. David will be joining Bessemer Venture Partners in the summer of 2017.

    SEE ALSO: 7 things I learned about venture capital while interning at a VC firm

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    university of california berkeley

    Some of the biggest names in tech are known for dropping out of the best colleges in the US.

    Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs all left school before graduation to launch companies. Peter Thiel has given millions to young entrepreneurs willing to pursue their startups dreams instead of a diploma. These successes helped popularize the belief that dropping out of college can be a shortcut to success in Silicon Valley (though that's often not the case.)

    That hasn't stopped one university from broadening its offerings for budding entrepreneurs.

    A new program at the University of California, Berkeley, wants to launch future tech leaders by teaching the wide variety of skills required of them in the real world. The Management, Entrepreneurship, & Technology (MET) Program will provide students with dual degrees in business and engineering in four years, in the hopes of giving graduates a command of leadership and technology skills and putting them on an accelerated path to CEO.

    In the fall of 2017, Berkeley will enroll about 30 students in the inaugural class.

    The program has already caught the attention of a top investment firm. Kleiner Perkins announced it will give an interview to every incoming MET student for its fellowship, which lets students join its portfolio companies in design and engineering roles for the summer.

    Michael Grimes, managing director at Morgan Stanley and one of Silicon Valley's most influential dealmakers, has been pitching Berkeley (his alma mater) on a program like this for years. Sitting in his office, which is decorated with certificates and trophies commemorating the IPOs he led for Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Snapchat, Grimes offers a vision of MET as a tech industry pipeline.

    "It looks like it is going to be the most elite tech leader factory there is," says Grimes, who is also a founding advisory board member of MET.

    university of california berkeley

    Its integrated curriculum combines classes in Berkeley's top-ranked Haas School of Business and the College of Engineering, giving students an understanding of the business and technology mechanisms that run the tech industry. Students will be mentored by faculty of both schools, and have access to events, career fairs, and "field days" at major tech companies.

    Berkeley students have always had the option to earn dual degrees in the two colleges, but the sheer number of academic credits required has deterred most. (Grimes knows of one student to do it in the last 20 years.) MET cuts back the electives requirements, so students won't be as overwhelmed, and gives them priority for getting into classes that count toward their majors.

    Grimes worried that business and engineering students would come to resent MET students, because they receive special treatment. An analogy provided by a colleague calmed those fears.

    "It's like the Navy Seals. They're going through a workload that nobody else is enduring," Grimes says. "Even though not every midshipman is doing the same thing, they respect the ones standing out in the cold water longer, up before the sun rises, to do extra reps."

    university of california berkeley

    The Haas School and the College of Engineering raised more than $10 million in endowments for the new program. Over 2,500 high school seniors applied for the 30 spots in MET, making it more selective than Harvard, MIT, and Stanford, with an acceptance rate of less than 2%.

    Students have until May 1 to accept their invitations to join the inaugural class.

    Part of the pitch for MET, which competes with the University of Pennsylvania's Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology (that program largely inspired MET), is that it offers a more direct route to C-suite roles in tech. Plenty of entrepreneurs study computer science and engineering in their undergraduate years, gain three to five years of work experience, and go on to earn their MBA. MET streamlines that path by teaching both disciplines at the same time.

    Marjorie DeGraca, executive director of MET, says she saw a large number of engineers walk through her door during her time as the assistant dean of admissions at the Haas School.

    "They're coming back because their career has been stopped or because they're not able to make that transition into more of a business function, because they've been labeled in a certain way," DeGraca says.

    Andy Chen, a partner at Kleiner Perkins who heads up the firm's Fellows Program and recruits heavily from UPenn's M&T program, is promising interviews to every incoming freshman at MET.

    "You tend to find that the engineer that just doesn't understand life beyond code is operating at 50% capacity. To have a broader understanding of the business is super important, especially when you're the founder of a company or you're an early employee at a company," Chen says.

    Grimes is hopeful that the next Mark Zuckerberg and Evan Spiegel might graduate from Berkeley. And someday, he wants to make them billionaires. "I'll do their IPOs," he says.

    SEE ALSO: These 9 entrepreneurs were paid $100,000 to drop out of college — here's what they're up to today

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    theSkimm Carly Zakin Danielle Weisberg

    At 6 a.m. every weekday, over 5 million people open their email to find a message from theSkimm, a subscription newsletter that chooses the most important news stories of the day and presents them in casual, bite-sized points.

    TheSkimm's founders, Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg, sat down with Business Insider US Editor-in-Chief Alyson Shontell for an episode of Business Insider's podcast, "Success! How I Did It," to talk about their battle stories, how they eventually got investors on board, and how theSkimm took off.

    When they started the company in 2012, they told Shontell, investors were turning them down left and right. However, someone was willing to help them generate revenue: advertisers.

    "From truly Day One — maybe let's not be hyperbolic, let's just say Day Four — we had brands reaching out to us, like our wish-list brands," Zakin told Shontell.

    But they "knew nothing about how to work with an advertiser," she said. "So instead, we said, 'We're actually not working with brands right now.' By doing that, I think we created a little bit of mystery. Our list kept growing. There kept being more press about how big our list was and who the audience was. And we weren't letting brands in."

    From early on, she explained, they placed "a long bet on loyalty."

    "What can you do with loyalty?" Zakin said. "How do you develop a community, get people engaged? And from there, you can activate them and, in many ways, directly monetize that."

    As their subscribers ballooned to 150,000 in less than 18 months, some investors started changing their tune.

    "Once we got that first big check — we raised just over $1 million — it was life-changing," Zakin said. "We took a picture of it in our bank account."

    Then they started considering working with sponsors.

    "We have a media business," Zakin said. "We work with sponsors in a really needed capacity, and we're really great storytellers with that."

    While the founders declined to provide exact numbers, Zakin says they're "proud to say that we do very well." Today, theSkimm:

    • Has raised more than $15 million from venture capitalists.
    • Launched a subscription news product, Skimm Ahead ($2.99 a month), which the founders told Shontell was No. 1 for news apps in its first month and "continually beats" The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal in highest-grossing news apps every month.
    • Recommends a book and a bottle of wine every Friday for which they receive affiliate revenue. Publishers have told the company's founders that a recommendation from theSkimm is the top driver of sales.

    Beyond revenue, theSkimm says it was also responsible for spurring 120,000 people to register to vote in the last election, becoming one of the biggest partners the nonpartisan group Rock the Vote has ever had.

    It all comes back to reader loyalty, where the founders placed their bets early on.

    "We would much rather say, 'We have 5 million people we activate and get to pay for a subscription product,' or, 'We can get them to turn out in the hundreds of thousands to vote,' than say, 'We've got 20 million of them, but only 2 million of them open us every day,'" Weisberg said. "That's not interesting to us."

    SEE ALSO: How 2 roommates got shot down by hundreds of startup investors and racked up credit-card debt — but built a newsletter empire anyway

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    Alarm ClockInc. asked noted entrepreneurs to reflect on what they wish they'd known starting out and to put it in a letter to their younger selves.

    Rhett Power co-founded national toy company WildCreations.com, a two-time honoree on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. in 2011 and 2012.

    Dear Rhett,

    You're probably uncertain about what you want to do in life. You worked hard but with no certain goal in mind.

    Don't worry: It will all work out. Your work ethic will be your biggest asset. Here are some things to consider as you stumble your way to success.

    1. Save more money

    Like, save everything. You should try hard to cultivate a habit where you don't make impulse purchases, like that boat you don't need. You do well most of the time, but you'd also be a lot better off if you set aside 20% of everything you brought in. Remember, discipline now is the key to success and financial freedom later.

    2. Go to bed early and wake up early

    When you finally settle into doing this every day, you will be shocked at how much you can accomplish and how quickly your life improves. You are a night person and always have been, but make it a point to get to bed earlier, so you can get up earlier. Mornings are going to be your only time to read, exercise, and have alone time. Trust me on this.

    3. Build those business and personal relationships

    Do better on building relationships, because your network will be essential to your success. Write or call someone you've lost contact with a couple of times a week. Keeping in touch with people will be easier later in life, but it's probably not fair to tell you how.

    4. Focus on your work

    You will do lots of different things before you find your true calling. That's OK, because each one of those jobs is preparing you to be the person you're growing to be. You will learn from good bosses and bad. You will learn, lead, and manage people, and those lessons will be helpful to you.

    5. Find a mentor straight out of the gate

    Gobble up everything you can from someone you trust, and you'll learn so much faster. Find someone who you respect and is successful so he or she can tell you how they do it. Ask for help. Seriously -- don't be afraid to ask.

    6. Stop investing (if investments aren't paying off)

    So that you know, I'm not talking about money. You give your time and emotions to people, and those are so much more valuable. The people you associate with shape the kind of life you will lead. Make sure to be around individuals who motivate you and push you to better.

    7. Say no

    You like to say yes, and that is OK, but sometimes it means you put too much on your plate. Saying no will be important as you get busier in your career and personal life. Your time is valuable, so don't give it away.

    Hang in there, and never give up. Your hard work and diligence do pay off.

    SEE ALSO: Hobbies of 12 ultra-successful entrepreneurs

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