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Startups and Entrepreneurship
Articles I read and like which help me run my startups better
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Stop Applying to Startups

You’ve decided that you want to work at a startup.  Maybe you’re leaving an existing career, or just getting out of college and looking for a first job. You found a startup you liked. Checked the job postings. Cleaned up your resume, wrote a killer cover letter, filled out the form on the careers page, and hit send.  You did everything by the book, just like your college career counselor told you.

 

Now, let me tell you what’s happening on the other side of that application form.  A founder or early employee is getting stacks and stacks of resumes by email every day, adding to a laundry list of more pressing tasks in their inbox. The role you applied for? Hundreds of potential candidates for it are being sorted along lines like these:

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Do you confuse what you do with who you are?

What is the first question you are asked when you meet someone at a business or social function?  “Hi, my name is …. What do you do?”

If you are the VP, CEO or have another prestigious title, the answer comes automatically and easily often with a tone of pride in your voice. Let’s dissect the conversation for a moment and notice you aren’t really answering the question in the way it’s being asked. In our culture, we often answer the “What do you do?” question with an “I am …” answer.  Never mind that in doing so, we aren’t really answering the question; more importantly, is what you do really who you are?


Headed for dangerous territory

How you answer this question gives the listener information about what you do and who you are, based on your title, position, status. It tells them in a few words where you are in the food chain.  But what if you don’t have an answer for “what do you do?” because you are unemployed, retired or in a career transition?

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The 5 Cs of Connection

In this high-energy talk, Bobby shares his diverse personal history and how it made him a natural connector with a large number and a broad range of people. He then explains how you can leverage the power of connection to create more meaningful and genuine relationships and build positive change. Bobby's passion is infectious, his message is simple, and his rapport with the TEDxUWO audience is authentic and real.

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Blogging: You Are More Than Your Profession

Blogging: You Are More Than Your Profession | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it
Your choice of what you are blogging about and what you share is not limited to just your career. Leadership is about ALL of your life!

 

There seemed to be some debate going on as to whether we are supposed to be sharing content that spanned beyond our professional identity.

 

In itself it is such an interesting topic because I hear so many people on various social platforms discussing how as professionals they only share content of a certain type. Whether Marketing, Social Media, Leadership, or some of other facet which was usually of the professional portion of these users lives.

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Essential Business Rules for Start-ups

Essential Business Rules for Start-ups | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it

 

When starting a business (especially your first business), ask yourself, "What's the easiest way for me to make my first dollar?" At my gentle suggestion, my sons began thinking about opportunities that were in demand and eventually settled on pressure washing peoples' homes. Although it wasn't the game-changing software business they had dreamed about, creating a profitable pressure-washing business was realistic and attainable.

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Decline of entrepreneurship blamed for Japan woes

Worn out and resigned to its dwindling status, Japan Inc. is said to be quietly shuffling off the world stage. But don't tell that to Kenji Hasegawa, who is ready to conquer the global auto market with his nifty innovation, a bolt that doesn't need a nut. Or Chiaki Hayashi, who makes millions teaching big-name companies to be creative again.

 

As different as they seem — Hasegawa runs auto-parts supplier Lock'n Bolt Corp. and Hayashi is a rare woman to help found a Tokyo startup — both highlight the potential of innovation and entrepreneurship in a nation that is often typecast as facing an unrelenting decline.

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Using Social Media to Test Your Idea Before You Try to Sell It

Using Social Media to Test Your Idea Before You Try to Sell It | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it

When starting a business, new entrepreneurs often spend time naming the business and developing a logo and printing business cards and perfecting the look and feel of their packaging before they know whether they have a viable product or service. There’s now a better way — social media has become the ultimate tool for market research. Stephanie Clifford wrote an article for The Times this week about how big corporations are replacing focus groups with social media, but it works for small businesses, too.

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What Founders Wish They Knew Before Starting Companies

What Founders Wish They Knew Before Starting Companies | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it

Entrepreneurship is about learning and iterating.The entrepreneurship journey isn’t an easy one — developing a product, scaling a business and growing an audience are intimidating tasks that necessitate endless hustle, ambition and passion. And even if you have all of those qualities in spades, there’s still a good chance your venture will fail.

 

But 1 in 12 startups succeed, and these businesses are healthy, growing and maybe even profitable. But that’s not to say there weren’t bumps in the road. We’ve asked some founders for things they wish they knew when they started their companies, in the hopes that it’ll help you and your startup avoid a fatal flaw.

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Design Your Company, Not Your Product

Design Your Company, Not Your Product | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it
These entrepreneurs are shaking up the idea of what it means to build a company. Is nurturing company culture more important than getting a product to market?

 

When you think of creating a company, all the focus is usually on what you want to make: how the app will work on someone's phone or how attractive your product will look like on store shelves.

There's a new wave of entrepreneurs who believe the real key to long-term success comes from focusing on designing the company--not the product.

 

That means establishing a solid company philosophy, fostering cooperation and friendliness among the staff while still being able to make the key decisions--all steps that help save your office from feeling like just another widget factory.

 

The topic was featured at the first Northside Entrepreneurship Festival in Brooklyn recently on a panel that included Anthony Casalena, CEO of Squarespace, Chris Shiflett, co-founder of the Web conference Brooklyn Beta, and Whitney Hess, the principal consultant at user-experience consultancy Vicarious Partners. They're not the only ones who see building a company as important as building the thing you're going to sell. Here are their best pieces of advice for creating a strong company.

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Great bosses know: Hire good people, but don’t leave them alone

Ever have someone send you a link to an article, knowing it’s a hot button issue for you? It just happened to me, as my Poynter.org editor Julie Moos called my attention to a brief post on The Atlantic’s website, by the author of “Quiet,” a highly regarded book about introverts. Susan Cain makes an excellent argument for hiring introverts and I say “amen.” Unfortunately, Cain tried to buttress her good case by invoking a dusty management bromide that’s more than a pet peeve of mine:

 

Hire good people and leave them alone.

 

I know what Cain is trying to underscore: that many introverts do great work in solitude and managers should respect that. They shouldn’t assume that quiet employees are devoid of ideas or initiative because that’s simply not true. But bosses, promise me you won’t take the “leave them alone” message literally — no matter what type of personalities are on your team.

 

That phrase, and variations on it, fly in the face of truly good management. I know some bosses use it in a self-effacing way, suggesting their people are so talented they barely need a boss, or as an earnest rejection of micromanagement. All good.

 

 

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Do You Have the Digital Leaders You Need?

These days you can't have a business conversation without discussing digital — social, local, mobile, big data, the cloud. But that's just talk. We wanted to discover what companies are really doing about this new world, so we analyzed the backgrounds of the CEOs and directors of America's largest companies.

 

The answer is surprising.

 

Only nine companies — less than two percent of the Fortune 500 — are what we would call "highly digital." To be highly digital, by our definition a company must pass four tests: it generates a high percentage of revenues digitally; its leadership (both the CEO and the Board) has deep digital experience; it does business significantly enabled by digital channels; and it's recognized as transformational in its industry.

 

If you narrow the scope to the Fortune 100, the data are still relatively weak. Seven percent of companies are highly digital. Perhaps, more surprisingly, only 13 percent have highly digital boards of directors.

 

You might focus exclusively on company leadership, but, of course, boards matter: they provide strategic counsel to the CEO and, crucially, they plan for CEO succession. To guide companies in innovative ways, boards must know what innovative looks like.

 

It's clear the tide is turning — and it's turning fast. We believe it's no coincidence that the largest and most successful companies in our economy are leading this change. Just consider what some established companies have done recently to address their digital capabilities gap at the highest levels of leadership and governance.

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What are the top 10 leadership trends of the future?

A list of top ten predictions on how the face of leadership development will change:

 

The managers of those targeted for development (at all levels) will be more actively involved (both through coaching and teaching) in the development of their direct reports – Leaders Teaching Leaders


Leadership competency models will be more frequently revised and updated to reflect future leadership requirements that are tied to short and long-term business strategy.


Detailed progression paths will track the jobs that lead to an accelerated acquisition of skills, knowledge, and leadership experiences and will be heavily utilized for leadership development.


All high-potentials, senior managers, and current leaders will be encouraged to have Personal Boards, participate on local boards, and/or belong to professional networks.


Experiential learning, use of simulations, action learning, metaphoric learning, and other non-traditional classroom-based education will have much greater prominence in program designs.


Executive coaching will continue to grow at the senior leader level; internal coaching and mentoring will grow at the mid-manger level.


The most valued development solutions will be just-in-time, right on target (i.e. high degree of in the moment relevance to my leadership challenge), and expert based (both external and internal experts and role model leaders).


Most leadership development content will be available online in short, high powered modules.

 

Only the most credible HR/LD practitioners will remain responsible for LD; in all other organizations responsibility will be “owned” by the line/business unit leaders.


More and more LD best practices will emerge from the small to mid-size organizations that are successfully developing high quality leaders, but with limited financial investment required.

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How to Manage Clever People

How to Manage Clever People | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it

Great talent is special and you should respect it. There's a popular belief that creativity is inherently childlike, that creative people are infants who need to "learn" and not be spoiled. This is wrong.

 

Trying to fit superstars into a box is counter-productive, perverse, and doomed. But don't go to the other extreme and treat these individuals as though they're made of glass. They're tough--maybe tougher than you are--and know their worth. What they most want is respect.

 

Creatives aren't interested in rules for their own sake and may be highly driven to break them. Don't let that wind you up. As long as they're delivering great work, that's all that matters. I once had an immensely talented director who didn't want to work in the open plan production office; He insisted on his own tiny room. Fighting him on this wasted time and lost trust. He knew how he worked and was better off on his own.

 

It may at first seem contradictory but I also believe true talent respects constraints. Composers work to split second timings when they write for movies or TV. Writers appreciate word counts and running times. So don't be afraid to be explicit and clear with them about budgets and schedules. Steve Jobs used to have a mantra: "Real artists ship." He was right. True professionals deliver. Only amateurs think it's clever to do otherwise.

 

Perhaps the most important thing to remember about true artists is that they are highly driven to develop themselves and their craft. They will go to the places that let them do this and they will leave those that don't. This may come across as arrogance but it isn't; It is just a sincere desire to do fantastic work. That can work in your favor if you appreciate and recognize it.

 

 

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The Making of the Principal: Five Lessons in Leadership Training

The Making of the Principal: Five Lessons in Leadership Training | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it
Too often, training for principals fails to prepare them for the difficult task of guiding schools to better teaching and learning. This Wallace Perspective plumbs foundation research and work in school leadership to identify five lessons for better training, including: more selective admission to training programs, a focus on instructional leadership and mentoring for new principals
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5 Ways To Create Work-Life Balance At Your Company

5 Ways To Create Work-Life Balance At Your Company | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it

Work-life balance is the exclusive property of your employees. It’s another situation in which you can facilitate, but not cause, the outcome.

 

What constitutes an appropriate balance varies from employee to employee. Early careerists have a different set of problems than new parents or employees with kids leaving for college. Salespeople who travel intensively need entirely different things than the 9 to 5‘ers at the satellite office.

 

Blending the demands of the life we call work and the work we call life requires moment by moment adjustment. For some, the answers will involve finding a safe place to rest. For others, the answer may be professional development. Some will migrate towards fitness, while others need access to financial management tools, more than 3 vacation days in a row, or a back-up babysitter.

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Three ways to prepare for more successful leadership

Three ways to prepare for more successful leadership | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it

Last week I spent watching the Olympics and it was great to have tickets to see the Rowing and Equestrian Events live. The pundits tell us how much time athletes spend preparing each day for just this moment, and I have been reflecting on how different it is for leaders and managers.  How much time do we give to prepare for success?  So I thought it might be worth looking at practical techniques used by elite athletes, that we can all apply and achieve more successful leadership.

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Child Entrepreneurs: If We Build Them, Will They Prosper? - Forbes

Child Entrepreneurs: If We Build Them, Will They Prosper? - Forbes | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it
Kids in Business (photo: squidoo.com/kids-making-money) I’ve heard it said that a new entrepreneur learns much from the hard work, the team-building and leading, even the failures that come with starting a new business.
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Best Place in the World to Start a Company

Best Place in the World to Start a Company | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it

The relative merits of various cities as locations for start-ups is a favorite media talking point.

 

Is New York approaching parity with fabled Silicon Valley? Check out the start-up scenes sprouting in formerly down-and-out cities! Or, look at the unlikely places abroad where start-up clusters are forming. Stories like these might provide fodder for journalists, but according to recent research out of Yale, they do next to nothing to help aspiring founders decide where to locate their start-ups.

 

Why is that? Because, according to the study by professors Olav Sorenson of the Yale School of Management and Michael Dahl of Aalborg University, the best place for any founder to start a venture is probably his or her own hometown.

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India Simultaneously Most Confident, Least Entrepreneurial Nation In Asia - Forbes

India Simultaneously Most Confident, Least Entrepreneurial Nation In Asia - Forbes | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it

Yesterday, a pair of surveys arrived that nicely captured the contradictions of business in India. The first, the MasterCard Worldwide Index of Consumer Confidence, proclaimed Indian consumers as the most optimistic throughout Asia. Their optimism, the report concludes, is “both deep-rooted and all-pervasive.” The survey polled respondents on their perceptions of quality of life and economic indicators—income, employment, the stock market, and the overall economy. And India bested the other 24 nations:

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Five New Leadership Rules: Time To Get Real (And Transparent) -

Five New Leadership Rules: Time To Get Real (And Transparent) - | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it
The lesson for leaders: Be honest about your weaknesses. Highlight them. Focus on them. In that way, you’ll eliminate them and turn them into your strengths.

 

The tough economic climate has placed executives under the microscope like never before. Nothing corporate leaders do escapes notice these days – such is the pressure for executives to deliver shareholder value while maintaining a public persona. While this scenario may cause even the most battle-hardened business leader to worry about operating under such a glaring spotlight, I think CEOs should embrace the openness that this business environment demands – it helps you get closer to customers, while building trust with everyone who has a stake in the business. Here’s some advice on operating successfully as a leader who chooses openness as a business value.

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The Naive Optimist — 7 Do's and Don'ts for Founders

The Naive Optimist — 7 Do's and Don'ts for Founders | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it
7 Do's and Don'ts for Founders...

 

1. Ignore email

 

Email-creep is enemy #1 to your productivity. It’s a never ending list of things other people want you to do.

 

Never check email until you’ve completed at least 2-3 things on your priority list of todos for the day.

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Five Mistakes New Leaders Need to Avoid

Five Mistakes New Leaders Need to Avoid | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it

At some point, your promotion to leadership will go to your head and mistakes will be made. Forewarned is forearmed. Here is a list of five classic mistakes made by new leaders..

 

MISTAKE ONE: Thinking your position is all about you.
You’re new leadership position may not suddenly get everyone on your side and your team members are now thinking – WIIFM – what’s in it for me.
You work for them now, and you need to make them a successful team.


MISTAKE TWO: Throwing your weight around before your ‘wait’ around.
New leaders are often so enthusiastic about their new authority that they start barking out marching orders… They have what’s known as “positional power.”
Teams can be motivated by fear (what if the new boss doesn’t like me?) but it will not last for long. Slow down. Take time to get to know your staff, learn their history, hear their frustrations, listen to their good ideas. Earn trust before you make a sweeping change and you’ll be more likely to keep them on your side.


MISTAKE 3: Paying attention only to the big-picture and ignoring the small stuff.
What are the day-to-day things that you need them to know? Are you okay with being called on the weekend? What can someone do to signal that they disagree with you (without being bitten!)? Do you prefer in person meetings, phone conferencing, or emails? What are your pet peeves that your team needs to know?
Both you and your team need to figure out how to work best together – its small, but vital.


MISTAKE 4: Ignoring the power of symbolism.
Don’t ignore the symbolic act that will help you establish your loyalty to your team. Look for the photocopier that gets tripped over, the poor conditions of the employee restrooms, the broken microwave in the kitchen, the lack of storage space. There is likely to be something that gets on everyone’s goat, and the trick is to listen for it, and get it fixed quickly.


MISTAKE 5: Confusing change with transition.
Change starts at the beginning… When they put you in charge it was probably announced as a change…
Transition, on the other hand, starts with an ending – a… letting go of the way things were.
The reality is that you will not really be the new leader until your team have shifted from letting go of your predecessor, worked through the confusion and ambiguity, then reach a place where they accept you as their new boss. There is no pushing people through this process. Be conscious of how your team manage this transition and create an environment where people are safe to express concerns and aspirations. Communicate often about what is changing and what isn’t.

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Growing as an honest and honoring leader

Growing as an honest and honoring leader | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it

I have learned a lot from various leaders, teachers, and pastors. A little while ago, a leader who I have been influenced by did some training with our church plant team. One of our team members loved the training and started listening to related podcasts. A couple weeks later, we were talking and she expressed how excited she is to be receiving such good teaching. “ I thought you were so smart,” she said, “and then I realized that you learned it all from __ (this leader)!” Realizing how that could be heard she tried to back-peddle and then we laughed at the potential of an awkward moment ( or maybe it was still awkward for her). Later, I talked to this leader and told him what the member of our team had said. “Well, you can tell her that everything I teach, I got from someone else,” he said as he laughed.

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How Far You Can Go With Your Freelancers: Things You Should (NOT) Trust

How Far You Can Go With Your Freelancers: Things You Should (NOT) Trust | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it
One of the best decisions you can make when you need work done online, whether that is in graphic design or content writing/blogging, is hiring a freelancer to handle it for you. Affordable, reliable and looking to maintain client connections, they are more likely to give you what you are looking for at a price you can handle than many larger businesses or groups that you might look into. Just a quote from a freelancer versus a company will be enough to tempt you.

 

For the most part, those who offer themselves as freelancers are trustworthy people who have made a living in an innovative and adaptive way. Some have even managed to create a decent business without the usual schooling that was once a major factor in such professions.

 

Not that you would know it by the work, which is usually professional grade.

 

However, that doesn’t mean every one out there is high quality or even honest. There have been hundreds of people taken in by scammers, either who never provided the work or gave shoddy (even plagiarized) content at the end. It is these horror stories that have turned many people off to the idea of using freelancers who have not yet managed to become mainstream providers.

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The “Dark Side” of Entrepreneurship

The “Dark Side” of Entrepreneurship | Startups and Entrepreneurship | Scoop.it
When Camusio was 23 years-old his debit card got declined at the grocery store. He checked his account balance and he realized he only had $32. All his credit cards were maxed out and he had over $100,000 in debt.

 

Camusio said, “I had lost all confidence in myself. I went from making $20,000 a month to being completely broke. And I didn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. I started thinking that I didn’t have what it took to succeed and that my early success in life was just beginner’s luck. All this self-defeating dialog in my head was killing me, but after talking to other entrepreneurs I realized I wasn’t alone.”


When Warner asked Camusio why his third business failed, Camusio gave a very insightful answer: “I made three critical mistakes: I got too cocky after my first success, I let irrelevant details pull me away from the core business activities and I wasn’t willing to get out of my comfort zone to do what needed to be done.

 

As an entrepreneur you need to stay humble, focus on your top priorities and have the discipline to do what your business needs you to do.”
Warner asked Camusio about the lowest point in his entrepreneurial career. Camusio opened up and shared a story that most entrepreneurs wouldn’t want anybody to find out about. “Back in 2009 we lost five clients in three weeks. I was driving my car and I got a phone call from one of our largest clients at the moment. They had decided to close their account.

 

That was too much for me to take; I just couldn’t handle it anymore. So I had a meltdown; I burst in tears. My expectations were completely unrealistic: I wanted to win every single battle. But in business (and in life) sometimes you move two steps forward, one step backward, two steps forward, one step backward and so on. I wish I had known this back then. Now I don’t get emotional anymore when we lose a client. I ask myself if we could’ve done something to prevent it and make sure we put the right systems in place so that particular problem doesn’t happen again.”


Camusio ended his interview giving business owners hope and encouragement: “Entrepreneurs need to know that running a business is very rewarding but it requires hard work, discipline and commitment. They also need to hear that other entrepreneurs are struggling as much as they are. And they need to hear that if they have a great product and work really hard to put it in front of the right customers, they can succeed. But it’s not easy and setbacks are part of the game. The secret is believing in yourself and never giving up.”

 

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