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Endeavor hosted a Retail, Food & Beverage Industry Tour for select entrepreneurs in its network, providing them with a rare look into the operations of some top global brands in each industry. The two-day tour included a mix […]
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EY hosted its annual World Entrepreneur Of The Year event this month in Monte Carlo, Monaco, convening business leaders from more than 145 cities across 60 countries. Since its inception in 1986, EY’s Entrepreneur Of […]
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Latest Video(video) 2014 Endeavor Gala Honoring The Abraaj Group’s Arif M. Naqvi Brings Together 400+ Members of the Global Network
November 9th, 2014
Guest post by Kira M. Newman
With over 100 startup accelerators active today, going through an accelerator can seem like a rite of passage. It’s what startups do – the logical step between Startup Weekend and a round of funding. But an accelerator is actually a substantial commitment. You give up around 7 percent equity in your startup. You might have to move to a different city. And you’re agreeing to work late hours for a few months straight. As long as you’re doing all this, you might as well pick the best program for you.
Before you take the plunge into an accelerator, here are five questions to ask yourself:
1. What’s their track record?
The best accelerators have mentors with real entrepreneurial experience, connections to VCs who might fund your company, and a large network of startups that can try your product and offer advice.
For example, Y Combinator works with the Start Fund to offer a $150,000 convertible debt note. TechStars graduates are all offered a $100,000 convertible note. And graduates of Chicago’s Excelerate Labs get a $50,000 convertible note from New World Ventures. Meanwhile, Y Combinator boasts an alumni of over 460 startups, TechStars has 126, and 500 Startups has over 90.
For more comparisons, check out Tech Cocktail’s Top 15 USA Startup Accelerators in 2012. This is an independently researched ranking that compares accelerators based on their startups’ funding and exits, their reputation with VCs, their alumni network, and their terms (equity taken and funding provided).
2. How much hands-on mentorship do you want?
Some accelerator programs have lots of scheduled programs, mentor sessions, and group activities, and others are more open. In Tech Cocktail’s survey of over 75 startups, TechStars was rated highly hands-on (9.5 on a scale of 10), while 500 Startups and Y Combinator were rated less hands-on, respectively. For example, Robert Leshner of Safe Shepherd enjoyed the more autonomous experience at 500 Startups. “They have sessions a couple times a week where they bring in an expert to speak to you, but at the end of the day they’re not telling you what or how you should be building your business. They leave that decision to the entrepreneur,” he says. Accelerators that offer office space tend to be more hands-on, as do accelerators with smaller batches of startups. TechStars caps at 12 startups per batch and typically has a 10-to-1 mentor-to-startup ratio. On the other extreme, Y Combinator can host over 60 startups at a time.
3. Can you handle the heat?
Going through an accelerator in Silicon Valley will introduce you to the eye-opening, exciting, fast-paced vibe of the world’s hottest startup community. Entrepreneurs outside the Valley often complain of small startup scenes and fewer, or more conservative, investors. But the excitement of Silicon Valley comes at a price: you’ll be competing with tons of other startups for VC attention, networking opportunities, and customers. And some entrepreneurs enjoy the smaller, tight-knit communities outside the Valley, where they can stand out better, get meetings more easily, and generally be a “big fish in a small pond.” “The myth that you have to be in Silicon Valley to be successful is idiotic,” says David Cohen, the founder and CEO of TechStars.
4. Is your startup special?
Another trend among accelerators is the creation of industry-specific programs:
-Education: Imagine K12 (Palo Alto)
-Energy/clean tech: SURGE Accelerator (Houston), Greenstart (San Francisco)
-Enterprise/B2B: Acceleprise (Washington, DC), Tech Wildcatters (Dallas), TechStars Cloud (San Antonio)
-Financial services: FinTech Innovation Lab (New York City)
-Government/civics: Code for America (San Francisco)
-Health: Blueprint Health (New York City), Healthbox (Chicago and Boston), Rock Health (San Francisco and Cambridge)
-Social Good: Impact Engine (Chicago), Fledge (Seattle)
Some accelerators don’t focus on an industry, but rather a skill: The Brandery<> focuses on branding, and Kicklabs helps later-stage startups – who may have already gone through another accelerator – get contracts with brands, agencies, and partners. Meanwhile, Women Innovate Mobile and Springboard look for startups with female founders, and the NewME Accelerator wants to help minority founders. And Y Combinator even accepts applications from entrepreneurs without ideas
5. Have you considered other options?
If you’re unsure about the full accelerator experience, you have other options. Incubators like 1871 (Chicago), Catapult Chicago, and Surf Incubator (Seattle) can provide office space, a collaborative environment, and some mentorship, but without the funding. If you want funding without giving up equity, competitions like the Chicago Lean Startup Challenge and MassChallenge might be a good fit – just remember that you could walk away with nothing. And if advice or mentorship is your main goal, consider looking into Science Inc., a technology studio run by former MySpace CEO Michael Jones, or the VegasTechFund, a community-oriented investment fund.
These five questions should help ensure that you don’t find yourself exhausted and regretful beneath the bright lights of the demo day stage.
Guest post from Dr. Jared Scherz.
As a well educated psychologist with a successful practice, the decision to launch a startup tech company tested the boundaries of my sense of self confidence and competence, as I was venturing into a field I knew little about. It was embarrassing to have to tell people on a somewhat regular basis that I didn’t really know what I was doing. So how do I feel about that?’ One day I’m plagued by self doubt and the next I’m feeling more confident because I figured something out. The excitement of a potentially lucrative new venture was tempered by the anxiety of self doubt and fear of the unknown. A destructive cycle of confidence and self doubt can develop as a result, and can wear out even the most resilient of people if not recognized so the pattern can change.
To help me climb out of this spin cycle is being able to identify and own my experience. Knowing what I’m feeling and how it influences my behavior or decision making is key to managing this dichotomy. This (internal) awareness helps reduce the chances of letting these unpleasant feelings translate into actions that require more energy and time to correct. If I know what I’m feeling and why, I can differentiate between what is my stuff and what is an organizational matter.
“I think I deserve more shares”: Let’s use conflict with a co-founder as an example. The idea of a partner wanting to renegotiate their terms can be a major pitfall that sinks a startup, according to Noam Wasserman (The Founder’s Dilemmas). This dilemma is common because we don’t know well enough the contributions of each partner early in the project, and roles often change throughout the process. When a partner believes they are contributing more and their worth has increased, they may naturally want more equity and recognition.
Our initial response may be rigidity. Tensing up and digging in our heels, justifying our defensiveness as our partner’s misdirected priorities. How dare they focus on greed as opposed to the company? Aren’t they a team player? Why are they willing to sabotage everything we have been working toward? Then we ask ourselves the question, why does this feel like a betrayal? What’s being evoked may be a loss of control or a feeling of fear that we are losing our grip on the company. Perhaps we lose trust in our partner, conjuring up all the times we have been let down by somebody in the past.
By Seth Godin.
The only purpose of ‘customer service’ is to change feelings. Not the facts, but the way your customer feels. The facts might be the price, or a return, or how long someone had to wait for service. Sometimes changing the facts is a shortcut to changing feelings, but not always, and changing the facts alone is not always sufficient anyway.
If a customer service protocol (your call center/complaints department/returns policy) is built around stall, deny, begrudge and finally, to the few who persist, acquiesce, then it might save money, but it is a total failure.
The customer who seeks out your help isn’t often looking to deplete your bank account. He is usually seeking validation, support and a path to feeling the way he felt before you let him down.
The best measurement of customer support is whether, after the interaction, the customer would recommend you to a friend. Time on the line, refunds given or the facts of the case are irrelevant. The feelings are all that matter, and changing feelings takes humanity and connection, not cash.
Reprinted from A VC. Original article here.
By Fred Wilson
Last week we talked about long term thinking vs short term thinking. But sometimes, no matter how long term you are thinking, things happen that you didn’t plan for and they can impact your business. Actually, this always happens. And that is when you need to adapt.
You will not stay in business forever if you don’t adapt to changing market conditions. This doesn’t mean adopting the “business model of the hour” model and this doesn’t mean pivoting either. What I am talking about is the once every few years “oh shit moment” when you realize that the path you are on isn’t going to work in a year or two and that you need to make some changes.
This is a frustrating realization. I have a good friend who has been running a business for more than a decade. He told me a few weeks ago that he thinks the market he has been operating in is changing and it is starting to impact his business. And just when he had everything firing on all cylinders.
That’s how it is in business. Just as you are taking the victory lap for the kickass execution you and the team have delivered, the track takes a tilt and things start getting harder. Businesses don’t operate in a vacuum. They operate in a dynamic ever changing market that is going to make things difficult for you, especially if you want to be in business forever.
I think some examples will help. The one that comes to mind front and center is Microsoft. By the middle of the 1990s, Microsoft had it all. They had a dominant share in desktop operating systems and a dominant share in desktop apps. They were literally printing money. Then the commercial internet happened. Netscape showed up. And Microsoft’s market changed, forever.
Microsoft did adapt. They built Internet Explorer in reaction to Netscape and then used their desktop dominance to push it into the market, hurting Netscape so badly that it had to sell to AOL. That got Microsoft into trouble with the Justice Department and they were investigated as a result.
But what Microsoft didn’t see in 1995 was Google because it didn’t exist. And they didn’t see the emergence of cloud based productivity apps because they didn’t exist. In hindsight, it is pretty easy to see how fundamentally transformed Microsoft’s business has been by the Internet and it is also pretty easy to see that they have not been able to adapt sufficiently to maintain any semblance of the dominance they had in the mid 90s. This stock chart tells you everything you need to know about what the Internet did to Microsoft. They may be surviving but they are certainly not thriving.
Another great example is RIM. I don’t even need to tell this story. Everyone knows that the dismissive tone and stance that RIM’s management took toward the iPhone and what it represented was essentially the death knell of a great company. I suspect they wish their stock chart looked like Microsoft’s.
But let’s look at a more positive example. As Ron Ashkenas points out in this HBR article, IBM saw that the hardware market was changing and their competitive position in it was changing with it. They sold their PC hardware business in 2005 to Lenovo and doubled down on consulting and related services. Their stock chart tells the rest of this story.
Adapting doesn’t always mean exiting a business that you decide has issues. You can also retool, reshape, and refocus the business. A company that I’ve worked with for more than a decade saw the industry it services go through some painful transitions in the 2008/2009 downturn. They built an entirely new line of products that service the growth part of the industry while working to maintain the older products through an orderly and gradual decline. It’s been a difficult transition because it has meant that the company’s top line hasn’t grown during this transition. But the company is still in business and the new products are growing quite nicely.
Every situation is different and I don’t have some “silver bullet” to help you all think about how to figure out when to adapt and when to stay the course. But I do have some observations. The comfort of a strong balance sheet (and a nice looking stock chart) is often your enemy not your friend in these situations. The most agressive CEOs I’ve seen in these situations are often the ones with less than a year of cash in the bank and survival instinct in full on mode.
Another observation is that getting your organization to adapt is harder than you might think. Organizations have inertia. The bigger they are the more inertia they have. If you think you need to adapt your business quickly, you will need to figure who is in the boat with you and who is not and make the changes you need, particularly on your senior team, to align the team with mission and get going.
Finally, you cannot be in adaptation mode all the time. If you map out long living successful businesses, you will see they go through periods of great stability followed by periods of great change and then move back into stability mode. You have to know when to get into which mode and you need to see each one through to its logical conclusion.
Given how hard all of this is, you might wonder if you really want to stay in business forever. The answer may be no. But even if it is no, you had better plan for and act like you do. Because I am certain that if you don’t, you won’t.
By Neil Patel.
Social media marketing may not be rocket science, but there is still a large science component to it. If you want your content to spread, you have to look at the numbers and stop making gut decisions.
Over the last 5 years I’ve learned how to successfully push content out on through social media so that it spreads virally. And more importantly I’ve learned what not to do.
So if you want to ensure that your content spreads, avoid the following 7 mistakes:
Mistake #1: Timing doesn’t matter
You can’t write content and publish it in the middle of the night, and expect it to spread virally. Social sites like Twitter and Facebook have peak usage times and if you can submit your content to those sites during the ideal days and times it will be more likely to spread.
48% of Twitter users are on Eastern Standard Time, they are most likely to retweet on Wednesdays, around 5pm. Links on Twitter tend to get clicked on the most within the first hour of them being posted.
So if you want to share something on Twitter, tweet it on Wednesday at 5pm EST.
And if you want to share something on Facebook and get the most amount of likes, don’t post more than once every 2 days. Also to get the most likes, post on Saturday at noon EST.
Mistake #2: All social buttons are the same
On Quick Sprout I tested the placement of social media buttons at the top and bottom of my blog posts. Surprisingly, people have a tendency to share posts before they read them as the social media buttons at the top of the post got 117% more clicks than the ones at the bottom.
In addition to that, I tried using scrolling social buttons such as the Sharebar, which got 226% more clicks than the social media buttons at the top of the post.
When I tested the combination of the scrolling social buttons with social buttons at the top, it underperformed by 29% compared to scrolling buttons in combination with buttons at the bottom.
If you want to get the most social shares, consider placing social media buttons at the bottom of your blog post in combination with scrolling social buttons like the Sharebar.
Mistake #3: Shares matter, not traffic
Most bloggers and content marketers focus on how many likes their content gets on Facebook or tweets they get on Twitter. In theory, if you have more shares, you should get more traffic, but that isn’t always the case. If no one clicks through from Facebook or Twitter to your website, you won’t get any visitors.
Instead of just focusing on the pure number of social shares, you should also be looking at traffic. A good way to boost your traffic from these social sites is to analyze your click through rate.
According to this blog post by Dan Zarrella, the optimum place to leave a link on Twitter is right at the 25% mark. So not at the beginning, end or even middle… make sure you add it right on the 25% mark if you want to boost your Twitter traffic.
Mistake #4: People read content during the same peak times they share it
There is a huge timing difference between when people prefer to read content versus sharing it. Based on mistake number 1, you know people prefer Wednesday for Twitter and Saturday for Facebook.
People prefer to read blogs on Monday at 11am EST. They prefer commenting on blogs at 9am EST on Saturday.
If you are also targeting a female audience for your blog, never post during the evening or night; women prefer to read blog posts before noon EST.
Mistake #5: Focusing on all social channels
I talked about placement of social media buttons earlier, but I didn’t talk about the number of social sites you should promote. On Quick Sprout I tested placing buttons for 3, 4 and 5 different social media sites. No matter how many social media buttons I used, less than 9% of people clicked on more than one social button.
But, there was a huge difference on how many people clicked on the social media buttons when there 3 buttons versus 5. Although there were fewer options when I just placed 3 buttons, there was an increase in click throughs by 11%. As for click through percentage difference between 4 buttons and 3, there wasn’t statistical significance between the two.
People have a tendency to only share your content on 1 social site, so ideally you shouldn’t have more than 3 social media buttons. If you have over 50,000 monthly visitors, consider placing 4 social buttons.
Mistake #6: Tweeting your content once
Even if you tweet during optimal days and times, it doesn’t mean that everyone is going to see your tweet. Although 82% of Twitter users have less than 350 followers, 18% still have more than that. And just because that 18% number is small, you shouldn’t ignore it as Twitter has over 500 million users.
Out of all of your followers, the ones who also follow thousands of other people, probably won’t see most of your tweets. And if they don’t see your tweets, they won’t be able to retweet them or click through over to your website.
According to a test Mark Suster ran, you should consider tweeting your blog posts at least twice. He got an extra 56% more visitors from Twitter by just tweeting a blog post again. You can also tweet your content 3 or even 4 times, but the more you tweet the same post, the less clicks each one will receive as many of your followers would have already seen it.
Mistake #7: Slow and steady wins the race
In the social media world, it is all about speed. The more shares your content gets within a short period of time, the better off you are… especially on Facebook.
Facebook takes momentum into account, so if your content is gaining a ton of likes at a quick pace, more people are going to see it within their feeds.
I did a quick test in which I bought 50 likes within the first 30 minutes to one content piece and I bought 50 likes spread over 8 hours to the second content piece. Both of the content pieces where the same, but the one that got 50 likes within the first hour ended up with a total of 142 likes and 10 comments. The second variation ended up with 95 likes and 7 comments.
If you want your content to spread on the social web, you need to get a lot of shares within a very short period of time.
If you avoid the 7 social media mistakes above, your content is more likely to flourish and spread. Now when you decide to leverage the above tips, don’t just assume they are going to work for you, make sure you test them out with your content. Based on where most of your website visitors live and the demographics of your audience, the results maybe different for you.
What other social media mistakes should you avoid?
By Neil Patel.
What does it take to be an extraordinary entrepreneur? You know, an entrepreneur who has a vision for a business, rallies support to build it and then grows it into one of the most innovative companies in the world….what does it take to be an entrepreneur like that?
Well, I may be young but I have been an entrepreneur for over ten years. My first SEO consulting job was in high school where I built and ran a successful agency. And from there I co-founded a few software companies. Luckily for me, I was fortunate to grow up in a family of entrepreneurs, so I’ve heard a lot of great advice about what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur.
And I’ve also seen that all great entrepreneurs hold closely to a core set of beliefs. So what are those beliefs? Here are eight:
Belief #1: Make a decision and go!
This was one of the first lessons I learned when starting my first business and it was extremely hard to get used to making a decision and then taking action on that decision.
I was so afraid I was making a mistake. Since then I’ve learned that making a mistake is not a bad thing. You actually learn from those mistakes, which helps you make better decisions down the road.
You will struggle with hiring and firing people, project budgets, office space and advertising creative. When you first start off in business you will take days and even weeks to answer these questions.
This core belief actually came back to me when I lost a million dollar client. They were happy with the service I was providing, but they wanted to know what else I was going to do to take their business to the next level. I had a few ideas, but I didn’t make a decision on which idea I was going to act on. Long story short, I took too long to make a decision and I lost a $1.2 million client.
Belief #2: Show passion, not perfection
It’s a lot easier to work on a project for closed doors for years until you get it perfect and then ship, but that just won’t work these days.
Often when I talk to young entrepreneurs who are “working” on a project behind closed doors I realize they are afraid to ship because they don’t want to be ridiculed. But I always encourage them that what people don’t want a perfect product…what they want is a passionate person behind the project.
If you can show people you are passionate about creating a perfect product by releasing it, then getting feedback and iterating…then people will jump on board…especially if the product solves a real-world problem.
Don’t try to perfect anything because if you perfect something that no one wants to use, you will just end up wasting money.
At KISSmetrics we created 2 other versions of our product that are no longer live. We spent over $500,000 on the first version, trying to perfect it, instead of just getting it out there. Since then we have scrapped that product. If we used the minimal viable product approach instead of trying to create a perfect product, we probably would have saved that money.
Belief #3: Avoid the ugly baby syndrome
One thing that entrepreneurs are in the habit of doing is falling in love with their ideas…even if it is a bad idea. This is like parents who fall in love with their new baby, even though everyone knows newborns are ugly.
You need to be objective in your business, with your plan and your product. Everything on the table needs to be up for debate if you truly want to succeed.
Seek out mentors to help you, and get advice from them on a regular basis. Listen closely to what they are saying. Listen closely to what your partner is saying and more importantly your customers.
This doesn’t mean you have to surrender every idea, but sometimes you may have to make drastic changes.
The CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, tells a story about how they were going down the wrong path and brought in the founder of Costco, Jim Sinegal for advice. Jim said, “You know, I don’t want to be rude but this is exactly the wrong thing to do.”
Schultz listened, realized Sinegal was right, and shifted their strategy.
One way to protect yourself from falling in love with your idea is to train yourself to fall in love with solving people’s problems. It doesn’t matter what you create to solve their problems, but as long as you do it in a simple, easy, and ideally an affordable way, you will be fine.
Belief #4: Find the sweet spot, then scale it
Once you have reached product market fit, there will come a time when you need to figure out how to scale your product.
If you scale your product before people fall in love with it, you’ll tarnish your brand. What I mean by this is that people won’t be happy with your product so they will say negative things about it. This will cause churn, a decrease in sales, and a bad brand that will be hard to fix. Once people think negatively about your product or brand, it’s hard to change their perception… even after you fix your product.
When I first started Crazy Egg we spent thousands of dollars on marketing before we launched the product. We had a ton of churn in the beginning, as there were a lot of product issues we faced when we launched. The marketing spend had a negative ROI and if I had to do it all over again, I would scale the business once I fixed the major product problems.
Belief #5: Don’t think about taking a leap, just take it
Speaking of perfection, there is never a perfect time to become an entrepreneur. Though being young and without a family is certainly a better time than when you are older and have a family.
Once you take the leap though…you are committed. You need to quit your job and become your new business. That’s a huge risk for sure, but if you don’t take the risk what’s to encourage a partner or investor to take the risk on you?
This commitment needs to infuse everything you do…and never think of minimum amounts. Never think that you need to secure just 4 clients a month to succeed or you just need to make 200 calls before the money pours in.
That never happens. Your projections will more than likely fail. This means you need to have a mantra that says there is no failure…just wild success! So stop wasting time and take the leap.
One of the most common emails I get is from people asking if I would invest in their business idea. When I ask them how far they have gotten, most people tell me that they are still at the idea stage and don’t have the time to go further as they have a full time job. If you can’t take the leap into entrepreneurship, investors won’t fund you because it shows that you don’t believe in what you are doing if you aren’t willing to quit your job.
Belief #6: Entrepreneurship isn’t a war, it’s about solving problems and turning a profit
Some entrepreneurs treat business like it’s a war that you need to defeat and destroy your competition. But even if you can actually do that and become number one in your market, you will still fail if you aren’t turning a profit.
For instance, at KISSmetrics we don’t focus on killing our competition even though they copy our features and steal our designs, instead we focus on solving our customers’ problems and growing our revenue.
The truth is that if you can find a way to differentiate yourself from your competition in a meaningful way, your revenues will go up. Plus if you are in a new market that is big enough, it doesn’t matter what your competition is doing, as there is enough room for both of you.
Belief #7: Hire slow, fire fast
The single most critical part of running a successful business is to hire the right people…and fire the wrong ones fast.
A lot of people spend a lot of time and energy trying to select the right person based upon past performance, but I’ve often found that what you learn in an interview with somebody doesn’t equal good performance down the road.
I like to see people get their hands dirty and how they adapt to stressful situations. When I interview people, I rarely talk about what they have done or even look at their resume, instead I ask them questions related to what they would do for my company and how they’ll get that work done in a timely fashion.
And if you happen to hire a few bad people, keeping them hurts your business as it will probably do more damage then good. Mark Zuckerburg famously fired people who were loyal to him but couldn’t handle the growth. And Zappos even paid people to leave the company if things weren’t working out to make the transition easy.
Belief #8: Learn from your first, earn from your second, give back with your third
If you are a serial entrepreneur…or you’re on your first business but think you have two or three more in you…then you will likely get a lot of experience, business wisdom and wealth out of those ventures. It will take years before you get there, but if you keep at it, sooner or later you will do well.
Your first business is going to be full of mistakes and lessons learned…that’s a good thing! You can apply those lessons learned to your second where you should get it right and become successful. Then on your third business you can give back.
You can give back money to other startups but you can also give back experience and help out other entrepreneurs or volunteer for charities. Don’t ever expect anything in return, but instead just give back like your mentors did with you.
Now, do you have to have all of these core beliefs in place on day one as an entrepreneur, you are going to become extraordinary, right? The answer is no. The thing about starting and growing a business is that you will grow as a person yourself…and that is one of the best educations an entrepreneur can get!
So take a minute to re-read the core beliefs I shared above, then print them out…and start working on becoming the next Bill Gates or Larry Page.
What other core beliefs do you believe that extraordinary entrepreneurs have?
By John Jantsch
Scheduled communication may be one of the most powerful team and accountability building tools available when done the right way.
Meetings are an essential aspect of getting things done, collaborating and delegating, but for many they are the bane of business life. People actually leave companies because of the life draining nature of their meeting culture.
This commonly accepted feeling about meetings comes about because most people have been trained to handle meeting in one of two ways.
One is the “I hate meetings, so just come to me if you have a problem” method. Of course this is quite possibly the most frustrating approach for all concerned. This approach leads to lots of wasted time and the every ten minute or so interruption.
The other approach is what I refer to as the “I’ve called a meeting, but it’s really a reading” approach. In this approach managers read from a list of to-dos that could have been sent via email and then propose some things to try to get buy in.
This second approach eventually leads to adopting the first “I hate meetings” attitude and drains any sense of commitment from all involved.
Here’s the deal: you need meetings, perhaps frequently, but you need them to be energetic, useful and in the words of consultant Al Pittampalli – modern.
In Read This Before Our Next Meeting, Pittampalli lists the seven attributes of what he calls the modern meeting. This is a great framework for how to think about meetings that generate energy and action.
1. The Modern Meeting supports a decision that has already been made.
2. The Modern Meeting starts on time, moves fast, and ends on schedule.
3. The Modern Meeting limits the number of attendees.
4. The Modern Meeting rejects the unprepared.
5. The Modern Meeting produces committed action plans.
6. The Modern Meeting refuses to be informational. Reading memos is mandatory.
7. The Modern Meeting works only alongside a culture of brainstorming.
Read Pittampalli’s book before your next meeting and consider making it a gift to everyone in your organization.
Adopting this approach to meetings and making it the “accepted meeting protocol” in your organization will reduce the need for meetings that drain, hold anyone that calls or attends a meeting accountable for action and even keep the boss on task. (Well, maybe)
Pittampalli’s last point can’t be emphasized enough.
Brainstorming is an essential business tool as well, but it’s not the same as a meeting. Meetings are for making decisions, brainstorming sessions are to throw out ideas, discuss constraints, test theories and get feedback on ideas.
You need an entirely different framework for brainstorming. You need to frame the idea, throw roles and titles and encourage big thinking. (And, don’t forget to feed everyone well.) In fact, brainstorming sessions should be held offsite in settings that encourage and foster creativity.
Far too many meetings are really just protracted brainstorming sessions where little gets done. Hold advertised brainstorming sessions as special events to take advantage of this unique tool, but resist the temptation to bring this dynamic into meetings.
Again, meetings are for making decisions, most everything else can be handled with email, IMs and texts.
This applies to team meetings, all hands meeting and even one on one meetings.
Embrace this mindset and watch what happens to the energy, accountability and action produced from meeting that nobody hates.
By Krisca Te
You’re probably in an accounting mess if you’re reading this article.
I mean, no entrepreneur dreams about crunching numbers. No, we dream of creating the next iPhone, the marketing, the office design, the company culture, and recruiting talent.
But who would willingly spend their time thinking about invoicing and tax, right? It’s only when the sky comes crashing down do we look at the numbers.
I get that. As an entrepreneur, you want to make your first dollar before you worry about these things. But here’s the thing: accounting is a cascading function. If you don’t get this month right, there’ll be more to do next month. The problem will only grow.
So here’s my first tip:
The most common pitfall start-ups businesses make when it comes to accounting is a lack of integration. What’s integration?
Well, it’s when accounting, like product development and marketing, is part of the business processes, not separate from it. It’s not done once a month, or worse, once a year. It’s not an afterthought after a marketing campaign.
You do it every single day. And you ask your team to do it every single day. Here’s the problem though: you guys don’t have time to do all that. What do you do then?
That’s part of integration: it has to be easy to do. If you want to launch an Adwords campaign, do you need jump through hoops (like going through Google’s user manual) to do it? Of course not.
The same is true with accounting. A cloud based accounting software, like Wave Accounting, can do that for you. It’s not as complex as say, MYOB, but it keeps the correct records a spreadsheet can’t do.
2. Understand The Basics
Now that you have the data, you need to understand the basics. You need to know how to interpret those numbers and know what questions to ask.
For example, what are the basic documents you need? (Income statement, Balance sheets and Cash Flow Statements) What is the purpose of these documents? What is a liability? What’s the difference between cash and asset?
Are those documents even useful to a start-up? And if not, what do you need? These are topics for another time.
3. Credit Terms
I can’t tell you how many times an entrepreneur thought he’s going great, only to realize that he’s actually broke – a classic scenario where the bottom-line is showing a profit, but the business doesn’t actually have any cash to pay its bills.
An established business can offer their customers credit (pay nothing for 30 days), but as a start-up, you may not be able to. Making a sale is not the same as making money.
As a rule of thumb, you want to be paid as early as possible, even before the goods are delivered. For example, subscription based services (magazines, software, gym memberships) frequently give customers who pay 1 year in advance a discount to maximize their cashflow.
With the invoices you need to pay, the rule of thumb is to delay them for as long as you can (unless there’s significant discount to pay early).
You can then use the difference between the amount you collect in advance and the delayed payments to do something else in the business – like expand and advertise.
By Luke Kupersmith.
Family responsibilities, bills, demanding jobs—life’s stress will never cease and for an entrepreneur it can be that much worse. Although working for yourself does grant certain freedoms, we as entrepreneurs do have the increased pressure of an entire business’s operations to oversee and the responsibility of managing employees, all of which can cause some major stress.
Stress is one of the biggest causes of disease, illness, and even death. Removing oneself from stress is important to not only keep yourself sane and healthy, but to keep stress from causing you to make bad business decisions. Below, I have highlighted a few strategies that I employ for managing stress—once stress levels are under control, you feel better, work more effectively, and consequently, your business benefits.
Although most office workers don’t have physically laborious jobs, you still need to recharge. Constantly sitting in a chair in the office in front of a computer screen day after day can be physically draining and exhausting, not to mention the other health problems it can lead to.
Develop a regular workout schedule- this can include any type of physical activity such as running, surfing, hitting the gym, practicing yoga, or playing golf. Non-work related physical activity can recharge your body and as an entrepreneur, you need all the energy you can get.
Taking a break by enjoying a little 18-hole round of golf.
The daily stresses of work and life can be emotionally draining as well. Dealing with tough clients, legal issues, financial challenges, or having to manage a “rouge” employee can all be very draining. Take some time to refocus those emotions on something else—traveling, a good book, picking up a new (or former) hobby, or volunteering—whatever makes you feel good.
One of the ways I enjoy taking care of my emotional self is through volunteerism. Instead of having my mind working through my challenges, I’m forced to focus and think of others, and it feels good giving back to the community. Find something that speaks to you. There is truth in the saying, “Perspective is everything”. Helping out others who have it worse than you can have an amazing impact on your own emotional state.
While some may look to meditating to clear their mind, for me it’s about doing something fun and adventurous to take my mind off of work. Grab your wife and go on that second honeymoon, take the kids on a camping trip, or grab some buddies and head out for the weekend. Get away to somewhere that you love, or better yet, explore somewhere new.
Doing something fun and adventurous, or relaxing if you prefer, is a fantastic way to get your mind off of work and keep the stress levels down. Take the time to enjoy life and experience new places, different people and all the fun opportunities outside of the office. Learn how and when to sign off of email and leave the phone at home… or at least turned off.
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