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42 High-Impact Entrepreneurs from 12 Countries Join the Endeavor Network at the 55th International Selection Panel in Istanbul

Istanbul, Turkey – October 24, 2014 – At the 55th Endeavor International Selection Panel (ISP), 42 high-impact entrepreneurs leading 23 companies from 12 countries were welcomed into the Endeavor network. Endeavor now supports 990 High-Impact Entrepreneurs from 629 companies across 21 countries. […]

October 24th, 2014 — by admin

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Mexico’s Intellego and Chile’s Agrotop Named World Economic Forum Global Growth Companies in Latin America

Mexico-based Intellego, founded by Endeavor Entrepreneurs Felipe Labbe and Eduardo Graniello, and Agrotop, founded by Endeavor Entrepreneur Karina von Baer, was recently named by the World Economic Forum as Global Growth Companies (GGC) of 2014, which highlights […]

April 14th, 2014 — by admin

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Forecasting revenues key to successful launch

Reprinted from The Entrepreneurial Mind.  See original article here.

By Dr. Jeff Cornwall, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Belmont University

The late, legendary Silicon Valley attorney Craig Johnson used to say, “The leading cause of failure of start-ups is death, and death happens when you run out of money.”

And the leading cause of running out of money in a start-up is poor financial forecasting.

At the core of unrealistic forecasts is the undying optimism of most entrepreneurs.  Their “what could possibly go wrong?” attitude leads to many forecasting disasters.  My father used to say that when he looked at investing in an entrepreneurial venture he would always double the start-up costs and triple the time it takes to get to breakeven.

My rule of thumb is a bit different.  I believe that being overly optimistic leads to entrepreneurs making fatal mistakes in estimating revenues, which is at the heart of most forecasting errors.  So, my approach when reviewing a business is plan is to cut revenue forecasts in half.

Here are the four most common revenue foresting mistakes I see:

1) Assuming an “instant on” button for a new business.  Most business plans I read show significant revenues from the beginning of the business, sometimes even for the very first month that they open their doors.  The reality is that it takes time to build a customer base for any business.  That is why an entrepreneur should have at least six months personal living expenses available to make it through the startup in addition to the money the new business needs.

2) The magic of the hockey stick.  A common pattern in business plans is to show a relatively slow initial start to revenues, and then assume some that unexplained breakthrough will occur that leads to a sudden and dramatic increase in sales.  When you graph this type of revenue forecast it looks just like a hockey stick.  The reality is that such sudden growth is just not that common and usually results from specific actions.

3) Assuming enough sales to make the business model look successful.  In this mistake entrepreneurs forecast their expenses and then they plug in enough revenues to make the business become profitable.  When I press these entrepreneurs, their explanation of revenues is “well, these are the revenues I need to make the business work.”  The truth is that the market will not give you the sales you need, it will only give you the sales you earn through a well-executed business model.

4) The marketing plan tells a different story than revenue forecasts.  The marketing plan should specifically explain what you are going to do to achieve the revenues you forecast.  Why will customers want what you are selling?  Who are these customers?  How are you going to communicate to them about your business?  The marketing plan should explain in words the numbers shown in the revenue forecast.  Most plans just do not make this connection.

To avoid running out of cash before your business model has time to work requires an accurate assessment of how much money you will really need to get the business off the ground. While knowing your costs is important, accurately forecasting your revenues is critical.

It is so sad to see a business model that has real potential fail simply because the entrepreneur was unrealistic about how much money it would take to get to the point of success.

“Focus on growth to get out of the crisis”: a feature on Endeavor Greece

Reprinted from Pappas Post. Original article here.

Haris Makryniotis is a budding entrepreneur’s dream come true in Greece. After spending the past seven years at McKinsey & Company in Athens where he advised senior management of the world’s leading organizations on issues of strategy, organization and operations, Makryniotis is now helping small Greek businesses get their big break.

Not only is he coaching them on ways to weather the current economic crisis, he’s helping them to flourish and grow into companies that can create hundreds (if not thousands) of jobs and generate significant revenue.

A London-trained economist who has also worked in France and the United Kingdom, Makryniotis is the new managing director of Endeavor Greece – the newest affiliate of the worldwide non-profit that supports high-impact entrepreneurs in emerging markets.

Endeavor is the only non-profit of its kind. Its “mentor capitalist” model breaks down economic and cultural barriers to entrepreneurship through strategic advising from a network of world-class business leaders.

Makryniotis is determined to help budding entrepreneurs jumpstart private sector development in Greece.

In a recent interview with CNBC, he said it is now the time for a “total reboot of the economy”.

“It was time to focus on growth to get out of the crisis,” he said. “Now is the time for entrepreneurs to flourish and the time for creativity. We need to create new business models and jobs and have a bottom-up approach rather than top-down theoretical approach.”

The Greek division of the global non-profit organization is the newest group aimed at helping new companies create economic growth, jobs and affluence that will boost local communities.

Already operating in locations such as Latin America, Turkey, Egypt and Jordan, Endeavor says it has helped entrepreneurs create 200,000 jobs and generate over $5 billion in revenues worldwide.

According to Makryniotis, debt-stricken Greece has just as many investment opportunities as any other emerging market.

“Greece meets a number of criteria for successful entrepreneurship – there is a crisis and there is an opportunity,” he said.

More than a quarter of Greeks in the labor force are currently unemployed. Greece is struggling in its fifth year of a deep recession. But that’s not enough to scare away entrepreneurs who are putting their money and faith in Greece’s recovery.

Makryniotis has a lot of work ahead of him. According to Michael Chandris, who chairs Endeavor’s Greek division, Greece’s economic crisis has unleashed a new wave of entrepreneurship. “Thousands of young people are no longer content with accepting a civil service job but are keen to develop their entrepreneurial ideas,” he said in a September 12 press release announcing the new Greek branch of this ambitious non-profit. “Endeavor can become a catalyst to this process and thus have a substantial impact on a society in transition.”

Endeavor co-founder and CEO Linda Rottenberg said: “I have always believed that some of the best entrepreneurs emerge in times of chaos. Greece is an extremely resource- and culture-rich country. There are huge opportunities for entrepreneurs, both in traditional industries like food and agriculture and in emerging sectors like biotech. We look forward to working with Greece’s High-Impact Entrepreneurs.”

Top 20 most-watched TED talks of all time

Reprinted from wamda.  See original article here.

By Glen Dalakian

Today we highlight the most popular TED Talks to date, announced by TED in late August.

Whether you think watching TED Talks during the workday is a distraction or an education, how can you not be captivated and mesmerized by such notable talks as Sir Ken Robinson’s dryly humorous discussion about why today’s schools kill creativity? Or brain expert Jill Bolte Taylor’s vivid recollection of experiencing a stroke, conscious and in a state of euphoria as she experienced her own brain shutting down?

As TechCrunch mentioned, notables such as Steve Jobs, Stephen Hawking, and Tony Robbins delve into diverse topics from accepting death and using it as motivation, to why humans do what we do, to exploring questions of the expansive universe. Among other bold and taboo topics, these Top 20 TED Talks blow the lid off our personal limits and urge creativity, limitless potential, and collaborative growth. TED has compiled the most-watched TED Talks since their availability online 6 years ago, including on TED.com, YouTube, iTunes, Hulu, and more.

Check out the list below and let us know which one has the most impact in your life. You’re allowed to say all of them.

  1. Sir Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity (2006): 13,409,417 views
  2. Jill Bolte Taylor‘s stroke of insight (2008): 10,409,851
  3. Pranav Mistry on the thrilling potential of SixthSense (2009): 9,223,263
  4. David Gallo‘s underwater astonishments (2007): 7,879,541
  5. Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry demo SixthSense (2009): 7,467,580
  6. Tony Robbins asks Why we do what we do (2006): 6,879,488
  7. Simon Sinek on how great leaders inspire action (2010): 6,050,294
  8. Steve Jobs on how to live before you die (2005): 5,444,022
  9. Hans Rosling shows the best stats you’ve ever seen (2006): 4,966,643
  10. Brene Brown talks about the power of vulnerability (2010): 4,763,038
  11. Daniel Pink on the surprising science of motivation (2009): 4,706,241
  12. Arthur Benjamin does mathemagic (2005): 4,658,425
  13. Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing your genius (2009): 4,538,037
  14. Dan Gilbert asks: Why are we happy? (2004): 4,269,082
  15. Stephen Hawking asks big questions about the universe (2008): 4,153,105
  16. Jeff Han demos his breakthrough multi-touchscreen (2006): 3,891,251
  17. Johnny Lee shows Wii Remote hacks for educators (2008): 3,869,417
  18. Keith Barry does brain magic (2004): 3,847,893
  19. Mary Roach 10 things you didn’t know about orgasm (2009): 3,810,630
  20. Vijay Kumar demos robots that fly like birds (2012): 3,535,340

To check out the 2011 list, click here.

Endeavor collaborates with Stanford to help high-impact entrepreneurs

Reprinted from Stanford Graduate School of Business news. Original article here.

By Marguerite Rigoglioso and Kathleen O’Toole

A collaboration with Endeavor Global helps high-impact entrepreneurs build their skills.
When the nonprofit organization Endeavor Global says they mentor “high-impact” entrepreneurs around the world, they’re not kidding.

Take Yossi Hasson, the charismatic founder of one of South Africa’s leaders in hosted email and internet security services. Bitten by the entrepreneurial bug since he was a child, after a string of clever startups he cofounded SYNAQ in 2004, which delivers enterprise-level applications based on open source software at a significant savings in comparison to Microsoft competitors. The company has earned the #6 spot on the South Africa FastGrowth 100 Index.

Like the other 61 Endeavor-sponsored entrepreneurs attending the first educational program offered by the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SEED) in August, Hasson is a successful business owner. But there’s always room for improvement. “I wanted more of a foundation in how to scale a global business, and tools to minimize mistakes,” said the Israeli-born South African, explaining what brought him many miles from his home to the California coastline.

The weeklong program, held at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, drew on the school’s world-class business faculty and networks to help Endeavor entrepreneurs like Hasson build growth companies in a competitive global marketplace. Silicon Valley alumni with expertise in operations also returned to Stanford to coach working groups during the program.

Flipping through a binder chock full of scribbled notes, Hasson neatly itemizes the top three themes that made the biggest impression on him at the Stanford program: how to make decisions and lead more effectively, how to benchmark as a means of creating more effective marketing, and how to understand the context of local markets in order to branch out globally more effectively. “I have at least nine new approaches to marketing that we’ll be trying,” he says enthusiastically.

At the far north of the African continent, Egyptian entrepreneur Amr Shady has also been an early starter, cofounding the company for which he now serves as CEO, T.A. Telecom, at age 23. The enterprise is one of the most profitable, fastest-growing companies in the Middle East and Africa. Managing operations in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Kenya, Shady is a firmly established leader with more than 12 years of executive experience in the telecommunications industry.

“After having spent a week at Stanford, I have a whole new appreciation for the kind of sales strategy we will need,” says Shady. “I’ve already sent the case studies and materials to my people in operations and sales so that we can start developing a new plan.”

Gigliola Aycardi Batista, one of the few women attending the program, co-wrote the business plan for an innovative health club enterprise back in 1997. It was an ingenious no-brainer: integrate medicine, health, and fitness for clients on-site. Today, her company, BodyTech, is lifting up the health club standard across Latin America. The organization’s 30 gyms in Colombia employ 1,300 people, and the company is expanding throughout Latin America.

Batista says she was attracted to the program because she knew it would expose her to strategic business issues “in a very concentrated and efficient way. One of the critical things I’ve learned is that the way we’re approaching our entry into different countries needs to be modified. We’re having more than just ‘human resources’ issues — we may need to fundamentally change how we operate to be more respectful of cultural differences.”

Mauricio Hoyos of Colombia is cofounder and CEO of a financial services company, Conexred, which allows 8 million customers, mostly Colombians, to electronically pay bills for such things as electricity and telephone services, through 47,000 outlets, mostly mom-and-pop stores.

“Our challenge is going from one type of product to a portfolio without losing control of the money,” he says. For example, the company now has a contract with the government to deliver monthly stipends to the elderly.

But, like other entrepreneurs in the Stanford program, Hoyos says, he understands the financial aspects of growing his business better than the organizational behavior side. “Most of the teachers here are psychological teachers, and we need help with that. They say, ‘Look, you go through a phase of excitement and then you go through a phase when you are stressed, and humans behave better if you do this, and don’t do that.'”

Also based in Latin America, Jaime Cater, another serial entrepreneur, has opened more than 30 different companies throughout his lifetime thus far. He was eager for the Stanford teachings to help him with his goal to make his current venture, Health Digital Systems, to be the one that leaves its mark on the Mexican people. The company provides hospitals, clinics and state insurance providers with open-source software to digitize and share records, providing a much-needed technological upgrade for the country’s citizens. Since 2009, revenues have jumped more than 1,200%.

“It’s a great opportunity to step back and take a look at my business from different perspectives,” Cater says about the Stanford program. “I’m bringing home 30 pages of notes and a completely different vision of how to deal with staff and the core talent in my organization. I’m realizing now that it can’t just be about ‘my way.'”

Why it only takes one billion dollar company to build an ecosystem

Reprinted from wamda.  See original article here.

By Abdullah Alshalabi

Fred Wilson (the most famous VC in the world) wrote last May about the Darwinian Evolution of Startup Hubs:

If you study Silicon Valley, what you see is something that looks like a forest where trees grow tall, produce seeds that drop and start new trees, and eventually the older trees mature and stop growing or worse, die of disease and rot, but the new trees grow up even taller and stronger.

In my mental model of Silicon Valley, the first “tree” was Fairchild Semiconductor (founded in 1957) which begat Intel (founded 1968) which begat Apple (1976) and Oracle (1977), which begat Sun… thenTwitter (2006) and Zynga (2007), which begat Square (2010), Dropbox (2008), and many more.

The theory states that to start a startup ecosystem in a city or a country you’ll only need 1 big successful startup. This successful startup will create a lot of wealth for co-founders, early employees and early investors. It will also produce highly skilled people that will eventually quit their jobs and start their own startups and raise money from the same investors of the previous successful startup. Furthermore, this $1 billion company will give hope to everyone. Smart people will quit their jobs and start their own startups. Moreover, it will make it much easier for entrepreneurs to raise money and recruit the smartest talents. That’s what happened in Silicon Valley, in Jordan with Maktoob(acquired by Yahoo) and will hopefully proceed in Dubai with Gonabit (acquired by LivingSocial).

So to get the wheel moving in any given ecosystem, we just need one single successful startup. Do you understand what does that means? That means that the whole country should all work together to create this next $1 billion dollar company. The government, the parliament, investors, entrepreneurs and universities should stop whatever they are doing and refocus in this single goal. Chile gets this right, they created Startup Chile to establish a Startup Ecosystem with this statement “To create a $1 billion company, and globalize the Chilean entrepreneurship culture.” They didn’t say “several $1 billion companies,” because they know it only takes one single company to make the magic happen. I previously wrote some analysis about the Chilean experience that you can find here.

There is an overlap between creating a Startup Ecosystem and a billion dollar company. They both require; investors, skilled labor, softer government policies and experienced mentors.  But, answering the question of “How to create the next billon dollar company?” is much easier than “How to establish a Startup Ecosystem?” We might have 4 or 5 examples of successful ecosystems, yet we have hundreds of successful startups created during the last 10 years.

A short answer to the question “How to create $1b company?” is to invest more in crazy and risky ideas with solid teams. Most billion dollar companies created during the last 10 years started as crazy ideas with a decent team. To name a few: Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb, Dropbox, Instagram, Kickstarter, eBay, Paypal, etc. I’m not saying that we should not establish a startup ecosystem; I’m just saying that focusing in creating the next billion dollar company will help us reallocate our resources to get their faster.

Governments are struggling to create a startup ecosystem. They want to push the youth to start their own businesses to create more jobs and sustain the economy. They create funds that supports small businesses with billions of dollars in capital. However, when you go and ask for funding, they will tell you that your idea is crazy and it will never work.

Moreover, when you read their requirements you’ll find something like: a business plan, a 5 year financial projection and other nonsense requirements. How can I know my revenue for the next five years if I don’t know how much I’m going to make next week?! I understand that governments want to make safe bets because they are not allowed to take on too much risk. But, that’s exactly the opposite of what we need right now- we need to make more riskier bets.

In short, I believe that each country and government should focus its resources on building the next billion dollar company. The process reaching this goal will involve building a solid startup ecosystem and a successful company that will lead the way and inspire all future entrepreneurs.

12 startup culture secrets everyone can learn from

Reprinted from OnlineMBA.  See original article here.

Startups are famous for their innovation, freedom, and rags-to-riches culture, and while not everyone can or wants to be a part of a startup, there’s still a lot to learn from what goes on in these organizations. Finding happiness, focus, and motivation are just a few of the cues everyone can take from startups that can lead into success and achievement, both personally and professionally. Read on to learn about these and more secrets from startups that we can all learn from.

  1. Happiness is key:

    Some of the most successful startups in recent history know that happiness is the lifeblood of innovation and growth. Just look at Google, whose employee benefits are legendary, or Zappos, whose CEO actually wrote the book on happiness. But you don’t have to be a part of a startup to love your job, and anyone can benefit from the principle of loving what you do. Empowerment, satisfaction, and a culture of happiness are all important tools for breeding success.

  2. Make a plan, or plan to fail:

    Business plans are more than just a vehicle for attracting capital: they’re the blueprint for a business. But even if you’re not interested in wooing millions out of investors, a solid plan is key. Self-awareness and a plan for the future can take you places, whether you’re a business owner, recent graduate, or a rank-and-file employee.

  3. Find your focus:

    Many startups these days are on a mission to simplify. That is, boiling down to the real heart and purpose of the business to find out what’s truly the most important focus for the future. This is an important mission for just about anyone. You simply can’t be everything for everyone, and you’ll suffer if you try. Find out what’s really important to your mission, and focus on that.

  4. Safety nets are for suckers:

    Some entrepreneurs keep their “real job” in the early stages of their startup, and while that can provide a sense of stability, it can also keep you from going “all in.” When you’ve chosen your path, stick to it. Don’t waffle, don’t hold on to a security blanket, just take the plunge and fully commit. Without a safety net, you’ll be forced to work harder, and smarter, and push your ideas and achievement to the next level.

  5. Don’t lose your soul:

    As startups grow, some lose their fun and inspiring small company culture and begin to move into corporate drone territory, but the best are still able to hold on to the excitement of their early days. Anyone can learn from this: remember why you got started, hold on to your enthusiasm, and stay in a constant state of renewal.

  6. Creativity is golden:

    Startups represent some of the best developments in the worlds of creativity, innovation, science, and technology, but tapping into those worlds is not exclusive to startups. Anyone can be creative and innovative, bringing new ideas and excitement to whatever it is you’re doing.

  7. Hunger is fuel for success:

    There’s no doubt about it, startups work hard for their success, and often, it’s fueled by hunger and desire: for a better life, to share new developments with the world, to be embarrassingly rich. Startups are often made up of highly motivated individuals, and that’s certainly not a bad thing. Find your hunger, find your motivation to push through to your own success.

  8. Knock down the walls that stand between you and success:

    Startup culture embodies a feeling of freedom, and a belief that you really can do anything if you set your mind to it. Startups fight against constraints, and that’s an important lesson for anyone. Although very real red tape or limitations (even self-imposed ones) can hold you back, do whatever you can to step over them and achieve your goals.

  9. Remember that every dollar counts:

    Early stage startups are often quite scrappy. Amazon famously turned old doors into desks, not wasting money on expensive furniture. Even if you’ve got the money to spend, watching your pennies is a smart business and personal move.

  10. Find (and give) flexibility:

    Many startups encourage their employees to set up and explore to do their own thing and discover great ideas. Why doesn’t everyone do that? Whether you’re a small business owner, manager, or employee, give yourself the time and flexibility needed to find your creativity and explore ideas that feed your soul, not just the immediate bottom line.

  11. Run far, far away from politics:

    Great startups run on merit and openness, and although it’s naive to think there’s a complete absence of politics and gossip within startup organizations, they don’t seem to suffer from an excess of cattiness. Avoid office gossip, give credit where credit is due, and judge ideas on their merit, not who came up with them.

  12. Make mistakes now and then:

    Without risk, there is little reward, and anywhere there’s risk, there are bound to be mistakes. Startups these days seem to reward mistakes and failure, understanding that they’re key to the development of the business and finding out what really works. Failure hurts, but learning from your mistakes and taking risks until you get it right can help you strike gold.

How to add an advisor to your startup

Reprinted from Under 30 CEO.  See original article here

Advisors can be a crucial additional to any company. The right advisor can provide necessary guidance to accelerate your company in critical areas. An advisor, however, is like any other employee or contractor.  Their role, compensation and legal relationship should be clearly spelled out. Due to the amicable circumstances surrounding many advisors, companies often fail to appropriately address these issues, leading to disappointment and frustration.

Clearing Defining The Advisor’s Role and Compensation

Before seeking advisors you should know what your company needs and what you need from an advisor. Be realistic about what your advisor can do for your company. Just like any business relationship, clearly defining the expectations of the parties is crucial for meeting your goals. The greatest problems with advisors arise when the company does not define the advisor’s role. There is no standard template to follow because each advisor’s contributions to a company can be so different.

The next step is determine how to compensate your advisor. For most companies that bring on advisors, it is rare to pay an them with anything except ownership. Time is really what you are buying from your advisor with your company’s ownership. It takes time to meet, answer emails, and even make connections. Before you make an advisory role official you should sit down with your advisor and draw out the expectations. Will the advisor make their time available for monthly meetings, emails, making connections or help with fundraising? If you have trouble communicating these items to your advisor, you may have trouble communicating in general with them. It happens often.

Not all time is created equal. Some advisors’ time is worth more than others. The standard equity range for advisors, however, falls between 0.1% – 2%. Four of the most dominant factors in this equation are 1) time commitment to the company, 2) profile of the advisor, 3) contacts to other people (money, PR or recruiting) and 4) the life stage of your company.

The Advisory Agreement

Once the details have been hammered out, you should seal the deal with your advisor by executing advisory and stock agreements. An advisory agreement is very similar to an independent contractor agreement since that is the legal nature of the advisory relationship.

View and Download a Free Advisory Agreement Document

You should make sure you have confidentiality and invention assignment provisions baked into the agreement (the document linked above does). These clauses protect your company’s intellectual property as they would with any other employee or contractor. The invention assignment clause assigns to the company all work produced by the advisor for the company. Examples include: customer lists, designs, code, potential investor lists and contact info. This may be a contentious point, but rarely should you allow advisors to not assign this kind of intellectual property to the company.

Active advisors, although friendly, have a tendency to push back on provisions in the advisory agreement. As savvy business people, they have been trained to do so. Do not be afraid to push back. These provisions are put in place to protect your company if the relationship goes sour.

The type of equity that each advisor receives depends on a number of factors. In some circumstances it may make sense for your advisor to purchase restricted stock. In other circumstances it may make sense for you to grant stock options to your advisor. This is a determination you should make with a lawyer.  You should also probably have an equity incentive plan in place.

In all cases, however, you should put vesting on the advisor’s stock like you would anyone else in your company. You want your advisor invested in your company for the long haul. Vesting is one mechanism to incentivize them to do so.

Advisors can be a tremendous asset to your company. Having the right game plan when choosing an advisor and defining their role will more than likely result in your company reaping the full benefits of an advisor.

Social media myths worth debunking

Reprinted from Small Business Trends.  See original article here.

By Lisa Barone

unicorn

Sometimes when we don’t understand the true potential of something, we tell ourselves it doesn’t matter. And then we come up with all sorts of reasons as to why it doesn’t matter to justify our in action. I’m not saying you would ever do this, but others do. Below are some myths I’ve heard about social media that I think need some debunking. Because, really, we’re all smarter than that.

Tell me if you’ve heard this one…

Myth 1: Social Media Is A Fad

Ah, yes, the old fad myth! The notion that eventually we will Facebook and tweet ourselves sick and no one will be interested in these sites anymore. And that may be true. There may come a time when Twitter and Facebook are no longer. But even if the social media sites we are using today die, the behavior is here to stay.

The 2012 Local Search Study found that the number of people using social media to look for local business information has increased 67 percent since 2012, bringing it to 15 percent of users. That represents a 3x growth from where it was in 2008.

This is not a fad. It’s a new pattern of behavior as users are using the information they find about your business online to make buying decisions offline. If they can’t find information about your business via social media, you may not even enter their buying decisions.

Myth 2: My Customers Aren’t On Social Media

As of February, 66 percent of online adults were said to be using social media sites. The numbers continue to grow.

As of August:

  • 12% of online adults say they use Pinterest
  • 12% of online adults say they use Instagram
  • 66% of online adults use Facebook
  • 20% use LinkedIn
  • 16% use Twitter

And just last week it was announced there are now one billion users are Facebook.

The numbers show that your customers probably are on social media. If you don’t know where they’re hanging out – ask them. Ask them in person, put an insert in a local mailer, use the “find a friend” feature on many social media sites to see if customer addresses pop up.

Myth 3: My Teenage Daughter Can Run My Social Media Campaign

Did you hear about the social media trouble KitchenAid recently found itself in due to an accidental tweet? These are the things that happen when you’re not careful about what your brand is doing on social media. Just because your daughter or son is constantly on Facebook or Tumblr for personal use doesn’t mean they have the maturity, the insight, or the strategic thinking for business use of social media.

Someone needs to be driving the bus to create a strategy, determine metrics, to understand how to maturely deal with critical customers, etc. If you wouldn’t let someone answer the phones in your business or speak directly to your customers, don’t give them the keys to your social media channels either. It’s the same thing.

Myth 4: Social Media Is Dangerous – People Will Say Bad Things!

I’m not going to lie to you. People might use social media to complain about your business or say things that will be difficult for you to hear. But wouldn’t you rather be on social media tohear what you’re saying than to close your ears and ignore it? I would. Studies have shown that NOT addressing customer complaints does more than hurt your reputation — it actually sends customers to competitors.

According to the Harris Interactive/Right Now Customer Experience Impact Report [PDF]:

  • 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience
  • 50% of consumers give brands a week to respond to a question before they stop doing business with them.

By getting involved in social media, you have the chance to spot these types of situations before they grow out of control and begin to harm your business.

Myth 5: Nobody Cares what I Think

Here’s the thing, if you use social media to simply broadcast information about yourself or your company, you’re probably right. However, if you use it to respond to customer service complaints, to share valuable information, and to make your brand of a hub for your industry, people will care. They’ll actually care very much.

Don’t use social media to constantly talk about yourself. Use it to learn about what your customers want, to improve what you offer them, and to become part of the larger industry. These are the uses that make social media beneficial to SMBs and which attract people to the brand.

Those are some of the most common myths I heard about social media from small business owners. What are some of the things you’re fighting against?

Lesson #5 from Endeavor’s Fastest Growing Companies: The customer is always right

CLICK HERE to read the full Endeavor Insight report, “Emerging Market Entrepreneurs Have Emerged: A look at the fastest growing entrepreneurs in Endeavor’s portfolio”

Seventy-one percent of the fastest growing Endeavor Entrepreneurs believe they differentiate themselves by focusing on their customer and his/her needs. They share a highly consumer-centric vision that informs both their strategy and business model.

Clearsale is a Brazilian e-commerce fraud management company. While the online market is clearly growing rapidly, Clearsale’s founders, Pedro Chiamulera and Bernardo Lustosa, still entered an extremely crowded and competitive market in which numerous companies were going after the same potential clients. To differentiate themselves, Pedro and Bernardo identified a pressing customer need for a better solution. “We realized that customers were overwhelmed by IT programs. We used to provide a web system and fraud score for customers to self-manage it. We realized that when you give a lot of IT tools to a business you are giving them more problems than solutions.”

As a result, Clearsale went from selling the software to managing all the fraud prevention for their customers, integrating the customers’ databases and making the decisions on whether a transaction is approved or not. In part due to this better understanding of customer needs and motivations, Clearsale has increased revenues by 144% on average yearly from 2008 to 2011.

This customer centricity is, in Bernardo’s words, what led them to their success: “Solve your customer’s problem, regardless of whether you are profiting or not in the beginning. Always build solutions that make sense to the final user, and adapt your product for the customer; don’t just make products and try to sell them.”

Want to hear more about the fastest growing entrepreneur’s tips for success?  Read the full report here.

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Lesson #4 from Endeavor’s Fastest Growing Companies: Focus on the “core” of your business

CLICK HERE to read the full Endeavor Insight report, “Emerging Market Entrepreneurs Have Emerged: A look at the fastest growing entrepreneurs in Endeavor’s portfolio”

Among Endeavor’s fastest growing entrepreneurs, focus on their core business was the most important source of growth–over expanding to new customers, new products, new geographies or new channels.  For these entrepreneurs, focusing on the core by avoiding distractions and fully tapping their primary market opportunity before pursuing other growth avenues was pivotal to their success.

To be clear, focusing on one’s core business is not to be confused with not adapting one’s model to the market. Indeed, as Rafael Duton, founder of Brazilian mobile services company Movile (nTime), commented, “We have not made aggressive changes in our business model but we definitely adapted it because we are in a really dynamic market.”

Moreover, maintaining focus does not mean missing opportunities for growth in adjacent spaces. As an example, The Bakery Shop, an Egyptian company founded by Basel Mashhour and Tarek el Nazer which sells baked goods to Egypt’s upper class, launched a second-tier brand called Delicious Bakery.  This brand was aimed at a more mass market. In Basel’s words, “[we] realized our potential was capped because the target was quite niche, so we launched a second-tier brand to a more mass consumer.” Key to this launch was leveraging the knowledge gained from their core business to pursue a more scalable opportunity.

Learn more about maintaining focus while adapting to dynamic market environments, and other key lessons from Endeavor’s fastest growing entrepreneurs, by reading the full report here.

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