10 Things Entrepreneurs Didn’t Worry About 10 Years Ago

It’s hard to believe, but 10 years ago entrepreneurs somehow managed to start, grow, and sell companies without spending even a second of mental energy on these now all-important topics:

1. iOS versus Android

In 2004, the iPhone was still just a twinkle in Apple’s eye, and if you wanted a cell phone for business you got a Blackberry. Today, you must decide whether to build your business infrastructure on Apple’s proprietary system or the Android family of products–a decision akin to going with either Apple or IBM in 1984.

2. Freemium

In 2004, businesses were still able to insist that “you get what you pay for.” Today, however, giving away your product (or most of it) has become a viable, if difficult to execute, busines (PayPal me a dollar and I’ll send you the rest of this paragraph.)

3. Becoming a billionaire

In 2004, for most entrepreneurs, making a million dollars was a very cool thing indeed. After the movie The Social Network was released, however, it became clear that if you don’t make at least a billion dollars, you’re not just uncool but pretty much a big loser.

4. Viral marketing

In 2004, sharing a promotional video meant copying an AVI file and sending it to somebody via email or snail mail. Today, however, people want their corporate videos to go viral. Surprisingly, few firms do the obvious: include some footage of a cat riding a bicycle.

5. Social networking

In 2004, MySpace (remember those guys?) was only a year old and networking online meant sharing your bootlegged Black Eyed Peas mp3 files. Today, if your business isn’t plugged into Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you might as well be wandering in the wilderness.

6. Millennials

In 2004, management consultants provided advice on the challenge of managing Gen-Xers. Today, management consultants provide advice on the challenge of managing Millennials. Oddly, nobody seems to notice that the advice is always the same, regardless of the generation on the rise.

7. Shark Tank

In 2004, the only way the CEO of a startup could get featured on national television was by getting bit by a shark on the reality show Survivor. Today, entrepreneurs have their own reality show, where they can enjoy both the dream of winning over big investors and the schadenfreude of watching peers get ridiculed.

8. Big data

In 2004, data was just data. Back then, processing data was something that happened in a back-office data center. Then somebody (probably a management consultant) figured out that the otherwise dull word data sounded more impressive and exciting when preceded by the adjective big. And thus a buzzword was born.

9. Crowdfunding

In 2004, the only way to get funded was selling your future to venture capitalists. If you can’t find a traditional investor today, you can pitch your idea directly to the masses. There is one disadvantage, though: Everyone in your crowd of investors will expect a free T-shirt.

10. Legal weed

In 2004, getting high with a customer still meant having a three-martini lunch. However, today in Washington and Colorado there are no doubt some business deals being sealed not with a toast but by everyone getting toasted.

 

-Courtesy: Inc.com

5 Apps Every Entrepreneur Needs to Stay Organized

5 Apps Every Entrepreneur Needs to Stay Organized

Why get a personal secretary when your smartphone can organize your day, your minutes, your business trips and even your clutter?

For entrepreneurs, having a smartphone loaded with the right kind of apps not only provides a way to hold you accountable for tasks at hands but also allows you to focus on what you do best: running a business.

1. Evernote.

An easy-to-use app that helps you remember everything across all of the devices you use. It not only allows you to take notes, snap photos, create to-do lists, scan business cards and record voice reminders but also makes everything searchable. As an entrepreneur you tend to attend so many meetings, seminars or conferences that keep you away from the comfort of your office that you need an app to stay organized and improve your overall productivity.

2. TripIt.

Entrepreneurs travel, which means logistics, schedules, last-minute delays and confirmations. TripIt keeps it all in one place. By simply forwarding your travel confirmation emails to plans@tripit.com, you can get a detailed daily itinerary for every trip. The app is so useful that it makes sure you focus on where you are going rather than how you are getting there.

3. UberConference.

With a shoestring budget that every entrepreneur rides on, you can barely afford to make overseas calls every day. That’s when apps such as UberConference come in handy. It’s one of the most convenient ways of doing a conference call without burning a hole in your pocket. Every free membership starts off with a maximum conference call size of five but by linking with social media accounts, you get rewarded with a cap increase up to a total of 17. Not a bad deal.

4. Scanner Pro.

Scribbling brilliant ideas at the back of a napkin in a conference, paying nasty bills for a big client or simply writing a process on whiteboard. These are things that get easily washed away from your memory (and wallet) the next day that you wish you had a pocket scanner to keep a record. Scanner Pro transforms your iPhone and iPad into portable scanners. So next time you have a brainwave, you know which app to tap on.

5. Dropbox.

We all know that Dropbox lets you bring all your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. And while everyone probably has it on their computers, Dropbox’s mobile app is an even better option for entrepreneurs. Being able to access your files anywhere you go is invaluable. You can see a document on your smartphone, laptop and tablet seamlessly. It saves time and money.

 

-Courtesy: Entrepreneur.com

The Real Reason Most Entrepreneurs Succeed

On a beautiful summer evening, treading water about 500 yards from shore as the sun sank toward the horizon, I realized I was going to drown.

It started innocently enough. I was drafted onto a cornhole team without realizing the losers had agreed to swim out to a red crab pot float and back.

Of all the people who can actually swim, I am probably the worst swimmer in the world. Throw me in the deep end and I can swim to the side. Throw me in the deep end and I can tread water for a few minutes. But that’s hardly swimming.

So as I walked toward the waves I thought, “OK, how hard can this be? It’s not a race. I can take my time. And it doesn’t look that far away.”

About 100 yards from shore, the bobbing red float looked really far away.

So I tried to trick myself. “I won’t look at the float,” I thought. “I’ll just swim. I’ll swim for a long time. I’ll wait as long as I can to look at the float, and then I’ll be surprised and happy about how close I’ve gotten!”

So I swam and resisted the temptation to look for the float. I kept swimming, kept resisting. Then I started to wonder if I had already passed the buoy. How stupid would it be to swim farther than I needed to? So I looked up.

The red float was still a really long way away.

Great.

I had a choice. I could give up, turn around, swim back to shore, and admit I couldn’t do it. That was the wise, prudent, sensible choice.

But, of course, I decided to keep going.

An eternity later, I reached the float. I turned and looked back. The shore seemed impossibly far away. And just then a larger wave crested over me just as I was breathing in.

I panicked.

“There’s no way I can make it back,” I thought. “It’s too far. I can’t do it. I’m going to drown!” (You know when you get scared and freeze up and it’s like you suddenly can’t run or move or, in this case, swim at all? That was me.)

Thrashing and coughing, I instinctively began to raise an arm to wave to people on shore for help when an image suddenly hit me. I remembered how I felt eight miles in on the 12-mile climb up the gravel fire road of what local cyclists call the “dark side” of Reddish Knob.

I remembered how badly I hurt: heart racing, lungs burning, legs screaming, vision blurring.

I remembered how I desperately wanted to stop, and I remembered that I didn’t stop.

“You’re OK,” I told myself. “You know you can tread water. So for now, just do that. Just chill.”

And I did.

Then I thought, “I can do this. Shoot, I’ve done worse. It’s just a matter of time and effort. Keep your heart rate reasonable, flip over on your back occasionally and just kick so you can rest your arms, and eventually you’ll make it. Just go moment to moment. It’s going to suck, but you can do it.”

I was really tired–and grateful–by the time I finally reached the shore, but I made it. And it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined. Shoot, I could have swum farther. (Because we can always,always do more.)

How? I was able to harness the power of early suffering.

Many entrepreneurs that are successful today are the product of bootstrapping and sacrificing and scraping and clawing and fighting and never, ever giving up, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

Their early struggles forge resolve. Their early struggles forge perseverance.

And their early struggles continue to inform even the most successful entrepreneurs’ professional and personal lives, providing an almost inexhaustible foundation of willpower and confidence and perseverance.

All the successful entrepreneurs I know say they would not trade their early startup days of incredible struggle and effort and suffering for anything. What they learned about themselves not only carries them through the tough times but also gives them the confidence to not just think but know they can do more than they ever imagined possible–no matter what challenges they may face.

Be grateful for the struggle. Be grateful for the suffering.

Someday it will pay off–and in ways you might never expect.

-Courtesy: Inc.com

Why Being an Entrepreneur Is Harder Than Running Merrill Lynch

Escaping the corporate world and becoming an entrepreneur is certainly an attractive proposition for anyone who relishes the idea of being their own boss, but before taking this plunge, it’s important to acknowledge just how hard it can be to launch a successful startup.

Running your own business today is so difficult, in fact, that some have compared it to managing one of the top firms on Wall Street.

“I tell anyone who asks that being an entrepreneur is tougher than running Merrill Lynch,” Sallie Krawcheck, owner of professional women’s network Ellevate, wrote in a recent article posted on LinkedIn.

Krawcheck would know. In addition to having held the title of CEO of Sanford Bernstein and Smith Barney, she also ran Merrill Lynch Wealth Management for more than two years.

The first practical advice she gives to anyone even considering pursuing a career as an entrepreneur is to take a long, hard look at your finances to see whether you can afford to invest heavily in your business while earning little or no income.

“As the founder of a start-up, it’s not about how much cash you can make, but how little you can make and for how long. Firstly, that cash can help the business to be successful; and, secondly, if you are going to be successful, the value of that dollar working in the start-up is worth massively more than in your bank account. So before you make the switch, do the math and shore up the bank account.”

Another consideration Krawcheck highlights involves doing some introspective research. Before jumping headfirst into entrepreneurship, she writes, it’s important to question your true motivations for doing so. Is it your passion for creating something out of nothing that’s driving you, or the “idealized portrait” of life as an entrepreneur?

Even if you are financially prepared to start your company, and you feel you’re doing it for all the right reasons, it’s safe to assume that, to some degree, you will fail. The silver lining, according to Krawcheck, is that all entrepreneurs fail at one point or another.

“It’s just a matter of what you fail at and how quickly you recover,” she writes. “And you will be rejected; it’s just a matter of getting past the rejections.”

-Courtesy: Inc.com

10 Lessons Every Entrepreneur Must Learn

50 Favorite Online-Marketing Influencers of 2014

The following are 10 lessons every entrepreneur must learn in order to build a long-term, healthy and sustainable business.

1. The customer is not always right. From day one, we’re told that “the customer is always right.” We’re expected to bend over backwards to please every single customer, even when they’re clearly and painfully wrong. This maxim, however, can do a serious disservice to ourselves, our employees and our customers. Give your customers the benefit of the doubt, but not at the expense of your (or your employees’) dignity.

2. Time is money. Money, customers, ideas: all resources you can potentially gain more of. Time, however, is the one commodity you’ll always have a finite amount of. One way to ensure you make the most of your time is to assign an hourly dollar amount to your tasks.

Ask yourself: What would be a fair wage for the tasks I perform? If someone else can competently accomplish these tasks for less money, let them do it so you can focus on higher level, revenue-generating tasks. As a business owner, you should only do the tasks that only you can do.

3. Not all money is good money. This is a lesson many entrepreneurs struggle with early in their career. When you’re getting your business off the ground, it’s easy to fall into the trap of taking money from anyone who offers it. The problem is, not all customers or clients are worth it.

Avoid clients who take up too much of your time, who consistently have unrealistic expectations or who you just generally dread working with. It’s just not worth it!

4. There are no cheap shortcuts in marketing. I often speak to business owners who want marketing advice, but who then shun my recommendations as being “too expensive.” The truth is, cheap marketing can make your brand look cheap.

Low-quality content, cheap ads and “budget” SEO may save you money in the short term, but the damage they do to your brand’s reputation can last far longer. For insight on how to market the right way, see myebook.

5. Outsource as much as possible. If you don’t have in-house staff to share the workload, consider outsourcing. Many entrepreneurs find thathiring an overseas virtual assistant significantly reduces the time they need to spend on routine tasks, freeing them up to work on revenue-generating tasks.

6. Build your personal brand as well as your company brand. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of focusing on building their company brand to the exclusion of building their personal brand. However, your personal brand will differentiate you from your competitors, give you authority and credibility in your field, and stick with you in the event your company ultimately experiences failure.

For some practical tips, see my article, How to Grow Your Personal Brand with Your Content Strategy.

And while there’s been a lot of talk over the years about work-life separation or work-life balance, our whole thing is about work-life integration. Because it’s just life — and the ideal would be if you can be the same person at home as you are in the office and vice versa. — Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com

7. Work is life, and life’s too short to hate your work. Work-life balance is something many entrepreneurs struggle with, which is why I’m such a huge fan of Tony Hsieh’s approach. When you’re passionate about what you do, and when you focus on happiness (both your own and that of your employees’), work isn’t just something you do to fund your “real life.” It becomes infinitely more enjoyable and meaningful, and significantly reduces your chances of experiencing burnout.

My philosophy is to always find the smartest people you can. Hire people smarter than you. — Donny Deutsch

8. Hire people who are smarter than you. Face it: There will always be people who are smarter than you. If you’re lucky enough to find these people, hire them. Focus on the things that you’re best at, and give them the freedom to do the same.

9. Best practices may not be best for your customers. Particularly when you’re just starting a business, it’s easy to get caught up in doing what others tell you is the “best way” to do something. Problem is, “they” don’t know your customers or clients. Use best practices as a starting point, but adapt them to meet the unique needs of your business and customers.

10. Just do it. Planning, strategizing and weighing options all have important roles within a business. But there comes a point in time when you just have to do it. You know the quote: “Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing perfectly.

Analysis paralysis or simply the lack of ability to execute a plan will stifle growth, innovation and progress in any business. Even if the payoff for work done now won’t come for years. Successful people do the work anyway because they know how to delay gratification, and this ability is what separates successful people from unsuccessful people, according to renowned physicist and author Michio Kaku.

There you have it: 10 lessons every entrepreneur must learn in order to build a profitable and sustainable business. Not easy lessons, to be sure, but ones that ensure the best possible chance of long-term success.

-Courtesy: Inc.com

7 Secret Eating Habits of Charismatic Leaders

Even outside their areas of expertise, charismatic leaders often demonstrate qualities of their own commitment to greatness. Here’s a look at some of the secret eating habits of seven charismatic leaders:

1. Mark Zuckerberg ate only meat of animals he himself killed (in 2011, at least).In 2011, Zuckerberg disclosed that he was taking a personal challenge to eat only meat that came from animals he himself killed. Zuckerberg claimed the effort was to remind himself to be thankful for how readily available food is in the modern world, and to experience the significance of sustainable farming practices. While the effort was temporary, ending in 2012, Zuckerberg is still committed to eating healthfully and responsibly.

Zuckerberg’s experience was temporary but powerful. Few people in the modern world would be willing to go to such lengths in order to prove a point or enlighten themselves. His challenge encouraged several habits: taking charge of his own food preparation, practicing economically savvy farming, and eating more healthfully. In line with the characteristics of many charismatic leaders, this effort allowed him to take control of his own situation, make a unique effort that impacts a broader environment, and take better care of himself.

2. Henry Ford ate weeds that came from his own garden. According to Sidney Olson’s biography Young Henry Ford, Ford began to think of his own body as a type of car, which needed the right fuel in order to work properly. Paying close attention to what he ate, Ford’s diet would consist largely of “roadside greens”–vegetables and weeds that he would harvest himself and prepare as salads or as parts of sandwiches. His eating habits turned many of his associates away, but he remained adherent to his culinary philosophy.

While the nutritional value of weeds varies, Ford’s habits are interesting because they were an extension of his company’s vision. Ford wanted to build the best machines, and the best machines needed the best fuel. That uncompromising philosophy extended to his own meals, giving him the motivation and grit to pursue a better diet, even though most of us would consider it unpleasant (if not disgusting).

3. Howard Hughes was extremely germophobic. Brilliant and reclusive, Hughes was well known for his obsessive-compulsive habits and extreme fear of germs. Before Hughes completely isolated himself from society, he hired several servants to ensure his meals were as clean as possible. According to some reports, Hughes demanded that his utensils be wrapped in plastic and then handled with tissues before he would use them for a meal.

Hughes’s habits were extreme, but germophobia and obsessive-compulsive habits are all too common in charismatic, successful leaders (take Donald Trump as another example). Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a serious mental illness, but obsessive habits are hallmarks of perfectionists and detail-oriented individuals. If you find yourself nitpicking small details and fine-tuning setups, chances are you apply that same sort of perfectionism to your business.

4. Margaret Thatcher went on a crash diet before the 1979 election. First female Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was recently revealed to have gone on a dramatic “crash diet” in 1979, in the weeks leading up to her landmark election win. Boiled eggs, grapefruit, black coffee, and vegetables constituted most of her diet in an effort to lose weight quickly–but she cooked all her food herself.

Thatcher was a strong leader who worked hard to execute her ideals and wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty by doing the work herself. These core characteristics are evident even in her eating habits, given the fact that she would opt for such a restrictive regimen just to improve her appearance. Crash diets aren’t healthy, but to see them through takes discipline and commitment–both of which are essential for leaders.

5. Charles Darwin discovered countless species–and ate them. Darwin is well known as being the father of evolutionary theory, a result of his dedicated passion for discovering and studying forms of life. Over the course of his career as a scientist, he discovered countless species of animals, including iguanas, tortoises, and owls. What most people don’t know is that Darwin was a part of a Cambridge University organization called the Gourmet Club, whose members thrived on cooking and eating such rare and new species.

While the motivation behind Darwin’s eating habits was never explicitly revealed, it’s fairly obvious that he was passionate about his work. Darwin wanted to know everything he could about the animals he studied, and strangely, that manifested in a desire to eat some of them. Still, that passionate desire to know everything you can about your subject is what drives people to become great leaders in their field.

6. Winston Churchill valued dedicated, full meals. Churchill’s strong personality is still well known and celebrated. Tenacious, witty, and tactful, Churchill is said to have valued table talk as a medium for important discussions, and preferred large meals of oysters, cheese, and various meats. He prioritized meals, even in periods of high stress or chaos.

Churchill saw meals as an important part of his lifestyle, regardless of circumstances, and used them to his advantage when it came to holding diplomatic discussions. Like Churchill, great leaders prioritize certain elements of their own lifestyle even when under great pressure–it is a consistent foundation that can keep you sane and focused.

7. Steve Jobs was a vegan–and would eat one type of food for weeks at a time.Many people familiar with the ingenious former CEO of Apple know that he was a longtime vegan, believing that his vegan eating habits were pure, healthy, and kept him free of body odor. Fewer people know that he would spend weeks at a time eating only one type of food, such as apples or carrots. As reported in Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs, he once ate so many carrots that his skin turned bright orange.

Jobs was one of the most eccentric leaders of our time, and his strange eating habits may not come as a surprise to those familiar with his obsessive personality. Charismatic leaders are able to determine which efforts are most important, and see those efforts through no matter what. Jobs was willing to see his eating habits through even after turning orange, and he was able to turn Apple into one of the most successful companies in the world even after facing adversity.

Conclusion

Your own eating habits may or may not be a reflection of your style of leadership. If you find yourself creating uncompromising, almost ritualistic habits, you’re probably the type of person who plans ahead and prioritizes consistency, both of which are important. If you find yourself being picky or eating in strange ways, you’re probably a perfectionist and you don’t care what other people think, which are also important qualities.

No matter what type of leader you are, it’s important to learn from the leaders who came before you. By knowing their mistakes and shining successes, you can adjust your own approach and become a better leader in your own right.

-Courtesy: Inc.com

The 3 Most Important Questions Every Entrepreneur Must Answer

The ultimate goal of every entrepreneur is to succeed – and to be happy doing it. But not every entrepreneur gets to achieve it. Indeed, hundreds of new businesses are launched every year but success eludes most of them.

One reason is that entrepreneurs are faced with some of the most difficult questions on a daily basis – and how they answer them could depend on if the startup sinks or swims.

To ensure success, here are the three most important questions entrepreneurs must answer.

1. What are my goals as an entrepreneur? Most entrepreneurs find it difficult to separate their personal goals from their business goals. And that makes sense. Think about it, entrepreneurs are often trying to turn their personal passion into a business – and just need to find others to help achieve their goals. While I get that sometimes they are linked, the ability to separate your goals can help you focus your personal growth and the success of your business at the same time. So set goals.

You are more likely to achieve something significant if you ensure your goals are specific, measurable and attainable. For instance, some entrepreneurs want a lifestyle business while others prefer a highly scalable tech business. Or some entrepreneurs have exit strategies and others may refuse acquisition proposals regardless of the profit they will personally make.

Define your goals right from the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey. It will guide you to know what to embrace as an entrepreneur and what to avoid on your way to success.

2. Do I have the right strategy? What are your short-term and long-term strategies for achieving your goals? Successful entrepreneurs know what they need, who they have to bring on board and how long it will take to achieve their milestones.

Having this blueprint will help clearly define your vision, attract the right people and ensure there is a game plan for your decision-making process. Plus, having these strategies in place can guide you through the problems and confusions that come with being an entrepreneur.

When you create your strategy, employees, investors and partners should be able to understand why you are taking a specific path (hopefully, one that focuses on the bigger-picture growth). If they can’t, you may need to make refinements.

3. Can I execute the strategy? This question is probably the hardest to answer. Great ideas can’t guarantee success. Most entrepreneurs are failing because they just can’t execute a brilliant strategy. (Even with funds, people still fail because of poor execution.)

This is why investors invest in people, as they want to be sure the founders are capable of executing on their promises. Almost everybody can put together a great document that spells out what he or she wants to accomplish but not everyone can execute on the best plan. And this is why teams are so important.

Your team is your greatest asset as an entrepreneur. If you hire the right and smart people, they will figure things out when things gets tough.

Once you are able to successfully get past the hiring stage, focus on building a great culture that makes room for creativity, as your workplace environment has a big influence on how well you can execute on your strategies.

Entrepreneurs must constantly ask themselves tough questions about where they want to go, what it takes to get there and how to get there successfully. Your success depends on finding the right answers to the tough questions.

-Courtesy: Entrepreneur.com

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