The 4 Embers of the Entrepreneurial Fire

The difference between a Silicon Valley icon and the employee next door isn’t funding — most of the time it isn’t even the idea — it’s the entrepreneurial fire within.

Yet, more often than not, the entrepreneurial flame is extinguished just as quickly as it was lit. So how do you feed the fire?

The list of advice one can get online is endless. However, there are some crucial, fundamental words of wisdom. While these cornerstones can be hard to live by, and even harder to remain steadfast to, they are what makes entrepreneurs successful.

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How Do I Build a Business Plan? (Infographic)

You have a powerful idea for the next big thing, but before you sell it to anyone, you have to get it all down on paper.  It’s time to make a business plan.

How do you know if you’re headed in the right direction? Washington State University created an infographic that provides 10 guidelines to help prospective entrepreneurs organize their thoughts and wow potential investors.

The infographic details some major questions that aspiring CEOS need to ask themselves like, what problem is my business going to solve, what’s my company’s mission, and what do we do better than anyone else in the market?

But you aren’t quite done yet. A thorough business plan includes who your target demographic is, the conditions of the market you’re entering into and accounts for worst-case scenarios. And of course, there’s the money: how much you need to get going, and where it’s going to come from once your business is up and running.

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Think You’re Too Old to Be An Entrepreneur? Think Again. (Infographic)

If Hollywood wants to portray an entrepreneur in a movie, then he — and it’s usually a he – is in his early 20s, may or may not have a college degree, is probably wearing blue jeans and a hoodie, and is a bit unkempt, with messy hair and facial hair.

That stereotype may appeal to our interest in a narrative where geeks take over the world, but the Mark Zuckerberg-inspired vision is absolutely only a part of the entrepreneurship story. Many entrepreneurs don’t even think about launching their own business until they are in their 30s, 40s, and even 50s, after years of work experience.

Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s, sold paper cups and milkshake mixers until he was 52, according to an infographic from San Francisco-based startup organization Funders and Founders (below). Meanwhile, the founder of cosmetic behemoth Mary Kay, Mary Kay Ash, sold books and home decor objects until she was 45.

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Taking Your Startup to the Next Level Doesn’t Mean You Have to Take It Somewhere New

The Best Location for Your New Wholesale Distribution Business

Should I stay or should I go? There comes a time for every early-stage startup when they’ve acquired customers, proven growth potential and are seeking investment. Reaching these milestones can bring up some crucial questions you need to answer about the future of your company.

It’s never easy planning for the unknown, but determining the ideal locale for you to take your early-stage startup to the next level is one of the most forward thinking moves you can make as a founder and CEO. Here are some key questions you need to consider when deciding the right location to establish your company headquarters:

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The Most Entrepreneurial Group in America Wasn’t Born in America

(From left to right) Anurag Jain of Prepay Nation, Ruby Polanco of Ruby Makeup Academy, and Derek Cha of Sweetfrog are among the 21 percent of Inc. 500 CEOs who were born outside of the United States.

Derek Cha arrived in America as a 12-year-old with his parents and three siblings. They came for familiar reasons: “In 1977, South Korea was a poor country,” Cha says. “My parents were looking for better opportunities and education for us.” After the family settled in California, his mother worked as a seamstress; his father had jobs as a dishwasher and janitor. Cha delivered newspapers, helped his father with cleaning work after school, and got his first job at McDonald’s at age 16.

Today, at 49, Cha is the owner of the 350-store chain of SweetFrog frozen-yogurt shops, which has more than $34 million in annual revenue. He employs about 800 part- and full-time workers in the 70-some locations he operates himself. (Like all the companies featured in this story, SweetFrog made the 2014 Inc. 500 list of America’s fastest-growing companies.) Cha founded the Richmond, Virginia-based business in 2009, as the U.S. was slowly emerging from deep recession.

Risky? Yes. But increasingly, it is immigrant entrepreneurs like Cha who are most willing to take the risk of starting a business–and without the growth of immigrant-owned businesses like Cha’s, the recession would have been much worse. From 1996 to 2011, the business startup rate of immigrants increased by more than 50 percent, while the native-born startup rate declined by 10 percent, to a 30-year low. Immigrants today are more than twice as likely to start a business as native-born citizens.

Despite accounting for only about 13 percent of the population, immigrants now start more than a quarter of new businesses in this country. Fast-growing ones, too–more than 20 percent of the 2014 Inc. 500 CEOs are immigrants. Immigrant-owned businesses pay an estimated $126 billion in wages per year, employing 1 in 10 Americans who work for private companies. In 2010, immigrant-owned businesses generated more than $775 billion in sales. If immigrant America were a stock, you’d be an idiot not to buy it.

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18 Ways to Sink Your Startup (Infographic)

Successfully building a startup can feel like the sort of thing that requires planets aligning. Screwing up a startup, however, is incredibly simple.

Some entrepreneurs try to do it all on their own. Some don’t get along with their co-founders. Both of these mistakes can stop a company before it starts. Other things to avoid: hiring bad computer programmers, raising too little or too much money and, of course, a half-hearted effort.

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The 4 Reasons Why My Startup Failed

Getting involved with startups requires a healthy amount of delusion. It’s usually why you’re the last person to know that your startup is dying.  That didn’t happen for me. When I finally made the phone calls to thank everybody for their involvement, it was with cold sobriety.

Every good story has a context to it, and this is mine. I started my first startup, ThoughtBasin, while I was still in university at McGill. I juggled economics courses, a part-time job at a pharmaceutical firm and trying to jump-start ThoughtBasin at the same time.

At the beginning, I had nothing more than a co-founder, a set of ideals and something that vaguely resembled a good idea. I hadn’t even thought through how we were going to get so many students in the first place. The economics of it all collapsed once you thought about how it expanded beyond one university. I didn’t think about it because I was doing all of the work, and I figured everything would work itself out. It never occurred to me that it would take more people than me to do this thing, and that no, a founder doing all of the work for free is not something that can go on forever.

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