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5 Questions to Ask While Searching for a Co-founder

Starting your business, especially the first one, is like starting a new life. If you are sure of what you want to achieve, you would soon find yourself thinking and talking about your startup all the time, as if you were living in a new world. This is where you need someone who could share your vision, help you strategize better and work with you to make the plan work on ground. This could be your first key employees, a mentor or better still, a co-founder.

A co-founder is someone you can trust and fall back on. Some entrepreneurs prefer to tie-up with their old college friend or a colleague they know quite well, provided they have the right skills. Some bring their spouses or siblings on board, if they share the same vision. However, the worst thing that you can do to yourself and your startup is to make someone a co-founder only because he/she is “known” to you. Business is about hard facts and numbers, it is not a boat ride or a mountaineering trip. So, you got to be cautious as to whom you want as a co-founder. A right co-founder can add a lot of value and make your entrepreneurial journey worthwhile while a wrong one can rock the boat and leave you gasping for breath.

If you are looking for a co-founder, ask yourself some quick questions:
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Personal Brands are All the Rage – Here are Four Reasons Why Many Fail

Today’s world has many successful personal brands – Tim Ferriss, Gary Vaynerchuck, and Tony Robbins to name a few. Their success has led many to believe that their own ideas and philosophies can be practically applied to the world market for improving other’s lives. These success stories, combined with the recent surge in social media and the ease of use and high potential for Facebook and Twitter marketing has created a very big illusion – personal brands are easy and will carry high success with their creation. Unfortunately, this is statistically almost never the case. The reality is that very few people are able to create a personal brand that earns them an equal amount of money, let alone more money, than their existing occupations do.
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What Type Of Entrepreneur Are You?

When it comes to entrepreneurship, it’s worth noting that not all small business owners are created the same. It goes a little deeper than personality though. The type of entrepreneur you are can have an effect on how successful you are at starting a small business.

In this article, we look at several types of entrepreneur, and the pros and cons that go with that particular type. Read on, and figure out which one you are, and how to make the most of it.

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10 Business Ideas for the Teen Entrepreneur

Many of the most successful people in business today started out as teenage entrepreneurs.  For many teens, the realization that building something of your own beats working for “the man” comes to them naturally, but coming up with the right idea isn’t always easy.  So here are 10 ideas to get your creative juices flowing.  Most can be started by anyone, and a few will require some specialized knowledge, but might get you on the right path or spark another idea, even if you don’t have that knowledge right now. 
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Marketing with Meaning

“Marketing with meaning”, can be defined as bringing value to clients (potential and existing) through your marketing tactics. What does this mean for a business? Is offering a product or service enough of a value in itself? Merriam-Webster provides several definitions of the word value: “a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged; relative worth, utility or importance; something (as a principle or quality) intrinsically valuable or desirable.” Marketing with meaning is about added value. With today’s bombardment of billboards, commercials, and online pop-up ads, people are being interrupted more frequently with less valuable information. What consumers need and what they perceive they need can be very different, and marketers have long since played off of this.
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33 Quotes to trigger the Entrepreneurial Spirit in you! Enjoy

Quotes.  Entrepreneurs are fascinated with them.  They spark our creativity, motivate us to action, and inspire us to greatness.  They offer us insights into the spirit behind innovation and genius. And they act as fuel to the blue-flame fire that burns deep within every true entrepreneur.

The 33 quotes below are, in our opinion, some of the best of the best.  They come from authors, poets, inventors, scholars, and entrepreneurs – all legends in their own rights.  So jot them down on Post-it notes and decorate your workspace. Grab red lipstick and write them in sweeping letters across your mirrors.  Pick your favorite and brand it on your…palm.  The right words at the right time can be paramount to your success, so do whatever it takes to keep inspiration close at hand.
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How to Handle Difficult People

A bully at your work is difficult for you to face. He is demanding you do part of his job without pay or credit. How do you handle it?

Your neighbors are constantly fighting. They wake you up in the middle of the night with their screams and curses. What do you say to them?

Your father is unhappy about your career choice. He constantly criticizes your work and points out what he thinks you should do. How do you deal with him?

Difficult situations are part of everyone’s life. Employers and employees can’t get along. Partners clash over money. Spouses cannot resolve disagreements.

If you ignore these situations, they always get worse. Employees get fired, partnerships and marriages break up, everyone is miserable.

Waiting and worrying, the most common "solution," also allows the problem to get worse while giving you stress and shortening your life span.

If you attack the person, at least you are trying to fix the problem. But attacks, rage or irrational anger gives you a bad name, makes people afraid of you and reduces honest communication.
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Jealousy: How to Kill the Green-eyed Monster

Nothing can ruin a relationship or marriage faster than jealously. Jealousy creates anxiety, anger, loneliness, hate, fear. No one thinks clearly when jealous.

Having a relationship with a jealous person is tough. The jealous person acts untrusting or unworthy. Jealousy makes the person unattractive, even repulsive.

No one wants a jealous mate and no one likes being jealous. So what causes jealousy?

"Jealousy is the largest factor in breaking up marriages. Jealousy comes about because of the insecurity of the jealous person and the jealousy may or may not have foundation. This person is afraid of hidden communication lines and will do anything to try to uncover them." — L. Ron Hubbard

When you are jealous, a line of communication is going on with your spouse or lover that is hidden from you. The mystery causes the pain. If you witnessed your spouse’s communication line, so it was not hidden from you, you would not feel jealous.

Hidden communication lines or mysteries make you think of questions. "Will she find someone she likes better than me?" "Is he having an affair?" "Is she going to leave me?" "Does he think I’m unattractive?"

When you are jealous, the mystery makes you assume the worst. "Maybe he’ll fall in love with his cute receptionist and leave me." "She’s going to lunch with her old boyfriend because she’s still attracted to him." "He’ll come home and tell me he wants a divorce."

So how do you handle your feelings of jealousy? How do you deal with a spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend who is jealous?


"Communication is the root of marital success from which a strong union can grow, and non-communication is the rock on which the ship will bash out her keel*." — L. Ron Hubbard (*Keel: The main structural part of a ship that goes from bow to stern—front to back.)

If you are jealous, you need to communicate. You need to stop assuming the worst and ask questions. Communicate your feelings so you can work out solutions.

Bob says to his wife, "I don’t want to feel this jealously. I want to get rid of it by asking you a question, okay? Good. So are you attracted to Joe?"

His wife says, "Heavens no! Joe just wanted some help with his son. I love YOU like crazy!"

Bang! The hidden communication is revealed. The mystery is resolved. Bob feels much better.

If Bob doesn’t communicate, his wife’s communication with Joe makes Bob jealous, afraid and angry. Their marriage suffers.

If your mate is jealous, make sure you have no hidden lines of communication. "Would you like to read this letter from Jill?" "Can you meet with Joe to help with his son?"

Use communication to resolve the problem. For example, you notice Marcia is acting upset and not talking. You ask yourself, "What communication line might be hidden from Marcia?" You realize she’s been acting annoyed ever since you started working for an attractive female boss.

"Marcia, have I told you about my new boss?" Marcia jumps up and now wants to talk. You communicate the facts and remove the mystery. Marcia is cheerful and wants to go to a movie.

As well as using communication to resolve mysteries, communicate your feelings for your spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend. Tell him or her how you feel. Express your love. Show your affection.

Resolve the mysteries of the past. Discuss your feelings in the present. Make plans for the future. Because of communication, your relationship will be a big success.

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How to Get Along with Your Spouse (and Others)

When your spouse does something wrong, how do you react?

Some spouses like to blame. "You really embarrassed me when you told that stupid joke. You make me want to stay at home."

Other spouses prefer to criticize. "You’re so fat it makes me sick."

Getting even is also a favorite response. "Well, because you were flirting with Chris, I decided to flirt with Pat."

By blaming, criticizing or getting even with your spouse, you are trying to be AT CAUSE by putting your spouse AT EFFECT. Unfortunately, putting your spouse AT EFFECT is harmful to your relationship. You start arguments and fights. Just because your parents reacted badly toward each other is no reason you need to continue the tradition.

Cause and Effect

When it comes to situations and relationships, you are either at a cause point or an effect point. When you paint a wall, you are at cause over the paint and the color of the wall. When you spill paint all over your clothes, you are at the effect of that paint.

There are two types of relationships:

1. CAUSE-EFFECT is the most common type of relationship. As in the examples above, you take command of the relationship and put someone else at the effect of you or the problem.

For example, husband John says, "Mary, you ran over the neighbor’s gate. How could you be so stupid?"

John might feel at cause over the gate problem, but Mary will feel effect.

2. In a CAUSE-CAUSE relationship, you assume a cause point yourself AND you allow or encourage others to assume the cause point as well. This idea comes from L. Ron Hubbard who writes:

"If Mary burns the toast, John accepts responsibility for this action. This does not mean that he assumes all the responsibility and leaves none for Mary. It means that he assumes all the responsibility and that Mary assumes all the responsibility, too. They both assume all the responsibility. Under such an arrangement, no one can be blamed. All their attention goes into doing better with the toast, and none of it is wasted in blame.

"Mary runs the family automobile into the neighbor’s gate. The neighbor rushes over in a huff and encounters John in the front yard. The neighbor says, `You just ruined my gate!’ John goes with the neighbor to look at the gate and at the car. Sure enough, there is blue paint on the gate and white paint on the car. The evidence is conclusive. John agrees with the neighbor that the gate has been damaged by John’s car and he asks the neighbor to have it repaired and send him the bill. The neighbor says that the damage is not very great and so he will repair it himself. John lends him the tools and helps him to repair the gate. John insists on buying a can of white paint, and the neighbor says he will enjoy painting the gate on Sunday. He apologizes for being so excited at first. They shake hands.

"John goes into the house, and Mary says, `Dear, I hit the Jones’s gate with the car.’ John says, `Yes, I know. We’ve already repaired it." Mary says, `I’m sorry. I was thinking about the bathroom curtains.’ John says, `That’s all right. What about the bathroom curtains?’ Mary says, I want to dye them blue.’ John says, `That’s a good idea.’

"If nobody is to blame for the damage to the gate, a constructive subject like dyeing the curtains will immediately attract John’s and Mary’s attention, since it represents future action." — L. Ron Hubbard

Cause-cause relations are teamwork at its very best. You and your spouse accept responsibility for all of the actions of each other. You spread an umbrella of responsibility.

Imagine no arguments or upsets with your spouse. Imagine never trading insults or hurtful comments.

Making a cause-cause relationship with your spouse is the road to a happy marriage.

Give it a try!

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How to Be More Popular

Many people believe the route to success is to be interesting—to show off or act like someone else. For example, many teenagers can’t understand why they are unpopular. They learned as children that to get attention they should act up a little; to be as interesting as possible. Yet acting interesting does not make a teenager popular. 

To handle their unpopularity, they might decide to despise people or become loners. Or they try harmful acts to gain respect: smoking, drinking, graffiti, shoplifting, drugs, sex, guns and so on.

Acting interesting can ruin your adult life as well. Show-off employees, self-centered managers and pompous business owners rarely do well for long.

The secret to popularity is not to be interesting, but to be interested.

"When a person becomes terribly interesting he has lots of problems, believe me. That is the chasm which is crossed by all of your celebrities, anybody who is foolish enough to become famous. He crosses over from being interested in life to being interesting. And people who are interesting are really no longer interested in life. It’s very baffling to some young fellow why he can’t make some beautiful girl interested in him. Well, she is not interested, she is interesting." — L. Ron Hubbard

If you are an actor on stage, you are interesting while acting. Seminar speakers are interesting. Comedians, models and magicians are interesting.

Yet in real life, on a one-on-one basis, interesting people are irritating. They only do things to get your attention and admiration. They believe they are on stage acting for an audience of one.

If you want people to cooperate with you, to like you or to open up to you, you must be interested.Instead of focusing on yourself, you start to focus on others. You notice what makes them happy or unhappy. Your attention comes off of you and onto others.

When your thoughts are more on others than on yourself, you feel little stress. You act and respond with more intelligence. Your production level increases and you have more fun.

When you are interested, people love your interest in them. They want to be around you. You are popular.

Five Ways to Be More Interested
  1. Strive to shift your attention from yourself onto other people or objects. This is a great stress reliever.
  2. Find things about people that interest you. Force yourself to look for interesting things. Soon you will automatically take interest in people without thinking about it.
  3. If you catch yourself acting like someone else, you are being interesting. Simply get interested in the person in front of you and you’ll feel more natural. You are most effective when you are simply being yourself.
  4. When someone makes you nervous or shy, get interested in them. Take your attention off of yourself and on to others. With practice, you will be calm, even bold.
  5. Focus on how you can help others. Let your interest in helping people replace your tendency to act interesting. Your effectiveness and popularity will soar.
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Attitude: The Whole World Stinks!

"The Whole World Stinks!"
While Grandpa is taking a nap on the couch, his seven-year-old grandson gets some Limburger cheese from the refrigerator and smears it on Grandpa’s mustache.
When grandpa wakes up, he says, "This room stinks!" He goes to another room and says, "This room stinks." After walking throughout the house, he says, "The whole house stinks!"
Grandpa goes outside and takes a deep breath and says, "The whole world stinks!"
Your attitude about life does the same thing.

  1. Your marriage is not going well. You go to a movie and notice how nobody smiles. Couples seem to be bored with each other. The movie’s happy ending seems phony.
  2. Someone’s nasty comment at work makes your head feel like exploding with anger. While driving home, everyone seems aggressive and rude. You drive like a dangerous, insane maniac. You think about gun ownership.
  3. You watch the news on television for a few hours and feel uneasy. You go outside and look at airplanes as possible threats. You suspect your neighbor might be a bad guy. You jump out of your skin when a kid yells, "Bang!"
  4. Your business just made a healthy profit this month. You celebrate at a restaurant where the food tastes great and the waitress is cheerful. When you go outside, the sunset looks glorious. Everyone seems to be smiling.

Why Life Changes
In an article "Is it Possible to Be Happy?" L. Ron Hubbard writes:
"You remember when you were maybe five years old, and you went out in the morning and you looked at the day, and it was a very, very beautiful day, and you looked at the flowers and they were very beautiful flowers.

"Twenty-five years later you get up in the morning, you take a look at the flowers—they are wilted. The day isn’t a happy day.

"Well, what has changed? You know they are the same flowers, it’s the same world, something must have changed.

"Probably it was you."

"Actually, a little child derives all of his pleasure in life from the grace he puts upon life. He waves a magic hand and brings all manner of interesting things into being out in the society. Here is this big, strong brute of a man riding his iron steed, up and down, and boy, he'd like to be a cop. Yes sir! He would sure like to be a cop; and twenty-five years later he looks at that cop riding up and down and checks his speedometer and says, 'Doggone these cops!'

"Well, what is changed here? Has the cop changed? No. Just the attitude toward him. One's attitude toward life makes every possible difference in one's living. You know you don't have to study a thousand ancient books to discover that fact. But sometimes it needs to be pointed out again that life doesn't change so much as you."

"The day when you stop building your own environment, when you stop building your own surroundings, when you stop waving a magic hand and gracing everything around you with magic and beauty, things cease to be magical, things cease to be beautiful."

Add Some Magic to Your Life
Clear out the smell of Limburger cheese and make your life more enjoyable with this exercise.
  1. Look around you. Notice your immediate surroundings in present time. Focus on where you are.
  2. Think of a way you can make your environment a little more comfortable. Write it down.
  3. Think of a way you can make your environment a little more cheerful. Write it down.
  4. Think of a way you can make your environment a little more beautiful. Write it down.
  5. Do these three things.
  6. Repeat as needed until your attitude and the world around you improves.
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How to Solve Money Problems

How do you solve money problems?

1. Stop spending
2. Worry
3. Blame someone or something
4. Give up
5. Go further into debt
6. Sell a possession
7. Become depressed
8. Complain
9. Cheat or steal
10. Hope someone will just give you the money you need
Of course, none of these solutions help you gain more money.
However, this solution is effective.
"I answer money problems with lots of money, not with worry or sadness or impractical hope." — L. Ron Hubbard
You solve your money problems by making money. No other approach is a solution. An abundance of money is your only solution.

1. Figure out how much money you need. Write the total at the top of a page. For example, "I need to earn $10,000 per month."

2. List all of your assets. Include all of your possessions, your skills, your knowledge, your contacts and your passions. These are some or all of the ingredients to your ultimate success, so make the list as complete as possible.
Examples: You have a truck, a camera, an empty bedroom and $11,225 cash. You are good at organizing, listening, learning, speaking and making people feel important. You know all about horses, word processors, furniture building, the State of Texas, Internet auctions and using e-mail. You know Jennifer, Robert, Tim, Ruth, Steve, Dave, etc. You have a passion to help others, build model airplanes, solve complex problems, learn new things and more.

3. Dream up every way you can use your assets to make money. Make a list. Old methods, new methods, any combination of assets that produce income.
Examples: Use your empty bedroom to start a small business selling cameras, furniture and jewelry for others at Internet auctions. Learn how to prepare tax returns. Help your boss make deliveries with your truck.

4. Select a method that is proven. Does this method already make money for someone else?
If so, it is a good candidate.
If no one has ever made money with your idea, look for something else. Stick to methods that already work and invent new methods as a hobby at some other time.

5. Verify that others would pay you for the product or service.
For example, ask your boss, "Did you know I know 150 horse owners. They need shelters for their horses. What if I tested the market to see if we could add portable shelters to our product line. If it works out, I would be willing to run the new division."
As another example, you are thinking of taking pictures as a profession. So you meet with professional photographers to see how much money they make.
Ask around. For instance, ask your friends "If I had my own insurance company and could save you money on your car and home insurance, would you be interested?" "If I made a video on how to cut children’s hair, would you buy it?"

6. If all the signs are good, test the idea in the real world before devoting much time or energy to the idea. For example, run a part-time business from your house to ensure it will be popular and profitable. Make a few products or services to see if anyone will buy them. Try the new ad campaign with a small newspaper. Dip your toe before taking the plunge, especially if the idea is new.

7. Once the idea is certain to work, then and only then should you invest significant time and money into the project.

8. If you cannot work out a workable income source, work out a plan to increase your assets. If you have the right ingredients, creating new income sources is much easier.
For example, you may need additional education, apprenticing or experience in certain fields before you can earn more income. You may need to become more responsible. You may need more familiarity with a subject. You may need to make more contacts.

9. Once you have a plan you are certain will work, work long and hard to make it happen. You will solve your money problems by making more money on your own.

10. This final step is rarely taken, but is key to becoming wealthy.

"I never count on any one source. I always plan to get the total sum of all the money I need from each one of three or four ways or sources." — L. Ron Hubbard

After you have one steady source of income, look for another source by repeating these steps.
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9 Powerful Tips to Help your Prepare your Company for Growth and Success

The economy taught you to expect the worst, but have you ever prepared for the best?

It's Business 101 to have contingency plans in place for when things go wrong. But, conversely, are you prepared for growth and success? What if it turns out your positive expectations were too conservative? What if an unexpected celebrity endorsement sends demand for your product soaring? On a more practical--and likely--note, as the economy shows signs of turning around, are you ready for what that will mean for your operation?
Here's what you need to do to be prepared for growth:
  1. Know what growth means for you and your company.
    To prepare for something, you have to know what it is and how you'll recognize it. Growth is more than just hitting a set of numbers--it's a package that includes changes to your company in terms of operations, production, staffing and facilities. In addition, think about what growth means to you personally. What will your life be like when your company grows and profits increase? How hard are you going to have to work? Are you ready and willing to do what it takes?
  2. Maintain relationships with your funding sources.
    The faster you grow, the more cash you're likely to need. Growth financing is every bit as hard--if not harder--to obtain than startup funding. Do regular cash-flow projections so that you know how much credit you're going to need well before you have to start writing checks. Develop and maintain strong relationships with your funding sources and be sure to have primary and backup sources available. In today's financial climate, it's harder than ever to predict credit availability, so stay on top of your cash and financial needs to give yourself have plenty of room to maneuver when it's time to borrow.
  3. Get comfortable being in the spotlight.
    Successful owners of growing companies are almost always in the spotlight to some degree--maybe not always to the general public but certainly within your industry and with your employees. Be prepared for a level of attention that you probably haven't received before.
  4. Hire people based on where you want to be, not where you are.
    The team that can successfully run a NGN1 million company is not the same team that can run a NGN100 million company. If your goal is growth, hire people who can perform in the size company you want to be--they'll help you get there.
  5. Put the right people in the right places.
    The right people doing the right jobs is absolutely critical to sustain growth. Whole person assessments and job benchmarking will allow you to take a systematic approach to hiring and career development, which will reduce your mis-hires and employee turnover.
  6. Take care of your people.
    Your employees are what keep you successful. Recognize and reward that. Working in a high-growth organization is stressful and challenging. Take note of your employees' work and respond appropriately, or risk losing top talent. Create an environment where people are willing to work through the growing pains. In addition, take care of your suppliers, professional advisors and anyone else who can have an effect on your operation.
  7. Listen to the experts.
    You may be an expert in your business, but you don't know it all. What's more, there often will be experts who know more about particular parts of an industry than the insiders. Identify the experts, listen to them and learn from them. Let them help smooth out your learning curves and keep you on your growth track.
  8. Stay close to your customers.
    No company can do without customers, and if you don't stay close to them, you'll lose them. Know what they need, but more important, know what they want and do everything you can to give that to them. Most important, communicate. Never let your customers wonder what's going on. Tell them--whether it's good or bad.
  9. Focus on your core business and don't get distracted.
    Stick to the business your company knows best. Be sure any diversification or product line expansion you do makes sense. If it has nothing to do with your core business don't get into it just because it seems like a good opportunity. Otherwise, you'll you confuse your customers and your employees--and you'll likely find that dividing your efforts reduces the quality and profitability of everything.
Just as you plan for when things go wrong, also plan for when things go well. When you're prepared for growth, you better can manage the changes it brings and let it take you to the goal you set when you started.
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The Easiest Way to Raise Money

It's simple: Don't spend it. Here are 10 ways entrepreneurs waste their hard-earned capital. 

If entrepreneurs could recover all the time and money they waste, our GNP would soar. I can't prove that scientifically--researching the topic would be, well, a waste of time and money--but I've seen it often enough, in business plans, on income statements (including my own), during bankruptcy proceedings and just looking around.

To win the startup game, you need to be a miser with your money. You need to spend it on things that will make you a success, not on what will simply make you feel or look like one. You need to pander to what your customers need, not to what you need.
So before you sign that check, swipe that credit card / ATM Card or sign that contract, ask yourself, "Will this bring me business?"

If the answer is no, consider it one less dollar you need to beg, borrow or spend.
Based on my experience, here are 10 of the most common ways entrepreneurs waste money:
  1. Custom logos, fancy letterheads and other icons of success. They may make you feel like an entrepreneur, but they don't bring home the bacon. Instead, design your own with one of the many templates that come packaged with your word processing software. They include matching business cards, letterhead, envelopes and invoices. You can find templates in the Project Gallery of Microsoft Word or the Template Chooser in Apple's Pages. If you need more choices, HP.com and Avery.com offer free templates for use with their specialty forms and paper.
  1. Fancy offices. Speaking of bacon, maybe the dining room isn't the ideal office, but working there beats not eating. If you don't need a formal office, don't pay for one.
  2. A company car. The latest luxury car doesn't make you a better businessperson, it makes you a poorer one. If the wheels you have already get you back and forth to the grocery store, new ones are a waste of money. Just be sure to log you business travel so you can deduct the usage.
  3. A slicker-than-you-can-afford website, brochure, sign, ad, etc. In the beginning, good enough is often good enough.
  4. Consultants. Sorry to say, many of them will borrow your watch to tell you what time it is. If it's not rocket science, figure it out for yourself.
  5. Falling for the pitch "You'll be getting in on the ground floor." You're not in a position to be someone else's venture capital. If a rep for a new advertising outlet gives you the hard sell about how wonderful it's going to be, invite them to call you back when they can prove it. Leave the experimenting to others
  6. Starting a Business because your friends love your idea. It's one thing to like or even love an idea--it's an altogether different thing to be willing to plunk down money for it. There's no substitute for test marketing where real money changes hands.
  7. Basing your marketing strategy on what you think is wonderful. Good chance your customers are nothing like you (or them you). Instead, research your market thoroughly. What do they read? What do they eat? What do they watch on TV? Then craft your message based on what appeals to them, not you.
  8. Underestimating the competition. Or worse, thinking you don't have any. Any business plan that proudly states it has no competition earns itself an immediate place in my round file. If you don't understand your direct and indirect competition, you don't understand your market. And if you don't understand your market, you may be trying harder and harder to get better and better at something you shouldn't be doing at all.
  9. Thinking that your product or service is what sells. Here's the sad truth: A great marketing strategy beats a great product every time. Business owners can (and will) go on and on about their wonderful products or services. The successful ones spend their time scheming about who's going to buy it and how they're going to reach them. Products don't sell, marketing does.

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Marketing Lessons from Grateful Dead

If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung
Would you hear my voice come through the music?

Ripple, The Grateful Dead

As an entrepreneur and/or a marketer, does your voice come through the music? I'm sure Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter were not thinking about marketing when they penned those lyrics. But marketers David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan were thinking about the Grateful Dead when they wrote their latest book:  Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History.

It's hard to start a review of this book without reminiscing about one's own Dead experiences. My introduction to the band was in the 1970s when the Dead Heads would descend upon Merriweather Post Pavilion every summer, camping in the woods near our house, bringing a whole new aroma to the region, and causing controversy by bathing in the fountain at the nearby mall.

I'm by no means a Dead Head, having only attended a couple of concerts and owned a handful of bootleg cassette tapes. Although apparently a rumor did circulate around my hometown once that I had dropped out of college and was following the Dead around the country. That was the result of being spotted at a concert when I really should've been at school. Let's just say that when tickets to see the Grateful Dead fall into your hands and are only a few rows back from the stage, you gamble that your college adviser would totally understand (which he did).

I bring that story up because that's one of the unique things about the Grateful Dead: You never know who's a fan until it comes up in conversation or you drop some lines from a song on your Facebook page.  

Back to the book: As a marketing book, I loved it. And it wasn't just the Grateful Dead twist; which, for me as a book reviewer, was a welcome change from the standard business books that hit my desk. I thought the book's lessons transcended the music, and quite a few hit the mark, either because they validated some recent business moves I made or pushed me further in certain directions.

You would likely need a passing interest in the Grateful Dead to really enjoy it, although Scott and Halligan provide examples of modern-day companies that are illustrating the lessons. For Grateful Dead neophytes, the band did things completely different from what other bands did. The band didn't care about radio play; the focus was on the concert experience. The band let fans record and share its concerts and didn't use a middleman to sell tickets, etc. In other words, it was unique. 

Below are a few of the lessons and action steps you'll find in the book that stuck with me (Note: I paraphrased a bit and had to leave out a lot). 
  1. The Grateful Dead didn't follow the normal musical path. Rather than focus on selling albums, they concentrated on generating revenue from providing fans with a live concert experience.

    Action: If you are going to have a unique business model, you need to do something three times better than everyone else. Find out what that is. If not, then you won't be unique enough to break out.
  2. Ignoring conventional wisdom is the key to creating uncontested market spaces.  Where would you put the Grateful Dead in iTunes? Rock, folk, country, blues or none of the above? By creating a new sound and experience, they defied classification and created a whole new space.

    Action: In addition to thinking about your industry competitors, what are the "alternatives" to your product? Can you find ways to erase the traditional "boundaries" of your industry
    by incorporating or subsuming or competing with some of the alternatives?

  3. Build a community, but remember it's the community that will define you. This is a lesson companies are learning with social media--better to embrace the fact that you can't control your brand once the community grabs hold of it.

    Action: Remove made-up, gobbledygook-laden mission statements, boilerplate press releases and other top-down messaging from your materials and website. Instead, point people to your community: the conferences, forums, chat rooms and blogs of the people who talk you up. Then get out into your community and interact regularly.

  4. Put loyal customers and fans first. The Grateful Dead always made sure that their top fans had the best seats and were in the know.

    Action: Identify your most loyal customers and add them to a database so that you can reach them. What can you offer them that would be valuable and not available to the general public?

  5. The Grateful Dead removed barriers to their music by allowing fans to tape it, which in turn brought in new fans and grew sales.  They taught us that when we free our content, more people hear about you and eventually do business with you.

    Action: Create free content: e-books, iPhone apps, blog posts. If this content your create is remarkable, it will draw visitors to your business in a far more dramatic way than the product or services page on your website will ever do.
  6. Most bands prohibit the sale of merchandise in parking lots in favor of their "official" merchandise. Not the Grateful Dead. They helped others make money from their brand, and in doing so helped build their own brand and create a lively concert experience in the parking lot.

    Action: Find entrepreneurs who stand to profit from your business. Help them help you.
Daily Dose Bottom Line:  This is a quick easy read, with lessons that should resonate with entrepreneurs (especially former Dead fans). Of course there are reasons other bands haven't all tried to duplicate the Grateful Dead business model. It's not easy, but I think the boys in the band said it best.

Sometimes the light's all shinin' on me;
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me . . . What a long, strange trip it's been.
Truckin', Grateful Dead
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Use Facebook Places to Boost Business and Lift Sales

After the initial buzz dies down, most of the chatter surrounding Facebook Places -- the just-now-released location-based check-in tool -- will likely focus on how it might affect similar social networking tools like Foursquare, LooptGowalla and Whrrl. Oh, there will be some discussion of privacy concerns to be sure, but what will be left out of the equation is any serious talk about how you can use Facebook Places to grow your business.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. A Facebook Place page -- once you've staked your claim on it -- enables your customers to see a map from their iPhone or other mobile device that includes your business (the Place) and a list of their Facebook friends and associates who are currently checked in at your business. It also includes a Friend Activity stream comprised of other friends who have stopped in at the Place at one time or another.

In addition, your Place page can feature information about your business, and you can put up a story about your Place page on your Facebook profile simply by hitting the "Share" button on the page. Place pages differ from Facebook pages and Community pages in that they are only added if your customers decide to "Like" those pages. According to my Facebook contact, Page admins will be able to merge their Place page with their official Page on Facebook.

The bottom line is this: If your goal is to attract attention to your business, Facebook Places is a tool you definitely need in your social networking arsenal. Use the following to make the task of setting up a Place page easier:
  1. The first thing you must do as an owner, manager or representative of your business is to verify to Facebook that you are who you say you are. Find the Place on Facebook that you want to claim for your particular business and then click the link that reads, "Is this your business?"

  2. You will then be asked to complete a simple verification procedure that will enable you to "claim" your Place as your own. Following this step, Facebook will provide some additional steps in order to create a new Place. You'll be asked to access the application on your iPhone using the new Facebook app, or another web-enabled mobile device. Once you "Check In," you'll be asked to click the "Add" button and then enter a name for the new Place. You'll also be offered the option of providing a description of your business.

  3. After that, you can describe what it is you're doing at the new Place and begin tagging Facebook fans and friends. Click "Check In" and you're ready to share your visit. And now that you've got your newly created Place of your own, your friends, customers and the general public can find your Place while perusing Facebook or the Places application.
What you don't want to do is read the above and tell yourself you've got to get around to doing what I suggest someday soon. It's critical, I feel, that you claim your Facebook Place now! It's a lot like claim jumping in the Old West. By staking your Place now, you and only you can control its physical address, hours of operation, detailed contact information, profile image, administrators and more.

At this stage of the game, it's way too early to determine the ultimate value that using Facebook Places can have on your business. What I do know is that this latest offering from Facebook gives your customers and potential customers a means to promote your business by checking in and then telling their friends about you.

Now that you've established your "claim" and you own your Facebook Place, it's time to start promoting your business through advertising on your Page. Again, the process is simple: Just click on the ad creation flow and pick your Place from the menu.

While it's the local businesses that stand to gain the most from Facebook Places, every business should determine how best to leverage the new tool to their benefit.  For instance, you can reward your customers who say nice things about your business. Customers who are willing to post pictures or kind or constructive comments about your enterprise might receive discounts on your products or services, as an example. The same goes for those who share their experiences with your business on Facebook or Twitter.

You can reward those who visit your Facebook Places account the minute they open the page with colorful coupons, specials or discounts. And to make the experience more challenging and fun for your customers, you can host contests, offering gifts or discounts to those who "check in" with your Place the most often, or those who bring potential customers to your Place page by word of mouth.

Promotion is not limited to the internet. You can get the word out inside your business by posting signs on the windows or providing flyers or cards that encourage customers to check in at your Facebook Place to receive special offers. If retail isn't your game, promote your Places-related offering in company eNewsletters and other email marketing pieces, at trade shows, on your businesses Facebook page, and of course via a badge on your website or company blog.
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Philanthropy - - Direct from Dell

By bringing business principles to philanthropy, Michael and Susan Dell are improving the odds for children in need.

When Michael and Susan Dell became parents, they did a lot more than make room in their house for their own children. They made room in their hearts for underprivileged children they might never meet. “Being a parent of four children and seeing many who are not so fortunate, we knew this was a great area to focus on,” says Michael Dell, the 45-year-old founder of computer giant Dell Inc. “When you become a parent, you are suddenly aware of how important good health and quality education are for the well-being and success of children.”

The Dells’ philanthropy is a lesson in hope economics. Through an endowment of about $1 billion, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation helps underprivileged urban children become educated, healthy and successful. “Susan and I wanted to extend the charitable giving we had done in the past, so the foundation was a way to do that in a much more focused way and at larger scale,” Dell says.

Established in 1999, the foundation’s overarching goal, as Michael Dell sees it, is having “the greatest possible impact on children’s lives. That means focusing on the opportunities that have the greatest potential to directly and measurably transform the lives of children living in urban poverty.”

“Michael and I had already been philanthropic around Austin,” says Susan Dell of their Texas hometown. “We had to figure out how to make a bigger impact. We didn’t want it to be scattered…. We think education and health are the most important things. Kids must be healthy to learn, and kids who can’t learn won’t be successful.”

As goal-directed achievers, the Dells bring valuable skills and personality traits to assisting children in the United States, India and South Africa. They provide microfinance and scholarships, combat child abuse, and support medical research, health insurance, physical fitness, child care and education initiatives.

“Focus is very important,” says Michael Dell, who draws on his experiences leading Dell Inc. in his foundation work. “Patience is also important because measuring progress takes time—sometimes years—to show the full results and impact. We are trying to drive systemic change in areas where there are big problems with big challenges.”

Applying Entrepreneurial Savvy
It was Michael Dell’s impatience, rather than patience, that contributed to his entrepreneurial drive from an early age, as well as a keen interest in finding ways to work smarter. During his early teens, he organized a sale of collectible stamps that earned him $2,000. To increase his success rate in selling newspaper subscriptions, Dell researched lists of marriage licenses and home mortgages, then targeted newlyweds and new home owners.

At 18, personal computers distracted Dell from his University of Texas coursework, and his dad challenged him to get his priorities straight. “What do you want to do with your life?” his dad asked. “I want to compete with IBM,” the freshman replied.

Although Dad wasn’t amused, the statement proved prescient: Michael Dell dropped out and started a direct-to-consumer sales model that leapfrogged competitors as it rose to the top tier of personal computer companies. He led the company as founder and CEO until stepping down as CEO in 2004, while continuing to serve as chairman of the board; he resumed the role of CEO in January 2007.

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Why Young Entrepreneurs Fail

Founder of Under30CEO.com, Matt Wilson, shares tips to avoid failure. 

Face it. Nothing will go as planned. Ever.

Failure is inevitable. Your world will be flipped upside-down on a daily basis, and even the best-laid plans--accompanied by the best intentions--can go belly-up.

To make it as a business owner in the real world, you need to learn to fail like a pro, adapt at will and pay attention to detail in order to make informed decisions that will keep your business moving forward. Your ability to plan for the worst-case scenario and maneuver around unforeseen circumstances will be the keys to finding success as your own boss.
What was your biggest failure as a young entrepreneur?
MW: My biggest failure as an entrepreneur came at Under30CEO after wavering from our mission of inspiring young entrepreneurs. We were frustrated because our market wasn't buying what we had to sell, so we took on an enormous re-branding campaign and changed the name of our company to incorporate a larger audience and drop our under-30 demographic. We spent a lot of time and money trying to expand our market. Still, nobody bought.

It doesn't matter how big your market is if nobody likes your product. It wasn't the market's fault. Our product was bad, and we ruined our brand and had to start from scratch. The most embarrassing part was going back to our old brand and apologizing to our old customers we wanted to welcome back.

That being said, now we spend a lot more time getting to know our market instead of trying to sell anything to anyone. We were in a hurry to turn cash-flow-positive when we needed to stay focused and be patient.

Are there specific obstacles young entrepreneurs need to overcome vs. older generations?
The biggest thing for a young entrepreneur to overcome is credibility. Why should someone invest in you? Why should someone trust your advice? What will make people think you will get the job done with no track record? Building credibility is best done with a stepping-stone approach. Do one thing today that will make you more credible tomorrow. If people won't pay you or invest in you, give away your product or service for free, get testimonials from customers and build your track record that way. Show customers what value you can provide them, and if you can quantify that value, even better. The more things you can come to the table to brag about, the better.

What about some typical missteps you've seen young entrepreneurs make?
One of the biggest mistakes young entrepreneurs make is neglecting their revenue model. Today there are so many businesses that haven't figured out how to monetize themselves yet. To me, the word monetize is redundant in business. If you don't have a business model, you aren't really in business--it's just a hobby. Sure, investors are dropping millions of dollars into companies with hopes of being acquired by Google, but without a solid business model behind it, you are just building "castles in the sky."

Seasoned investors and accomplished entrepreneurs can help mentor young people to overcome this hurdle. Show them your financials and focus on how to generate cash flow. There are thousands of people out there who want to see young people succeed--you just need to ask.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs who hate their 9-to-5s?
Aspiring entrepreneurs need to surround themselves with others who want more out of life than the typical 9-to-5. There is a great group of motivated people eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every night in your city, scraping by to build their business. Surrounding yourself with these types of people gives you the confidence to know you aren't alone on the road to success. The minute you quit your job, naysayers will come out of the woodwork, but if you have that support group to fall back on, you'll be able to overcome the hard times.

Remember, entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint.

How has Under30CEO.com helped young entrepreneurs avoid failure and launch successful businesses?
More than 100 young entrepreneurs from all over the globe have shared their successes and failures on Under30CEO.com. Hearing insights from young people overcoming the same problems they are experiencing in their businesses allows Gen Y to come together and learn from one another. The community has a culture of reaching out to one another and helping each other with the challenges they are facing.
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Kiyosaki: The Law of Compensation

Don't quit at the top.
Robert Kiyosaki

Most of us have heard the saying Winners never quit and quitters never win. Yet, few of us have heard of the law of compensation.

I explain the law of compensation like this: Returns are minimal in spite of massive effort at the start, yet returns can be massive with minimal effort over time. I’ll use two personal examples to further illustrate.

The first example is health. It was easy being healthy when I was young. I was full of energy, so sports and physical challenges were fun. But as I got older and the spring left my step, exercise became harder, and eating, drinking and watching TV became easier. By the time I was 50, I’d put on 50 pounds.

During those years, I would make a resolution to get healthy, and begin working out and eating less. By the following week, however, I’d lost no weight, and I was hungry and ached all over—so I quit because I’d put in a lot of effort for very little return.
Finally, after realizing I needed help, I hired a coach to get through the initial period of maximum effort and minimal returns. After two years, the law of compensation kicked in. My health and strength returned, and I could exercise less, still gain strength, and eat and drink what I wanted.

Unfortunately, I went on a two-month vacation, kept eating and drinking, stopped exercising and gained 20 pounds back. I’m currently with the same coach, once again going through a period of maximum effort for low returns.

My second example of the law of compensation has to do with wealth. In 1978, I lost my first major business, which shot up like a rocket—and came down like a rock. I struggled to regain my momentum, and lost another business two years later. I was down for about four years, working hard for very little return. But by 1994, I retired financially free at the age of 47.

In 1996, my wife, Kim, and I launched our financial education board game, CASHFLOW 101. I wrote Rich Dad Poor Dad in 1997 and self-published it after every publisher turned it down, and for three years Kim and I worked hard explaining the game and promoting the book. In 2000, Rich Dad Poor Dad made The New York Times Best-Seller List. In 2000, I appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and the rest is history.
Today, when it comes to health, I’m paying the price for disobeying the law of compensation. I’m glad I caught myself at 20 pounds rather than 50 pounds. When it comes to wealth, I am reaping the benefits of following the law of compensation. Today, with very little effort, my returns on my years of investment are phenomenal—even in a bad economy.

I write this article for those of you who are struggling with success. Press on even though your returns on investment are small. If you quit, like I did with my health program, you’ll have to go through the same crummy period of maximum effort with minimal gains again.

Remember that winners never quit. Success is not a stop sign. Obey the law of compensation.
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What Is Your Financial IQ?

It’s been 11 years since the publication of Rich Dad Poor Dad. Robert Kiyosaki’s mega-hit best seller not only challenged our preconceptions about money, it cast light on what he says is an antiquated education system that teaches subjects many will never apply in real life, preparing for a world that will never exist.

To say the book ruffled a lot of feathers would be an understatement. But that was the whole point. Kiyosaki wasn’t looking to write just any financial book. There were hundreds of financial books, in his view, that said the same thing. He wanted to let the education system know it was failing in teaching children what they need for financial success. He wanted to shake up parents by telling them some of the most dangerous advice they could give their children was to go to school, get good grades and look for a safe secure job.

This advice was based on the old rules of money when people worked for one company for 30 years and retired with a fat pension. Those days are long gone. With corporate mergers and downsizing happening every month, Robert Kiyosaki says it’s just too risky to play by the old rules. In the end, employees lose and owners and investors win.

Two Dads Two Philosophies

Rich Dad Poor Dad’s monumental success showed that Robert and wife Kim Kiyosaki, co-founders of The Rich Dad Company, were on the right track in their mission to educate and empower people by improving their financial literacy.

Robert’s financial philosophy was honed at a young age when, having been raised by two “dads,” a rich one and a poor one, he had been taught to strive for two different goals. His educated father (his real father) wanted him to go to school and get a cozy corporate job. His rich father (his best friend’s father) told him to own the corporation. Both men were successful in their careers and earned substantial incomes. Yet one struggled financially his entire life. The other would become one of the richest men in Hawaii. One left his family with millions, while the other left unpaid bills. Both men valued education but different courses of study. Both had different views of money—one believed money to be the root of all evil; the other believed the lack of money was the root of all evil.

As a young man having two “fathers,” Kiyosaki realized he needed to be careful about which thoughts and words he adopted as his own. At 9, he decided to listen to and learn from his rich dad about money. And in doing so, his education about money began. His rich dad taught him over a period of 30 years, finishing when he fully understood that money is only one form of power. Financial education is where the real power lies.

Kim Kiyosaki was raised with a “rich dad” philosophy, so her views were similar to Robert’s when they met. Kim’s career started in advertising, working for a top Honolulu agency. By 25, she was running a Honolulu business magazine. A couple years later, she ventured into her own business, a clothing company with national distribution. In 1989, she started a real estate investment career that now controls millions of dollars in property.

Kim joined Robert, her business partner and now husband of 24 years, in teaching entrepreneurial business around the world. That business grew to support 11 offices in seven countries. They sold the business in 1994 and “retired.” But retirement for them was short-lived.

Rich Dad Poor Dad has been on all the best-seller lists for years. Kim has written a best seller, Rich Woman, and Robert has written several others, including Why We Want You to Be Rich with Donald Trump. “Donald has really inspired me. You know, I’m just an ordinary millionaire, and now I’m inspired to reach his billionaire status.” Robert says.

Assets Don’t Make You Rich

Robert Kiyosaki knows well that his success is partly due to his going against conventional wisdom. “When I wrote Rich Dad Poor Dad I told people that your home is not an asset,” he says. “People really criticized me for saying that, but if you look at what is happening today with the mortgage crisis, families are getting wiped out because they can’t afford their house payments.” Experts are saying that in 2008 up to 2 million people will lose their homes. “These are good people—but people who lack the financial education to make good money choices.”

Robert defines financial intelligence this way: If you put money in your savings account, the bank is going to pay you 3 percent. But the problem is inflation is running at 3 percent so your financial intelligence is 0.

“You can lose money on anything,” says Robert, who as a young adult began investing in gold. Although he didn’t make much money, gold taught him many priceless lessons. He realized it’s not the assets—real estate, stocks, mutual funds, businesses or money—that make you rich. It’s the information, knowledge, wisdom, and know-how—one’s financial intelligence—that makes a person wealthy.

Increase Wealth: Start a Business

With companies downsizing, the failing dollar and higher cost of living, many families feel the pinch. “The need to earn more money has never been greater than right now,” Robert says. For many, he says, “the No. 1 thing people can do to increase their wealth is to start a part-time business. They can start a small home-based business, an Internet company or network marketing business. The key is to start small and learn everything about the business.”

Most people have enough financial intelligence to make money, Robert says. One reason they aren’t able to make more money is because they fail to realize “it’s the process that makes them rich, not the money. Many other people fail to become rich because they value a steady paycheck rather than going through the learning process of becoming financially smarter and richer. They are held back by the fear of being poor,” he says.

“In my second book, The Cashflow Quadrant, I talk about the four types of people in the business world. It’s targeted to people who are ready to make changes in their lives—changes far greater than simply going from job to job—and to start building wealth.”

In 1984, early in their marriage, Robert and Kim were trying to get their business off the ground. Robert attended seminars and studied all the time. But they were struggling financially. “We were homeless for a period of time, even sleeping in our beat-up old brown Toyota. And everybody kept saying to us, ‘Why don’t you just go get a job?’ or ‘Why don’t you put the dream on hold?’ ” Kim says. “The easiest thing would have been to quit, but we didn’t quit.”

Taking risks and making mistakes are essential to learning, Robert says. “I take on risk because it forces me to get smarter. When I buy an apartment house, it forces me to mitigate and minimize that risk—to get smarter, to study more, to know what I’m doing.”

Reaching Out

Generosity is a big key to the Rich Dad philosophy. Robert and Kim are committed to supporting organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club of Phoenix. Instead of giving money away, they are giving the tools to teach. And they are teaching these kids in an unconventional way—with a board game. “Games like our Cashflow Quadrant are a powerful way to teach anyone financial education—especially kids—because they learn by doing,” Kim says. “These kids were so excited to learn and the progress they made in just a short time in terms of learning about money was simply amazing.”

The staff invited the children’s parents to come play the game, and now they are learning the basics of finance, accounting and investing. “That’s really what our message is all about,” Kim says. “The Rich Dad philosophy is not about holding a person’s hand and telling them how to do it. We are all about giving people the tools and the education to go out and do what they want to do. We are not about saving people. We are about enabling and empowering people.”
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