StartupNation » Articles Rock Your Business! Wed, 30 Sep 2015 14:01:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Copyright © StartupNation 2014 (StartupNation Media Group, INC) (StartupNation Media Group, INC) business 1440 StartupNation 144 144 StartupNation provides content, resources, and community to help you build your business. StartupNation offers articles, blogs, step-by-step tutorials, a weekly radio show, community forums, and many more resources to help small businesses grow their business, and aspiring entrepreneurs start a business. small, business, entrepreneur, startupnation, marketing, business, plan, funding, inventor, home, business, sales StartupNation Media Group, INC StartupNation Media Group, INC no no Videoconferencing Is Not Just For Corporate Giants Wed, 30 Sep 2015 14:01:46 +0000 Videoconferencing is not just for major corporations, nowadays. No longer do businesses need expensive and elaborate equipment run by a team of IT guys to make sure everything works. It’s great when a company has all the bells and whistles, but not everyone connected to the video conference needs that. Small Businesses Technology has advanced [...]

The post Videoconferencing Is Not Just For Corporate Giants appeared first on StartupNation.

Videoconferencing is not just for major corporations, nowadays. No longer do businesses need expensive and elaborate equipment run by a team of IT guys to make sure everything works.

It’s great when a company has all the bells and whistles, but not everyone connected to the video conference needs that.

Small Businesses

Technology has advanced to the point at which videoconference participants only need a laptop or mobile device with an Internet connection to participate in a meeting.

Entrepreneurs can increase their client base with videoconferencing. Financial planning is a field that can greatly benefit from use of technology, says Lisa Gerstner of Kiplinger. Not only are Millennials a good prospect for receiving financial planning advice via videoconferencing, but “snow birds” can use it as well. With America’s aging population, senior citizens are a big market for financial planners, and today’s seniors know how to use computers and cell phones; doctors can use videoconferencing to consult with their patients, according to the Huffington Post. The addition of video in this case can increase accuracy of a diagnosis as compared with phone call. Some medical insurers recently started covering areas of “telehealth.” Doctors who offer the option of video conferencing give their patients an easier way to see them. It sure beats driving to a doctor’s office, sitting in a big waiting room, moving to a smaller waiting room and finally seeing the doctor.

Growing Popularity

Why is videoconferencing catching on? According to Computer World, today’s technology makes it easier and more affordable to use. The cloud has solved many problems in recent years. With the Blue Jeans enterprise video platform and similar systems, companies and individuals can access and control a videoconference with up to 100 people from anywhere.

With a cloud-based videoconferencing service, a host just logs into his account, starts a meeting and sends out invitations. After the meeting starts, the host can do all kinds of stuff such as record, set up text chats, zoom in and analyze metrics.

Good Reasons

One great reason for using videoconferencing instead of dragging everyone in for a meeting is to avoid note taking and repetition. The videoconference can be recorded and viewed by all who need to see it by clicking on a link.

Like online college courses, videoconferences help avoid repeated questions and the “late guy” who has to be caught up. Participants can focus on the purpose of the meeting without being distracted by side conversations or habitual texters.

A recorded videoconference has an interesting advantage over traditional meetings. Participants can enforce accountability. If someone comes back days after the videoconference with a surprising different recollection of what was discussed and decided, others can refer him to the recording. “Yes, you said that. That was you.”

Collaboration often gets bogged down with delays and confusion when people try to do it over the phone or through instant messages or email. A small videoconference can break through the noise and allow participants to share ideas in real time and ask questions. It’s all there, the people and the charts.

Of course, videoconferencing saves corporations time and money, but it can do the same for entrepreneurs. Cloud-based services allow participants to work from almost anywhere and accomplish more.

Not the Usual Advice

Assuming anyone reading about videoconferencing should already know to

  • Position the camera at eye level or higher
  • Have a fast internet connection
  • Avoid an awkward background
  • Use good lighting
  • Test everything beforehand

Let’s concentrate on some more subtle ideas. Sarah Cooper listed some tricks on Medium that can make videoconference participants look smarter.

Not only should the area behind your look uncluttered, it’s a good opportunity to show off leadership books in a bookcase or display a company logo on a mug or some other inanimate object.

Eating while on a videoconference is not automatically considered rude. Cooper advises participants announce to the group that they were so busy, they didn’t have time to eat. Just don’t overdo it by talking with a full mouth or eating loudly. Remember your teeth and anything on them are visible.

Showboating on a videoconference can be just as annoying as it is in the board room. Casually mentioning the odd time zone you’re calling from can give other participants perspective, but don’t expect applause. Holding children or pets up for the camera might be cute for a moment, but that easily can backfire in an annoying and distracting way.

This goes back to testing. Don’t try to show off by experimenting with the latest video watch during the videoconference. The Cooper Review has an infographic listing suggestions for looking smarter during videoconferences, but they’re mostly meant as jokes, so be aware the audience before trying to prank the group. Some videoconference jokes just make people look incompetent.

The post Videoconferencing Is Not Just For Corporate Giants appeared first on StartupNation.

]]> 0
3 Quick Lead Generation Ideas That Every Startup Should Know Mon, 28 Sep 2015 14:24:53 +0000 Startups are powered by passion, long hours of work, and an overarching sense of mission – the sense that your idea has the potential to make a big difference in your market and in the world. But many startup founders struggle with sales – especially early on when they’re trying to find their market and [...]

The post 3 Quick Lead Generation Ideas That Every Startup Should Know appeared first on StartupNation.

Startups are powered by passion, long hours of work, and an overarching sense of mission – the sense that your idea has the potential to make a big difference in your market and in the world. But many startup founders struggle with sales – especially early on when they’re trying to find their market and figure out exactly what their value proposition is. Where can startups go to get new B2B sales leads? With that in mind, I’d like to offer a few quick lead generation tips that startup founders and their teams can use right out of the gate to start finding new business opportunities.

Start With Your Inner Circle

One of the best ways to find sales leads is to start by networking within your inner circle of contacts, former colleagues, family and friends. Make a list of 20 people who know you well and who would be happy to help you, then start calling and set up coffee meetings to share your business plan with them and ask them for referrals and contacts. Ideally, every one of your “inner circle” of closest friends and colleagues will be eager to help introduce you to 10 or more other people who might turn out to be serious business leads. Ideally, you should start networking your way into opportunities by starting with the people who know you best and trust you the most – that way, they can give you a foot in the door to start introducing yourself to people who might know the right people to talk to at your target audience companies.

Get Smarter About LinkedIn

Once you know which companies you most want to sell to, build on your “inner circle” networking strategy by using LinkedIn. Lots of people are on LinkedIn but don’t really use it actively – they might have updated their resume and re-connected with old co-workers, but they’re not really using it as a daily hub of activity. This is a mistake. LinkedIn is a great resource for B2B lead generation because you can use it for research – figure out which companies and B2B buyers are the right fit for what you sell – and you can also use it to do smarter networking to “warm up” the cold call and email solicitations that you will eventually make when you’re ready to start pitching these people on your company’s solution. Another underrated LinkedIn marketing strategy is to join LinkedIn groups that affect your industry – many of your target decision-makers might already be on LinkedIn looking for answers and advice on specific questions and problems. By being more proactive on LinkedIn, you can enter into these conversations and build up a reputation as a smart, helpful resource – and this will make it more natural and easy for you to open up a dialogue to create a business relationship.

Go All-in on Content Marketing

Startups usually don’t have a big budget for advertising – and that’s totally fine, because for startups, the most authentic and often most effective way to get new sales leads is to put your time and effort into content marketing. Content marketing is great because it’s useful on multiple levels: it helps you get new inbound sales leads, it gives you a “calling card” that you can use to send to new prospective customers, and it gives you raw material for educating your customers that you can utilize as part of online demos and presentations.

Why is content marketing so great for startups? Because it’s all about heart. As I wrote in this previous article about content marketing, content marketing demands you to be real and be passionate. You’ll be sharing your insights, your thoughts, and your expertise with a wider audience in your industry, and in the new reality of the social media age, this is often the best way to build business relationships – by being really generous and putting yourself out there and exercising thought leadership.

What should you write about, blog about, podcast about or make YouTube videos about as part of your content marketing strategy? Not “your product” (because you don’t want to be overly salesy and self-promotional), but feel free to talk about the problems in your industry that your product helps to solve. Share your big picture thinking about where your industry is heading. Share your sense of mission. Advocate for new ways of doing things and new ways of solving problems. Show your readers and listeners why you’re unique and why you’d be a good person and a good company to work with.

Startups have a lot of challenges and never-ending to-do lists, but with the right lead generation approach, getting new business leads should be easier than you might expect. It’s all about networking (starting with your inner circle of people who know you best), getting your name out there with the right people in your industry (via LinkedIn), and establishing a reputation for thought leadership and expertise (via smart content marketing).

The post 3 Quick Lead Generation Ideas That Every Startup Should Know appeared first on StartupNation.

]]> 0
Guide to Authorpreneurship: Turn Your Passion for Writing into a Start-Up Mon, 28 Sep 2015 14:15:28 +0000 Facing a blank page is an extraordinarily challenging position for a hopeful writer to be in. If you don’t have a real plan, nothing is going to work out. But, rather than fearing that blank page, you can create the action plan to get yourself motivated. Motivation is the key to start working towards becoming [...]

The post Guide to Authorpreneurship: Turn Your Passion for Writing into a Start-Up appeared first on StartupNation.

Facing a blank page is an extraordinarily challenging position for a hopeful writer to be in. If you don’t have a real plan, nothing is going to work out. But, rather than fearing that blank page, you can create the action plan to get yourself motivated. Motivation is the key to start working towards becoming a professional authorpreneur.

Defining your Writing Routine

If you are only dreaming to become a professional writer, you need to define your writing routine. This routine includes the regular actions that you are going to take that will help you start-up and become a professional authorpreneur. Here are some examples of incorporating rituals into your daily routine:

  • Make writing a daily habit
  • Establish a time to read each day

Any amount of time that you spend reading is very valuable to your experience and ability as a writer.

  • Create a space to write

You owe yourself that isolated space and the comfort that goes along with it.

  • Set assigned times where you will be writing without disruption

Again, if you want to be a writer, you are going to set this boundary in order to force the support of those around you

  • Keep a journal

Write something reflective in order to gain experiences as a writer.

  • Light candles or find other ways to introduce pleasant scents into the writing area.
  • Read to others
  • Experience new things

You cannot be a writer if you do not have hew things to write about. This means being open to new experiences.

The point of these rituals is to help you claim the role of author-entrepreneur, to make writing a priority in your life, and to simply continue writing.

Making a Strategic Plan for Your Initial Steps as a Writer

The first part of this plan is probably quite obvious – to improve writing skills. Don’t waste time worrying about the quality of that writing. Just write.

The next part of building this strategic plan is to establish the goals you want to accomplish. So, what kind of writer are you willing to be? Now, keep in mind that the answer to this question is not, about your ultimate goal as a writer. But, what are you going to do to simply establish yourself as a writer.

In other words, what practical steps are you going to make to become a person who earns a living as a writer?

Here are some steps that you can take:

  • Establish yourself among your friends as a ‘director of communications’. Help them to word or reword communications, letters, and memos.
  • Seek out editing and writing positions in local publications.

If there is a local newspaper where you live, there is a great chance that they are looking for columnists, feature writers, and others who are willing to work hard to keep their publication going.

Describing the Vision Plan

Why do you write? If you are unsure, that is fine. Just be aware that this is an indication that you need to begin working on your vision plan. So, ask yourself:

  • Do you enjoy the solitary aspect of writing?
  • Do you like to help people or encourage them through writing?
  • Are you talented at facilitating communications between entities with your writing talents?
  • Have you found a way to create an income as a writer?
  • What makes writing interesting and exciting for you?

Putting together Your Career Goals

Just take a blank piece of paper and answer these questions clearly:

  • Are you interested in being published in print, or are you interested self-publishing or e publishing?
  • Do you see yourself working best as a staff member or as a freelancer?
  • Would you prefer to write fiction or non-fiction.
  • Is there a particular genre that you are drawn to or in which you have proven expertise?
  • Are you drawn to the idea of writing novels or books, or are you drawn to the idea of writing articles and other short format pieces?
  • Is there a particular niche you would like to work in (technical writing, content and marketing, education, health and life style, technology, science, the environment, entertainment)?
  • Are you comfortable with the notion of not receiving a paycheck on a predictable basis?
  • Are you comfortable with marketing yourself to clients?
  • Are you willing to write pieces and then find clients to sell those pieces to?

If you are serious in your intentions to become an authorpreneur than you should have clear end goals in mind.

Developing your Brand

To put it simply, your brand is what people think of when they read the things you have written, and (if you have established some notoriety) what they think when they see or hear your name. The biggest part of creating your brand is to establish your voice. You can accomplish this by continually refining your writing until your voice is clear in the things that your write. The second part of developing your brand centers on marketing. This is where it is hugely important to have a presence on social media, and to careful manage and maintain that presence. What visitors see on your website, your blog, Facebook, and even what you tweet all contribute to how they perceive you. Your job is to decide how you want to be seen, and then to create a brand that reflects that.

The Action Plan

Now is the time to create an action plan. This entails writing down specific steps that you are going to take to turn the vision into a reality. You begin by taking your vision plan (what you want to do) and turning it into an action plan (how you are going to make it happen). Here are some sample items that you might include on your action plan.

  • Establishing a website with samples of my work – Time Period = 1 month or less
  • Establishing a blog and contributing at least one post per week – Time Period = 1 week or less
  • Establish social media accounts as a professional writer – Time Period = 1 week or less
  • Find other writer’s blogs to follow – Time Period = 2 weeks or less
  • Contact Publishers to feel out interest on a book idea that I have – Time Period = 1 month or less
  • Set up an account on – Time period = 1 week or less
  • Submit samples of my work to a local lifestyle magazine – Time period = 2 weeks or less
  • Complete manuscript – Time period = 6 months or less
  • Educate myself about e publishing – Time period = 3 months or less

Note that each item is a specific action step and each comes with a time limit. This increases motivation and helps avoid procrastination. Becoming a professional authorpreneur is not an easy task. Don’t forget, such plan will require dedication, motivation, and the willingness use time management tools to keep yourself on task.

The post Guide to Authorpreneurship: Turn Your Passion for Writing into a Start-Up appeared first on StartupNation.

]]> 0
7 Tips to Successfully Grow Your Business Wed, 23 Sep 2015 19:17:17 +0000 Obviously, when you start a small business, you want to succeed. After all, it is said that most businesses will fail in their first year. But, there are things that you can do in order to make sure that this doesn’t happen, and that your business is indeed a successful one. Here are seven more [...]

The post 7 Tips to Successfully Grow Your Business appeared first on StartupNation.

Obviously, when you start a small business, you want to succeed. After all, it is said that most businesses will fail in their first year. But, there are things that you can do in order to make sure that this doesn’t happen, and that your business is indeed a successful one. Here are seven more things to keep in mind to grow your business.

1. You need to Work Hard

You will need to be at your business all the time, and ready to jump in and do any work that is needed. You will often be faced with the most menial of tasks, but they all need to be done. This includes cleaning, which is noticed a lot more than you may realize.

2. Be Passionate

If you are not enthusiastic about what you are trying to sell (in this case, you are trying to sell your business to the public). The more passionate you are about what you are doing, the more others are going to be infected by your passion. Threadless CEO Jake Nickell said, “I try not to make any decisions that I’m not excited about.”

3. Be Customer-Oriented

Getting and keeping customers is the sign of a successful business, so you need to make sure that you are always focusing on your customers. They should always come first no matter what. The more satisfied they are, the more likely they are to be return customers, and they will recommend your business to others.

4. Be Competitive

In order to stay ahead of the game, you need to keep up with or even get ahead of the competition. You need to create your own competitive advantage, which is going to involve your own special selling proposition. The better this is, the easier it will be to stay competitive. There are other aspects to consider as well, including location, and your products/services.

5. Respect Your Employees

Your employees need to be treated like people, not like numbers. Don’t treat them like many employees at large corporations, who are only seen as faces. You have a great team of talented people. Make sure that they know they are appreciated. Happy employees lead to successful businesses. Kohls Coupons Online CEO Rick Taylor said, “Treat your employees as equals and they’ll make the difference.”

6. Keep Your Focus

If you are all over the place with your ideas for your business, you are never going to truly grow, because you will always be working on too many things. You need to focus, and keep that focus. “The thing that I learned early on is you really need to set goals in your life, both short-term and long-term, just like you do in business. Having that long-term goal will enable you to have a plan on how to achieve it. We apply these skills in business, yet when it comes to ourselves, we rarely apply them,” says Denise Morrison, CEO Campbell Soup Co.

7. Embrace Technology

If you are going to keep up with your competition, you need to keep up with the latest technologies, which are always improving. Technology can be anything from new software to telephone systems and more. If a technology can improve the way that you do business, make sure that you are taking advantage of it. Indra Nooyi, Chairperson and CEO, PepsiCo, said, “The distance between number one and number two is always a constant. If you want to improve the organization, you have to improve yourself and the organization gets pulled up with you. That is a big lesson. I cannot just expect the organization to improve if I don’t improve myself and lift the organization, because that distance is a constant.”

The post 7 Tips to Successfully Grow Your Business appeared first on StartupNation.

]]> 0
5 Essential Lessons I Learned From Being a Digital Marketer Tue, 08 Sep 2015 18:30:10 +0000 This is my first post for the Startup Nation and I am very happy to share any wisdom that I have aggregated in my years as a digital marketer & entrepreneur so far. Introduction So first of all, I’d like to introduce myself & the experience that I have – this will provide more context [...]

The post 5 Essential Lessons I Learned From Being a Digital Marketer appeared first on StartupNation.

This is my first post for the Startup Nation and I am very happy to share any wisdom that I have aggregated in my years as a digital marketer & entrepreneur so far.


So first of all, I’d like to introduce myself & the experience that I have – this will provide more context for the subsequent points.

I manage a Digital Marketing Agency called ‘No Label Inc.’ and my experience can be characterised into 2 parts.

The first is growing out small/medium size websites for SME’s – primarily having static/basic pages with simple conversion mechanisms, a functional UI and most importantly – making sure the right people visit those sites/pages.

The second is an in-house start up called ‘DiveAdvisor’, which is a very large project with mobile apps for both iOS & Play, a very deep backend, user generated content and pages in the tens of thousands.

I truly feel like I have learned some very important lessons which are shared below.

Lesson 1: Stay Light & Small

A new businesses only advantage over a large well established business its ability to out manoeuvre the larger business & really focus the efforts/finances into a single point.

By having a small team, you are able to easily pivot the product, which almost always happens, and secondly you will have a leaner cost structure meaning whatever funding you get will last longer.

Now, of course you have to have ‘enough’ people – but at the same time, you want to have as few as possible.

The key to this is making it extremely difficult to join your team, and testing the person repeatedly.

Lesson 2: Understand What to Automate & When

A lot of startups in the beginning think too big.

Businesses at different sizes has to be structured and run differently and this cannot be forgotten.

For example, if you are a new service/product then you are most likely not dealing with sufficiently large volumes of sales/transactions/interactions to warrant building automation elements.

Lets imagine you are on online store and you just launched.

You do NOT need to hire a separate person and integrate an ERP + CRM system right away.

What you need is a spread sheet.

Only once you really are on track to a point where you cannot manage the business any longer then do you need to invest in to the next phase of automation.

Do not anticipate problems too far ahead of you.

Continuing with the online store example, your initial investment should be focused on increasing sales, rankings & engagement with your store.

Now, of course there definitely times when YOU do need automation, or rather investment in a serious systemic solution.

The trick and the experience of the manager/founder is to decide when this is necessary and when it is not.

Lesson #3: Building the MVP & the Power Rule

Build an MVP, get to market fast and survive.

That is the general axiom of startup wisdom, however, establishing WHAT the MVP is, is perhaps the biggest question that needs to be answered in any business.

There are 2 things to keep in mind when trying to understand how to prioritise all the tasks that need to be done.

The first is establishing what the MVP is. Frankly, in the beginning this is mostly an assumption, although customer validation, surveys, market research and any available data can make the guess a rather educated one.

Once the MVP is established, it is important to build it in progression, so that it becomes usable as quickly as possible.

Lets say you are building a car and your MVP is basically a body, steering wheel, brakes, engine and tires.

The idea is that once you get in the car you are able to do get from point A to point B.

The steps which you take must get you as quickly to the point where this is possible, disregarding some of the finer things like A/C, radio player & so on.

Each step must be the next logical step in bringing the user to a usable MVP, without distractions on tasks that are beyond the MVP, unless of course absolutely necessary.

The next thing to understand is the ‘Power Rule’.

The power rule is basically a ‘law’ found in nature which shows that in many different situations, 80% of the effort will bring 20% of the reward and vice versa.

Put simply, 20% of the things you will do today will bring 80% of the benefits and vice versa.

Identifying how this applies to you is critical.

For example, if you find that 80% of your customers are using a specific service (20%) – then most of the effort should be made on improving/growing out that service, rather than focusing on the other 80% which will only be used by 20% of the users.

To sum up:

  1. Identify what MVP is clearly
  2. Build MVP in least number of steps
  3. Focus on the most important 20% of the business

Lesson #4: Planing Costing & Understanding Utility

Similar to the dot com bubble in the 90s, a lot of startups seem to be speculating everything they do way beyond what its actually worth.

Besides mentally inflating the value of their own business, they mentally deflate the costs that it will take to build this vision.

The first thing that must be really understood is the ‘utility’ or the ‘value’ that your product or service brings.

For example, if you build an app that can save somebody 10% of their taxi bill, or a website that helps someone learn a new language very clearly – they are definitely getting ‘use’. The degree of this ‘value’ is really important to understand.

In the first case the user will save 1000’s of $ in the long run, and in the second he will know a new language that will open new career opportunities and salary increases.

In contrast, think about an app that lets you make fart noises.

Compare the 2 and see what you are willing to pay for and what you are not.

The right thing to do is be extremely prudent & pedantic.

You must take the most pessimistic expectation of costs as well as the revenues, to visualise the worst case scenario and use that as the basis for your plans.

Lesson #5: How To Manage Employees

Managing real life people, is often far harder than computer code, bugs or revision history.

The goal is to nurture your team and create the environment to get the most potential out of every employee.

What makes this difficult is the fact that every person is different and understanding the approach to each one needs to personal – thus taking time.

There is no way to systemically automate the selection of HR.

Some people like to be micro managed and given clear cut tasks, while others like to be given larger tasks and allowed to work independently.

Some are morning people and some work best at night.

Matching the right personality to the right kind of task is very important and can be the difference between a successful venture and not.

Think about it, most VC’s will blatantly tell you that they value the team over the business.

Building a well functioning team that collectively can do something a lot more than the sum of their parts if probably the most important task & goal of any entrepreneur in any sphere of business.


A startup, or to use a less ‘trendy’ word; ‘young business’ is a very exciting & important phase of a business.

The sad reality is that the vast majority of startups, especially in the overly inflated, speculated and often quite useless ‘tech’ sector fail.

Succeeding in business takes a more than just skills, it takes experience and a sense of judgement that only comes from experience.

The post 5 Essential Lessons I Learned From Being a Digital Marketer appeared first on StartupNation.

]]> 0
12 Startup Pitfalls to Avoid Mon, 17 Aug 2015 10:02:14 +0000 Avoid these pitfalls when starting your business and save yourself a headache or two!

The post 12 Startup Pitfalls to Avoid appeared first on StartupNation.

Startup pitfalls to avoid

12 startup pitfalls to avoid - Lioness MagazineSo you want to be an entrepreneur, eh? Get ready for the ride of your life. Following our passions gives us a feeling of vivacity that is infectious.  We get tunnel vision as we hone in on our dreams. It’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, we need tunnel vision to stay on task and to keep our dream alive on awful days. But other the other hand, we have to heed the signs that may be pointing for us to take a new route or reevaluate an idea.

If you don’t pump your breaks every now and then to come up for air, you could find yourself tumbling down the rabbit hole of disaster.

Here are 12 Startup Pitfalls to Avoid.

1. Going with no guidance.

The task of writing a business plan can be daunting. In fact, many people with exciting business ideas often give up when it is time to get it down on paper or they fly without one and wonder why their plane crashes mid-way after takeoff. Your plan is your map and every now then you’re going to need to look back at it to make sure you’re on track (especially if you intend to seek financing).

Whether it’s in an old shoe box, computer file or tattooed on the bottom of your foot, you should at least have the vision, its purpose, the mission and your target audience written down somewhere.

2. Spending cash unwisely.

Think of your money as your lifeline. Even blood donors have to wait 56 days before they can donate again. You should be spending conservatively and only on necessities as a startup. Entrepreneurship brings a variety of hidden costs.

Mismanagement of funds and bankrolling poorly executed ideas is a surefire way to go broke fast.

3. Figuring it out on your own.

No one is an expert in everything. If you don’t know the answer, find someone who does. There are a variety of programs to assist entrepreneurs, networking opportunities to meet other professionals and workshops to teach solutions to problems.

You can’t be all things. Smart entrepreneurs surround themselves with smart people.

4. Fearing failure.

You’re going to fail most of the time and get it right some of the time. You get more lessons and experience out of losses than wins. It’s scary. It sucks. It’s entrepreneurship.

Think things through. Try your hardest. If you fail, reevaluate, get back up and repeat.

5. Not devising a marketing strategy.

How can someone buy your product if they never heard of it? You’ll learn very quickly that it takes more than grandma bragging about you to her friends at church and a classified ad to build a brand.

Find out where your target audience is going and be there when they arrive. You’re also going to have to leave your modesty at home and actually tell people what you do. If you’re not enthusiastic to sell what they will be buying, they won’t be enthusiastic about taking their hard-earned cash to buy it.

6. Growing too fast.

Once you start meeting your financial goals, even exceeding them, this is the perfect time to reevaluate and pull out that old business plan or vision statement we talked about in #1. Don’t just aimlessly decide to start hiring new employees, adding more products to your line, making large distribution deals or spending more on plush items.

Growing requires preparation and a blueprint. Just remember that more employees, more office space, more products, more overhead costs means spending MORE money.

7. Not being on the same page as your partner.

If you’re going into business with a partner, you guys not only need to be on the same page, but at the end of that page should be a line for you both to sign on and a notary seal. Nothing can make a venture go sour like two people who begin to despise one another.

Sure they’ll be days when you want deflate your partner’s car tires, but a good working relationship starts with a legally sound one. Your roles should be clearly defined, your strengths and weaknesses should be shared candidly behind closed doors and your decision-making process should be clear before the first decision is implemented. You both should be a unified front to your staff, investors and general public. There should be trust and room for respectful disagreement. Because there will be issues – oh yes – many issues. But who wants to deal with that on top of possible backstabbing?

8. Waiting.

Successful entrepreneurs execute not procrastinate. You can have a billion-dollar idea, but if you never put it into action it is worthless. Entrepreneurs don’t have time to wait or waste.  If you are not a self-motivator who can manage your own time, adhere to deadlines, occasionally beg and be willing to put in at least 12 hours of work most days – then you, my friend, should stick to your day job.

9. Not knowing your competition.

If you don’t know what your competitors are doing, how will you know what sets you a part from them? Do the research. Get to know the leading people in your field. Join associations where your peers are having open conversations about your industry. Buy trade journals. Go to trade shows. Participate in Google+ groups and chime in on discussions on LinkedIn. Be in the know. Thinking two steps ahead keeps you on your toes and full of fresh ideas. Industries seldom die. They change. Make sure you’re at the front end of its revolution.

10. Believing if you ‘Build It, They Will Come.’

Ryan L. Mansell, author of Success In Online Business, encourages entrepreneurs to go beyond themselves. “An idea or service may look good to the entrepreneur but the most important question that should ring in one’s mind is whether customers would actually be willing to pay for it.”

Case in point: after kicking butt in the dental industry, Colgate thought launching Colgate Dinner Entrees (microwaveable meals) was their next great idea. It wasn’t. Do your research and host a few focus groups. Just because it seems like a good idea doesn’t mean it is one.

11. Not packing a tissue box.

Cry Me A River is not just a hot song by Justin Timberlake. It’s a way of life at startups. Five doors may slam in your face before one cracks open wide enough for you to jam your foot in.

So bring your box of tissues, sister. It takes a lot of ugly, boring, tedious work to get your business off of the ground and sometimes you will be up to 2 a.m. getting it done. Your days will be demanding. Your mind will be all over the place and sometimes all it can take is dropping a splat of coffee on your blouse to make you completely lose it. So you may cry. Often. However, get your ass up the next morning and go back to work full throttle. This is your dream. Doing what you love makes the tears worth it.

12. Forgetting to establish your Avengers team.

Successful entrepreneurs are rarely a one-woman show. They usually have a team of good mentors, advisors, friends, family and employees around them. Everyone needs a cheering section. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and your company, who can offer words to build you up, not tear you down.

Launching a startup is hard enough. You will wrestle with doubts and fears on your own. The last thing you need is negative comments from the peanut gallery. People who are not entrepreneurs will not always get it so make sure to find other women entrepreneurs you can have a glass of wine with and just vent.

Originally posted on

The post 12 Startup Pitfalls to Avoid appeared first on StartupNation.

]]> 0
Profitable Keywords for Your Business Fri, 14 Aug 2015 10:02:17 +0000 Increase traffic volume, get better leads and maximize revenues with the RIGHT keywords for your business.

The post Profitable Keywords for Your Business appeared first on StartupNation.

10 Tips for Finding Profitable Keywords for Your Business

There is nothing more important than keyword research when building your SEO plan. Even the best planned campaigns can be disappointing if you have targeted the wrong keywords. Google acknowledges that several websites are stuffed unnecessarily with the wrong keywords while some others fail to exploit the opportunity fully. When looking for profitable keywords for your business, here are 10 things to keep in mind:

  1. Using Long tailed keywords: long tailed keywords with more than 3-4 words can bring you closer to your target audience. Even when search volumes are low, these long tailed keywords can guarantee better exposure and subsequently a higher rank for your website.
  1. Avoiding broad keywords: Broad keywords, otherwise also known as short-tailed keywords are quite common in Adwords and this gives reason enough to avoid them. Several competing business will already be using the same and you might find your website buried in the 10th or 20th page in SERPs.
  1. Don’t try too hard: After you have found the right keywords, don’t try complimenting it with extra keywords and overdoing your SEO campaign. Everything should be natural and the more the keywords you use, the more inorganic a content becomes.
  1. Analyze keyword traffic data: Start with few initial keywords and analyze how they are performing. It’s a gradual learning and experimenting process but success is achieved by through research. Find out the best performing keywords and work upon them.
  1. Refine with Google Keyword Planner: Google Adwords provides “Keyword idea” and this will be a great tool to build your keyword list. Just think of the different ways you customers might keep searching with.
  1. Keyword that best describe your content: Visitors don’t like if a good keyword leads to a completely different content. Use keywords that are highly relevant to the site/webpage they direct to.
  1. Location based keywords: Local keywords can give you a boost in local search results. If you are running a coffee shop, focus on the specific location as a keyword. Social media can be a great platform to research upon most used keywords.
  1. Check out analytics: Google Analytics provides great amount of information about the perfect keywords concerning your business. Make good use of it.
  1. Analyze competitors: Check what your competitors are using to get themselves the traffic. Hijack it by working a bit harder on the same keywords. Keep an eye on changing search behavior of target customers.
  1. Avoid any ambiguity: If keywords like “how to search for best keywords” leads to an online application for help, it is not something that readers would like. Avoid any kind of ambiguity. Be direct. Use keywords that are popular with your audience. Use keywords that provide better search results and volumes.


It is necessary that you dig beyond the simple research and find out ways that prioritize action items and provide your business with solid returns – Returns that take the form of more exposure, increased traffic volume, better leads and maximized revenues.

The post Profitable Keywords for Your Business appeared first on StartupNation.

]]> 0
4 Primary Lean Startup Principles to Boost Production Thu, 13 Aug 2015 10:02:13 +0000 To get ahead in the startup world you need to think fast and test often and become a "Lean Startup."

The post 4 Primary Lean Startup Principles to Boost Production appeared first on StartupNation.

Increase Your Startup’s Chance for Success with Lean Startup Principles

To get ahead in the startup world you need to think fast and test often. Nine out of ten startups fail and a major deciding factor in these outcomes is product market fit. Lean startup methodology is a proven way for entrepreneurs to test assumptions throughout the product development process. Building (and maintaining) momentum is a major component of young company success and lean startup principles are a proven fuel for perpetual motion. These philosophies and methodologies are not relegated to early stage companies as they can be implemented by larger corporations as well. There are several layers of lean startup principles to peel and discuss, but for today, we will start with the basics.

Eric Reis, entrepreneur and author of the New York Times bestseller “The Lean Startup”, created the lean startup concept around 2008 and is credited for coining the term. He based his philosophies largely on Lean Thinking, the lean manufacturing processes of the Toyota Production System in the 1950’s. Lean Thinking has helped healthcare, construction and several other industries flourish in the past 60 years and the startup boom of the late 2000’s was primed for its own adaptation.

I sat down with our own Product Manager, Alex Hsu, to get his insight on the topic and we came up with four main points to cover. In fact, Lean Startup is what drives our product development strategy at Persio we are speaking from experience. Please enjoy the following central themes for lean startup principles and methodology:

The Startup Way

In addition to his publications, Reis has delivered various speeches at industry conferences and events. During the inaugural Lean Startup Conference in 2013, to which he is a co-founder*, Reis opened the event and spoke about the four main components to Lean: “That’s the paradox of lean startup. (That) We combine the short-term action of rapid experimentation and MVP’s (minimum viable product) with the long-term vision to put a dent in the universe. And so The Startup Way is an analogous pyramid, and it simply goes like this:



1.       Accountability

2.       Process

3.       Culture

4.       People


As people try to implement Lean Startup, if they only focus on one of those four levels they will certainly fail.”

Placing emphasis on employees and culture instead of profits and margins is a key lean startup principle. Reis is a huge advocate of rapid experimentation, which we will cover next, but The Startup Way is founded on the treatment and development of personnel.

The Lean Startup Cycle

Next we have Reis’ rapid experimentation chart, or Lean Startup Cycle. Startups don’t have the luxuries of time or bottomless funding. In order to make maximum progress in the shortest amount of time, they need to experiment quickly and often. With everything.

Here is a breakdown of each step of the cycle from Alex Hsu:


Building products or services always starts with an idea. In lean startup, an idea is a hypothesis that attempts to solve a problem. Each hypothesis contains a set of assumptions that need to be validated.

There are various ways to design and build a method to validate a hypothesis. This could, although not always, be implemented as part of the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) strategy.


Defining and measuring based on success criteria is a critical concept. The method could be quantitative through the use of split test, funnel analysis, cohort test, etc… or qualitative such as in-person interviews. Success criteria must be obvious to anyone involved. This could be as simple as setting a threshold in a quantitative test, or a number of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions in qualitative test.


The outcome of any successful test should prove or disprove the original hypothesis. If a hypothesis is proven false, the team or organization can choose to persist or pivot from the original idea. As a best practice, ideas that are core to the vision should go through a few validation cycles prior to pivoting.

A key concept with lean startup is that failure, or disproving the original hypothesis, is an acceptable and somewhat desirable outcome. New insights often surface as a result of disproving a hypothesis that could lead to a better product or market fit. Hence the term “validated learning”.

*Repeat Cycle as Needed”

The results of your cycle testing will naturally be compounded by velocity. The faster you run through a cycle, the faster you can learn the results and start a new cycle. Let’s say you have 100 days to test. If your company can squeeze in 3 more cycles than your competition, you will obviously know more about your product and have a higher chance to succeed. Lean Startup Cycles are very important to early-stage companies and should quickly become standard operating procedure.

The Pivot

“Pivoting” is a recognizable term for most business folk. However, pivoting in the startup world has sink-or-swim significance. A pivot refers to a company recognizing the need to take their product in a new direction. A survival instinct. For most, failure is a main component of making a pivot. If an original hypothesis has been proven wrong, they must make a pivot in order to survive. Larger and more complex pivot ideas can be split up into cycles to optimize turnaround.

You might be surprised at how many wildly successful tech startups have pivoted in their lifetime. Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, PayPal, GroupOn, Instagram and YouTube have all made at least one pivot on their path to success and they aren’t the only ones. Click the following link to see the 15 greatest tech pivots ever.

The Business Model Canvas

Last but not least is The Business Model Canvas. The Canvas consists of 9 basic segments thatMattDiehl_4LeanStartup_Pic3relate to any business, shown in the diagram at left. All of the particular details of each segment will be described to create a holistic view and allow a company to summarize each hypothesis This is the ideal way to invent, discuss, challenge and pivot each business model in one image.

Here are the 9 segments and the details for each:

  • Key Partners: Who are our most essential partners and suppliers?
  • Key Activities: What activities do our value propositions, distribution channels, customer relationships and revenue streams require?
  • Key Resources: What resources do our value propositions, distribution channels, customer relationships and revenue streams require?
  • Value Propositions: What value do we deliver, what problems are we solving and what needs are we satisfying?
  • Customer Relationships: what type of relationships do our customers expect, what relationships have we established, how are they integrated and how much do they cost?
  • Channels: What channel(s) will reach our customer segment, how are the channels integrated, which one works best, and which is most cost-efficient?
  • Customer Segments: Who are we creating value for and who are our most important customers?
  • Cost Structure: What are the most important costs in our business model, which key resources and activities are most expensive?
  • Revenue Streams: What are our customers willing to pay, what are they currently paying, how are they currently paying, how would they prefer to pay, how much does each stream contribute to overall revenues?

Lean startup principles and methodology are a complex but viable resource for any early-stage company. We understand this is a lot to take in, so to end the article appropriately, we will leave you with a reminder from Eric Reis on what lean startup methodology is all about:

“The foundational principle of all Lean is respect for people. Let’s not forget that our goal here is not products and money and the artifacts of our work, but rather, to support and make good use of the time, passion, creativity and intellect of our people.”

*As mentioned above, Eric Reis is a co-founder of Lean Startup Co. (LSCo) along with Heather McGough and Melissa Moore. Their 3rd Annual Lean Startup Conference is taking place November 16-19 in San Francisco for those interested.

The post 4 Primary Lean Startup Principles to Boost Production appeared first on StartupNation.

]]> 0
12 Tips for Hiring the Right Person for Your Start-up Tue, 11 Aug 2015 10:04:38 +0000 Hiring the right people makes all the difference when it comes to becoming a successful startup business.

The post 12 Tips for Hiring the Right Person for Your Start-up appeared first on StartupNation.

12 Tips for Hiring the Right Person for your Start-up

Managing a start-up would force any one to take on different job descriptions. One of these new challenges would be learning to become a manager of human resources. In other words, an entrepreneur with a start-up will need to learn how to hire the right people. Getting the right people can help your company grow so it’s crucial to get them right on the first try. Here are a few tips on finding the right people to start your business with.

  • Take your time to decide

    Before making any big decisions, try to find out if the time is right to hire someone. Ask yourself, should you hire now or should you wait until next year? And once you have found the ideal applicant, hire them as soon as possible. Many employers make the mistake to delay hiring, only to later be informed that the applicants have changed their mind.

  • Listen to your instincts

    You will have to work closely with your first employee. If your gut tells you that you do not want to hire a person, then say no. You need to be able to work confidently with the people you hire to maximise returns.

  • Check into the potential employee’s potential

    Rather than focusing solely on a person’s resume, try to gauge their potential for improvement too. Someone inexperienced but prepared to be challenged may be a more valuable employee than someone who has years of practice but is tired of their work.

  • Find out their online personality

    Do your work and spend some time on a background check. Utilise social media to screen their profiles. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are just some social networks that could give you a good overview of their personality.

  • Don’t be afraid to hire employees more qualified than you

    Some employers deliberately hire applicants that are less qualified than them. Don’t make that mistake. If someone with better qualifications applies for the position, count them as people who can better improve your work and help you learn more about the business.

  • Ask your applicants to accomplish a task

    A better way to gauge your applicants’ abilities is by asking them to do something. Instead of simply analysing the way they answer your questions, make a more tangible task. Tell them to try and sell something for you, or ask them to join a meeting so you can see how they work.

  • Think of all the right follow up questions

    Your questions will help the applicant’s personality come out. If you ask the right ones you will learn more about any personality issues you might dislike. For example, some applicants may repeatedly put importance on emotional events. If you prefer a more professional and formal workplace then they might not be the right one for your company.

  • Delay your judgement until after the interview

    Wait for the end of your interview or test before you judge a person. Appearances may be distracting you from the true potential of applicants. Also, the first few answers may not be indicative of the applicant’s true potential. It is best to finish the interview before concluding if he or she is ideal for the job.

  • Show potential employees the benefits

    Tell your applicants what they can get from working with you. If you find their enthusiasm match yours according to the same offers, you will find the people who think the same way as you with regards to pay and benefits.

  • Find good team players

    Remember that your applicants will have to work together. Keep other employees in mind when you are interviewing the others. Finding people that will complement each other in skill and personality can smoothen out all company operations.

  • Let them ask you questions

    Gauge your applicants with how they ask you questions. You will find out what is important for them if they ask you about their concerns. If they are also able to ask relevant questions, you can see how they accept information and analyse them.

  • Offer a great working environment

    One of the best ways to lure in good applicants is to make sure that you are offering them something that they would want to have. If you are able to offer a good working environment then more applicants would be willing to join your team. Find out what type of working environment you would personally want to work in and try to reflect that in your company.                                                                  

The post 12 Tips for Hiring the Right Person for Your Start-up appeared first on StartupNation.

]]> 0
Why you should invest in a blog Tue, 11 Aug 2015 10:02:29 +0000 Blogging is a great medium for expressing your company’s vision, values and personality.

The post Why you should invest in a blog appeared first on StartupNation.

7 reasons startups should invest in a blog

It seems like everyone’s got the blogging bug. But if you’ve got our hands full steering your startup through choppy commercial waters, should you really be investing time, energy and resources into creating your own blog? Well, yes, as long as you approach it from the right place.

Your blog needs to form part of your wider content marketing strategy, which should focus on trying to solve the same problems that your products or services solve. It’s not about publishing company news and updates and it’s not a direct-response marketing tool. Blogging is part of the long game and can deliver a scalable resource that will provide all the material you need as you grow your audience.

1 – Inform, don’t sell

A great blog can be one of the best tools you have for driving traffic to your website, consolidating your expertise and helping you create a list of prospects for marketing. Don’t see it as the perfect place to plug your products, though – visitors will soon call time on your blog if you’re in hard-sell mode. Do it right and you’ll start forming connections with your audience that could convert them into customers. Alex Turnball of Groove has written a fantastic post on the ROI of blogging for this startup. At Groove a subscriber to his blog worth more than 3.6 times the value of a non-subscribing visitor.

Many businesses use their blog to provide updates on company activities – the staff barbecue, new employee round-up, an important new contract, et al. If you want to include this kind of detail on your website, slide it across to a different tab and keep your blog on track to engage your audience by solving their problems.

2 – Give your audience what they need

Which means you should focus on helpful and informative posts that address specific issues rather than communicating generic company messages. The real bonus here is that the helpful posts will continue to draw an audience months and years into the future. These so-called ‘evergreen’ posts will carry on pulling in traffic as long as their contents remain relevant and are more likely to be shared – providing more opportunities for you to reach a wider demographic than you originally intended.

One trick here is to use a popular search term in your blog title – maybe something along the lines of ‘How much does it cost to hire a landscaper?’ or ‘How to train for a marathon’, for example. Take inspiration from your own professional experiences to create pieces that align with customer issues, review related news or opinion pieces and offer advice freely.

3 – Build your library

If you can start building a bank of blogs that provide genuine, actionable advice to your audience, you’ll be on track to creating a really valuable professional resource. Expert marketer Neil Patel does just this with his Quick Sprout blog posts and is among the biggest web influencers as a result. Neil clearly puts a lot of energy into his posts and shares his expertise generously – which is what you should aim to do.

Do ask readers to subscribe to your list when they visit your blog. It’s the best way to grow your list and to have the ability to contact prospects directly. As long as you keep delivering great content that’s useful to your audience, you’ll continue to build trust and begin converting prospects to customers.

4 – Get noticed

One of the other advantages of regular blogging is to give the search engines what they need to find you and display your links on their results pages. Google loves natural language patterns, so while key words and phrases will help you map into search terms, you should really be writing for your audience, not for the machines. We created this piece recently as it is one of the most common questions that our users ask. We focussed completely on the reader and only after noticed that the page was ranking really well in Google for a number of terms.

Make sure you blog well on the things you know about – if you can offer expert advice that resonates with your audience, you’ll become the go-to-guy for solving problems. And if you become a trusted source for content, you’ll also be the first choice when customers are ready to buy.

5 – Increase your footfall

Obviously, when you post content it provides an opportunity for you to drive traffic to your main website or preferred landing page and also doubles as a focus for social media activity. Think about how your readers may share your material and consider using platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or LinkedIn to promote your blog.

Blogging also enables you to invite comments and feedback from your audience. If you read feedback and take time to respond, you’ll probably gain valuable market research.

6 – Join conversations

You don’t have to produce all the blog content yourself. Consider curating relevant articles or content from other online sources that allows you to become part of a bigger conversation and express your own point of view. Follow blogs that you think are informative and you’ll be able to draw on topics that you think will be of interest to your audience.

If you curate content that’s relevant to your industry, you’ll be able to keep up with news and developments from elsewhere and look at the ways in which you can add value to the discussion from your own perspective.

7 – Inject some personality

Blogging is a great medium for expressing your company’s vision, values and personality. It’s naturally less formal than some of your more conventional company collateral and can be more powerful, too.

Think about it. If you can build your brand to incorporate qualities of expertise, generosity, trust and value, by making an effort to engage with and solve some of your customers’ most urgent problems, you’ll give your startup the credibility it needs to grow and succeed. Establish your business as the leading authority, be generous with your knowledge and your blog could turn out to be the most useful marketing tool in your arsenal.

The post Why you should invest in a blog appeared first on StartupNation.

]]> 0