Want to Start a Company? 5 Questions to Know You're Ready I teach undergraduate and graduate students at Babson College (ranked tops in Entrepreneurship by US News and World Report 19 years in a row). Every semester students meet with me and ask whether they should start a company now or wait. If you are trying to decide whether to start a company, my response to them may be of interest. My general advice is that students should work 10 years before they start companies because that gives them industry knowledge, contacts, and confidence. But you may already have all that. Here are the five questions you can ask yourself to know whether you are ready to start-up. 1. Investors like to place their capital into markets that are currently tiny but are growing very fast. No doubt, Google investors are glad they put capital into Brin and Page's page-rank algorithm before they realized that they could sell advertisements next to search results. 2. Needless to say, nobody can know for sure whether a small market will get big or just stay small forever.
James L. Paris Christian Financial Advice: 15 Fantastic & Free Computer Programs A few months ago I took a computer repair class sponsored by our local adult education department. It was a lot of fun taking apart and fixing computers. I also picked up quite a few tips on free software that can be helpful to rid your computer of viruses, malware, or simply speed things up. Along with what I learned from this class, I have also been keeping my own list of free computer programs that I use and can recommend. Open Office Most people need something along the lines of Microsoft Office Suite. Viruses & Malware One of the procedures I learned in the computer repair class was to start by running the free program Malwarebytes. There was a debate in class about which free anti-virus program was better. Speeding Up Your Computer Another little jewel I picked up from my class was learning about C Cleaner. Password Managers At this point in my life I have so many passwords to remember that I am about to lose my mind. KeePass KeyWallet MyWallet Free Website Software Internet Browsers
Can Private Equity Save Playboy? -- Daily Intelligencer Keach Hagey at The Wall Street Journal has a good story today about Playboy Enterprises' attempt to reinvent itself as a leaner, meaner soft smut purveyor. The company was run by Hugh Hefner's daughter Christie until 2011, when Hefner himself — in collaboration with a private-equity firm called Rizvi Traverse Management — took it private in a leveraged buyout. Since then, it has gotten a new CEO (Scott Flanders, whom the Journal implies is a bit of a lecher) and embarked on a restructuring plan that has reduced its staff from 585 people to 165, and shaved millions of dollars in costs from its operations. Now it's trying to reinvent itself as a licensing giant — a business that makes money by sticking Playboy's name on all kinds of clubs, TV shows, and merchandise. Put less gently, today's Playboy is much more focused on branding than boobs. In many ways, Playboy is a classic media story. The new strategy seems to be working, sort of: Today, Playboy is both smaller and more profitable.
Does Netflix's culture deck reflect reality? Has Your Business Stayed True to Your Vision? One of the hardest parts of growing quickly is staying true to your original intent and vision. New people, changing product sets and the inability to keep your hands off every aspect of business operations can all lead to a slow, dangerous shift away from what made your business special to begin with. When we started Launchpad we essentially thought about a magic wand. We built the agency on a cultural foundation designed to be the centerpiece of how we work. Our mission statement was simple. We strove to build an agency that: If we didn’t own it, we would want to work there People looked forward to coming to every dayDelivered purpose-driven creativity that moved our clients’ businessesConstantly pushed itself to get better As we’ve grown, these core statements serve as a rudder that guide us to remain true what we set out to build. Value your “Chief Culture Officers” who speak truth to power. Always go back to why you started. Make the hard decisions. Get away from the office.
8 Crucial Elements of Startup Success Bill Clark is the CEO of MicroAngel Capital Partners, a venture firm that gives more investors access to alternative investments. He also gives investors the ability to invest in startups online through crowdfunding. You can follow him on Twitter @austinbillc. Most people understand that a high percentage of startups never make it. 1. If you don’t have the skills to code, make sure you find someone with a solid programming background who can implement your idea. 2. Sometimes you’ll encounter a last-minute opportunity to add features to your product. 3. If you’re developing a product, make sure you truly understand the needs of your end users. 4. Solving a problem for a targeted niche is not a bad idea — the smaller the niche, the less competition you may face. 5. As most startups know, determining how much money to raise is difficult. 6. As obvious as this one sounds, startups waste money every day. One area in which startups waste money is hiring too many employees too fast. 7. 8.
How to Determine Pricing for your Products and Coaching It’s another Expert Briefs, where I ask really smart business owners to answer your burning questions. This week I asked our panel of experts a question that I get asked often from Virtual Assistants, Coaches, Authors, and Infoproduct Sellers… “How do you decide how to price your products and coaching and what if any struggle did you come through to charge what you’re worth?” I think you will like the responses. Terry Dean of My Marketing Coach says: I have to admit that pricing is one of the toughest issues we face in marketing. Here’s why. You can also price yourself out of the market you’re serving. And the lowest price doesn’t even mean you get the maximum sales. Does that mean you should run out and price your product at $67? When I started out, my tendency was to undervalue and underprice what I was offering. Here’s an exercise everyone reading this should practice today. Read it cover to cover. What words do they use to describe them? It’s not cheap though. Pricing isn’t a science.
5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Try To Be Apple In 2011, struggling department store chain J.C. Penney hired the guy who was behind the Apple stores. He applied the same principles that had made Apple’s geek chic boutiques some of the most profitable retail spaces on Earth. So much for all those “five ways you can be as successful as Apple” articles that have been churned out over the past few years. Everybody, it seems, wants to be Apple. Employing Oompa Loompas won’t turn you into Willy Wonka, then. But really it’s not. 1. Kate Moss and Queen Elizabeth are two of the great iconic figures of our time. Apple is the corporate equivalent of the queen. 2. Management gurus who reverse engineer Apple’s go-to-market strategies tend to look upward into the sky and point at the glittering stars. Apple’s commitment to integrating hardware, operating systems, and software has been hailed as the reason it’s been able to create a glistening and slick user experience. 3. Strategy guys have been asking an awkward question recently. 4.
Lousy Hires = Lousy Culture. Go Figure. One reason I get a kick out of reading business books is because their themes frequently come to life and smack you right in the nose at work the next day. Recently I read “The Energy Bus” and underlined this passage: Negative people often tend to create negative cultures whereas positive corporate cultures are created by positive people. It’s almost a ridiculously obvious statement, but how many companies act like this isn’t true? When the corporate higher-ups get word employees are complaining, they’ll email an all-employee survey, post motivational quotes on bulletin boards, roll out a new contest, and maybe even treat the team to lunch. That would be like your plan to slim down for the summer centers on wearing vertical stripes while you keep eating your stash of Twinkies and Ding Dongs. You’re masking the problem instead of actually solving it. “One sales call can make or break your day — if you let it.” Are they pessimistic or optimistic?
Increase Sales By Staying True to Your Core Business During swings in economy, many businesses leave their core businesses to increase sales because they must survive or thrive. Taking this action spells disaster for any business. The question that each business needs to consistently and constantly ask themselves is “Why are we in business?” When a business abandons its core business and decides to build a new business, it probably is also leaving its core loyal customers. Loyal customers are the unpaid sales force for any business. If a business decides to open another business to increase sales, this action should be a direct result of several years of planning as articulated within the existing Growth and Innovation Strategic Business Action Plan. All business have limited resources of time, energy and dollars. There is an old proverb that goes: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.