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What Happens After I’ve “Made It”


  

I grew up ridiculously poor.

By the time I was 19, I founded my first startup, with less than $20 in the bank. I chose the one career that could somehow make me way, way poorer.

Within the first year I had racked up over $100,000 in personal debt, which took me from "poor" to "infinitely poor.” Today we call that college debt.

Sometimes "The Bet" Pays off

Within a few years some of the startup bets I had made began paying off.

Before I knew it, I was shopping for exotic cars, a new home (I was still living in a campus apartment at the time) and writing a single check to payoff all my college debt (a smaller check since I dropped out so quickly).

In my mind, I had made it.

But then a funny thing happened... nothing. Nothing at all. I woke...



Article

What Is Product Differentiation?


  

What Is product differentiation?

Product differentiation is process used by companies to clarify the differences between their products and other products on the market. Those other products can include competitors but also a company’s own products, to prevent overlap between the offerings. The goal is to find a product’s unique selling point (USP).

Why is product differentiation important?

Product differentiation is important because it makes your product stand out from the crowd! It’s easier and easier to create a company or sell a product or connect directly with factories in China these days. So what makes your housewares product or dating app or SaaS product different from all of the other housewares products, dating apps, and SaaS pr...



Article

The Secrets to Crafting an Irresistible Elevator Pitch (With Examples)


  

What is an elevator pitch?

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: a Founder and a VC walk into an elevator…

In all seriousness, if you’ve spent any time swimming in the startup waters, you’re probably familiar with the idea of the elevator pitch. But in case you missed that day in Founder School, the scenario is this:

Say you got in an elevator, and standing in that elevator was the one person that could make or break your business. You have the length of that elevator ride to convince this person to get on board. And no, the electricity can’t suddenly cut out and leave you with a couple of hours to fill instead of a handful of seconds.

Well — What the @#*! do you say?

We’ll get to that.

Why are elevator pitches important?

There’s a reas...



Article

My Startup Stalled — Now What?


  

“When we first launched things were going gangbusters.But since then, things have kind of flat-lined. The business seems stalled. What do we do from here?"

Is it a blip or a trend?

Part of the challenge with running a startup is that we simply don't have any history of whether past performance was the future of our business or "just a really good quarter.”

For this reason, it's hard to tell whether we're really stalled until enough time has gone by that we can see the writing on the wall.

We imagine a "successful startup" always has a stout growth trend that runs "up and to the right" on every chart. But that's actually not really true.

Yes, there are some standout companies that smash records, but most companies grow slowly over a long p...



Article

Reveal: See Your Industry’s Landscape with Competitive Intelligence


  

There are weapons, and there are weapons made with plutonium. Well, there is competitive intelligence, and there is the competitive intelligence made by Knowlium.

Knowlium is the maker of the competitive intelligence software called Reveal – a product that “accelerates your digital strategy with real-time competitive insight.”

Here’s a quick rundown of what the Reveal competitive intelligence software covers:

  • Brand Monitoring
  • Content Marketing
  • SEO Analysis
  • Benchmarking
  • Social Media Analysis
  • Influencer Analysis

Which is to state matters very very simply. You must have a look for yourself to appreciate the comprehensiveness and sophistication with which Reveal processes data. If you want simple scores to understand your market position com...



Article

How Do I Pitch Friends and Family for Money?


  

There it is:

That super awkward moment when we're about to turn the conversation with our rich Uncle Mortimer from "Well it's been great catching up on my new startup" to "Hey would you mind investing some of your hard-earned money into this venture?"

So how do we ask friends and family for money without it getting totally weird?

Is there a way to "pitch" that doesn't leave both sides feeling uncomfortable every Thanksgiving?

It's not what we ask, it's how we ask

There are lots of different ways to ask for money, and most of them are really awful.

What we want to do is position the ask in a way that makes it clear we're asking for money, but also clear that it's not more important than the relationship.

Look for buying clues first

Befor...



Article

6 Ways Overwork Harms Your Business


  

In America, we tend to value workaholism.

We often admire someone who works long hours and talk about how amazing it is that someone is a “machine.”

But is it really best for you and your business?

Research indicates that overwork harms your overall productivity and can even cause problems for your business. Chances are, instead of working more, you probably need to take a break from work.

Before you get too excited about working long hours, consider some of the ways that overwork harms your business:

1. Leadership Deficit Comes with Overwork

You’re the leader in your business. Overwork harms your business by creating a potential leadership deficit. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, working too hard c...



Article

How to Be a Successful Marketer if You’re not Super Smart


  

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I’m not that smart, and yet I’m a pretty good online marketer. I am actually probably one of the better ones out there.

So, how’s that possible? Well, you don’t have to be smart to be the best marketer. Instead, you need to be creative, execute well, and continue to learn from others.

Here’s the process I used to become a great marketer, and here is how you can follow in my footsteps:

Don’t be afraid to bug people

When I first started out in the world of online marketing, I didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t know how to edit HTML; I thought MSN was a bigger search engine than Google; and I had no idea where to start.

But the one thing I did know is that there are marketers out there who are a...



Article

Simple Ways to Create Delightful, Cross-Device Experiences


  

It’s a crazy, multi-device world.

According to one report from Facebook, 60% of online adults in the U.S. and U.K. use at least two devices each day, meaning that mobile is at the epicenter of many brands’ marketing, sales, and product strategies.

This trend creates a window of opportunity for companies that are looking to reach audiences at multiple points in their buyer journeys. The challenge, however, is that mass-market tools and analytics technologies haven’t caught up—basic reports in Google Analytics only provide aggregate-level traffic data, for instance. It’s tough to dissect the steps that your audiences are taking to become customers and repeat customers.

Despite this lack of transparency, one concept holds tried and true: you’r...



Article

Women’s Business Magazines Don’t Contribute Anything


  

When I first left my full time job to try my hand at being an entrepreneur, I thought it would be helpful to join a women’s business networking group. The membership included a subscription to their women’s business magazine which provides exclusive content, advice, and tips for being more business-y.

I won’t name the organization, but I won’t be surprised if anyone recognizes it. I joined just over 6 months ago and every time I have received an issue of this quarterly magazine, I become a little more enraged.

The very first red flag is that inexplicably and despite the fact that the women’s magazine is only available to pre-paying members and can’t be bought in store, it has a price tag on it (but no barcode), presumably to con...



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