Tag Archives: Entrepreneurship

KIDNAPPED


Clamps and Bone TBy Mark T. Wayne

Weeks have passed since my last conscious memory. Weeks, I say! A man can lose his hat and perhaps even his pants, but to lose several weeks is inexcusable. Think what mischief might transpire over such a span of time!

I find myself crammed in the back seat of a slow moving vehicle on an unfamiliar and crowded freeway. How did I get here? I know the date by the prominent display on that infernal wireless device issued me by my employer. Continue reading KIDNAPPED

WHIZ KIDS


You Don't Want to Compete with this Kidby John Jonelis

You don’t want to compete with this kid. Believe me. Just watch his intensity as he pitches his business to some of the private equity luminaries in the city. I’m a judge at this event and try not to show my feelings of awe as he answers all the tough questions in a pressure-cooker environment without so much as a flinch. There’s an intimidating team behind him too. They’re all in middle school. Middle school! Continue reading WHIZ KIDS

If You are “Doing Entrepreneurship,” You Should Stop


I am tired of the word “entrepreneurship.” That might sound weird—but I am. The problem, I think, is that entrepreneurship went from being a means to an end, to an end in itself.

People used to see a problem in the world, and realize that founding a startup would be the best way to solve that problem. Now graduates want to run a startup, and then look for a problem to solve, which is ass-backwards.

Oftentimes, the best founders stumble into being an entrepreneur because they realize that what they’ve been trying to do has already actually been formalized for them via a startup, and that the entrepreneurial community can help support their dreams, and guide them.

But when I ask someone what they do, and they tell me they “do startups” a little piece of me dies inside.

Sometimes I do that by accident, myself! I screw up!

I fall into that trap too when I get lazy, and I don’t want to explain myself. People accept the answer and move on. But from now on, my answer will be “I invest in Internet companies by building their software in exchange for equity.”

I don’t do it because I wanted to run a startup—hell I woulda done finance if I liked it better—but I did it because I was convinced that I saw a problem no one was solving. I became obsessed with solving that problem.

I have the same issue with people who tell me “they want to be a senator.” I’d much rather hear them tell me they want to make America better, or fight for an issue, and the best way to do so would be to hold a position in office.

Titles or social structures ought to serve as vehicles, not goals.

There are many institutions that teach entrepreneurship—that help people take their ideas and build them. I think that’s fine—they are positive pieces of the community, but convincing people to be entrepreneurs is not the right thing to do. It’s the reason we see so many bad ideas.

So stop doing entrepreneurship. Start pursuing whatever your dream is. If founding a startup is the best way to pursue that dream, solve that problem you’re obsessed with or reach your end game—fine. But don’t be “an entrepreneur” and then look for a problem.

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Date a Girl in Startups


I write a lot about love and dating. Over the past year, I’ve had more conversations with my female peers in startups and entrepreneurship about these issues than any other topic. Very few young women in startups are in healthy relationships, but that doesn’t mean we don’t strive for them or thrive in them. For some reason, we have a hard time starting and building romantic relationships. I haven’t been able to work out the exact formula for why we have so much trouble but I am certain that it has a fair amount to do with men’s fears about who we are and what we do.

The seven statements bolded below are reasons that we kick ass. They were compiled with the help of a group of girls, some of whom I am close friends with and others whom I have never met in person. Together, we picked out the things that we feel make us not only unique, but also strong and powerful women. Importantly, they are also traits that help us build relationships. Hopefully, they will make you at least consider dating a Girl in Startups.

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She enjoys taking risks. Deciding to start your own venture, or work for an early stage one, is attractive to people who are comfortable walking the line between massive success and failure, who see their $12,000 a year paycheck as a world of future possibilities, and who can’t stop pushing forward. Because of this, she is confident in her abilities. Her decisions reflect her as a person. Not only does she accept this, she owns it. She is hard to derail and she gets shit done. Big risks can yield big rewards, but she knows that she has to work her butt off to make it happen.

Whether she is building a deck or editing code, she can spend all night working because she has passion for what she does. She is dedicated to her work, family, friends, and relationships and when she sets her mind to something she sees it to the end. Sometimes this means she takes forever to answer your texts. But don’t worry — from pitching to VC’s to managing a cohort of interns, she knows what good communication looks like and can use it as much outside of work as she does in the office. If she’s not texting you, facebook messaging you, or sending a carrier pigeon every 15 minutes it is because she understands that the best communication is done in person. Bonus is, when you ask her how her day was, you’re actually curious because you have no clue what she was up to.

If you date a Girl in Startups you have to appreciate that she is obsessed with learning. She constantly searches for new information, tests new technologies and products, and is open to new perspectives. Intelligence turns her on, and she reads blogs and articles on tech and entrepreneurship like others read erotic literature. She may have finished college; it’s possible she dropped out. No matter her level of formal education, she’ll always be up for learning something new. Furthermore, she sees failure as one of the best ways to learn. She has learned to be resilient because she flirts with failure on a daily basis. For her, failure isn’t crippling but rather a chance to create something new. She won’t let little bumps throw her off track in her work or in her relationships.

Consider dating a girl in startups, but if you do, know that she won’t automatically make you #1. She is independent, self-sufficient, and will make you work to become a priority in her life. When she makes time for you, it’s because she cares.

*Thank you Sam, Melissa, Maddy, Robin, Becca, Shilpi, Stephanie, Arianna, Ryan and many more for your advice and criticism in writing this piece. I wanted to make sure that it came from the startup community, rather than just one woman’s brain.

**Originally Posted on PippaBiddle.com

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How to fail at entrepreneurship. My best business idea and why it failed.


In 2000, I was rejected for for a mechanics apprenticeship. So, I decided to stay at university. My degree was as boring as batshit, but I had a few electives available and chose one called ‘Entrepreneurship’.

The fact that university even offered a course on the subject of entrepreneurship was kinda cool… and it was actually pretty good.

As students we had to make up a business idea and then go through the planning process of what we could do to put it into action.

I wish I still had my notes, but in those days there was no such thing as Evernote. Back in 2000, we used to dogpile and hotbot to search the net… but there wasn’t really much on there.

To get information for assignments we went to the library. The thing that saved me in my HR degree was finding a CCH manual about human resources. We stumbled across this in the library and hid it so no one else could find it. It couldn’t leave the building — it was too powerful.

It contained all of the secrets for managing human resources. It told us exactly how to hire and fire, how to recruit amazing talent, how to manage change, how to build a team and how to train. It was the holy grail of HR.

So anyway, back to my entrepreneurship course.

I had no idea about what business I would start or why I took this course. But after the CCH HR manual discovery, I thought “What if you could go on a website and get access to all of the forms and processes required for best practice HR. Position descriptions, employee surveys, HR Audits and training programs on various topics. That would be cool? Wouldn’t it?”

I spent 6 months (!) planning out the idea, working out exactly what topics I’d include, how we’d deliver the documents, how we’d charge and how we’d employ writers (that part was very thorough, I was a HR major after all).

At the end of the 6 months I had an epic plan all figured out. It was a great idea, people were actively paying thousands of dollars for HR staff to do this all the time. They would definitely pay a few hundred for some templates. Nothing like this existed as far as my limited research revealed. I was very organised, meticulous and thorough.

I submitted my final plan and I got a distinction for the subject. Boom!

But there was a problem.

I didn’t launch the fucking thing. It wasn’t part of the marking criteria.

I know if I did launch it, it’s unlikely that I would have had the patience or knowhow to follow through and make it into a business anyway.

I do wonder though, what an idea like that could have turned into in the year 2000. The timing was perfect… it was just after the crash and everything was moving online. HR documents and policies are a great fit for buying online too. I’m sure it could have been a 7 or 8 figure business if everything fell into place.

But I didn’t launch.

This was 6 years before I actually launched a business and 13 years before I launched one based on a decent idea.

I had everything there except for the only thing that every single successful business has in common.

They launch.

This has been one of my big lessons in business: don’t die wondering.

Now, we launch very quickly. This year I’ve had 3 ideas, and we launched each one in 7 days. This helps me to avoid writing more shoulda, coulda, woulda posts like this in the future.

If you are reading this and you have an idea — I have some advice for you.

Stop talking. Stop planning. Stop ‘strategizing’.

Launch.

You don’t get a pass on entrepreneurship until then.

Further Reading

Ship it, already!

 — I could let this software languish on my laptop, and be cool—or, I could show people and obsess over all the things that don’t work, would change, or redo from scratch…

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Minimum viable co-founder of @informly and @WPCurve. Voted Aus top small biz blogger, startup junkie.

Published January 6, 2014

Big Ideas 2014: The Year of the Entrepreneur


This post is part of a series in which LinkedIn Influencers pick one big idea that will shape 2014. See all the ideas here.

2014 will be a year of many big ideas, because it will be the year of the entrepreneur. This year has seen the growing trend of entrepreneurship being embraced as a positive way to create the jobs of the present and the future. From being a dirty word in the past, now entrepreneurship is increasingly being celebrated and encouraged – as it should be.

There has been a surge in the excitement surrounding start-ups, from Silicon Valley to Silicon Roundabout and beyond. Many internet start-ups came to fruition, and big businesses went public, creating enormous wealth for their founders. That generation are now setting up new businesses, helping to create more jobs and stimulate more innovation. Jack Dorsey from Twitter didn’t rest on his laurels after launching Twitter, he is now taking Square from strength to strength and I expect to see more entrepreneurial ideas from Jack and his peers in the coming year.

I believe 2014 will be the year of the entrepreneur more than just in California. When visiting Africa, Australia, Europe, South America and the US this year, there was a real appetite for entrepreneurship wherever we went. We launched Virgin StartUp in the UK, and are receiving lots of applications from new businesses hungry to succeed. In South Africa and the Caribbean the Branson Centres of Entrepreneurship are overflowing with talented individuals eager to unleash their ideas onto the world. With the right support (financial and otherwise) they can and will.

The entrepreneurs who will succeed in 2014 will need to focus upon having a purpose beyond profit for their business. A great example of this in the British Virgin Islands is an entrepreneur named Gumption, who we gave a loan to start a glass-bottom boat company. He has paid back his entrepreneurial loan in full, and is now focusing upon his company becoming a force for good, helping protect turtles as well as entertain tourists.

Technology is helping every business, large and small to move forwards, which will only increase in the coming year. Now, entrepreneurs can build companies at a fraction of the cost in the past. All of the little things that used to add up to big headaches for new businesses, from accounting to website development, are now available to small businesses, giving them the same capabilities as large enterprises at a cost they can afford. Because of this, new entrepreneurs have more time to think about the bigger picture and work out how to grow their business, rather than fretting about every detail.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still a thousand and one things for every entrepreneur to focus upon, and you need a great team of people around you and good delegation skills to utilise them. But now new businesses have more of a fighting chance.

So, what is your big idea for 2014? Why not decide to set up the business you have always wanted? Screw it, just do it!

Posted by:Richard Branson

 

Why So Many Successful People Were Bad Students


I’ll admit it. In high school, I was an uninspired student. I was passionate about my own hobbies and projects outside of school, but the day-to-day grind of classroom learning wasn’t experiential enough. A lot of the innovators I admire, it turns out, fell into the same boat: Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were all high school or college dropouts.

So at 16, with some savings and a loan from my parents, I decided to start my first business: a paintball supply company. While my classmates were enjoying summer vacation, I was getting real-world lessons in marketing and logistics.

By the time graduation approached, I knew I wanted to dedicate myself to entrepreneurship. But as I pored over lists of bursaries and scholarships, I found lots of opportunities for people interested in sports, music and drama … and really nothing for people like me. As a young entrepreneur, I felt I was stumbling in the dark without anyone to guide me. A little mentorship and guidance could have radically accelerated the entire process and improved the odds of success. The reality is that, even with lots of heart and perseverance and hustle, I still had to get pretty lucky to be where I am now.

This is why last month, I launched The Next Big Thing, a charitable foundation to identify the world’s brightest young entrepreneurs. Through the The Next Big Thing, I want to help those who are like me, “unconventionally driven.” And right now we’re seeking 10 promising innovators from the ages of 18-23 who will be selected for a special 6-month program in Vancouver, Canada.

The chosen group of young entrepreneurs will use my company HootSuite’s headquarters as a homebase to work on their individual business plans, connect with mentors (including Dragon’s Den-ers and Ted Talk-ers) and collaborate with partners like the Emily Carr University of Art + Design. And they’ll be supported with $10,000 each in grant funding so that they can focus their time and effort on turning their ideas into viable businesses.

Our goals are simple: Get tomorrow’s most promising entrepreneurs out of the classroom and into the business world. Remove the usual obstacles—grades, degrees and work experience. Reward ingenuity and accelerate the pace at which a good idea becomes a business reality.

After all, tomorrow’s economy depends on today’s entrepreneurs. In the US, new firms and young businesses account for approximately 70 percent of total job creation. Small businesses are the largest employer in the country, representing 53 percent of the country’s workforce and contributing to 46 percent of the nonfarm private GDP. One of the best ways we can ensure a more promising future for us all is to find new and creative ways to support our best and brightest young business leaders.

Thomas Edison, himself dismissed as dumb and scatterbrained in school, may have said it best more than a century ago: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Part of promoting youth entrepreneurship means finding ways to make sure young people don’t give up on great ideas too soon.

I hope this is a small step in that direction.

To find out more about how to apply to The Next Big Thing, visit www.weareTNBT.com.

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Image by NASA HQ PHOTO via Flickr