Saturday, July 6, 2013

Reducing risk for your startup's launch

How do you transition from employment to self-employed entrepreneur without losing your shirt? That is a fundamental question. If the business you want to start allows it—not all of them do—many people test the waters first by starting the business with limited funds in their spare time. Consider this option: ask yourself whether you could try it, does your employer allow it, and would it work? Some personal service businesses can work like this, but many cannot. Think about that first, for your business.

If you have a business that requires outside start-up investment, then you have a harder climb uphill. First you have to convince investors to buy into your business plan and invest with you, so you get the money, and then you can start the business. In this case your starting salary is funded by the investment, and has to be agreed upon by you and the investors, and it is negotiable. The more risk you take, the happier your investors, because they want to see you really committed. They don’t want you to suffer, they need you to survive, and even prosper, or else the business also fails, but they also don’t want to risk their money on the new business and make you too comfortable at their expense. Your present earning power is an important piece of information. On one hand, you will have trouble living on less and they know it. On the other, it is hard to ask an investor to put money into improving your lifestyle. Another point is equivalent salaries. Sophisticated investors have a sense of what is appropriate for what job description, in what industry, in what region; and if they don’t know, they research it.

9 unmistakable symptoms of an entrepreneur

In almost every article and story written about entrepreneurship, I have found symptoms and traits which are common among all those who finally made it big.

One of those is that entrepreneurship is not for everyone. I realised that entrepreneurs have some specific traits which should be closely observed.

For example, if you are afraid of failures and adventure, then you should definitely keep out of this.

So, here are nine symptoms that you will definitely find in an entrepreneur.

Absolute hate for the normal and boring

You just cannot accept the status-quo; you hate the normal and boring things in life. You often wonder why a particular area can’t be improved and made more exciting and adventurous.

Bad employee

Just track the job history of any entrepreneur and you will get an idea. Entrepreneurs are generally bad employees, and this is a bitter truth.

Bosses can’t easily manage an entrepreneur, and more often than not, entrepreneurs will quit their job before management decides to fire them.

Famous as a rebel

More often than not, entrepreneurs are rebellious; they cannot follow the existing rules and regulations of the society.

You think that these limitations and rules don’t apply to your domain. Normal human beings follow rules, not entrepreneurs!

Gets bored easily

Steve Jobs dropped out of college because the classes bored him. Bill Gates was always sleeping in his classes, hence he opted out. Entrepreneurs get easily bored, which is considered as a problem by others.

The attention span of a typical entrepreneur is very small.

Detests authority

The norms of society don’t apply to you. As a kid, you must have had problems with your teachers, parents and elders.

Authority is something which you absolutely resist and detest. Possible explanation? Maybe you consider yourself as an authority and master of your own destiny.

7 reasons why you should run your startup remotely

When thinking about startups, I’d like to add my two cents and argue that running a young company remotely is a very real and attractive option for many an entrepreneur. Not only because the technological tools exist to share and collaborate on documents, communicate in real time (even face-to-face) and meet those all important deadlines, but also because there are practical advantages to running a startup remotely.

By remote startup I’d like to work with the definition of ‘location independent’, not necessarily just ‘working from home’. Lets have a look at seven reasons why you should run your startup remotely.

Lower Startup Costs

A bit of a no brainer but an important practical advantage. Lower starter capital requirements and initial overheads are a dream scenario for any young company. Besides legal and registration fees, saving on office rental and running costs means you are free to hit the ground running at a minimum expense to yourself.

This means you can use those extra funds to develop your product or service and enter the market quicker. You can lower the barriers to entry earlier, thus making you more competitive. The cherry on top is that there is less need to seek out Angel or Seed investment, liberating yourself from potential equity-traps and bad decisions.

Extend your Reach

Not having a localised office gives you the freedom to travel, and to employ people across the globe. If you don’t have time or money to attend conferences yourself you’re more likely to have someone employed who will be nearby to attend on your startup’s behalf at a cheaper cost to you.

Having people employed, and a presence across the globe, gives a diversification to the well you can tap into to solve problems as well as expose your product or service to more markets giving you more research to work from.

The Skills You Need to Build a Great Business

What makes someone a successful entrepreneur?

It certainly helps to have strong technology skills or expertise in a key area, but these are not defining characteristics of entrepreneurship.

Instead, the key qualities are traits such as creativity, the ability to keep going in the face of hardship, and the social skills needed to build great teams.

If you want to start a business, it's essential to learn the specific skills that underpin these qualities. It's also important to develop entrepreneurial skills if you're in a job role where you're expected to develop a business, or "take things forward" more generally.

In this article, we'll look at the skills you need to be a successful entrepreneur, and we'll explore resources that you can use to develop the traits needed for success.
Defining Entrepreneurship

Some experts think of entrepreneurs as people who are willing to take risks that other people are not. Others define them as people who start and build successful businesses.

Thinking about the first of these definitions, entrepreneurship doesn't necessarily involve starting your own business. Many people who don't work for themselves are recognized as entrepreneurs within their organizations.

Regardless of how you define an "entrepreneur," one thing is certain: becoming a successful entrepreneur isn't easy.

So, how does one person successfully take advantage of an opportunity, while another, equally knowledgeable person does not? Do entrepreneurs have a different genetic makeup? Or do they operate from a different vantage point, that somehow directs their decisions for them?

Though many researchers have studied the subject, there are no definitive answers. What we do know is that successful entrepreneurs seem to have certain traits in common.

We've gathered these traits into four categories:

    Personal characteristics.
    Interpersonal skills.
    Critical and creative thinking skills.
    Practical skills.

We'll now examine each category in more detail, and look at some of the questions you will need to ask yourself if you want to become a successful entrepreneur.

Friday, July 5, 2013

10 Ideas For Those Critical Early Startup Sales

Closing your initial sales at a startup is one of the most challenging parts of building a company. Many startups die before they ever close a deal.

Unless you’re entering a well established market there will be uncertainty with your product, approach, and timing until you have enough customers to prove that you have a good business model.

When Brendan and I started Wistia, we had questions about how the sales process should work, what kinds of documents we needed in place, how long things should take, and where we should look for potential customers. Through sheer will, conviction, and lots of failure, we found our way to where we are today. Here are the 10 principles we learned along the way.

1. Don’t wait to sell

You should start selling as early as you possibly can. Do not wait until your product is polished and launched. We changed direction and started heading towards Wistia about a year into startup life. How’d we know to head towards Wistia? Because we had a real potential customer that was interested when we had NO PRODUCT. We talked to them about what we thought Wistia could be. They liked the concept and we built the first version of Wistia in two weeks. A month later and we had our first customer.

We had just spent seven months building a portfolio website and four months trying to get people on board while our bank accounts shrank and our time to live decreased. In the course of a month we sold our first customer, decreased our burn, and realized that selling early was possible.

2. Do things that don’t scale

We learned an enormous amount from our first customer. That first sale gave us a benchmark for what people were willing to pay, how long it would take to close a deal, and how easy it was to use the product.