Archive for the 'Helpful Ideas' Category

Am I Too Young To Be An Entrepreneur?

Topic: Analysis, Exploration, Helpful Ideas| 2 Comments »

According to a recent study by the Kauffman Foundation, the answer is yes. Kind of. By the way, if your aren’t familiar with the foundation, check them out NOW because they have tons of great resources for entrepreneurs, young and old alike. At any rate, I must admit I was quite surprised by the findings of their study on the correlation between age, education, and forming a tech startup. As you know, I focus more on the needs of student startups, but as it turns out they are the minority – even when it comes to technology based startups.

What does this mean for you and your pursuit of the next great student startup? A couple things, actually. First off, the findings of this survey suggest that you (and I) are well ahead of the game. The small business experiences we are endeavoring in will only further the chances of success in the long run. Think about it this way, most people wait until they are in their late 30’s or early 40’s to take the leap into entrepreneurialism – many of whom will fail for a variety of reasons. But by starting young, you benefit from the fact that failing is virtually meaningless (financially speaking). You can then learn from your mistakes and build upon your successes and failures so that your next venture will be that much more successful.

So take the study with a grain of salt and do not give up your pursuit of creating the next great startup! Class dismissed.

Interview with an Entrepreneur

Topic: Exploration, Helpful Ideas, Startups| Comments Off

I was scouring my favorite small business blogs when I came across an interview with Raj Jaswa, an entrepreneur from Arizona. It was a quick interview, but packed with great advice, so I would like to share it with you. Enjoy the excerpt below:

Question: Given your experience and the entrepreneurs you’ve observed, what are the fundamental attributes of a good entrepreneur?

Answer: Entrepreneurs need to develop three skills, and they are very learnable:

First is networking. You have to learn to connect with as many people as you can. Be committed to building your Rolodex.

Second is education and learning. You have to really like learning and reading random stuff. Become knowledgeable, not in depth but on the surface, because you’re going to be working with everybody.

Third is accessing mentors and people you can learn from. The fewer bad decisions you make, the better chance your company has.

Question: What does the economic slowdown mean to entrepreneurs and Silicon Valley?

Answer: Boom times are bad because it can be hard for entrepreneurs to get access to engineering talent, space and people who will listen.

No recession lasts forever. It’s a business cycle. It cleans out bad habits and practices, and then you have a much better environment.

Question: Where do you see the emerging opportunities for innovators and entrepreneurs?

Answer: Opportunities come from seeing problems around you and in your lifestyle . . . that you would like to do something about. Instead of doing it as an employee or a volunteer, do it as a company. I recommend the book Built to Last. General Electric, Sony, they all started because the founders wanted to build a company.

That’s all for today, class dismissed.

173 Resources For Your Small Business

Topic: Analysis, Characteristics, Helpful Ideas, Market Intelligence, Self Exploration, Startups, Strategies, Top 10| 7 Comments »

173, that is a fairly big number when it comes to publishing a resource list.  But starting and running a small business is no small task I remind you, hence the need for such an encompassing collection of linkage.  While it may appear daunting, I assure you that there are some really great resources tucked inside of this article, and I hope at least one of them gives you the inspiration you need to get your startup rolling or achieve the next level in operating your business. The list includes many resources that are beyond a simple Google search and contains sites that the average Stumbler generally would not visit, so don’t forget to bookmark this list, Stumble it, and pass it along to your friends!  I hope you enjoy the list, and if you have any additions, don’t forget to comment!

Business Plans

Writing a business plan is often deemed essential, not only for seeking out financing, but as a road map for the future success of your small business. Please utilize the following links to gain insight into the necessary steps for creating your plan:

Legal Assistance

While seeking professional assistance for legal advice is preferred, a number of resources exist to assist small businesses:

Employment Information and Regulations


As your business grows, so does your need for human capital. The following resources serve as guidance on key issues facing potential employers:

  • Business Owners Toolkit: A good general discussion on employee issues can be found here.
  • Department of Labor Elaws Advisors: Interactive tools that provide information about Federal employment laws.
  • HR-Guide.com: Information and web links on Company Human Resources – Personnel
  • Department of Labor Small Business Resource Center: Information on Web page designed to assist small businesses in complying with rules, regulations and laws enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor.
  • Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM): Information on Human Resources topics.
  • U.S. Department of Labor: Information on current federal employment statutes.

Funding and Grants

Depending on the needs of your small business, acquiring funding can be a painful process. The following resources will assist you in sorting through the necessities of funding your business.

  • Business Finance: Information on business funding resources and has a database of over 4,000 sources of business capital.
  • Finance a Business (SBA): Information on several SBA financing programs.
  • Garage Technology Ventures: Information on venture capital for emerging technology companies.
  • Startup Journal: Information on deducting home office expenses on your income tax.
  • Startup Venture Toolbox: The Toolbox is organized in the order that most entrepreneurs follow in taking their ventures from idea to IPO.
  • The Money Tree Survey: The definitive source of information on emerging companies that receive financing and the venture capital firms that provide it.
  • Turbo Tax: A link to one of the most widely used tax preparation software packages for homes and small businesses, produced by Quicken.
  • VFinance.Com: Information on Venture Capital, also a free business template.

General Entrepreneurial Resources

Government Resources

Online Databases

The following databases offer free components to assist you with a variety of research needs. Please note that some sites may require registration and are in no way associated with the Disney Entrepreneur Center.

Marketing Resources

  • AAAAgencySearch.com is a database of members of the American Association of Advertising Agencies. Search the database by agency name, brand or client name, by billings, number of employees, industry experience and category specialties (e.g. African American market, or Business-to-Business marketing. The search engine returns a list of matching agencies and provides the above information for each agency.
  • Ad-Resource contains a list of links to various websites describing web advertising rates, guides to interactive advertising, and other resources related to advertising. (NOTE: MarketMatch and SRDS are two fee-based web ad rate guides which provide useful data. The free ad rate guides are typically far less comprehensive and current.)
  • Advertising Age publishes the full-text of recent top stories from it’s print publication. It has an Interactive Daily, which contains articles about web marketing and critiques of web marketers. It contains rankings of global marketers. Marketing and web marketing conference and event calendars are posted.
  • Advertising World is a service that links to marketing web sites. Come here for directories of agents, associations, market research firms, and PR firms. Find sites dealing with consumer psychology, coupons, web marketing and more.
  • Adweek provides free article excerpts as well as the full-text of one feature story from each of its three major print publications: Adweek, Brandweek, and Mediaweek. The site also posts daily internet marketing newswires and spotlights various brand marketing campaigns.
  • Agency ComPile is a database of advertising, public relations, direct marketing, design, sales promotion, interactive, yellow pages, recruitment, and media buying agencies. It provides profiles at the agency level which include a brief overview, client lists, and specialties. Searchable by a variety of criteria.
  • Dentsu Online Gateway provides data on Japanese advertising expenditures. Click on Dentsu Data to retrieve data.
  • GreenBook is a directory of marketing research companies and services. It features a comprehensive (over 1400 listings) searchable directory of marketing research firms and focus group facilities. Visitors can search for companies by research services (400+ service categories), location, name, or a combination of the above.
  • MarketScope provides historical quarterly newspaper advertising expenditures and ad volume. It also provides readership information, average newspaper prices, and circulation data.
  • Marketing Resource Center is a site that focuses on marketing and the internet.
  • STAT-USA is the Internet source for business and economic information produced by the Federal Government. STAT-USA gathers information from over 50 Federal agencies and distributes from a central source. STAT-USA includes U.S. economic data & release calendars, exchange rates, industrial data, and consumer credit reports. Its international side includes trade opportunity leads, international industry reports, market analysis, imports, exports, and guides for U.S. companies doing business in different countries.

Annual Reports and Corporate Filings

  • Annual Report Gallery lists Annual Reports published on the internet. The database currently links to the reports of over 2000 companies, including most of the Fortune 500. Also includes links to services that compile international Annual Reports.
  • Annual Report Service will mail (postal mail) copies of annual reports of a large group of companeis free of charge.
  • Carol is service which provides financial statements and excerpts from annual reports for major European companies. In some cases, Carol links users directly to corporate home pages. Files may be saved as html.
  • GuideStar provides financial data on non-profit organizations in the U.S. The database contains information on 850,000 IRS-recognized non-profit organizations. Search by organization name or use an advanced search to identify non-profits in certain geographic locations and categories, and of certain types and sizes.
  • Multex Investor provides company snapshots, free real-time stock (and major U.S. index) quotes, price charts, and articles from PRN and BW newswire services. It also provides user with stockscreening tools and industry, sector, and company rankings (biggest movers) on over 10,000 equities trading on the NYSE, Nasdaq, AMEX, and OTC Bulletin Board. Detailed financials & ratios are available. Contains First Call earnings estimates and surprises.
  • PRARS provides a free mailing service. Hard copies of including annual reports, prospectuses or 10k’s on over 3,600 public companies will be mailed by this service without charge to the investing public. Includes “Security Traders Handbook” designed to give investors the information needed to make intelligent financial decisions. Ranks common stocks by popularity.
  • SEDAR WEB SITE provides annual reports for Canadian companies in English & French. Most reports are in .pdf format, although some are in Microsoft Word or Word Perfect.

Banking and Financial Resources

  • Bank Rate Monitor provides current average rates on: loans, mortgages, and savings deposits, as well as the discount rate, prime rate, and some treasury rates. Also contains a loan payment calculator.
  • Banking studies small business lending in the U.S. The Office of Advocacy annually analyses call report data collected by the Federal Reserve on the lending activity of about 9,000 individually reporting commercial banks. Banks are ranked based on their small business lending on a state-by-state basis.
  • FRED provides historical U.S. economic and financial data, including daily and monthly U.S. interest rates, T-bill rates, monetary and business indicators, historical exchange rates for over 30 currencies, and regional economic data for Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. Also includes online publications: U.S. Financial Data & National Economics Trends.
  • U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation provides information on the U.S. banking industry, consumer information, and press releases. Includes full text of a variety of FDIC research reports.

Corporate Databases

  • American Hospital Directory contains information on U.S. hospitals. Search the “Free Services” database by geographic location, name, area code, etc. for a list of hospitals that meet your criteria. Information on hospitals includes type of ownership, number of beds (total and by service), financial data, utilization statistics, and charges for specific services.
  • Europages-European Business Directory Contains contact information on Western and Eastern European companies. Search by company name or product/service.
  • Hoover’s Online provides profiles for over 10,000 companies. Search company by name, ticker symbol, keyword search, or industry. Full Access is subscription based. More limited company reports are available for free.
  • JobWeb: Employer Profiles is published by The National Association of Colleges and Employers which describes various employers and provide links to their home pages.
  • Thomas Register allows users to search by product name for U.S. public and private manufacturers. Includes over 60,000 product heading categories and over 5500 on-line supply catalogs.
  • Vault Reports provides 2-3 page employer snapshots for 1000 U.S. companies. Reports are sent to users via e-mail. Free information is also available in a career advice column and a diversity forum. 50-70 page reports on employers are available for a fee. Information in these reports is provided by current and former employees, and covers areas such as corporate culture, salaries, career ladders, the recruiting process, and more. Free previews to these reports are available.
  • Websense Company Locator provides a Company Site Locator which allows users to find private and public companies’ websites worldwide. When using search engine, type a complete, partial, or specific domain name under Company Name.
  • WetFeet Press provides free online profiles of major consulting and finance companies. Profiles created by the companies themselves include recruiting, company, career, and corporate culture information. More in depth reports, with anecdotes and comments from insiders, are available for a fee; for companies in the finance, consulting, high tech, and brand management industries.

Management

  • A Business Researcher’s Interests is a searchable knowledge map of Contemporary Business, Management and Information Technology issues. It provides access to hundreds of full-text papers, magazines & journals, case studies and tools, and thousands of online resources on some of the current issues of interest to Business, Technology & Information professionals.
  • The web site of the Conference Board provides a searchable database of management and economic research and forecasts.
  • The catalog to Harvard Business School’s case studies is now available online. Search by company name or management concept to find appropriate cases. Catalog access is free; cases cost an average of $5 each. Ordering can be done online.

Statistics

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics provides data and information on consumer and producer prices, employment and unemployment, occupational compensation, workplace injuries and illness, employee benefits, and productivity.
  • FedStats provides statistical data generated by many different U.S. Government agencies. Statistics on interest rates, inflation rates, and wages are available as are those on breastfeeding, education, consumer credit, and many more. Key agencies included are BEA, BLS, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Bureau of Transportation, Bureau of the Census, EIA, OMB, and more.
  • FRED provides historical U.S. economic and financial data, including daily and monthly U.S. interest rates, T-bill rates, monetary and business indicators, historical exchange rates for over 30 currencies, and regional economic data for Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. Also includes online publications: U.S. Financial Data & National Economics Trends.
  • Governments on the WWW is a meta site linking to official government web sites for over 200 countries. Many of the sites it links to are in local languages.
  • IMF Staff Country Reports in Full-Text are statistical reports covering IMF member countries. Coverage is 1997 – present. Data is extensive in fiscal and economic areas and textual analysis of country economic developments is sometimes available. The IMF main site also provides access to quarterly and weekly reports, as well as working papers, on the IMF’s efforts and the status of the global economy.
  • Infonation is a statistical service provided by the UN. Includes about 50 demographic, economic, and social indicators for member nations. Does not include time series data, but rather the most recent data published by the UN.
  • NAA.org, the web site of the Newspaper Association of America, provides historical quarterly newspaper advertising expenditures and ad volume. It also provides readership information, average newspaper prices, and circulation data. Click a category for links to data in that category.
  • The Securities Industry Association (SIA), established in 1972, brings together more that 600 securities firms to accomplish common goals. Their website includes several of the association’s publications, including securities industry trends, statistics, financial results and free newsletters. This website also includes SIA’s job bank and career resource center.
  • Statistics Canada includes recent economic statistics, data highlights of news releases, and census data. Statistics Canada is mandated under the Statistics Act to produce and publish statistical information on the economic, social, and general conditions of Canada and its population. Available in English and French.
  • Statistics Norway contains press releases, monthly statistics on external trade, the index of production, and CPI monthly (1930-present).
  • STAT-USA is the Internet source for business and economic information produced by the Federal Government. STAT-USA gathers information from over 50 Federal agencies and distributes from a central source. STAT-USA includes U.S. economic data & release calendars, exchange rates, industrial data, and consumer credit reports. Its international side includes trade opportunity leads, international industry, market analysis, imports, exports, and guides for U.S. companies doing business in different countries.
  • UN Statistics Division provides a variety of types of demographic data for all of the countries in the U.N. Some parts of the site are fee-based, but several are free.
  • United Nations has news, publications information resources, and documents. It offers information on peace and security, economic and social development, international law, human rights, and humanitarian affairs worldwide.
  • World Bank includes a compendium of socioeconomic and environmental data. It contains press releases, speeches, and media contacts on various topics ranging from HIV/AIDS to business products and services.

Telephone Directories

  • ATT 800# Look up toll-free numbers anywhere in the U.S. Search by category, state, city, business name–or any combination–to get to the listings you need. Updated twice each month. Reverse phone number search available.
  • InfoSpace allows you to search for people, businesses, e-mail, government offices, fax numbers, toll-free, reverse lookup, and more.
  • Super Pages is a directory of businesses. Contains links to web sites, where applicable and links to street maps of areas surrounding businesses. Search by company name or business category. Super Pages also contains listings for 100 million U.S. residences. It also contains a Canadian yellow page directory.
  • Switchboard is a free nationwide residential and business directory. Look up people by last name, first name, city, state, or any combination of these. It provides addresses and telephone numbers of individuals listed.
  • Infobel World provides links to online telephone, fax, and business directories from around the world.
  • Yahoo People Search! is an online directory which allows users to search for people and companies via White Pages, Yellow Pages, and an AT&T Toll Free listing. Users can also perform advanced E-mail searches here. Maps/Directions available.

Demographics

  • Access to U.S. Demographic Data provides links to a variety of demographic analysis tools.
  • American Demographics publishes its print edition on the web in full-text access. Users are asked to browse the site and to subscribe to the print edition if they want to continue using it. Also contains access to Marketing Tools articles, recent demographic reports, and a bookstore of American Demographics’ publications.
  • Asian Demographics provides socio-economic data for 14 Asian countries. Most data is for paid subscribers, however summary data is available under the Country data section. It also contains information on the population, consumer expenditures, education, labor, GDP, tourism, transportation, and communications data of Asian countries.
  • FedStats provides statistical data generated by many different U.S. Government agencies. Statistics on interest rates, inflation rates, and wages are available as are those on breastfeeding, education, and consumer credit. Key agencies included are BEA, BLS, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Bureau of Transportation, Bureau of the Census, EIA, OMB, and more.
  • Infonation is a statistical service provided by the UN. Includes about 50 demographic, economic, and social indicators for member nations. Does not include time series data, but rather the most recent data published by the UN.
  • MABLE/Geocorr engine provides cross reference information for researchers converting data from one geographic area to another (e.g. counties to zip codes, congressional districts to metropolitan areas, etc.)
  • Penn World Tables provides data on all countries on a variety of government finance, consumption/production, and investment indicators. Data is annual in most cases. Penn World Tables are provided by Computing for the Humanities and Social Sciences (CHASS) at the University of Toronto.
  • Statistics Norway contains press releases, monthly statistics on external trade, the index of production, and CPI monthly (1930-present). Also includes a variety of demographic data. Pages are available in Norwegian and English.
  • UN Statistics Division provides a variety of types of demographic data for all of the countries in the U.N. Some parts of the site are free-based, but several are free.
  • U.S. Census Bureau: Official Statistics is the most authoritative site for economic and demographic data on the population of the United States.

Internet and E-Commerce Resources

  • Business 2.0 is a magazine that examines the changing landscape for commerce in the digital world. It puts its magazine on its web site in full-text format and supplements content with articles from other sources. The in-depth “case” studies of internet and high-tech businesses are particularly valuable tools for entrepreneurs.
  • Catherwood Library Guide to E-Commerce is a guide that provides links to e-commerce resources on international commerce, technology, and legal issues. It also links to online journals and newspapers, industry and association guides, and government policy pages. It is maintained by Cornell’s own Catherwood Library in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
  • E-Commerce Times publishes current news for the internet industry. Known for its regular industry news updates (every 15 minutes).
  • e-lab: The Electronics Commerce Research Laboratory is a corporate-sponsored research center at Vanderbilt University devoted to the study of strategic, consumer behavior, and policy issues related to electronic commerce. Recent report topics include the digital divide, online advertising pricing models, and consumer contro in the online environment. E-lab publishes its research findings full text on this site.
  • ebusinessforum.com is the EIU’s center for information on E-commerce worldwide. It provides news and reports on the state of e-commerce in many countries as well as best practices reports and “thought leadership” articles, which provide analysis of the industry.
  • Epaynews – ePayment Resource Center publishes articles, white papers, and statistics on the electronic payment industry, which has been spurred by the growth in e-commerce.
  • Nua Internet Surveys provide articles on the demographics of internet use. Click on a category (e.g. seniors, teens) in the left margin to find information on the trends in that group’s internet usage patterns. Users can also search the archives for articles on a specific topic about internet use.

Entrepreneurship

  • America’s Business Funding Directory provides information about methods of seeking different forms of capital in order to operate a business. It also provides lenders/investors with information on how they could get in contact with those who are seeking money. In addition, it contains a library resource on foreign trade, government information, business education, etc.
  • Entrepreneur Magazine provides an online site featuring many articles from the print magazine as well as other resources for entrepreneurs. Users can searched archived full-text articles from 1991 – present using keywords. . The site ranks the hottest 100 new businesses, 100 best banks for small business, and best cities for small business. It provides entrepreneurship tips, and features a Franchise Opportunity guide, which includes 500 franchises & rankings of the best new, fastest growth, and low investment franchises). The site also discusses trends in entrepreneurship, , and provides EASI geographic economic reports. 75 entrepreneurs (now millionairs) tell their stories at this site. A library of free business forms is also available. It also contains information on legal help such as, assistance with searching for lawyers, help with documents, previous court cases, etc. Membership is FREE.
  • Smart Online provides free online software for creating business plans, marketing plans, etc. Users can also download HR documents, accounting forms, and a variety of legal forms. Registration is required, but is free.

Industry & Market Research

  • Industry Research Desk contains an index of links to industry home pages. Content of the pages vary, but may include the following: descriptions of industry trends, industry-related articles, rankings, statistics, and directories of buyers, sellers, and industry members.
  • Industry information: industrial and service center resources from ITA. is a U.S. International Trade Administration site which provides descriptions of and statistics on U.S. and international industries. It encompasses a broad range of industries that include basic industries, consumer goods, environmental technologies, service industries and finance, tourism, technology and aerospace industries, and textiles and apparel.
  • Thomas Register is a directory of manufacturers. Users can search by product type for a list of manufacturers in the industry (includes brief descriptions). Users may also search by company or brand name.
  • The Gallup Organization freely provides much of their polling results online. Includes public opinion on social issues, business, politics, and technology. Contains survey results on respondent’s health habits, recreation and leisure time, and attendance at arts and cultural events.
  • J.D. Power and Associates provides free access to part of its market research online. Contains annual award reports for the automotive, telecommunications, credit card, and travel industries, and provides access to a searchable database of statistical and descriptive excerpts from its annual studies.
  • Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) is a triennial survey of the balance sheet, pension, income, and other demographic characteristics of U.S. families. The survey also gathers information on the use of financial institutions. The links to the surveys provide summary results of the surveys, codebooks and related documentation, and the publicly available data.

Journals and Newspapers

  • Advertising Age publishes the full-text of recent top stories from it’s print publication. It has an Interactive Daily, which contains articles about web marketing and critiques of web marketers. It contains rankings of global marketers. Marketing and web marketing conference and event calendars are posted.
  • Adweek provides free article excerpts as well as the full-text of one feature story from each of its three major print publications: Adweek, Brandweek, and Mediaweek. The site also posts daily internet marketing newswires and spotlights various brand marketing campaigns.
  • American Demographics publishes it’s print edition on the web in full-text access. Users are asked to browse the site and to subscribe to the print edition if they want to continue using it. Also contains access to Marketing Tools articles, recent demographic reports, and a bookstore of American Demographics’ publications.
  • Business 2.0 is a magazine that examines the changing landscape for commerce in the digital world. It puts its magazine on its web site in full-text format and supplements content with articles from other sources. The in-depth “case” studies of internet and high-tech businesses are particularly valuable tools for entrepreneurs.
  • Business Week gives you the current issue of Business Week including stories that only appear in Business Week International editions.
  • CIO On-Line is a website for senior level IT and business professionals. It provides in-depth articles and research reports on IT issues, including year 2000, web-related issues, electronic commerce, data warehousing, outsourcing, etc. It includes the full-text of CIO’s articles from 1994 to the present.
  • The Economist web site offers many full text articles from the current issue and selected articles from recent issues. Registered users (registration is free) may search the site’s index of archived articles. The site posts Emerging Markets Indicators, Economic Indicators, and Financial Indicators on a weekly basis. Users can have the Business & Politics This Week summaries sent to them via E-mail.
  • Elsevier’s Econbase is a searchable database of articles from many of Elsevier’s publications, including the Journal of Financial Economics, Journal of Financial Markets, European Economic Review, and about 35 others. Select full-text is available to the Cornell Community only.
  • Entrepreneur Magazine provides an online site featuring many articles from the print magazine as well as other resources for entrepreneurs. Users can searched archived full-text articles from 1991 – present using keywords. The site ranks the hottest 100 new businesses, 100 best banks for small business, and best cities for small business. It provides entrepreneurship tips, and features a Franchise Opportunity guide, which includes 500 franchises & rankings of the best new, fastest growth, and low investment franchises). The site also discusses trends in entrepreneurship, and provides EASI geographic economic reports. 75 entrepreneurs (now millionairs) tell their stories at this site. A library of free business forms is also available.
  • Euromoney provides full-text articles from recent issues of Euromoney, Euroweek, Corporate Finance, Global Investor, Project & Trade Finance Newsletter. It also contains a data section which contains bondware tables, country risk surveys, and emerging markets bank ratings. Search for articles by keyword or category. Access to some parts of the site is restricted to registered users; registration is free.
  • Far Eastern Economic Review includes significant portions of the journal online in full-text format. It also provides a searchable archive of past issues.
  • FT.com provides the full-text of about 1/3 of the current day’s issue of Financial Times. It contains a searchable archive of 30 days. It also provides exchange rates, share prices, equity index prices, company briefings, and leading economic indicator data for several countries. Free registration is required.
  • Forbes covers the current issue plus older ones in their archives. Also includes the 500 Largest Private Companies and The 200 Best Small Companies in America.
  • Fortune covers the current issue plus older ones in their archives. Also includes the Fortune 500 List, Gloabl 500 List, Pacific Rim Special, and Investor’s Guide 1997.
  • Globe & Mail provides users with various topics of information including news, sports, classifieds, mutual funds, advertising information, births and deaths, etc. It also includes daily closing markets data. Allows users to generate stock reports, produce charts, search for articles, learn about mutual funds, and how to set up a fundlist.
  • Harvard Business Review provides free abstracts and ordering information for recent articles.
  • INC Online is a journal which contains articles on-line. It covers areas including advertising, marketing, products, and consulting. It also includes The INC 500 which provides users with information on American’s fastest-growing private companies. It contains the latest news, product announcements, employment opportunities, and more.
  • International Business & Technology is a meta-index that links to U.S. and international e-journals & newspapers, T.V. and radio sites, technology-related sites, banks, currency sites, and market information.
  • Investor’s Business Daily covers business, financial, economic, and national news.
  • Kiplinger Online provides users with information on business forecast, personal finance, stock quotes, top funds, yields and rates, and retirement advice. It also includes information on savings and investing, fund-raisings, and allowances for kids.
  • MarketScope provides historical quarterly newspaper advertising expenditures and ad volume. It also provides readership information, average newspaper prices, and circulation data.
  • New York Times on the Web provides subscribers with the latest news online. News is broken down into various categories including International, Metro, Sciences, Business, etc. Includes weather forecasts, up-to-minute sports scores and summaries, and market quotes for stocks, options, and mutual funds.
  • Red Herring provides business information for the technology and entertainment industries.
  • USA Today provides general news as well as Wall Street market summaries, global market news, mutual fund reports, economic reports, bank rates, and IPO’s.
  • Washington Post provides feature articles from its print edition, as well as additional online features.

What’s in a Name?

Topic: Helpful Ideas, Startups, Strategies| 1 Comment »

Okay Startup Students, let’s get right back into the swing of things. As you begin you new venture adventure, the “little” things can become lost as you attempt to adhere to your grand vision. One such thing you really shouldn’t overlook is maintaining the naming rights to your product or service. Trademarking is a simple process that can potentially save (or cost) you millions in the long run. We’ve all purchased aspirin, cellophane, nylon, or a thermos, and of course ridden an escalator. But, did you know that each of those began their storied lives as a brand name?

Here are some benefits to trademarking your brand name:

  • If your copyright is infringed, you now have the right to sue in federal court.
  • By the same token, you limit your ability to be sued.
  • You will have evidence of ownership, and sometimes your name is your most valuable asset.
  • Your registration can be filed with U.S. Customs Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods – that is huge!
  • You will be able to have a small “tm” placed after your logo or design to signify that this is your trademark and that others can not use it. This adds a sense of professional to your clients.

Overall, it’s simply a good idea to do so.  For more information, or to get the ball rolling with TM registration, visit the USPTO.  Class dismissed.

Blood Money

Topic: Financials, Helpful Ideas, Startups| Comments Off

I had the opportunity to chat with serial entrepreneur Mike Michalowicz over the phone this evening, and really enjoyed hearing his insights on small business and more specifically young entrepreneurs.  I asked if he was interested in contributing to the Startup Students community, and he offered up the great article found below. Enjoy!

Mike Michalowicz, Serial Entrepreneur

I recently received a notice congratulating me on donating a gallon of blood. I quickly did some research on Wikipedia and learned that the human body has slightly over a gallon of blood pumping through it. Clearly, if I gave a gallon of blood in one sitting I would be a goner. Shoot, even if I only donated one third of my blood (approximately 3 pints) in one sitting I might suffer some tough consequences. But since I donate one pint of blood at a time, my body hardly misses it and I can donate as frequently as seven times a year without missing a heartbeat (pun intended). My blood donations have quickly piled up and in a very short time I have given a gallon.

We’ve all heard that cash is the lifeblood of our business. I think it’s hard to argue otherwise. Shouldn’t we treat our money like our business’s blood? Just like a medical emergency, a business in need of fiscal attention often requires an infusion of capital.

Medical needs sometimes can be predicted and sometimes can’t. Regardless of the timing, with a pool of easily accessible blood reserves the chance for survival dramatically increases. Sometimes our business problems are predictable and other times they blindside the living crud out of us. Regardless of the timing, with a pool of easily accessible cash the chance for business survival dramatically increases.

That’s why you need to regularly “donate” business cash flow to your reserves. The best method is by taking your profit first. What do I mean by this? Every time money comes into the business, and I mean every time, a percentage is automatically transferred into a separate account. Just like a pint of blood, a healthy business will hardly feel it being withdrawn. I like to call this reserve the Profit Distribution Account (PDA).

How much money can be transferred to the PDA without threatening the health of the business? Most stable companies should be able to post a profit of 10% to 25% after all expenses. So trying starting with a low threshold, maybe 5% of every inbound dollar goes to the PDA. Over time slowly increase the percentage and monitor closely to see if your business gets woozy. Once you have consciously (more often subconsciously) adjusted expenses and cash outflow to sustain your PDA withdrawals, you will quickly accumulate a tremendous cash reserve. Be cognizant not to stow away too much money too quickly. Just like donating blood, the rapid drain of cash exiting from business operations will cripple or kill your organization.

Should tough times come upon your company, and they often do, you now have a source of funds that you’ve built up. The PDA’s dinero reserve will see you through these times. On the bright side, as these funds grow they will ultimately be in excess of any imaginable rainy day needs. At that point you should take portions as an equity distribution. Trust me, it’s a real nice way to reward yourself for running a healthy business. There is a nifty little process I recommend on how to do this, but I’ll save that for another article.

If you’ve never given blood, I strongly encourage you to do it. There’s no question it saves lives. If you don’t currently donate to your company’s PDA account, I strongly encourage you to start. There’s no question it saves companies.

Author

 

Mike Michalowicz’s passion is making small businesses BIG and doing it fast. He was founder and former President of Olmec Systems, Inc., which he sold in 2002 through a private transaction. He subsequently co-founded and served as Co-Managing Partner of PG Lewis & Associates, LLC. There his leadership helped bring it to national prominence in three short years. The company was subsequently acquired in a public transaction in 2006.

Michalowicz was recognized as New Jersey’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the SBA in 2000, Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 1999 by the MCCC, and is a 2004 graduate of MIT’s “Birthing of Giants” Entrepreneurial Program. Michalowicz has been highlighted on entrepreneurial topics in Inc. magazine, the New York Times and other periodicals.

A graduated member of YEO (Young Entrepreneur’s Organization), Michalowicz has a BA from Virginia Tech in Finance and in Management Sciences. He is married, has three children and lives in NJ.

7 Lies That Prevent Your Great Idea from becoming a Real Business

Topic: Helpful Ideas, Strategies, Top 10| 5 Comments »

Written by Greg Go of WiseBread.

7 lies that prevent Your Great Idea from becoming a Real Business

A lot of people have a Great Idea. It might be a new invention or a local service business. Unfortunately for consumers, many would be entrepreneurs are waiting for “the right time” to start their Real Business. They have plenty of reasons (excuses) for the delays. From lack of time to lack of experience, our minds have creative ways of rationalizing our fears.

Here are 7 common excuses for not starting a Real Business, along with strategies for overcoming internal fear, uncertainty and doubt (“Internal FUD”).

How Internal FUD kills Great Ideas

1. I’m too busy right now. I’ll start when I have more time.

This is the most sinister of the excuses because it is completely true. You would do more for your business if you had all the time in the world. But really, are you ever going to get less busy?

Starting a new business involves risk, time and effort. As you pick up more dependents and/or expenses over time, your ability to take the risk necessary for launching a business disappears. Many would-be entrepreneurs wait far too long for a perfect moment that never comes.

Today is as perfect as it gets. Even if you only do one small thing a day (or week or month), it’s better than always waiting for tomorrow. Don’t put off your dream until you are “less busy”. It’s never going to happen.

2. After I get an MBA, I’ll be ready to start up.

Some people think they need an MBA before they can make their Great Idea happen. That is false. An MBA doesn’t guarantee success. And an MBA is not a requirement for starting a business.

At the end of the day, you’re trading a service or product for some money. If you can build/provide this product/service, and you can convince people to pay money for it, you have a business. MBA, bachelor’s or even high school degrees be damned.

3. I hate sales.

If you really hate trading a product/service for money (the definition of a “sale”), then I don’t know what to tell you. There’s no business without sales.

However, I’ll bet you don’t really hate sales. You hate used car salesmen and cold callers. The good news is that 99.9 percent of business transactions are completely unlike the pushy sales pitch. Businesses that offer actual value don’t have to work very hard to make sales. If you’re making a product or providing a service that people want and it’s priced fairly, then both you and your customers are happier because of the sale.

Dismiss this myth — you don’t hate sales. Do you love talking about your great idea? Sales is just telling people about the awesomeness of your product/service.

4. I’ll do some research after South Park.

You know the really successful entrepreneurs enjoy their work much more than traditional leisure activities like watching TV/movies. And you probably already feel guilty about watching TV instead of doing more market research. I won’t lecture you about dedication and commitment and priorities. You already know that stuff.

Instead I’ll tell you how I got out of my entrepreneurial funk. Whenever I was watching more TV than working on my Great Idea, it was because I was stuck. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my mind was avoiding making a tough decision or working through a particularly hard problem. My Internal FUD pushed me towards easier tasks. Watching TV was a whole lot easier than spending a couple hours researching, thinking about, and making the tough call. I overcame this self-imposed obstacle by giving myself a “State of the Great Idea” report.

Rediscover your motivation by scheduling 1 hour of “hard thinking time” to come up with concrete actionable tasks. Make a date with yourself to honestly evaluate your Great Idea. Stealing 10 minutes in the shower or during your commute is not good enough. You need the full hour (or more) to think through the critical problems and identify actionable tasks you can do next. Once you have some tasks to do, and have made some forward progress in turning your Great Idea into a Real Business, you will lose the craving to incessantly watch and discuss Cartman’s latest hijinks.

5. I don’t know anything about business.

Good news! Business administration is the easy part. The hard part is having a good product. There are plenty of resources (both off- and on-line) that will help you cross those business process bridges when you get to them.

Shatter this roadblock by realizing you don’t need to be a business guru to get started. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are among the greatest entrepreneurs of our time, and they didn’t know anything about business when they started.

To help you figure it out along the way, here are a few online resources to help your business get started:

Pore over articles at Entrepreneur.com and check out business books from the library. All the business know-how you need is freely available.

6. I don’t have startup capital.

Your business may legitimately need startup capital, but is your Internal FUD keeping you from looking for it? Not having the necessary capital right now is not a show stopper. There are lots of places to get startup capital.

A variation of this excuse is “I don’t want to take on partners/investors, so I need to save up the money myself.” This is Internal FUD using your greed against you. If you thought about it a bit, isn’t it better to own 50 percent of a Real Business now than 100 percent of a maybe future business that could or could not actually happen?

Don’t let Internal FUD keep you on the couch instead of raising that startup capital. Even if you wanted to retain full ownership, you have lots of financial options. Here’s a few creative ways to not take investors and overcome the money problem:

  • cash out your savings
  • get one or more low interest loans from friends and family
  • small business credit cards
  • live like a poor college student — lower your personal expenses
  • do it yourself
  • get a line of credit from your company’s bank
  • get a loan from the Feds (basic requirements for getting a SBA loan)

Here’s a chart with more funding options and the pros and cons of each.

7. Before doing anything else, I need to write a business plan.

A business plan is important to keep you on task. Once you’ve opened your doors, you won’t have time to think big picture amidst the day-to-day fires of running a business.

Having said that, you don’t really need a business plan before getting started. Writing a beautiful 100-page plan doesn’t make you a single penny. Making a product, closing that first sale… those are the truly critical things to being a Real Business.

What you need is a stripped down, practical, internal business plan just for yourself. Just answer the following questions (and write down your answers!), and you’ll be well on your way to closing that first sale.

  • What is your product or service?
  • Who are your customers?
    • There are probably many potential types of customers that are interested in your product. Who are the ones that will particularly love your product/service? How many of them are there?
    • Who else is doing what you’re doing?Who are your competitors and potential competitors? Why is your product/service better?
  • When will things get done?
    • Given the specific customers you describe above, how do you plan on getting them? Will you buy ads, encourage referrals from existing customers, create a website?
    • In the next 3, 6, 12 months, what are specific milestones you want to accomplish? What does your company look like in 2, 3 or 5 years?
    • What are the next steps you need accomplish this month?
  • How much money will it take to start and how much will you earn?
    • How much money will it cost to make your product or provide your service?
    • How much do you have to charge to earn a profit?
    • Using this spreadsheet, plan your startup’s first year expenses and income. What month will you break even?

The next step to becoming a Real Business is easy.

At the end of the day, you only need to keep two things in mind:

  1. Most of these excuses aren’t real obstacles. As soon as you recognize that’s it just Internal FUD, you can pinpoint the real problem and get busy solving it.
  2. It’s not that hard. All you need to turn your Great Idea into a Real Business is to do the next action step… then another one, and so on. You don’t need to do them all at once nor do you have to know what all the steps are ahead of time. Just take the next step. It’s easy.

Recognize that there is nothing but bogus Internal FUD stopping you from turning your Great Idea into a Real Business. Good luck! I know you can do it.

If you’ve overcome your own Internal FUD, share your success stories in the comments.

Greg Go helps publish Wise Bread, a leading personal finance blog.

10 Rules for Building a Successful Business

Topic: Helpful Ideas, Top 10| 3 Comments »

Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, grew up poor in a farm community in rural Missouri during the Great Depression. The poverty he experienced while growing up taught him the value of money and to persevere.

After attending the University of Missouri, he immediately worked for J.C. Penny where he got his first taste of retailing. He served in World War II, after which he became a successful franchiser of Ben Franklin five-and-dime stores. In 1962, he had the idea of opening bigger stores, sticking to rural areas, keeping costs low and discounting heavily. The management disagreed with his vision. Undaunted, Walton pursued his vision, founded Wal-Mart and started a retailing success story. When Walton died in 1992, the family’s net worth approached $25 billion.

Today, Wal-Mart is the world’s #1 retailer, with more than 4,150 stores, including discount stores, combination discount and grocery stores, and membership-only warehouse stores (Sam’s Club). Learn Walton’s winning formula for business.

Rule 1: Commit to your business. Believe in it more than anybody else. I think I overcame every single one of my personal shortcomings by the sheer passion I brought to my work. I don’t know if you’re born with this kind of passion, or if you can learn it. But I do know you need it. If you love your work, you’ll be out there every day trying to do it the best you possibly can, and pretty soon everybody around will catch the passion from you — like a fever.

Rule 2: Share your profits with all your associates, and treat them as partners. In turn, they will treat you as a partner, and together you will all perform beyond your wildest expectations. Remain a corporation and retain control if you like, but behave as a servant leader in your partnership. Encourage your associates to hold a stake in the company. Offer discounted stock, and grant them stock for their retirement. It’s the single best thing we ever did.

Rule 3: Motivate your partners. Money and ownership alone aren’t enough. Constantly, day by day, think of new and more interesting ways to motivate and challenge your partners. Set high goals, encourage competition, and then keep score. Make bets with outrageous payoffs. If things get stale, cross-pollinate; have managers switch jobs with one another to stay challenged. Keep everybody guessing as to what your next trick is going to be. Don’t become too predictable.

Rule 4: Communicate everything you possibly can to your partners. The more they know, the more they’ll understand. The more they understand, the more they’ll care. Once they care, there’s no stopping them. If you don’t trust your associates to know what’s going on, they’ll know you really don’t consider them partners. Information is power, and the gain you get from empowering your associates more than offsets the risk of informing your competitors.

Rule 5: Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. A paycheck and a stock option will buy one kind of loyalty. But all of us like to be told how much somebody appreciates what we do for them. We like to hear it often, and especially when we have done something we’re really proud of. Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free — and worth a fortune.

Rule 6: Celebrate your success. Find some humor in your failures. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Loosen up, and everybody around you will loosen up. Have fun. Show enthusiasm — always. When all else fails, put on a costume and sing a silly song. Then make everybody else sing with you. Don’t do a hula on Wall Street. It’s been done. Think up your own stunt. All of this is more important, and more fun, than you think, and it really fools competition. “Why should we take those cornballs at Wal-Mart seriously?”

Rule 7: Listen to everyone in your company and figure out ways to get them talking. The folks on the front lines — the ones who actually talk to the customer — are the only ones who really know what’s going on out there. You’d better find out what they know. This really is what total quality is all about. To push responsibility down in your organization, and to force good ideas to bubble up within it, you must listen to what your associates are trying to tell you.

Rule 8: Exceed your customer’s expectations. If you do, they’ll come back over and over. Give them what they want — and a little more. Let them know you appreciate them. Make good on all your mistakes, and don’t make excuses — apologize. Stand behind everything you do. The two most important words I ever wrote were on that first Wal-Mart sign: “Satisfaction Guaranteed.” They’re still up there, and they have made all the difference.

Rule 9: Control your expenses better than your competition. This is where you can always find the competitive advantage. For twenty-five years running — long before Wal-Mart was known as the nation’s largest retailer — we’ve ranked No. 1 in our industry for the lowest ratio of expenses to sales. You can make a lot of different mistakes and still recover if you run an efficient operation. Or you can be brilliant and still go out of business if you’re too inefficient.

Rule 10: Swim upstream. Go the other way. Ignore the conventional wisdom. If everybody else is doing it one way, there’s a good chance you can find your niche by going in exactly the opposite direction. But be prepared for a lot of folks to wave you down and tell you you’re headed the wrong way. I guess in all my years, what I heard more often than anything was: a town of less than 50,000 population cannot support a discount store for very long.

Excerpted from “The Book of Business Wisdom”
Edited by Peter Krass  

Class dismissed.

82 Ways To Kickstart Your Marketing Efforts

Topic: Helpful Ideas, Startups, Strategies, Top 10| 2 Comments »

I’d like to start off with a quick anecdotal story. There were three frogs sitting on lily pads. Two of them decided to jump off into the murky water. How many frogs remain perched on their pads? One you say? Guess again!

There’s still three frogs sitting there. Why? Because they didn’t take action. They decided to jump off the log, but never followed through.

How many times have you decided to increase sales or network with potential customers? And of those times you decided to do so, how often did you actually take action?

Enjoy the following 82 ways to market your business, but don’t forget to take action and actually put them to use!

  1. Stand Out – Especially when working online, you only have a few seconds before users hit the back button!
  2. Smile - Did you know that, even over the phone, you facial expressions can be detected?
  3. Stay Current – Read blogs, books, newspapers, magazines and discus your findings with clients. (”I agree, in fact I read an article about that this morning!”)
  4. Record a memorable voice mail message
  5. Develop A Reward System – Reward loyal customers with discounts, gifts, or free consultations.
  6. Integrity Matters – Integrity is one of the top qualities of successful entrepreneurs.
  7. Use layman’s terms
  8. Be consistent. If a campaign works, stick with it.
  9. Package Pricing – Clients find this more appealing than an hourly rate.
  10. Press Outweighs Advertising- A carefully written article or press release will outperform an advertisement every time.
  11. Define Your Niche
  12. Build It And They Will Come – I’m not saying don’t plan first. But at he same time, don’t let your competitor beat you to the punch.
  13. Sell the Value – Nobody cares how your product is made. But they do care why it brings value to them.
  14. Action Words Sell – But don’t overdo it.
  15. Ask Questions – Engage your customers, competition, associates, and mentors.
  16. Anticipate – Have answers ready for frequently asked questions.
  17. Include links to your website and blog in voice messages
  18. Public Speaking – Go read “I Can See You Naked” and then solicit networking groups for speaking opportunities.
  19. It’s about YOU – Take I out of the equation and focus on the customer.
  20. Resolve Issues Quickly – If a customer has a bad experience, they’ll tell at least 10 people. Take action and resolve disputes immediately.
  21. Get feedback – And engage customer’s as to how to correct any issues.
  22. Don’t over-promise, over-deliver
  23. Dress for the success
  24. Be relevant – Don’t sell a truck to someone who needs a bike.
  25. Respond Immediately – Take the time, best if within 24 hours, to get back to customer emails and phone calls.
  26. Network – Groups such as local Chambers of Commerce, BNI, and Industry Associations offer a great ROI.
  27. Show passion – People respond in kind and generally buy from those they like.
  28. Stay Organized – keep a contact database.
  29. Be Concise – Your customers don’t have all day.
  30. Collateral – Keep your marketing materials simple and to the point.
  31. Get Their Attention – Create catchy headlines and memorable quotations.
  32. Know Your Competitors – Learn how/what/why they do and then beat them at their own game.
  33. First Impressions Matter – So make the best of it!
  34. Don’t Compete on Price – Instead, focus on creating value for your customer.
  35. A Great Team – A great idea with a poor team will lose out to a great team with a poor idea.
  36. Develop Your Pitch – Have a 15, 30, 60, and 120 second elevator pitch ready at all times.
  37. Give Back – Community involvement makes good business sense, and good karma sense!
  38. 80/20 Rule – Listen 80% of the time and only talk 20% of the time.
  39. What’s Your Brand – What do you think of when you see Mercedes? Or when you see the “Can you hear me now?” commercial? What do you customers see when they hear your name?
  40. Don’t oversell, over-educate
  41. Remember Your Marketing Courses – Product, price, and placement still matter!
  42. Freebies - Sometimes they work better than offering a discount.
  43. Podcasts – Along with webinars and ebooks are great ways to infer credibility.
  44. Develop A Mailing List – Then send out a monthly newsletter.
  45. Testimonials – Your current clients owe you one if they are satisfied.
  46. SWOT - What are your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats?
  47. Say Thanks – Show clients you care.
  48. Have Fun – Let your creative juices flow when marketing.
  49. Socialize - Use every social occasion as a networking opportunity. Have your business cards ready if someone asks for one.
  50. Model Your Product – If you’re a web designer, have an amazing web site.
  51. Brainstorm – Dump all your ideas, then refine them.
  52. Focus Groups – As simple as using something like surveymonkey.com
  53. Self Publish – Writing a book will infer credibility.
  54. Call To Action – Tell people what you want them to do.
  55. Clients Have Needs – Find a way to fulfill them with your product or service.
  56. Take Care with your spelling and grammar
  57. Get a Lawyer – It’s worth the money.
  58. Timing is everything
  59. Gather Collateral – Cut Out memorable advertisements and figure out why they work. Then combine them to create your own.
  60. 3rd Time is the Charm – People usually won’t make a big purchase until they’ve heard about it three times.
  61. Don’t Make It Up – Nobody expects you to have all the answers – so don’t pretend to.
  62. Wrangle the Web – Social networks can be a great source of prospects.
  63. Direct Mail – Postcards produce results over envelopes.
  64. Business Cards – Keep it simple and easy to read. But make it stand out at the same time.
  65. What makes you the best? Determine your unique competitive advantages
  66. Relationships Matter – Develop strong relationships with your customers
  67. Blog - Create an industry focused blog to gain credibility.
  68. Follow up - Contact everyone you network with and mention an anecdote from your conversation.
  69. Cold CallingClick here for a sample script
  70. Holiday Gifts – Show customers you care by sending out a promotional piece for the holidays.
  71. Go With Your Gut – Your first instinct is usually right.
  72. ROI – Don’t spend what you cannot recoup.
  73. Diversify – Just like in the stock market.
  74. Plan For Success – Because it just might happen!
  75. Educate Yourself – Attend college courses, or engage your local SBDC.
  76. Outsource - www.elance.com
  77. Become A Mentor – Help another small business or even a child.
  78. Referral Networks – America is still a good ole’ boys club.
  79. Google Matters – Invest in Search Engine Optimization to assure you come up first in Google.
  80. Find Another Market – What else can your product or service be used for?
  81. Engage Complaining Customers – If they care enough to complain, they are worth trying to save.
  82. Attend Tradeshows – Networking opportunities abound at these.

Overhauls at ELance

Topic: Helpful Ideas| 2 Comments »

I’m a big fan of outsourcing, as it can really boost your personal productivity and workflow.  Most of my outsourcing comes on a local level, but I wanted to take a moment and point out one of the fantastic online resources for your outsourcing needs.  If you aren’t familiar with ELance, here’s a description in their own words:

Elance is a global solution that enables entrepreneurs and businesses to launch, build and grow their business from anywhere in the world.  The Elance platform allows businesses to easily find, hire, manage and pay highly qualified professionals – for exactly what they need, when they need it.  Now, business owners and managers can focus on what they do best – by outsourcing the rest.

Just recently, ELance has been concentrating on a variety of overhauls to benefit small business across the board.  Their new Water Cooler is an informal gathering of bright minds discussing and digesting the latest happenings in the freelance market.  I’d also recommend a stop at ELance University if you aren’t totally familiar with the process.

And just so you know, I recently concluded a contract with a development firm from India, and I must say it was a first class experience from start to finish.  While that might not always be the case,  ELance takes great care in screening and showcasing the available pool of outsourcd labor.

41 Ways to Turn Your Dorm Into An Office

Topic: Helpful Ideas, Startups, Strategies, Top 10| 9 Comments »

While Startup Students attracts a wide variety of entrepreneurs, it’s a safe assumption that a good chunk of you are still in college.  As an entrepreneur (and current college student myself) I’ve developed a number of strategies for balancing school, business, and life – all within the comforts of your dorm room or apartment.

 

Below are 41 tips for running a business on or near campus.  If you’d like to add a tip, don’t forget to leave a comment!

 

  1. Space is generally limited in an apartment, bedroom, or dorm.  Try reorganizing your room to create a cubicle of sorts so you can accomplish your work related tasks in a good environment.
  2. Construct a whiteboard like I did to organize your thoughts.
  3. Get a mailbox at UPS.  I wouldn’t go with a PO Box – a Suite at UPS costs about the same and holds more credibility.
  4. Make friends and use their abilities.  Associate with graphic designers, accounting majors, techies, socialites, and thinkers.
  5. Situate your desk to provide minimal distractions.
  6. Your space is limited now – but it won’t always be.  Consider purchasing modular furniture that will allow for future growth.
  7. Place your bed on risers to allow more room for storage.  As your business grows, so will your filing and storage needs.
  8. Get an 800 number that forwards to your dorm phone and cell phone.  This is an instant credibility boost and inexpensive.
  9. Maximize your space by maximizing your school resources.
  10. Invest in a laptop as opposed to an immobile desktop.
  11. Throw out that CRT monitor (you know who you are) and get a flat panel.  Your desk space will thank you.
  12. Hire your roommate to keep the place clean and quiet.  Outsourcing is key to juggling the busy life of an entrepreneur.
  13. Speaking of outsourcing, consider sites such as elance.com for a variety of your operational and technical needs.
  14. Don’t rush!  Leaving college isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, or so I’ve heard.
  15. Construct a cable management system like I did to save space and reduce clutter.
  16. Make friends with your Accounting professor.  Especially handy come tax time.
  17. Pay students to hand out flyers for your product or service.  Beer counts as payment.
  18. Use an appointment book or scheduling software to maximize your time.
  19. Develop a routine for work, school, and fun.  But leave time for unexpected projects or rush orders.
  20. Join campus organizations and clubs.  Not only will this relieve stress but they offer great networking opportunities for well beyond your college years.
  21. Offer your services or products to your college at a reduced rate if you are just getting started.
  22. No need for a fancy printer when you can use the one’s at your school’s computer lab.
  23. A simple shower curtain and some engineering can turn a corner into a cubicle.
  24. Hand off data entry or entry level graphic design work to fellow students.  Again, beer works as payment.
  25. Spend time in your school library, sometimes you forget what a great resource it is.
  26. Get out of the dorm and set up office at a coffee shop on occasion.
  27. With a dresser and an extra curtain rod, your closet can now become your office.
  28. A college campus makes a great place for meetings.
  29. Online businesses take up little space.  Perfect for the dorm bound student.
  30. Maximize space by utilizing your walls.  Calendars, important documents, filing bins, etc can all be placed on the wall to save space.
  31. Go wireless.  The less wires, the more desk space.
  32. Use chalk to advertise your business on sidewalks.
  33. Take a full load of courses.  For me at least, it seems like the more I have to do – the more I get done.
  34. When you go out, casually reinforce your need to network.  Don’t come right out and ask your friends to buy your product, rather it’s a good idea to plant the seed.
  35. Get a copy of your roommate’s schedule, and find times where you can get work done quietly.
  36. Attend events held by your dorm hall, they usually offer free food.
  37. Utilize drop shipping companies to limit inventory.
  38. Advertise directly to your University’s alumni.
  39. Don’t let your grades suffer, if for no other reason than success breeds success.
  40. Consider starting or joining an entrepreneur club on campus.
  41. More than anything else, enjoy your time in college and maintain a healthy balance of activities.

 

Class dismissed.