Yahoo Pipes Monster Mashup Feed: 100 Venture Capital Blogs

Tuesday, July 31, 2007 at 7:00pm by Site Administrator

You might have seen our 100 Daily Must-Reads for Entrepreneurs. Now we have a Startup Required Reading: Top 100 VC Bloggers list, also not written by me. I have, however, used Yahoo! Pipes to mashup the RSS feeds of all 100 VC blogs. Both Pipes below have been published, so you can access them, clone them, tweak them, or just run them. You will need to be signed up for a free Yahoo! Mail account.

  1. 100 VC blogs feed mashup, truncated to 200 items.
    This Pipe takes all 100 venture capital blogs and mashes up their RSS feeds, filters them for unique items, sorts them by freshest items first (reverse chronological order). The resulting RSS feed is also truncated to 200 items, maximum. (I can’t get the full-list version to function; Pipes is still in beta and quirky.)

  2. Searchable, truncatable feed mashup.
    This Pipe adds a search field. You can also specify the maximum number of mashup results. There is no automatic feed, as a different URL is generated for each combination of user input parameters. So run the Pipe first, with your input, then copy the resulting RSS feed URL.


Startup Required Reading: Top 100 VC Bloggers

Tuesday, July 31, 2007 at 2:34pm by Site Administrator

Securing venture capital is often an integral part of the success or failure of any startup business, even for those who initially began as bootstrappers. While it’s no substitute for professional advice, the Internet can be a great place to research venture capital. These are 100 of the best resources.

Top Ten

While any top ten is based on personal opinion, there is no denying that these blogs have superior content.

  1. VentureBlog VentureBlog is a multi-author blog with contributors including Andrew Anker, EVP for Corporate Development with Six Apart, David Hornik of August Capital, Kevin Laws of PacRim Venture Partners, and Naval Ravikant of DotEdu Ventures. It discusses day to day issues that affect venture capitalists in Silicon Valley.
  2. Feld Thoughts Feld Thoughts is written by Brad Feld, managing director at Mobius Venture Capital. Feld writes about his own investments as well as technology, blogging, and entrepreneurship. Don’t miss his articles on term sheets, which are a great resource for entrepreneurs looking for funding.
  3. Beyond VC Beyond VC is written by Ed Sim, a partner with early stage technology VC firm Dawntreader Ventures. His blog covers venture capital and technology with particular emphasis on emerging software companies. Sim provides great advice for entrepreneurs on how they can better work with VCs to build successful companies.
  4. The J-Curve The J-Curve focuses on venture capitalism as it relates to technology.
  5. Southeast VC Jason Caplain gives his perspective on venture investing in the southeastern United States. Many of the articles focus on software, e-commerce, and digital media. This blog also provides a number of tips for entrepreneurs.
  6. Venture Chronicles Venture Chronices is Jeff Nolan’s blog. He provides links and original articles relating to the technology industry at large with an emphasis on software applications and infrastructure.
  7. VCball VC Ball is an early stage growth equity VC’s blog. He has a number of great in-depth articles for venture capitalists. Topics focus on choosing investments wisely, tax strategies, and marketing.
  8. Northwest VC Northwest VC is written by Steve Hall, a partner with Vulcan Capital. He discusses his thoughts on embedded networking and data intelligence as well as general issues relating to technology and venture investing.
  9. Infectious Greed Written by former hedge fund manager and now finance professor Paul Kedrosky, this blog covers a wide variety of issues from venture capital, stocks, and technology to gadgets and blogging.
  10. A VC Written by Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, this blog provides insight into the fields of emerging internet and media companies interspersed with Wilson’s thoughts on music and technology.

Foreign VCs

While venture capitalism has traditionally been dominated by American investors, non-US venture investment is growing, as is evidenced by these blogs.

  1. China Venture News China Venture News provides a stream of China-related business news directed at VCs.
  2. Venture Intelligence India Venture Intelligence India, written by Arun Natarajan, gives up-to-date information about the Indian tech industry as well as posts from businesses that are looking for VC funding.
  3. Fred Destin: A VC in Europe A VC in Europe gives the perspective of a European investor in the technology sector.
  4. Technofile Europe Technofile Europe provides information on European technology deals, entrepreneurship, and new technologies from a British perspective.
  5. Golb: Is This Israel? Is This Israel? is written by Ed Mlavsky, a major player in building the Israeli hi-tech market through venture investments. His blog focuses on these hi-tech issues as well as on investing in alternate sources of energy.
  6. VC in Jerusalem Jacob Ner-David writes about his experience as a VC investor in Israel.
  7. It’s All About Luck Danish investor Morten Lund gives his personal and somewhat informal take on his venture capital investments all over the world.
  8. Seriously Clueless Seriously Clueless is home to Indian-born Anand Sridharan who is now a principal in Singapore. He gives some valuable insight into the emerging venture capital markets in India and Southeast Asia.
  9. Venture Woods Venture Woods is a site that provides news and resources to the Indian venture community. Entrepreneurs, investors, and bankers can discuss issues that affect the market and professional community.
  10. The Post Money Value The Post Money Value is a Canadian VC’s thoughts on competition, investing and business planning.
  11. Sepulveda.net French entrepreneur and VC Rodrigo Sepúlveda Schulz blogs about marketing, gadgets, and the internet with a European viewpoint.
  12. Sortipreneur Turkish internet entrepreneur and investor Cem Sertoglu shares his experience and views on the tech investment industry in Turkey and abroad.
  13. Babbling VC Babbling VC is the blog of German based investor and entrepreneur Paul Jozefak. He provides insight on the European VC industry and technology related ventures.
  14. Shantanu Bhagwat Shantanu Bhagwat blogs about venture capitalism in the global market.
  15. From the Inside, Looking In Shin Fukushige, a venture capitalist living and working in Tokyo, writes about investing in IT software and hardware as well as general tech news.

Software Investors

Almost all VCs are interested in software investment, but these blogs are particularly focused on the topic.

  1. Software Only Jeff Clavier blogs about the web, social media, and of course, software.
  2. From Istanbul to Sand Hill Road This blog focuses on the high-tech industries of Silicon Valley from a Turkish perspective.
  3. Life With Alacrity Life With Alacrity focuses on the social software, security and internet tool sectors of investment with an emphasis on technology-based ratings systems.
  4. Mark Pincus Blog Mark Pincus shares his feelings on investing in the software and social networking fields.
  5. Burnham’s Beat Bill Burnham gives his thoughts on venture capitalism in software technology and the financial workings of it all.
  6. Our Man in Nirvana Our Man in Nirvana is where British born venture capitalist Robin Bordoli shares his thoughts and opinions on investing in the Silicon Valley.
  7. SF Venture SF Venture is home to Keith Benjamin. Keith provides his opinions on venture capital investments in the software and internet markets.
  8. Will Price Will Price discusses his opinions on technology and the VC industry. He also dishes out advice for startups.
  9. Cracking the Code Cracking the Code gives a California-based VC’s thoughts on the internet, enterprise software and technology issues.
  10. Go Big or Go Home Go Big or Go Home is the site of an Illinois investor who blogs about a wide variety of tech related issues.
  11. OC VC OC VC is home to Okapi Venture Capital’s Marc Averitt. He discusses investing in the life science and information technology industries as well as the industry in general in the Orange County Area.
  12. Ventureblogalist Ventureblogalist comes from Rob Finn, associate at Edison Venture Fund. It gives his perspective on IT technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship.

Internet Entrepreneurs

The dot.com boom may be over, but internet venture investments are still going strong. Read these blogs for insight on the world of internet entrepreneurs.

  1. Blogtrepreneur Adnan at Blogtrepreneur discusses entrepreneurial opportunities that abound online.
  2. VC Adventure VC Adventure gives Seth Levine’s perspective on the VC world and offers great advice for startup entrepreneurs. It focuses on blogging technologies, as Levine is an investor in Technorati, Feedburner and Newsgator.
  3. VCMike’s Blog is written by Mike Hirshland of Polaris Venture Partners in Boston. An initial investor in WordPress, Mike’s blog focuses primarily on internet and digital media investments.
  4. Redeye VC Redeye VC is written by Josh Kopelman, founder of Half.com. In it, Josh discusses experiences and advice in the VC field.
  5. Nothing to Say Nothing to Say is the blog of Chris Fralic at First Round Capital. A former employee of both Del.icio.us and eBay, Chris writes primarily about technology and internet startups.
  6. Tim Oren’s Due Diligence Due Diligence is about this Pacifica Fund employee’s experience living and working in Silicon Valley. It contains numerous posts on the Internet and blogging.
  7. The Perceptions and Reverie of a VC Investor and Entrepreneur This blog focuses on social networking and internet based investments.
  8. Jesse Rasch Jesse Rasch, founder of InQuent web hosting services, provides some great in-depth articles in his blog about startup investing and internet-based business.
  9. localglo.be Saul Klein, advisor to internet phone company Skype, gives his thoughts on launching internet businesses.
  10. McInBlog McInBlog is Ryan McIntyre’s blog on venture capitalism issues. McIntyre also writes musings on gadgets, technology, blogging and the Internet.
  11. The Equity Kicker The Equity Kicker is written by Nick Brisbane and covers a wide variety of issues related to venture capital. It focuses on social network and consumer internet markets.

VC Firms

These blogs are written by individual venture firms.

  1. Longworth Venture Partners Longworth Venture Partners, a Boston-based firm, blogs about emerging software, internet and media investments and issues.
  2. Alsop Louie Partners Alsop Louie Partners is written by business partners Stewart Alsop and Gilman Louie. It gives their perspective on marketing, technology, and helping business owners get started on pursuing their passions.
  3. Union Square Ventures Union Square Ventures is an early-stage venture investment group. Their blog focuses on IT and financial services, healthcare, and telecom.
  4. Above the Crowd Above the Crowd, written by Benchmark Capital’s Bill Gurley, provides great insight on high-technology business and strategy. While it’s no longer updated regularly, it can still provide a great resource for those interested in the field.
  5. The NVA Blog The NVA Blog is a technology focused blog by Newman Venture Advisors. It provides links to relevant articles as well as some original content. Much of it focuses on NVA-specific endeavors, but the blog also covers business strategy and venture capital news.
  6. Geekfishing Geekfishing is the home of the Ignition Partners blog. It deals almost exclusively with investing in the technology and telecom sectors.

VC News and Information

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to stay up to date on technology and emerging industries without reading the news. These blogs should help you stay on top of the latest happenings.

  1. VentureBeat VentureBeat is a great source for all news relevant to the VC world.
  2. Deal Flow Deal Flow is Business Week’s venture capital blog, produced by Sarah Lacy and Justin Hibbard. Written by professional journalists, this blog is carefully researched and can be a great way to keep informed about current issues and events.
  3. T.J.’s Weblog This blog provides a constant feed of news and information that is useful to the venture capitalist interested in internet-based technologies.
  4. Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained is the blog of Jeremy Levine. It deals primarily with news affecting the venture capital world, especially in the technology sector.
  5. A Little Ludwig Goes a Long Way Written by Ignition Partners principal John Ludwig, this blog provides links to software topics and internet-based tools. It can be a great way to keep up with what’s hot and useful on the web.
  6. Deep Green Crystal Deep Green Crystal’s blog contains a number of technology guides on everything from blogging to VoIP and financial news.
  7. John Cook’s Venture Blog This blog is part of the Seattlepi.com website. It provides insightful commentary about venture investing and emerging technology.
  8. Venture Voice Venture Voice is a blog that offers a series of podcasts aimed at VCs and entrepreneurs.
  9. VentureBlogs VentureBlogs provides a stream of articles from American Venture Magazine.
  10. VC Ratings VC Ratings is a blog dedicated to providing profiles and ratings of venture capital investments and companies.

For Entrepreneurs

You can’t have venture capitalism without entrepreneurs. These blogs give advice on the give and take between entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

  1. How to Change the World Guy Kawasaki gives practical advice for entrepreneurs who are just starting out or looking to expand.
  2. Nivi Blog This blog focuses on the world of technology investments. It also provides “venture hacks” to help entrepreneurs better understand how the industry can work to their advantage.
  3. VC Confidential VC Confidential, written by Matt McCall, seeks to encourage conversation between entrepreneurs and their investors in order to facilitate understanding of internal principles and processes.
  4. Allen’s Blog Written by an entrepreneur lawyer turned venture capitalist, this blog focuses on investments in the fields of technology and software. Allen has a great series of articles called The Ten Commandments of Entrepreneurs.
  5. Who Has Time for This? Who Has Time for This? is David Cowan’s blog and provides great articles on information security and entrepreneurship advice.
  6. Florida Venture Blog Florida Venture Blog gives straight talk for entrepreneurs interested in securing venture capital. This blog has articles focusing specifically on the southeast market.
  7. This is Going to be BIG This is a blog that seeks to help entrepreneurs find supporters. There are posts on a variety of topics from personal interests to web technology and investment.
  8. Now What? Now What? is a blog for those interested in expansion stage venture capitalism. Written by Scott Maxwell, it attempts to answer the question of what to do after you’ve taken the first steps in establishing a business and getting a few customers.
  9. The VC in Me The VC in Me is a blog that seeks to engage venture capitalists and entrepreneurs in conversation about current affairs, investing, and the media sector.
  10. Ask the VC Ask the VC is a great resource for entrepreneurs who want to get some advice on VC funding straight from the source.

Early-Stage Investors

Often, the best place to be is on the ground floor. These bloggers specialize in early stage investing and are willing to share their knowledge.

  1. EarlyStage VC Early Stage VC by Peter Rip of Crosslink Capital focuses on venture investments in the preliminary stages of business development.
  2. Seeing Both Sides Seeing Both Sides shares the perspective of an entrepreneur turned early-stage venture capitalist.
  3. Oxyfish Oxyfish gives Tom Sheild’s thoughts on early-stage venture capitalism and entrepreneurship in the tech industry.
  4. WayTooEarly WayTooEarly chronicles the process of working with venture companies in the very early stages of development.
  5. Permanent Record Permanent Record is the blog of First Round Capital partner Rob Hayes. Posts focus on early-stage venture capitalism and online business.
  6. Outright VC This blog focuses on early and mid-stage companies in the information technology, automation, power, wireless and RFID industries. Author Todd Jaquez-Fissori also gives advice to those who are looking for VC funding.
  7. Venture Capital Cafe Authored by Eze Vidra, Venture Capital Cafe provides news and articles about early-stage companies with a special focus on Israel-originated innovations.
  8. Texas Startup Blog Texas Startup focuses on topics surrounding entrepreneurship, startups, and venture capitalism in Texas.

VC and Beyond

These blogs offer a unique perspective on the VC industry, providing emphasis on investment and other interests that extend beyond most run-of-the-mill VC Blogs.

  1. Sense and Cents George Zachary discusses venture capitalism and its relationship to human nature, consumerism, and business identity.
  2. Venture Cyclist Written by venture capitalist and biking enthusiast Richard Dale, this blog has posts about both of Richard’s interests.
  3. Venture Explorer Venture Explorer follows venture capitalist Vineet Buch. Posts contain his thoughts on investments and the tech industry as well as his world travels and adventures.
  4. Sacred Cow Dung Christian Mayaud works to expose the myths surrounding venture capitalism, business strategy, and management philosophy with a distinct focus on technology and blogging.
  5. Punctuative! Punctuative! by Louisville-based investor Matt Winn, offers thoughts on the changing venture capital markets.
  6. Ego Ventures This blog by BaseCamp Investment co-founder Andrew Luter is filled with thoughts on business, technology and everything else.
  7. CleanTech Investing CleanTech Investing is written by Boston-based investor Rob Day. It focuses on issues surrounding investment in cleantech industries such as alternative energy, energy storage and efficiency, and water purification technologies.
  8. Ho John Lee Ho John Lee talks about tech investment from a distinctly market-based viewpoint.
  9. Venture Again Venture Again, by Justin Label, focuses on the cleantech investment sector of venture capitalism.
  10. BijanBlog BijanBlog is written by a Spark Capital partner. Aside from personal posts, the blog contains information about investing in emerging media, entertainment and technology sectors.

Female VCs

In a male dominated industry, these women provide a refreshingly feminine perspective.

  1. Class V Class V is written by an early-stage IT and green tech startup investor. Topics cover a wide range, from startups to world travel.
  2. Susan Wu Susan Wu discusses her experience as a VC, focusing on early stage consumer technology and infrastructure software.
  3. Adventurista Adventurista, written by Sarah Tavel, gives some insight on what being a female in the field of venture capitalism is all about.
  4. Christine.net Christine.net is published by Christine Herron, venture advisor at First Round Capital. She provides helpful articles for women who are looking to get into the field of venture capitalism as well as information on the nonprofit and technology sectors.
  5. Let the Sparks Fly Let the Sparks Fly is the blog of venture capital firm Brightspark. Brightspark focuses on helping entrepreneurs with infrastructure, enterprise, and communication software in the early stages of their growth and development.
  6. Israeli VC on Sand Hill Road Tali Aben was the first woman partner in an Israeli VC. Her blog focuses on software investing, but it also provides special insight for women on balancing careers and family obligations.
  7. Inside Chatter Internet entrepreneur and investment banker Donna Bogatin blogs about emerging web technologies.
  8. Venture Law Lines Lawyer and VC Suzanne Dingwall gives her thoughts on law, entrepreneurship, startups and investments.

This list only scratches the surface of the VC blogs out there, but it should provide you with ample reading material. With so much to choose from, there is bound to be something that can provide you with the insight and information you need to make the most of your startup.

Entrepreneurial Research Tools: Build Your Own Feed Mashup With Yahoo Pipes

Sunday, July 29, 2007 at 9:30pm by Site Administrator

Wondering how to create the 100 Daily Must-Reads for Entrepreneurs monster mashup feed? Functionally-speaking, I mashed up the RSS feeds of all 100 blogs and sorted the results reverse-chronologically by date. In reality, because someone else put the list together, I had to start from the raw HTML page and go from there. Yahoo! Pipes was my tool of choice.

If you have not worked with Yahoo Pipes before, I recommend you check out the Pipes tutorials at Tubetorial first. You don’t have to be a programmer to use Pipes. In fact, that’s what’s so great about it as a quick research tool.

Productivity Blogs Feed Mashup

Now, since productivity is an important part of successful entrepreneuring, I thought I’d supplement 100 daily must-reads feed mashup with another one, using Zen Habits’ Top 50 Productivity Blogs list. Some of the blogs in that list are in the Bootstrapper list, but not all. If you feel like subscribing to the Zen Habits list en masse, you’re in luck. I’ve taken pretty much the same Yahoo Pipe used in the 100 blogs mashup and created a 50 Productivity blogs feed mashup. On top of this, I’ve also produced a screencast video tutorial showing you how to use Yahoo! Pipes to do your own similar feed mashups.

For those of you not interested in the tutorial, here are some Pipes you can run, or the corresponding feeds you can subscribe to. Keep in mind that you can clone all of the Pipes and tweak them to your liking. If you want to view the tutorials, skip this list.

  1. Zen habits -50 productivity blogs -full list:

    • Yahoo Pipe results/ feed.
    • This Pipe takes all 50 blogs and mashes up their RSS feeds, filters them for unique items, sorts them by freshest items first (reverse chronological order).
  2. Same mashup, truncated to 200 items:
    • Yahoo Pipe results/ feed.
    • This is the same as the last Pipe, but the number of mashup feed items is limited to 200 items.
  3. Searchable, truncatable feed mashup:
    • Yahoo Pipe results.
    • Once again, the same Pipe, but users can enter a search term. They can also enter the desired number of items in the resulting mashup feed. Because Pipes auto-generates the RSS feed URL based on a pipe’s id and any user-entered parameters, there is no single feed. Run the pipe with your preferred search term and number of items, then copy the resulting RSS feed URL.

How-to Build Your Own RSS Feed Mashup in Yahoo Pipes

The rest of this article is a video screencast tutorial on how to build a feed mashup using Yahoo! Pipes. We’re starting with a pre-built .CSV file of the 50 productivity blogs that Zen Habits listed. You do not have to be a programmer to use Pipes, but it takes a bit of getting used to.

Process
The mashup process goes like this:

  1. Convert the HTML page list of blogs to a list of blog urls.
  2. Save the url list as a CSV (Comma Separated Value) file:
    • Insert an arbitrary field name for the urls. I used “blogurl” in the very first row of the file.
    • Save the file with a .CSV extension.
    • Upload the file to a web server so that it can be access online.
  3. Yahoo Pipes:
    1. Import the CSV file.
    2. For each blog url in the CSV list, auto-discover any RSS feed urls.
    3. Filter out any unnecessary feed urls. (Some blogs have multiple feed formats. We just need one.)
    4. For each feed url in the resulting shortlist, grab the actual feed and mash them all together.
    5. Filter out any duplicate items by title.
    6. Sort the mashup feed so that the freshest items come first.
  4. Run the Pipe and copy the auto-generated RSS url into your favorite feed reader.

Videos
Each of the three Pipes for the productivity blogs list are accessible to the public. Provided you have a Yahoo! Mail account, you can clone any Pipe, tweak and save it. If you want to see how the above three Pipes were built, you can watch the narrated screencast video below. I’m using the SplashCast Media‘s SplashCast player. Once you click the Start button, the first video will play. There are three videos, and the player will automatically move to the next one. If you want to skip forwards, hover your mouse cursor over the player, and a menu bar will drop down. Click on the “forward” icon to move to the next video. Total playing time for all three videos is approximately 20 minutes.


Add bootstrapper-productivity blogs-feedmash to your page


Carnival of Bootstrapping Entrepreneurs #3

Friday, July 27, 2007 at 11:30pm by Site Administrator

Welcome to the third Carnival of Bootstrapping Entrepreneurs (CoBE #3). Critieria for inclusion: relevant to bootstrapping, entrepreneuring, startup/ small businesses. Criteria for exclusion:

  1. Non-articles (list of internal links instead of an article).
  2. Articles that exist purely to promote an affiliate link.
  3. Articles not relevant to bootstrapping or entrepreneuring.
  4. Articles not formatted for easy reading (i.e., overly long paragraphs.)
  5. Multiple entries for the same edition – it depends on how relevant the articles are, but in most cases, all entries will be deleted without being viewed.
  6. Persistently not supporting the carnival by not linking back won’t mean exclusion, but priority will be given to new entrants or those who have been supportive.

To be fair to everyone, entries are being selected approximately in order of submission. Please support this carnival by linking back to this post.

  1. Price vs Value – How Much Should Writers Charge? by Yvonne Russell of Grow Your Writing Business. Whether you’re a writer or an entrepreneur offering any other service, the question of how much to charge always comes up. Yvonne offers some suggestions for deciding, based on whether your service offers extra value.

  2. How to Make $45,000 a Month- Six Months After You Start by CapForge of CapForge. CapForge provides a solid example of the mindset necessary to bootstrap a startup business and reinvest profits to a self-sustaining, income-producing level.
  3. How would you get back from Mars? by CA of Atlantic Canada’s Small Business Blog. Don’t let the article title fool you. CA points out that “making money” and “creating value” do not have to be conflicting objectives of an organization.
  4. Best Business Schools for the Entrepreneur by Ted Reimers of College Grotto. Feel the need to take some tutelage before or during your entrepreneurial career? Ted lists ten business schools with entrepreneurial programs.
  5. How I Failed at Making Money Online by Ray Johnson of Link Rambler. Not everyone who tries makes money online. Ray points out the errors he made in his attempt at online entrepreneurship, then points out 4 ways to improve your odds of success.
  6. 7 Habits of Highly Effective Money Managers by Edith Yeung of Edith Yeung. Many new businesses go under within the first or second year of existence. Managing cash flow becomes a critical skill. Edith points out some effective habits of money management.
  7. How to Start an Online Store by Ant of The Beef Jerky Blog. Dropshipping can be a very profitable method of doing business. You make the sale and the product supplier ships the product. If you do it online, you have the advantage of reduced operating costs, once your ecommerce site is setup. Ant lists five steps for setting up an online business.
  8. The Solution to the Problem by Wilson Ng of Reflections of a BizDrivenLife. Problem-solving is an important part of running a business. While brainstorming to solve problems might be useful for new situations, reoccuring problems might already have a solution. Wilson points out that maybe a reoccurring problem has already been documented in your organization. And if not, maybe it should be.
  9. I Can’t Stand My Stand Up Desk! by FitBuff of Total Mind and Body Fitness Blog. Good health and good posture means a better overall attitude for you. If you’re not happy with your sitting posture, try something different: stand up. FitBuff explains how a standup desk can posture and productivity and burn calories.
  10. John Assaraf and Murray Smith Interview by Scott Allen of About Entrepreneurs. Scott interviewed John Assaraf (The Secret) and Murray Smith (Indian Motorcycles) about entrepreneurial passion, the success mindset, and more. There’s a 40 minute audio version of the interview and an 8-part transcription.
  11. Leadership – Managing Time For Maximum Profit by Sue Massey of Business Management Life. Sue provides reasons why managing your business time effectively helps to maximize your profit.
  12. Diversify Your Investments by Starting a Side Business by Brad Isaac of Achieve IT! Goal Setting Blog. Not everyone wants to or can be a full-time entrepreneur. Brad explains how you can bootstrapping a part-time/ side business on weekends and evenings.
  13. Building Visibility with Promotional Umbrellas by Matt Hanson of Matt’s Creative Advertising Blog. Promotional products can go beyond the traditional branded pens and mugs to other products. Items such as umbrellas not only keep potential customers dry but display your brand to many people. Matt points out that you don’t necessarily have to give the product away, if it offers a lot of value.
  14. Don’t Buy A Franchise with your Ego by Tom Stanley of Tom’s Franchise Information Blog. Many entrepreneurs, instead of starting a new business or buying an existing one, buy a franchise. Tom suggests that when you choose a franchise, don’t do it just because it sounds exciting or because you think your friends will like it. Ultimately, you want it to earn money, and you might be surprised at the types of franchise businesses that can do that for you.
  15. Learn Good Customer Service by Jason Rakowski of Learn Good Customer Service. Managing customer relations is crucial to maintaning repeat customers. Jason points out how to make it easier on yourself by using CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software.

That ends this second edition of the Carnival of Bootstrapping Entrepreneurs. Any articles submitted that meet the criteria but not listed here will appear in the next edition. I currently have a backlog of entries and minimum of time to go through everyone’s articles. There are still many of you submitting multiple articles in a given week so that I may now have a half dozen of your articles in the backlog. If that’s you, then please ease off on submitting more until you see a couple more of your articles appear. Or make sure that you are linking back to earlier editions of CoBE in which you appeared. [It takes a lot of time to go through articles and summarize in an interesting way. So if you have not linked back in support, you're being bumped for more of the newer bloggers entering the carnival.]

One suggestion I’ll leave you with. If you submit an article that’s all about you, think twice. Share “how” not “what”. Who cares how much success you have had unless you share how you got there? Tell us your entrepreneurial success story and how you got there.

Please use the submission form for future editions, and limit yourself to one entry per week.

Monster Mashup Feed -100 Entrepreneurial Blogs

Thursday, July 26, 2007 at 9:30pm by Site Administrator

The other day, someone on the team produced the 100 Daily Must-Reads for Entrepreneurs blog list. Several commenters asked for an OPML list so that they could subscribe to these blogs. I did not write the article, and for reasons I won’t get into, I don’t have the OPML for you. I think I have something that’s one step better: a monster mashup of the feeds for all of these blogs.

You can subscribe to a single feed this way. I’ve also created a few variations, including one that you can filter for a search term before subscribing to.

What I’ve done is used Yahoo! Pipes, which is a beta version web-based feed mashup tool, to mashup the feeds of all 100 blogs in the list. If want to know to know how I did this, tomorrow I’ll have a screencast video on building these Yahoo Pipes to use as a free business research tool. If you haven’t used Yahoo Pipes before, check out my Pipes screencast tutorials at Tubetorial.

If you just want the mashup feed, choose a Pipe from the bullet list below, click the link I’ve provided, and run the Pipe. When the results are displayed, you’ll see a “Subscribe” link. If you click on the link, you’ll see a menu of RSS feed reader choices. If you don’t see your reader, just right-click the first choice, “Get as RSS”, and select “Copy link location” from the web browser context menu. Then pop the copied RSS feed URL into your favorite feed reader.

  1. All-items mashup.
    Yahoo Pipes is still in beta and has quirks. This version provides all feed items from all the feeds, but it did not function at the time of this writing. So I have not linked to it. It’s mentioned only for posterity.

  2. Truncated mashup version: Yahoo Pipe.
    Just click on this link and enter the number of feed items you want in the mashup (<= 200). If you just want the 200-item mashup, here’s the feed url. Right-click and save that URL, and pop into your feed reader.

    Depending on multiple factors (server problems), you may have to run the Pipe a couple of times before you see any results. Try reducing the number of items, or wait until a less busy time.

  3. Searchable version: Yahoo Pipe.
    This Pipe lets you specify a search term and the number of results. It’ll scan all feed items in all the 100 blogs listed, produce a matching result set, then truncate the results to the number of items you specify.  (It checks both item title and description for the search term.)

    After you run it for the desired parameters, you can subscribe to the generated RSS feed URL. Just keep in mind that, for example, “cashflow” is different than “cash flow”. (Don’t use the quotes in the search term.)

Keep in mind that Yahoo Pipes is still in beta, has server hiccups, inconsistent behaviors, and sometimes changes modules. Normally, if you subscribe to a feed generated by a Pipe, you shouldn’t have any trouble. But should a feed you’ve subscribed to stop functioning, try “updating” the feed in your feed reader. If that doesn’t work, rerun the corresponding Pipe and copy its dynamically-generated RSS feed URL again to your feed reader.

One thing to note is that Yahoo Pipes dynamically generates RSS feeds for mashups. If a Pipe uses user input, then a different feed URL is generated for each possible combination of parameters. Run a Pipe with the input you want, then copy the generated feed URL. If you run a different query, note that a different feed URL is likely to be generated. So you may end up with multiple feeds to subscribe to, depending on the research you’re doing. (For instance, “cash flow” and “cashflow” are not the same parameter.)

You can also clone an existing Pipe and tweak to your heart’s content. In Friday’s article, I’ll provide a video tutorial showing you how to build the mashup pipes indicated above.

yahoo pipes - 100 blogs -searchable pipe -screen snap

The 100 Daily Must-Reads for Entrepreneurs

Monday, July 23, 2007 at 7:23pm by Site Administrator

These days, it seems that almost everyone has a blog, so it’s often hard to separate what’s really worth reading from what isn’t. Luckily, we’ve done the work for you and narrowed it down to 100 highly informative sites. Take a look at what they have to say and see how they can help you grow your business.

Raising Capital

  1. Go BIG Blog— Written by Go BIG founder Wil Schroter, the Go BIG Blog focuses on giving advice and strategies to help startup businesses gain an edge. The GO BIG Network is also a great place for small businesses to find funding by putting them in contact with a network of venture capital and angel investors.
  2. How to Change the World— This blog by Guy Kawaski gives advice on how to give great presentations, speeches and pitches to attract investors to your business, as well as providing a variety of other helpful tips and advice to entrepreneurs.
  3. Entrepreneurship Blog— Here, Untangle product marketing manager Andrew Fife gives advice on raising capital and improving your business.
  4. Access to Capital— Access to Capital provides good articles on raising capital to start a new business as well as finding investors to sustain an existing business.
  5. All Business Raising Capital Blog— All Business has a variety of business related blogs, all of which can be very useful to the entrepreneur. They have a wide selection of very informative articles on raising capital and improving your business.
  6. Instigator Blog— Benjamin Yoskovitz blogs on helping entrepreneurs turn their ideas into successful businesses with a number of good articles on how to make proposals and give presentations to get investors.
  7. Plan Magic Blog— Plan Magic Blog gives advice on creating great business and investment plans.
  8. WayTooEarly— Howard Lee Morgan gives his personal account of investing in businesses in the very early stages.
  9. BootStrapMe — Shawn Hessinger gives advice on how to get your business started, some resources to check out, as well as a variety of helpful tips.

Managing Debt and Risks

  1. I Will Teach You to Be Rich— Ramit Sethi gives advice on finance and entrepreneurship.
  2. Business Debt Relief— This blog has the goal of educating business owners on how to get out of debt and managing any future debts.
  3. Debt Consolidation Lowdown— Frequent host of the Carnival of Debt Management, this blog provides links to numerous blogs on reducing and managing debts, as well as original articles on debt consolidation and elimination.
  4. Small Business Finance Blog— Arnold Cortez discusses financial solutions for small businesses through a variety of methods.
  5. My Money Forest— My Money Forest gives advice on investments as well as relevant news on the business world.
  6. Escape from Cubicle Nation— Pamela Slim provides insight in how to make your passion into a successful business.
  7. Operational Risk Management— This blog covers the legal, investment, systems, and personnel risks associated with running a business.
  8. Risk Center— Risk Center is home to numerous articles covering the entire spectrum of risk management as well as a collection of finance tutorials.
  9. BizzBangBuzz— Written by strategic business lawyer Anthony Cerminaro, this blog focuses on the law aspects of starting a business and how best to take advantage of business opportunities.
  10. Business Opportunities Weblog— Dane Carlson provides a list of links to business opportunities and investments for those seeking to start or expand their own business.

Managing Staff

  1. Management Issues— If you’re looking for advice on management and workplace issues, this blog will prove to be a great resource. It provides a good selection of articles to get you on the right track.
  2. Common Sense Guy— Bud Bilanich gives some pragmatic solutions to everyday workplace issues, many focusing on making your staff more effective.
  3. Management Blog— Tom Foster discusses how to manage more effectively and to meet your personal and business goals.
  4. Management Craft— Managing employees can sometimes be difficult, but Lisa Haneberg can help. She provides advice on dealing with difficult employees as well as being an effective leader.
  5. Agile Management Blog— David Anderson of Microsoft gives his thoughts on management issues. Those in technology related businesses will find them especially insightful.
  6. Communication Nation— This blog by David Gray focuses on improving communication and productivity in the workplace.
  7. Manager Tools— Manager Tools is home to a weekly podcast focused on helping business owners become better managers and leaders by providing easily implemented tips and tools.
  8. Slacker Manager— Don’t let the name of this blog mislead you, it in no way encourages slacking. It does, however, provide advice on how to make your workplace life easier and less stressful.
  9. Center for Workplace Excellence— Want to improve your performance as well as that of your employees? This blog gives some helpful advice on motivation and attitude. The center offers classes on a variety of subjects as well.
  10. Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog— Focusing on innovation and streamlining the workplace, Curious Cat offers articles on how to make your workplace happier and improve your customer experience.
  11. Evolving Excellence— This is an insightful blog with an emphasis on lean management and manufacturing. It will give you some ideas on how to reduce waste in all areas of your business.
  12. Bnoopy— Joe Krauss provides insight on how to find great employees. He also has valuable content on tech-based businesses based on his own extensive experience.

Venture Capitalists

  1. Venture Blog— Written by David Hornik at August Capital, this blog has articles on issues related to venture capitalism and technology.
  2. Bill Gurley of Benchmark Capital— Bill Gurley provides good reading for entrepreneurs interested in cutting edge ideas and information on what’s new in the venture capital community.
  3. Geekfishing— Written by employees of Ignition Partners, Geekfishing provides articles and insight on the geekier aspects of investing.
  4. Due Diligence— Tim Oren writes about technology and business trends in a way that is relevant to entrepreneurs.
  5. A VC— Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist, writes about issues related to venture capitalism and technology as well as a number of his other interests.
  6. Charles Hudson— Charles provides insight into the world of technology and business. This blog is an interesting read for those who love gadgets.
  7. WiseWords— Sean Wise provides advice on entrepreneurship and venture capital, with a new project focusing on helping new businesses get started.
  8. VC Confidential— Written by Matt McCall, VC Confidential discusses venture capitalism as it relates to technology.
  9. Feld Thoughts— Ben Feld’s blog on issues related to entrepreneurship, technology, angel investors and venture capitalism.
  10. Venture Chronicles— Jeff Nolan gives his thoughts on technology, management and investment in this regularly updated blog.
  11. Will Price— Perspectives on the venture capitalism industry and technology written by Will Price of Hummer Winblad Venture Partners.
  12. Early Stage VC— Peter Rip gives advice on startups, business technology and investment.
  13. Genuine VC— David Beisel provides advice on how to pitch your ideas to venture capitalists as well as numerous other issues important to entrepreneurs.

Productivity

  1. Steve Pavlina— Steve Pavlina provides his personal insight in how to manage your time, be more productive and improve personal development to help you be more successful.
  2. The Lazy Way to Success— Based on the book of the same name, this blog gives tips on how to do less and accomplish more.
  3. Black Belt Productivity— If you want to get organized and get more accomplished in a day, learn how to do it with this blog.
  4. Productivity 501— Written by Mark Shead, this site gives regularly updated tips and tricks to help increase your personal productivity.
  5. Dumb Little Man— Jay White provides numerous tips and articles designed to help you accomplish more and make your workplace more productive.
  6. Chief Happiness Officer— Alexander Kjerulf writes about how to make work happier, more inspiring, energizing and even fun with the goal of helping you accomplish more and feel better about it.
  7. The Engaging Brand—Business coach Anna Farmery gives ideas on how to motivate employees, improve leadership, and get more done in a day.
  8. Ian’s Messy Desk— Ian McKenzie gives his thoughts on how to increase productivity and avoid procrastination.

Small Business

  1. Small Business Trends— Anita Campbell looks at the latest trends affecting small businesses and entrepreneurs.
  2. Just for Small Business— This blog from Denise O’Berry is full of thought-provoking tips for small business owners, often on unexpected topics.
  3. The Entrepreneurial Mind— Jeff Cornwall, Director of the Belmont University Center for Entrepreneurship, looks at trends in small business and entrepreneurship and their impact on individual small business owners.
  4. The Freestyle Entrepreneur— This site focuses on providing business information that is relevant to the small business owner with the goal of helping them become more profitable and productive.
  5. Small Business Brief— Home to a small business newsletter, this website also provides links to numerous business and entrepreneurial articles all over the web.
  6. Business Works— Dedicated to helping small businesses get started, this blog gives advice on the day-to-day issues associated with business ownership as well as news related to the business world at large.
  7. Fresh Inc— A blog for the magazine of the same name, Fresh Inc is chock full of informative articles on business and entrepreneurship.
  8. Church of the Customer— A valuable read for the small business owner who wants to maintain a high level of customer service and satisfaction.
  9. Be Excellent— This blog provides advice on how to make your small business successful and keep it that way.
  10. Small Business CEO— Small Business CEO gives information on making your small business grow and how to turn your passion into a profit.

General Interest

  1. WorkHappy.net— Carson McComas provides links and reviews for great applications and other resources that help entrepreneurs work smarter, not harder.
  2. The Occupational Adventure— Curt Rosengren at Passion Catalyst International gives his advice on how to turn your ideas and passions into viable business ventures.
  3. Businesspundit.com—Businesspundit discusses a wide variety of issues related to entrepreneurship and corporate strategy.
  4. Ready Fire Aim— Bill D’Alessandro gives his insight into personal entrepreneurship, web design, technology, and even banking.
  5. Making Ripples— Making Ripples is written by an ex-corporate employee who ventured into the self-employed arena. It provides his personal experiences as well as some advice for others wishing to start their own business.
  6. All Business Blog Center— All Business is home to a number of blogs on business issues including finance, human resources, marketing and management. It’s a great place to find entrepreneurial information and advice.
  7. Entrepreneurs Journey— Yaro Starak, an Australian entrepreneur, gives reviews of business seminars and materials as well as original articles on business ownership.
  8. Paul Allen— Paul Allen writes about his experience as an internet entrepreneur and gives some valuable advice for those wishing to follow in his footsteps.
  9. Canadian Entrepreneur— Rick Spence, former editor and publisher of Profit Magazine, gives tips and strategies to help your business grow.
  10. Trizoko— Trizoko is a daily business journal that uses studies and research to give advice on creating a successful business.

Marketing

  1. Duct Tape Marketing— John Jantsch delivers small business marketing tips in weekly, easy to read short articles.
  2. Buzzoodle Buzz Marketing Blog— Ron McDaniel gives advice on how to create lasting buzz for your business through an effective web presence and networking.
  3. George Torok— Bestselling author George Torok offers marketing insights, tips, and strategies on branding, networking and personal marketing for business owners.
  4. Decker Marketing— Sam Decker provides insight on how to market your business using the web.
  5. Seth Godin— Seth Godin provides great advice on how to effectively market your business and keep customers happy.
  6. Ben Rowe’s Blog— This blog provides Ben’s thoughts on the state of marketing and how to use it to your advantage.
  7. Marketing for Success— Charlie Cook gives advice on the best ways to market your business both on the web and in traditional media.
  8. Paul Geisheker’s Marketing Blog— Marketing consultant Paul Geisheker provides helpful marketing tools and resources to help business owners become more effective.
  9. Micro Persuasion— Steve Rubel blogs about the effect of technology on media and marketing.

Young Entrepreneurs

  1. Young Entrepreneur Journey— Best selling author Michael Simmons explores the idea of "extreme entrepreneurship".
  2. Mind Petals— Home to the Young Entrepreneur’s Network, Mind Petals has a community atmosphere that provides informative, inspiring, and motivating content to young businesspeople.
  3. Young Entrepreneur.com— Evan Carmichael gives information and advice to entrepreneurs on marketing, strategy, management and a variety of other topics.
  4. Blogtrepreneur— Written by a high school student, Blogtrepreneur provides information and advice on how young entrepreneurs can get started with their first business.
  5. Retired at 21— This blog provides resources for young entrepreneurs to learn from experienced web-based business owners.
  6. SportsLizard Entrepreneur Blog— Adam McFarland provides his personal experience of quitting his job and following his entrepreneurial dream.
  7. Flush the Toilet— Flush the Toilet gives advice to young entrepreneurs about attitude and making a successful business.

Startups

  1. reblutionary— Mike Cannon-Brookes talks about startups from a technology perspective and gives his personal experience.
  2. Startup Spark— Ben Yoskovitz provides business tips, discusses entrepreneurial passion, social entrepreneurship and dealing with business failure. This site also hosts the Carnival of Entrepreneurs.
  3. StartupNation— Startup Nation is an online community for startups, providing resources and support for new businesses.
  4. OnStartups.com— On Startups is a great site for software entrepreneurs looking to start a new business or grow an existing one.
  5. Texas Startup Blog— Alexander Muse discusses startups from a technology angle with articles on venture capital and entrepreneurship.
  6. Startup Princess— Startup Princess offers a female entrepreneur’s perspective, providing mentoring, resources and education for women who want to start a business.
  7. BizLaunch Blog— BizLauch gives practical advice on launching a new business as well as advice on improving communication and productivity.
  8. Blog.Pmarca.Com— Written by Marc Andreessen, this blog provides invaluable information for starting a business including an extensive guide to startups.
  9. Start Up Blog— This blog discusses issues about starting up a business while focusing on marketing aspects.
  10. The Startup Ethos— The Startup Ethos is Usha Sekar’s blog about the human side behind startups and embracing the entrepreneurial spirit.
  11. The Great Startup Game— This blog has an often humorous perspective on how to make your business profitable.
  12. Time to Startup— Time to Startup is a blog providing insight into starting a business. It includes information on the paperwork necessary to become a corporation or an LLC.

With new blogs being created everyday, this is by no means an exhaustive list of every great entrepreneurial blog out there. Chances are that you have some favorites that didn’t make this list. While it may not be perfect, it is, however, a good place to start if you’re looking for some productive and sometimes entertaining reading material on business ventures.

Optimize Your Work-at-Home Time With 22 Simple Schedule Tweaks

Sunday, July 22, 2007 at 11:00pm by Site Administrator

Working at home, whether for a salaried job or your own business, brings all kinds of distractions and puts your productivity at risk. A few tweaks to your schedule and work habits can increase your productivity. Here are a few suggestions.

General

These are general suggestions for your work day and frame of mind.

  1. Get up earlier.
    If you can get up 30-60 minutes earlier each day than usual, that’s at least 2.5-5 hrs of extra time per week that you can use for work, research, personal tasks or even play. Not everyone needs 8-10 hours of sleep per day. For a really radical variation on sleeping, consider polyphasic sleep, where you take 20-30 minute naps every four hours – or some similar variation. The net result is more waking hours without fatigue, though the schedule is not always conducive to a normal social life.

  2. Get well soon.
    If you push yourself to the breaking point, the longer you stay sick, obviously the less you’re like to get done. This is when less is more: take a break so that you can recover sooner. Consider getting an emergency work assistant.

  3. Dress for work.
    Just because you can work naked or in jammies doesn’t mean you should. Any sort of casual clothing tells your subconcious that what you’re doing is also casual. What you wear at home is important and can help put you in a productive mindset. It’ll also help you follow work hours mentally (see below).

  4. Have a comfortable work environment.
    Just because you should wear work clothes does not mean you can’t be comfortable. A good chair that supports good posture pays off in the long run.

  5. Apply the 80/20 or 70/30 rule.
    Whichever variation you follow, the general principle is that X% (80 or 70) of your return/ revenue comes from Y% (20 or 30) of  your effort/ customers. So drop troublesome clients that just waste your time with their complaints.

  6. Don’t eat at your computer.
    Not eating at your computer has nothing to do with keeping your keyboard clean. It has to do with separating work and non-work states of mind. Eating at your computer puts you in the negative frame of mind that you are always working. Resentment is a terrible detractor to productivity. Your mind needs a rest from a work frame of mind. So step away for meals and snacks.

  7. Minimize distractions.
    This is a general suggestion to minimize all non-work-related distractions. Make sure friends and family know when you’re working and that they respect this time. Don’t answer the phone or the door if you don’t feel like it. It sounds easy, but we’re brought up to respond. To ease guilt, schedule time with family.

Tasks

These tips focus primarily on task management.

  1. Take breaks.
    If you are not feeling productive, staring at your computer does nothing to help this. Step away, go for a walk, watch a bit of TV, listen to the radio, take a nap, read something, mow the lawn, or even do any paper work at different desk or table. Taking a break relaxes your mind – a state that often brings breakthroughs in problem-solving as well as creative ideas. Not taking a break inevitably results in mental and physical stress, after which no amount of overtime hours will make a difference in helping you complete work.

  2. Define work hours.
    I know. You didn’t decide to work at home only to enforce work hours on yourself. However, not doing so might lead you into the state of mind where you feel you’re working all day long. Some people who work at home split the day up into two or three periods. This allows prime time for personal tasks or even enjoyable activities such as golf or cycling.

  3. Make time for necessary tasks.
    Even when working at home there’ll be those tasks you’d really rather not do. If you don’t have a (virtual) assistant, then obviously you will have to do them sometime. It may not be billable work but it needs doing. Mark off time on your work calendar for these tasks. Pick times when you are least creative and/or have no billable work. Save your creative time for billable work. If you need a bit of help scheduling, trying using a free web-based calendaring tool such as Google Calendar or 30Boxes.

  4. Review your to-do lists.
    What good is a to-do list if you don’t review it at the end of the day? If you’re constantly shifting incomplete tasks to be done the next day, then you’re either not working productively or you’re expecting too much in a given day. That’s something you’ll need to resolve on your own.

  5. Leverage your productive time.
    If you’re feeling productive today, put in extra time to get more work done now. That way, when you’re under the weather, feeling creatively unproductive, or simply “blocked”, you don’t have to feel guilty or stressed, and can even spend some personal time by yourself, with family members or friends. We all go through cycles of creativity, and you probably know when your “highs” are. Take advantage of them. Relax on the low days guilt-free by utilizing your high productivity days.

  6. Leverage your research.
    If your work requires a lot of regular research, leverage your efforts. Say you do twenty hours of research for something but it only results in a few dollars of earnings. You’ve obviously made poor use of your time. Is there any way that you use the same effort to earn additional revenue? Can you spend another hour or two to produce additional billable work from that research effort?

  7. Maximize your work ROI.
    You may have several contracts to choose from, but the best ones are not necessarily the highest paying ones. You have to think long-term. Are you accepting a short-term contract at the risk of losing a long-term one that will pay more overall? Or are you accepting high per-project fees for work that actually results in a lower per hour wage? The wrong choice can affect your overall productivity and drastically reduce your earnings.

  8. Optimize multi-tasking.
    Not everyone can pull of efficient multi-tasking, though if you can, it’s amazing how much work you can get done in a day.

Technology

Technology is your friend if you know how to use it efficiently.

  1. Minimize email checking.
    Checking your email multiple times per day serves only to distract you from work, fragmenting your concentration. If you’re doing it because you don’t feel productive, then take a break or work on another project. As for how often to check your mail, some people prefer twice a day, others at the beginning of each hour. Any more than that is obsessive. Just make sure that people you normally communicate with regularly know you’re reducing response frequency.

  2. Utilize web technology.
    Use soft VoIP such as Skype instead of a telephone. Use text/ VoIM chat (AIM, Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger, Google Talk) instead of VoIP. Use email instead of text chat. Text chat allows you to optimize your multi-tasking without offending the other party, since you can juggle a couple of on-computer tasks more easily than if you use a phone or even soft VoIP. Remember to set IM office hours, else you may find people trying to talk to you all day long – which is a sure way to guarantee not getting any work done.

  3. Aggregate and source out tasks.
    If there are tasks you do regularly that you feel are wasting your time keeping you from more productive work, consider hiring a part- or full-time virtual assistant, aka remote professional or online business manager. Similarly, if there’s work that needs doing around the house and taking the time to do it means losing billable work time, outsource it someone who’ll do it for less than what you estimate your services are worth. That’s provided you don’t enjoy doing the work yourself. No doubt some great ideas have come during household or yard chores.

  4. Use automated invoicing.
    Automated invoicing of your clients can save you a bit of time each week/ month which can be put to good use elsewhere. There are numerous online finance tools available, many free or set at a low monthly rate. This includes Wesabe, which is both a money manager and automated invoicer. As well, it can actually interact with your bank accounts and credit card. If you need to customize your use of Wesabe, there’s an API (Application Programming Interface).  Alternately, you can use PayPal to setup monthly “subscriptions” that automatically collect money from clients’ PayPal accounts, or manage collections by manually sending invoices that stay active until paid.

  5. Work online and keep a portable office.
    Use web software, webware. Why? Because web applications are integrated into the whole online world. Hyperlinks in a web document take you to the appropriate webpage. Information gathering tends to be more efficient when you can work from a single web browser with multiple tabs.

  6. Use wikis.
    If you’re working with a virtual team, instead of explaining something over and over by email, phone, text chat, or VoIP, use a wiki or a private weblog. Write it once, publish, then point teammates to the content.

  7. Structure your planning.
    If you manage a lot of projects and/or work with teammates remotely, consider applying project management principles as well as using mindmapping. Mindmapping allows you to brainstorm ideas and to do simple management of to-do lists and projects. Project management, in a nutshell, requires more structure in ensuring that related tasks don’t create project bottlenecks if they’re not completed on time.

For a more detailed look at prepping yourself for productivity, check out Steve Pavlina’s article How to  create a personal productivity scaffold. For those of you doing creative work at home, you may find certain hours of the day more conducive to your effort. There’s good and bad in each slice of the day. Here’s a diagram to represent this.

daily productivity diagram

Diagram inspired by David Armano.

Comments (3) | Filed under: Productivity

Get a Job or Work at Home?

Thursday, July 19, 2007 at 10:30pm by Site Administrator

It takes a certain mindset to succeed at a startup business, though that does not mean you cannot develop it. The fact is, the sooner you do in life, the more likely you are to succeed as an entrepreneur. Here are five articles that might help you in your decisions whether to get a job or start a business, and whether to do the latter from home or not.

  1. Graduates: start a business or get a job?
    Mind Petals offers 5 reasons not to get a 9-5 job after graduating. They’re good reasons, and their premise is something I’ve reflected on many, many times: it’s far easier to work on a startup out of college than later in your life. That’s primarily because you have very few personal obligations as a fresh graduate.
  2. Moving a startup forward with no cash.
    Just because you don’t have a lot of cash doesn’t mean that you can’t plan your startup business and move it forward. GoBig Network tells you what you can work on while waiting for funding.
  3. Start a home business?
    Say you do want to start a business, and run it from home. Should you do it? Life Learning Today soberly lays out the pros and cons of working from home.
  4. Bootstrap a successful blog.
    One ideal business that you can do at home is to build a weblog. If you follow blogs, you’ve likely heard of Steve Pavlina, who focuses on personal development. Prior to this, he had a successful software business, Dexterity. His hard work with his StevePavlina.com website has also turned into a very successful business that he seems to enjoy immensely. And he spent very little doing it.

    If you want to know how he did it, read his How to make money from your blog, amongst other articles. It’s not a new article, but each time I come across a link to this article, I read it over again. It’s inspiring every time.

  5. Watch your posture.
    If you spend a considerable amount of time working from home, it’s quite possible your posture will degrade. Most of us don’t have as comfortable work chairs at home as we might in an office – which results in poor posture. Unfortunately, poor posture can affect our health. Dumb Little Man offers 7 postural habits you should develop. Speaking of good work chairs, check out this $4,300+ Netsurfer unit from Snowcrash [via Two Minute Commute].


Lolcats Cheezburger: A Missed Business Opportunity

Wednesday, July 18, 2007 at 7:45am by Site Administrator

If you haven’t stumbled across it yet, you may not know that the website ICanHasCheezburger is a sensation, pulling in about a half million pageviews per day. That’s from 100-200K visitors each day. And the site was not created by an entrepreneur, per se.

The site has fun pictures of mostly cats and kittens (aka “lolcats” or laugh out loud cats), with the odd occasional hamster, duck, puppy, rooster, bunny and so on. The pics have amusing photoshopped captions that anthropomorphize animals – which we humans love to do. Given the success of “animal” movies in the past few years, it’s not surprising that such a fun, nay hilarious, website that’s safe for the whole family – and where they can participate – is doing so well.

The site was started by software developer Eric Nakagawa in January 2007, and quit his job at the end of May, due to the success. In a Business Week article [via Blogstorm via Sphinn], it says that the site charges between $500-4000 per week for ads. There are currently eight ads, not counting the Google AdSense ad blocks. That means the site is earning at least 8 ads x $500/ad x 4 weeks/ month =~ $16K/mth. Possibly a lot more.

Business Week calls Nakagawa “an accidental entrepreneur,” as none of this success was planned. How could you possibly plan this?

Here’s the shame of it, depending on your perspective. Nakagawa has no affiliation with any pet food or pet products business. Imagine if your company were in the pet industry and you had come up with this idea. The site would have have been “viral” for you. You might not run all of the ad blocks (or any), but the web traffic would obviously fare very well for your website. You could monetize in other ways, including ebooks, videos about dog training, maybe even your product line.

It’s a missed business opportunity, for sure. However, now that this has been done, you can’t exactly copy it and hope that it’ll be accepted gracefully. Fans of ICanHasCheezburger would probably call you out, albeit very gently.

Still, there’s room enough for some other unique innovation. Fun sites almost always do well, if they can maintain the entertainment. Proof that entrepreneurial success does not always have to be planned. Does Letterman still have his “Stupid Pet Tricks” segment? Can you think of an innovative variation?

20 Ways to Finance Your Business Startup

Tuesday, July 17, 2007 at 3:00pm by Site Administrator

Trying to finance a startup is always an excercise in masterful cash flow management and fund-seeking. Here are a number of traditional and non-traditional ways to get financing. Some are a bit more desperate than others. A couple generate capital but leave no time to use it. A few apply true bootstrapping principles by essentially building on very little capital and reinvesting all earnings until you have the amount you feel you need to start the business you’ve been dreaming about.

  1. Work overtime.
    Some employers have no weekly overtime limits, though the government does. While this method may earn you more money, it also pushes you into higher tax brackets without the time to enjoy it. Do this only if you don’t plan to start your business for several years or have no other choices.
  2. Ask for a bonus or raise.
    Overperform at work, then write up a list of “11 reasons I deserve a raise”, explaining to your boss what you’ve “done for him/her lately.” If it works, you still move into a higher tax bracket, but hopefully you haven’t added more work hours. You may have additional, stressful responsibilities, though.
  3. Get a 0% balance transfer loan.
    If you’re in the United States especially, you’ve no doubt received loads of offers for 0% balance transfer loans. If you have a good credit rating, you can sometimes receive a balance transfer check as a loan for the full amount, which you can do whatever you like with for X months. That is, it may not have to go towards credit cards or other debts. (Some issuers do have restrictions.)

    Depending on the offer, X might be 6, 12, 15, 18, or 24 months. If you do not pay the loan off in that time period, you start paying a relatively high interest rate. So if you think you can start a business in that time period and make it profitable, this is a funding option.

  4. Apply 0% balance transfer arbitrage.
    Zero percent balance transfer arbitrage is a variation of 0% balance transfer loans. The primary difference is that instead of using the balance transfer check to pay off debts, you use it to invest in something that is guaranteed to earn money before your loan is due.

    For example, if you’re offered an 18 month 0% APR balance transfer loan for $30,000, what you do is open an online savings account (OSA) and deposit the money for, say, 16 months at 4-5%. Before the loan comes due, you close the OSA, pay off the $30,000 loan, and put the interest towards financing your business.

    There are pfbloggers (personal finance bloggers) claiming to have received such loans totalling over $100,000 – all at 0%. While 5% isn’t a lot, at that loan amount, it adds up. This is a great way to leverage OPM (Other People’s Money), provided you are not tempted to buy something and can pay the loan back on time. Otherwise, it could bankrupt you.

  5. Consolidate debts.
    Obviously, you want to be responsible with your credit card debt. Overloading more debt isn’t the best way to start a new business. On the other hand, if there’s any way that you can consolidate your currrent debts for a lower monthly payment based on a better interest rate, do it. The amount you save each month from reduced interest rates could be used towards starting a business.

    If your credit rating is poor, you obviously have some work ahead of you, but you can rebuild your credit.

  6. Bootstrap and reinvest.
    Bootstrap a small business, possibly online, using minimal capital. Reinvest the profits to fund the next startup. Stairstep your profits to higher startup capital, until you have enough for your “real” idea.

  7. Sell shares.
    Once you prove yourself in some initial startup (while moving towards your real passion), bring your success to the attention of friends and family. Then offer them a block of private shares for, say, a $1000 investment each. Do you have ten or twenty friends or family members that might be interested? Would $10-20K get you started. Bootstrappers can often get started with less. Just make it clear to your private investors when they might expect a return and what their cut will be. If you don’t expect a return in five years, let them know that now. Formalize everything, or risk destroying relationships.

  8. Borrow from your registered retirement plans.
    Countries that have a registered retirement plan often allow you to borrow on your savings for specific uses. If you have a sizeable retirement contributed to by your current/ previous employer, you might consider borrowing. The drawback is that if you withdraw funds, you often have to pay income tax immediately on the amount. Depending on your tax bracket, it might not be worth it.

  9. Borrow from a life insurance policy.
    Borrowing from your life insurance policy isn’t a good idea, especially if you have dependents, but you can often take a loan out on it. And sometimes it’s worthwhile.

    To wit, Honest Ed Mirvish, a much-loved Toronto business man who passed away last weeky at 92, moved from the US to Toronto in the late 1940s. He cashed in his wife’s insurance policy for Cdn$247 and started the still-standing landmark Honest Ed’s department store. It had the most incredible bargains and helped many poor Canadian immigrants, amongst other citizens. Much later, as a multi-millionaire, he paid for two theatres to be refurbished in downtown Toronto for several shows. One was done at an extra cost of $5 million (if memory serves) to accomodate a real helicopter for Miss Saigon.

    Imagine had Mr. Mirvish not cashed in that insurance policy. Might he have been running some mom and pop shop instead? Probably not, but you never know.

  10. Refinance your mortage.
    Refinancing your mortgage is quite extreme and simply scary, unless you’re 100% certain of the success of your idea. Nevertheless entrepreneurs with vision, who were driven and disciplined have made it work. Just be sure of yourself, as doubt can kill success. You don’t want to be out on the street, literally, if something goes wrong. Though if that happens, you might be inspired by The Pursuit of Happiness.

  11. Get creative.
    Have some collectible items in the house, taking up space? That full-pattern china tea set grandma left you might be worth more than you think. Or maybe you have a few odds and ends of furniture that you can sell at the flea market. Or at Antiques Roadshow. If you’re really hands-on, you might pick up items at flea markets, fix them up and resell at a profit.

  12. Give it up.
    Or maybe you have some big-ticket items you can give up. Say, get rid of any extra vehicles, or replace the one you have with something more fuel-efficient. I don’t recommend giving up a vehicle entirely. Entrepreneurs have a tendency to need a car, unless they’re based entirely online. Or have come up with a new mode of transportation, such as the extreme stilts in the video below.

  13. Use eBay to generate some funds.
    Skip the flea markets. People are making huge profits on eBay, and honestly at that. The key is to find quality items and sell them at a profit with good descriptions and photos. One guy I met in 2003 sold $100 pens that cost him $16. That year – a bad one economically – he grossed $300,000 (although that was mostly expenses). Normally, he made $500K to a million per year, gross, on a variety of very select items.

    Even if you don’t attempt his scale, a few extra hours per week of effort on eBay might generate a few thousand dollars extra capital per month. To save time, you can often have items drop-shipped, though that will cost you.

  14. Get a business bank loan.
    While most bootstrappers do not use/want business bank loans, that does not mean it’s not an option. Of course, if you’re only in the idea stage, it had better be one unique idea that no one else but you can do. Otherwise, you need some proof of concept.

  15. Find venture capital.
    Venture capitalists are more likely to give out money for something at an idea stage than banks, but again, it had better be one solid idea. And if you’re really good with generating salable ideas, you might find yourself as an Entrepreneur in Residence.

  16. Invest in the stock market.
    For experienced investors, it is possible to raise business capital in the stock market. But if you day-trade or get into commodities, etc., you’d better have big brass ones and a healthy understanding of these financial dangerous games.

  17. Invest in government bonds.
    Government bonds are much safer than stock marketing investing, though the maximum return may be low, and take several years to mature.

  18. Consulting.
    Are you in a salaried career position now? Have you considered consulting? Not everyone who consults ends up earning more than as a salaried employee. However, you may have periods between contracts to work on your ideas, and monies earned are typically subject to different income tax rules. Talk to an accountant. And keep all your receipts.

  19. Partner up.
    A good partner is hard to find. Some people prefer to only work with friends, some never would. But two people have many more friends and relatives than one person. (See “Sell Shares”, above.) If the partnership shoe fits, wear it.

  20. Leveraging new media opportunities.
    The Internet has levelled the playing field somewhat, offering many opportunities to earn money. Take what you make, channel it into something else. For example, what I am hoping to do is use my freelance online writing earnings to invest in properties, which I’ll turn around and hopefully start a film production company. It’s a ten-year goal that I’m on my 17th year in, though I’m getting closer, now that I work online.


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