Should You Take Venture Capital?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007 at 9:00pm by Site Administrator

[editorial] You’ve seen the big money deals all over the place: startups being purchased or being funded. Talking about venture capital on a blog about bootstrapping may seem odd, but there’s nothing wrong with accepting investment capital if you can’t find alternative financing. Or is there?

On one hand, VCs are make more smaller deals – especially for early-stage investing. So if you’re looking for it, you might have a chance at venture capital. On the other hand, Anti-Venture Capital gives 10 reasons not to take venture capital.

The latter article actually reminds me of my original opinion of venture capitalists back in the 1990s. But lately, it seems VCs at the very least get a lot of coverage in the blogosphere. I don’t see much negative commentary. In fact, this is the first negative view of VCs I have seen in a very long time. The scary part is that a lot of it makes sense.

Aren’t VCs just in it for the potential of profits? They do need for your business to eventually succeed at some level, or they can’t cash in. But where’s the line drawn? What are you giving up by accepting VC? Will you get as much as you think? Bootstrapping is much harder but is always the option that ensures you don’t reliquinish control.

I don’t want to wax too philosophical here, and maybe I’m pretty cynical, but I don’t for a minute believe that there are more than a handful or two of VCs who are truly out to lend you money simpy because they like your idea. That is, most VCs are in it because they see an investment opportunity, not a humanitarian opportunity. Their role is to seek out financial opportunities, whether for a private firm or a publicly-traded company.

So it boils down to this: if a powerful company really badly wants your business or technology – even if just to get it out of the way, like what happened with many Canadian solar patents – they’ll get it some way or other. (If you don’t believe that, you’re immensely naive.) Companies are run by (flawed) humans, not intangible ideals. Venture Capital firms are companies, and their agenda is to flip transactions for profit.

If you don’t like the power that VCs could have over you, don’t take venture capital, don’t seek it out. If you don’t want to swim with sharks, don’t dip your toes in their waters. Bootstrap your finances and build as you are able. You could also seek funding from family, but that brings its own problems. Consider all the alternatives to financing your business startup.

The Hispanic Entrepreneurs Toolbox: 100 Networking Resources, Guides and Links

Tuesday, August 21, 2007 at 1:50pm by Site Administrator

Recent studies have shown that the number of Hispanic-owned businesses is on the rise, and it’s been predicted that one in ten businesses in the United States will be Hispanic-owned by the end of this year. Despite all of this growth, it is often difficult for Hispanic entrepreneurs to find helpful resources. This list brings together 100 of the best resources out there for advice, inspiration and assistance for growing Hispanic businesses.

Blogs

Blogs can be a great way to keep up with news and issues pertinent to Hispanic entrepreneurs and businesspeople. These are among the best for Hispanic entrepreneurs in the know.

  1. Hispanic SMB Hispanic SMB is a site designed to help start, manage and grow Hispanic small businesses. It features a blog with news about the Hispanic community and a number of other useful resources.
  2. The Latino Edge Written by John Rivera, this blog provides commentary on the business world, focusing especially on marketing issues in the Hispanic global business culture.
  3. The Savvy Comadre This blog gives leadership and marketing advice for Hispanic entrepreneurs in order to help them develop successful businesses.
  4. Hispanic Trending This blog is written by marketing expert Juan Tornoe and has useful information on advertising and marketing to the Hispanic demographic.
  5. Hispanic Net Hispanic Net’s blog contains news and articles on big names in Hispanic business and advice for entrepreneurs.
  6. The Small Business Weekly The Small Business Weekly provides tools and advice for minority business owners.
  7. Hispanics in the Innovation Economy This blog focuses on helping Hispanics who are or want to be in the technology and high tech sectors get resources and advice in order to be successful.
  8. QuieroLatino The blog of a Hispanic start-up dating company, QuieroLatino gives first hand insight into the trials and tribulations of business ownership.
  9. The Loca Diaries This blog is the personal blog of business coach Nancy Marmolejo. She gives her thoughts on life and business ownership.
  10. Biz Buzz of Latina Mom Work at home mom Sonia shares articles and thoughts about business and internet marketing.

Books and Magazines

 

Add these books and magazines to your library for some helpful inspiration and advice.

  1. Hispanic Magazine Hispanic Magazine covers a variety of topics from business and politics to famous Hispanics and fashion.
  2. Hispanic Enterprise Magazine This magazine focuses on trends in business and politics throughout the Hispanic community.
  3. Hispanic Business This magazine is geared towards the Hispanic business professional with information, ideas and advice on business related issues.
  4. Minority Business Entrepreneur Magazine MBE Magazine serves as a nationwide forum for minority and women business owners as well as corporations and government agencies concerned with minority enterprise development.
  5. Think & Grow Rich: A Latino Choice By Lionel Sosa In this book, Sosa shares his inspiring success story as well as those of other members of the Latino community.
  6. The Americano Dream By Lionel Sosa Lionel Sosa is an advertising whiz when it comes to helping Anglo corporations break into the multicultural market. In this book, he turns the tables, showing Latino-Americans how to market themselves to a wider American business culture.
  7. Latino Entrepreneurs By Susan Zannos Zannos provides career and business resources in this two volume book. She also profiles a number of successful Hispanic businessmen and women.
  8. Latino Success By Augusto A. Failde, William S. Doyle To help counteract negative stereotypes associated with Hispanic entrepreneurs, these authors profiled 100 successful Latinos.
  9. Latinos, Inc. By Arlene M. Davila Arlene Davila provides a critical examination of the Hispanic marketing industry and of its role in how US latinos are perceived.
  10. Vision: Hispanic Entrepreneurs in the United States By Mabel Tinjaca This book tells the story of a flourishing business community and includes six biographies of highly successful Hispanic entrepreneurs and the lessons they have learned.
  11. Mexican American Odessey By Felix Tijerina This book chronicles the rise of Felix Tijerina, who came to the US speaking no English and went on to start a thriving Tex-Mex restaurant chain. It also highlights the way he used his own success to give back to the community.

Business Tools

Save yourself some time and money with these great web applications and tools for businesses.

  1. redtienda redtienda is a great resource for Hispanic entrepreneurs running an online business. It provides a Spanish language shopping cart feature that you can add to your online store to make selling your products online easier for both you and your customers.
  2. Freshbooks Freshbooks makes invoicing easier by tracking time and providing features to quickly print and send invoices through the mail.
  3. Ta-Da Lists Ta-Da is a simple and free to-do list program that allows you to store and share your to-do lists.
  4. HighRise As any business owner knows, it’s important to keep client and customer information safe and organized. HighRise allows users to track conversations and communications with clients as well as maintain their contact information.
  5. Campfire Campfire can make keeping in touch and collaborating with business partners easy, with real-time chat and file sharing.
  6. eFax If you don’t want the hassle of actually owning fax machine, you can use eFax to send out faxes via email instead.
  7. Wesabe Wesabe can help you keep track of where you’re spending money in your business.
  8. Basecamp Basecamp can make collaboration and communication on a group project a snap. Users can create a home base for messaging, project updates, and uploading files.
  9. Relenta CRM Keep track of valuable customer relationships using email, contact, document and activity management with Relenta.
  10. WordPress Almost every business out there has a blog nowadays, so why not jump on the bandwagon? Get a free basic blog at WordPress and start getting the word out about your business.
  11. SDL International Translation Whether you’re doing business abroad or just need some help at home, SDL translation can help you make sure you’re saying what you really want to say.
  12. Inc.com Inc.com provides a list of over 100 tools for business owners and entrepreneurs including sample agreements, worksheets, and checklists.
  13. Breeze Breeze allows you to easily launch email campaigns and send out email advertisements.
  14. Planzo If you need help staying on top of tasks, meetings, and projects, Planzo can be a great solution. This online calendar can send text message reminders or let you share your tasks online.

Sources of Capital

Need some start up cash? There are numerous organizations out there that provide loans and financing to Hispanic entrepreneurs.

  1. Hispania Capital Partners Hispania Capital Partners invests in companies that benefit from the demographics of the U.S. Hispanic marketplace to help ensure that those businesses become leaders in their field.
  2. Ibero American Investors Ibero offers a variety of funding options to Hispanic businesses including loans, equity positions and complex syndicated joint ventures.
  3. vFinance, Inc. vFinance focuses on meeting the financial needs of Hispanic businesses by providing resources for finding venture and angel investors.
  4. Community Development Venture Capital Alliance (CDVCA) The CDVCA provides capital to businesses in minority and underinvested markets.
  5. Milestone Growth Fund, Inc. The Milestone Growth Fund supplies equity financing to minority-owned companies.
  6. Palladium Equity Partners The Palladium Equity Partners specialize in providing equity capital to companies focused on the Hispanic market.
  7. Accion USA Accion USA is a private non-profit organization that offers small business loans of up to $25,000 to Hispanic business owners all over the US. They also provide financial literacy classes and numerous other business development resources.
  8. New America Alliance New America Alliance is a group of American Latino business who aim to build up Hispanic business by expanding the forms of capital available to Hispanic entrepreneurs.
  9. Nexos Capital Nexos is a Hispanic-controlled private equity firm focused exclusively on investments in small businesses owned by Hispanics or those that serve the needs of the Hispanic community.
  10. Fulcrum Venture Capital Fulcrum Venture Capital brings together capital pools from qualified investors and invests that capital on their behalf in privately held businesses in minority and urban communities.
  11. LaBonfante Group LaBonfante Group provides capital for Hispanic businesses in the United States as well as in Latin America.

Marketing

No matter what kind of business you’re running, you’ll need to get your name out there. Here are some marketing resources geared towards the Hispanic market.

  1. Hispanic Marketing and Communication Association This is a nonprofit association that dedicates resources to the promotion of Hispanic marketing.
  2. Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies The AHAA is a trade organization for the Hispanic marketing and advertising industry.
  3. Hispanic Marketing Group Hispanic Marketing Group develops marketing that is focused on the Hispanic demographic both at home and abroad.
  4. Latino Centric Marketing LCM boasts a team of professionals experienced in creating Latino-focused marketing campaigns.
  5. iHispanic Marketing Group iHispanic Marketing Group is a Hispanic-owned business that can help other Hispanic business owners maximize their presence on the web.
  6. TeleNoticias TeleNoticias helps companies reach the Hispanic population through Spanish-language television and other broadcast media.
  7. Hispanicity Hispanicity advertises to Hispanics both native and foreign born through print, web, radio and television.
  8. LatinWorks LatinWorks is an agency that can help develop and implement culturally relevant campaigns in all forms of communication.
  9. WING Latino WING Latino aims to connect brands with Hispanic consumers by following the changing trends and behavior patterns of the Hispanic market.
  10. Hispanic PR Wire Hispanic PR Wire is a Latino-owned business focused on sending out information about Hispanic businesses and general news to leading Hispanic media organizations worldwide.

Government Resources

Don’t let those tax dollars go to waste; take advantage of all the useful resources the government provides to Hispanic business owners.

  1. United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce EDIT: This description has been removed from the list at the request of Michael L. Barrera who is both President and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which apparently "…IS NOT A BRANCH OF ANY OTHER ORGANIZATION nor a branch of the government." Mr. Barrera has contacted his general counsel about this matter of upmost importance, and similarly recognizing its importance we have rushed out to comply with Mr. Barrera’s request.
  2. Minority Business Development AgencyThe MBDA is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and was specifically created to encourage the growth of minority-owned businesses in the United States. The MBDA provides access to financing and market opportunities as well as management and business information.
  3. Small Business AdministrationThe SBA can be a valuable resource for those who want to start or grow a small business, offering business advice, classes, tools, and local resources available free of charge.
  4. Copyright Law Find out what your rights are regarding your intellectual property with this government based resource on copyright law.
  5. Congressional Hispanic Caucus The CHC is dedicated to fighting for and making sure that Hispanics are well represented on issues in Congress that are of special interest or value to the Hispanic community.
  6. Library of Congress Business Reference Services The Library of Congress has an extensive library of business related materials. If you can’t make it there in person, you can check out their extensive list of online resources.

How-to Guides

Get some insight on how to improve or add to your business and make it more successful.

  1. Work.com Work.com provides helpful how-to guides on a variety of subjects including hiring, sales and marketing, startups and more written by business professionals and experts.
  2. My New Company Need some help creating or incorporating your new business? My New Company will walk you through the step-by-step process of creating a corporation or LLC.
  3. Small Business Planner A resource created by the SBA, the small business planner can help you figure what you need to do to get your business up and running and how you can go about doing it.
  4. Entrepreneur.com This site provides numerous how-to guides on every element of starting a new business from designing a logo to hiring an attorney.
  5. How to Write a Business Plan This article provides some helpful tips on creating a winning business plan.
  6. 10 Hiring Tips for Small Business Owners Learning how to manage your human resources can be a painful process of trial and error, but this article gives some great tips on making sound decisions in your hiring process.
  7. 50 Ways to Save Money in Your Business Even the most successful businesses need to be careful not to overspend. These 50 tips will give you advice on how you can pinch some pennies for your business and increase your profit margins.
  8. 10 Tips for Successful Business Networking You are often only as successful as who you know in business and this article gives some advice on how to make the most out of your networking opportunities.
  9. Contracts 101 Some of the best advice when working with clients is to get any agreements and expectations in writing. This article can help you learn how to create a business contract.

Networking Resources and Organizations

There’s no denying that part of getting ahead is knowing the right people. These networking resources and organizations can get you on the right track to making useful business connections.

  1. Association of Hispanic Entrepreneurs The Association of Hispanic Entrepreneurs promotes the business development of Hispanic entrepreneurs with economic programs designed to strengthen and expand the income potential of its members and affiliates.
  2. National Internet Community of Hispanic Entrepreneurs (NICHE) NICHE focuses on helping the Hispanic Community become more aware of the Internet, have access to its features and media, as well as take advantage of its benefits in the business community.
  3. Mi Negocio is a Spanish language networking and informational resource for Hispanic business owners. It provides a directory of businesses, forums for discussion, and a number of inspirational stories.
  4. National Hispanic Business Association The NHBA is a network of current students and alumni who aim to aid the development of undergraduate Hispanic business students through educational, professional, and networking opportunities.
  5. Hispanic Business Women’s Alliance The HBWA is an international organization of Hispanic women entrepreneurs and professionals working as a network for members to conduct and collaborate in business.
  6. Latin Business Association The Latin Business Association promotes the growth of Hispanic-owned businesses by providing development opportunities such as educational workshops as well as formulating effective advocacy programs.
  7. Hispanic Net Hispanic-Net is a non-profit organization for Hispanic entrepreneurs, business executives and professionals in high technology, software, and Internet-related companies.
  8. National Society for Hispanic Professionals The National Society for Hispanic Professionals provides networking, education, and leadership opportunities to help empower Hispanic entrepreneurs.
  9. National Hispanic Corporate Council The National Hispanic Corporate Council is a great resource for information on human resources, diversity, marketing, supplier diversity and community relations.
  10. Questamente Questamente is dedicated to Hispanic business owners and entrepreneurs and can provide networking resources as well as informative articles on business development.
  11. National Hispanic Professional Organization The NHPO is a non-profit organization that provides networking opportunities, educational seminars and professional development training.
  12. Hispanic Business Alliance The HBA provides access a network of business resources that help foster economic growth and development of the Hispanic community.
  13. National Society of Hispanic MBAs If you’re in the process of getting or have already gotten your MBA, the NSHMBA can be a great opportunity to get to know other Hispanic MBAs, gain leadership skills, and foster connections that can help you get ahead in business.

Stories of Hispanic Entrepreneurs

Business ownership can at times be a scary endeavor, but it can be a great help to hear stories from those who’ve been there before you.

  1. Bucking the Odds in Columbus Business owner Efrain Quezada went from new immigrant to owning a chain of successful restaurants.
  2. Emergent Entrepreneurs This article describes the growth in numbers and success of Latina business owners and the economic impact it has had.
  3. Sara J. Gonzalez Sara came from Cuba with little more than the clothes on her back and 2 children in tow. Today she is president and CEO of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and helps other Hispanic entrepreneurs learn to be successful in business.
  4. Finding Their Niche Sisters Amelia and Pilar launched a successful scrapbooking business with products designed specifically for Hispanics.
  5. Leading Latinas This article profiles several Latina entrepreneurs who came from all walks of life to become leaders in their fields.
  6. Carlos Devis Devis, of Bose systems, was named Ford’s "El Visionario" for his work in educational and community development.
  7. Linda Alvarado This article profiles Linda Alvarado, CEO of a large construction company and the first Hispanic owner of a Major League Baseball team.
  8. Joseph Unanue Along with his brothers, Joseph made Goya foods a nationwide success. He now uses his wealth to help others through philanthropic ventures.
  9. Fiesta FoodsThe Bequer family has turned their small Hispanic grocery into a successful chain of stores.
  10. Zully Alvarado Polio and numerous hardships haven’t stopped Zully Alvarado from being successful in business.
  11. Demand for Hispanic MBAs Here you’ll find good news for businessmen and women getting MBAs.
  12. Amy Salazar From a small table outside her parents store to a chain of 21 stores across Texas, Amy Salazar has made her dream a reality.
  13. Don Quijote Awards The Don Quijote Awards go to businesspeople who have translated their efforts at entrepreneurship into success.
  14. Rafael Cuellar Rafael Cuellar rose to success as owner and board member of several large supermarket chains.
  15. Successful Hispanic Women This article shares stories from three successful businesswomen about how they got to where they are.
  16. The Latino Small-Business Boom Hispanic businesses are booming in the Washington DC area. This article details their rise as well as profiles of several local businesses who have been especially successful.

The Woman Entrepreneurs Toolbox: 100 Networking Resources, Guides and Links

Monday, August 20, 2007 at 1:37pm by Site Administrator

When a strong woman gets an idea in her head that she wants something, you can be sure that she’s going to make it happen. That’s why so many women are becoming wildly successful as entrepreneurs. Whether you’re designing a new product or a work at home mom launching an eBay storefront, this list is for you. Check out these resources for advice, information and tools to help you grow your business.

Blogs

For up-to-the minute information on topics that matter for female entrepreneurs, check out these blogs.

  1. Boss Lady: These business partners and best friends give women a guide to running a business as a woman. Features include profiles of women-run businesses, resources and commentary.
  2. Chronicles of a Mompreneur: Elizabeth at Chronicles of a Mompreneur offers readers insight on topics like being a working mom, turning your expertise into an empire, and more.
  3. Empower Women Now: Empower Women Now helps women bring their business online and develop an internet brand.
  4. Debby Peters, Networking Guru: Debby Peters coaches readers on how to network with others.
  5. Love Them Up and Keep Them Forever: This blog helps entrepreneurs understand the benefits of connecting with customers on a personal level.
  6. The Biz Chicks: The Biz Chicks offers news as well as a community for women in business.
  7. Diary of a Start-up Mom: This mom offers advice, reviews and resources for moms with start-ups.
  8. The Savvy Entrepreneur: Cristina Favreau helps other service-based entrepreneurs run and market their businesses successfully.
  9. Escape From Corporate America!: Laurel Delaney, author Escape From Corporate America, takes a look at why women are leaving big companies to strike out on their own.
  10. No Limits Ladies: The No Limits Ladies discuss financial strategies for women.
  11. Passion Meets Purpose: Kammie Kobyleski helps readers find passion in their businesses as well as daily lives.
  12. A Savvy Start: Follow the story of Lauren Berger, a young entrepreneur working to get her business off the ground.
  13. Sisters In Biz: Sisters In Biz offers news, profiles, and commentary for women of color in business.
  14. Startup Princess: Kelly King Anderson and friends invite readers to "make a wish, make it happen!"
  15. Family Friendly Work: Lori Long, author of The Parent’s Guide to Family Friendly Work, discusses balancing work and family life.
  16. Escape From Cubicle Nation: Escape From Cubicle Nation offers insight and advice from a woman who has been there. Pamela Slim, a successful entrepreneur, offers advice on how to leave your corporate job and do something that you love.
  17. The Anti 9-5 Guide: Michelle Goodman helps others escape the "golden handcuffs" and get into self-employed work.
  18. Mirror Mirror: This blogger discusses "bringing up a business and a baby."
  19. Freelance Mom: Lori Redfield tells readers how to make the most of your competition, build your business online and more.
  20. Mogulettes in the Making: The Mogulettes offer support for women who are launching their own business.
  21. The Inspired Market-Her’s Blog: This blog helps you learn how to market yourself and become profitable.

Tools

We’re sure you could build a business with your own two hands, but why should you have to? Get a little help with these cool tools and web applications.

  1. FreshBooks: Take the pain out of client billing with FreshBooks. This application makes it easy to track time, invoice and collect payments.
  2. Vstore: Take your products online with Vstore. This free, customizable storefront lets you sell your products online and keep 100% of the profits.
  3. Count Me In: This group provides micro-loans from $500 to $10,000 for women entrepreneurs.
  4. Highrise: Stay on top of your clients and other contacts using Highrise. This program helps users track contacts and communication history as well as remember when to follow up with them.
  5. Breeze: Breeze users can create email campaigns with ease. Send out newsletters, coupons, and quick customer hellos using this program.
  6. Remember the Milk: Keep track of your to-do lists with Remember the Milk. This program is great because it’s web-based, so it follows you wherever you happen to log in. It also lets you keep separate lists, so you can have one for marketing, invoicing, vendors, or any other category your heart desires.
  7. Prosper: Use Prosper for people-to-people lending. Get money for your business or make money by lending to others.
  8. Xing: Use Xing’s people search for contact management.
  9. Nolo: Check out Nolo for legal resources.
  10. Moo: Print promotional items like stickers, business cards and notecards with Moo.
  11. Jewelboxing: Impress your clients with professional-grade DVD and CD packages from Jewelboxing.
  12. WordPress: Get the word out about your business and speak your mind with a blog at WordPress.
  13. Escrow: Protect yourself from fraudulent payments by asking your clients to use Escrow.
  14. Spamato: Save yourself time and frustration by eliminating spam with Spamato.
  15. Project Stat.us: An informed customer is a happy customer. Let them know how their project is going by updating them with ProjectStat.us.
  16. Harvest: Do you wonder where all of your time goes? Use Harvest’s time tracking tool to get control of your workday.
  17. Box: Box offers free online storage that can be accessed from any computer and shared with anyone. Use it to send large files to your clients and free up space on your hard drive.
  18. Wesabe: Wesabe helps you understand where your money goes. Use this program to keep track of revenue, vendor spending and more.
  19. Spongecell: Do you have lots of events going on? Get a handle on them with Spongecell’s helpful online calendar service.
  20. Backpack: Do you have papers everywhere covered with to-dos, notes, and ideas? Put them all in one handy place with Backpack.
  21. Zoho Office Suite: If you like Windows Office but don’t want to plunk down big bucks for it, Zoho is for you. They’ve got word processing, spreadsheets, presentation, mail, and much, much more, all for free.

Networking & Organizations

For entrepreneurs, being successful is all about who you know. Use these resources for getting connected with other successful businesswomen.

  1. Forum for Women Entrepreneurs & Executives: This forum offers many networking and educational events for women in business.
  2. American Business Women’s Association: The AWBA brings women together with events, networking, and education.
  3. Ladies Who Launch: The Ladies Who Launch host events and spotlights for ladies who are on the move.
  4. WE, Inc.: This non-profit business association advocates and provides resources for women entrepreneurs.
  5. Women Entrepreneur Forums: The forums at Women Entrepreneur offer a great resource for connecting with other female business owners online.
  6. Women 2.0: This network is made up of women who own technology businesses. You’ll find mentoring, financial resources, and awesome garden parties.
  7. National Association of Women Business Owners: NAWBO works to help women achieve power through networking, alliances, and promotion of economic development.
  8. Athena International: Athena supports and develops women by inspiring them to achieve their full potential.
  9. US Women’s Chamber of Commerce: This chamber of commerce works to take women from being a targeted consumer market into an economic force, opening doors to opportunities for women.
  10. Women Impacting Public Policy: WIPP is a voice for women in business on Capitol Hill. You can help WIPP take action, attend events, or check out their business resources.
  11. askCharity: askCharity arms women with networking contacts as well as access to key media personnel.
  12. International Virtual Women’s Chamber of Commerce: The IVWCC works to help women create profitable alliances and joint ventures together.
  13. Team Women: Team Women provides women with networking, support, and an exchange of business leads.
  14. Mompreneurs: This organization offers members access to message boards, books and a marketplace.
  15. Springboard Enterprises: Springboard Enterprises supports emerging women businesses. Send them your business plan for suggestions and referrals.
  16. Woman Owned: Woman Owned gives women information, tools, advice and networking opportunities that can help you start up or grow your business.
  17. Women’s Entrepreneurial Network: This network provides contacts, business resources, and tools for success.

Government Resources

Uncle Sam doesn’t just want to take your taxes; he wants to help you jump-start your business! Check out these government resources that you should be taking advantage of.

  1. National Women’s Business Council: The National Women’s Business Council is a federal advisory council. They offer business mentoring, conferences, events, and a way to let your entrepreneurial voice be heard on Capitol Hill.
  2. Small Business Administration: The SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership offers training, counseling, and other programs and services that are designed to help you succeed.
  3. Minority Business Development Agency: The MBDA’s web portal offers events, contracting opportunities, a discussion forum and more.
  4. Women 21: Women 21, a division of the Department of Labor, gives women a chance to take advantage of resources, information, online programs and networking opportunities online.

How-To

Check out these helpful guides for specific advice on topics that will help you be successful.

  1. Work.com: Work offers a wealth of how-to guides for any business.
  2. Get Certified!: This article discusses how businesses can get certified as woman-owned and how to take advantage of the status.
  3. 50 Ways to Save Money in Your Business: Everyone could use a little help pinching pennies. Check out these tips that can save you thousands of dollars.
  4. How Small Businesses Handle Employee Holidays: You might like to work 24/7, but your employees probably aren’t crazy about that idea. Follow this guide to handling time off.
  5. How to Forecast Revenue and Growth: Follow this guide to figure out how much money and staffing you need to be prepared for.
  6. 100 Ways to Be a Better Entrepreneur: This article offers a checklist for improving your business.
  7. How to Find the Attorney Who’s Right for Your Business: A good lawyer can help keep your business out of legal and financial hot water. Here’s how to find the one that’s best for you.
  8. 25 Ways to Simplify Your Business: Make your business simple and easy using these tips.
  9. Five Steps to Government Contracting: Check out this guide to doing business with the government.
  10. How to Cope With Overnight Success: You made it! Now what? This guide offers advice on how to deal with overwhelming success.
  11. How to Give Back When You Don’t Have a Referral: This article details how to offer value to your networking contacts even when you don’t have referrals to offer them.
  12. Expanding With a Second Location: Are you getting too big for your current space? Perhaps it’s time to branch out. Read this article for insight on this big decision.
  13. Choosing the Right Trade Show: This article offers a guide to marketing yourself through a trade show.
  14. How to Write a Contact: This one’s a no-brainer. Follow this guide to writing contacts that can help you be prepared for every "What if?"
  15. What Should You Charge?: Read this article for advice on finding the sweet spot for your prices.
  16. How to Select a Shopping Center Location: So you’re ready to move your business out of your house and into a proper establishment. Many businesswomen choose to go into shopping centers. Here’s how to pick the best one for you.
  17. How to Train Your Clients to Pay You: Don’t get burned by deadbeat customers. Use this guide to get your clients to fork over your hard-earned money.
  18. Bury the Seven-Day Workweek: Go from workaholic to someone with a balanced life using this guide.

Inspiring Stories

When you’re just getting started, it’s often hard to visualize success. Read these stories to set your sights on where you want to be.

  1. California Baby: Jessica Iclisoy’s all-natural baby product line has generated more than $10 million in sales thanks to consumer education through demonstrations and Q & A sessions.
  2. Carol’s Daughter: Lisa Price made beauty products at home that expanded to a hot line of more than 200 products, some of which are featured at Sephora.
  3. Sassybax: Amanda Horan Kennedy has built her business on fun and flattering undergarments.
  4. Nest Fresh Eggs: Cyd Szumanski hit the organic market with her eggs at just the right time.
  5. Olive and Bette’s: Stacy Pecor created her own retail store in New York City.
  6. Hollywould: Holly Dunlap’s cute but comfortable shoes are in 60 stores, including Saks Fifth Avenue.
  7. Duwop: Christina Bartolucci and Laura DeLuisa took their beauty products straight to the celebrity market.
  8. CCM Marketing: Suzy da Silva and Nicole Licata have become millionaires with their advertising agency.
  9. Karate Kids: Dawn Barnes went from ballerina and stunt woman to a karate school owner.
  10. Baby Steps: Lisa Druxman created a successful business with a family-friendly fitness class.

Books

Check out these books for thought-provoking stories and helpful advice.

  1. How She Does It: How Women Entrepreneurs Are Changing the Rules of Business Success: How She Does It offers insight from a woman who has been there. This book is sure to help you get inspired whether you’re currently running a business or just hoping to do so in the near future.
  2. Ladies Who Launch: Embracing Entrepreneurship & Creativity as a Lifestyle: Ladies Who Launch helps women focus on the dreams they have for themselves, not what other people think they should do. Read this book for a structure that will help you bring your business to life.
  3. How to Run Your Business Like a Girl: Successful Strategies from Entrepreneurial Women Who Made It Happen: In this book, you’ll find practical advice for creating your business, from opening your office to making it through the slow times.
  4. Bags to Riches: 7 Success Secrets for Women in Business: Bags to Riches follows the story of "wealthy bag lady" Linda Hollander, who went from a debt and dead-end job to a thriving business. This book offers tips for finding a mentor, getting financed, and good customer service.
  5. The Woman’s Advantage: 20 Women Entrepreneurs Show You What It Takes to Grow Your Business: For real life illustrations of successful woman-owned businesses, check out this book. It offers the stories of 20 women entrepreneurs and the strategies that made them successful.
  6. Smart Women and Small Business: How to Make the Leap from Corporate Careers to the Right Small Enterprise: If you’re still a corporate slave longing to leave the W-2 workforce, this book is for you. Read about the many different enterprises in which women thrive.
  7. Capitalizing on Being Woman Owned: Expert Advice for Women Who Have or Are Starting Their Own Business: For the nitty gritty details on how to take advantage of your women owned business status, check out this book. You’ll find information on government support, tax breaks, and more.
  8. Mompreneurs Online: Using the Internet for Work at Home Success: This book offers advice on building a business online that’s both kid-friendly and profitable.
  9. Idea Mapping: How to Access Your Hidden Brain Power, Learn Faster, Remember More, and Achieve Success in Business: This book will help you streamline your thinking process through the idea mapping method.

Entrepreneurial Mindset: 33 Productivity and Success Tips

Saturday, August 18, 2007 at 11:45pm by Site Administrator

Productivity is a mindset that’s easy to slip out of without practice or a few reminders. Many of these tips are geared to the digital entrepreneur, but also apply to almost anyone running a startup business.


Email Management

Email messages can take up a significant portion of an entrepreneur’s time, especially if you’re working online – since a greater percentage of conversations end up being online.

  1. Delay email checking.
    Don’t start the morning by checking email. It’ll just distract you. Most people find morning the best time to write or plan. Maybe there’s a task needed doing from yesterday.

  2. Improve readability.
    Lifehack has a Better Blogging Gmail extension for Firefox which has numerous useful options. One is a choice of “skins” for the GMail interface, some of which make finding a particular email easier (if you’re too lazy to search).

  3. Apply GTD for email.
    GTD, or Get Things Done, is a productivity philosophy for task management started by David Allen. It’s also a book by him by the same name. If you are using GMail (Google Mail) on the Firefox browser, you can install the GTD Inbox for GMail extension.

  4. Use the two-minute rule.
    Finding yourself taking too long for some tasks? Time yourself, track your best time on repeated tasks, then try to best your score by completing non-essential tasks in two minutes. But do them now instead of setting them aside. For email, the GTD Inbox Firefox extension (above) has a timer for both GMail email and the GTalk chat dialog.

  5. Minimize email folders.
    Most popular email clients allow you to create folders to partition your email and keep your inbox from being out of control. Jim Gibbon suggests you keep only two email folders to manage all messages. This forces you to decide now what to do with a message, rather than deferring it until later in a folder you’ll probably never look at again.

  6. Reduce email checking.
    This won’t work for everyone, but some people like to check email and respond only once per day. This eliminates unnecessary time spent checking when you’re bored or distracted. To enable reduced checking, consider answering personal email after work hours. [Urgent messages are usually received over the phone, not by email.]

  7. Don’t reply unless necessary.
    In the course of an email conversation thread, you’ll get to a point where it’s not necessary to respond. Some people are overly polite and want to simply say “okay” or “thank you”. If you’ve already said “thanks in advance”, why waste time saying “thanks” once more? Consider how many times per day you’re doing this, day in and day out.

  8. Auto-filter email messages.
    Some email clients such as GMail allow you to set up automatic filters that either clear out junk or redirect email to folders. If you’re using more than two folders, you might as well send, say, newsletters from specific email addresses to a “newsletters” folder, or what have you.

  9. Use email instead of having a meeting.
    Sometimes, communicating by email is considerably faster than setting up a meeting, sharing pleasantries, etc. That is, you don’t always need a meeting.

  10. Use text chat over email or telephone.
    When a quick answer is necessary, sending emails back and forth is a waste of time. Text chat also beats the telephone because it allows you to share text, URLs, or files and get responses in real time. Another aspect of text chat is that you can keep a session open over a long duration and interact when necessary. Group chat can also be more productive than conducting a live meeting.


Task Management

Successfully completing tasks often relies solely on being organized.

  1. Plan ahead.
    Having a roadmap to a goal does improve the chances that you’ll get to your destination. Not every inch of your journey has to be planned out, though knowing the major milestones helps keep you on track. You’ll also need to know what you have to do to get to your destination.

  2. Write a to do list.
    The act of writing down a to do list helps to reinforce it in your mind, and to provide the sense of its importance. If you prefer, type it, or use a calendaring tool such as Google Calendar – which makes it easier to move an incomplete task to the next day. If you don’t have time to write, or are unable (i.e., because you’re driving), try carrying a voice recording and having someone transcribe later.

  3. Review your to do list.
    Just planning and building a to-do list isn’t enough. Review your list of tasks and/or ideas as soon as possible. Did you accomplish what you set out to do? Did a task take longer than you expected? Less time?

  4. Adjust tasks accordingly.
    Your daily to do list is a rough guide for what needs to be accomplished today. Highest priority tasks should, of course, come first. However, if you’ve reached a bottleneck, instead of fretting about it, work on something else that you’ve already prepped.

  5. Don’t procrastinate.
    Do it now. Easier said than done, of course. People procrastinate many reasons:

    • Boredom.
    • Unprepared or unskilled for a task.
    • Fear of failure due to past experiences – often unrelated.
    • Distractions, such as too many things on the mind. Unload your ideas.
  6. Multitask properly.
    This is related to tip #14 above, Adjust tasks accordingly. There’s a trend right now to declare that multi-tasking is bad. That’s especially true for lots of physical tasks. But many other tasks can be multi-tasked if:

    1. They’re sufficiently different in approach.
    2. A computer or machine is involved that can be set to run on its own.
    3. You prep tasks by breaking them down into sub-tasks.
    4. You are not progressing with one task, but you’re capable of switching to another task and taking it to completion.

    It can be done. I’ve done it this way for 25 years, and it simply takes some planning.

  7. Don’t do two things at once.
    This is NOT multi-tasking, and only serves to confuse. (This also includes watching TV while trying to work. However, listening to music does sometimes aid work productivity.) Also, switching back and forth between two tasks because you can is also not multi-tasking.

  8. Leave work at work.
    The basic rule of thumb is to separate work and personal time. Assuming you don’t work out of the house, taking work home is a bad. Physical tiredness can appear out of nowhere when you switch environments. There may be distractions such as family members, pets, personal tasks. If you work out your home, try to keep your work area separate, so that you can mentally leave work at work by stepping away.


Management, Meetings, Business Miscellaneous

Do you work with others? Optimize productivity for yourself and them with a few simple habits.

  1. Delegate tasks.
    If you have a startup business, you can probably get by with doing nearly everything, but only for a while. As each role you’re fulfilling grows in scope, you will need to delegate. And utilize each person’s best skills accordingly. Some workplaces are notorious for putting employees into the wrong roles, as Scott Adam‘s Dilbert comic has amusingly shown. We don’t need more companies like that.

  2. Don’t micromanage.
    Once you delegate, don’t micromanage, watching over others, nagging them about details. If you trust them enough to hire them and delegate tasks, then leave them to complete the tasks as they see fit. It’s hard to let go, especially when you’re concerned with the future of your business, but it’s necessary since you cannot forever do everything yourself.

  3. Choose compatible partners.
    This should be obvious, but friends often go into business together. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. If you’re arguing that one partner isn’t doing enough work or whatever, then it’s time to make business-changing decisions.

  4. Keep your appointments.
    Keeping your appointments saves rescheduling time for all parties involved. Meetings also partition your day, and the time in transit can give you a much-needed break – even if it’s only a few minutes.

  5. Prepare for meetings.
    This is especially important if you are the moderator. Without the necessary research or documentation, it’s difficult to have a productive meeting.

  6. Send meeting agendas in advance.
    The more people that will be involved in a meeting, especially if they are participating remotely, the more important it is that they’re prepared, too. Send any meeting agenda or documentation in advance.

  7. Weigh out opportunities.
    Say no to an opportunity if you don’t feel it’s right. There’s no rule that says you have to accept all offers, and not every opportunity is worth the rewards – especially if it affects existing work with regular clients.

  8. Do things online.
    There’s a lot you can do online that are incredible timesavers. For example, if you’re planning some business travel, forget driving to the travel agency. Book your flight and hotel online. Or delegate the task to your assistant.


Miscellaneous

These are general productivity tips that don’t fit in above.

  1. Take a break.
    Not taking a break results in an overloaded mind, which in turn results in employees wasting nearly 25% of a work day.

  2. Take a nap.
    Go one step further than a break and take a nap. Instead of reducing productivity, a nap can clear your mind, even present solutions to pending problems upon awakening. It also is a stress reliever, and stress kills productivity.

  3. Exercise.
    Staying healthy increases your chances of success. Exercise gets blood flowing, to the body and brain. Schedule it like a meeting if necessary.

  4. Wake up earlier.
    If you’re capable of getting up earlier than usual, you just might find that not only is life quieter then – allowing more concentration – but that you’re more productive, especially with creative work. If getting up early doesn’t work for you, challenge yourself to be more productive in the same amount of time.

  5. Reduce distraction.
    Unless you do phone support, are in a crisis situation, or are expecting the boss to call, you do not need to answer the phone every time it rings. If you are the boss, well… you can get away with not answering everytime. The same goes for email (see above): don’t feel compelled to answer the moment you receive a message.

  6. Reduce stress elements.
    Stress occurs for many reasons. Take your pick, then deal with it:

    1. Fire an underproductive employee if talking doesn’t help.
    2. Get a loan if finances are a problem, even if you generally follow a bootstrapper‘s credo.
    3. Buyout a difficult partner.
    4. Get rid of anything causing you stress.
  7. Turn off the TV.
    Turning off the TV forever supposedly can make you several million dollars, if you leverage both the time and expenses saved.


Rent or Buy Office Property: 7 Questions to Ask Yourself

Friday, August 17, 2007 at 9:00pm by Site Administrator

Not all entrepreneurs and startup businesses are launched out of a spare room or garage. There are times when having a “real” office is more appropriate. If this is an office you’d like to have long-term, you might be wondering whether it’s worth buying or renting.

A few questions to ask yourself:

  1. Necessity.
    Do you really want a mortgage? Is it absolutely necessary? Do you know why you really want to buy property rather than rent an office?

  2. Business value.
    Can you write off enough of the mortgage to make it worthwhile over renting? If you’re running a business, you should be able to write off rent as well.

  3. Business value, part 2.
    Is there any overwhelming reason that once you set up your business office, that you have to stay there long-term? If not, then renting leaves more option for moving later.

  4. Affordability.
    Can you afford the mortage? Obviously, if it’s not about the same as if you rent, you have an added financial burden that a startup business doesn’t need.

  5. Property taxes.
    Have you factored in property taxes and the fact that they’re paid quarterly in most cities? With rent, it’s incorporated and isn’t a surprise each quarter.

  6. Incidental costs.
    What about heat, hydro, etc., costs? Have you accounted for these in your operating budget?

  7. Maintenance costs.
    For example, if you live in area that has snow, you might be responsible for clearing it within the permiter of your property, else be liable for accidents and injuries. And what about the cost of repairs, plumbing problems, etc.


Convenience

Another consideration, if you’re choosing an office over working out of the house, is break time. When you’re at home, it’s easy to take a quick nap after a long day, then get back to work. It’s a little bit harder at an office. And since startup entrepreneurs are often trying to wear every hat instead of delegating tasks, they’re usually easily worn out.

Type of Office

If you decide that buying is still worthwhile, there’s still the question of what type of property? A work/ live studio might be your ideal office type. Then again, if your workspace is too comfortable, is there a temptation to goof off? If not, a work/live studio or a loft that you can have customized are good for a startup. There’s just enough professional atmosphere to get buy, and there’s living space as well. The fact that you might be in an old warehouse can lend a quaint atmosphere. [I know that in Toronto, Canada, for example, it's been hip for a long time to create startups in old warehouse lofts. And there are lots of those in the Big Smoke.]

How Much Down?

I know someone who is self-employed and went from renting a house at $1500/m to a mortgage at much more than that. He used his rental home for his business office as well, which he’s also doing with the new place. Was it a good move? I don’t know. He seems to be fine with it, despite the additional cost. However, his business has been around for 10 years and is well-established. He’s good at saving money, and always builds a sufficient down payment before buying, even if he’s buying just a car.

If you think you can manage a mortgage, your necessary down playment will vary. Sure, there are nothing-down situations, but let’s not get into that. (Doing it wrong can bankrupt you; I’ve seen it happen to people I know well.) Obviously, the more you save up the better. But if you cannot save up at least 10%, if not 20%, in down payment, you probably don’t want to buy. You just end up with a lot of debt. Personally, I wouldn’t buy a property until I had at least 30-40% down. But that’s just me – lessons learned from lots of business mistakes.

How’s the Market?

An Oprah show segment earlier this week highlighted that in the U.S., there’s a downturn in the real estate market. It’s currently a buyer’s market. Still, that doesn’t mean you should buy, if can’t answer yes to most of the seven questions above.

Alternatives

If you live in most English-speaking countries other than Canada, you can get at least 4.5% interest for an Online Savings Account (OSA). (In Canada, it’s less.) Sticking your down payment into an account should generate enough money to make a dent into your regular rental cost. For example, 5% on every $10,000 is about $500 per year in interest, or under $50/month. So if you have $30,000 in down payment saved up, that’s roughly $150/mth in interest, which you could apply towards the cost of renting instead of buying.

Conclusion

Ultimately, you have to do what’s best for your business, and there are complex factors that determine that. But if you truly follow the bootstrapper credo, buying anything when it’s not absolutely necessary yet is just plain financially bad.

Carnival of Bootstrapping Entrepreneurs #5

Wednesday, August 15, 2007 at 3:30pm by Site Administrator

Welcome to the fifth Carnival of Bootstrapping Entrepreneurs (CoBE #5). Apologies for the delay from last week. Critieria for inclusion: relevant to bootstrapping, entrepreneuring, startup/ small businesses.

To be fair to everyone, entries are selected approximately in order of submission. Please support this carnival by linking back to this post. Because of the volume of entries, I’m reducing the number of summaries and present 1-3 picks of the week.

Picks of the Week

This week’s picks:

  1. 13 Things a Successful Entrepreneur Must Know & Take Action On by Edith Yeung. Edith consistenly posts great articles about business and entrepreneurship. This one provides a checklist of thirteen building blocks for entrepreneurial success.

  2. 10 Reasons Why Only 4% of the Population Achieve Their Goals by Gustav S. Even if you know the building blocks of success, not everyone achieves their goals. Gustav explains why. [Note to Gustav: You can enhance your article by numbering each reason. When your article title says X Reasons, readers expect them to be numbered.]
  3. How I Became a Millionaire While Working In My Pajamas by Millionaire Mommy. Can you become a millionaire working from home? Millionaire Mommy did, and she explains how.

Other Entries

These are the remaining entries for this edition.

  1. How to React to Criticism by Dr. Robert Karlsberg and Dr. Jane Adler.
  2. What Happens if Your Clients Don’t Pay? by James Mitchell.
  3. 26 Steps to Blogging Success by Vandelay Design.
  4. Planning Out a Short Term Project by Matt.
  5. Top 20 Dumbest Business Ideas That Made Millions…Or Not! by Silicon Valley Blogger.
  6. My Partner’s Not Doing Enough Work! by Warren Wong.
  7. A Few Ways To Save Money With A Small Business Opportunity by Cade Krueger.
  8. There are Times When Features are Better Than Benefits by Jim Logan.
  9. Negotiation and the Short Term Performance Trap by Charles H. Green.
  10. Advertising Jingles and Commercials – Radio & TV by Matt Hanson.
  11. How to Write a Headline and Grab Your Prospect by the Eyeballs! by Chris Tackett.
  12. You Can Make More Working Less by Eric Hudin.
  13. Finding The Right Information About Franchise Opportunities by Tom Stanley.
  14. Four Tasks to Increase Values or Prices in Business Transactions by Noric Dilanchian.
  15. The Millionaire Inside; Get Inspired by Susan Velez.
  16. How to Influence Others by Terry Dean.
  17. Tips for Sorting Through Overwhelming Files by Michelle Cramer.

That ends this second edition of the Carnival of Bootstrapping Entrepreneurs. Any articles submitted on or after Aug 4th that meet the criteria but not appearing here will likely appear in the next edition.

Please use the submission form for future editions. Limit one entry per week per person. If you find you are not getting into this blog carnival, please read 11 tips for being included.

Top 100 Foods for Productivity: Mindmap

Tuesday, August 14, 2007 at 12:15am by Site Administrator

After Laura Milligan’s massive list of foods to improve productivity was published, at least one person asked for a printer-friendly version. I’m not sure why the page wouldn’t be printer-friendly already, but to make life a bit easier, I’ve created an easy-reference mindmap of Laura’s list.

There are four versions available:

  1. The PNG image file [157 Kb] you see below.
  2. Click on the image below to see a larger version 900 pixels wide [320 Kb].
  3. A PDF file version of the mindmap below. It’s in 8.5″ x 11″ format, so it should fit on a single piece of regular printer paper.
  4. A Mindjet MindManager Pro 7 mmap file.

top 100 foods for productivity mindmap

100 Bad Habits and How Much $ They Cost You

Monday, August 13, 2007 at 2:21pm by Site Administrator

Everyone has their vice. Whether it’s cigarettes, gambling, or cable TV, the cost of your bad habits can add up over time. Here are 100 bad habits and the true cost of keeping them up. Health Matters

Your health is the most valuable thing you have. Neglecting it can cost your hundreds or even thousands of dollars down the road.

  1. Smoking: From medical care to insurance, this perennial bad habit costs smokers and society about $41 per pack.
  2. Fast food: It’s easy, cheap, and tasty. But when you consider the cost of obesity, health problems, and compare it with healthier homemade options, the drive thru may be one of the most expensive places to eat.
  3. Stress: Letting stress get the better of you can cause health problems. It’s estimated to cost $300 billion in healthcare each year.
  4. Worrying: That pressing issue keeping you up at night could prove to be costly. Untreated anxiety disorders cost the US economy about $42 million every year.
  5. Neglecting the gym: If you have a gym membership that you don’t use, you’re letting your health and money go to waste.
  6. Avoiding the dentist: If you avoid the dentist out of fear, consider this: letting dental problems go untreated only makes them more costly and complicated to treat.
  7. Drinking: Excessive drinking can be expensive, both at the bar and at the doctor’s. Consider how much your drinking habit will cost you in terms of medical bills, insurance, and even DWI charges.
  8. Chewing cuticles: Your hands come in contact with many surfaces, people, and germs every day. Chewing your cuticles leaves you open to infection that can be costly.
  9. Toenail picking: Picking your toenails exposes you to germs just like chewing cuticles, but the exposure level is even higher, especially if you wear open-toed shoes.
  10. Lip chewing: Lip chewing can cause cold sores, a malady that costs about $20 per tube to treat.
  11. Hair pulling: Pulling out your hair can lead to permanent hair loss. Treatments for this affliction range from $30 to hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
  12. Eating fried food: Fried food can clog your arteries and set you up for heart disease, a problem that won’t just cost a lot of money, but can kill you, too.
  13. Drugs: The cost of drugs extends beyond their street price. Their cost to society is estimated to be $181 billion when health care, productivity losses, law enforcement and other costs are added up.
  14. Avoiding the doctor: Ignoring or not treating a problem can only make it worse and more expensive.
  15. Coffee: You’ve probably heard it before, but we’ll tell you again. Coffee habits are expensive to keep up. At $3.00 per cup, the average drinker spends $750 every year on coffee.
  16. Grinding your teeth: Grinding your teeth at night can cause serious damage and add up to major long term costs. Resin fillings can cost up to $300, and crowns generally cost more than $500.
  17. Not listening to your doctor: When your doctor tells you to exercise or eat better, do it. He’s looking out for your best interest and can save you expensive trouble down the road.
  18. Choosing fries over vegetables: Vegetables can protect you against cancer and save you money and pain in the future.
  19. Overusing salt: Do you salt your food before tasting it? You might want to think twice about that. A high sodium diet can lead to heart failure, an affliction that’s estimated to cost about $38 billion per year.
  20. Eating excessive sugar and carbohydrates: Excessive sugar and carbohydrate consumption can cause Type 2 diabetes. This type of diabetes is estimated to cost $47,000 over the lifetime of each patient.
  21. Forgetting to wash your hands: Neglecting to wash your hands opens you up to germs spread by hand-to-hand and hand-to-face contact. In the health care industry alone, poor hand hygiene contributes to approximately $4.5 billion in medical expenses every year.
  22. Eating trans fats: Trans fats are bad for you, plain and simple. Consumers are subject to expensive diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
  23. Ignoring warning signs: If you feel like there’s something wrong, but you ignore it or put off seeing the doctor about it, you could be setting yourself up for medical and financial trouble. Your problem is likely to get worse and more expensive to treat over time.
  24. Sleeping too little: Too little sleep can set you up for obesity, which requires costly weight loss programs, larger clothing, and higher health costs.
  25. Promiscuity: Promiscuity can cause sexually transmitted diseases, afflictions that are expensive and embarrassing to treat. You may even find yourself with an unwanted child, the cost of which hovers around $250,000 over a lifetime.
  26. Not wearing sunscreen: Neglecting to wear sunscreen can lead to skin cancer. Treatments for this disease can add up to thousands of dollars.
  27. Chewing ice: Ice chewing can cause chips, cracks, enamel breakdown and other expensive dental problems.
  28. Sucking on lemons: Like chewing ice, sucking on lemons can cause dental problems that are expensive to fix, most notably a breakdown of tooth enamel.
  29. Emotional eating: Eating based on mood swings can result in an expensive grocery bill as well as higher health care costs.
  30. Drinking soda: Your daily diet coke habit could be creating lots of dental and other costly health problems.

High-Tech Habits

We’re lucky to live in a world that offers a wide variety of entertainment and communication options. But sometimes, too much of a good thing can prove to be too costly.

  1. Cable TV: Cable TV itself is expensive, but there are hidden costs coming through your receiver. Consider the cost of convenience food, lost time, dwindling energy and low-quality family time, and the true cost of cable TV is much more than the average $40 you pay monthly.
  2. Internet: Just like cable TV, excessive internet use can cost more than just your monthly bill. Spending too much time surfing the internet can take you away from more important things, like relaxing or spending time with family and friends.
  3. iTunes: Apple’s iTunes is fun to play around with, but use it too often and you may find yourself buying tracks that you don’t really need or want.
  4. Stealing your neighbor’s WiFi connection: It’s free, but if you get caught and sued, it can prove to be costly.
  5. Keeping a landline: If you have internet access that doesn’t require a landline and you have a cell phone, keeping your unnecessary landline is a habit worth breaking. You’ll save $20 to $30 a month.
  6. Online shopping: Shopping online is convenient and fun, but it can lead to overspending. You may also spend more due to shipping and handling charges.
  7. Buying too many gadgets: Our high-tech world has lots of shiny new gadgets to offer us, but that doesn’t mean we have to buy them all.
  8. Buying poor quality equipment: Money-saving habits can sometimes cost more in the long run. When buying equipment like computers, printers and TVs, opt for quality items that will last. Otherwise, you’ll end up spending more when you have to replace them.
  9. Not paying for a high speed internet connection: Time is money, and waiting around for pages to load is not an efficient use of your time.
  10. Playing video games: Video games are fun and entertaining, but keeping up with the latest consoles and titles can be very expensive. Many new consoles are priced well over $500 and require gamers to buy games at $50 apiece.

In the Car

With gas prices high and rising, it’s time to turn a critical eye towards your driving habits. Erratic driving, speeding, and other bad habits can reduce your gas mileage and set you up for expensive traffic tickets.

  1. Speeding: Fueleconomy.gov reports that "each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.20 per gallon for gas." That’s not to mention the cost of a speeding ticket.
  2. Ignoring warning signs: Warning signs are meant to tell you of upcoming hazards. If you ignore them, you may end up in an accident or with a ticket.
  3. Waiting until the last drop to get gas: Using the lowest levels of your gas tank makes your car use the dirtiest gas for fuel. This can hurt your fuel line and engine. A repair on the fuel system can run $100 or more.
  4. Erratic driving: Being a bad driver makes you look silly and costs lots of money, too. Rapid acceleration, braking, and other erratic driving can reduce your gas mileage by 33%.
  5. Impatience with gears: If you put your gear in drive while your car is still moving in reverse, you’re putting extra strain on your car’s drive train. It can lead to U-joint trouble, a repair that can cost up to $700, as well as transmission problems that can run $1,000.
  6. Turning your wheel to the farthest point: When you turn your steering wheel all the way to the right or left, you’re putting unnecessary strain on your steering pump, a part that can cost up to $500 to replace.
  7. Ignoring warning lights: Waiting to tend to dashboard warning lights for even a day or two can allow a small problem to become catastrophic and much more expensive.
  8. Junking up your car: If you lug around an extra 100 pounds or so in your trunk, you’re reducing your miles per gallon up to 2%. That’s up to $0.74 a gallon.
  9. Ignoring sounds: Squeaky brakes mean your brake pads are wearing down and you need to replace them. If you let them go for too long, you can wear down your rotors, a problem that can cost $400 or more to fix.
  10. Forgetting about tire pressure: Under or over-inflated tired can reduce gas mileage up to 15% and wear down your tires 15% more quickly. New tires cost about $100 each.
  11. Riding the clutch: Riding the clutch can wear it down, costing you about $500 to replace it.
  12. Wearing down your starter: Turn off headlights, air conditioning and other accessories when you start your car or you may have to replace your starter.
  13. Neglecting oil changes: Your car’s engine oil is there to keep it running efficiently. When you fail to keep it at the proper level and change it at appropriate intervals, you decrease your gas mileage and risk damage to vital engine parts.
  14. Revving your engine: Revving your engine doesn’t warm up your car, it shortens your engine’s life. Do this too often, and you may have to pay $3,000 to $5,000 in repairs.

At Work

Bad habits at work don’t just affect you; they create costs for your coworkers, customers and family. Banish bad habits to improve your earning potential and become more efficient in your work.

  1. Procrastination: Procrastination can result in missed opportunities as well as lowered efficiency, both of which can cost you in lost earnings.
  2. Swearing: Swearing makes you look unprofessional and can cost you earnings from a promotion, raise, or even make you lose your job.
  3. Chronic lateless: Constantly being late for work can cause you to lose wages or even be fired.
  4. Not taking advantage of 401(k) matching: If your employer matches 401(k) contributions and you’re not maxing it out, you’re throwing away free money from your boss.
  5. Nose picking: At a job interview, this can ruin your chances and cheat you out of future earnings.
  6. Over-expensing your business trip: You don’t need to rent a Hummer and stay at the Four Seasons. Save your business money, because it affects your bottom line, too.
  7. Believing you’re not worth a promotion: A lack of self-worth at work can cause you to miss out on lost earnings that can add up over time.
  8. Forwarding illicit emails: Forwarding inappropriate emails makes you look unprofessional and can land you in hot water with your boss, causing you to be passed up for a promotion or lose your job.
  9. Relying too much on your Blackberry: An unhealthy Blackberry addiction can take you away from more important tasks. Depending on your plan, it can also prove costly in service charges.
  10. Becoming complacent: Losing your ambition and believing that your job is "good enough" can cheat you out of a better job and larger paycheck. Even a $5,000/year raise can result in additional career earnings of over $150,000.
  11. Ignoring ergonomics: Ignoring ergonomics at work can create health problems that require the help of a costly chiropractor.

Money

Obviously, poor financial habits can cost you lots of money. These are some of the worst offenders.

  1. Waiting too long to invest: An investment of $10 per week at 8%, starting at age 30 would result in $81,202 in earnings by age 65. That same investment started at age 20 would result in $129,161 additional earnings.
  2. Waiting too long to save: Waiting too long to save follows the same principle as investment. The earlier you start, the more you’ll end up with, even if the amount you’re able to put away is meager.
  3. Forgetting a credit card payment: A late credit card payment won’t just cost you $39 in fees; your credit rating may suffer, too. As a result, you may be subject to higher interest rates and lower quality loans in the future.
  4. Not paying attention to interest rates: Neglecting to shop around for the best interest rate can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars over the course of a loan or life of a credit card.
  5. Gambling: Gambling may be a fun and entertaining way to make a quick buck, but it’s important to remember that the house always wins. For the average gambler in Nevada, the house wins to the tune of about $19,000.
  6. Compulsive shopping: Compulsive shopping can cause you to overspend. When done with a credit card, interest and fees can add to the trouble.
  7. Carrying a balance: Carrying a balance on your credit card account can cost you hundreds or even thousands in interest fees.
  8. Collecting clutter: Buying too much stuff costs money not only when you buy it, but when you store it, too. Consider the cost of a larger home or even a storage space at an average of $50 per month.
  9. Not keeping disability insurance: If you can’t work for weeks or months, you’ll lose earnings from that period of time and it can put your family in a money crunch.
  10. Making rash decisions: Neglecting to shop around can cause you to spend more than you need.
  11. Not keeping a budget: Spending without a budget may lead to living beyond your means, a move that can land your household into costly debt.
  12. Ignoring your credit report: You can get your credit report for free each year. If you don’t check it, you may not be able to dispute incorrect entries that can wreck your credit score and costs you hundreds or even thousands in higher loan interest rates.
  13. Using retail store credit cards: You’ve probably seen offers that tempt you to sign up for store credit cards, touting a discount on your purchases. These cards can set you up for credit card debt and a lowered credit score, costing you much more in the long run than the benefit of an in-store discount.
  14. Only making minimum payments: If you pay only the minimum required amount on your credit card balance, you’re dooming yourself to a "compound interest sinkhole." Check out this calculator to find out just how much this habit is costing you.
  15. Taking out payday loans: Payday loans are fast and easy, but they come at a high price. Some lenders charge an APRs close to 99%, essentially charging you double the original amount to borrow money.
  16. Not paying attention to small purchases: Small purchases add up. Even a $3-a-day habit can cheat you out of $750 every year.
  17. Not asking for help: If you’re going through a financial crisis, make sure you let your creditors know. They may be able to work out a temporary fix for you, saving you potentially hundreds in interest fees and late charges.
  18. Forgetting to plan for retirement: When planning for retirement, remember that time is your friend. If you make a habit of putting off saving for the future, you’ll be thousands of dollars behind when you’re finally ready to retire.
  19. Insuring too little: Underinsuring is a dangerous game. If you find yourself needing more coverage than you’ve paid for, it could cost you thousands of dollars.
  20. Not keeping an emergency fund: It’s important to keep about 3 to 6 months of living expenses socked away somewhere. Putting this off can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars if you don’t have funds when you need them and are forced to turn to credit cards or loans.
  21. Abusing balance transfer offers: Balance transfer offers are tempting, but their true cost can add up. Consider transfer fees and the impact of putting off paying your balance, and you’re looking at a loss of hundreds of dollars.
  22. Shopping while hungry: You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t shop while hungry, but it’s a hard habit to break. But think about this: that additional $10 or so can add up. With weekly shopping trips all year, that’s over $500 lost.
  23. Not shopping with a list: Just like shopping while hungry, shopping without a list can leave you with an extra $10 or more in your cart. Over the course of a year, that’s $500 or more spent carelessly.

At Home

Not managing your house properly can cause you to spend more money than you need to. Energy, cleanliness and keeping track of time can all affect your bottom line.

  1. Leaving the lights on: Leaving just one light bulb on for an extra 12 hours a day can cost $3.50 a month, or $40 every year.
  2. Keeping your house too cool or warm: If you’re cold during the summer, you need to adjust your thermostat. By adjusting your thermostat one degree cooler or warmer, you can save $50 or more.
  3. Skipping showers: This hygiene issue is important. Neglecting to bathe yourself can cause you to get sick.
  4. Not vacuuming regularly: Vacuuming picks up dirt, hair and dust off of your floor. Neglect this task, and you may suffer from allergy problems. At the very least, it will cost you about $250 a year to keep up with daily allergy pills.
  5. Letting dishes pile up: Allowing mold and other bacteria to grow in your kitchen sink exposes you to all sorts of illnesses. These can prove to be costly if you need medical care or miss work due to sickness.
  6. Leaving your PC on: The energy cost of leaving your PC on around the clock can come in at $200 or more per year.
  7. Putting off studying: From high school students to adult MBA-seekers, putting off studying can cost you scholarships and remedial classes.
  8. Leaving laundry unattended at the laundromat: Your clothing can get stolen, requiring you to spend money to replace them.
  9. Avoiding dusting: Just like vacuuming, dusting helps you stay on top of allergies. Avoiding this task can cost you an average $250 a year for daily allergy pills.
  10. Letting your bathroom get dirty: A dirty bathroom exposes you to bacteria that can cause expensive medical maladies.
  11. Sleeping too late: Sleeping too late can cause you to lose your job, or worse, miss out on profitable opportunities. Remember, the early bird gets the worm.
  12. Leaving expired food in fridge: Expired food in your refrigerator isn’t just gross, it’s dangerous and expensive. It can contaminate good food, requiring you to replace it, plus you’re paying for energy costs to cool it.
Comments (11) | Filed under: Financing

Delegating Tasks: 15 Key Roles for a Revenue-Producing Website

Saturday, August 11, 2007 at 1:00pm by Site Administrator

If you’ve cast your business into the digital realm – that is, plan to earn revenue online – consider how much like a business running a revenue-producing website really is. On the surface, it seems like it’s easy for one savvy digital entrepreneur to run the entire show. While that may be true for a while, the complexity of necessary roles will eventually weigh you down.

Entrepreneurs, especially bootstrappers, have a tendency to feel they need to do everything themselves. Write it into your business plans to eventually add team members to whom you can delegate tasks. Here’s a list of key roles for an income-producing website.

  1. Standard business roles.
    The normal roles/tasks of a terrestrial business are necessary as a base:

    • Public relations – press releases, etc.
    • Human resources – hiring, firing, policy.
    • Fianance and accounting – budgeting, cash flow, accounts receivable + payable.
  2. Content writing.
    Websites that never add new articles are likely to stagnate. You need fresh content. However, this is typically considered to be all there is to a setting up a website or blog, but as this list will show, there’s much more.

  3. Copyediting.
    An article does not have to be published on your website the moment the writer completes it. Not everyone writes well on a consistent basis. That doesn’t make them bad writers. A good copyeditor will take the raw energy of an article/ blog post and improve grammar and coherency by applying the rules of copyediting. They’ll also check for copyright issues, attribution, facts, and broken hyperlinks.

    Unfortunately, after 9/11, a lot of editorial type roles were ditched in the publishing industry, with the expectation that writers would copyedit themselves.

  4. General editorial.
    An EIC (Editor-In-Chief) or Managing Editor will keep watch over a publication’s consistency, topic range, editorial calendar, assigning creation of visual content, running meetings and bullpen sessions (where staff dissect the previous issue) and more. This role varies greatly from publication to publication, and sometimes includes Publisher.

  5. Publishing.
    In print, the Publisher is the person who runs the overall business, get ads and sponsorship (or manages the manager of the ad sales team as well as the EIC. They also ensure there is enough operating capital, which might mean acquiring business operating loans or investment capital. New print publications historically do not turn a profit for the first 3-5 years. That has changed for Net publications. Sometimes. The equivalent of a Publisher for a website might be a Channel Manager, a Webmaster (depending on the department running this role), Portfolio Manager (if there is a parent company with other properties), or dozens of other possibilities.

  6. Comment moderation.
    Your website is your company’s face to the public. PR (public relations) departments understood this in the 1990s and often wrested away the role of Webmaster from more technical people, who were often perceived as socially inept nerds. Those Webmasters who remained in the role and had a technical background were often scapegoats.

    The same sort of situation could happen with comment moderation. It takes the skills of a diplomat, sometimes, to properly handle the comments that people occasionally leave. And whether the commenter was justified or not, you cannot have a quick-termpered personality moderating and responding.

    Have a comment policy, display it clearly, and stick to it. If your weblog uses WordPress, use the Comment-Policy plugin.

  7. Managing negative dialog elsewhere.
    This role should really go hand in hand with your site’s comment moderation. You can separate the roles, but they should part of the same team – probably Public Relations. If people comment negatively, elsewhere, about your business, services, or products, you cannot let things go. Neither can you get upset, no matter how much it bothers you. Diplomacy is key once again, though very easy to forget.

  8. SEO of content and site structure.
    SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a dirty word in some circles online, but like Rodney Dangerfield might say, they don’t get no respect. There are lots of honest SEOs using completely organic, whitehat methods (Google’s Matt Cutts) to improve a website’s ranking in the search engines and increase traffic.

    Search traffic tends to be more targeted than incidental traffic, so it’s as important as any regular subscribers – sometimes more so. SEO has many aspects, and includes stronger titles, better keyword placement and variation, link building, and much more. Some people like to say it’s not rocket science, but the best SEOs seem to have a considerable amount of technical understanding of the Web.

  9. Link building.
    While link building is a part of organic SEO, it’s often worthwhile hiring someone to do only this full-time, under the wing of an experienced SEO if possible. Not only should a link builder build links, they should be tracking backlinks as well, using a variety of SEO tools. Technorati‘s Cosmos is useful in this regard, especially when paired with Yahoo! Pipes to build a backlinks tracker.

  10. Article promotion.
    A key component of link building – besides commenting on other websites, blogs and forums, or guest writing elsewhere – is to promote your best articles on social media sites. This is called Social Media Marketing, or SMM. However, this has to be handled in a delicate, never spammy manner. A good SMM (often skilled in link building) is worth their weight in … well, you get the idea.

  11. Site design.
    Good entrepreneurs are often Renaissance men/ women who have the multi-discipline skills of a Leonardo da Vinci but are often Jacks/Jills of all trades. Unless you really know design, let a good web designer build your site’s theme. You can stick to CSS tweaks and hacks, if you have a need to tamper with a website’s appearance.

  12. Web analytics.
    While you shouldn’t be obsessed over web analytics on an hourly basis, monitoring various web metrics for your site is in fact important. And it’s not enough to just monitor them but to understand long-term trends and short-term phenomena, then produce an action plan to utilize them.

    • What are your visitors searching for? Did they find it?
    • As your traffic has increased, have revenue-generating transactions increased?
    • Are your landing pages effective, based on the “trail” of pages visitors use?
    • Have you defined site goals and are they being tracked?

    Don’t rely on any one tool. Google Analytics is great overall though very complex, and not real-time. Performancing’s PMetrics is ideal as a real-time intermediate solution for blogs. Sitemeter or similar products are good for a quick, real-time overview of a couple of simple metrics. All three are free, under a certain amount of traffic and/or most features.

  13. Online ad campaigning.
    Online ad campaigns are similar to old media advertising, but there are many technical aspects to master:

    • PPC (pay per click) and search marketing, PPA (pay per action), CPM (Cost per mille/ thousand), etc.
    • Split-test tracking (with web analytics) coupled with landing pages and other copywriting.
  14. Online promotions and marketing.
    In addition to advertising, you may want to run online contests or affiliate programs. If you sell a brandable product or service of your own, affiliate programs not only allow others to share in your profits, the are a great way to build links.

  15. Technical administration and webmastering.
    If you have a website, you’ll want some sort of webmaster to over see technical matters. If you have company email accounts or even an actual office with networks, etc., you also need network and other types of administrators.

Not all of these roles require a different person – many can be combined. How much of these roles you apply depends highly on whether you expect your website to generate revenue. This revenue could be either through products or services, or through ads on a blog. Of course, only businesses with a product or service to sell will want to consider an affiliate program.

Productivity and Entrepreneurship Roundup – Thur Aug 09, 2007

Thursday, August 9, 2007 at 9:30pm by Site Administrator

Here is some interesting reading material from around the blogosphere, relating to business, marketing, branding, entrepreneurship, productivity and success.

  1. Web applications vs desktop software.
    Whether you’re a cheapskate, just frugal, or a nomadic entrepreneur, check out Tzunami‘s article No More Hard Drive, which lists 100 mostly-free web browser-based applications useful to entrpreneurs of all sorts.

  2. Handling info overload.
    No matter how much research us budding entrepreneurs think we can handle, sometimes there’s just too much. Web Worker Daily offers 21 tips for dealing with information overload.

  3. How not to be productive.
    We’re a nation of TV watchers, and many of us have taken that habit online. But if you are an entrepreneur and thinking of success, the best thing you ever do might be to give up TV. Forever. Yahoo! Finance presents an article from TheStreet.com that says giving up TV for life might actually result in an extra million dollars in earnings. Is that motivation enough for you to quit your habit of the boob tube?

  4. Free blog logo.
    If you’ve decided that your business website should have a blog, then you should also consider a blog logo, especially if you don’t have a business logo yet. Right now, Randa Clay Design is run a blog logo contest. Logo Design Works is offering 10 free blog logos per month for a limited time to specific types of blogs including small business, entrepreneurship, marketing, design, blogging, freelance, productivity and related topics. Check the rules of both to determine if you qualify.


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