Decoding Startups

Entrepreneurship Misconceptions

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I wrote an article about finding out “how to figure out if entrepreneurship is for you” because a lot of people ask me that.  In fact, just Google it, and about 4 million articles pop up.

I understand why people ask this.  It’s a seemingly innocuous and completely valid question.

But there’s a simple problem:

The question is completely misleading.  And frankly, I fear for those who ask this question, because most of the answers I’ve seen are complete crap and could easily guide people into making terrible decisions for themselves.  Allow me to explain:

Let’s take a poll, shall we?

As I mentioned above, I Googled “how to figure out if entrepreneurship is for you”, and I picked one of the articles at random.  This one-pager boils down the question of entrepreneurship to a few key points.  For example:

  • are you “unfazed” by risk?
  • Are you a “decision maker”?
  • Is it your “dream business” and your “passion”?

There’s one small problem:

Who the hell cares? [click to continue…]

Entrepreneur's Manifesto Starting a Startup

Note: This article is written mostly from the perspective of tech startups because the comparisons I make are easy to explain from this vantage point.  In reality, this applies to any business venture. 

We already talked about why your business idea doesn’t matter (and what actually does).  There,  I said that the value of a startup or a business is in your ability to execute.

Great ideas are completely irrelevant without being able to execute.

I think most new entrepreneurs would read this and understand it to a certain point.  ”OK, just because I have a good idea for the next Facebook isn’t enough.  No one’s going to fund my idea just because I came up with it”

But that’s about as far as their understanding goes.

“Well that’s fine; I will just hustle and go find myself a technical co-founder and by-oh-golly I’ll be starting my tech startup by this time next month”

Believe me, it is possible to get programmers on board (I’ve done it).  It’s possible to get people interested and initially excited with your startup idea.  The sales pitch is the easy part:

Getting people to say they’ll help you with your project is barely the beginning.

Think about it: even if you could convince programmers, do you know enough about how to manage them?  Did you provide them with enough of an incentive to make them stick around?  Do you know that the product they are making is what you actually want / need? [click to continue…]

Interviews Success

“But I’m too busy to start a business on the side!”

Well, not if you’re Robert Berger.

myphotoRobert Berger is a full-time attorney who specializes in corporate litigation…who also happens to be the owner of Dough Roller, a super-popular personal finance blog that has 10,000 e-mail subscribers and 2 million yearly visitors.  He started Dough Roller from the ground-up back in 2007.

Now if I know one thing about lawyers, it’s that they work…all of the time!  They are some of the most dedicated–and most busy!–people out there.

So when I heard that Robert started Dough Roller while working full time at his law practice, I was floored!

DRLogo

Robert took his blog from a passive hobby, and turned it into something that makes him more money than practicing law.

His success is a great inspiration to entrepreneurs of all types, especially those currently working a day job who are looking to start a business on the side.

Listen to the interview here.

Some of the interview’s big takeaways:

  • How Robert woke up at 5am every day to write for his blog—and worked on it at lunch and after dinner!
  • How he got a big break from MSN Money only about 6 months into blogging.
  • How he went from making low 5-figures to 6 figures in 1 year from his blog.
  • What he recommends to newcomer bloggers (hint: it’s not just writing your content and hoping you get discovered!).
  • The importance of relationships in building your business.

It’s already impressive enough to catapult a blog into the 6 figure income stratosphere…

…but who does that while practicing law 50-70 hours per week??

Now that’s just crazy!

Listen in, and let me know what you think.

 

Entrepreneur's Manifesto Starting a Startup

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This article is Part 1 in The Entrepreneur’s Manifesto: 6 Simple Techniques to Startup Mastery.

Gather ’round the campfire my dear friends, for today, we begin our hero’s journey down the road of entrepreneurship with the Entrepreneur’s Manifesto.

We start by asking a super-basic question of which the proper understanding is 100% essential to startup success.

Have you ever noticed that tons of people love the “idea” of being an entrepreneur…

…but did you ever stop to think about what it actually means to be an entreprenuer?  Like, if someone were to ask you “how would you define an entrepreneur” (dictionary style, baby!), what would you say?

I think most people would say something like this:

“Yeah man, they make cool companies and come up with kickass products!”

“They make tons of money working for themselves!”

“They didn’t want to work 9-5, so they gave the middle finger salute to their boss and went to work for themselves!”

“RC, why are you asking so many stuuuuupid questions?”

Because all of those definitions are wrong, and only one definition actually matters:

Entrepreneurs solve other people’s problems, and are compensated for doing so. [click to continue…]

Starting a Startup Success

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Starting a business for the first time?

What’s your business idea?… a tech startup?  A product that will completely change the world?  A “Yelp for geriatrics”?

Before you get too excited, I must warn you:

If your idea is some world-changing, paradigm shifting technology or concept, you’re basically sinking your own ship before it even leaves the harbor.

What?

I’ll put it plainly:

Most people I’ve met who are starting a business for the first time (myself included when I started) have essentially no clue what’s needed to actually successfully start a company.

Everything’s a shot in the dark.

Which is fine…shooting in the dark is how first-time entrepreneurs learn.

But if your business idea is something that’s so much of an uphill battle that it’s basically rock climbing…something way outside of your skillset and ability to executre…what do you think your chances of success are?

I’m not here to discourage you.  In fact, I’ve got a perfect idea that can help solve this problem:

Go start a foundational business first.

What’s a foundational business?

foundational business is a business that’s really easy for you to execute.

foundational business is characterized by these key elements:

  • The idea is straightforward and easy to understand (i.e. not very innovative).
  • The idea primarily uses skills you already have.
  • Can be implemented in a matter of weeks, or even days.
  • Something you have a high degree of control over (i.e. not relying on other people to keep things moving).
  • Has a super-straightforward way of making money (i.e. not “well this is Yelp + Facebook + freemium + ads”…I mean as easy as “You do X and you get paid Y”)

A foundational business teaches you the business acumen and mindsets needed to actually run a company.

You take the foundations you built with your foundational business, and apply them to a bigger venture when you’re ready. [click to continue…]

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