Under30CEO » Startup Advice http://under30ceo.com Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:00:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.6 Under30CEO interviews successful young entrepreneurs to hear about their story and journey while starting their company. These young founders have over a million dollars a year in revenues and have been through many ups and downs to get there. These stories are meant to inspire, educate and motivate more young people to take a leap and do what they are passionate about. Under30CEO clean Under30CEO jared@under30ceo.com jared@under30ceo.com (Under30CEO) Under30CEO Interviews with Young Entrepreneurs on Starting Businesses entrepreneur, business, interview, young entrepreneur, business advice, startup advice, founder interview, ceo Under30CEO http://under30ceo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/u30logo300x250.png http://under30ceo.com/category/entrepreneurship-2/startup-advice/ The 10 Best People to Ask for Business Advice http://under30ceo.com/10-best-people-ask-business-advice/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=10-best-people-ask-business-advice http://under30ceo.com/10-best-people-ask-business-advice/#comments Sat, 12 Jul 2014 15:00:59 +0000 theyec http://under30ceo.com/?p=40157 Q. Who do you turn to first for advice and why? The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow […]

The post The 10 Best People to Ask for Business Advice appeared first on Under30CEO.

]]>

business advice

Q. Who do you turn to first for advice and why?

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. Myself

Before going to others, look inward. You know your situation better than anyone, and you are capable of amazing creativity. I find it useful to pretend that I’m looking at someone else’s issue instead of my own. If someone else were coming to you with this problem, what advice would you give them? Take a step back and objectively evaluate what is happening.
- Laura Roeder, LKR Social Media

2. My Social Following

I will post almost all of my personal or professional questions on Twitter and Facebook because I have some pretty awesome connections. You can expand your social circle online far faster than you ever could in person. Throw out a question and just watch all the great advice roll in. Also, you don’t have to endure endless conversations online. Who has time for that?
- Maren Hogan, Red Branch Media

3. A Mentor Within My Industry

I turn to a handful of mentors in my industry, which includes a handful of customers or vendors. This allows me to involve these mentors in our future strategy and it can lead to potential partnerships. It’s always great to make a call with one goal in mind and then leave with a new business idea or strategic partner.
- Tim McHugh, Saddleback Educational

4. My Peer Advisor

I have a daily call with Bhavin Parikh, CEO of Magoosh.com. Even on weekends we talk. While we run completely different businesses (watches for me, test prep for him) we’re going through many of the same struggles of growing a business. He knows everything about Modify, so that when I call and bring up some small issue, he has all of the necessary context and can simply give advice.
- Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

5. My Father

My father is without a doubt the first person I turn to for personal and business advice. He has seen just about everything and has met just about every different type of person in his life as a lawyer. He is a very grounded, well-rounded person who has been a successful business person and (more importantly), human being.
- Jason Grill, JGrill Media | Sock 101

6. Key Stakeholders

I go to my key stakeholders, along with my team of external advisers. As the ancient proverb states, “A wise man has many counselors.” You want a diversity of knowledge, experience and education to help create the highest likelihood of success.
- Parker Powers, Millionaire Network

7. My Mastermind

When I need advice, I turn to the other female entrepreneurs in my mastermind. I couldn’t recommend more that all entrepreneurs have a group of peers to whom they can reach out.
- Alexis Wolfer, TheBeautyBean.com

8. An Executive Coach

One of my most trusted advisors is an executive coach. She has been part of my team since my business was only a few months old. Executive coaches are great because they know more about your business’ inner-workings than an outside mentor, but they are more removed than a board member or colleague. If you find the right one, he/she can be an invaluable impartial resource for key decisions.
- Brittany Hodak, ZinePak

9. My Wife

My wife has no business background. She is a teacher. However, she possesses a deep understanding of me unlike anyone else in the world. Bouncing ideas off of her proves to be an effective exercise since she offers a fresh perspective on the issue at hand.
- Logan Lenz, Endagon

10. Google

I turn to Google because I hate asking questions without understanding the topic. Once I have a basic understanding, I am able to ask better questions, which leads to better results.
- Matthew Moisan, Moisan Legal P.C.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

The post The 10 Best People to Ask for Business Advice appeared first on Under30CEO.

]]>
http://under30ceo.com/10-best-people-ask-business-advice/feed/ 4
The 6 Best Business Travel Destinations This Summer http://under30ceo.com/6-best-business-travel-destinations-summer/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=6-best-business-travel-destinations-summer http://under30ceo.com/6-best-business-travel-destinations-summer/#comments Fri, 04 Jul 2014 17:00:52 +0000 theyec http://under30ceo.com/?p=40155 Q. This summer, what is the best place to travel for your business and why? The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of […]

The post The 6 Best Business Travel Destinations This Summer appeared first on Under30CEO.

]]>

Q. This summer, what is the best place to travel for your business and why?

Napa-Valley

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. Central America

I love surfing, so I base my trips around places where I can surf. Central America has world-class waves with some great surf resorts, which house around 20 surfers at a time from all over the world. This presents a great opportunity to build lasting friendships with people that have all sorts of different backgrounds such as business owners, executives, engineers, doctors etc.
- Chris Kane, Bounceboards LLC

2. Wine Country

Retreats have become such a large part of company culture. I prefer the kind of summer business retreat that allows you and your team to clear your minds for a day or two. Wine country like Napa Valley, CA is a cross between the outdoors and a spa-like atmosphere. It resonates with my team by being a place we can speak freely, ideate, create, build and relax.
- Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.

3. Tokyo

My second favorite non-U.S. city for business is Tokyo, right after London. I believe that they have their fingers on many pulses for the next big thing. It’s a perfect place to study innovation rising from the ground up, but also one that’s filled with a ton of adventure to blow off steam and bond as a whole.
- Rob Fulton, Matikis

4. The Mountains

Take a retreat to anywhere that features mountains. Too many people use vacations to relax. Us entrepreneurs aren’t programmed to do that. In order to satisfy our active selves, use your energy to do something physically active. This will also clear your head and give you plenty of time to think of your next moves when you return to the office.
- Logan Lenz, Endagon

5. Hong Kong

Really, traveling anywhere will do you good. But if I had to narrow it down to one place, I’d say Hong Kong. It’s a fast city with completely new experiences that will help you look at ordinary things in a completely new way.
- Brooke Bergman, Allied Business Network Inc.

6. The Host City of Industry Events

You should always be going to the best industry events. It’s the one place where you can meet potential clients, partners and anything else that you need to make your business more successful. Don’t waste your travel dollars on one meeting city by city. Go where everyone else is already going.
- Andy Karuza, Brandbuddee

Image Credit: beauty-places.com

The post The 6 Best Business Travel Destinations This Summer appeared first on Under30CEO.

]]>
http://under30ceo.com/6-best-business-travel-destinations-summer/feed/ 4
Location, Location, Location: The Culture Factor You Can’t Ignore http://under30ceo.com/location-location-location-culture-factor-cant-ignore/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=location-location-location-culture-factor-cant-ignore http://under30ceo.com/location-location-location-culture-factor-cant-ignore/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 13:00:55 +0000 GuestAuthor http://under30ceo.com/?p=39918 Running a business in a closet isn’t easy. Good luck finding privacy to make that important phone call. My 25-strong team dealt with a closet-like office that made productivity a struggle. The mazelike layout meant we were always slamming doors on each other, tripping over stuff, and overhearing everything. Then, everything changed. How a Move […]

The post Location, Location, Location: The Culture Factor You Can’t Ignore appeared first on Under30CEO.

]]>

Boston office

Running a business in a closet isn’t easy. Good luck finding privacy to make that important phone call.

My 25-strong team dealt with a closet-like office that made productivity a struggle. The mazelike layout meant we were always slamming doors on each other, tripping over stuff, and overhearing everything.

Then, everything changed.

How a Move Can Improve Company Culture

When we moved into an open-plan office in the center of Boston, we saw a huge shift in productivity and morale. Not only did our physical building change, but our company culture also changed with it. Moving to our new location fostered:

  • Pride. Moving to a more spacious, custom-designed office was a huge milestone for us. Every time we come into work, we’re reminded of how far we’ve come. In the startup world, it can feel like the highs are really high and the lows are really low, so having a visible sense of achievement every day is great for motivation.
  • Less stress. Stress is bad for business. In a tiny office, your blood pressure rises every time you trip over a power cord — or a co-worker — or have to kick a teammate out of his normal workspace to have an important meeting. Having a comfortable space that’s optimized specifically for your team can reduce tension and literally cut down on the headaches.
  • Boosted productivity. Employees who feel valued by their employer actually do better at work and are less likely to seek other employment opportunities. What better way to show your employees that you care than by creating an amazing workspace for them? A calm, inspiring environment is the key to unbreakable concentration, and enhanced productivity is sure to follow.
  • A recruiting advantage. First impressions count. When we invite candidates to interview, we know that the office is a passive participant in that interview, showcasing the fact that we care about our people and our physical environment.
  • Customer confidence. In the beginning, our scrappy, closet-like office was cozy, but as we grew up and started playing with the big kids, we needed our space to reflect our brand and our professionalism. Now that our personality is clear to visitors and clients, they have more confidence in us.

How to Make the Best of Your Relocation

An open-plan office in the middle of a big city was the right option for us, but it might not be right for you. It’s important to really consider your company’s personality and goals before signing a lease for the trendiest spot downtown. Here are four key factors to consider when choosing a location: 

1. Identify your team’s collective values. We listened to every member of our team when deciding where to move. Our new spot is close to convenient subway stops, and it’s in the center of the city surrounded by Boston culture, so we’re investing in local real estate. Our space now reflects the collective values of the team.

2. Don’t neglect the details. When New York City-based MindBodyGreen relocated, it added unique features to the interior of the office to reflect its personality. MindBodyGreen incorporated artwork custom-made for the company by a local artist and a conference table made from reclaimed wood. It’s the small details that really turn an office into a second home.

3. Consider your workflow. We specifically wanted a big, open space so we could easily collaborate but also separate when we needed privacy. So we arranged our office with an open, comfy couch area and “pods” for workspaces. Having options is great for us; it segments the workday, making us more productive and less stressed.

4. Think ahead. Your company is in a constant state of change, so you should choose and design your new space to suit where you think you’re headed. If you’re a fast-growing startup, look for extra space. If your company structure is likely to change, choose an open layout with plenty of room for rearranging.

By tailoring your office space to the needs and personality of your company, you can create a unique environment that helps you do your best and grow as a team. You can actually be excited to hang out at work. Just remember to go home occasionally to feed the cat.

Veer Gidwaney is the CEO and co-founder of Maxwell Health. Maxwell Health provides a SaaS platform through health insurance brokers that drastically reduces the headaches associated with employee benefit systems. Tech Cocktail recently named Maxwell Health the “Hottest Startup in the Nation” in 2013.  

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

The post Location, Location, Location: The Culture Factor You Can’t Ignore appeared first on Under30CEO.

]]>
http://under30ceo.com/location-location-location-culture-factor-cant-ignore/feed/ 4
7 Ways to Use University Career Centers to Find Your Next Star Employee http://under30ceo.com/7-ways-use-university-career-centers-find-next-star-employee/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=7-ways-use-university-career-centers-find-next-star-employee http://under30ceo.com/7-ways-use-university-career-centers-find-next-star-employee/#comments Tue, 17 Jun 2014 13:00:39 +0000 theyec http://under30ceo.com/?p=39873 How can founders best utilize university career centers to find potential hires as graduation approaches? The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of […]

The post 7 Ways to Use University Career Centers to Find Your Next Star Employee appeared first on Under30CEO.

]]>

careercenter2

How can founders best utilize university career centers to find potential hires as graduation approaches?

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. Introduce Yourself to Freshmen and Sophomores

Everyone wants the attention of the seniors, but you will stand out if you ask to be introduced to some of their more promising younger students. You will likely find interns for the summer, but even better, you will develop strong relationships with students over time, influencing their training and coursework so they are prepared to work for you full time when they graduate.
- Alexandra Levit, Inspiration at Work

2. Speak at Events

If possible, volunteer to speak in a class or to student groups. This gives students an opportunity to learn more about you and get a feel for you as a person. It can help start the exposure process before other companies begin and it gives you a leg up in terms of connecting with potential hires.
- Andrew Thomas, SkyBell Technologies, Inc.

3. Be a Squeaky Wheel

The squeaky wheel gets the grease. University careers centers are contacted by many businesses. So to stand out, you must make a concentrated effort to show you’re serious and committed to their university and students. Reach out and petition them to act on your behalf. Put the ball in their court and ask about options for employers, such as an online job posting system or on-campus interviews.
- Luke Skurman, Niche.com

4. Build Relationships

Form impactful relationships with the staff of the career centers at the universities where you want to recruit. These folks are often privy to information about candidates you couldn’t get elsewhere. They can help steer interesting applicants your way when they come into the career center for guidance. Also, offer to help create a startup program for the career center.
- Brewster Stanislaw, Inside Social

5. Talk to the Career Counselors

First, identify the schools that have the students you’d like to have as employees. For instance, as a young startup with a need for marketing leadership, I would likely look at Kellogg and Babson, among others. After identifying the best matches, formulate a very specific job description for your startup. Then talk to the career center itself. They are often willing to feature startups.
- Alec Bowers, Abraxas Dynamics

6. Inquire About Internships

Career centers have more people willing to work than there are jobs. Use this to find some of the best interns out there. Talk to the counselors to post up flyers. You’re helping them find their students good opportunities.
- John Rampton, Adogy

7. Hold Workshops

Organize a workshop with the career center so you have an opportunity to interact face to face with any potential hires and get a feel for what they could provide for your business. Attending the workshop wouldn’t guarantee anyone a job, but those who attended would likely be more driven, desirable employees.
- Nathaniel Victor, Sonic Electronix, Inc.

Image Credit: careerblog.positionu4college.com

The post 7 Ways to Use University Career Centers to Find Your Next Star Employee appeared first on Under30CEO.

]]>
http://under30ceo.com/7-ways-use-university-career-centers-find-next-star-employee/feed/ 1
5 Key Things Most People Forget When Crowdfunding Their Passion Project http://under30ceo.com/5-key-things-people-forget-crowdfunding-passion-project/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=5-key-things-people-forget-crowdfunding-passion-project http://under30ceo.com/5-key-things-people-forget-crowdfunding-passion-project/#comments Mon, 09 Jun 2014 13:00:39 +0000 Cesar Romero http://under30ceo.com/?p=40019 Have you thought about starting your own passion project but feel like it isn’t possible because of limited resources? Maybe it’s time you look into crowdfunding and how it can turn your project into reality by having the support of like-minded people. A successful crowdfunding campaign is all about community and how well you communicate […]

The post 5 Key Things Most People Forget When Crowdfunding Their Passion Project appeared first on Under30CEO.

]]>

52b0582d1cff47cb4794d015

Have you thought about starting your own passion project but feel like it isn’t possible because of limited resources?

Maybe it’s time you look into crowdfunding and how it can turn your project into reality by having the support of like-minded people. A successful crowdfunding campaign is all about community and how well you communicate your story to get people behind your cause. Through crowdfunding, I was able to raise funds and attend StartingBloc Institute where young adults from all over the world get together to tackle world’s challenges.

Ready to dive into the possibilities of crowdfunding?

Not so fast my friend!

Before you get started on your campaign, here are five things most people forget that truly make a successful crowdfunding campaign:

1. Nurture relationships with people who refuse to see you fail

Working on projects alone sucks….

Last year I realized I didn’t have a network full of passionate people and I felt stuck doing things I wasn’t passionate about so I decided to travel and cultivate those relationships that made me come alive. Throughout my travels over the last year, I’ve had the privilege of meeting so many incredible people that have had a positive impact in my life and have inspired me to keep pushing myself outside my comfort zone.

People make all the difference in life.

Nurturing relationships with a positive intention is the best way to get passionate people on your side. Put all these crazy people together and suddenly everyone’s doing the impossible. One example of this is reaching 100% of my crowdfunding campaign to attend StartingBloc Conference project and how a community of passionate people helped me reach my goal and made attending this conference a reality.

I couldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for the support of a like-minded community. Don’t wait until last minute to cultivate relationships with passionate people. The world is run off of personal relationships. They fuel our passion and make the unthinkable possible. Changemaking projects like a crowdfunding campaign can only happen by surrounding yourself with people who believe insane things can be done.

The right people will hold you accountable to higher standards.

Go out and make friends with them!

2. Be crystal clear about your WHY

Simon Sinek in his book Start with Why explains that great leaders inspire action by having a clear message about WHY they do what they do. When I reached out to my colleagues for their help, instead of asking for money for some cause, I told them  that by helping me fulfill my StartingBloc duties, they would directly impact social change and be living a more conscious courageous life. I appealed to them on an emotional level, not just out of financial need.  If I had said in my communications that the purpose of raising the money was for me to go to StartingBloc to enhance my personal and professional skills, how many people do you think would have contributed? Probably not that many because I would have been focusing on results instead of a common belief and purpose.

People support others that believe what they believe. What you do and how you do it are simply proofs of your beliefs.

All the people that contributed to this campaign and all of those that continue to support me on this journey are doing it because they believe in living a more conscious life and doing meaningful work.

3. How do you make people feel when they are around you? Be specific and personal to every person you reach out to

I see this happen very frequently where people send out mass emails or mass social media updates about their crowdfunding campaign only to receive little favorable response or sometimes no response at all. This is a very lazy way to reach out to people and if you are really passionate about getting positive results then you need to build rapport with people first and get very specific with every single person you reach out to.

Rapport is all about establishing a connection with people and letting them know that you have a common bond. The more you know about someone – including background, attitudes and values – the more points you have for establishing a connection. Whether is phone, email, social media, face-to-face, say something specific about the relationship so people know that you are not spamming or taking advantage of them. If you are reaching to someone you haven’t talked to in a while, do some research first and find out what’s going on in their lives and mention this in your communications. You will get much better results and it’s guaranteed to build much needed rapport.

4. Make it easy for people to contribute and include a link to your crowdfunding campaign in your communications

The main goal when reaching out for help with a crowdfunding campaign is to have people contribute to your cause and it’s critical that in your communications you have a clear call to action with a direct link to the crowdfunding campaign because it makes it easier for people to contribute instead of having them figure out exactly what it is you need from them or how to access your campaign.

5. Always end your communications with a gratitude and Thank You!

Gratitude goes a long way especially when you express it to other people because they want to feel recognized for their contributions and know that you appreciate their time and effort. People have a lot going on- let them know that you appreciate their time and that you won’t take too much of it.

Have you successfully completed a crowdfunding campaign? What other elements can you share with us that are critical for a successful campaign?

The post 5 Key Things Most People Forget When Crowdfunding Their Passion Project appeared first on Under30CEO.

]]>
http://under30ceo.com/5-key-things-people-forget-crowdfunding-passion-project/feed/ 2
12 Business Questions You Should Ask Yourself Today http://under30ceo.com/12-business-questions-ask-today/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=12-business-questions-ask-today http://under30ceo.com/12-business-questions-ask-today/#comments Sat, 07 Jun 2014 19:00:03 +0000 theyec http://under30ceo.com/?p=39875   What single business-related question should every young founder ask themselves tomorrow and why? The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs […]

The post 12 Business Questions You Should Ask Yourself Today appeared first on Under30CEO.

]]>

 entrepreneur

What single business-related question should every young founder ask themselves tomorrow and why?

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. What Is That One Thing?

As a founder, you’re likely doing dozens of things at once. A good way to get yourself to focus is to ask yourself, “What is that one thing we can do to move the needle?” Then be sure to prioritize that “thing” within the company.
- Jeff Epstein, Ambassador

2. Have My Employees Signed Invention Assignment Agreements?

Investors often primarily invest in the intellectual property of a company. They will insist that anyone who has done work for the company has signed an invention assignment agreement, making it clear that the work product belongs to the company. For most startups, it’s the top legal priority.
- Doug Bend, Bend Law Group, PC

3. What’s My Exit Strategy?

It may sound odd to ask about how you’ll exit the business you’re thinking about founding, but it’s absolutely critical. It determines how you need to grow your business. If you expect to be out in five years, you’ll need to do things quite differently than if you expect to be in that business for 20 years. Begin with the end in mind so you don’t end up with no good end in sight.
- Charlie Gilkey, Productive Flourishing

4. Are We Systematizing?

In startup mode, it’s easy to go with the flow. But if you’re going to achieve consistent results, you’ll need to systematize and document your processes. Otherwise you won’t know what worked and why.
- Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems

5. Am I Focussed?

The hardest thing about being an entrepreneur is maintaining focus. It is so easy to get caught up in more and more exciting ideas, from small features to entirely new products. However, if you can’t focus on achieving your mission better than anyone else, then you’ll never achieve your goals. Everything your startup does should follow a focussed mission and work towards those goals.
- James Simpson, GoldFire Studios

6. Where Do I Want to Be in 10 Years?

If you can start to visualize where you want to be ten years down the road, you can start to build backwards. You can build a straight line of tasks and projects that will guide you towards that goal. You’ll have more clarity because you’ll always be doing the tasks that lead to your long term goal. This provides great peace of mind and focus on what really matters to you.
- Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com

7. Would My Business Survive Without Me?

If you weren’t around tomorrow, would the business survive? It’s important to build a company that is sustainable beyond your involvement. This is freeing to both you and your employees, and you will not grow as large as possible until it happens.
- Joseph P. DeWoody, Clear Fork Royalty

8. What’s My One-Sentence Mission?

If you can’t answer this, you’re going to lose a lot of potential gains to a lack of focus.
- Sam Saxton, Salter Spiral Stair and Mylen Stairs

9. Do I Enjoy My Work?

If you are not enjoying what you’re doing, now is the time to start something else — while you are young!
- Ioannis Verdelis, Fleksy

10. Do People Need My Product/Service?

There are a shockingly high number of businesses and products we can all live without. Ask yourself if what you are creating solves a real need in the marketplace, or if it’s just a flash in the pan that people might like in the short term. Starting a business is one thing, but staying in business is quite another.
- Michael Portman, Birds Barbershop

11. What Is My Definition of Success?

It can be easy to get lost in the day-to-day operational tasks. Make sure you have a bigger picture of where your company is headed so you don’t get bogged down solving problems that might not matter in the long run.
- Elton Rivas, One Spark

12. Are My Prices High Enough?

A lot of young founders don’t realize what their products or services are worth, and they’ll never know if they don’t push the envelope a little. I’ve seen some great startups under-price themselves for years before realizing it.
- Maren Hogan, Red Branch Media

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

The post 12 Business Questions You Should Ask Yourself Today appeared first on Under30CEO.

]]>
http://under30ceo.com/12-business-questions-ask-today/feed/ 2
5 Things You Need to Do Yesterday for a Successful Business Exit http://under30ceo.com/5-things-need-yesterday-successful-business-exit/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=5-things-need-yesterday-successful-business-exit http://under30ceo.com/5-things-need-yesterday-successful-business-exit/#comments Sun, 01 Jun 2014 17:00:56 +0000 GuestAuthor http://under30ceo.com/?p=39861 You pick up the phone, and BAM! You’re blindsided. The person on the other end of the line wants to buy your business. You freeze. You don’t want to say the wrong thing. Your mind races. What am I supposed to do now? Are my ducks in a row? Am I prepared to get what […]

The post 5 Things You Need to Do Yesterday for a Successful Business Exit appeared first on Under30CEO.

]]>

Exit strategy pinned on noticeboard

You pick up the phone, and BAM! You’re blindsided. The person on the other end of the line wants to buy your business.

You freeze. You don’t want to say the wrong thing.

Your mind races.

What am I supposed to do now? Are my ducks in a row? Am I prepared to get what I think this is worth? What is this business worth? Is it worth anything?

Although this is the dream scenario for many entrepreneurs, most business owners won’t be able to sell their companies. According to Business Reference Guide, 70 to 80 percent of businesses put on the market don’t sell.

Here are five things you need to do now — before you get that phone call — to build a strong business and prepare for a successful exit.

1. Hire and Develop Leaders in Your Organization

Avoid falling back on the old business maxim, “If you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.”

The problem with handling the most important tasks and decisions yourself is that it doesn’t prepare the rest of your staff to take over when you leave. Any new owner will be hesitant to take the reins of a business that depends solely on you.

Insisting on doing everything yourself also stifles your business growth because one person has limited bandwidth. Identify team members with leadership potential, and invest in their development early on.

2. Keep Your Business in Growth Mode

Don’t get distracted by one potential buyer. The odds of selling your business to any one buyer range from 15 percent to 40 percent, depending on the study.

Your odds with this interested buyer are worse than 50/50, so it’s best to keep your business growth a top priority.

Making headway with new markets, new products, and new opportunities also makes your business more attractive to investors. Buyers like to see growth opportunity, so don’t plateau right before closing. Make some significant, measurable progress on growth before an exit opportunity arises.

Remember: Talk is cheap. Execution is valuable.

3. Build Systems

Building systems in your business is important for three main reasons: Systems help you hire and train good employees, they help you build a scalable business, and they create opportunities for you to explore recurring revenue models. All three are appealing to potential buyers.

4. Avoid Heavy Customer Concentration

It goes without saying that taking care of your biggest customers is important. But if a vast majority of your business comes from one customer, you may have too much of a good thing.

Businesses with poor customer concentration are risky to buyers. Ideally, no single customer should account for more than 20 percent of your revenue. If this is the case for your business, try to acquire more customers to minimize that risk.

5. Keep Great Records

“Due diligence” is the term used when potential buyers peek behind the curtain to make sure what you’ve said about your business is true. If all the information is in your head and they have to take your word for it, this can be painful for you.

Make sure you keep accurate records. Procrastinating on your bookkeeping can make it all but impossible to catch up when potential buyers need to quickly access current information.

These five areas are all critical to your business, but juggling them all at once can feel overwhelming. Make a plan this week to execute on just one of these things, and you’ll avoid the crunch-time panic that’s familiar to business owners who don’t prepare an exit strategy. Of course, you should always seek advice from a mergers and acquisitions professional who has sold businesses and knows what to expect from the process.

In short, you need to focus on building a business, not just a job. This means keeping a potential buyer’s perspective in mind and growing a company that will be an attractive investment.

If you have a strong business, you can exit at a premium. It just takes careful preparation before the opportunity to sell arises.

If you wait too long, you may not exit at all.

Nelson Muller is Vice President at Biz Crossing, an M&A advisory firm in Ashland, Mo.

The post 5 Things You Need to Do Yesterday for a Successful Business Exit appeared first on Under30CEO.

]]>
http://under30ceo.com/5-things-need-yesterday-successful-business-exit/feed/ 0
Why Startups Are Stepping on the Brakes Despite SEC Giving Green Light to General Solicitation http://under30ceo.com/startups-stepping-brakes-despite-sec-giving-green-light-general-solicitation/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=startups-stepping-brakes-despite-sec-giving-green-light-general-solicitation http://under30ceo.com/startups-stepping-brakes-despite-sec-giving-green-light-general-solicitation/#comments Tue, 27 May 2014 13:00:26 +0000 Under30CEO http://under30ceo.com/?p=39611 In September 2013, the SEC significantly relaxed restrictions that had been in place for over 80 years on companies’ ability to advertise for investors. The old rule, generally referred to as the “ban on general solicitation,” had been a central component of U.S. securities laws since the Great Depression. Before the ban went in place, […]

The post Why Startups Are Stepping on the Brakes Despite SEC Giving Green Light to General Solicitation appeared first on Under30CEO.

]]>

sec

In September 2013, the SEC significantly relaxed restrictions that had been in place for over 80 years on companies’ ability to advertise for investors. The old rule, generally referred to as the “ban on general solicitation,” had been a central component of U.S. securities laws since the Great Depression. Before the ban went in place, it was not uncommon to see public advertisements to buy the next “can’t miss” stock.

Increasingly in recent years, particularly with the startup boom, entrepreneurs felt as though their hands were tied with regard to raising money. If only they could advertise for investors, the vast pool of capital that was previously out-of-reach would come knocking at their doors. When the SEC announced it was considering eliminating the ban, the excitement in the business community was palpable. Yet today, more than six months after the ban was finally lifted, companies remain extremely skittish to test out the relaxed rules. To understand the hesitation, a little background on the new regulatory environment is needed.

New Rules

The SEC’s new Rule 506(c) governs the conditions and requirements to engage in general solicitation. The rule allows companies to use general solicitation and advertising to raise unlimited amounts of capital from an unlimited number of investors so long as all of those investors are “accredited investors” (a legally defined term that generally means “financially sophisticated investors”). Under the new rule, however, the issuer must take “reasonable steps” to verify that each purchaser of securities meets the standard for an accredited investor. While there is some debate about what constitutes these “reasonable steps,” suffice it to say that more than a cursory level of diligence is required – for instance, an issuer might want to review an investor’s tax returns to satisfy the standard.

Why the Reluctance?

The requirement to take “reasonable steps” to verify investors’ accredited status, and the significant consequence of falling short of satisfying the standard, is one of the key explanations for why companies are still sitting on the sidelines when it comes to general solicitation. Not satisfying the SEC’s standard for “reasonable steps” can result in the issuer having to refund investors’ money, together with interest and other damages, potentially at a time when the issuer can least afford to part with cash.

There’s also the “no do overs” rule. An issuer that engages in general solicitation but fails to satisfy the standards of Rule 506(c) will not be able to fall back on some of the other most common securities law exemptions (i.e., the other exemptions under what’s known as “Regulation D” covering private placements) that still prohibit general solicitation to satisfy their requirements. In essence, the issuer will be stuck waiting on the sidelines for at least six months (the period during which the SEC can determine that two offerings should be integrated and viewed as a single offering) before utilizing one of these other common exemptions.

Perhaps the most ironic reason there has been little use of the new rule, however, is that the principal intended beneficiaries of the new rule are the companies that lack the resources needed to comply with it. Rule 506(c) was not adopted to help those companies that already have significant revenues and resources. Those more established companies have typically had greater options available to them for accessing capital. Instead, Rule 506(c) was adopted to help the small guy who may need to cast a wider net when looking for capital. The small guy may lack the resources to engage in a fundraising advertising campaign. The small guy also may not have the resources to seek legal advice to make sure he is complying with the new law.

Another credible, but more speculative, reason many potential issuers have yet to test the waters with general solicitation is fear over the type of investors who are likely to respond to general solicitation. An issuer desperate for cash may not hesitate to take money from anyone willing to invest. Those who can be even mildly selective, however, prefer investors who are likely to be rational and business minded. But rational and business minded people generally are not the type to invest in a company after seeing a newspaper advertisement. Just because someone meets the financial standard to be an “accredited investor” does not mean they are a desirable investor.

Then there are the concerns over protecting proprietary information. Most companies take great strides to keep their confidential information confidential. However, when an issuer raises capital through the sale of stock or debt, it is selling a security, and therefore is subject to the antifraud laws that require disclosure of material information. A company considering engaging in general solicitation is faced with a dilemma: Disclose confidential information or run the risk that, if investors lose money, the information will be deemed material in hindsight in an investor lawsuit.
Finally, the SEC is likely to be particularly interested in the market’s use of the new rules (as it is with all new rules). Those actively involved in the securities industry generally expect the SEC to scrutinize fairly closely the first batch of issuers to test the waters on general solicitation. Companies often hire lawyers to help keep them off the SEC’s radar, so the prospect of waiving a flag in front of the SEC and saying “look at me” is fairly unappealing to issuers. Rather, most companies seem perfectly content to let the more adventuresome early adopters of general solicitation forge the way. To date, there seem to be relatively few volunteers for that pioneering role.

Joshua Schneiderman is a Partner at Snell & Wilmer L.L.P., a full-service business law firm with more than 400 attorneys practicing in nine locations throughout the western United States and in Mexico, including Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada; Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona; Los Angeles and Orange County, California; Denver, Colorado; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Los Cabos, Mexico.  Josh advises clients on a wide range of transactional matters, including startup financing, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, public and private offerings of debt and equity securities and franchising. 

Image Credit: www.usacryptocoins.com

The post Why Startups Are Stepping on the Brakes Despite SEC Giving Green Light to General Solicitation appeared first on Under30CEO.

]]>
http://under30ceo.com/startups-stepping-brakes-despite-sec-giving-green-light-general-solicitation/feed/ 1
7 Things You Should Know Before Selling on a Flash Sale Site http://under30ceo.com/7-things-know-selling-flash-sale-site/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=7-things-know-selling-flash-sale-site http://under30ceo.com/7-things-know-selling-flash-sale-site/#comments Sun, 18 May 2014 19:00:15 +0000 theyec http://under30ceo.com/?p=39423 I want to partner with a flash sale site to sell my physical products. What do I need to know before I get started? The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, […]

The post 7 Things You Should Know Before Selling on a Flash Sale Site appeared first on Under30CEO.

]]>

I want to partner with a flash sale site to sell my physical products. What do I need to know before I get started?

sale

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. Required Discounts

The standard ask of a flash sales site will be that you offer your product for 25 percent of its normal value, which gives a 50 percent discount to customers and splits it evenly between you and the flash site. Some brands launch successfully this way, but some sell themselves into the ground. Ensure your business model can sustain the volume and the price before agreeing.
- Brennan White, Watchtower

2. High Commissions

Flash sale website commissions are often higher than you think, and you might have issues maintaining inventory levels. Also, your projections for improved future revenues may not be accurate, especially if traditional deal seekers are the ones purchasing your products.
- Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

3. Angry Customers

If you’re offering your products for a much lower price than your customers have paid in the past, you may find that some of your existing clientele will be upset that they’ve paid full price while other people don’t have to pay nearly as much.
- Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting

4. Long-Term ROI

Given the commission and discount required by most flash sale sites, partnering with one is unlikely to be profitable on its own. You will need to have estimates of what portion of customers will end up buying at full price to determine whether the ROI will be where you need it to be.
- Josh Weiss, Bluegala

5. Negotiable Discounts

Despite what they might tell you, you do have some flexibility when it comes to setting discounts and revenue shares. Remember, they don’t have any real product costs, so their margins are high. Find out from other sellers what has been negotiated. Look on Quora, which is a great resource for this type of information.
- Trevor Sumner, LocalVox

6. Customer Base

Really, the only value I see in flash sale sites is that you gain exposure to a new audience who will hopefully — but most likely won’t — become long-term customers. You will, however, build exposure through their website, email list or referrals. The last thing you want to do is sell discounted products to current customers who are already willing to pay full price.
- Andy Karuza, Brandbuddee

7. Creative Repackaging

Flash sale sites have a lot of benefits to offer, but they will also require massive discounts off your regular retail prices to offer to their customers. We recommend getting creative by grouping products in a way you don’t normally sell them. There are plenty of ways to repackage your products such as grouping or tweaking things to make what you’re offering exciting while keeping profit.
- Rebecca Zorowitz, Ooh La La Brands

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

The post 7 Things You Should Know Before Selling on a Flash Sale Site appeared first on Under30CEO.

]]>
http://under30ceo.com/7-things-know-selling-flash-sale-site/feed/ 0
How to Use Gifts to Win Business and Snag Referrals http://under30ceo.com/use-gifts-win-business-snag-referrals/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=use-gifts-win-business-snag-referrals http://under30ceo.com/use-gifts-win-business-snag-referrals/#comments Tue, 13 May 2014 17:00:43 +0000 GuestAuthor http://under30ceo.com/?p=39802 Gifts can be powerful. They can brighten someone’s day, communicate friendship, and keep romantic relationships fresh and exciting. When applied to the business world, giving gifts to prospects or clients can turn leads into clients and relationships into referrals. Dropbox recently saw great success with its two-sided incentive program. Any users who invited a friend […]

The post How to Use Gifts to Win Business and Snag Referrals appeared first on Under30CEO.

]]>

referrals

Gifts can be powerful. They can brighten someone’s day, communicate friendship, and keep romantic relationships fresh and exciting. When applied to the business world, giving gifts to prospects or clients can turn leads into clients and relationships into referrals.

Dropbox recently saw great success with its two-sided incentive program. Any users who invited a friend to try the service earned extra storage space for themselves and the friend. This approach helped increase sign-ups by 60 percent. Dropbox grew its user base from 100,000 to 4 million in 15 months with zero ad spending, and the gift of space helped propel its success.

These types of referrals and rewards can accelerate your business growth. But how can you give a business gift that catches a lead’s attention or prompts a referral without appearing pushy or desperate?

As with most things in business and in life, timing is everything.

The Journey of a Gift

There are three identifiable stages in the life cycle of a business gift that correspond directly to the sales cycle. Knowing these connections can help you provide the gift that’s best-suited for each stage.

Stage 1: Reaching out to Leads

When you first reach out to new prospects, any gift that will stay in sight for an extended amount of time is a good choice. A fruit basket with your company logo on it could be the perfect reminder to potential clients that you care about their health and business.

A recurring gift can also work well to stay top of mind. Receiving a fun reminder of your company each month can help maintain a connection until your prospect is ready to convert. At this stage, you want gifts that are pleasant but low-key reminders so you don’t seem overbearing or desperate for the prospect’s business.

Stage 2: Strengthening Existing Relationships

For your current clients, it’s important to make your gifts a bit more personal and memorable. Does your client talk about how much she loves your city’s basketball team or a band that’s going to be in town next month? Tickets to a sporting event or show might be appropriate if you know the client enjoys those events.

If you take a client to an event personally, refrain from discussing business. Remember, you’re trying to make a personal connection, and business must sometimes take a back seat.

Stage 3: Building Loyalty

Once you’ve earned a client’s business, keep yourself top of mind by regularly connecting with her in meaningful ways. If you come across an article you think might be of interest or a business tip that might improve her bottom line, send it over. As long as you provide value, you shouldn’t worry about annoying the client because your extra effort will be appreciated.

These small gestures show you care about your clients and want them to succeed. As a result, your loyal clients will be more likely to refer their colleagues or friends to you.

How to Choose the Appropriate Gift

Not every type of gift is appropriate at every stage of the gift life cycle. There are certain “rules” you should follow. Ask yourself:

  • Who is the intended recipient?
  • How expensive should the gift be?
  • How much will the prospective client be spending with your company?

Give a gift that fits how much your clients have invested in you. For instance, if a potential customer is interested as a shareholder, then golf balls, tees, computer accessories, or small appliances could be appropriate. However, if the prospect plans to spend a substantial amount of money on your product or service, then a cheap pen isn’t going to cut it.

Harness the Power of Reciprocity

Even when a gift is small and inexpensive, it’s still a social contract. Think of business gifting as a kind of gentle blackmail. This idea stems from a phenomenon called reciprocity, which is based on the notion that people have a really hard time being in another person’s debt.

If you are generous from the start, your clients will be more likely to reciprocate your generosity. When done right, potential clients will usually place an order or hire your services to ease the feeling of being in debt. If you continue to over-deliver for existing clients with thoughtful gifts, they’ll feel compelled to recommend your company to others.

Giving gifts isn’t just about receiving something in return, though. Your clients deserve to be thanked for their business and the referrals they bring to your company. By understanding the life cycle of a business gift and how each stage works to forge long-term bonds, you can build lifelong relationships that both you and your clients can feel good about.

A professional ballerina-turned-entrepreneur, Emily Egbert is the co-founder of HitUp, an app that allows customers to purchase and send business gifts to clients or employees in an efficient and personalized way. Sending and receiving gifts should be as easy as sending an email or updating a social media status, yet it still takes a long time to wade through the process of purchasing a gift and sending it. HitUp is designed to change that by making it incredibly easy to send gifts and establish or build relationships offline.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

The post How to Use Gifts to Win Business and Snag Referrals appeared first on Under30CEO.

]]>
http://under30ceo.com/use-gifts-win-business-snag-referrals/feed/ 0