• Can parents raise kids to be entrepreneurs?

    Young Entrepreneur

    Colleges around the country are nurturing startup founders with classes and clubs in entrepreneurship. But some parents start even earlier, grooming offspring with the potential to be the next Nicholas Woodman or Sara Blakely (two of the world’s youngest self-made billionaires). Yahoo! Small Business spoke to several young entrepreneurs and their parents to find out if there’s a parenting style that inspires kids to grow up to be business owners.

    Matt Lautz was 16 when he started his first a software development business. There have been other startups as well as mergers and acquisitions for the wunderkind over the years since. Today, at 31, he’s a leader of Milwaukee’s emerging startup community and president of CorvisaCloud, which he grew to 100 employees in under three years.

    As a kid, Lautz says, “When I wanted things that weren’t necessities, I was told to get a job.” He went to work on the helpdesk for an internet service provider. But after solving the same user problem for the

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  • Loyal Users
    My business partner -- who is also my mentor -- is an amazing entrepreneur who is very passionate about helping people. When we first started our business, we nearly went broke; we needed to get new clients, but we also had a ton of ongoing costs for the new center we built. We were faced with the choice: pay the heating bill or buy advertising space.

    "Content is King, but marketing is Queen, and you know who runs the household," goes the phrase. So instead of paying the heating bill, my business partner decided to spend the last $10,000 on a 2" x 2" newspaper ad.

    His bet paid off -- from that little ad, he sold four programs, totaling about $80,000 in revenue. The business was saved because of a little thing called user acquisition, and three key elements in place that made his user acquisition campaign a success. Here are his secrets:

    1. Think like an early-century herb treatment specialist.

    A century ago, the world operated on an economic system that demystified concepts like marketing,

    Read More »from If You Build It, They Won’t Come: How to Get Users for Your Product
  • Remember the JOBS Act? It Might Take Effect After All

    More than a year after the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act was signed into law, the SEC has begun adopting rules for enforcing it. The law was designed, in part, to make it easier for small businesses to raise funding from a wider pool of investors.

    The SEC considered one proposed rule and adopted two final rules today. The most important of the new rules makes it legal for the first time since the days of the Great Depression for private companies to advertise that they are seeking investment capital. Venture capitalists and hedge funds will be permitted to do the same.

    Entrepreneurs and small business owners are especially interested in aspects of the Act that will permit small businesses to solicit crowdfunded investments from “unaccredited” investors—or people who are not high net-worth—but the SEC has yet to rule on that aspect of the law.

    The rules adopted today must be published in the Federal Register before they can go into effect.

    One of the final rules “would

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  • Customer Loyalty
    One of the most inexcusable things you can do in business is treat your customers like dollar signs. Not only will this lead to poor service and a bad reputation, it will also mean you will miss out on all the great opportunities having a good customer relationship can provide.

    Perhaps it is because we are part of the subscription economy, in which retention is king, but we’ve always seen the value of our customers. Happy and loyal customers are good for business today and, even more valuable, tomorrow. Even more, if you treat them well enough and provide a killer service, they can become excellent brand ambassadors.

    Create ambassadors

    If I tell my son to do something, he look at my like I’m speaking a foreign language. But if a friend asks him to do the exact same thing, it is done instantly. This phenomenon happens with your brand as well. You can tell people how great you are until you’re blue in the face and they’ll act deaf. But get a single kind word from a third party and suddenly

    Read More »from Customers Are Not Dollar Signs: 3 Ways to Cultivate Loyalty
  • Great Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

    The nice people at Simply Business in the UK came up with this fantastic guide to conversion rate optimization - in other words - how to get your website to convert to sales better. Just click on the graphic below to be taken to the original.

    Click image to open interactive version (via Simply Business).

  • Decisions, DecisionsI dived into the world of entrepreneurship a few years back, and it's certainly been an interesting ride. Don't let anyone fool you -- business ownership requires a lot of hard work. No matter what you do, you're going to make mistakes in the beginning. However, once you get all the wrinkles ironed out, the benefits of self-employment are numerous.

    In order to help you along your way, here are five typical mistakes entrepreneurs make, as well as some suggestions on how to avoid them:

    1. Not Doing Enough Research
      One of the worst mistakes you can make as a first-time entrepreneur is not researching the industry or niche you want to penetrate. With the Internet, you have a world of resources at your fingertips, so take advantage of it. Several pieces of information you should keep an eye out for include current demand, competition, average startup costs, and when you can expect to become profitable. I conducted thorough research, and therefore went into business with my eyes wide open.
    2. Not
    Read More »from 5 Mistakes First-Time Entrepreneurs Make — And How to Avoid Them
  • Galloping from pop-up shop to thriving retail business

    Farmyard Darlings owners Kim Berry (left) and Carole Sinclair

    Until about three years ago, Carole Sinclair had a solid career as a Silicon Valley public relations executive. But at heart she has always been a country girl who’d rather be riding a horse than commuting on US 101 to a high-tech office. She was also a self-confessed hoarder of vintage Americana. In 15 years of collecting saddles, typewriters, linens, and other old treasures, she had filled a garage, never quite sure what she would do with it all.

    Then, at a formal party several years ago she met Kim Berry, a fellow farm gal disguised as a Nordstrom buyer. The only two women in the room wearing cowboy boots that night, they became instant best friends.

    The two decided to team up in an effort to give a new life to Sinclair’s garage full of collectibles. In 2010, they found a vacant cottage where they could host a pop-up vintage sale. The location, in Lafayette, Calif., was ideal: behind a charming nursery garden, adjacent to a 5-star restaurant, and a 15-minute drive from downtown San

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  • Employers now have until 2015 to comply with healthcare law

    “We’re listening to businesses about the healthcare law” was the headline of a post on the White House blog yesterday. Presidential advisor Valerie Jarrett announced in the blog that the White House would extend until 2015 the deadline for employers to comply with the Affordable Care Act, and would meantime work to streamline the law’s reporting requirements.

    Reports in TIME and CBS News are among those that suggest the delay is merely a midterm election maneuver designed to safeguard business votes for Democrats in 2014.

    Others note that it translates to a multi-billion-dollar reduction in expected federal revenue for next year: noncompliant employers—those with more than 50 workers who do not provide health insurance—won't be assessed fines of $2,000 per employee until 2015. The Chicago Tribune reports:

    "Tuesday's delay also raised questions about initial funding for Obamacare. The employer mandate is expected to raise $140 billion in revenues over the next 10 years, according to the

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  • A way to make a business of teaching what you know

    Patricia Boudier teaches organic gardening at Curious.com

    Have a skill that you can teach on camera? Justin Kitch has created a way for you to make a business out of sharing what you know—or to share what you know as a way of marketing your business.

    Kitch, who sold his paid web-hosting service, Homestead Technologies, to Intuit for $170 million six years ago, raised $7.5 million in venture capital to launch Curious.com last month to “help people who have expertise to create intellectual property they can monetize.” A few hundred thousand visitors have checked it out, and tens of thousands have enrolled in the video lessons, he says.

    Judging from content already on the site, lessons can be in anything from advanced math to automotive repair, from ballroom dancing to beard trimming, and hundreds of other subjects.

    Sure, you can find many such experts on YouTube—cooking instructors, gardening gurus, and makeup application pros all share their knowledge there for free. But Kitch says YouTube doesn’t let learners interact with instructors, and it

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  • In 1997, Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen coined the term “Innovator’s Dilemma” to describe the situation in which a company becomes the victim of its own success and gets toppled by new technologies.

    The term gets bandied about quite a bit, but lately it has been applied to an unlikely target, a corporation that until recently has been seen as invincible, superhuman, and immune to the forces that disrupt ordinary organizations: Apple.

    Roger McNamee, co-founder of private equity firm Elevation Partners, tells Bloomberg TV: “Apple is caught in a classic innovator’s dilemma. They’re doing the same things that they were doing five years ago. The difference is that five years ago they were creating the smartphone market.”

    And there’s Olof Schybergson, CEO of a consultancy called Fjord, writing on GigaOm that, “As things unfold over the next few years, Apple will probably become a new textbook example of the Innovator’s Dilemma.”

    These comments are coming out in the wake of

    Read More »from Apple's iDilemma: Can Apple Escape the Whirlwind of Disruption?


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