Blog Posts by Adrienne Burke

  • 10 MOOCs for Entrepreneurs: Learn Online to Launch and Lead a Business

    For anyone who is thinking about building a new business, or already struggling to lead a startup, the expanding MOOC universe offers a wealth of opportunities to learn from entrepreneurs who've been there.

    Educational institutions all over the globe are offering MOOCs—massive open online courses—in almost any subject you can imagine. Many are free, and some offer course credits or certificates.

    Several online courses in the management category now offer guidance from experts on how to turn your great idea into a viable business, or take your startup to the next stage. With a few hours a week in front of a computer screen, you can glean lessons from top business school instructors and successful entrepreneurs.

    We pulled together this list of MOOCs targeted at aspiring entrepreneurs and business leaders. For more online management courses, check out Coursera, NovoEd, iversity, and Udacity.

    1. Technology Entrepreneurship. Feb 2 – Mar 16. Award-winning Stanford University Assistant

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  • President’s Proposals Underwhelm Small Business Advocates

    At the start of his State of the Union speech last night, President Obama promised to put forth a “set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class,” and threatened to “take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families,” if Congress would not join him.

    His not-exactly-concrete proposals included:

    • Closing tax loopholes that reward companies that send jobs and profits overseas
    • Reducing tax rates for businesses that create jobs in the U.S.
    • Spending money saved through aforementioned tax reforms on “rebuilding our roads, upgrading our ports, and unclogging our commutes”
    • Streamlining the permitting process for key infrastructure projects to create more construction jobs faster
    • Launching six more high-tech manufacturing hubs like those this administration has funded in Raleigh, NC, and Youngstown, Ohio
    • Establishing new trade partnerships with Europe and the
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  • Defining Entrepreneurship Based on Billionaires

    You may be self-employed, but are you an entrepreneur? Economists Magnus Henrekson and Tino Sanandaji would say “not likely.”

    Their definition of entrepreneurship excludes Mom & Pops, sole proprietors, and any business that is not innovating and growing. In fact, the Swedish scholars argue, in countries and regions where entrepreneurship is most rampant, self-employment is less common.

    In a study published in the current edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Henrekson and Sanandaji, who work at the Research Institute of Industrial Economics in Stockholm, claim they found an inverse relationship between entrepreneurship and rates of self-employment. “Countries with higher income, higher trust, lower taxes, more venture capital investment, and lower regulatory burdens have more entrepreneurs but less self-employment,” they say.

    What’s an entrepreneur then? The researchers adopt the definition of the early 20th century Austrian economist and Harvard professor

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  • When Women Execs Are Your Target Market

    Branding experts Lalita Khosla and Lubna Abu-Osba

    Here’s something a lot of brands don’t get about marketing: When your ad campaign targets men, you don’t capture women. But if you target women with authentic branding, you’re likely to win men too. So say Lubna Abu-Osba and Lalita Khosla, partners in the branding agency The Influence Bureau.

    In an earlier interview, the two experts shared what businesses need to know about marketing to women consumers. Here in part two, they tell how B2B companies could target women-owned businesses.

    YSB: What's your branding or marketing advice to B2B companies that want to target women-owned businesses or female executives?

    Lubna Abu-Osba: More women are opening businesses than men right now. If you’re trying to appeal to a woman business owner or female consumer, don’t look at women as a monolithic group, because they’re not one.

    Realize it’s about the holistic experience of speaking to women. It’s about tapping into female core values and creating an authentic relationship with that female

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  • 4 Takeaways from a Crash Course for Entrepreneurs

    New business books come across my desk every week, sent by publishers seeking Yahoo coverage for their authors. It’s impossible to review each one, but a title that promises to teach what you need about management in 2 hours is hard to resist.

    The paperback by three seasoned Florida entrepreneurs, “Managing Your Business,” is part of a new 5-volume “Crash Course for Entrepreneurs” that includes titles on starting a business, sales and marketing, business law, and finance basics. To be accurate, we’re talking 2 hours to power through each 160-page book in the series—10 hours to learn the basics. And, of course, the authors concede, “there’s much more to learn about each topic than the books can cover.” But the set, they say, is designed to provide any would-be entrepreneur with “a framework” for running a company.

    Just what can you learn about managing your business in 2 hours? How to create a vibrant office culture, how to make meetings work, how to spend wisely, and how to hire and

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  • 4 Financial Tips from a Community Banker

    Entrepreneur Ken LaRoe had been in the banking industry for more than 15 years when he founded First Green Bank in Mt. Dora, Fla., in 2009. With a mission to promote positive environmental and social responsibility while operating as a traditional community bank, LaRoe says First Green has made loans to a solar-powered catfish farm, an organic blueberry farm, numerous medical practices, and many other small business in Lake County, Fla.

    LaRoe calls his community bank the first “values based financial institution” in the eastern U.S., and one of a breed that he hopes to see expand. Small business owners stand to benefit, he says.

    On the whole, LaRoe says, the shrinking banking industry has been bad for small business. He points to a Wall Street Journal report that revealed that the number of banks in the U.S. dropped below 7,000 last month, from a high of over 18,000, for the first time since the FDIC was formed in 1934.

    Ken LaRoe, CEO of First Green Bank

    Though it wasn’t the small community banks that crushed the

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  • That Old Idea to Shutter SBA is Back

    Shutter SBA ImageA debate about the wisdom of folding the U.S. Small Business Administration into the Department of Commerce has been simmering ever since the idea was proposed by President Reagan nearly three decades ago. The notion has remained on a back burner even with the current administration, as President Obama appointed SBA Administrator Karen Mills to his cabinet as part of a broader plan to merge SBA with several other agencies, but then failed to appoint a new administrator after Mills departed last August.

    A year ago, we reported here on some small business advocates’ stances on the folding SBA into Commerce (hint: they’re vigorously opposed). And now a new proposal has brought the conversation back to a boil.

    In late December, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) proposed legislation to form a single Department of Commerce and the Workforce that would encompass the functions of the Departments of Labor and the Commerce. One of five undersecretaries at the newfangled department would oversee all

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  • Four Ways to Build a Mobile Payment System That Works

    Mobile Payment
    If you’re in the retail business, the holiday spike in mobile shopping likely has you restrategizing your e-commerce—or m-commerce, as mobile-based e-commerce is now known. Yahoo Small Business reported in December that Americans broke mobile shopping records on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, spending $1.1 billion in three days via their smartphones and tablets.

    Even before the season got underway, a Deloitte survey indicated that 68 percent of smartphone owners planned to use their devices for holiday shopping. And eMarketer forecasted that mobile devices would drive 16 percent of 2013 retail e-commerce sales—more than double the 2011 rate. By 2017, eMarketer predicts, m-commerce sales will nearly triple to $113 billion.

    But retailers beware: “Those sunny prognostications ignore a giant fly in the ointment,” warns Ralph Dangelmaier, CEO of BlueSnap, a payment processor whose goal is “to convert more shoppers to buyers worldwide” and whose main competitor is PayPal. The
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  • Are special interests hijacking small businesses’ advocates?

    Hidden Agenda?

    The National Federation of Independent Businesses calls itself “America's leading small business association, promoting and protecting the right of our members to own, operate, and grow their businesses.” It’s the group that took its lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act all the way to the Supreme Court, arguing that the law was unconstitutional and that it would stymie growth among small businesses, and even force some to shut down.

    Another small business association, the non-partisan Small Business Majority, filed a Friend of the Court brief in defense of Obamacare. It said the Affordable Care Act would save small businesses money and potentially increase their competitiveness. But that group has already been linked more strongly to liberal causes and the Democratic Party than to small business interests.

    Still, it seemed curious that NFIB would go to such lengths making the complete opposite argument on behalf of its members, when most of them would not be impacted by the new

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  • An entrepreneur’s app helps you hunt down your next collaborator

    PeopleHunt at work

    Maybe it’s the result of being born in Mexico City, raised in New York City, carrying an Irish passport, and living in Berlin, Copenhagen, Eindhoven, London, and San Francisco by age 34, but Adrian Avendano is obsessed with meeting and collaborating with new people.

    So, as a software engineer and self-proclaimed hacker, he set out to master the science of connecting: What conditions need to exist for like minded people in a crowd or a city to find each other and create something together?

    With his partner and fellow hacker Ellen Dudley, an Irish biomedical engineer, Avendano developed an iPhone app called PeopleHunt that aims to facilitate useful human introductions. A bit like Meetup, but for enabling spontaneous, one-on-one interactions, the app has spawned numerous business and personal relationships among more than 2,500 users. It has also captured $40,000 in equity-free financing, and sparked interest in the Bay Area investment community, he says.

    With the slogan "life's a

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