You are doing everything right. You're growing a business. You're hiring people. You're acquiring new customers. You even got funded! You're pretty sure that you're going to beat the odds that 90% of startups fail.
It's a pretty complicated balancing act to make sure that you're in the 10% of successful startups. In order to successfully scale, you need to make sure that you're managing all these moving parts...and avoiding the ones that could be your downfall. But what are the key issues you want to address?
There are actually several potential roadblocks to your startup's success, but when the Startup Genome Project did the research, they learned that one of the biggest factors was that 70% of startups scale prematurely. Knowing when to scale dramatically improves your chances of startup success. After all, when we say that the goal of a startup is to not be a startup, we don't mean that goal is to close down, but grow.
And with that in mind, we are introducing...
We often see the reports on successful startups and their seemingly meteoric rise to stardom, or we read reports on a startup’s spectacular failure. What we don’t read about is what things they did or did not pay attention to in order to get where they are.
There are a whole bunch of factors that come into play, which range from corporate culture to investor relations to business operations—all of which, according to surveys, are key factors for a company’s demise or rise.
Remember: We don’t see what’s going on under the water, even though that’s where most of the action is. We only see the tip of the iceberg.
Apparently, not everyone’s mama has told them that you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. You’d think that being a business owner who needs to deal with customers would automatically give said business owner a bit of insight on what it’s like to deal with the public. Unfortunately, that insight doesn’t always translate into corresponding empathetic action.
I once arrived at the home of a neighbor and fellow business person—let’s call her Hilde (not her real name)—just as she received a call back from a customer service rep. We waved hello, smiling at each other. As I waited for her, I couldn't help but listen to Hilde talk to the poor person on the other end of the phone. I was literally gobsmacked. Her tone was nasty, her words were mean and demanding, and even her body language was aggressive. And it wasn’t even over a long-standing, complicated issue, which might have at least explained why she was being so rude.
I like being able to easily find what I need, so I am a big fan of being organized. I have color-coded file folders for things we receive in paper form and need to keep (yes, really!). This include things like bills paid, paperwork for the kids’ schools, medical forms we receive from the doctors, car maintenance, bank statements, and so on.
I’ve had these same folders for many years, but there’s a new file folder that I recently had to set up: Stolen Data/Cyber Breaches.
Yes, I now have a folder for all those letters we’ve received over the last few years about the cyber breaches that Frank (the spousal unit) and I have received. The last one we got was in May, from TaskRabbit, Inc., one of the resources that Frank used to launch his home energy audit and weatherization business last year.
Also in that folder: Home Depot, JP Morgan Chase (twice), US Department of Veteran Affairs, IRS, Verizon, Citigroup, CVS, Gap, Hyatt Hotels, US Army, Department of...
A primer on how to brainstorming might seem as necessary as a primer on how to scratch an itch. How can you NOT know how to do it? It’s intuitive. Everyone knows how to do it, right? After all, we are constantly brainstorming…what to have for dinner, where to take the kids on their day off, which shirt goes with those pants, and so on.
However, when it comes to business, brainstorming often works best when rules are engaged and a framework is used.
The goal of brainstorming is to come up with solutions to a specific question, problem, or issue. It can be done alone or in groups. There are a myriad of techniques and tools that can be used.
Visualizing a brainstorming session conjures up images of people sitting around a table, free-associating and tossing out ideas, while someone frantically writes down words on a large pad at the front of the room. In fact, you do not need a large group of people (although, depending on the problem, that could help), and you...
Seriously, and please bear with me.
First, I’ll start with my TMI share: I’ve been endowed with Raquel Welch curves since I was 12. In a world that was more flat than curvy, this proved no advantage and only brought unwanted attention from strangers. And sometimes people I knew, like the time at my best friend’s bridal shower when her future mother-in-law asked me my cup size and couldn’t stop talking about my chest. (She felt she’d found a kindred spirit in me, someone who knew what she’d lived through as a woman with a large chest.) It was weird, especially at a time when we barely acknowledged our feminine bodies. Perhaps needless to say, I was never into lingerie.
That’s not to say I didn’t try to find or didn’t want sexy lingerie. I didn’t know about great advice blogs like The Lingerie Addict, so I was on my own. Victoria’s Secret bras were more padding than bra (and I really didn’t need more...
I have a confession. Like many entrepreneurs (most?), I have EADD, or Entrepreneurial Attention Deficit Disorder AKA shiny ball syndrome AKA “SQUIRREL!” issues.
This simply means that, as an entrepreneur, I am an idea person and can be easily distracted. Sometimes this means my brain is constantly coming up with new businesses. Sometimes it’s coming up with ways to improve how something is done (my business or my clients’). Sometimes it’s because everything else seems to need to take precedent (kids, laundry, filing, email). Other days, like today, it’s visiting Facebook, LinkedIn, and taking calls, all while I’m trying to write this blog.
If you are an entrepreneur, you know exactly what I’m talking about. And if you’re an entrepreneur who isn’t working in your genius, you’re probably experiencing this nearly all the time.
Look, this does not mean that you have a problem. You aren’t a failure and you...
I recently took part of an online discussion among female founders about being visible to the gatekeepers. Gatekeepers are the folks who decide everything from which new businesses to feature in magazines to who gets VC money. The catalyst for the conversation was how magazines keep featuring ex-Silicon Valley employees, mostly men. Sure there are always exceptions to the rule, but the featured articles are often about startups founded by men. Needless to say, the irony is painful, given that women-owned businesses are expected to account for more than half of small business job growth by 2018.
So the question is: How do we women get past that?
There are undoubtedly many components to a satisfactory answer, and there are tons of articles online about the challenges that women face starting in business and running one. But there are two really important points that those articles seem to miss: Women need to show up and make sure the gatekeepers know we’re here, and we need to...
Just a few years ago, I was pretty much a social media neophyte. I’d only joined Facebook because my girlfriends from undergrad planned our annual adventures through that medium. At the time, I’d have been perfectly happy to stick with email.
My opinion on social media has since evolved, and like most of us, I could easily lose days of my life reading updates, laughing at memes and watching videos. I’ve met amazing people and become part of communities that have come to mean so much to me (shout out to Pantsuit Nation!). I even found a fun new pastime (trolling the trolls, which not something I actually recommend doing and have since stopped). But as I engaged in this brave new world, I also met a lot of people who apparently lacked all basic social decorum. I’ve had to unfriend people I knew in real life (in most cases, we’ve stayed friends) and block the crazier ones.
Here’s what I’ve learned.
When you accept a friend or connection request...
Social media is both a bonanza and a bane. It’s useful to stay connected to family and friends. And it’s great to grow your professional network. In fact, when you’re starting out, it’s natural to want to accept EVERYONE who wants to friend, connect or follow you. However that’s not always a good idea, because when you’re not discriminating, social media can become your bane.
People who do not have a business or don’t do much business online tend to be a lot more picky about who they accept as friends on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, see everyone as a potential customer. Networking for the purpose of activism—a trend that’s growing—is a hazy middle ground between the two extremes.
For the purposes of this article, I will use the term “friend” to also include whatever the connection is called on other social media platforms, like “connection” on LinkedIn or...