How-to-tell-if-you-re-an-entrepreneur-video--1627b95e05

Starting a business is not for everyone. You need a strong constitution and the ability to face failure. Because if statistics are any guide, you will likely fail.

But the web makes it easier for first-time entrepreneurs to tap into that spirit of risk. What do these go-getters have in common? They likely started a “business” in childhood (a lemonade stand, a paper route, etc.). They’ve likely used their own money to fund their dreams (and are likely to have maxed-out credit cards, as a result). And they are less averse to risk than the average human.

Check out this video by OnlineMBA.com for insight into the mind of the entrepreneur.

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, morganl

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/08/30/entrepreneur-video/

Chad Dickerson spoke at length with BuzzFeed about Etsy allowing vendors to use outside production, why New York’s tech industry is alive and well, and why he loves HBO’s Silicon Valley.

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Etsy

Etsy has built a massive business in the trafficking of whimsy — growing into a $1 billion-plus business since 2005. The online marketplace is now home to a million sellers peddling a staggering array of items, from superhero capes for small children to Carolina Pine office tables to oversized Scrabble tiles for decorating your place with words like “HOME” (nine points).

The company’s headquarters in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn — at least until they move to a bigger spot nearby — is as charming as the website’s locally made merchandise. Dark green foliage lines the entryway, making the path to reception feel somewhat magical. The name tags include two spaces: one for your name, and another for something you love. Corgis roam free. And the conference rooms are labeled with food puns on musician names: A Tribe Called Queso, Modest Mousse, Jay Ziti, and Brieoncé, to name a few.

Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson has overseen radical changes in the company since he took the job in mid-2011. The company generated $1.35 billion in transactions last year, up from $895 million the prior year. Its website now has 40 million members, from just shy of 10 million three years ago. It has raised $91 million in funding from investors including Accel Partners, Index Ventures, and Union Square Ventures.

Most importantly, Dickerson, 42, has been charged with maintaining Etsy’s integrity as a marketplace for handmade goods while working to grow the company and keep its most successful sellers on the site. Etsy’s decision to allow vendors to use outside manufacturers last fall was met with some confusion and anger in the DIY community, as was the introduction of Etsy Wholesale, which will be out of beta in August. Dickerson, who started his career at the Raleigh News & Observer and other media outlets before heading to Yahoo, discussed those changes and how they were represented in the media and shared his thoughts on e-commerce, New York City’s tech scene, and the show Silicon Valley.

Sapna Maheshwari/BuzzFeed

Sapna Maheshwari/BuzzFeed

Sapna Maheshwari/BuzzFeed

 

There have been some not-so-flattering stories about the addition of factory-made production. What are your thoughts on those?Chad Dickerson: People who really looked deep into it and have done the homework see the vision that we have for it. The kind of sensational view is, “Oh my god, Etsy has opened up to factories, this is not what Etsy is supposed to be,” but I think journalism is really about looking a level deeper. And when you look a level deeper, the story we were telling was there are many different ways people make things, and since the beginning of Etsy, we had something called partial production, where you could use outside production to partially produce something. That’s a very confusing concept if only because the way things are made in the world is very complicated. So most of the knitters on Etsy don’t make their own yarn, most of the woodworkers don’t mill their own wood — we really respect the ones that do — but having something be 100% handmade in the strictest definition of the word is really complicated.

Since the beginning of Etsy, you come to Etsy, you want to build a business, you want it to be successful, and then you get featured on Martha Stewart or you get featured on a blog and you get this — we heard this experience over and over again — the seller gets kind of a crushing amount of orders. … We had a wedding seller that said she started to dread wedding season because she was just really reaching her capacity. So the policies were really based on not supporting giant mega-businesses, but helping the types of people who come to Etsy, and become successful on Etsy, continue on the path of success. And wholesale’s the same way.

How so?

CD: Wholesale is something that’s been happening on Etsy since the beginning. … Our seller education team wrote their first blog post about how to be successful in wholesale, I believe, in 2006, 2007. … We really wanted to support that but also create a common context around that, so that’s when we updated our policies. They really centered around authorship, responsibility, transparency.

So in a non-nuanced way, it’s like Etsy is allowing factories, but the deeper story is you still have authorship, you still have to create what you’re selling, responsibility, you have to understand how it’s made from end to end, you can’t just sort of send it off and not know how it’s made, and the transparency is you have to actually say on your about page for sellers that “I’m using outside help, I’m using a manufacturer.”

So we really saw it as a step forward in a big way, and we’re starting to see the vision there, we’re starting to see this vision of more community-based small-scale manufacturing really take hold — and 80% of sellers on Etsy, if you look at the U.S., who are using outside production, are using outside production in their own state.

How does it actually work?CD: [Gesturing to his messenger bag] The person who made this bag, Tielor McBride, his shop is named TM1985, he’s based in Brooklyn. He was actually the first person we approved for outside manufacturing. He works with a small family-owned shop in New Jersey to make these.

He obviously designed the bag and conceived the bag, but when he works with this outside firm over in New Jersey, he goes over there, works with them, they talk about how it’s made, they look at the zippers. … It’s very far from the idea of sending it off somewhere where you totally lose touch. If you look at his shop page, he says, “I work with a manufacturer in New Jersey.”

Another one, and this really reinforces the idea of remaking the economy, is a woman, Allison Faunce, from Little Hero Capes. She makes superhero capes for kids that are really, really cute. … She started hitting the limits of her production so she went to a local factory in Fall River, Mass. It was a factory run by a gentleman who had a really thriving business in the ’80s, and gradually, his business really deflated as more and more work went offshore. So she went and talked to him and they’ve been working together to increase production on these capes. … He was surprised to have someone like Allison come to him and say, I’m making these capes, so he started hiring people again.

That was kind of the world we were envisioning. This is where I’m dissatisfied with some of the coverage — there was no smoky-room plotting of me pounding my fists on the table saying, “We must increase production!” It wasn’t like that at all. It was like, “Hey, it doesn’t make sense to us that these good people who started on Etsy are kind of hitting a wall on Etsy and we’re not allowing them to work with people in their own communities to continue it.” So the way we’re seeing it play out is it really plays into the whole idea that’s fundamental to Etsy about these human relationships. It’s just that the human relationship is between Allison and the factory owner, between Tielor and the manufacturer.

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Are there incentives then to work with people in the U.S.?CD: We don’t have particular incentives to work with someone in a particular place, but we do use the word “faceless,” and I think that’s really important, the responsibility and transparency piece of the authorship.

First of all, you have to apply to work with a manufacturer, and in that application, you have to demonstrate that you understand the process. If you say, “I work with a factory, and I don’t know anything about the factory at all, I don’t even know who owns the factory,” then that doesn’t pass the responsibility test and the transparency test. It’s all about disclosing. If you pass the responsibility test, you have to disclose that you’re working with someone and you have to disclose the location.

Can you sort by “Made in America”?CD: You can’t. We’re a global platform. If you’re a buyer, you can look or you can make that decision yourself.

You can search by sellers based in London or anywhere, but we think it’s really important that Etsy’s a global marketplace, and also this idea that you can start a business on Etsy doing something that you love to do, very creative work. … We want that to be universal. Whether you’re in the U.S, or the U.K., or Australia, China, India, we want anyone to be able to participate.

Have you hired more people to police outside manufacturing as you’ve opened up the platform?CD: We don’t really break it out publicly, but in all areas of the company, we’ve grown staffing as the needs have grown. So we’ve hired more engineers to work on the platform, we’ve hired more people on our Marketplace Integrity and Trust & Safety Team to work on that, so that group continues to grow and grow and grow. And we’ve hired people on those teams who focus purely on the manufacturing applications and that sort of thing.

That’s one area where there has been, I think, some unfair journalism. We’ve always acknowledged that we have our own version of spam in the marketplace because it is open, but it’s always a fraction of 1%, so we’re always sweeping it away. People don’t come to Etsy for that kind of stuff. It’s something we don’t want in the marketplace, it’s not something that’s good for our business, either.

I visualize a lot of knitting going on in an Etsy tribunal.

CD: The outfits would be all unique, without a doubt.

Is Pinterest a big driver of traffic for you?CD: Pinterest is one of our top sources of traffic. … But part of the reason that Pinterest drives traffic to Etsy is because Pinterest users love Etsy so much that they’re pinning things from Etsy all the time. … I think it’s in many ways a symbiotic relationship.

There was a study a year or so ago [that showed] Etsy was the most pinned domain other than Google Images — which, arguably, Google Images doesn’t count because they’re aggregating everyone else’s images. So Pinterest and Etsy are tightly linked in that way. I think the customers of both enjoy both of those.

Are there ways you can leverage that relationship with them and do more?CD: I think so. I mean, I talk to Ben [Silbermann] occasionally and so we’re always having conversations about that kind of thing but nothing specific. … One of their engineers over there used to work for me at Yahoo, so there’s lots of connections. We’re very friendly.

In a lot of the articles about Etsy in the past year, there’s always talk of an IPO. Is that the only way for the people who have funded you so far to cash out? What about a sale?CD: I’m going to talk academically, but I want to make sure this isn’t me suggesting what Etsy will do. An IPO’s obviously one way, as you noted. … Another way is you can sell, as you pointed out. I think the way we look at Etsy, selling the company to another company isn’t something we’re looking to do at all because I think the community is so special, and what Etsy is is so unique and special. It’s really important that Etsy remain a stand-alone company, so that’s kind of how we feel about that.

The academic part is — so you have an IPO and a sale. You can also continue to raise money. I think we’re in a really interesting time because people are raising money, like the Uber round and some of the Pinterest rounds and Dropbox. The amount of money that people are willing to invest in the venture world is way beyond what we’ve seen before.

There’s so much money kind of floating around, it’s hard to know what the future will look like, but theoretically, you could raise another round of funding and those people could buy out your existing investors. To me, I like our investors.

Union Square Ventures, Accel are invested in Etsy right now — if some other investor came in and bought their stakes, that would be really distracting, and so that’s not something that we’re really interested in either.

Some companies are raising money because they need the operational capital, but in that way, we’re a little unusual because we’re profitable. … Profit means you’re running the business responsibly, you’re making money to reinvest and that sort of thing. It’s a little unusual in this day and age.

What do you think of the New York tech scene right now, given what happened with Tumblr, FourSquare’s transition, and Fab, of course. What does it look like from when you started as CEO? Is it less hot?CD: It’s different. September will be six years here. When I came in 2008, I think Tumblr was just getting going and FourSquare was just getting going, there was no Facebook office, no Amazon or Twitter. I can’t think of a lot of the West Coast companies, other than Google, who was already out here — there was a tiny Yahoo office. A lot has happened in six years. Tumblr had their exit, which I think was really good for Tumblr and good for New York.

How was it good for New York?CD: It was a $1 billion deal, and this isn’t necessarily how I score things, but I think people look at how much value you’re creating. They look at sort of how much your company is worth, and there’s a lot of talk when you read in the media about the “billion-dollar club.” A $1 billion valuation doesn’t actually mean anything — it’s almost like saying, “My house is worth whatever,” but until you sell it, you don’t actually know what it’s worth. Tumblr had a legitimate $1 billion exit.

There are some really interesting companies out there that maybe aren’t getting as much press as some of the companies that had been getting press, so, like, 10gen is one example with MongoDB. … That’s a software infrastructure company based in New York. If you didn’t know it was in New York, it sounds like a Silicon Valley company. So I think that the scene is just different.

The way I would measure the intensity of the scene, I wouldn’t measure it in headlines, I would measure it in competition for engineers, which is as hot as ever.

And how is the competition for engineers?CD: As hot as ever. There are a lot of comparisons obviously between New York and Silicon Valley — there used to be a lot of comparisons between New York and Boston and I don’t really hear those anymore.

It’s not that the New York scene is degrading in any way. Because I came in 2008, I’m a little influenced by that, but I felt things really started taking off locally around that time, and I feel like these things take a long time.

Silicon Valley didn’t produce Facebook in 1968. It took Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel and that kind of ecosystem to develop, and Stanford and Berkeley to build engineering programs, and now it’s tech everywhere. In New York, it’s almost like we’re building the Fairchild Semiconductors and the Intels and that kind of stuff and the universities, the Cornell-Technion program on Roosevelt Island, right now.

To me, it’s almost like tracking the stock market. You could look at various things and say, maybe New York’s stock price isn’t as high as people want it to be right at this moment, but just like you invest in companies for the long-term, you invest in regions for the long-term. I think New York is putting everything in place to continue to be a key player. To say that we’re “trying” to be a key player, I think would be underrating New York. Again, looking at the New York–Boston comparison — I don’t hear anyone talking about that anymore. Sorry to the Boston people, there’s a lot of good stuff happening there. But people compare New York and Silicon Valley.

 

Why do you like being in New York?CD: New York is a great place to build tech companies because it’s so international, it’s so diverse. Not just racially, ethnically, but the jobs that people have.

My social experience in New York is so much different than it was when I lived in California, where if I went to a party, everyone was a product manager, an engineer, or a designer. Now I go to a party and there are actors, writers. I think building a tech company now that the internet and everything is mobile and everything is more mainstream in a place like this is a really good long-term bet.

Do you watch the show Silicon Valley?CD: I absolutely love it. It is terrifyingly good. I think it’s really right on. My wife is not really into tech and everything, so I think she doesn’t know why I’m laughing so hard and thank goodness for that. But I mean, such attention to detail. They recreated TechCrunch Disrupt, and had Kara Swisher in there and had Mike Arrington in there and the sort of weird computer science guys with the Vibram shoes, and the founder guy, Bachman — there are so many people like that. They really nailed it.

Hopefully that doesn’t exist so much in New York.CD: I was talking to a friend of mine, a late-night conversation sitting on the roof one night, and we were talking about how we were so glad to be in New York because you know, the way I think about it is that Silicon Valley has almost this Hollywood sort of thing going on, where the local CEOs and entrepreneurs are the stars.

I mean I live in Brooklyn. Jay Z is from Brooklyn. How cool can you be if you live where Jay Z is? Spike Lee works in our building. … The point being, New York is so diverse, and everyone here is really excited about tech and what we’re doing, but also in a weird way, it’s kind of grounding because you’re just one of many industries here. I think that’s actually a strength, not a weakness, because if there is anything you could really say the show Silicon Valley is about, it’s about hubris and it’s hard. It’s hard to sort of have hubris when you’re working in an environment of people who are so successful in so many different ways — like some of the top musicians, ballet, you’re just one of many. I think it’s more diverse and it keeps you grounded.

I’m curious about your thoughts on the e-commerce landscape now, looking at some once-hot companies like Fab and Gilt.CD: Etsy is very different from those traditional e-commerce outfits since we’re a network of a million sellers around the world. … We don’t have a really large merchandising team that’s deciding what to order and trying to predict what the trends are, because in many ways the marketplace kind of self-regulates with supply and demand.

Fundamentally, when I look at the larger e-commerce landscape, outside of fashion and the ones you mentioned, at some point, you’re competing with Amazon. In a world where you’re holding inventory, you’re trying to meet customer expectations of fast shipping, discounting and low prices, and all that kind of stuff, I think that it gets really, really tough because Amazon has kind of created an expectation with things like Prime and really fast shipping that you’re going to get things really quickly.

So I see a lot of these companies trying to out-Amazon Amazon, and I think that’s a tough road for those kinds of companies with the thin margins and logistics challenges and all that kind of stuff. I wouldn’t want to be in that business. … We’re competing in a different way than price and convenience.

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So your volume of sales, that’s not so far from something like Lululemon, but obviously the money you’re making is nothing like what they’re making on expensive yoga pants.CD: We have multiple revenue streams. One mistake people make is they see the 3.5% take when something sells and they say, oh, Etsy’s revenue is $1.35 billion times 3.5%. But that’s only one part of it.

There’s the listing fees … of 20 cents per item listed, we have a payments processing platform as well, so when you use our payments platform, there’s a small fee associated with that. We provide shipping services, so if you’re a U.S. seller and you’re selling to someone in the U.S., you can print a U.S. postal service shipping label.

We also provide promotional services, sort of search ads, which is basically [like Google] AdWords for Etsy.com. You can buy paid placement in search and that’s a really good revenue stream for us, as well. The wholesale program is really nascent, we’re not charging fees right now, but we announced pricing, and will be starting to charge fees starting in August. So that number we can release: We have zero revenue on that right now.

Going into 2011, we only had two revenue streams, really, which were listing fees and the 3.5%. So all the ones that are not those, we’ve had since mid-2011.

Do you guys take bitcoin?CD: We do not.

Are you going to?CD: We don’t have any plans to do bitcoin. But the interesting thing is that there are some bitcoin sales because buyer and sellers can still negotiate between themselves. A very small percentage of people do this, but you can pay by check and money order and all that kind of stuff, so there are a small number of instances where buyers and sellers agree to transact via bitcoin. But it’s not going through Etsy.

But bitcoin is very fascinating.

Do you think it’s the way of the future?CD: I’m still learning. I actually own bitcoin.

How much?CD: One. Just out of curiosity. I was not a speculator, I just wanted to go through the process of buying.

I bought it I think at the absolute peak price of around $700. I haven’t looked at it recently — it might be $600, $500. I bought it before the whole Mt. Gox thing happened. I want to spend it to see what the spending experience is like but I just keep not doing it.

Etsy’s first TV commercial just aired in the U.K.

Video available at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=p61dzgTFrMA.

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Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/sapna/etsys-ceo-talks-new-policies-new-yorks-tech-scene-and-silico

Branding_voice

Image: Mashable Composite, Getty Creative, mustafahacalaki

When my business partner Claire Mazur and I developed the idea for our company, Of a Kind in 2010, establishing our voice was a serious undertaking. We were creating a website to sell pieces from up-and-coming fashion designers and also to tell their stories, and we knew that figuring out how to speak to our audience — not just what to say but also how to say it — would be key in shaping people’s perception of what we were doing and selling.

Having come from the world of magazine editorial, cementing that tone was something I was excited to tackle. And though this project was especially crucial to our ecommerce business with its content-heavy approach, really, every company under the sun has to think about the voice and the personality of its messaging — how do you write an Instagram caption or respond to user feedback if you don’t know what your business sounds like? Do you open customer service emails with “Hey, Kanye!” or “Dear Mr. West?” Below, four tactics that have helped us define our vibe that we think will serve you well, too.

1.Know who you’re talking to

Before Claire and I started Of a Kind, we spent time identifying our target customers. Initially, we were talking to these imagined people — think Kate, the corporate creative who mourned the loss of Domino magazine and loved Michelle Williams’s style. But now that we’ve been in business for nearly four years, we have some knowledge — data! — re: who our customer is: She’s a 30-year-old woman who shops at J.Crew and Etsy and reads Refinery29 and The New Yorker.

Having this intel means we can not only create content that we deem relevant — say, “22 Bikinis for Grown-Ass Women”—but we can also make knowing references. We can namecheck Regina George (Mean Girls!) and Joan Didion, and she’ll get it.

Granted, not everyone who comes to our site fits this bill, and we have to walk a fine line. Plenty of publications avoid going down this road at all for fear of alienating a reader or a potential one, but it cuts the other way as well: If you do it right, you show your fans that you really get them and become fast friends.

2. Consider your familiarity with the person on the receiving end

Our ad copy doesn’t read the same as our newsletter content, which is different from the tone of our customer service messages. When we’re encountering someone for the first time— say, in a display ad — we play things a little straighter. We don’t use words like “rad” because we think people have to warm up to us — and that we have to warm up to them.

Bottom line: You need to consider both the context and your relationship with the person consuming each drop of content you produce. You wouldn’t want someone to stumble upon a tweet and be put off by your company because you come off as too insider-y, and, on the flipside, it’d be a bummer to alienate a super-user by responding to an email about a tech glitch in a way that read as too chilly or impersonal. The same way that social-media experts say you need to create different posts for the various platforms you’re using — well, you need to establish different iterations of our company voice for each of the ways and places you’re talking to people, too.

3.Create a banned word list

Sometimes it’s easier to define what feels wrong than what feels right, so start there. We don’t use “bauble” or “frock” — women’s magazine words that people don’t say in real life. Anything that’s aggressively fashion-y — or French — is also on the no list (i.e. “au courant”).

If you’re a food app targeting sophisticated home cooks, maybe “jiffy,” “nosh” and “kid-friendly” are off-limits. Or a beauty site with a teenage audience? Perhaps you decide to steer clear of “luxurious,” “dewy” or “pamper.”

Building this document is a good way to discover whole categories of words that just don’t fit your brand, and having a sheet to reference is a stellar way to teach others the writing style — it helps give the whole issue of voice some hard-and-fast rules that everyone on your team can follow.

4. When in doubt, err on the side of approachable and conversational

I was going to start this point by saying “Unless you’re a super-serious financial institution or something,” but then I realized that doesn’t actually hold: The online bank Simple does a fantastic job of being direct and informative … and friendly and accessible. In most cases, buttoned-up, big-word copy feels artificial, like it’s trying too hard or has something to prove, and users can see right through that. Ultimately, you want people to trust you and connect with you, and that’s a tough ask if they feel like you’re wearing a mask.

What are your rules for your brand’s voice? Tell us in the comments.

Erica%20cerulo-1841
Erica Cerulo

Erica Cerulo is the co-founder of Of a Kind, a website that sells the pieces and tells the stories of emerging fashion designers. Before launching the company in 2010 with Claire Mazur, she was an editor at Details and Lucky. Follow her More

Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/06/26/brand-voice-tips/

How-to-choose-an-online-video-platform-0194322e5d

Men, women, kids and teens consume videos online at an ever increasing rate and thankfully, marketers are thirsty for even more opportunities to get in front of the resulting eyeballs via video advertising.

If you are publisher that is still early in the stages of launching your video publishing efforts, chances are you’re evaluating which online video platform (OVP) is the best fit for your needs. The right OVP will enable you to maximize the visitors and marketing dollars that come with having a video-enabled website.

While choosing an OVP should be simple, the reality is that the process requires a good amount of business planning and research to ensure that you are choosing the right solution for your needs.

Challenge #1: How to Make Money With Online Video

Why waste your time developing an online video strategy if you aren’t going to make any money with it? The use of YouTube embeds should be part of any publisher’s video strategy — free and timely content via a reliable delivery medium.

However, to make money you will need to leverage an OVP that allows you to monetize your video inventory directly, or by leveraging their third-party sales relationships. Brightcove, Wistia, Kaltura, SpringBoard and Ooyala are among the OVPs that allow you to traffic ads and earn revenue from the videos that are watched on your website.

Challenge #2: Online Video Publishing is Expensive

Other than perhaps the cost of content, the main source of costs as they relate to video publishing is the cost of hosting and bandwidth. For a publisher looking to get into online video, the last thing you want to worry about is absorbing these costs before you’ve even made a nickel from your efforts.

While the Brightcoves of the world are great platforms, they cost money to use (licensing costs, bandwidth, etc.), which may not be something a new video publisher is willing to commit to from the start. However OVPs like SpringBoard and LongTail eliminate (or dramatically reduce) cost from the equation.

Challenge #3: How to Source Video Content

Unless you are a publisher who already has libraries of video you would like to show your audience, chances are you are in need of a video content source.

It’s cheap and easy to get a camera and start vlogging for your audience. But beyond that, there are a few OVP options that offer content that can be licensed directly from their platform. Real Gravity and 5Min are examples of video player solutions that offer a library of content (some premium, some not) that you can choose from to display on your site.

And if making money on your video is not important to you, YouTube, DailyMotion and many other video portals can be a solution — just grab their video embed and go!

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, PashaIgnatov

This article originally published at ClickZ
here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/07/03/online-video-platform/

Entrepreneur-potential-600

In the Bootstrapping Business Series, Mashable talked to a ton of entrepreneurs about how they got started, what tools they live by and what they wished they had known at the beginning. The result is a deep pool of tips and tricks for aspiring business owners who are looking to raise money, start a tech startup or build their brand.

From selecting the best employees to putting together an awesome workspace, the little decisions are the ones that add up and will make you successful in the long run. Take a look at a roundup of 10 of these solid primers below. Have tips of your own? Tell us in the comments.

1. What Founders Wish They Knew Before Starting Companies

The entrepreneurship journey isn’t an easy one — developing a product, scaling a business and growing an audience are intimidating tasks that necessitate endless hustle, ambition and passion. And even if you have all of those qualities in spades, there’s still a good chance your venture will fail.

But one in 12 startups succeed, and these businesses are healthy, growing and maybe even profitable. But that’s not to say there weren’t bumps in the road. We’ve asked some founders for things they wish they knew when they started their companies, in the hopes that it’ll help you and your startup avoid a fatal flaw.

Read the full story here.

2. 10 Tips for a More Beautiful and Functional Home Office

If you work from home, you owe it to yourself to set up a proper office space. It’s vital you have somewhere to concentrate that’s separate from your home life — and is hopefully a nice space to spend time in. A good working space is even more important if you operate your small business out of your home.

To help you out on this rather specific front, we have pulled together some useful tips from experienced home-workers and chatted with home office expert Lisa Kanarek, founder of WorkingNaked.com.

Read the full story here.

3. 4 Ways to Grow Your Customer Base

Once your startup hits the market, there’s reason to celebrate — but this is only the beginning. The next step is growth, either indirectly through user acquisition or by bringing in additional customers. You know your product is performing well and has a few happy users or customers, so how do you get the word out?

The challenges faced by early-stage startup are unique. There is no existing user base to piggyback on with network dynamics and little data to determine the most effective entry points that lead to a paying customer. Also, many startups are too small to bring on a PR staff, and most founders are not educated in the best tactics for reaching out to media. The good news is that social media can enable you to reach potential customers without depending on traditional outlets, and sometimes these tactics will work hand-in-hand.

Read the full story here.

4. 4 Hiring Tips for Your Lean Startup

There’s a ton do when you’re first starting a company. Each co-founder or employee executes several job descriptions jumbled together, and it seems a simple solution to just hire a new person and delegate away responsibilities, never to be worried about again. This becomes especially relevant post-funding, because it suddenly becomes plausible to hire with the intended result of getting more done faster.

But this isn’t necessarily true, according to Eric Ries, creator of the Lean Startup methodology. “As you add people to a team or project, there is an increase in communications overhead that makes everyone slightly less productive,” he explains.

It may seem counterintuitive to do anything slow when following lean startup methods, but Ries’ point stands: To continue executing effectively, you must not introduce a point of friction to your team. Finding the right person is paramount, and worth the wait.

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5. 6 Ways to Get the Most Out of Freemium for Your Small Business

One of the most difficult things about bootstrapping a startup is utilizing the right resources to optimize efficiency and promote growth. And, it doesn’t help that the best tools for the job often come at a pretty hefty price. It’s easy to feel shortchanged, especially when the apps of your dreams feel like a mouse-click away.

But don’t despair. Over the last few years, startups benefited from the so-called “freemium” model — a company offers the basic functions of an app suite for free, and then charges more for premium features and bigger storage space. A classic example is newsletter platform MailChimp, which is free for a few subscribers, but as your userbase — and business — grows, so does the cost, increasing incrementally according to your number of subscribers. Taking advantage of freemium options can help you put together the enterprise arsenal of your dreams while also maintaining that shoestring budget.

However, it’s important to note that choosing freemium doesn’t automatically guarantee satisfaction. Here are some tips and tricks that will help you hedge your bets within the freemium system — and benefit like a high-rolling VIP.

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6. 10 Must-Have Tools for Entrepreneurs

For many entrepreneurs, the startup journey transforms them into more of a generalist than they likely were in a position at a larger company. This calls for specialized tools. The vocation-centric applications and programs no longer cut it.

Productivity is essential when you have a lot on your plate. Time is money, so when an app is able to help you do more faster, it becomes worth paying for. Other apps will streamline communication or collaborative processes and reduce the friction of working in tandem with team members.

Of course, no entrepreneur is all work, no play — taking a break will give your brain a rest, and it’s important to have options on hand that let you re-center your chi.

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7. 4 Ways to Budget Your Business Like a Pro

Nobody likes to talk about budgeting. Even more, budgeting is sort of a drag to do — but all can agree it’s incredibly important.

A few companies have launched software to make budgeting faster and easier. Plus, options for interaction with fellow entrepreneurs on sites like Twitter and Quora enables relevant feedback so you don’t pay excessive amounts for a service you don’t need. Read on to discover a few ways you can manage your company’s spectrum of debits and credits without too much stress.

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8. 8 Tips for Building Your Brand on the Cheap

When starting your business, we know there’s a lot to handle and think about. There’s your (growing) team, your intellectual property, product management and a pinched budget, all while you’re trying to navigate the waters of entrepreneurship.

But even without millions your brand can make an impression. All the free social media tools are a great start — Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest are key, but there’s more you can do to make an impression. We’ve rounded up eight ways to build your brand on the cheap — because there are more important things to spend money and time on, like your product and talent.

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9. 7 Tech Upgrades for Your Small Businesses

There’s nothing better than a shiny new piece of technology, but not everyone can just splurge for a laptop, tablet or iPhone every time another one comes around.

With so many tech upgrades and accessories on the market to turn existing hardware into even more powerful mechanisms, it’s not unusual for small businesses to save time, money and a whole lot of headaches by implementing a few simple add-ons.

For example, some small businesses are using systems that turn mobile devices into landlines to help make conference and video calls more user-friendly and less expensive. The AudiOffice by Invoxia features a dock equipped with speakers for devices such as the iPhone, iPod and iPad, and thanks to apps such as Skype and FaceTime that allow businesses to communicate with each other via chat, small businesses can cut down on communication costs.

Read the full story here.

10. 4 Ways Startups Can Leverage Employee-Owned Tech

The concept of BYOD, or “Bring Your Own Device,” has gained plenty of traction as the mode du jour for budding startups. And it’s easy to see why more companies — both big and small — are willing to take the plunge: The savings involved in allowing employees to utilize their own devices for work can be staggering.

But don’t get too caught up in the savings, or you’ll expose yourself to a world of risk. What companies gain in convenience and extra cash can be lost in poor control and flimsy policy. The unknown elements that can happen with a BYOD policy have led critics to call it “Bring Your Own Disaster,” and it’s easy to see how even the best intentions can lead to a serious security breach or aggravating compatibility problems.

Thinking of switching to BYOD? Here are four things to keep in mind when crafting and enforcing your policy. It’s important to note that the preferences and cultures of each company are different, so use your own needs as a guideline to developing a BYOD system that works for you.

Read the full story here.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/09/29/bootstrapping-business-tools/