Three questions for startups

For all the startup successes you hear about, the business world is also plagued by start-up failures. After all, 8 out of 10 businesses fail in the first 18 months. For many people, the idea of not having a boss or set work hours is incredibly appealing. Of course, being your own boss means that work never ends, but often, when you’ve started something that you’re passionate about, you don’t want it to. If you are passionate about your career as an entrepreneur, you definitely don’t want it to end. If you’re the owner of a startup, here are some questions that you should probably ask yourself in order to help gauge the health of your new business venture.

1) Are you unique? As more and more people turn to entrepreneurship for an income, it becomes more and more important that you know how to stand out. You need to have a unique value proposition – a value that you bring to the marketplace that others simply do not. Without a unique value proposition, you might not fail immediately – but you certainly won’t succeed, either. If you’re not sure whether your value proposition is unique, pick up some books on the topic and go back to doing the market research and analysis of the competition that you did when you started your business. If you aren’t unique enough, you might need to refine your business concept until you are.

2) Do you have the right location? Even if your startup is primarily an online venture, it’s still important to have the right physical location. After all, you will still want to do some in-person networking and you will probably have a physical office location. For those things, location is important. Traditionally, Silicon Valley and major cities are good locations for start-ups because of the hiring and networking opportunities that they provide. However, depending on the nature of your start-up, you may want to look into other locales. After all, if you’re marketing snowshoes it probably doesn’t make sense to set up shop in Florida.

3) Is your social networking up to par? According to eMarketer, 1 in 4 people in the world use social media. It’s ubiquitous. While television advertising can be pretty expensive, social media advertising doesn’t have to cost a dime. Also, unlike with television advertising, people don’t have DVR to skip the commercials. If you use social media correctly, people don’t want to skip your “commercial” because it seems like something fun and social, not like advertising.

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7 Successful Innovative Business Ideas

Innovative business ideas have a way with sticking in the minds of those who have witnessed their rapid rise…or rapid downfall. Even if they’re not successful, they share one common trait: they are the first of their kind, unique, perhaps even shocking.

Implementing innovative business ideas is often done without much market research. Sometimes businesses end up evolving in a totally different direction than the one they were expected; other times they fail utterly; some are created just to make a point. Whatever the reasons, whatever the outcome, it takes a lot of courage and determination to start something like that. Here are some examples of successful innovative business ideas:

1. Levi Strauss started his business selling jeans to miners during the Gold Rush. Eventually they became extremely popular, as we can see today. Who would have thought?

2. eBay was not intended to become the phenomenon that it is today. The idea of buying and selling anything legal was so appealing, however, that it drove it to become the largest and most popular site of its kind in the world.

3. Apple revolutionized a couple of industries. But when they started it, Wozniak and Jobs were certain they’ll close shop pretty quickly. In fact, Wozniak thought they won’t even manage to recover their investments.

4. Music videos were initially created as tools through which artists could market their albums. In time, however, more and more money and effort began to be put into them, and there are companies who make a profit by broadcasting these videos.

5. Low-cost airlines came as a surprise to many, but they made flying cheaper, opening the door for many new customers interested in just the getting there, not the extra services.

6. Social media platforms were initially designed for less wider use. However, the idea caught on and today they have hundreds of millions of users.

7. Pet salons and pet hotels probably sounded like a wacky idea when the first businesses were launched, but people’s love for their pets has made them increasingly popular.


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Deadly Mistakes of Startup Founders

When you’re starting your own venture, the last thing you want to focus on is failure. Nevertheless, if you explore the common reasons for failure in advance, you will be significantly less prone to succumb to them yourself. Here is a collection of the main reasons why startups come up short and tips for avoiding them.

“You need three things to create a successful startup: to start with good people, to make something customers actually want, and to spend as little money as possible.” (Paul Graham) (more…)

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How to Quit Your Job

Quit Your Job: A Practical 7 Steps-Plan To Start Your Own Business and Escape the 9 to 5

Quitting your day job to embark on another career or start your own business is a huge and frightening step. If you do it, though, you want to make sure you do it right. This book provides a practical plan & great tips for quitting your job and making a successful transition.


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Starbucks Case Study

There are plenty of people who say that in tough economic times, a brand like Starbucks shouldn’t be as successful as it continues to be, but reality tells a different story. Year in and year out, Starbucks continues to expand and diversify its offerings to new markets around the world, while still maintaining a firm grip on its domestic dominance in the United States. If there was only one or two pillars of Starbucks’ success, than cracks would almost certainly begin to appear, and the era of luxury coffee might show signs of coming to an end, but that isn’t the situation. By investing time, energy, and resources to perfecting their business model on all sides, Starbucks has weathered countless economic storms and cultural trends that have drowned competitors in myriad industries.

It’s difficult to envision Starbucks as a company that operates under the “slowly, but surely” philosophy, but that is precisely how they’ve achieved such monumental success. The company doesn’t implement new business ideas until they are polished and perfected, nor do they cut corners to save on expenses and improve their bottom line. The company takes calculated risks and solidifies its position in every new market, ensuring that previous ventures are secure and successful before moving onto the “next big thing”. All of this progress is dependent on their outstanding employees and baristas, who are consistently praised as some of the most superbly trained and empowered workers in the retail industry. Combining that personal presence with unique marketing strategies and an increasingly global presence results in a solid and unwavering level of success in an extremely competitive industry.

Shifting a consumer product from a novelty to a necessity is every retail establishment’s dream, yet Starbucks has actually achieved it. They’ve created and maintained a loyal customer base that spans more than 60 countries, and they’ve achieved this by remaining consistent in their underlying vision, while displaying dynamism in their individual practices. For a massive international company, they are surprisingly flexible and adaptive, owing to their empowered and independent retail locations that can make their own decisions and implement their own strategies based on their individual marketing experiences and innovative ideas. While this business model isn’t possible for certain industries or companies, the fundamental ideas that drive Starbucks are universal: investing in employees, unique marketing techniques, intelligent globalization, and customizing your offerings to your target markets, among others.

Every company is different, and every road to success has its own unexpected pitfalls and obstacles, but if one thing can be learned from Starbucks four decades of success, it is this: if a company establishes a feasible goal, delivers what it promises, takes calculated risks, and refuses to compromise on quality, then it will inevitably succeed. If this sounds condescendingly simple, that’s because it is. Sometimes the simplest mantra is the one that will result in the best outcome. The most powerful corporations have to start somewhere, even if that now-legendary company began with little more than a dream and a handful of coffee beans.

(This in an excerpt from the book More Than Coffee: The Secrets of Starbucks Success)

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Book on Startup Failures – Why Startups Fail: Deadly Mistakes of Business Startup Founders Explained

When you’re starting your own venture startup, the last thing you want to focus on is failure. Nevertheless, if you explore the common reasons for failure in advance, you will be significantly less prone to succumb to them yourself. This book is a collection of the main reasons why startups come up short and tips for avoiding them.

Order this book now.

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New Book – Turbo Startups: Analysis of the 10 Most Successful Startups – The Rise of the Next Big Thing

Embarking on a business venture is often one of the most exciting, intimidating, and challenging decisions that a person can make. However, in our technologically advanced and mobile age, it has actually become easier than ever for startup companies to form, but that doesn’t mean that all of them will find success. This short book highlights ten recent startup successes in the business world and explores how they work differently, which clever strategies they employed, and what lessons they can teach you to implement in your own startup business. There’s nothing wrong with taking a few words of wisdom from some of the fastest-growing players in the startup world!

Order this book on Amazon.

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The Lean Startup

Despite its incredibly long title, Eric Ries’s The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses has been a very successful and popular book since its release in 2011. The Lean Startup is a great book to have if you are going to launch or have recently launched a startup. Of course, in either case, you should be reading way more than just this – but this is undoubtedly a great place to start. It’s tested and true advice, and years of positive reviews seem to indicate that it really works. Aside from the utility of the advice itself, Lean Startup is great simply for its ability to clarify issues.

One thing that is great about the book is that it doesn’t focus only on brick-and-mortar businesses. Many business books do just that, but Ries explores the needs and conditions of startups in a variety of situations, including a number of non-traditional business scenarios. One of the most popular sections of the book is the case studies. Using the case studies as examples, Ries shows how you can learn valuable lessons for running a startup. Running a successful startup, he explains, is a teachable process: “Startup success can be engineered by following the process, which means it can be learned, which means it can be taught.”

The book balances technical information with anecdotal evidence – and the author has a lot of useful anecdotal evidence to draw on. Ries came up with the idea for Lean Startup as a result of his own experience as the founder and advisor of various startups. His first startup failed due to a lack of understanding about its target customers. Next, he worked as an engineer at another startup that failed. Finally, in 2004 he co-founded IMVU, a 3D social network – and that startup succeeded.

The Lean Startup actually spawned a lean startup movement, which focuses on allocating resources as efficiently as possible. Some well-known companies like Dropbox, Intuit, and Grockit employ lean startup philosophy. That means that not only is the book tried and true – it was a New York Times #2 bestseller at one point – but also the philosophy undergirding it is tried and true.

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