Startup

Doing Good With Your Business — Right From the Start
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You can give back long before you're big and successful. Here's how.In the summer of 2007, Susie Hadas found herself in the middle of hot flash. She was using a rather uncomfortable product to try to cool down, and, like the other products she’d tried, it wasn’t working. Frustrated, she said aloud to herself, “How is it possible that I am the only woman in the world who wants to be personally cool?”That, my friends, is the start of a business. In 2009, Hadas quit her day job and incorporated Personally Cool.I met Hadas at the 2012 Astia CEO Summit. Personally Cool is an Astia client; I am on the Astia board of trustees. Hadas, her co-founder Hugh Brownstone, and I shared a car to the airport after the summit. During that car ride, Hadas talked enthusiastically about [...]
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The Start-up That's Gunning for Square
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Another mobile payment start-up enters the ring. The founder explains how his company is different.Co-founded by billionaire Jack Dorsey, Square was the first to give people a free mini card reader to plug into a mobile device and accept credit and debit cards on the go. Square's charm is in its simplicity--there are no hidden fees and you only pay a flat rate of 2.75 percent per swipe or $275 a month and nothing per swipe.Some big guns have tried to get in on this action. With similar flat-rate models, you can also use your phone or tablet to accept payments with a slew of copycats, such as PayPal Here, Intuit GoPayment, and PayAnywhere.But now another company wants to be your digital cash register: Punchey, a Boston-based start-up that just came out of beta targets small businesses that [...]
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The 20/80 Rule for Innovation: It's All About the Edges
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You can't innovate from the center of the firm. You have to start at the outer edge and work your way in.There's a reason people use terms like "cutting edge" and "leading edge" when describing innovations. If it's not edgy, how innovative can it be?Yet organizations often err by trying to innovate not at the edges of the company, but at the center. The reason? The center is where decision makers reside. If you think of organizations as bell curves, the center--the inner 80 percent--is something like a stable middle ground, writes Jeff DeGraff, professor at the University of Michigan, on the Management Innovation eXchange site. The two extremes of the bell curve graph--the outer 20 percent of the organization--are the risky edges of crisis and exceptional opportunity. "The farther away you [...]
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Getting Press: 8 Tips for Going Hyperlocal
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Sometimes the most effective marketing is the kind you do right outside your front door.National advertising campaigns might sound amazing in theory, but an entrepreneur's secret marketing weapon could be waiting right outside the front door. We asked eight successful founders from the Young Entrepreneur Council to name some creative ways businesses can use hyperlocal press to their advantage. Here are their best answers.1. Offer Hyperlocal ExamplesOne of the key things about getting hyperlocal press is that it requires hyperlocal news. Don't just offer the same national stories you'd pitch elsewhere; instead, offer the press an event or customer who lives in that area, an employee who went to college there or a case study that took place in the neighborhood. Be relevant by being local in [...]
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Angie Hicks Shares Her Secrets to Success
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A lot has changed since the mid-1990s when Google and email were barely in use. Here, the service rating site founder explains what sets her small business apart.Well, that was quick. After a week of hopscotching across the country--and an itinerary that SBA employees have assured me did not include open bars or lavish hor d'oeuvres--National Small Business Week is wrapping up in Washington.The keynote speaker at the main event is Angie Hicks, cofounder of Angie's List. So I got on the phone with her and tried to get her to spill her secrets ahead of time.I wanted to know two things. First, how can entrepreneurs apply the lessons learned from her experience in starting Angie's List to their own business? And, second, how can small businesses succeed on her site? Here's what she had to say. [...]
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To Hell and Back: The Dramatic Tale of a Pet Company
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It started with a simple idea: a portable loo for dogs. But building it into a $10 million company nearly sunk founder Tobi Skovron.Tobi Skovron has lived what many would see as the entrepreneurial dream. He came up with an idea, started it with a $20,000 loan, and over 10 years built a multi-million dollar business that he sold. But it was a slog: He survived a distributor who undermined him, not to mention a sudden 40 percent drop in his expansion capital (he financed his family's life on credit cards and one home equity check after another).Skovron comes from a family of entrepreneurs in Australia. He remembers his father, a "ragingly successful guy," teaching him two things: 1) "If you want something done right, do it yourself" and 2) "Don't wonder why or how, go in there and make it h [...]
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Where to Find Terrific Team Players
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Need a few good business partners? Sometimes the best recruits are the ones you already know.Launching a business is hard, so it's no wonder the majority of entrepreneurs refuse to go it alone. Some find their partner at school or at work, while others look in more unusual places. We asked a few entrepreneurs to share where they found their talent and how it worked out. Here's what they told us. Sports teams Launching a business is a lot like sports, says Jeff Salter, founder of Caring Senior Service, who found his future business partners while playing rugby. “When out on the field, I felt I was able to see the players’ true leadership potential,” he said. “Whether it was seeing how they handled and learned from constructive criticism or that they thrived under str [...]
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3 Types of Employees Who Always Resist Change
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Got innovation-phobic team members? Use this handy guide to classify and overcome their objections.In business, just about everybody claims to be for creativity and finding new and better ways to do business. Not only does innovation sound exciting, it also sounds profitable. But studies have revealed that while lots of folks claim to love change, when they’re faced with the reality of actually altering their usual way of doing business, they’re skeptical if not downright hostile.Creativity may be cool but it’s also scary, so how can you get your team to actually embrace fresh ways of doing business? The first step, according to Dana Brownlee, the founder of productivity consultancy Professionalism Matters, is to take a careful look at your team’s foot draggers. Not [...]
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