The 80/20 Rule and Listening to Your Inner Procrastinator by Perry Marshall

1400797026-detail-80-20-rule-listening-inner-procrastinatorA decade ago, my friend Bill said, “Perry I’ve got a million-dollar idea for you. There’s just one catch: If you sell a million dollars, you have to give $10,000 to my favorite charity.”

“OK Bill, you’re on,” I said. He insisted I was leaving tons of money on the table by only writing and publishing books. He advised me to expand into business coaching.

I decided he was right. And guess what? I had the hardest time getting myself to actually do it. When I sat down to execute the details, my inner procrastinator said, “Wait a minute, why don’t you go get a haircut.”

I recognized the inner procrastinator as a signal that I was precisely on the right track. I resolved to finish the project.

That move doubled my income. Bill’s favorite charity, an inner city school in Philadelphia, got a check for $10,000.

I’m a passionate advocate of the 80/20 rule, which says 80 percent of your sales come from 20 percent of your customers. It applies to most other aspects of business and life as well, like how you spend your time.

I’ve discovered that your inner procrastinator — if you pay close attention to him — tells you exactly what you should be doing.

The top 20 percent activities that produce 80 percent of your results are the very same things that trigger you to procrastinate — to delete old emails or water plants instead.

Eventually I had to cloister myself in a library with no Internet to craft the marketing for a business move that scared me deep down. Those demons inside my head knew it was a good idea, so I decided to harken unto them.

Whenever my inner procrastinator tells me to check Twitter or iron my shirts, instead of what I’ve planned, I know I’m on to something good. I switch it around.

It’s not that we don’t want to work. It’s that we’re afraid of doing work that will move the needle. Most of us are afraid of success.

Here are tips on how to direct your inner procrastinator to your advantage:

Flip your daily to-do list. You wake up and list the 10 things you need to do today. Odds are, one item is worth 10 times more than the rest. Our natural human tendency is to put it off until later, diverting into mundane tasks like Facebook. We invent devilishly clever reasons not to get that one thing done.

Check your gut and do it. Now. (Or at least after you finish reading this article.)

The ‘procrastination demon opportunity detector’ works for big-picture projects, too. If you’re all-consumed with $10 per hour busy work, you have no time to stop and ask yourself, “What salvo should I launch next week that will double sales next year?”

That question makes you squirm. The more disconcerting, the better. It challenges the status quo. Whatever gives you that queasy, familiar feeling of asking for a big check — or for dad’s car keys at 11 at night — that plan probably belongs on the top of the stack.

Make constructive use of the time you liberate. I urge entrepreneurs to hire house cleaners and personal assistants to free themselves up from mundane activities. What do you do with the extra two hours a day you free up? You could fritter it away – or go nuclear on your business strategy.

Perfectionism is the root of all evil. Most of us soothe our anxieties and stay mediocre by perfecting things that don’t need to be perfect at all. You spend 15 minutes editing that email before you press send. You clean out your car twice a week.

Most procrastination isn’t doing nothing, it’s doing what’s comfortable and mediocre.

Put ‘Do Nothing’ on your to-do list. I’m a huge advocate of Sabbath — taking Saturdays or Sundays off. Instead of wasting time on busy work such as checking email, everyone should create space where they pray or meditate — or simply do nothing. Your best business ideas will come when you’re not working. When you’re having fun doing what you enjoy doing, whether it’s reading novels or tossing a baseball with your kids, that feeds your creativity.

I learned this the hard way. I spent years with the pedal to the metal, working seven days a week. It got me nowhere because I was not doing what I needed to do most.

Harken unto your “procrastination demon opportunity detector.” Choose the thing that makes you most anxious. Then head straight into the wind, because those anxieties are merely birth pangs of a larger success.

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Richard Branson’s 5 Steps for Startup Success

No matter where you start, or what products and services you provide, Virgin Group founder and CEO Richard Branson has five basic rules for any successful entrepreneur:

Be financially savvy. As you raise capital, think about what you really need. While a swank office can be nice, the money could be better spent on new hires or technology.
Choose a dynamic name. Convey what you’re selling and help customers keep you at the top of their minds.
Sell memorable merchandise. Be a source for products that are unique and that won’t be replicated elsewhere. Put your stamp on everything you do.
Make waves. Learn your industry inside-out and find ways to set yourself apart from the competition.
Follow through. Keep in touch with you customers and build lasting relationships with them through attentive, personalized service.

7 Tips on Raising Money From a Guy Who Is Raising by Jason Saltzman

There is nothing “fun” about fundraising. It’s a huge pain in the cranium. I know: I am currently raising a round of financing for AlleyNYC. All I want to do is get back to work, write articles for you and hang out with my awesome girlfriend and friends. Raising money is a true dog-and-pony show, regardless of how great your business is. You have to explain the business model to those who want to stick a microscope up your butt. As painful as it is, I have learned some great things in the process:

1) Patience: You want the money and you want it yesterday. In order to make the right decision for your business, you must be methodical in your approach. This is one of the biggest things that will ever happen for you and your business. Stay calm, cool, and collected. Think Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke. LEGIT.

2) Representation: The right representation is crucial. This is not just a lawyer, but a consigliere who is going to help guide you through the process. My lawyer’s name is Evan Bienstock and he is a badass. He makes me feel confident going into a meeting. One of my biggest fears is seeming like an ass to someone who could be a huge asset to my business. A good lawyer will not just look at the risk. He/she will guide you to a palatable deal.

3) Selection: This is a HUGE one. I know you want to take a check from anyone, but remember: You are going to be tied to this person/group for the life of your business. It is a marriage and you need to think in terms of a long-term relationship. It is essential that you get along. If you take a check from the devil, do not be surprised when your hair catches fire.

4) Profile your investor(s): You should profile who you want to be your investor — not so much who the person is, but what they look like on paper. Profile them. An entrepreneur who sold her company for millions of dollars, a real estate tycoon, a grocery store chain owner, etc. Target your demographic properly and your investor will not only write you a check, they will be the best advisors ever. To give you a real-life example, I wanted the most awesome media company on the planet that covers entrepreneurs as my investor. I wanted a publication that focuses on the inner workings of business, and the hustlers who are making it happen. I wanted my first investor to be Entrepreneur Media. Look at me now. They are an investor and now I get to write to all of YOU. Now, with Entrepreneur Media, we can show the world what we are doing at AlleyNYC. And that is AMAZING.

5) Pay Attention to the Warning Signs: If the person/group you are trying to raise money from is being a pain in the ass right off the bat, this is indicative of how it will be working with them in the future. Do you want that struggle? I am currently doing what I call the beer test. Would I have a beer with this person? Would I want to hang out with this person? Obviously, there is a ton more vetting that needs to occur than this, but if he/she or the group that you are dealing with does not pass this test, drop them like a bad habit.

6) Wish list: Put together a list of the group/people you would love to raise money from. Top on my list are (in no particular order): Jay-Z (@S_C_), Russell Simmons (@UncleRUSH), Elon Musk (@elonmusk), Richard Branson (@richardbranson), Arianna Huffington (@ariannahuff), Kevin Spacey (@KevinSpacey), Oprah (@Oprah), Sheryl Sandberg (@sherylsandberg), Barry Gosin (real estate baller), Joe Pesci (because, as George Carlin used to say, Joe Pesci gets “stuff” done). Obviously, this exercise is a bit ridiculous. However, I think it’s awesome that I can publicly announce my wish list. If any of these people would like to invest, you can reach me at jason@alleynyc.com. In all seriousness, having a wish list will help you profile what the perfect investor(s) will look like (see #4).

7) Mentorship: A good mentor is key, but especially when you are raising funds. The first investor of AlleyNYC is David Galanter, an amazing commercial real estate attorney, active tech investor, and friend. David is responsible for some of the largest real estate transactions in NYC. Through his mentorship and guidance I am able to navigate the rocky waters of deal making.

I know that you want the investment money. We ALL do. The money is a huge part of getting your business to the next level. However, I strongly suggest you look into who is giving it to you. A good partnership and meaningful relationships are some of the most important ingredients toward success. Hustle ON.

The Millionaire Master Plan

The Millionaire Master Plan is a unique and fresh approach as to how individuals can not only get a sense of where they stand on the spectrum of personal wealth, but more importantly, how they can learn to ascend from their present state to a higher level.

Roger James Hamilton, himself a highly successful entrepreneur and successful investor, has designed nine steps – from barely surviving – all the way to the highest level of ultimate wealth for life – and he lays out his nine steps in an easy-to-understand color-coded manner that ranges from red (barely living paycheck-to-paycheck) all the way to ultra-violet (where generating income is simply no longer a worry).

Along the way, the reader first takes a quick test to determine where one is on the financial spectrum, and then Hamilton provides key insights and practical tips as to how one can progress to the next level. You track your progress by ascending from one color to the next.

Get your copy today. Access link below
The Millionaire Master Plan: Your Personalized Path to Financial Success

Funding 101: How to Position Your Startup as a Good Investment by Brad Sugars

Raising money for your startup is an ongoing concern for first-time (and often, long-time) business owners. The fact is: securing money can be a challenge. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

Another fact: most people simply don’t invest enough time and energy into getting their ducks in a row to secure proper financing, which is why so many owners default to bootstrapping their operations.

If you’re looking to secure outside money from sources beyond friends and family, here are some tips to position your venture as a good investment:

Know what investors want.
Investors are looking for three things: the people behind an idea, the idea itself and an answer to the question: How will I get my money back?

Most concepts fail to get funding because there’s a great team, but no idea; a good idea, but no team or there isn’t a clear indication of how and when a return will be generated.

If you are three-for-three in terms of offering investors what they’re looking for, that also means you’ll have a real business plan with cash flows, specific ROI projections and a true understanding of your market.

Think of your worst-case financial scenario.
The ideal for securing money is to raise everything in one go, which means you need to be very realistic with your projections.

What, for example, is your worst-case financial scenario? Figure it out and use those numbers for your ask. Many startups don’t consider how expensive it can be to get customers, develop marketing and fund working capital. Typically, things take twice as long and cost twice as much as planned.

If you don’t like those numbers, see what your numbers look like if you cut your initial sales projections by 50 percent, and double your expenses — then use that as a base and plug in an additional 30 percent in costs.

It’s better to raise more than you need rather than trying to secure a second round of financing later on.

If you want serious investors, be a serious investment.
The real reason people opt for financing from friends and family is because they aren’t willing (or able) to do the serious market research and due diligence to see if the business is even viable.

There’s very little upside to the friends and family scenario and the payoffs are rarely as big as the downside risks: lost money, hurt feelings, families torn apart and friendships broken forever.

You’re always better to go for a private group of investors or a private placement, which will force you to do the hard thinking and heavy lifting on your concept upfront. You’ll also see if there is really a market for your idea.

So what does a winning financing package look like?
Let’s take the example of a newly funded franchise business. Say the founders have complete business and marketing plans, a team, concept renderings of the site, samples of materials for the décor, projections for RIO and costs, market research, and a legal overview of the risks of investment.

Are those things a guarantee of success?

Of course not. You could have all of these in place and still not have a winning package. If you’re going out to 20 seasoned investors and all 20 say “no,” it’s time to go back to the drawing board and reassess your concept.

Keep in mind you may have to go through 50 ideas before you find one with a profitable model that gives everyone a return.

That’s why 99 percent of companies resort to bootstrapping. It’s also why failure rates are so high. Many business ideas are of limited appeal or are going into a mature or already saturated market.

Your best strategy is to use the knowledge, information and numbers you discover in your own research to uncover a unique area or high demand niche you can eventually fill. Not only will you get to a better business idea quicker, you’ll also have the data and knowledge needed to show potential funders their investment in your company is money well spent.

25 Common Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs by James Stephenson

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Regardless of your definition of success, there are, oddly enough, a great number of common characteristics that are shared by successful businesspeople. You can place a check beside each characteristic that you feel that you possess. This way, you can see how you stack up. Even if you don’t have all of these characteristics, don’t fret. Most can be learned with practice and by developing a winning attitude, especially if you set goals and apply yourself, through strategic planning, to reach those goals in incremental and measurable stages.

The Home Business Musts
Like any activity you pursue, there are certain musts that are required to be successful in a chosen activity. To legally operate a vehicle on public roadways, one must have a driver’s license; to excel in sports, one must train and practice; to retire comfortably, one must become an informed investor and actively invest for retirement. If your goal is success in business, then the formula is no different. There are certain musts that have to be fully developed, implemented and managed for your business to succeed. There are many business musts, but this article contains I believe to be some of the more important musts that are required to start, operate and grow a profitable home business.

1. Do what you enjoy.
What you get out of your business in the form of personal satisfaction, financial gain, stability and enjoyment will be the sum of what you put into your business. So if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, in all likelihood it’s safe to assume that will be reflected in the success of your business–or subsequent lack of success. In fact, if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, chances are you won’t succeed.

2. Take what you do seriously.
You cannot expect to be effective and successful in business unless you truly believe in your business and in the goods and services that you sell. Far too many home business owners fail to take their own businesses seriously enough, getting easily sidetracked and not staying motivated and keeping their noses to the grindstone. They also fall prey to naysayers who don’t take them seriously because they don’t work from an office building, office park, storefront, or factory. Little do these skeptics, who rain on the home business owner’s parade, know is that the number of people working from home, and making very good annual incomes, has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years.

3. Plan everything.
Planning every aspect of your home business is not only a must, but also builds habits that every home business owner should develop, implement, and maintain. The act of business planning is so important because it requires you to analyze each business situation, research and compile data, and make conclusions based mainly on the facts as revealed through the research. Business planning also serves a second function, which is having your goals and how you will achieve them, on paper. You can use the plan that you create both as map to take you from point A to Z and as a yardstick to measure the success of each individual plan or segment within the plan.

4. Manage money wisely.
The lifeblood of any business enterprise is cash flow. You need it to buy inventory, pay for services, promote and market your business, repair and replace tools and equipment, and pay yourself so that you can continue to work. Therefore, all home business owners must become wise money managers to ensure that the cash keeps flowing and the bills get paid. There are two aspects to wise money management.

The money you receive from clients in exchange for your goods and services you provide (income)
The money you spend on inventory, supplies, wages and other items required to keep your business operating. (expenses)

5. Ask for the sale.
A home business entrepreneur must always remember that marketing, advertising, or promotional activities are completely worthless, regardless of how clever, expensive, or perfectly targeted they are, unless one simple thing is accomplished–ask for the sale. This is not to say that being a great salesperson, advertising copywriting whiz or a public relations specialist isn’t a tremendous asset to your business. However, all of these skills will be for naught if you do not actively ask people to buy what you are selling.

6. Remember it’s all about the customer.
Your home business is not about the products or services that you sell. Your home business is not about the prices that you charge for your goods and services. Your home business is not about your competition and how to beat them. Your business is all about your customers, or clients, period. After all, your customers are the people that will ultimately decide if your business goes boom or bust. Everything you do in business must be customer focused, including your policies, warranties, payment options, operating hours, presentations, advertising and promotional campaigns and website. In addition, you must know who your customers are inside out and upside down.

7. Become a shameless self-promoter (without becoming obnoxious).
One of the greatest myths about personal or business success is that eventually your business, personal abilities, products or services will get discovered and be embraced by the masses that will beat a path to your door to buy what you are selling. But how can this happen if no one knows who you are, what you sell and why they should be buying?

Self-promotion is one of the most beneficial, yet most underutilized, marketing tools that the majority of home business owners have at their immediate disposal.

8. Project a positive business image.
You have but a passing moment to make a positive and memorable impression on people with whom you intend to do business. Home business owners must go out of their way and make a conscious effort to always project the most professional business image possible. The majority of home business owners do not have the advantage of elaborate offices or elegant storefronts and showrooms to wow prospects and impress customers. Instead, they must rely on imagination, creativity and attention to the smallest detail when creating and maintaining a professional image for their home business.

9. Get to know your customers.
One of the biggest features and often the most significant competitive edge the home based entrepreneur has over the larger competitors is the he can offer personalized attention. Call it high-tech backlash if you will, but customers are sick and tired of hearing that their information is somewhere in the computer and must be retrieved, or told to push a dozen digits to finally get to the right department only to end up with voice mail–from which they never receive a return phone call.

The home business owner can actually answer phone calls, get to know customers, provide personal attention and win over repeat business by doing so. It’s a researched fact that most business (80 percent) will come from repeat customers rather than new customers. Therefore, along with trying to draw newcomers, the more you can do to woo your regular customers, the better off you will be in the long run and personalized attention is very much appreciated and remembered in the modern high tech world.

10. Level the playing field with technology.
You should avoid getting overly caught up in the high-tech world, but you should also know how to take advantage of using it. One of the most amazing aspects of the internet is that a one or two person business operating from a basement can have a superior website to a $50 million company, and nobody knows the difference. Make sure you’re keeping up with the high-tech world as it suits your needs.. The best technology is that which helps you, not that which impresses your neighbors.

11. Build a top-notch business team.
No one person can build a successful business alone. It’s a task that requires a team that is as committed as you to the business and its success. Your business team may include family members, friends, suppliers, business alliances, employees, sub-contractors, industry and business associations, local government and the community. Of course the most important team members will be your customers or clients. Any or all may have a say in how your business will function and a stake in your business future.

12. Become known as an expert.
When you have a problem that needs to be solved, do you seek just anyone’s advice or do you seek an expert in the field to help solve your particular problem? Obviously, you want the most accurate information and assistance that you can get. You naturally seek an expert to help solve your problem. You call a plumber when the hot water tank leaks, a real estate agent when it’s time to sell your home or a dentist when you have a toothache. Therefore, it only stands to reason that the more you become known for your expertise in your business, the more people will seek you out to tap into your expertise, creating more selling and referral opportunities. In effect, becoming known as an expert is another style of prospecting for new business, just in reverse. Instead of finding new and qualified people to sell to, these people seek you out for your expertise.

13. Create a competitive advantage.
A home business must have a clearly defined unique selling proposition. This is nothing more than a fancy way of asking the vital question, “Why will people choose to do business with you or purchase your product or service instead of doing business with a competitor and buying his product or service?” In other words, what one aspect or combination of aspects is going to separate your business from your competition? Will it be better service, a longer warranty, better selection, longer business hours, more flexible payment options, lowest price, personalized service, better customer service, better return and exchange policies or a combination of several of these?

14. Invest in yourself.
Top entrepreneurs buy and read business and marketing books, magazines, reports, journals, newsletters, websites and industry publications, knowing that these resources will improve their understanding of business and marketing functions and skills. They join business associations and clubs, and they network with other skilled business people to learn their secrets of success and help define their own goals and objectives. Top entrepreneurs attend business and marketing seminars, workshops and training courses, even if they have already mastered the subject matter of the event. They do this because they know that education is an ongoing process. There are usually ways to do things better, in less time, with less effort. In short, top entrepreneurs never stop investing in the most powerful, effective and best business and marketing tool at their immediate disposal–themselves.

15. Be accessible.
We’re living in a time when we all expect our fast food lunch at the drive-thru window to be ready in mere minutes, our dry cleaning to be ready for pick-up on the same day, our money to be available at the cash machine and our pizza delivered in 30 minutes or it’s free. You see the pattern developing–you must make it as easy as you can for people to do business with you, regardless of the home business you operate.

You must remain cognizant of the fact that few people will work hard, go out of their way, or be inconvenienced just for the privilege of giving you their hard-earned money. The shoe is always on the other foot. Making it easy for people to do business with you means that you must be accessible and knowledgeable about your products and services. You must be able to provide customers with what they want, when they want it.

16. Build a rock-solid reputation.
A good reputation is unquestionably one of the home business owner’s most tangible and marketable assets. You can’t simply buy a good reputation; it’s something that you earn by honoring your promises. If you promise to have the merchandise in the customer’s hands by Wednesday, you have no excuse not to have it there. If you offer to repair something, you need to make good on your offer. Consistency in what you offer is the other key factor. If you cannot come through with the same level of service (and products) for clients on a regular basis, they have no reason to trust you . . . and without trust, you won’t have a good reputation.

17. Sell benefits.
Pushing product features is for inexperienced or wannabe entrepreneurs. Selling the benefits associated with owning and using the products and services you carry is what sales professionals worldwide focus on to create buying excitement and to sell, sell more, and sell more frequently to their customers. Your advertising, sales presentations, printed marketing materials, product packaging, website, newsletters, trade show exhibit and signage are vital. Every time and every medium used to communicate with your target audience must always be selling the benefits associated with owning your product or using your service.

18. Get involved.
Always go out of your way to get involved in the community that supports your business. You can do this in many ways, such as pitching in to help local charities or the food bank, becoming involved in organizing community events, and getting involved in local politics. You can join associations and clubs that concentrate on programs and policies designed to improve the local community. It’s a fact that people like to do business with people they know, like and respect, and with people who do things to help them as members of the community.

19. Grab attention.
Small-business owners cannot waste time, money and energy on promotional activities aimed at building awareness solely through long-term, repeated exposure. If you do, chances are you will go broke long before this goal is accomplished. Instead, every promotional activity you engage in, must put money back in your pocket so that you can continue to grab more attention and grow your business.

20. Master the art of negotiations.
The ability to negotiate effectively is unquestionably a skill that every home business owner must make every effort to master. It’s perhaps second in importance only to asking for the sale in terms of home business musts. In business, negotiation skills are used daily. Always remember that mastering the art of negotiation means that your skills are so finely tuned that you can always orchestrate a win-win situation. These win-win arrangements mean that everyone involved feels they have won, which is really the basis for building long-term and profitable business relationships.

21. Design Your workspace for success.
Carefully plan and design your home office workspace to ensure maximum personal performance and productivity and, if necessary, to project professionalism for visiting clients. If at all possible, resist the temptation to turn a corner of the living room or your bedroom into your office. Ideally, you’ll want a separate room with a door that closes to keep business activities in and family members out, at least during prime business and revenue generating hours of the day. A den, spare bedroom, basement or converted garage are all ideal candidates for your new home office. If this is not possible, you’ll have to find a means of converting a room with a partition or simply find hours to do the bulk of your work when nobody else is home.

22. Get and stay organized.
The key to staying organized is not about which type of file you have or whether you keep a stack or two of papers on your desk, but it’s about managing your business. It’s about having systems in place to do things. Therefore, you wan to establish a routine by which you can accomplish as much as possible in a given workday, whether that’s three hours for a part-time business or seven or nine hours as a full-timer. In fact, you should develop systems and routines for just about every single business activity. Small things such as creating a to-do list at the end of each business day, or for the week, will help keep you on top of important tasks to tackle. Creating a single calendar to work from, not multiple sets for individual tasks or jobs, will also ensure that jobs are completed on schedule and appointments kept. Incorporating family and personal activities into your work calendar is also critical so that you work and plan from a single calendar.

23. Take time off.
The temptation to work around the clock is very real for some home business owners. After all, you don’t have a manager telling you it’s time to go home because they can’t afford the overtime pay. Every person working from home must take time to establish a regular work schedule that includes time to stretch your legs and take lunch breaks, plus some days off and scheduled vacations. Create the schedule as soon as you have made the commitment to start a home business. Of course, your schedule will have to be flexible. You should, therefore, not fill every possible hour in the day. Give yourself a backup hour or two. All work and no play makes you burn out very fast and grumpy customer service is not what people want.

24. Limit the number of hats you wear.
It’s difficult for most business owners not to take a hands-on approach. They try to do as much as possible and tackle as many tasks as possible in their business. The ability to multitask, in fact, is a common trait shared by successful entrepreneurs. However, once in a while you have to stand back and look beyond today to determine what’s in the best interest of your business and yourself over the long run. Most highly successful entrepreneurs will tell you that from the time they started out, they knew what they were good at and what tasks to delegate to others.

25. Follow-up constantly.
Constant contact, follow-up, and follow-through with customers, prospects, and business alliances should be the mantra of every home business owner, new or established. Constant and consistent follow-up enables you to turn prospects into customers, increase the value of each sale and buying frequency from existing customers, and build stronger business relationships with suppliers and your core business team. Follow-up is especially important with your existing customer base, as the real work begins after the sale. It’s easy to sell one product or service, but it takes work to retain customers and keep them coming back.

Where Startup Funding Really Comes From (Infographic) by Laura Entis

Prominent VCs and angel investors may dominate the headlines with their big sticker investments, but personal loans and credit – along with investments from friends and family – make up the lion’s share of funding for startups in the U.S.

According to data compiled by Fundable, only 0.91 percent of startups are funded by angel investors, while a measly 0.05 percent are funded by VCs. In contrast, 57 percent of startups are funded by personal loans and credit, while 38 percent receive funding from family and friends.

Want a more detailed breakdown of startup funding? Check out the infographic belowwhere-startup-funding-really-comes-from-infographic

4 Secrets to Starting a Company With Zero Cash by Jay Gould

So you have the Big Idea. You have the passion. You have the business plan. You can see your future success. All you need now is money in the bank, right?

Probably nine out of 10 startups are where you are, in need of operating capital. There’s no question ample cash reserves make launching a new business considerably easier, yet it’s possible to bootstrap a product, even a company, without investors or a big credit line.

Focus, energy and determination are critical to entrepreneurial success—but so is knowledge. After starting multiple companies from scratch, here are four of the most important insights I’ve gained:

1. Iteration is your most critical resource. Of course you need a strong core concept in place but that’s just the beginning. You must iterate from your original idea to overcome roadblocks, recover from and failures and capitalize on opportunities.

Mark Zuckerberg’s first website was shut down by Harvard. Sir James Dyson developed over 5,000 vacuum cleaner prototypes before he got one right. Henry Ford didn’t succeed in the automobile business until his fourth time around. And we’ve all read that it took 1,000 (or was it 10,000?) attempts before Thomas Edison invented the light bulb.

Business models rarely survive in their original form. Stay fixed on your initial mission but flexible how you get there. Don’t be afraid to change directions or explore new avenues quickly. Let the market dictate your path, and iterate to success.

2. Establish a comfort level with your prospects. Just because you have a great idea doesn’t guarantee your prospective customers will embrace it, or you. Particularly in specialized fields, it’s important to develop a persona, image and business culture that puts your buyers at ease.

In the earliest stages, many startups find it necessary to “act as if” by creating the impression of a more substantial company. That’s great but it may be smart to do just the opposite, especially if your success depends on other small businesses. A scrappy reputation may be more appropriate.

Remember that image isn’t just about your website or business card. Interact with practitioners in your target field whenever you can. Listen carefully, picking up on both the jargon and the business needs. “Become” your prospect and you’ll have the rapport necessary to land the sale.

3. Hustling is more valuable than cash. “Life hacking” is a popular buzz phrase these days. One of the arguments in life hacking is that quality of work is more important than quantity. While that’s true to some extent, I’ve found that quality comes from quantity. Practice makes better.

It’s simply a fact of life that investors are attracted to success. They will invest in a startup, as long as the founder has a track record. If you don’t have that kind of entrepreneurial resume, your “seed capital” has to be personal drive.

That this is not necessarily bad. Hard work can prove, or disprove, the validity of an idea. Without putting serious capital at risk, hustling will demonstrate “progress,” which is more valuable than “promise.” Investors are always more attracted to progress over promise, so hustle.

4. Profits cure all. There’s no better way to create and maintain control of your destiny than to become profitable as early as possible. Profit creates leverage, and it’s leverage that leads to control.

Zynga, in the early days, accepted lower quality advertising that provided the company with the much-needed cash flow to become profitable nearly from Day One. Zynga has since backed off from its liberal advertising policies but that early proof-of-concept through profitability helped Zynga, now a billion-dollar enterprise, provided them with leverage to raise capital on their terms and retain control.

Not every business can begin operations with zero seed capital but in our digital age barriers to entry are reduced and playing fields leveled. It’s easier than ever to get an idea in front of potential customers. The business world today favors companies with imagination, ambition and the willingness to adapt. If you have the vision and a plan, go for it. Don’t wait for the money.

5 Ways the Super Rich Got Rich, and How You Can Too by Jeff Haden

Many people hope to get rich. But if the only thing you care about is making money, no matter how much money you manage to make it will probably never be enough. Where happiness and fulfillment are concerned, money isn’t everything.

And that’s why everyone’s definition of success is and should be different.

Even so, money is always a factor in everyone’s success equation. So why do relatively few people achieve the level of wealth they desire?

According to Roger James Hamilton, author of The Millionaire Master Plan: Your Personalized Path to Financial Success, that’s because most of us have been taught things about wealth that are no longer (or never were) true.

Here are Roger’s five modern myths of wealth–along with his five modern truths:

1. The Multiple Streams of Income Myth

Myth: The more income streams you start, the wealthier you will become.

Truth: Starting too many streams at the same time is like trying to push many balls up a hill at the same time–you may get started, but you end up losing your focus and your time. Success comes from growing teams, not streams. Think multiple teams of income.

Money doesn’t make money. People make money. Invest in the right people before you invest in the assets they will manage or you will be the one doing all the juggling…and it will only be a matter of time before you start dropping balls.

2. The Passive Income Myth

Myth: You can get wealthy by going into debt to buy assets that will generate passive income so you no longer have to work for a living.

Truth: Debt digs a hole, not a river. All income must be managed, which means knowing how to manage a team and experts who can help you manage your assets.

Building assets that generate positive cash flow is definitely important–but when you stretch your resources to buy property or assets and then the value of those assets drop… your cash flow goes negative, your equity disappears…and so do your chances of becoming wealthy.

Assets–whether property or business–need to be managed. There’s nothing passive about it.

Forget passive income; think portfolio income, where your assets are actively managed by you and by your team. That’s the only way to ensure the underlying value of your assets will grow–and so will your income.

3. The Exit Strategy Myth

Myth: Wealth comes when you sell out, so plan an exit strategy where you work hard now and cash out later.

Truth: Love what you do and you won’t care about an exit; you’ll want to keep doing what you do.

Too many people hold out for an exit that will make doing something they don’t enjoy doing turn out to have been worthwhile. Instead of focusing on how you will leave the game, create a success strategy that will let you stay in the game–because that means you can not only build wealth, you can spend every day along the way feeling fulfilled.

4. The ‘Be Your Own Boss’ Myth

Myth: The path to wealth starts with being your own boss; that way you can choose what to do and when to do it.

Truth: Wealth comes from choosing whom your boss(es) will be.

Even if you own your business you’re still accountable to someone–customers, shareholders, employees, etc.

Instead of being the boss–which can be incredibly lonely–choose people whom you will be accountable to…and then do your best to support those people so they, and you, reach your goals.

To be successful, don’t be self-serving. Be a servant.

5. The Huge Risk, Huge Reward Myth

Myth: Successful entrepreneurs put everything on the line.

Truth: The most heroic journeys minimize risk by progressing deliberately, testing and measuring each step, and making smart adjustments on the long path on to success.

Failure has two basic outcomes. It can sink or steer you. When you risk too much, failure can set you back incredibly far. So don’t think of risking it all in hopes of a big return; think of minimizing the risks you take so, if you do fail, you can learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward.

Think Roger is wrong? Take a look at any “richest people” list, pick a name at random, and answer these questions:

Is she passive with her investments and business interests…or is she extremely active?
Does she try to create multiple streams of income…or does she create multiple teams to create and build those streams?

Is she looking for an exit strategy…or building a long-term success strategy?
Is she only accountable to herself…or does she hold herself accountable to a number of other people?

Does she risk it all…or take smart risks that allow her to test, measure, and improve outcomes?
Thought so. Extremely successful people are extremely active; build great teams; are in it for the long haul; serve, support, help, and provide the right resources to the people who work for them; and do take small, smart, calculated risks.

And that’s exactly what you should do.

Kevin Hogan Books

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Kevin Hogan is the author of twenty+ books and counting! He is best known for his international best selling book, The Psychology of Persuasion: How to Persuade Others to Your Way of Thinking.

In the past decade, he has become the Body Language Expert and Unconscious Influence Expert to ABC, Fox, The BBC, The New York Times, The New York Post and dozens of popular magazines like Forbes,Investors Business Daily, InTouch, First for Women, Success! and Cosmopolitan. He has become the go-to resource for analyzing key White House figures.

Hogan has taught Persuasion and Influence at the University of St. Thomas Management Center and is a frequent media guest. Articles by and about him have appeared in Success!, Redbook, Office Pro,, Selling Power, Cosmopolitan, Maxim, Playboy and numerous other publications. He was featured in a half dozen magazines (including wProst) in Poland.

Kevin is a dynamic, well-known international public speaker, consultant and corporate trainer. He has trained persuasion, sales and marketing skills to leaders in the government of Poland, employees from Mutual of Omaha, Boeing, Microsoft, Starbucks, Cargill, Pillsbury, Carlson Companies, Fortis Insurance, Great Clips, the State of Minnesota, 3M, The United States Postal Service and numerous other Fortune 500 companies. He has spoken to The Inner Circle and at the Million Dollar Roundtable (MDRT) convention in Las Vegas.

His keynotes, seminars and workshops help companies sell, market and communicate more effectively. His cutting-edge research into the mind and keen understanding of consumer behavior create a unique distillation of information never before released to the public.

Kevin Hogan Books