Women Entrepreneurs Take the Stage During New York’s Jazz Age by Donald Miller

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The 1920s was a breakthrough decade for women in business and other professions. In Manhattan, a number of ambitious women became celebrity entrepreneurs.

These women were independent, savvy, and successful, changing the culture of New York and the rest of the country. In business, Elizabeth Arden, Helena Rubinstein and Hattie Carnegie revolutionized the cosmetics and fashion industries, turning them into multibillion dollar enterprises — operated by women for women. By the end the 1920s, they were among the richest businesswomen in the world.

In journalism, Lois Long, fresh out of Vassar, covered Manhattan’s nightclub life for The New Yorker and became its first fashion editor. She wrote humorous criticism of the Fifth Avenue fashion scene, built up a loyal readership and helped establish The New Yorker as America’s quintessential metropolitan magazine. Tall and slender, her jet-black hair fashionably bobbed, a long string of thin pearls dangling from her neck, “she could have modeled for Miss Jazz Age,” wrote Dale Kramer in his 1951 book Ross and The New Yorker.

“Lois long invented fashion criticism,” said New Yorker editor William Shawn. She “was the first American fashion critic to approach fashion as an art and to criticize women’s clothes with independence, humor and literary style.” Her column brought The New Yorker exactly the readership it needed to bring in the retail advertising that allowed it to survive and thrive. Beginning in 1927, The New Yorker placed in the top three of American magazines in number of ad pages sold.

In entertainment, Texas Guinan, a former silent film star from Waco, Texas, partnered with a gangster and opened one of Manhattan’s first nightclubs, starring as its raucous, wisecracking hostess. In 1926 she opened her own club, earning her the moniker “Queen of the New York Night.” (In 1929 she appeared in the film Queen of the Night Clubs.)

“Texas Guinan of New York has emerged as a nationally known trademark for indoor fun after midnight,” Vanity Fair reported. “Get hot is my slogan,” said Guinan, “to encourage bedlam and get the crowd wild.” But this brash, peroxide blonde was a devout Irish Catholic who didn’t drink or carouse. She had an acute mind for business, investing her profits shrewdly and giving generously to Catholic charities.

In battling federal Prohibition authorities to keep her clubs open and winning a succession of court cases, Guinan gave the lie to the idea that all American women supported Prohibition. Her headline-grabbing court battles encouraged other prominent women to form political groups that helped pass the Twenty-First Amendment to the Constitution, ending Prohibition.

In civic affairs and philanthropy, the widow Anne Vanderbilt and her lover Anne Morgan, daughter of Wall Street tycoon J.P. Morgan, reclaimed Sutton Place, a decaying waterfront district near the Queensboro Bridge, transforming it into a thriving colony of freethinking women, active in charity causes and pioneers of women’s rights. Sutton Place became a harbinger of modern urban gentrification. and is still one of the handsomest and most exclusive neighborhoods in New York City.

What can modern women and men in business learn from these Jazz Age pioneers? Quite a lot.

1. Heading for places of possibility.
E.B. White wrote that New York in the 1920s was “the city of final destination, the city that is a goal.” Against her father’s wishes, Elizabeth Arden left her impoverished family farm in Canada for Manhattan, an intoxicating place of wealth and possibility. With grit, imagination and a fierce desire to succeed, she created, with Helena Rubinstein, a global industry. She and Rubinstein also brought a new word into the English language: “cosmetician,” someone trained “to make faces please.”

These cosmetics queens seemed to proclaim, “Every woman has a right to be beautiful.”

Insight: Seek places of opportunity, cities and new businesses bursting with possibility for ambitious newcomers.

2. Starting small, dreaming big.

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Hattie Carnegie

Hattie Carnegie
Image credit: Wikipedia
As a young girl living in poverty, Vienna-born Hattie Carnegie dreamed of climbing to the top in superkinetic New York, where every day, it seemed, ideas were turned into fortunes.

In 1909, she and seamstress Rose Roth opened a dress and millinery shop. Carnegie made hats and modeled the wardrobes that Roth fashioned, learning the business from the ground up. When the partnership began to prosper, Carnegie bought out Roth and formed her own business, specializing in the design of custom dresses, knockoffs from Parisian designers.

A self-trained designer and steely taskmaster, Carnegie was on the shop floor every day, supervising every aspect of her business. Eight years after breaking with Roth she was selling $3 million in clothing a year. Life magazine called her the “undisputed leader” of American fashion. Not bad for someone who started out at 13 as a Macy’s messenger girl, with a wardrobe of three blouses and a skirt.

Insight: Learn a trade as an apprentice and then venture off. Remember, successful innovators combine attention to detail with big-scale vision.

3. Delegating but staying in control.
One of the greatest skills an entrepreneur can master is how to allocate responsibility without losing control. Texas Guinan allowed her brother, Tommy, to manage her career but she kept the books. Elizabeth Arden worked with her husband, Tommy, a super salesman, but never failed to remind him that he worked for her. Helena Rubenstein traveled the world with her sister Manka promoting her cosmetics but made all the commanding decisions for the company.

Insight: Delegate but establish a position as head of the operation. Don’t lord over associates. Lead by setting an example of competence and willpower.

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Helena Rubinstein

Helena Rubinstein
Image credit: Wikipedia
4. Empowering other women.
Rubenstein and Arden demonstrate the possibility of how women could empower other women. The beauty trade was a woman’s industry, largely built by women and catering almost solely to them — with a workforce dominated by women. “The cosmetics business is interesting among modern industries in its opportunities for women — working for women with women,” Rubenstein said.

The beauty industry employed women at good wages. In the 1920s, the average paycheck of an American working woman was slightly more than $17 a week. An experienced graduate of one of New York’s beauty culture schools could make enough to support a family of four. And opportunities for entrepreneurship and ownership were plentiful. By 1927 U.S. women were spending more on beauty products than the entire country was spending on electric power. Arden decisively demonstrated this. In 12 years, she turned a business started with a $6,000 loan into a $15 million empire.

Insight: Empower other women through business dealings. Open up business channels to women of energy and ability.

4 Questions to Ask Before Taking the Entrepreneurial Plunge by Adam Callinan

Being an entrepreneur isn’t just hard, it’s really hard. Your days and nights, or more so your entire life, are dedicated to developing a business that you know in advance is highly likely to fail.

The reality is 80 percent of new businesses crash and burn within the first 18 months, according to Bloomberg. I believe that, more often than not, failures come as the result of people not being set up or prepared to leave behind stability for chaos.

Am I suggesting you shouldn’t go for it? Absolutely not. Rarely in your life will you have the chance to create something from nothing, while walking away from a career that is built around making someone else rich — or richer. Even if you do fail with your first venture, the education that you will receive from that failed opportunity will dramatically increase the likelihood of success in your next.

Before you take the plunge, you should make sure that you are properly prepared for the inevitable skydive that is entrepreneurship. After all, if you’re going to jump, you should do everything possible to make sure your parachute is properly packed. Here are the questions you should be asking yourself:

1. Are you comfortable with absolutely zero structure? As I said before, entrepreneurship and nearly all processes involved are at some level of complete chaos. It will be your job to wade through the madness and organize products and processes that generate value to whomever you’re selling to.

Are you the kind of person that doesn’t do well unless you’re executing a process that someone else created? Sorry my friend, entrepreneurship is going to be incredibly difficult for you.

2. Do you have financial stability? It often takes a long time to get a new business to the point of generating enough revenue to pay yourself, which can take years, and if you’re not financially comfortable with this, it’s much more likely that you will give up before your business has a real opportunity to work.

Financial stability can come in many forms, from a spouse that carries a steady job, a solid personal savings account, starting up while keeping your day job or maintaining extremely low personal costs. Whatever your situation is, you must maintain financial stability to have a reasonable chance of success.

3. Are you entering new territory? With innovative companies such as Arkenea Technologies, creating a new mobile app can be done for a fraction of what it would have cost even five years ago. This is great for those that are using these types of technology to expand current businesses, but it can be dangerous for the inexperienced that are jumping into the space because even if you position yourself correctly, the likelihood of success is, well, highly improbable.

Instead of jumping on the “I’ll just make an app and get rich” bandwagon, start a business in a space that you are highly experienced in, then create an app to expand and grow it.

4. Do you change jobs every two years? I’m not passing judgment here, but I am going to make a statement that probably won’t shock most. People that jump around from job to job often have a difficult time dedicating themselves through the hard times.

The issue here is that entrepreneurship requires an unbelievable amount of focus and dedication over years, and it’s hugely important that you determine whether you’re capable of dedicating yourself through difficulty, which will be plentiful, for at least five years. Sure, you may get out earlier, but understand that building a business is a seemingly never-ending uphill battle, until it’s not, so do everything you can to prepare yourself — and your family — before jumping out of the plane.

3 Qualities Every Remote Manager Needs (Infographic) by Chris Byers

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Any manager who has decided to test remote working at a company is probably pretty confident in his or her leadership abilities. But be careful: The skills of a traditional manager do not always translate well in a distributed work environment.

Maintaining a fun, creative culture is an important aspect of remote leadership. The chat system of my company, Formstack, is stuffed with terrible puns, funny gifs and pop culture references.

For fun, the employees of my company decided to evaluate the remote leadership potential of our favorite fictional bosses. Could Parks and Recreation’s Ron Swanson or Mad Men’s Don Draper manage a distributed team?

The typical manager may be nicer than The Devil Wears Prada’s Miranda Priestly and more levelheaded than The Office’s Michael Scott, but there are three skills that every remote boss needs to be effective:

1. Be (or become) a good writer.
When members of the team are working remotely, most communication takes place in writing. Remote leaders need to learn to write quickly and clearly. Doing so reduces back-and-forth with confused employees. Instead of debating a topic over more than 20 emails, hold a quick video chat to encourage active discussion.

A boss like Miranda Priestly despises when her time is disrespected. Her remote team should include an agenda for phone meetings or video calls. Just one sentence on the calendar ensures that everyone is ready when a meeting begins.

2. Get comfortable reaching out.
Loneliness can be a great threat to the health of a remote team. Michael Scott would wither away if no one sent him an an instant message or requested a video meeting. Strong remote bosses make an intentional effort to reach out to each employee.

Take that initiative, but also encourage employees to reach out. When members of my staff started to work remotely, I asked them to call me on my cell to chat about a project or set up a meeting. Everyone initially felt a little intimidated by this arrangement, but things became easier once they realized that I’m available for them and to address their needs.

3. Learn to set clear goals.
Remote teams can be significantly more productive than in-office ones. Bosses can adjust to a different expectation about the 40-hour week. Traditional managers might be happy to see someone working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., regardless of the actual time that it takes to complete a project. In contrast, remote leaders gauge productivity with time-sensitive goals.

The freedom of remote working also brings responsibility. With measurable expectations, members of a team understand what they need to accomplish. Working in their optimum environment helps them be incredibly productive.

In a traditional office, a manager might spend too much time on a project or lose his or her focus. Bill Lumbergh is one of those bosses who might benefit from setting a goal or two instead of chasing down TPS reports all days. Successful remote leaders set and work toward clearer targets.

Learning how to be a good remote boss does not happen overnight. Writing well, connecting with your team and setting clear goals will help you be more effective.

Click to Enlarge+

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3 Qualities Every Remote Manager Needs (Infographic) by Chris Byers

1407344213-remote-manager-needs-infographicAny manager who has decided to test remote working at a company is probably pretty confident in his or her leadership abilities. But be careful: The skills of a traditional manager do not always translate well in a distributed work environment.

Maintaining a fun, creative culture is an important aspect of remote leadership. The chat system of my company, Formstack, is stuffed with terrible puns, funny gifs and pop culture references.

For fun, the employees of my company decided to evaluate the remote leadership potential of our favorite fictional bosses. Could Parks and Recreation’s Ron Swanson or Mad Men’s Don Draper manage a distributed team?

The typical manager may be nicer than The Devil Wears Prada’s Miranda Priestly and more levelheaded than The Office’s Michael Scott, but there are three skills that every remote boss needs to be effective:

1. Be (or become) a good writer.
When members of the team are working remotely, most communication takes place in writing. Remote leaders need to learn to write quickly and clearly. Doing so reduces back-and-forth with confused employees. Instead of debating a topic over more than 20 emails, hold a quick video chat to encourage active discussion.

A boss like Miranda Priestly despises when her time is disrespected. Her remote team should include an agenda for phone meetings or video calls. Just one sentence on the calendar ensures that everyone is ready when a meeting begins.

2. Get comfortable reaching out.
Loneliness can be a great threat to the health of a remote team. Michael Scott would wither away if no one sent him an an instant message or requested a video meeting. Strong remote bosses make an intentional effort to reach out to each employee.

Take that initiative, but also encourage employees to reach out. When members of my staff started to work remotely, I asked them to call me on my cell to chat about a project or set up a meeting. Everyone initially felt a little intimidated by this arrangement, but things became easier once they realized that I’m available for them and to address their needs.

3. Learn to set clear goals.
Remote teams can be significantly more productive than in-office ones. Bosses can adjust to a different expectation about the 40-hour week. Traditional managers might be happy to see someone working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., regardless of the actual time that it takes to complete a project. In contrast, remote leaders gauge productivity with time-sensitive goals.

The freedom of remote working also brings responsibility. With measurable expectations, members of a team understand what they need to accomplish. Working in their optimum environment helps them be incredibly productive.

In a traditional office, a manager might spend too much time on a project or lose his or her focus. Bill Lumbergh is one of those bosses who might benefit from setting a goal or two instead of chasing down TPS reports all days. Successful remote leaders set and work toward clearer targets.

Learning how to be a good remote boss does not happen overnight. Writing well, connecting with your team and setting clear goals will help you be more effective.

When Does Switching to a Remote Workplace Make Sense? by Chris Byers

You’ve just endured another bad winter, and you just found out your office rent is doubling. Thinking it’s the perfect time to try that “remote office” idea?

The Indianapolis-based software-as-a-service company I lead became a remote team in May 2013. Currently, about 40 percent of our employees live outside of Indiana, and even more work remotely several times a week. Along the way, we discovered a few pros — and cons — to share with any workplace considering the switch to a remote workplace:

A few reasons remote will be a win for your company:

You need to hire for specialized positions. Our door is wide open to qualified candidates, regardless of their location. New hires don’t have to leave their cities or uproot their families, which makes us a more attractive employer. As an added bonus, we don’t have to bother with relocation packages.

You want to give your employees freedom. My wife, Dana, was offered the perfect job in another state. We were able to make the move because I could work remotely. Remote working is about finding the place where you work best. It’s not always a different city (or country) — sometimes you are most productive in your living room.

Your employees want flexibility. Instead of taking time off to wait for the plumber or attend a school play, our team members can put in a full day’s work from home. Workplace flexibility helps reduce stress, which often leads to happier and more productive employees.

You want to improve employee retention. The ability to work remotely helps us retain great talent. Our employees can move if they want or need to. They can choose to explore another city without taking time off. Many people have opportunities they could pursue if their job wasn’t keeping them in a certain place.

Going remote might be a mistake if:

You don’t know how to set boundaries. One of the problems with remote working is that some people don’t know when to stop. The New York Times recently reported that remote employees worked 9.5 percent longer than their in-office counterparts. That might seem great at first, but burnout is inevitable. Defining job expectations can help employees recharge without feeling guilty.

You’re just trying to save money. For most companies, going remote won’t save you money. In fact, it might cost you more. We have invested heavily in technology for good communication such as high-quality microphones, speakers and projectors. We also get together a couple of times a year to strengthen our team. Travel costs can easily outweigh office costs. Cutting corners on essentials is counterproductive.

Your leaders won’t get out of the office. Leaders need to go remote, even if it’s just a long trip during the summer. Otherwise, managers will never fully grasp what their remote employees need. They won’t be able to support their team, and morale will suffer.

You are unwilling to change your communication. Remote working exposes weak communication. When we were all in an office, it was easy for people to glance around and absorb the culture. When we went remote, it didn’t initially translate. We now use instant messaging and video-conferencing apps, such as HipChat and Google Hangout, to stay informed.

Despite the initial challenges, the benefits of working remotely have given us better results and more focus than if we had stayed in a traditional office.

Your company needs to evaluate its intentions for remote working before making the leap. By putting a proper plan in place, you’ll be able to keep your team in the loop and maintain your culture.

And yes, office pranks are equally funny online.

How This CEO Slashed His Staff’s Email Inboxes by Jennifer Goforth Gregory

Craig Bryant started Kin HR because he needed onboarding services for his rapidly growing company, We Are Mammoth. Unable to find a vendor offering what he needed, he decided to build it himself, drawing from his own background managing employees. After experiencing rapid growth, Bryant realized the need for flexible and affordable HR software and launched Kin HR last year, a human resource software solution specifically designed for companies with fewer than 100 employees. Three of the six employees that work for Kin HR work out of the Chicago headquarters, with the other half sprinkled across the country. While he didn’t plan on running two companies simultaneously, he’s at the helm of both and relying on technology like never before.

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Craig Bryant of Kin HR and We Are Mammoth
Image credit: Kin HR, We Are Mammoth

Here are three digital tools he can’t live without:

Intercom. Kin HR employees used to manually email every customer who signed up for a free trial. This process was extremely time consuming as well as prone to errors, such as typos and incorrect names. But since the company began using Intercom, a user intelligence and customer communication app, new customers receive an automated personalized message throughout their free trial and existing users get targeted information on updates and feedback. Intercom also allows the customers to communicate in real time with a Kin representative at any time. Bryant says that the because the app eliminates the need to manually write, format and send several hundred emails each month to sales prospects, the technology allows employees to save around 100 hours in total each month and focus their efforts on customer service once prospects respond. “The app has also significantly increased the engagement and conversation rate for the free trial with our prospective customers,” Bryant says.

HipChat. As more of the Kin team works remotely, Bryant has struggled to maintain office culture and help employees express their “presence.” With his employees in different locations, they missed the personal chit-chat around the water cooler as well as knowing what each other was working on throughout the day. Three years ago, Bryant set up employees at We Are Mammoth with HipChat, a web chat software, to stay in touch and Bryant started Kin employees on it last year. When employees return from vacation they can quickly scan through HipChat and get up to speed on the latest office chatter, like who had a birthday and who will be out of the office in the morning for a dentist appointment. “One of our employees just moved to Seattle and has been sharing his frustrations over buying new furniture just like he would if we were hanging out together in the break room over coffee,” Bryant says. He selected HipChat because it was the most advanced tool at the time and while today there are other tools with more features such as Hall and Unison today, he says that his employees like HipChat’s simplicity.

Basecamp. Working collaboratively across the country presents many challenges and wading through tons of project-related emails takes valuable time. Bryant began using Basecamp at We are Mammoth 7 years ago after hearing about it from other small companies and began using it for Kin marketing projects as soon as the company started. “When we are launching a product, creating a client newsletter or designing a new landing page, we use Basecamp for all project communications and files. It allows people in different locations to easily review content, share feedback and make edits,” says Bryant. He says that it also allows anyone in the company to see all marketing activities and chime in with thoughts and ideas. “Basecamp reduced the amount of internal email by 75 percent and increased project transparency by three times because everyone now has access to project updates,” Bryant says.

What Every Great App Needs

If you’re going to invest the time and money to build an app for your business, you should make sure it is a good one. Mobile Roadie CEO Michael Schneider says the qualities of a good app can be boiled down to one question: do people care and want to come back to it? Schneider advises investing in good design, updating the content frequently and building social community features.

Coinbase Goes Global, Launches Bitcoin Services in 13 European Countries by Kim Lachance Shandrow

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That’s one big, ambitious step for Coinbase, and for the burgeoning cross-border Bitcoin ecosystem. The scrappy San Francisco cryptocurrency startup is breaking into the European market, beta launching yesterday in 13 countries across the pond.

Coinbase — which already serves some 1.6 million wallet users across the globe and provides Bitcoin payment processing services to some 36,000 merchants and retailers — has officially opened up for business in the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and the Netherlands.

The San Francisco-based online startup, which went live only two years ago, announced the news Wednesday on its blog.

The expansion means consumers and businesses within the above-listed countries will now be able to buy and sell Bitcoin via Coinbase using a euro bank account. Coinbase says it expects the move will drive more merchant adoption across Europe and bolster its profile as a tool for cross-border payments.

However, there is a caveat. Underscoring that this is only a beta launch, Coinbase was careful to point out in its announcement that all of its European customers will have “a fairly low daily limit: 500 euros per day on buys and sells.” Coinbase said it “hopes” to increase the daily limit “in the near future,” as it transitions out of beta mode.

In light of the news, Overstock.com said it will begin accepting Bitcoin payments from its international customers, becoming the first large-scale retailer to do so. The Salt Lake City-based ecommerce giant already made Bitcoin history when it became the first major online retailer to accept the cryptocurrency back in January through a partnership with Coinbase.

Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne, an early and outspoken Bitcoin booster, broke the news earlier today. “Bitcoin has been readily adopted in countries outside the United States, yet the opportunities to spend Bitcoin internationally are extremely limited,” he said in a press release. “We’re pleased to offer this service to the millions of Bitcoin users in other countries and believe they will respond enthusiastically.”

Several other high-profile companies accepting Bitcoin payments via Coinbase include Expedia, Intuit, Dell, Square and Google.

50 Favorite Online-Marketing Influencers of 2014 by Jayson Demers

 

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It’s getting more and more difficult to know which sources to trust online. This helps explain why lists such as this one are consistently some of the most read and shared: people want (no, need) to know that the content they’re reading is reliable and trustworthy.

When it comes to determining the “top 50” of anything, there are any number of variables that can come into play. Some of the ones I considered for this list included:

Usefulness and reliability of blog and social-media posts
Advanced knowledge in one or more areas of online marketing
Size of audience
Level of engagement on their blog or social media
Ability to create and sustain a sense of community with their audience
Awards received
Books written
I’m absolutely certain I’ve left some amazingly successful online marketers off this list. If I’ve forgotten you or someone you know, please leave a comment at the end of this post.

The following are my 50 favorite online-marketing influencers of 2014:

1. Neil Patel is a web analytics and conversion expert, and founder of Crazy Egg, Kissmetrics and Quick Sprout.

2. Matt Cutts doesn’t normally make it onto these lists, but there’s no doubt he’s near the top in terms of online influence. He’s the star of Google’s Webmaster videos and current head of Google’s Webspam team.

3. John Rampton is president at Adogy, editor at large of Search Engine Journal and a frequent contributor to Entrepreneur.com and Huffington Post.

4. Tim Ferris, a productivity expert, wrote the must-read 4-Hour Workweek.

5. Rand Fishkin is the founder of Moz.com (formerly SEOMoz), speaker and expert on search-engine optimization, marketing and entrepreneurship.

6. Danny Sullivan, an SEO expert, is founding editor of Search Engine Land.

7. Larry Kim is a pay-per click and SEO expert, and founder and CTO of WordStream, an industry leader in keyword research and PPC tools.

8. Seth Godin wrote many bestselling marketing books, including Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers. He also founded squidoo.com and was an inductee into the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame.

9. Drew Hendricks is a social-media strategist and freelance writer published on Huffington Post and Entrepreneur.com, among others.

10. Sean Gardner, ranked as number one on Forbes’ Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers in 2013, is a social-media consultant and regular contributor to Huffington Post and Social Media Week.

11. Aaron Wall founded SEO Book and its corresponding SEO training program.

12. Jeff Bullas is an online-marketing blogger, author of Blogging the Smart Way – How to Create and Market a Killer Blog with Social Media, and number eight on Forbes’ World’s Top 40 Social Marketing Talent.

13. Mari Smith is a Facebook-marketing expert and author of The New Relationship Marketing.

14. Chris Brogan is a New York Times bestselling author, business strategist and online marketing expert. According to his bio, his consulting is “business strategy meets powerful personal development.”

15. Gary Vaynerchuck, the author of Crush It!, is a professional storyteller and CEO of VaynerMedia, a social-media brand-consulting agency.

16. John Boitnott, a journalist and digital consultant, has worked at TV, newspapers, radio and Internet companies in California for 20 years. He has written for NBC, Entrepreneur, USA Today and Venturebeat, among others. He now invests in startups and works primarily with tech entrepreneurs to scale their businesses.

17. Aaron Lee founded Ask Aaron Lee and is number five on Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers 2013. He is perhaps best known for his strong presence on Twitter.

18. Sandi Krakowski is a Facebook-marketing expert and one of Forbes’ 20 Women Social Media Influencers. She also writes for Entrepreneur.com.

19. Heidi Cohen, a marketing expert who focuses on providing practical, actionable online marketing advice for business owners, is on Social Media Examiner’s list of Top 10 Social Media Blogs.

20. Jay Baer is author of New York Times-bestselling book Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help, Not Hype, speaker, marketing coach and founder of digital marketing consulting agency and blog, Convince & Convert.

21. Amy Porterfield, a social-media strategist, is co-author of Facebook for Dummies and creator of the FBInfluence 2.0 training program.

22. Danny Brown co-authored Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing. He was voted one of Social Media Examiner’s Top 10 Social Media Blogs in 2011, 2013 and 2014.

23. Lewis Howes, a podcaster and blogger at LewisHowes.com (also published on Entrepreneur.com), was named one of Details magazine’s “5 Internet Gurus Who Can Make You Rich.”

24. Andrea Vahl, co-author of Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies, is former community manger at Social Media Examiner and a social-media speaker and strategist.

25. Darren Rowse is a blogging and copywriting expert at ProBlogger.net.

Related: The 25 Most Innovative Consumer and Retail Brands

26. Jon Loomer is an advanced Facebook marketing expert and founder of Jon Loomer Digital.

27. Brian Clark is founder of CopyBlogger, the web’s premier source of content marketing and copywriting info, and host of New Rainmaker, a weekly marketing audio broadcast.

28. Kim Garst, an expert on leveraging social media for business, is owner of Boom Social and one of Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers.

29. Brian Solis is a digital analyst and author of What’s the Future for Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences.

30. David Airey is an author and graphic designer who blogs about visual identity, marketing and branding.

31. Kristi Hines, a prolific freelance digital-marketing writer, founded Kikolani, a site about blog marketing.

32. Chris Ducker is a “new business” marketing strategist and blogger, podcaster and author of Virtual Freedom: How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive and Build Your Dream Business.

33. Derek Halpern founded Social Triggers, a blog, podcast and online video series dedicated to the art of online persuasion.

34. Bryan Eisenberg is an authority on online conversion and persona marketing and author of Call to Action: Secret Formulas to Improve Online Results.

35. Matthew Barby, a digital marketing consultant, is a popular columnist and lecturer at the Digital Marketing Institute.

36. Sam McRoberts is a SEO auditing specialist, social-media consultant, guest lecturer and owner of VUDU Marketing.

37. Ryan Deiss, an email-marketing superhero, founded Digital Marketer.

38. Michael Hyatt, author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, was voted one of Forbes’ Top 10 Marketing Experts to Follow in 2014.

39. Yaro Starak founded Entrepreneurs-Journey, a site that focuses on earning a full-time income through blogging.

40. Pam Moore, lovingly referred to as The Marketing Nut, she is a specialist in conversion optimization and social branding and is a Forbes Top 5 Women In Social Media Influencer.

41. Murray Newlands is an Internet-marketing expert, prolific blogger, advisor, teacher and author. He is also a columnist at Search Engine Journal, Entrepreneur.com, and more.

42. Ann Handley, chief content officer at MarketingProfs, is a regular contributor to Entrepreneur magazine and co-author of Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blog Posts, Podcasts, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business.

43. James Schramko offers expert advice on how to start and grow an online business on his blog SuperFastBusiness.

44. Matthew Woodward blogs about SEO and affiliate marketing. His site is ranked as one of Technorati’s top 100 Business Blogs.

45. Pat Flynn, an affiliate marketer extraordinaire who is known for his regular online earnings reports, is also a blogger and podcaster at Smart Passive Income.

46. Yanik Silver is a serial entrepreneur and founder of multiple seven-figure businesses. His story is the classic “rags-to-riches” tale.

47. John Lee Dumas is a podcasting guru at Podcasters’ Paradise and host of Entrepreneur on Fire, which provides daily interviews with inspiring entrepreneurs.

48. Frank Kern is an Internet-marketing expert best known for his enormously successful subscription-based marketing strategies.

49. Pam Dyer, an expert on using social media to increase sales and improve branding, is on Forbes’ list of Top 20 Women Social Media Influencers.

50. Howard Jacobson is founder of Ask Howie, co-founder of Vitruvian Marketing and co-author of Google AdWords for Dummies.

Coach Yourself to Success With These 6 Tips by Stephen Key

You have a great idea for a product or service that you can’t stop thinking about. You know this is your time. You want to get started now. You’re tired of working for someone else. Deep down, you feel that becoming an entrepreneur is your calling.

You know that there’s risk involved with becoming an entrepreneur. You recognize that you don’t have much experience — and that you’re underfunded. At this point, you’re smart enough to realize that the best thing you can do for yourself is to find a mentor. But the reality is that mentors aren’t simply readily available to those who need them. In my experience, finding the right one is not unlike finding a needle in a haystack.

Thankfully, I know it’s possible to coach yourself to success. I do have a mentor that I rely for guidance and advice. But I’ve had to teach myself much of what I know. He isn’t an expert on everything, after all. Here’s how I did it:

1. Study up. There’s a plethora of avenues to get help from, including books, blogs and podcasts. I’m stunned by the amount of advice and insight that is available to budding entrepreneurs today. From marketing to finance, it’s all out there.

Take advantage of others’ experience by studying up. I’ve immensely enjoyed reading Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki’s business books. Pat Flynn has a killer podcast. I’ve learned about manufacturing techniques from YouTube videos, which are another great resource. Some coaching sites give information away for free in their newsletters.

It’s easy to get lost in the sheer amount of information out there, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

2. Join a startup. From my point of view, the fastest way to learn about business is to join a startup. I worked at Worlds of Wonder, a toy company startup, in the late ‘80s. It was hands-down the best work experience I have ever had. I was invited to contribute to each project the startup undertook. As a result, I absorbed a tremendous amount of information. I should have been paying them!

I helped design products, learned about overseas manufacturing, attended tradeshows and worked with the marketing department. I took what I learned there and started my own company. They thought I was working for them. In hindsight, it feels more like I was being taught how to get a business up and running.

3. Take online classes. They’re extremely affordable and you’ll be able to fit them into your schedule easily. The United States Patent and Trademark Office teaches a free course on how to file patents, for example.

4. Ask to be taken on a tour. I’ve toured everything from marketing-design firms to manufacturing facilities. Make sure to ask a lot of questions. If you find the right person, he or she will talk your head off. I’m betting most businesses in your town will welcome you. I’ve made friends in law offices and distribution centers this way.

5. Attend a tradeshow. Walking the floor of a trade show is one of the best ways to learn about an industry quickly. What are the new products? Where is the industry headed? Who are the major players? Who is your future competition? Where are the opportunities?

You can answer these questions and more at a trade show. Shake hands and give out your card. If there’s a free lecture, don’t miss it. Collect as many free magazines as you can. Get to know who the writers are and follow them.

6. Network. There are meet ups for entrepreneurs in almost every city. LinkedIn groups are another great resource. You might even find a partner. I also highly encourage you to check out SCORE, which connects aspiring entrepreneurs with small-business owners who are willing to offer their time, energy and advice.

Coaching yourself is really about learning. Think of yourself like a sponge: How much can you soak up? There’s more information accessible online than ever before. But don’t just settle for reading and listening. Get creative! Who can you ask for help? Your success depends on your willingness to put yourself out there. Good luck.