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Guy Kawasaki: The Top 10 Mistakes of Entrepreneurs

7 Huge Founder Mistakes-And What You Can Learn From Them (Source: Inc.com)

Founder Confessions is a weekly series brought to you by StartupsAnonymous.com, a place where entrepreneurs can share stories, confess and ask questions anonymously. This series features a collection of confessions from entrepreneurs in the trenches. Their submissions are anonymous, allowing them to speak freely without fear of retribution. To contribute a confession and be a part of this series, visithttp://startupsanonymous.comto see the current confessional topic on the right side bar. You can also follow StartupsAnonymous on Twitter at@startupsspeak

It’s often said to entrepreneurs that, if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not taking enough risks. The message being that making mistakes is how you grow as an entrepreneur.

This is why failure is worn as a badge of honor in Silicon Valley, and why investors are still willing to back those that have failed. Investors know that in order for their investment to pay off, the entrepreneurs they fund must be willing to take risks.

These seven entrepreneurs confess the biggest mistakes they’ve made while risking it all:

Trusting partners 100%

Two business partners (including one who was mybest friend and best man at my wedding) betrayed me. It cost me two businesses and hundreds of thousands of dollars. No matter who your partner is, find a really good attorney and make sure you are protected.

Not letting go

The biggest mistake I made as an entrepreneur was not giving up control. I lost two phenomenal team members because they were bored and worried I waspaying them for no reason. I have since learned to let others take the lead.

Not knowing when to stay quiet

I’m the founder of a large online community. We clear $180k/year. The biggest mistakeI’ve made happened earlier this year. A media company had asked us to remove some contentthey owned. We complied. We did use their name in explaining why thatcontent was no longer available. They sent a far-less-than-complimentaryletter demanding we remove their name: I responded and said their tone wasless than business-like, and they could correspond with my attorney in the future.We had our Google Adsense pulled in days, went from $180k to $0 overnight.

The lesson: know when tokeep your mouth shut.

Not understanding market demand

I started a wholesale insurance business on the premise « if you build it, they will come. »

Poured a ton of money into websites, employees, marketing materials before ever landing a single customer.

I built it–and they did not come.

Waiting too long to raise money

When I founded a spice company with a first-mover product, proof of concept was too easy.We were in 3,000 stores in our first 12 months of sales. We were immediately creating private label products for Target and Williams-Sonoma.

As experienced CEO’s can tell you–myself now one of them–cash is king. My company was founded on $50,000 in April 2007. Due to our explosive growth, we needed capital much faster than we thought we would, but the recession was upon us and money was nowhere to be found.

Instead of building upon our early success, we were forced to contract and take a defensive position through the recession.

The lesson? Never outrun your capital. Grow organically. Raise more money than you think you need, before you need it.

Giving away too much equity

We ended up doing the rookie mistake of splitting equity 50/50 with our investors very early on. It not only jeopardized all chances of landing a future round, but it also made decision-making painful. Everything was dependent on a consensus. At the same time our investors had the urge to become too involved in the execution of the business despite them not understanding the market and customers. It turned out to be the beginning of a very slow and painful death of our business.

Our biggest mistake waswe didn’t put a stop to this when we still had a chance to save the business.

Expanding too early

After starting two companies, the biggest mistake I’ve made wasexpanding too quickly. Yes, you want to conquer the world, but the reality is, you may nothave the capacity to do so. If you focus and provide an awesome experiencefor people regionally/locally, you’ll naturally grow nationwide/worldwide.

In other words, be amazing in your own backyard, and the broader communitywilldiscover how you’re awesome.

HEC entrepreneurs 2014

What’s social entrepreneurship?

Comment créer une marque charismatique

Qu’est ce que c’est un bon entrepreneur?

How will an MBA help you to be a successful entrepreneur?

People who want to become entrepreneurs often choose to study for an MBA degree. The wide range of courses in business schools is designed to make the MBA graduate competent in micro and macroeconomics, finance, accounting, marketing, human resources, etc. These subjects are aimed at acquiring the general skills needed in business. Having an understanding of the overall economic picture and the ability to decipher important statistical data and the behaviour of other players in the economy makes all the difference in today’s world. Judging the correct timing for expanding or consolidating and knowing how to change your actions is an art that usually comes with experience, but its foundations can be laid in education.

Many business schools focus on entrepreneurship, both in the traditional business sense and in the meaning of social entrepreneurship. Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is amongst the top places that concentrate on the former. Its Sol C. Snider Entrepreneurial Research Centre studies the various aspects and the latest trends in entrepreneurship. MBA courses with this focus emphasise the launch and development of start-ups and the many elements and dimensions of new ventures.

A powerful trend currently gaining momentum in MBA courses is the increasing significance of social entrepreneurship and social enterprise. US names in this area include Duke and Stanford GSB. Following reconsideration of the ethical relevance of the MBA degree, courses linked to issues such as the role of business in society, corporate social responsibility and climate change are becoming more popular. In 2011 the University of Exeter Business School will launch its One Planet MBA in collaboration with WWF: a course dedicated to combining the concepts of business growth and environmental sustainable development. Taking the time to refine yourself as a leader, gather knowledge and reflect on the various concepts of leadership is important for the subsequent application of your managerial skills. A quality MBA degree will acquaint you with basic business principles and strategies, the way organizations operate, the main functions in a company and the latest academic trends in the management discipline.

5 Tips for Targeting Your Ideal Start-Up Customer

5 Tips for Targeting Your Ideal Start-Up Customer

This question, as simplistic as it is, remains a big source of frustration for many online entrepreneurs. They often invest a lot of time, energy and finances to drive traffic to their sites, only to find out these people are not even the ones they want to fish out in the first place.

So how can you steer clear from the many traps of aimless traffic generation? Here are five tips:

1. Be a problem solver. You have to admit that at least part of business success has to do with the timeliness of your products or services. You must answer people’s needs. The key is settling into a business that has problems you really love to solve, with customers whose pressing needs you are very good at addressing. When you’re able to identify your niche, you don’t only go out there to earn, you have a unique passion and an offering that suits the needs of those people.

Related: The Two Ps of Consumer Behavior: (Seeking) Pleasure and (Skirting) Pain

2. Get into your customers’ psyche. People buy not only because they need things, they often buy to satisfy something deeper in them. It’s often the feeling they associate with a product that they finally make the decision to buy. Everybody needs a pair of shoes, but not just any shoes can satisfy that need. This is when branding, reputation and customer service come into play. In fact, this is why there is marketing in the first place. Get into what excites and interests your target market. This is the only way you can tailor-fit your campaign to the people who would not think twice of paying for what you have to offer.

3. Where are your customers? In online marketing, determining how your market interacts with the Internet is very important. It gives you leads to “where” they are online. Online behavior can point you to what sites they frequent, the social-media networks they prefer, the news they’re more likely to read and so on. If you know where they are, you can be sure to focus on places you need to have a commanding presence. This assures you of a steady stream of traffic of ready-to-pay customers, and it prevents you from effectively barking up the wrong tree. We all know how costly and time consuming that can be.

Related: How to Turn Your Startup into the Next Campus Craze

4. Do you really know them? To really pinpoint who your target customer is, you’ll want to dig in deep… find out how they tick, if you will. The key is to learn about them, even change with them over time. So basically, this means you can’t just buy one customer list and operate off that in perpetuity. You’ll need to continuously find out about your target audience. Are they reading things you should be reading? Do they shop at stores you’ve never heard of? All of these puzzle pieces could fit together and help you identify the bigger customer picture, if you’re willing to spend time accumulating them.

5. Close in on the deal. Once you know your customers and understanding where they are and how they think, you can specifically design an online marketing campaign that appeals to those people who would love to pay for your products or services. By being a problem solver, you’re forced to know yourself and understand your brand’s strengths and weaknesses. But understanding who you want to engage with online really seals the success of your business.

Entrepreneur.com

Rédiger son business plan

Le business plan est un outil de communication. Comme tout outil de communication, il est utilisé auprés des partenaires que vous devez convaincre de travailler avec vous (financeurs, réseau de distribution, franchiseur…). Comme tout outil de communication, il doit donner envie aux lecteurs de vous suivre dans votre projet. Il doit donc expliquer clairement ce que vous proposez. Il présente votre projet d’entreprise et détaille la façon dont vous allez mettre en oeuvre votre business model, c’est-à-dire ce que vous allez vendre, à qui, où, comment.

Le business plan est donc indispensable si des partenaires stratégiques doivent être associés à votre projet   Si vous envisagez de vous lancer seul, une version simplifiée du business plan est un outil de démarrage de l’entreprise fort utile pour vous. Il vous permettra de garder le fil rouge de votre projet sans vous disperser.

Le business plan n’est pas une succession de chiffres, c’est 80% de Word et 20% d’Excel…

Définir votre Business Model ou Modèle d’Affaires

Le business model est l’expression de votre projet : qui, quoi, à qui, pourquoi, comment.

Le contenu de votre Business Plan ou Plan d’Affaires

Cette section présente les éléments que vous devrez faire figurer dans votre plan d’affaires (ou business plan). Si vous n’avez pas besoin de financements extérieurs (exemple prêt bancaire), certaines parties pourront être traitées de manière moins approfondie.

Exemples de plans d’affaires

Il est important de se sentir à l’aise avec son plan d’affaire. Choisissez celui qui convient le mieux à votre projet parmi les business plan proposé dans cette section.

Réussir la rédaction de votre Business Plan

Le fond mais aussi la forme sont importants, voici quelques règles pour réussir la rédaction de votre business plan

L’adapter à votre destinataire

Selon que vous présentiez votre Business Plan à un banquier, un investisseur, un fournisseur ou autre, adaptez-le en conséquences.

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