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Attention budding entrepreneurs: How handy are you with tools?

Are you ready to get down and dirty and fix what needs it? I hate to break it to you but you have to be ready. Starting a company requires you to have the tools to fix anything that’s broken, coupled with the patience to make it happen.  Just as I have a reliable toolkit at home, to fix the leaks, creaks and freaks at my house, an entrepreneur must be able to do that for their own venture.

As Sir Richard Branson said: “Your decision will not always be the best decision. Everyone makes mistakes, but the best thing you can do in the face of a mistake is own up to it. Honesty isn’t just the best policy, it’s the only policy. When a mistake is made, don’t let it consume you. Uncover the problem and get to work on fixing it.”

So what are the components that should be in your toolkit?

  1. Blue Prints – Make a plan for the future
  2. Level – Level your expectations
  3. Nail – Nail down your value proposition
  4. Ruler – Size up the market
  5. Saw – Cut through the clutter
  6. Pliers – Get a grip
  7. Wrench – Tighten a hold on your market
  8. Hammer – Knock down obstacles
  9. Screwdriver – Don’t screw up

 Did we miss anything in your toolkit? Do you have any special tools? Let us know below. 

This comic and post were created by Kriti Vichare for #entrepreneurfail: Startup Success.


How to LOVE Marketing

It was some time during high school, career guidance class. I distinctly remember that night at home, going through a long spreadsheet that listed professions.

I guess half of the common professions today didn’t even exist then!

I stopped at Marketing. Dad, what is marketing? Sitting on the other side of the living room, he barely raised his head and, without hesitation, he said ‘it’s the art of convincing people to buy what they don’t need, don’t want and might not even like’.

Wow, sounds powerful Dad, he looked up and just raised his eyes.

It was a powerful message for sure.

From that day it was clear to me that marketing is a BAD thing.

It took me years to learn how to understand, then appreciate and even come to love it.

And it all changed when I discovered the power of stories. And I don’t mean the kind of stories that convince you to buy what you don’t need!!!

I mean authentic story.

Story that tells of genuine struggle that transforms into empowerment.

Story that tells of the human condition and how we can become resilient and compassionate in the face of challenge.

You see when you tell authentic stories, you step into the true value of what you offer. You step into it for you and for your client.

The story does the work.

If the story moves you, you feel the value. Even if it’s not something you want right now, you don’t feel manipulated or ‘sold to’ you simply appreciate the value of the offer.

And as the teller of the story, you remind yourself of what you truly stand for.

The type of marketing IS powerful and it’s also fun and easy.

You see, no one can tell your story better than you. You’ve lived it. You get it. You’ve transformed through it.

And when you can experience the power of your own story, you come to love to tell it.

You get to love marketing!

What are you struggling with in your marketing?

Where do you need a stronger story in your business?

Lisa Bloom

About Our GE Network Expert - Lisa Bloom

Lisa Bloom is a highly professional and accomplished Storyteller, Professional Certified Coach (ICF) and Training & Development Expert with more than 20 years experience working in public and private sectors, high-tech and financial services environments. Lisa helps entrepreneurs de-stress the marketing, build their business with confidence by finding their success story at


The Truth about the Role of an Entrepreneur

Scour the profiles across LinkedIn and you’ll be blinded by the countless “Entrepreneurs” and “CEOs”. Rummage through the business cards you collected at the last networking event and you’ll find an endless sea of “Founders”, and “Owners”.

While non-entrepreneur types may be impressed by these lofty titles, the rest of us can see right through you.  Those lovely euphemisms actually stand for “monkey”, “gopher”, “donkey” and various other creatures from the animal kingdom, and here’s why:

Monkey: Running around (sometimes aimlessly) fixing things

Gopher: Searching and fetching, then repeating the process

Beaver: Busy as one, sometimes biting off more than you can chew

Donkey:  Getting kicked around by investors and customers

So who do you pretend to be, and who are you actually?

Learning from my Business Card Mistakes

When I launched my own business I instantly printed business cards emblazoned with my self-appointed title. I might as well as written “your royal highness Excellency”.  I didn’t have a product but I had a shiny stack of glossy business cards declaring me as the head of the kingdom that didn’t exist yet.

What happened? Well within a couple of months, my logo changed, my website name changed, my company colors changed, and (gasp) yes my role changed. And here I was gazing at my pretty stack of unused business cards! I’m not committing that #entrepreneurfail again.

Alternatives to Business Cards?

I’m now here to overturn the conventional sport of printing and passing around business cards when you are just starting out.  Now introducing the MVP of a business card: No business card!  This is what I recommend:

  1. Everyone has a smart phone.  If you meet someone interesting, do the green thing and take a photo his or her biz card.  Email the person on the spot.
  2. If they don’t have a biz card, compose a blank email before you go your separate ways.  Ask them to fill out the To: field.  You should fill out the cc: field with your own email. The subject can say: “Nice to meet you today. Stay in touch.”
  3. If email isn’t your style, ensure you have the LinkedIn app on your phone. As you meet an interesting person, ask them if they are on LinkedIn and before you bid adieu send them a request as a contact.

Do you have business cards? What do they say? Do you find them useful? Let us know in the comments below.

This comic and post were originally created by Kriti Vichare for #entrepreneurfail: Startup Success.


The typical laws against age discrimination revolve around older workers. 

 “The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) only forbids age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older. It does not protect workers under the age of 40, although some states do have laws that protect younger workers from age discrimination.”

We live in a day an age where we constantly hear about the millennial founders breaking the bank after jumping into the startup deep end, and we simultaneously hear about the newly appointed corporate CEOs with over 40 years of work experience at a large company.  And naturally there is a bias for anyone who doesn’t fit this mold.

I’ve witnessed both sides of this new era of ageism:

In a corporate role, I met a business partner in-person after one year of a virtual work environment. Although he treated me with respect on the phone for the whole year, when we finally met in person, he said “I had no idea you were so young; you sound much older and authoritative”.  Subsequent phone meetings were much more callous, until he was reminded I was in charge.

In the startup world, I have attended events where someone in their 30s or 40s could feel like an octogenarian. The unmarried, 20-somethings were participating in all night-hackathons, juggling multiple business ventures, saving on rent by living with their parents, all fueled by their Red Bull-infused lives.  Many of the older attendees naturally shied away from this chaotic bunch of youngsters, and vice versa.  And in a recent article, there seems to be evidence that even VCs prefer younger founders, and the reasons include flexibility and frugality.

Of course, the lesson from these stories is that age should not be the reason you don’t get a role that you really want.  By focusing on the skills and attitude required for a role, you can send clear signals that you match the profile.  Eventually, no one remembers your age, just your abilities and impact.  And don’t forget all the role models that have defied conventional wisdom about age.

Have you experienced this new “age” of discrimination? Let us know about it in the comments below. 

This comic and post were created by Kriti Vichare for #entrepreneurfail: Startup Success


Article Contributed by Paul Jackson, CEO, Worthworm

As someone who spent many years as an investor, I can tell you it’s actually a great time to think about turning your innovative idea into a reality. There have never been so many methods of raising the capital needed to be successful be it an accelerator program, crowd sourcing, boot strapping, or something else. However, many of you will at some point need to seek funding from an angel investor or group of investors which can be extremely tricky to navigate. The truth is, the funding process can be one of the most complex challenges small business owners and startup founders face when growing their company. Consider the three lessons I’ve learned from my time one the investor side of the table as you meet with investors and build a successful and thriving company.

  1. Make accurate and honest financial predictions
    Honestly, ongoing financial success doesn’t typically come easy to most companies. If you don’t have a background in finance, its easy to get swept up by the promise million dollar headlines tend to make. My advice is to stay as accurate and honest as possible about the worth of your company when meeting with investors. Remember, this is what they do for a living and they’re going to be incredibly sensitive to anything that feels overblown. It’s much more important to present accurate financial predictions and then be able to demonstrate how you plan to grow and scale in the marketplace gradually. After all, the investors’ ultimate goal is to have a return on their investment and they understand that might not come for some time. Your goal should be to show them how you will achieve that with the money you’re asking for.
  2. Don’t get greedy, seek what you need
    In addition, to being honest and accurate we might as well talk about not getting greedy. It might seem tempting to ask for more than you actually need during an investor meeting, after all the startup game is volatile and more money might mean more stability. If a smart cooler can raise $10.5 million on Kickstarter, why can’t you ask for a cool million from an investor? However, in my experience securing more money than you need often causes more trouble down the line. This means things like money that gets misused and resourced in the wrong places, you acquire incompatible investors who want a controlling stake in the direction of the company or even pricing your business out of future funding rounds.
  3. Prep the management team
    Financial savvy is something that should resonate throughout your entire management team. Competition for funding dollars is fierce and bringing an empowered team will set you apart from the numerous other pitches the investors have heard that day. Let your team in on your financial plans for the future, discuss previous successes and failures, and understand how your collective financial knowledge can be leveraged for the meeting. By showing you are the ones who are prepared to successfully navigate the financial hurdles that are bound to pop up, an investor is much more likely to feel confident about taking the risk.
  4. Look to the past to solve problems
    One thing I don’t see often enough, is today’s startups doing their homework and looking into the history of successful companies in a similar marketplace. You might be surprised to see that some of the biggest companies around began with very modest funding. Mega popular home-sharing service AirBnB is valued at more than $2.5 billion, but it began with $20 thousand in angel investment. Recently, ZipRecruiter began sharing its growth story, from boot strapped lifestyle company to a first round of funding at $63 million. If you’re having challenges, are not sure how to tackle a particular hurdle or the right answer a question you’ve been receiving form investors, there is much to be learned from the history of your predecessors.

Funding can be achieved successfully if you’ve properly prepared. Too often to entrepreneurs get caught up in the excitement of their ideas that they forget to actually explain how they plan to achieve everything they’ve presented. Keep in mind these lessons learned and make sure you have the financial plan to back your idea during the funding process and you will be successful.

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