Accelerate your entrepreneurial journey.

Recommended Reading

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder (Incerto) by Nassim Nicholas Taleb This book explains the mindset you must adopt to endure the trials and tribulations that await you. Taleb provides an superb philosophy for life as an entrepreneur.

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel If you want an alternative perspective on how to build a company, this book is for you. Thiel is one of the most provocative thinkers in Silicon Valley, and he provokes people to question assumptions.

The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries Influencing countless entrepreneurs, The Lean Startup outlines the methodology for building a company, based on testing assumptions. This book teaches you how to build, measure, and learn.

The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau A collection of bootstrapping stories, The $100 Startup is full of business ideas and anecdotes about how resourcefully launch a company.

A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas by Warren BergerThis book lays the groundwork for creative thinking, based on asking questions. A More Beautiful Question offers frameworks for business concept creation and problem solving as your company grows.

Social Impact Bonds

University of Virginia PFS Lab explains social impact bonds, also known as pay for success projects. These inovative financing mechanisms bring together governments, investors, and service providers. Social impact bonds are social entrepreneurship 101 and provide an inspiring lesson in multi-stakeholder collaboration.

Do you want to learn more about social impact bond applications? Check out our article on pay for success projects.

How do business owners identify consumer needs?

There are three ways that business owners can discover what consumers need:

  1. Personal Experience: If the business owner experiences a problem themselves, there is a high likelihood that other people experience it too and are willing to pay for a solution.
  2. Customer Discovery Research: This can involve field observations, data analysis, and listening to customers. The point of customer discovery research is to identify your target market and figure out what problems they experience so that you can solve them.
  3. Early-Stage Tests: You will not truly know if people will purchase and use your product or service until you run early-stage tests. The key to this is selling your minimum viable product to prove your concept. If people do not want it, you need to build a better solution to their problem or pick a new one to solve.

Although one or two of these ways may suffice for figuring out consumer needs, it is best to have a combination of all three to ensure product-market fit.

Work productivity, time management. Use technology to help you... for free!

I'm always looking for ways to manage my daily schedule. I print out to-do lists and tape them to the wall in front of me. To-do lists are invaluable, and I like the old-school approach to getting work done. Recently, I've been using an app called Flat Tomato. It's basically an app that I use to mark 30 minutes of my time. It helps me focus and also move on when the time is up-which is crucial if I'm not getting anywhere. Anyhow, I would recommend this app.  Would love to hear your tips for being productive and sparking creative ideas.

CHECK OUT:

http://www.fastcodesign.com/3048065/32-productivity-tips-from-the-worlds-top-designers?utm_source

do a google search for Eisenhower decision matrix.

Good stuff for managing your time and making your idea take off!

How Do You Bootstrap A Company?

I have learned the following from working closely with a variety of entrepreneurs and attempting to launch a venture myself.

If you plan on selling a product, you could always use crowdfunding. Create a persuasive video and offer pre-orders in exchange for donations.

Unless you have a proven track record, you will have a near-impossible time finding angel investors to put money into a mere idea. At the very least, you will need proof of concept.

The best way to prove your concept is creating a minimum viable product. For example, you could post ads on Craigslist for people to stay on your couch, instead of building an entire platform, if you wanted to create Airbnb. If you are building software, you could show mockups to potential clients and persuade them to pay a deposit in advance for the software development.

Once you have proven your concept, you will be able to go after potential investors. It is also wise to form an advisory board to critique your pitch and connect you with investors.

International Entrepreneurship: Public-Private Partnerships to Boost Your Business

Entrepreneurs working internationally often feel that they are operating in isolation. Where can they turn for mentorship and investment? Public-private partnerships provide invaluable resources for international entrepreneurs seeking to build their businesses.

The State Department’s Global Entrepreneurship Program (GEP) identifies, trains, and guides entrepreneurs to financing. GEP programs include angel networks, entrepreneurship delegations, and mentoring collaborations. By working with a variety of partners, such as NGOs and educational institutions, GEP aims to develop entrepreneurial ecosystems around the world. Additionally, the State Department promotes entrepreneurship among women and youth through WECREATE and READY.

USAID’s Partnering to Accelerate Entrepreneurship (PACE) Initiative supplies investments and grants to leverage private investment in early-stage ventures. The PACE Initiative has created six public-private partnerships that have leveraged $56 million investments to bridge the pioneer gap and foster entrepreneurship. In September 2014, PACE invested in Village Capital, an accelerator and venture fund that established the peer-selected investment method.

Village Capital finds, trains, and funds entrepreneurs solving global problems, such as water scarcity and financial inclusion. Using a peer-selected investment approach, Village Capital runs accelerator programs for ten ventures at a time, and the entrepreneurs vote at the end of the program to determine who receives funding. This innovative approach democratizes venture capital investment. Village Capital runs accelerator programs all over the world that target ventures operating in agriculture, education, health, financial inclusion, energy, and water.

How do you find wealthy clients?

Several factors come into play when targeting clients, wealthy or not.

  1. Location: Where is your business located? Where are you placing advertisements? Where are you hanging out? If you want to reach rich clients, gain visibility for yourself and your business in places where the wealthy usually spend time. Locations could include upscale towns, ritzy restaurants, high-end grocery stores, art shows, town-hall meetings, and publications associated with these establishments.
  2. Presentation: How you present your offering can make or break a sale. Empathizing with your clients, understanding their problems, and providing a powerful value proposition is essential. According to Nicholas Nassim Taleb, the rich are often sticklers for presentation, which explains why they prefer to eat elegantly prepared food at upscale dining establishments.
  3. Network: Leveraging your network is vital to enticing wealthy clients. Employ strategies to incentivize referrals and word-of-mouth marketing. If you do outstanding work for existing clients, they will likely tell their friends. Following the logic of location, it is also smart to hang out around wealthy people so that you can build relationships and network. New friends may often refer people to you or become clients themselves.

Lastly, you must remember that a potential client’s wealth does not matter if he or she is not willing to pay for your service. Work on finding clients who place a high value on the service you are offering, whether they are wealthy or not.

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