Making the Most of an Accelerator Program: 4 Startup Strategies

Accelerators are a great resource for startups, but those businesses still have to put in the work to see results June 5, 2019 7 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Henrique Dubugras and Pedro Franceschi know financial technology, but you wouldn’t have guessed that was true if you’d looked at the fledgling idea the two young entrepreneurs brought to Y Combinator’s 2017 accelerator program. Their idea? A virtual reality startup. Turns out, neither of these men knew all that much about virtual reality, and building the product they’d envisioned proved much harder than expected. But Dubugras and Franceschi persisted: They’d noticed that many of their contemporaries were struggling to access credit; thus was born the idea for their product, Brex — a corporate credit card for startups. Brex has since led to $215 million in equity funding on a $1.1 billion valuation, as well as $100 million in debt financing from Barclays […]

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3 Ways to Be a Better Listener (60-Second Video)

Good listeners tend to make better leaders, business partners and investments. Here’s how to amp up your skills. June 5, 2019 1 min read Think of listening as a choice. Research suggests multi-tasking is a myth, and multi-tasking while communicating is no exception. Even checking a text during a conversation can make whoever you’re speaking with feel devalued.  Make sure you’re having a conversation, not giving a speech. Findings from MIT suggest that, no surprise, it’s human nature to favor an engaging conversation over a one-sided one — even from a young age — so ask questions and make it clear how what you’re saying is relevant to the other person.  If you’re famously long-winded, try paring down your word count by thinking about what you’ll say before you speak — or give yourself an overall time limit by asking the other person if they can set aside a certain amount of […]

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Four Tech Founders Share Their Low-Tech Strategies For Success

Owning an innovative technology is just one part of building a successful startup. June 4, 2019 5 min read This story appears in the June 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » In an increasingly connected world, virtually everything we touch, consume, and interact with is rooted in technology. Which is why today’s tech industry is all about big-picture thinking — and slow-and steady problem solving. The following four founders detail how they found vital non-tech solutions that helped them grow their tech-forward businesses.    Image credit: Courtesy of Ginkgo Bioworks Reshma Shetty Cofounder / Ginkgo Bioworks  Take your time before taking investors’ money.   Ginkgo Bioworks builds organisms from scratch — think GMOs that can flavor or sweeten food, or a new microbe that can help a plant produce nitrogen. And while this is normally a painstaking, artisanal craft, the startup has built a technology platform to automate the process and […]

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Want to Become a Successful Tech Company? Be Boring!

Tech companies often only want to work on the buzziest projects. But if they put aside their egos, they’d discover a far wider world of opportunity. June 4, 2019 3 min read This story appears in the June 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » Tech entrepreneurs like to create cool technological solutions. Then, they often only want to provide their solutions to customers or clients that are equally cool — favoring the few buzzy opportunities over many other unexciting ones. I know this sounds crazy. Who turns down business? But it’s true. Many tech startups have focused on splashy, slick apps of consumer convenience, rather than attending to the less visible infrastructure necessary to keep all this running. According to CB Insights, the number one reason cited by startups in postmortems was “lack of a market need” for their product. Hmm. So what are they missing? First, let’s consider the […]

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Want to Build A Franchise Empire? Do It Brand By Brand.

Paul Flick wants to serve a homeowner’s every need — which is why his company Premium Service Brands is always expanding. June 3, 2019 4 min read This story appears in the June 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » When Paul Flick launched his company 360° Painting, in 2006, he didn’t consider himself to be in the housepainting business. He just saw it as the first step into the $450 billion home maintenance and repair industry. Flick wanted to build a trusted, holistic solution that would help people solve any problem they might encounter as homeowners — and to accomplish that, he spent the next 13 years developing a portfolio of home-care brands. Now his original business lives along with three others (providing handyman, garage door, and maid services) under the umbrella of Premium Service Brands, with 187 locations throughout North America and more than $60 million in annual sales. […]

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If You’re a Female, It’s Time to ‘Speak up,’ Because Those Speaking Gigs Are Out There

Public speaking, this contributor says, has been a huge part of her business’s growth. One problem: She’s tired of being the token woman May 31, 2019 7 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. For me, speaking professionally was an unexpected facet of my business that began about six years ago. I launched my company, Headbands of Hope, as a college student, and started to get asked to speak at different schools and universities about my story. At the time, when people asked me for my speaking fee, I didn’t even know people paid speakers. So, it was a pleasant surprise when I realized I could inspire others through my story and enjoy some remuneration at the same time. Related: 7 Powerful Public Speaking Tips From One of the Most-Watched TED Talks Speakers Today, I speak over 50 times a year at conferences, corporations, colleges and events about navigating […]

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How to Thrive As an Introverted CEO

Check out these networking survival skills from an executive who hates — hates — to mingle May 29, 2019 7 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. If you ever spot me at a networking event, and I’m standing by myself, please come up and say hello. Odds are that you will see me standing there alone. You see, I’m an introvert, and I hate work socials for precisely for that reason. Related: 12 Low-Cost Business Ideas for Introverts But networking events are a necessary evil. They provide leaders visibility, interest, proof to employees that their executives are actively engaged and, of course, the chance to make world-changing contacts. So, that’s why I’ll be at that next event, networking and (usually) hating it. In sum, I’m here to write that it’s OK to be an introverted CEO. In fact, it’s probably better for many companies if their CEO is an introvert. Many […]

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Greg Flynn Owns 1,245 Restaurants and Makes $2 Billion A Year. Here’s How He Did It.

He bought his first Applebee’s 20 years ago, and since then has redefined what’s possible in the franchise industry. His philosophy: Be different, then go big. May 28, 2019 12 min read This story appears in the June 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » Crunchy tacos? Four-cheese soufflé? A house salad with a side of double-crunch bone-in wings? How about a beef-and-cheddar sandwich served with zesty Red Ranch dressing on an onion roll? Lunchtime for Greg Flynn means more than 1,245 restaurants to choose from. Conveniently, they’re all his: 283 Taco Bell units, 135 Panera Bread, 458 Applebee’s, and — his latest addition as of December — 369 Arby’s. Sitting in his skyscraper office in San Francisco’s financial district, the founder and CEO of the Flynn Restaurant Group (FRG) picks at a salad from none of the above. “My goal was to finish this bite before you finished your question,” […]

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You Can Teach Yourself to Become More Courageous in Your Daily Life. Here’s How.

Plus, Entrepreneur Network partner Brian Tracy explains why courage helps make great leaders. May 27, 2019 1 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. In this video, Entrepreneur Network partner Brian Tracy points out that courage is not necessarily an innate trait — it’s something that you can develop over time. In order to cultivate your courage, try to keep these characteristics in mind: Courageous people are bold.  Courageous people take action.  Courageous people stay the course. Courageous people take risks.  Click play to hear more tips on how to find courage.  Related: What Does It Actually Mean to Think Like a Millionaire? Entrepreneur Network is a premium video network providing entertainment, education and inspiration from successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders. We provide expertise and opportunities to accelerate brand growth and effectively monetize video and audio content distributed across all digital platforms for the business genre. EN is partnered with hundreds of top YouTube channels in […]

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Will Your Product Launch Be a Success? 4 Signs It Won’t Be.

The truth is, most product launches fail for two very simple reasons, both of which you’ve heard about time and time again. May 21, 2019 7 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. That big red button is just waiting to be pushed: Maybe it’s the Facebook Ad “Start” button, intended to drive leads to the sales funnel for your brand new product. Maybe it’s the AdWords “Start” button, intended to collect search engine leads for your sales funnel. Maybe it’s something else. Related: 8 Steps for the Perfect Product Launch But whatever the case, you’ve been working toward this moment for months, maybe even years. And it all comes down to this moment: Will your product-launch succeed? Or will it fail terribly? The truth is, most product launches fail for two very simple reasons: Either the messaging for your product doesn’t clearly explain what problem you’re solving […]

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How to Help Other People Be Successful

This CEO breaks down some of the common challenges a business might face in its early stages. May 21, 2019 2 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. UPshow is a consumer engagement platform that focuses on in-venue marketing. In this video with Entrepreneur Network partner BizCast, UPshow CEO and co-founder Adam Hirsen discusses the challenges businesses often face in their early stages and the obstacles they may encounter after they get a foot in the door. One specific challenge Hirsen mentions is delivering a high-quality, valuable product to a large volume of customers while still making improvements upon said product. He also explains the importance of surrounding yourself with people who will push you and your business to be better, and how important company culture is when recruiting employees. For more on UPshow and Hirsen, check out the full BizCast video. Related: Every ‘No’ Is One Step Closer to a ‘Yes’ Entrepreneur Network is a premium […]

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To Break up the Boys’ Club, Ladies, Why Not Start Your Own Venture Capital Firm?

Women in VC roles can’t rely on public relations fixes, token nods or the chivalry of their male colleagues. They have to do it themselves. May 21, 2019 6 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Elodie Dupuy felt she had paid her dues. She had spent nine years at top-tier venture capital firm Insight Venture Partners, where she climbed the ranks from receptionist to vice president, followed by a stint at another investment firm. But well into interviews for a new partner role at a VC firm, following the birth of her daughter, Dupuy told me, the male partner asked whether she was serious about returning to work. And that was unacceptable. “I was tired at times of being seen as a woman to hire to check some quota,” Dupuy said. Related: 98 Percent of VC Funding Goes to Men. Can Women Entrepreneurs Change a Sexist System? So last […]

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Why Competition Is Missing from the Corporate Course Catalog

As an entrepreneur, you may know how to manage your business, but do you really know how to compete and win? Find out what to do differently to grow your company. May 21, 2019 4 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. The following excerpt is from Benjamin Gilad and Mark Chussil’s book The New Employee Manual: A No-Holds-Barred Look at Corporate Life. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | IndieBound Companies spend millions on training its managers. They send managers to corporate universities and “rising-star” camps, and pay for horrendously expensive Executive MBA programs. They buy the latest online courses and MOOC courses, TED talks, and any other learning technology on the market. Yet the skill of competing is the most neglected of all the skills being taught. A study by Forrester Consulting on behalf of IBM extols the benefits […]

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The 6 Most Common Types of Difficult Employees

These people are smart, and they know it. They are often quick to let everyone else know it, too. Einsteins are rigid in their views and can often come across as arrogant. How to approach an Einstein: Have a know-it-all explore the ways in which his or her intelligence impacts the team both positively and negatively. Let the Einstein do a solo analysis and draw his or her own conclusions. But guide the process so that you can coach Mr. or Ms. Einstein through any necessary change. Overall, managing difficult employees is never easy, and it is a skill that can take years to develop. However, when leaders do identify problem employees, they can be managed — either to improve behavior and performance, or to move on from the organization. No matter what, difficult employees should be coached sooner, rather than later, to minimize their impact on the rest of […]

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Why This Entrepreneur Stuck With Her Startup Even When Her Employees Told Her to Quit

Jennifer Simons discusses a critical moment in her life when she decided whether she would follow the traditional post-college route or expand her business. May 16, 2019 2 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. In the latest episode of Resilience with Entrepreneur Network partner Alley, Dressmate founder Jennifer Simons talks about finding herself at a crossroads. Her co-founder from college was off to a job, her company bank account was running low and people were telling her to simply move on and find a corporate job. Even some of the developers for the original Dressmate app recommended she go find a job with the $10,000 left in her account.  Saltzman and Simons discuss the rebound, and Simons talks about restless nights, finding consolation in friends and pets while looking at job postings. Click the video to hear more from Simons and Saltzman’s conversation. Related: How This Entrepreneur Learned to Find Feedback in Every […]

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5 Creative Interview Questions to Ask Job Applicants

You can probably guess that this interview question comes from Elon Musk (specifically, from a Musk biography by Ashlee Vance), given that he starts by saying “You are standing on the surface of the earth.” Why is this a good interview question for your company? Two reasons. First, because you can objectively get this answer wrong. Asking interview questions that determine competency can help distinguish which job applicants really know their stuff. Second, it’s a good interview question because it has two answers. The first answer is the North Pole. Because the Earth is a sphere, if you walk one mile south, then one mile west, then another mile north, you will just return to the North Pole. You could walk a million miles west or zero, and you’d still end up at the same place. The second answer is any place approximately 1.32 (1 + [1 / pi]) miles […]

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Are These 5 Tasks Part of Your CEO Job Description?

Make sure you’re responsible for these five activities, and you’ll watch your business grow. May 9, 2019 6 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. The following excerpt is from Scott Duffy’s book Breakthrough. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | IndieBound I often ask entrepreneur CEOs the following question: What’s your responsibility as the person in charge of your business? This is often met with a blank stare. Other times I get a vague response, something like, “Well, I do a lot of things. I guess my job is to keep the company or project moving forward.” These aren’t useful answers. It’s no wonder many CEOs just ricochet between crises without any real thought about how to proactively drive the company forward. Before you assemble your team, you must be absolutely clear on what your role and day-to-day responsibilities will […]

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To See More Women in Leadership Roles, Here’s What Needs to Happen

Whether or not they’re going all the way to space, there’s a lot of science behind getting women to the top. May 9, 2019 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. What better way to shatter a glass ceiling than by leaving the atmosphere altogether? The first all-woman spacewalk this March is a testament to just how far we’ve come. Down on Earth, though, we still have a long way to go. Barriers to progress remain frustratingly solid. Governments and businesses continue to introduce initiatives to get more women to the top, yet an EY report demonstrates that progress remains slower than it should be. What’s the holdup? A massive study from Peterson Institute for International Economics, which studied 21,980 firms in 91 countries, found that businesses with women in the C-suite are more profitable than those without. Clearly, the issue isn’t one of performance. Women […]

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Strapped for Cash? Three Modern Ways To Take Out A Small Business Loan.

Diversify your fundraising strategy. May 2, 2019 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Small businesses can often find themselves strapped for cash. When payroll is due, and accounts receivables are still high, cash is king. Even the most successful small business is susceptible to this type of crunch. As a four time venture-backed entrepreneur from the Silicon Valley, who has raised a total of $18 million for my tech startups, I’d like to offer some advice to early-stage entrepreneurs in hopes to shed light on alternative avenues to raising money. Consider diversifying your fundraising strategy by adding non-conventional fundraising options. These days, there are several options for entrepreneurs. Technology and finance are combining to provide creative solutions to help business owners push through monthly bills without the normal headaches. The reality is new innovative options exist beyond banks for entrepreneurs looking to leverage their strengths while reflecting […]

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Small Team? No Problem. Here’s How to Multitask With Efficiency.

Asking staff to take on multiple responsibilities doesn’t have to mean chaos. Here’s how to keep the office calm, happy, and productive. April 30, 2019 4 min read This story appears in the April 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » Q: How can I help create in-office efficiencies, especially when my team is small and we’re all juggling tasks and responsibilities? — Michelle N., Nashua, N.H.  Put 10 entrepreneurs in a room, and you’ll hear the same mantras recited: Hustle. Focus. Do more with less. Survive. As inspiring as those words might sound, they can’t ensure success. There’s a reason that more than 50 percent of startups fail in the first five years.  Creating efficiencies means establishing an infrastructure that can help your business in multiple situations. After all, failure isn’t always a by-product of a bad idea or a bad team. Sometimes everything is going right until it goes wrong: […]

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