1. Featured Articles

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    1. Think Social Media Is A Waste Of Time? Consider These Five Practical Benefits

      Think Social Media Is A Waste Of Time? Consider These Five Practical Benefits
      Tweeting may not be your thing, but before you dismiss social media as a whole, consider looking at it through a business lens. By Lauren McCadney, Senior Segment Manager, Small Business, CDW Lately, I have heard comments about individual social media platforms that seem downright extreme. From, “Not having a Facebook page is the fastest way to lose your job,” to, “Anyone without a Twitter account cannot be taken seriously.” Do people really believe this? Statements like these amaze me. Most business owners I know do not appreciate being labeled as unintelligent, or being told what they should or should not do. Further, the directive to “get with the program” by signing up for Facebook or Twitter, without compelling business-related reasons to do so, is not necessarily the best course of action. So, with respect for small business owners everywhere, I hereby assert that social media is a choice, not ...
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    2. Entrepreneurial Innovation in the U.S.: Strengths and Weaknesses

      Entrepreneurial Innovation in the U.S.: Strengths and Weaknesses
      From Anita Campbell, Small Business Trends: How does the United States compare to other nations when it comes to entrepreneurship? In Global Entrepreneurship and the United States, a new paper from the Office of Advocacy, Zoltan J. Acs and Laszlo Szerb assessed this question using the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index (GEDI).   The GEDI compared the contextual features of entrepreneurship in 71 countries over a decade, including both quantitative measurements (such as the number of existing firms and startups) and qualitative measurements (such as the education level of founders and employees or the number of high-growth startups). It focuses on three broad areas:   Entrepreneurial attitudes: a society’s basic attitudes toward entrepreneurship, as reflected in education and social stability. Entrepreneurial activity: what people are doing to improve the quality of human resources and technological efficiency. Entrepreneurial aspirations: how much of the entrepreneurial activity is directed toward innovation, high-impact entrepreneurship and ...
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    3. Get the Guinness Stamp of Approval

      Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today: Looking for world-class buzz? How about attempting a zany stunt to set a Guinness World Record? The Wall Street Journal writes that in the corporate hustle to stand out from its crowd, event marketing is becoming more prevalent as a promotions tool. Currently, helping events get noticed costs advertisers $8.9 billion a year on event marketing. What's inexpensive? Getting the Guinness stamp of approval. It's just $4,739 for advising from Guinness and having a judge verify the feat. Starwood Hotels recently hosted the "largest-ever resistance-band strength-training class," and Estee Lauder had the "most landmarks illuminated for a cause" (38 buildings were lit pink for breast-cancer awareness). Guinness says company requests for record-breaking have increased 250 percent over the past three years. The Social ...
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      Mentions: new york times
    4. 3 Ways to Scale Your Personal Brand

      3 Ways to Scale Your Personal Brand
      Personal branding for entrepreneurs in many cases is a massive paradox. One one hand, in the authentic, transparent business world we are living in right now, it is 100 percent imperative to have a personal brand–a human presence led by you. We all know that the cliche statements are true: People form relationships with people. On the other hand, having a strong personal brand can also be a challenge of scalability. Can I scale myself? Am I too accessible? WhatRead More From Small Business Trends3 Ways to Scale Your Personal Brand
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    5. Don't Pay To Get Your Brand More Followers: Invest In Content

      All Things Digital is reporting about Twitters new advertising solutions for brands and advertisers. It's newest solution will help you get more Twitter followers by "suggesting" that people follow you based on preferences its algorithm things you'll like. All Things writes Twitter is still working to get its first two ad products up and running. But it’s going to launch a third, anyway: Tomorrow the company will show off “Promoted Accounts” at an ad industry conference in New York. The idea is a simple one, people familiar with the company’s plans tell me: Twitter will try to help corporations and brands increase their Twitter following by inserting them alongside other Twitter users it suggests in its “Who to Follow” feature. Instead of worrying about follower count and paying for advertising placement, why not invest the time and money to build great content around the products you ...
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    6. What Recession? For Cupcake Bakers, Business is Booming

      What Recession? For Cupcake Bakers, Business is Booming
      From Jill Fehrenbacher, Inhabitat: Where many small businesses are feeling the pinch of the economic downturn, some sweet niches, like cupcakes, are doing phenomenally well.  Cupcakes offer tangible proof that good things come in small packages; and more and more entrepreneurs are managing to turn their batter into ‘dough’ by opening cupcake bakeries, even in an economy where most recipes for staying in business are failing to rise.    It’s easy to see why small businesses based on small indulgences are booming and popping up all over the map. The beautiful, bite-sized confections are savored by the stomach and the soul, tapping into the emotional core of the public with every nibble. People are waiting in long lines outside cupcake bakeries across the country to enjoy these guiltless indulgences which offer a reminiscent walk down the memory lane of childhood, while making the present moment so much sweeter — for both ...
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      Mentions: new york times
    7. The Road to Success

      The Road to Success
      From Richard Branson: Kaspars Purmalis of Lativia asked several questions, all about motivation. This column is for him and others who share his interest.   Q: What was your childhood dream profession?   A: When I was young, I excelled at sports and always dreamed of becoming a professional sportsman. Unfortunately, at the age of 11, I damaged my knee so badly that the doctor said I would not be able to play for a very long time. I was devastated!   Sidelined from sports, I spent a lot of time following news of the world's issues and hoped to go into journalism. I didn't quite make it into the world of journalism, although I did start running my very own student magazine at the age of 15. I funded it by selling advertising up front, from the school phone booth.   As a boy I also had an interest in space ...
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    8. Invest In Your Business and Stop Putting Out Fires: 4 Resources From Intuit

      I know your busy running your business (like I am). You're concerned about hiring employees, finding free lance help, getting new customers, still confused about how to leverage your online presence and pay those bills that never stop coming. However, sometimes you just have to get a cup of tea, breathe deeply and do some reading and thinking about your business. You have to run your business, but if you do not take the time to THINK about the growth of your business and take the time to leverage resources (free and fee based) that are available to you, you're leaving opportunities and often times actual money, on the table. Well here's your chance and one of them includes winning $100,000 or helping another business win with a four resources from Intuit:
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    9. Start-Ups 2010: Gourmet Ice Cream, Served From a Truck

      Start-Ups 2010: Gourmet Ice Cream, Served From a Truck
      DREAM MOBILE: New Yorkers line up for a scoop of Van Leeuwen's gourmet ice cream, served here by co-founder Laura O'Neill.'>Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream Co-Founders: Ben Van Leeuwen, 26; Pete Van Leeuwen, 33; and Laura O'Neill, 28 Location: Brooklyn, New York Employees: 40 Funding: $80,000 from friends and family 2009 Revenue: $900,000 Start-Up Year: 2008 Breakeven: Their first summer. They grossed about $425,000, with about $125,000 as profit. Insider Insight: Low overhead and high quality is a good model. Good Humor trucks are highly profitable, but nobody was selling premium ice cream from a truck. Blind Spot: Manufacturers prefer the status quo. Few commercial dairies were used to making ice cream without industrial stabilizers and conventional ingredients. The recipe was simple and pure. The first ingredient: three summers spent driving a Good Humor truck in college. "I realized that a truck ...
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    10. Start-Ups 2010: Finding an Audience Online

      Start-Ups 2010: Finding an Audience Online
      The Passion Greg Stallkamp was always a fitness freak. An avid triathlete, he trained at least five times a week and was always sharing advice on workout routines with friends. The Plan Three years ago, as Facebook and MySpace were becoming household names, Stallkamp, 32, saw the need for a fitness-based social network -- a forum in which users could share training tips as well as marathon times. Stallkamp pitched the idea to two similarly fitness-obsessed friends. They felt that, with a small initial investment of about $15,000, they could build the website in their spare time and that once launched, it would be sustained by its audience. The Strategy In addition to the social networking features that let amateur athletes connect and share information, Holos Fitness would also feature blogs by professional trainers offering tips on yoga as well as weightlifting. Revenue would come from targeted ads based on ...
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    11. Start-Ups 2010: A Dog Lover Builds a $5 Million Business

      Start-Ups 2010: A Dog Lover Builds a $5 Million Business
      Stella & Chewy's Founder: Marie Moody, 43 Location: Muskego, Wisconsin Employees: 66 (40 full time; 26 part time) Funding: $650,000 SBA-backed loan 2009 Revenue: $5 million Start-Up Year: 2003 Breakeven: After one year, when annual revenue hit $120,000 Insider Insight: Find a new angle on an old trend. Moody saw that dog owners -- just like foodies -- would pay extra for high-quality organic products. Blind Spot: Hidden costs. Moody didn't anticipate how hard it would be -- and how much money it would take in the form of free products and fees for field reps -- to persuade retailers to push her products. Marie Moody knew her dog wasn't well, but it was still a shock to hear the vet say that Chewy, the mutt she had recently adopted, wouldn't live long unless she started giving him some extraordinary care. Most important, she needed to pay meticulous attention to the dog's diet. Moody hadn't known that most conventional dog food ...
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    12. Start-Ups 2010: Why It's Tough to Launch a Fashion Line

      A High-Class Problem: Leslie Singer's fashion line struggled to cope with a large volume of small orders from boutiques.'>The Passion In 2001, Leslie Singer was a creative director at a successful branding and marketing agency and had a teaching post at New York City's School of Visual Arts. But she had been trained as a graphic designer and always dreamed of developing a fashion brand based on her own designs. The Plan Inspired by the pattern-focused designs of Burberry and her obsession with accessories, Singer, 51, was determined to turn her black-and-white psychedelic patterns into a high-end line of scarves, gloves, belts, and bags. The Strategy Once her collection was ready to sell, in 2004, Singer started holding trunk shows. She figured her unique designs would get noticed by buyers from boutiques and department stores across the country. If she sent some samples off to celebrity stylists ...
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    13. Start-Ups 2010: Publishing Children's Books for the iPhone

      Start-Ups 2010: Publishing Children's Books for the iPhone
      PicPocket Books Founder: Lynette Mattke, 41 Location: Silver Spring, Maryland Employees: Two interns Funding: $30,000, from Mattke and two silent partners 2009 Revenue: $7,500 Start-Up Year: 2009 Breakeven: January 2010 Insider Insight: Mattke saw that her kids loved the iPhone's touchscreen and that no one had built apps out of quality kids' books. Blind Spot: It's hard to generate profits selling books-as-apps for $1 to $3, even if you keep costs low. At established publishing houses, sifting through unsolicited manuscripts -- the slush pile, as they are collectively, and derisively, known -- for children's books is the work of young editorial assistants hoping to get their big break by spotting the next J.K. Rowling. Lynette Mattke, founder and publisher of PicPocket Books, is happy to do the job herself. After all, her company didn't exist two years ago. And though she studied literature in college ...
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    14. Start-Ups 2010: Turning a Passion for the Slopes Into a Business

      Start-Ups 2010: Turning a Passion for the Slopes Into a Business
      FlyLow Gear Co-Founders: Dan Abrams, 33; and Greg Steen, 32 Location: Denver Employees: Six full time; about six part time, plus three owner-operators Funding: $38,000, borrowed on credit cards 2009 Revenue: $375,000 Start-Up Year: 2004 Breakeven: Winter 2004–05 Insider Insight: Sell to yourself. Abrams was at the heart of the changing ski scene, so he understood the trendsetters to whom he would be selling. Blind Spot: At first, it was hard to get manufacturers to fill small and out-of-the-ordinary orders. He learned to sell them on his company's future: "I'd say, 'FlyLow is going to be the next North Face.' " The first few rips didn't bother Dan Abrams. In fact, the flaws in his backcountry skiwear could feel downright rewarding: the sound of a crotch seam tearing while taking that final step atop an 11,000-foot peak; the worn out Cordura knees that proved ...
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    15. Start-Ups 2010: A Company Cashes in on the Gluten-Free Trend

      The Passion In 2007, Seth Mendelsohn quit his job as an IT consultant. "I figured I love cooking, so why not just make a career out of it?" he says. The Plan Mendelsohn -- who was adept at creating tasty dishes for friends on gluten-free diets -- knew that the market for natural foods was growing, as was an awareness of gluten-related disorders. But gluten-free sauces were hard to find, so he decided to start his own line, which he called Simply Boulder. The Strategy Mendelsohn, 32, figured that the $50,000 he had saved would be enough to get his sauces to market -- and that profits would fund growth from there. Costs would be minimized by outsourcing manufacturing and sales; distributors would ship and warehouse his product; and he could offset the high cost of using premium ingredients like extra virgin olive oil and agave nectar by buying concentrated versions of ...
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    16. 7 Easy Steps to Bootstrapping Success

      In this economy, you can pretty much forget about financing. And it's probably just as well, says marketing guru Seth Godin, author of The Bootstrapper's Bible. People often ask him for advice on raising venture capital for their start-ups, and "nine times out of 10, I advise them they shouldn't," he says. Instead, take these seven steps to self-funded stardom. 1. GET CLOSE TO YOUR CUSTOMERS Most entrepreneurs want to supply established retailers, but Dameion Royes has always preferred having his own stores, in which he could be sure his Big It Up hats were being promoted properly. In college, he talked the campus bookstore into letting him open a boutique and manned it himself. After his retro designs became a sensation, he rented kiosks in upscale malls, in which he could convert passersby into impulse buyers. Today, celebrities such as Naomi Campbell and Wyclef Jean sport ...
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    17. Reader Mail: October 2010

      Revitalizing the American Dream As an eight-time serial entrepreneur, I loved everything in Inc.'s article about saving the American economy ["Bring On the Entrepreneurs!," July/August 2010]. I am passionate about the importance of entrepreneurship to the survival of the American dream, and I applaud Inc.'s efforts to champion business creation. Mike Ross President, 4PSA Orlando Thank you for sharing your ideas for creating jobs in this country. The Obama administration recognizes, as you do, the vital importance of small businesses in our economy. The important role start-up companies have in creating jobs is a crucial piece of our ongoing recovery. Your article mentioned many good ideas about ways we can create more jobs. In fact, many of those ideas were included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2009. For example, in an effort to increase access to credit ...
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    18. Would You Buy Underwear By Subscription?

      Ken Johnson and Andrew Draper are on a mission to save the world's men from worn-out underpants. "When guys buy these basics, they hang on to them forever, and it's usually our mothers, wives, and girlfriends who replenish them," Johnson says. In January, Johnson and Draper launched Manpacks, a Providence-based company that sells men's underwear, socks, and undershirts on a subscription basis. Men sign up to get a delivery of new undergarments every three months. Each pack costs about $14 to $70, depending on the number of items and the brands customers order. So far, 500 people have subscribed. Johnson and Draper hope to make Manpacks the go-to service for men who don't want to have to think about shopping for the basics. To that end, Manpacks has promoted its services mostly through social networking sites and online ads. The company has also received mentions in ...
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      Mentions: new york times
    19. Which Is Better for Your Business: Debt or Equity?

      Which Is Better for Your Business: Debt or Equity?
      From Ken Kaufman: Is debt or equity better for your business? The answer depends on several criteria, although the stage of the business and the use of the funds are usually the best determining factors.   Pre-Revenue   This is the stage of a business before you have paying customers. Equity is almost always the better way to fund a business in this stage because debt causes three main problems. Consider this example: Let's assume you receive a $100,000 SBA loan to start your business. You receive terms that include a 6 percent interest rate, a monthly payment of $1,933 for five years, and you have to put the equity in your home up as collateral to secure the loan.   Problem #1 — Since the business has no cash inflow, you will have to use the proceeds from the loan to service your debt facility at a rate of almost ...
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    20. Good Hoops Player, Even Better Entrepreneur

      Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today: Meet basketball's most impressive entrepreneur. Basketball fans may remember Jamal Mashburn for his successful career with franchises like the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat, but entrepreneurs might be equally impressed with Mashburn's success with some different kinds of franchises. As Yahoo! Sports reports, Mashburn has been quite busy since his retirement from the NBA in 2006, owning an astounding amount of Outback Steakhouses and Papa John's pizza franchises. By his count, he owns more than 34 Outbacks and 37 Papa John's, not to mention a few car dealerships and a number of other assorted franchise operations. Mashburn's inspiration was the exact opposite of every CEO who ever dreamed of leaving the boardroom and playing in the NBA. As he explains, "I've ...
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