Entrepreneur

Startup Roundup August 2nd, 2015

Don’t Forget the Small Stuff. Things every Human (especially Entrepreneurs) should do every day.

Don’t Forget the Small Stuff. Things every Human (especially Entrepreneurs) should do every day.

We all know there are certain actions, habits, and behaviors that we should be doing each day to be a successful entrepreneur. I’ve read countless blogs, listened to hundreds of podcasts, and observed my mentors on the subject.  I know that to be a successful and productive entrepreneur, I should be and need to be reading one great business book a month, exercise daily, drink water, wake up before 6 am, check emails before 7 am, eat healthy, find a mentor, plan your day, set goals, save money….and I completely agree with every single TO DO.

Action vs. Inaction | Launch That Podcast!

Launch Wagon

Very excited to announce the launch of the Startup Soirée Podcast! We've had this project in the works for a few months and I'm excited to say that it's finally come to fruition. We did a soft-launch a few weeks ago so we could test the waters and make sure we understood how things were working and so far we've had a pretty great response.

The Startup Soirée Podcast will be waiting for you every Monday morning; eager to bring you the most awesome founder chats this side of Kentucky. The format for our podcast is short and sweet; a one-on-one stream of Q&A's by a founder (yours truly) to a founder (maybe you?) with the sole purpose of capturing a snap-shot of what makes us tick. tick. tick. 

BOOM

We've predicated the entire concept of Startup Soirée on the understanding that we as founders deal in a secret language; one that is expressed and articulated by challenges unique to our set. At Pixilated we meet with amazing business owners everyday and it's always the best part of my day. Those conversations are inspiring, re-affirming and fun and that's exactly what we're aiming to bring you with the Startup Soirée Podcast.

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Who the Hell is Whom?

The first three SoiréeCasts (as I like to call 'em) were guested by three diverse founders from our Baltimore community so when you head over to the iTunes store and SUBSCRIBE you're gonna have three excellent episodes waiting for you. Then you'll have something to binge on. Your welcome! Wait, you wanna know whom? Ok, ok, ok.

Startup Soirée Podcast Episode No. 001 | Marc DeLeonibus | QuotePie

Marc DeLeonibus is the Founder and CEO of QuotePie and a Graduate of the Virginia Tech, Pamplin College of Business B.S. Finance. Before starting QuotePie in December 2013 he spent over 4.5 years in the commercial insurance industry on the broker side.  During that time Marc realized that the process that a business has to go through to buy insurance for their business was terribly inefficient and confusing. Marc knew that this process could be drastically improved, and that is how QuotePie came to be.

Startup Soirée Podcast Episode No. 002 | Lee Morton | Clickspark | Mozell

Owner and Chief Storyteller at Clickspark & Mozell. Winner of international competitions, featured expert in Baltimore Bride magazine, and awarded #1 wedding cinematographer in the DC/MD/VA market. Regularly speaks at local colleges and universities. Leads a passionate and collaborative team of 4 associate cinematographers and editors. Dreamer and creative at heart inspired by family, strong coffee, and great stories.

Startup Soirée Podcast Episode No. 003 | Max Sobol | Idea Evolver

Max is "Passionate about startups: getting them built, staffed, supported, optimized, growing and then some. He is a twenty year industry veteran and progressive thinker with extensive experience leading Internet technology companies from startup mode to more efficient and profitable operations.”

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Show Notes, Extras and Add-Ons

Alright homies, you get the idea, here are the rest of the details. You can SUBSCRIBE to our podcast currently in the iTunes store or by using that fresh little Podcast app Apple graciously places amongst your IOS devices out there. We'll also be live on Stitcher, BB and the other major Podcasting platforms soon. 

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You can also find a secondary blog on www.startup-soiree.com that our podcasts will publish to called, wait for it, wait for it, Podcast! There you'll also be able to check out any show notes or cool tools we refer to in each episode as well as all of the pertinent contact info for our wicked awesome guests.

SUBSCRIBE, Don't Make Me Yell!

When you SUBSCRIBE you do a ton for our efforts when you take a moment to go and leave us a REVIEW you make a unicorn smile, a baby laugh and the stars twinkle. How's that for ROI? No seriously, if you like what you hear let us know!. If you have questions you want asked, let us know! If you wanna get on this thang and chat, you get it right?

Alright folks, until next time...

Follow me @PatrickRife for Info, Hugs and PhotoBooths...



Action vs Inaction: Find Your Tribe

Action vs Inaction: Find Your Tribe

My Tribe?

Your Tribe! Yes, you heard right homie! You’ve got a tribe, and they’re just waiting to love on you. This is one of the things I most love about being a business man right now! Without this built in “support system” I don’t think I’d be having as much fun. 

Wait, wait, I know what your thinking. But how do I get with this so called Tribe of mine? Well, you can start by figuring out who whey might be and more importantly what you could say to them. I know it sounds a little confusing but stick with me here. Once we get this under wraps we can figure out where they hang out!

Tribeswomen (and men, too!)

Here’s the thing. We’re all in pursuit of communication. Whether we admit it or not, most people you walk by on the street each day are raring for some posi-vibes; they just forgot how to do it. Or they’re overthinking it. We’re human. We crave interaction. We seek out communities of like-minded individuals. They make us feel comfy. Feeling comfy is good!

Also people really do have more fun when they’re talking about something they’re interested in. Add in a second homie who also gets stoked about the same/similar subject, and... Voila! Tribe of Two! Say it again, TRIBE OF TWO! 

Danger! Watch Yourself! Danger! Show Me What Your Working With!

Now that you’ve gotten a tribe of two, the rest is easy right? All you have to do is turn up the effort and implement a system, or two. This is the spot that sometimes gets sticky. You start saying to yourself well if I could talk about “blah blah blah" to this type of person, then I could talk about “gah gah gah” to these people, and then I’ll have four people in my tribe right? Well…..not exactly.

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Reason being those four people actually belong to two Different Segments of your Tribe. Their dialects are a little different. This is where having a firm grasp of segmentation comes in handy. I know it seems like it makes sense; that they really have many commonalities tying them together but really they don’t. What’s more, the further you get into your Tribe Build the more apparent this will become. 

Let Me Just Segment This Right Here...

It’s not that those two other Tribesman aren't valuable, it’s just that you’re putting the cart before the horse. The best advice I can give when you start to take Action vs Inaction in regards to building your Tribe is to stay focused on the first segment of your Tribe until you know them inside and out; to the moon and back. Then and only then, can you bring into focus the next segment of your Tribe. And then apply that same laser focus. Now rinse and repeat. Look at you, you’re a market segmentation ninja with robust tribe growth. Huzzah!

Who Dat | Potential Clients, Influencers and Fans Oh My!

Why the deep dive on understanding each segment? The thing about Tribes is that they aren’t necessarily filled with people who’ll be buying your product tomorrow. A good tribe is made up of all different types of people in many different stages of the “sales funnel.” Heck, sometimes they’ll never even make it into your sales funnel but that doesn’t mean they can’t play a critical role in your community; and perhaps more importantly helping your leads find their way through the funnel. 

When it comes to filling and hybridizing your sales funnel, both Influencers and fans will play as critical a role as the people lining up to buy your products or hire your services! Why? Because people like to have their ideas vetted by their peers, friends, family and influencers. It’s called peer pressure; which has a negative connotation (thanks McGruff) so instead we’ll call it peer influence. 

Peer influence is the reason we hire advisors and wedding planners. Bring our friends clothes shopping and ask Mom and Dad for their advice. When we have others helping us confirm we’re making a good decision we feel better about that decision. Mmm hmm, thanks Mom. 

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Feeling comfy is good: Don’t worry about the “Other Guy.” 

There’s a million people out there and some of them, quite frankly, only want you! Feels good right? See here’s the thing, that old adage that competition is good? Well, it turns out that’s actually quite true. You see when it comes to making purchasing decisions, and when I say purchasing I don’t necessarily just mean a dollar transaction, having options is GOOD!

Without options your potential Tribe will have nothing to compare you against. Nothing to show them exactly Why your company/offering/product/nursery rhyme is better (read different [read unique]) than the other options.

When we choose a tv show from the guide, we’re “buying into” one option over another. When you choose one way to drive to work over another, you're “buying into” that path to work. Why? For one very simple reason. You prefer it. Easy, right? I know, crazy. 

So here's the rub. The same thing is true of similar “products” in your industry too. Wether you’re selling Inspirational Speaking, E-Books or high performing Landing Pages, some segment of that potential Tribe is going to like you better than everyone else just because you are you.

That’s the beautiful thing about the autonomy that the interwebz has provided. We’re now allowed to choose between a wide variety of options for EVERYTHING and there are people out there waiting to choose us...just because we’re us. Let it sit....

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Always and Forever. In good times and in bad. Refill that funnel, now your acting Rad.

Alright, I know I've hit you with a lot. But I've saved the absolute best news for last. When your message and work match what you're excited about, the above Tribe building campaign will, after putting in requisite work, begin to feel effortless. Before long segmenting and understanding your Tribe will be as easy as pie. Don't believe me? Ask my Tribe.


Don't forget to check out some of the other articles in the Action vs. Inaction series on Email Marketing, Turning Off The Naysayer and Getting Started!

Follow Me on Twitter @PatrickRife


Lean, Mean Cash Flow Machine

Nicolas China

Lean, Mean Cash Flow Machine: Startup On A Shoestring - Part 3 of 6

REVENUE IS VANITY. MARGIN IS SANITY. CASH IS KING!

Truer words have never been spoken.  My Dad, a lifelong entrepreneur used to kick around the above phrase like it was going out of style (and my guess is that he probably still does, I just don’t see him every day to hear it!) Heck, he even had signs made with these affirmations written in big, bold letters.

Rick China and Nicolas China

As I blaze my own entrepreneurial trail, I want to slip in a quick "thanks" to my Old Man. He is my mentor and sounding board, and without him I don't think my path would have been the same.

My third tip in 5 Tips To Starting A Business On A Shoestring Budget is: “Turn your company into a lean, mean cash flow machine.”

So back to it...

Revenue is vanity. Margin is sanity. Cash is king!

Revenue, without cash flow, is simply that: vanity. Although so many people in the business world measure success in terms of revenue, you would be remiss to think simply more revenue translates to more cash. What if you sold $100 worth of straw? Sounds good right? Not if it cost you $110! Context is key!

Profit margin can be deceiving, too. Say this time you sold $100 worth of sticks, and now your cost is only $50. A 50% profit margin! Awesome, right!? Well, sort of…but what happens if your customer waits to pay you for 6 months? That means that there is still no money (read: CASH) to pay the bills!

Cash is king. Cash is king! CASH IS KING!

Cash flow is the reality of your business. On the simplest level, cash flow is the movement of money coming into your business less the money going out of your business. It is a more dynamic measurable than the other two because it factors in the timing of the movement of the money. 

This time, you sold $100 worth of bricks, with a cost of $50. You then negotiated terms with your "brick guy" to pay him in 30 days. Meanwhile, you deliver the bricks to your customer, who pays upon receipt. Now you have $100 cash in hand, with 30 days left to pay your $50 invoice. Now go sell more bricks, continue to bring in cash faster than it goes out, and create more and more runway for your business. Soon enough you'll have enough runway to take off!

Companies that cash flow positive on a regular basis have the capacity to reinvest and spark growth. Companies that don’t, can’t.

Now it’s time for you to get lean.

If you’re truly launching your startup on a shoestring budget, you need to prioritize. Big time.

What is important? Where do you make your money? What is your focus? Are you focused on the right thing?

Asking yourself these questions will help you to avoid “spinning your wheels”. If you can be clear and concise about your goals, you’ll be surprised how clear and concise your decisions, and thus, actions will become thereafter.

A lack of focus typically ends with a lack of accomplishment. Without a plan, money will get wasted on the wrong things. So spend effectively and efficiently.

It goes without saying (hopefully) that cushy leather chairs, waterfront views, and a company leased Mercedes are out of the question (for now)!

Your team needs to be lean, too.

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At the early stages, find people with multiple skills who can wear various hats. Find an office manager with graphic design skills, an assistant who has a bookkeeping background, or a manager who happens to double as the office handy man. You get the point. Utilize any and all skill sets!

There is a time that this will change and specialization will be key, but agility and flexibility within your team is key in the beginning.

And don’t forget to be mean!

You don’t actually have to be “mean” like a bully, haha. Think: Tenacious and Persistent.

Make sure that your company can sustain a high level of effort and production to drive sales and execute work. But a lot of startups fail to put the same emphasis on collecting money owed. This is where cash flow comes back into play.

If you can’t collect the cash to pay your bills and reinvest for growth, you will fail.

At the end of the day, if you sell a lot, execute a lot, and put more money into your business than it spends on a regular basis, you’ll be just fine.

Don’t forget though, it’s all about timing!

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Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks! 


This article, Lean, Mean Cash Flow Machine is part three of my six part Startup On A Shoestring series. 

Part one, 5 Tips To Starting A Business On A Shoestring Budget can be found HERE.

Part two, Blood, Sweat and Tears can be found HERE.

Part four, Master Social FREE-dia can be found HERE.

Part five, Lean Startup Founders: The MacGyvers of Business can be found HERE.

Part six, The Startup Scene Is The New Wild West. Be A Gunslinger can be found HERE.

For more tips, follow Nicolas China on Twitter @Nico_C7.

Nicolas China is co-founder and owner of Pixilated (@PixilatedPhoto) & Startup Soiree (@StartupSoiree).

Blood, Sweat and Tears

Nicolas China

Blood, Sweat and Tears: Startup On A Shoestring - Part 2 of 6

For your startup business to survive, you need to give it everything you’ve got.  Let me reiterate… Everything. You've. Got.

My first and most important tip in 5 Tips To Starting A Business On A Shoestring Budget is:  “Pour blood, sweat and tears into it.”

Starting a business can be daunting and isn’t for the faint of heart, but if you can muster up the courage to dive in to entrepreneurship, you’d better do so head first! And if you’re bootstrapping, you’re business will not survive without blood, sweat and tears.

Blood is thicker than water.

Your support system is integral throughout the life of your business, but it’s completely essential for survival in the early stages of launching your business. Whether it’s your family or a tight-knit group of friends, make sure everyone is on board.

Let them know your goals. Talk about your aspirations and ideas. The people who love you are the ones who will support you. They’ll have your back through thick and thin. These people want you to succeed as much as you do (or in my Mom’s case, even more!)

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Most importantly, your close friends and family will give you a sounding board. So if you have a strong support system in place already, heed their advice! It will help you “see the forest for the trees”.

No goal was ever met without a little sweat.

This one seems a little obvious, but I’ll say it nonetheless. Without action and effort, nothing will happen! Acting with a purpose and giving your business 100% effort all the time is not easy, but it is crucial. 

Entrepreneur Mark Cuban says, “Sweat equity is the most valuable equity there is. Know your business and industry better than anyone else in the world. Love what you do or don’t do it.”

Not only will constant action and effort propel your startup, you’ll also find that you’ll gain irreplaceable experience along the way. Learn the game, practice the game, and then master the game. Never quit.

A tear is made up of 1% water and 99% feelings.

Passion is immeasurable. It’s a feeling.  A fire that burns deep. 

Although you can’t quantify it, it is absolutely necessary. If you don’t love what you’re doing or the direction that you’re headed, stop now! Refocus. Figure out what motivates you and ride the wave.

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For true success, you must love what you do. Not just what you do in business, but in totality.

Go ahead! Pour blood sweat and tears into it!

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Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks!

  

This article, Blood, Sweat and Tears is part two of my six part Startup On A Shoestring series. 

Part one, 5 Tips To Starting A Business On A Shoestring Budget can be found HERE.

Part three, Lean, Mean Cash Flow Machine can be found HERE.

Part four, Master Social FREE-dia can be found HERE.

Part five, Lean Startup Founders: The MacGyvers of Business can be found HERE.

Part six, The Startup Scene Is The New Wild West. Be A Gunslinger can be found HERE.

For more tips, follow Nicolas China on Twitter @Nico_C7.

Nicolas China is Co-founder and owner of Pixilated (@PixilatedPhoto) & Startup Soiree (@StartupSoiree).

5 Tips To Starting A Business On A Shoestring Budget

Nic China

Startup On A Shoestring - Part 1 of 6

The Art of Bootstrapping: Own Everything. Owe Nothing.

Are you trying to launch the next big thing? Think you can’t afford it? You’re probably wrong. You just haven’t learned how to bootstrap yet.  

Bootstrapping your business simply means financing your company’s implementation and growth without the assistance of others.

It’s not easy, but there are 2 major advantages. It allows you to keep full control of your startup, and keeps you out of debt from day one. Bootstrapping is one of the cornerstones of The American Dream.

Master the art of bootstrapping and you’ll rely on no one. Trust me, I’ve done it.

So here we go…let’s do this thing on the cheap!

Tip #1: Pour blood, sweat and tears into it.

If you want to thrive as an entrepreneur, you have to work your ass off. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times, but there’s a reason for that. It’s because it’s true! Ask any successful founder and they will tell you that drive and persistence are essential to your startup’s success.

Whether you’ve got $100 or $100,000, without good ol’ fashion hard work, you’ll never make it. So get to the grind!

Tip #2: Turn your company into a lean, mean cash flow machine.

When you’re bootstrapping, there’s no room for “fluff”. Every cent is precious, so make sure you spend wisely. Plan accordingly and figure out exactly what your necessary expenses are; then cut everything else.

Your team needs to be lean too. At the early stages, the most effective teams are made up of individuals capable of wearing multiple hats. Always adapt and never stop tweaking.  

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Tip #3: Become a master of social free-dia.

Social media is King…at least for now. So don’t miss out! It’s a great way to build a reputation, create a following, and test ideas before bringing them to fruition.

The possibilities are endless…but here are just a few ideas:

  • Crowd source feedback on Facebook to avoid costly mistakes and potential “flops”.
  • Convert client testimonials into tweets.
  • Build relevant pin boards that link to your robust blog content.
  • Instagram industry specific memes.

Tip #4: Stay clever with your resources.

What do you already have at your disposal? Probably more than you even realize.

Your cousin is a graphic designer? Free logo. Your old roommate is a CPA? Free tax prep. Your neighbor has a pickup truck? Free fleet. You get the point. We all have access to different people, assets and skills. No matter what yours are, be sure to utilize and maximize!

On another note, the amount of free technology, apps and other web-based tools makes things easier than ever before. Need to figure out how to do something? Google it. The internet will bombard you with websites, videos, tools, information and the like. Soak it in!

Tip #5: Barter like it’s the fuckin’ Wild West.

What value do you bring to the table? Do people want your services? Do they need your product?  

If you need something, then find an angle and trade for it. If you have a product, skill or service at your disposal, use it to trade other businesses for their products, skills or services that you need. Make sure it works for both parties, but don’t be afraid to ask and offer.

You’d be surprised how many people are in your shoes and would rather trade than spend!

Go ahead! Pick yourself up by your bootstraps and get started!

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 Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks! 


This article is part one of my six part Startup On A Shoestring series. 

Part 2, Blood, Sweat and Tears can be found HERE.

Part 3, Lean, Mean Cash Flow Machine can be found HERE.

Part 4, Master Social FREE-dia can be found HERE.

Part 5, Lean Startup Founders: The MacGyvers of Business can be found HERE.

Part 6, The Startup Scene Is The New Wild West. Be A Gunslinger can be found HERE.


For more tips, follow Nicolas China on Twitter @Nico_C7.

Nicolas China is co-founder of Pixilated (@PixilatedPhoto) & Startup Soiree (@StartUpSoiree).


If you liked this article, try this one: Top 10 Tips For Startups


Introducing the Startup Soiree Blog. And the people behind it.

The Startup Soiree Team: Nic China, Jes Gignac, Rachel Robinson & Patrick Rife (left to right)

The driving forces behind Startup Soiree: Community, Entrepreneurship, and Fun.

What is Startup Soiree all about?

Community. At it's most basic level community is about creating an environment that benefits all of it's members. This is the central concept of Startup Soiree. A community meeting to celebrate successes, harness our collective knowledge, and build a vision for the future; all while having a blast!

Entrepreneurship. A title reserved for visionaries, creators and inventors. Entrepreneurs have a knack for finding solutions, while creating value in a place where before there was nothing. Have you created something? Started a movement?  

Fun. One of the things that makes us so passionate about Entrepreneurship is how much FUN we have! Interesting ideas come from having fun. Smiling stimulates the brain, shakes off the cobwebs, gets the blood flowing, and the conversations going.

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What are we going to talk about on the Startup Soiree Blog?

The Startup Soiree blog will feature columns written by the primary Soiree-ists, interviews with entrepreneurs in our community and guest posts from other Founders about their personal hustle.

We'll be profiling great businesses, the innovators in our community, and highlighting where we are headed.

Who is Startup Soiree?

Startup Soiree is masterminded by five individuals from different backgrounds, with diverse areas of expertise.  One common trait: the entrepreneurial spirit.

Without further ado, the founders of Startup Soiree:

Nicolas China, Co-Founder & Owner of Pixilated

Nicolas China is a young Baltimore entrepreneur with a knack for the creative side of developing and growing a business.

His passions are learning, creating, innovating...and all things Ravens and Orioles.  Dad of two boys, Nico and Luca.

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Rachel Robinson, Co-Owner of Intrinsic Events

Rachel Robinson is an event management extraordinaire whose passion is to help individuals achieve their goals through events.

When she isn't spending time building an empire with her business partner, you can find her on the water with a cocktail in her hometown of Annapolis, MD.

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Patrick Rife, Co-Founder & Owner of Pixilated

Patrick Rife is a Baltimore dude fiercely dedicated to growing business, connecting with like-minded individuals, and working to make his city a better place.

In downtime, he can be found making music, reading marketing blogs, and hanging out with his wife and two boys, Emmett and Cassius.

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Jessica Gignac, Co-Owner of Intrinsic Events

Jessica Gignac thrives the thrill of the creative process that goes into building events for success.

Independent and introverted at heart, when she isn't producing amazing events, she is on a never ending quest for her next great laugh, adventure and dirty martini. 

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