Monthly Archives: July 2015

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The Most Common Mistakes That Can destroy Your Startup

Entrepreneurs are ready to make many mistakes on their way to success but some of these mistakes can be avoided. If we look at failure realistically, we can see that it is inevitable and that it is valuable experience only if you learn something from it. Empty failures are just failures that have no meaning and that don’t lead to anything constructive.

Failures can teach you something only if you change the way you do things and the way you look at the reasons for your failures. If you do the same things all over again and you expect different results, you are simply wasting your time.

Determined entrepreneurs must pay attention to the details and must analyze their mistakes in order to prevent future ones. Here you can find seven things that definitely will damage your startup and that you should pay attention to and try to avoid.

Undeveloped idea. We all have great ideas but launching a business over an undeveloped concept can destroy your startup from the very beginning. If you fail to develop your ideas and don’t create execution plan with all the key steps that must be taken, you are more likely to fail.

Lack of clear plan. If you don’t have good action plan and a framework for your future course of action, you are most likely to fail in your venture. Entrepreneurs, who fail to plan, fail to execute and fail to complete even the first year of their startup. Don’t let your business go with the flow. If you are here to stay, then take control over the course and lead your company to the right direction.

Undefined target group. If you don’t have specific user in mind when you develop your product, you are more likely to fail in your venture. Undoubtedly, your product must be innovative and must provide solutions for existing problems. If you are unable to determine who your target customer is, you will be unable to develop good product that brings satisfaction to the consumer.

Bad hiring. The startup team is more important than many entrepreneurs think. Hiring the wrong people can harm your startup from the very beginning. Choose carefully who you decide to work with: from the co-founder through the developers and programmers to the marketers. Every single person of your team really matters for the success of a newly-created company.

Lack of determination. This is probably one of the most essential things for every entrepreneur: the determination, the drive that keeps you going when the road gets rocky. Entrepreneurs must be highly motivated and determined when they start their venture so they can overcome even the hardest obstacles and build strong foundations of their company.

Pick the wrong investor. Many investors require not just a big equity, but want to have active role in the management and decision making processes in the company. Make sure that you are not driven by desperation for money when you choose the investors you are willing to start working with. Accept it as a partnership, as a mentorship, as an opportunity to reach mutual interest not only as a way to get cash.

Concentrate only on profit. If you concentrate only on making money, you are more likely to fail to grow your company or to grow too fast and fail even faster. Profits will come when the time is right. Entrepreneurs should concentrate on the development of the product and building the company than on making money. Money will eventually come, when everything is right. I am not saying that you shouldn’t expect to earn money, just don’t turn it into the main goal of your venture.

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The One Question All Investors Ask: Why Did You Become an Entrepreneur?

Investors ask many questions about the startup but their main interest most of the time is concentrated on the personal traits of the co-founders. Investors need to see a potential in the entrepreneurs in order to believe in their startup ventures, this is why one of the most common questions that entrepreneurs get are aiming to determine their level of motivation and commitment. If you have a meeting with important investors or you just want to make that clear to yourself, ask yourself the question: Why did I become an entrepreneur?

Most of the people tend to concentrate on the reasons why NOT to start a business which will never help them become entrepreneurs. Take a look at the positive sides, the excitement of entrepreneurship and be ready to prove to yourself and to others why being an entrepreneur is a mission. Here you can find seven of the most common answers entrepreneurs give to this important question.

You want to make a difference. You are about to make a statement of your vision and deliver value to the market with your startup venture. You are the person who will create a great impact on many people’s lives – you will bring innovation, you will create jobs, you will become leader and mentor. You will create not only your own destiny, but will influence and improve the lives of many other people.

You will gain experience. Starting your own business in any stage of your life is very challenging and requires a lot of hard work and dedication. You are to learn many things the hard way, because the real game is nothing like what is explained in the books. You are about to gain a life-long experience, to learn valuable lessons and become more aware of the business world and its challenges.

You will improve your skills. In your startup venture you will develop impressive amount of skills and knowledge which can help you become better prepared for every situation and future outcomes of your startup venture. Your knowledge and skills will improve and you can discover many of your hidden talents.

You want to become more self-aware. By starting your own business you will discover many parts of your character which you didn’t even know existed. You will become aware of your strong sides and your weaknesses. You will determine the borders of your comfort zone and how you can push yourself beyond them in order to achieve your goals. Discovering your own personality is an ongoing process, which creates major impact in the personal and business development of a person.

You want to experiment more. As the owner of your startup, especially at the early stages of your business, you are able to experiment with every aspect of your work. The freedom to experiment with different approaches connected with the work process, marketing, management, company culture and so on will awaken your creative side and boost your productivity. Feeling the freedom of your decisions is what really matters in business.

You have many ideas and expect many more to come. Once you start working on the execution of your idea, many more ideas will start popping up in your mind. Often people say that entrepreneurship is addictive, but actually the case is that entrepreneurship is that exciting and creative that the flow of great ideas never seems to stop. You are about to expand your vision and your business horizon will look like a rich field of possibilities and opportunities waiting for you to embrace them.

You have the freedom to decide who to work with. You are the person who is calling the shots when it comes to choosing partners, employees, even investors. You are the one who creates the team behind your startup and this gives you the greatest opportunity ever – to create one cohesive and productive working environment.

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Time to Evaluate: Three Reasons to Update Your Business Plan

Entrepreneurs often overlook the importance of good business plan. This is very common mistake that first time entrepreneurs or people who believe that their business is still in very early stage to really need a thorough business plan make. When you pitch in front of investors, your business plan really matters. But once you have the business plan ready, it doesn’t mean that you should never touch it again. Here you can find three reasons that will give you the motivation to update your business plan right now.

The pitch. When entrepreneurs pitch in front of investors, it is important to ask for a feedback. Receiving valuable feedback from investors is great source of information. If you often receive feedback related with some missing or weak parts of your business plan, it is time to reevaluate it and update it.

New direction. Entrepreneurs often take the challenge to lead their companies into different direction or make significant changes. With every change in the core values of the startup, it is important to rethink your strategy and update your business plan in order to stay up-to-date and in sync with the recent changes.

Growth. It is great news, if your startup is growing, and probably you are embracing new opportunities, developing new products, providing new services or expanding your team. Whenever it is, if your startup is growing, the time has come for you to update your business plan.

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How to Increase Your Interpersonal Influence

Many people believe that the most important thing in business is “who you know”. This might to some extend be right, but there is definitely something more important and it is “who knows you”. When it comes to meeting new people, successful entrepreneurs rely entirely on networking, but the truly successful people know that getting connected is not the only thing that matters. They believe that the people with true interpersonal influence know how to make good impression and how to stay memorable in every occasion.

Your interpersonal influence can be the key indicator to the success of your startup. There are many things you can do in order to become more memorable in any meeting and event (even online!) and here you can find some useful tips on how to achieve that.

Be interested in the person in front of you

Often we go to events where every person in the room believes that they are there just to talk.  You can hear constant blabber all over the halls of the venue, filled with ambitious entrepreneurs, who believe they are the next big thing. Ambition is great, but when we talk about establishing strong connections, too self-centred people can be really annoying.

Many entrepreneurs are so eager to present their companies, to talk about their venture, idea or whatever they think is the most important topic in every event. Wrong! In order to stay memorable and people to remember who you are, you should be interested in your interlocutors. Ask questions, figure out what are the main needs of the people you are talking to, find out what they want and try to help them find solutions to their problems. People will remember the attention and will always try to find time for you one day when you need them.

Ask questions and stay focused

When you connect with a lot of people, you should be ready not only to ask questions, but to give answers as well. Good connections are founded not on small talk, but on real conversations. Don’t waste your time and the time of the others with pointless chatter – we all know that the venue is great, the food is delicious and that the crowd is awesome! I am not saying to be boring and uninterested in everything that is going on, just try to keep the conversation alive by focusing on the important questions that need answers.

You are to meet with many great people on every event that you attend. In order to stay focused and remember the names, startups and topics that you’ve discussed, you better rely on taking notes. Taking notes is a life-saver for all interpersonal influencers. There are many great apps and tools, which can help you to take notes very fast and very easy, and you can take advantage of this great opportunity.

Follow up

Great interpersonal influencers always follow up and get in touch again with their new connections. Find the time to send an email, to make a phone call or to even connect on social media with the people you’ve met. Be ready to get connected, but also expect people to connect with you as well. Find the time to answer to everyone, who gets in touch with you, and respond to their messages.

Being an interpersonal influencer is very time-consuming and demanding calling, but it is very valuable skill for people who are serious in making business and want to become great leaders.

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5 Traits of a Valuable Startup Employee

Attracting, hiring and keeping highly skilled and talented people as part of your startup is not such an easy job. It is difficult to find the right people, but it is even more difficult to keep them in your team as long as you can. Talented people need to be constantly motivated in order to stay engaged and to share the passion for your startup the same way as you do. As a startup owner you are probably working on a tight budget and your ability to financially encourage your employees is not that strong. But again, as an entrepreneur, you need to put your leadership skills in action in order to avoid micromanagement, to effectively delegate and to keep your team members engaged.

It is more likely to hire unexperienced people for your startup and there is nothing wrong about it. Actually, being able to develop the talent of your employees, will help you to create stronger relationships with your team members and will increase their commitment to the company. After they have worked hard to grow your startup, they will most likely appreciate every success of the company as much as you do.

Here you can find five things you should look for in your startup employees to make sure that they will stay true to your business and will be devoted to the work process.

Enthusiasm

The decision to join a startup carries big risks for many people. One of the most important questions that you need to ask your future employees is: Why do you want to be part of a startup? They may have different reasons: to gain experience, to learn more and to improve their skill set, to discover their personal entrepreneurial spirit and so on. Whatever their reasons are, the thing that really matters is how enthusiastic and motivated they feel about it.

Flexibility

Being part of a startup team is very challenging and time-consuming. Your team members must know that they will most likely have to sacrifice a lot of their personal time in order to fulfil the needs of one growing company. If your employees are not available and not willing to spare extra time, they probably will not make a good fit for your startup team.

Critical thinking

Your employees must be able to solve problems, look for solutions in unexpected places and have the ability to take critical decisions by themselves. You need to be able to inspire their inside entrepreneur (the so-called intrapreneur) in order to avoid micromanagement. If they don’t posses the skills of critical thinking and responsible decision making, they will not be able to face the challenges of being part of a growing startup, where everything is changing very fast.

Honesty, integrity and trustworthy

Honesty is very important for a successful team building and the ability to delegate responsibility to your employees must be inspired by your levels of trust that you have in them. They will be taking care of many important things in the company when you are busy with investor meetings, networking events and work-related trips, so you need to be able to fully trust your employees.

Devotion

As a startup owner, you will be facing many challenges, especially if you have tough competition. As your team is one of your biggest assets, you will have to be careful how loyal actually your team members are.

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Startup Istanbul Challenge is the Path to Success: Connected2.me Announces 4 Million Users

The global social network connected2.me has just announced that they have reached the impressive number of 4 million users. They are also rapidly growing on mobile by reaching over 515 thousand monthly active mobile users. Connected2.me is available for Android and iOS devices.

Based in Silicon Valley, the company is now planning a new product, targeting specifically the USA market. It is expected Connected2.me to have by the end of the year a revenue of 1 million Turkish lira.

The winning of the 1st Award of Startup Challenge at Startup Istanbul 2014 was a great success for Connected2.me and didn’t only secure investment from Dave McClure and 500 Startups, but also led to the relocation of the company’s headquarter to the Silicon Valley. Later in 2014, the company received515.000 USD  fund from several investors.

The success of Connected2.me once again proves the unlimited opportunities, which Startup Istanbul event brings to the talented entrepreneurs. If you want to register for the challenge, click here.

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How to hire your first startup employee

The time to expand your team has come and you are ready to make the investment of hiring your first full-time employee. Now is the moment to implement your HR skills in order to choose the right person for your startup and here you can find some useful tips to follow.

As your business is still in startup stage, it is very likely your budget to be relatively tight. You don’t want to waste your time and money by taking the risk of poor hiring, so the whole process of choosing the right candidate must be well-planned.

Identify your needs

Create a specific list of all the duties and responsibilities that will become part of the job description of your future employee. Knowing what to expect from the candidates will increase the chances to make the right choice form the first try.

Look for specific skills

Emphasize the technical, business and personal qualities that you look for in your ideal candidate. Create your own requirements for the perfect combination of skills that you need your employee to have and do not compromise with it.

Conduct competency-based  interview

Do not limit yourself with traditional interview questions. Test the skills and professionalism of your candidates by challenging them with work-related task or problem to solve. It is very successful way to outline their ability to work under stress and time-pressure, also to test their creativity and determination along with their competence.

Ask questions

Working for startup is challenging way to start or to continue one’s business career, that’s why you need to know the motives of your potential candidates: why they want to join a startup, how they can contribute to the business and how dedicated are they to the idea.

Trust your intuition

Trust your guts and make your decision based on the whole combination of requirements that you have set. Do not hesitate to offer paid trial period to your candidates. Once you see them in actual work environment you will be able to make your final decision.

Investors look for a “whole package” when they decide to fund or not certain business and the team is one of the factors they take under consideration. Choose carefully and don’t be afraid to take your time until you find your best candidate. Your startup’s future can depend on your decision, so do not compromise when you do your hiring.

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What does every startup-friendly city need?

Undoubtedly, when it comes to launching a startup, the place of establishment plays key role. The Silicon Valley has become byword for startup ventures and it has all the reasons for this. But many new places, not only in the USA, but also in Europe and Asia, have taken the attention of numerous startup enthusiasts, which raises the question what does a city need to become the next Silicon Valley or at least to get closer to it?

Many cities around the world are trying to evolve their global status and strengthen their economic positions and attracting startups, especially the tech ones, looks like one of the most successful moves to establishing and growing strong economy. Creating a startup ecosystem in a city is an ongoing process that requires investment not only in infrastructure and business environment but in people and education as well.

To understand what a city needs in order to attract more startups, we need to focus on what does a startup in general need to secure its success. The main purpose for every startup, besides sending a message and innovate, is to achieve financial stability and to become profitable. Startups often jump from the startup status to full-sized company after the moment they go public. So in order to be chosen by entrepreneurs, a city needs to offer IPO markets and a way for a company to go public. It seems like we start from the end to the beginning, but looking at the big picture is the best way to calculate future success and the possibility to complete the mission of the business venture.

Knowing from the beginning that there is a way to grow brings up more questions that require answers. Raising a capital through investment is fundamental for most of the startups, so it is important to know that in the city there is a big community of venture capitalist and angel investors that are ready to invest. With the purpose of attracting more startups the attention needs to be concentrated on improving the whole entrepreneurial ecosystem by attracting investors as well.

The success of Silicon Valley is unequivocal and the reasons are many, but the one that interests us now is the fact that there the startup network is really strong and one of its kind. In every business networking is fundamental, especially when it comes to innovation and generating new ideas. For a city to stay strong and be competitive with other Silicon Valley-like places is required to have strong network of entrepreneurs that can keep the feeling of cohesion.

No startup can survive and grow without the right employees. The hiring culture of a company is very important and the place where the business is situated has great impact on implementing this culture. It is essential for a startup to be able to find qualified, creative and talented people to hire, that’s why big cities with top universities and good educational programs are preferred, because it becomes easier for entrepreneurs to find the right employees.

Other important factors are the cost of living, infrastructure, transportation in the city. For example, a city that doesn’t offer free Wi-Fi automatically loses points. To become a center of tech startups, the Internet access must be like the access to water.

The organization and security of the business environment of the specific place also have great impact. In some leading cities that have all that it takes often the entrepreneurial ecosystem is not working well because the process of establishment of new company is too complicated, taxes are too high, bureaucracy is slowing the work down. The city and in general the whole country needs to have flexible politics when it comes to hiring foreigners, because the startup venture is believed to be a business that goes beyond borders.

Being a startup-friendly city brings more benefits, definitely has more pros than cons, but it requires a lot of investment and time. But it is definitely worth it.

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Time management tips for entrepreneurs

Every day has the same length but for some people time is never enough and others always manage to complete more than it seems possible. How exactly does it happen? As time is one of the most valuable assets we have, entrepreneurs often feel the pressure from the lack of it. Before you start reading books or taking lectures on time management, you need to realize that time in general differs from your own time in particular.

Why do you fail in your time management? We all have 24 hours per day and it is up to us how we use them. Time management is a skill that you need to develop particularly and personally according to your lifestyle and work essence.

Now we know that there is no specific recipe to follow, because business is not a piece of pie, but there are certain things that you can do to help you become the master of your own time.

Value your time

Before you handle something, you must know how valuable it is for you and how the poor management of it can affect your work performance. It is said that “Time is money” and we can easily see how this two elements of the business purpose mix together. Value your time and respect it. This will help you manage it better.

Plan

Never miss the opportunity to schedule your days and organize your tasks. Spend some time every day to plan what you have to do. Here you can put your personal preferences – write down your schedule whenever you like to – in the end of the day or in the morning, in the middle of the day or on weekends… It is up to you, as soon as you have everything in clear order, you are all set to go and save some time deciding what to start next.

Start with what is important

Decide what cannot wait and start with doing it as soon as you get to work. Again, it is very personal experience and it has to be devoted specifically to your business. It is very important to stay true to your personal style. Some of you can start with the e-mails if this is what really cannot wait, others can focus on working on the big project from the morning and leave the meetings for the afternoon.

Eliminate distractions

As part of your daily schedule you need to organize your time according to your duties. Try to eliminate everything that doesn’t require specific attention and leave it for the after work hours. Unnecessarily distractions are one of the biggest reasons for poor time management.

Spend time between tasks

Rushing creates the feeling of desperation when it comes to time management. This is why you have to be very careful how you switch between tasks. The overwhelming feeling of endless busyness is one of the reasons why you fail to manage your time in the right way. Give yourself time between tasks and you will have the opportunity to focus on the next task without feeling pressure.

Put realistic deadlines

Deadlines are the most common reasons to feel the pressure of time and when the right overview of the whole tasks is calculated wrong the inability to complete the planned work on time can lead you to desperation. Before you set yourself the deadlines, make sure that you are able to complete the work on time. Overall, avoid compromising the quality over time and the opposite – do not compromise the time over the quality. Find the balance in the golden middle.

Avoid procrastination

One of the biggest problems when it comes to time management for entrepreneurs is procrastination. It is one very sensitive matter that needs special attention and here you can find more about how you can eliminate it.

Create routines

Routines are great way to manage your time. They might be a little more difficult to create but definitely will pay off with great results. Find the model of time management which completely suits your business and daily schedule and work on creating the habits to follow this model.

Work out

Connect your body and mind to improve your work performance. Find some time for physical activity which will help you to recharge so you can insure more productive performance. Include half an hour per day for training and you will have clearer mind to organize your work tasks according to your time limits.

Do not panic when time is limited

Time mismanagement is the cause of a lot of pressure which can affect your work performance. When time is limited you need to be more focused, not the opposite. Do not get stuck in the loop of negative emotions and try to calm down. Once you reach your inner balance again it will be easier to find the solution for your problem and to use your shortened time as productive as possible.

Seek help when it is needed

Be ready to ask for help when you feel the time pressure. Rely on your team and do not hesitate to ask for help. Be careful not to destroy someone else’s time schedule so you can fulfil yours. It is team work and you have to respect the time of others too.

Rely on technology

Use the tools and apps which will help you manage your time in a better way. Organizing your schedule has never been easier and you are able to use the tech advantages of our millennium to improve your work performance.

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7 Things Smart Entrepreneurs Will Never Do

Being smart doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be great entrepreneur. In entrepreneurship, success doesn’t come only to those who are smart: they need to have many other important personal traits in order to build and grow profitable companies. There is difference between being smart and making smart decisions. Of course, there are smart people who often do not so smart things. So, to help you protect your startup venture and be more careful in your decision making processes, here you can find 7 things that smart entrepreneurs will never do.

Take decisions without thinking about the consequences. Smart people think about the consequences of their actions, which doesn’t mean that they don’t take risks – they just tend to take calculated risks and carefully judge every specific situation.

Think that they are always right. Smart people are aware that they might be mistaken. They are confident enough to stand behind their words and actions, but strong enough to admit when they are wrong and learn from their mistakes.

Always search the fault in other people. Smart people are able to realistically observe every situation and never blame other people for their failures or mistakes.

Surround themselves with unprofessional and/or toxic people. Smart people know how important their network is and never surround themselves with toxic people, constant complainers, unprofessionals, time-wasters. They basically avoid all types of personalities, which make the work process more stressful than it should be.

Focus on the wrong things. Smart people know how to prioritise and always manage to keep their focus on the most important things. They know how to delegate, how to avoid micromanaging and how to lead their team, so they can concentrate on their own important tasks.

Say YES when they think NO. Smart people are able to say NO when they mean it, because they know what is best for their companies and are not shy to stand for it.

Waste time: their own and the time of others. Smart people know that their biggest asset is time and respect that fact. They know how to organise their schedules in order to avoid procrastination and unproductive meetings.