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7 Facebook groups that all entrepreneurs should join

(ENTREPRENEUR) Building a business is hard to do, especially alone. Check out these seven Facebook communities to keep you encouraged and active.

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Entrepreneur-ing ain’t easy

Being entrepreneurs of any kind if hard. I don’t care if you are running your own esty shop or a start up that will soon take over the world. The only real way to make your little seed of a business grow is to network, ask questions, fail, try again and market the hell out of whatever you are trying to do.

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These are the groups that I found the most valuable with all of the key ingredients for being an entrepreneur. I’ve let you know what they say about their own groups and then I’ve added my thoughts as well.

Coffee With Dan

Theirs: “The nutshell version is that [Coffee With Dan] is a place for entrepreneurs who want to get shit done, have more fun, make more profit all while simply BEING THEMSELVES — without being pitched to left/right/centre, being fed crap about ‘the universe’ and understand the value of DOING THE WORK to GET SHIT DONE”

Mine:
Coffee with Dan has been mentioned on multiple sites for many years as one of the top groups to join if you are an entrepreneur. As you can see in their mission statement “The nutshell version is its a place for entrepreneurs who want to get shit done.” That the hustle is real and places are needed where entrepreneurs can share ideas, get social and get shit done!

Freedom Hackers Mastermind

Theirs: “I created [Freedom Hackers Mastermind] so like-minded entrepreneurs can help and support each other, ask questions, build relationships and celebrate each other’s win in business. Let’s help each other reach freedom!”

Mine:
Being a entrepreneur requires so much of one person that sometimes being one person is not enough. At Freedom Hackers Mastermind, you can tell building relationships is king!

Mastermind of Empowered Entrepreneurs

Theirs: “Join this elite Mastermind of Empowered Entrepreneurs. Together we can:
1. Share success strategies
2. Network
3. Create Joint alliances
4. Share marketing tips
5. Give referrals
It is often said that you only need an alliance of 4-6 people to create the synergy needed that will take your business to new levels. What can we do with focus, intention and a commitment to helping each other succeed? Please join if you want to help others create the life and business of their dreams.”

Mine: Sharing is caring right? Damn Straight! At Mastermind of Empowered Entrepreneurs, you share, you care, you become a billionaire (hopefully).

Straight Up Entrepreneurs

Theirs: “[Straight Up Entrepreneurs] is a community of like-minded entrepreneurs minus the fluff. Where real-talking, straight-shooting, no-bsing, tell- it-like-it-is, anti-flowery hustlers share insights, tips and strategy to go straight up^.”

Mine: No one likes bs. Especially when you’re an entrepreneur and time is money. Here you get straight answers to hard questions. No fuss, no muss.

SharkTankEntrepreneurs

Theirs: “Welcome to our little corner of the internet. Entrepreneurial Exchange is a group founded by Mark Burginger, who appeared on ABC Shark Tank in 2010 with Qubits. He created this FB space for entrepreneurs who own and operate their own business. As a group you can share business tips, comments and advice with each other in a professional and polite manner. Joining the group is easy and it is open to the public. Click to request membership and we will review your profile. Not every application is approved. We are interested in Entrepreneurs, Investors, Reporters, Bloggers and anyone with a passion for building a business from the ground up. Read the Rules of the forum as written by Julie Stortz Busha who appeared on Shark Tank with Slawsa.”

Mine: Everyone knows Shark Tank, but not everyone knows a VC or gets to be grilled by one. In Shark Tank Entrepreneurs, the group is filled with Shark Tank alum and others who are happy to answer questions for those who have yet to hit a VC.

creativescorner

Theirs: “This [creativescorner] community is all about providing creative support and guidance for the modern digital small business owner. Here, you can ask questions, get suggestions, make special announcements, reach out for guidance and meet new incredible people just like you making lists and taking names in the digital world of business and design.”

Mine:
Being creative is imperative to the success of any entrepreneur. You can’t just throw your hands up in the air when something doesn’t work, you gotta use all of those creative juices and find a new way. At Creatives Corner you can ask for guidance and get different perspectives that will get you back on track.

The Millennial Entrepreneur Community

Theirs: “The Millennial Entrepreneur Community is a place for aspiring, established, and rookie entrepreneurs to connect, collaborate, and share strategies and projects.
The group is brought to you by Arne Giske, host of The Millennial Entrepreneur Podcast. You can listen to the podcast at themillennialentrepreneur.com”

Mine:
Mixing OG entrepreneurs and rookies is like mixing rum and coke. It’s a good mix for everyone involved. At Millennial Entrepreneur Community, noobs can ask the vets for help and foster a sense of community.

#EntrepreneursOnFacebook

Pam Garner is a Staff Writer for The American Genius with a bachelor's degree from the University of Texas, currently pursuing her master's degree in graphic and web design. Pam is a multi-disciplined creative who hopes to one day actually finish her book on all of her crazy adventures.

Business Entrepreneur

What’s the difference between an accelerator and an incubator program?

(ENTREPRENEUR) When considering your options for growing your startup, do you know how an accelerator differs from an incubator? The differences are bigger than many realize…

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There are now more options than ever when it comes to applying to as well as choosing the best startup accelerator or incubator.

For those of you who may be new to the startup world (welcome!), I’ve compiled some helpful information to determine the difference between an accelerator and incubator, and which one might be best for your company.

Yes, all programs tout value to burgenoning businesses such as business plan assistance, introduction to other founders and mentors, and most importantly, guidance on fundraising to VCs and angels. But what’s the difference? Here’s the lowdown:

Incubators:

Incubators are built specifically for founders that are at the initial stages of starting their companies and don’t have set program timelines.

Unlike accelerators, incubators operate on a less structured time schedule with less programming and resources, and it’s not uncommon for a company in an incubator program to last for several months or even years.

Incubators typically offer their portfolio companies free office space, business plan advice, and mentorship.

The incubator may offer assistance in introducing your company to potential investors, but it’s not always the main purpose of the program (whereas the majority of accelerators have “demo days” where founders specifically pitch to potential investors).

Incubators are especially popular in local economies and can be run by organizations like non-profits, civic organizations, co-working spaces, and universities. Since incubators have less of a time requirement and offer less resources, you’ll only need to commit to a small amount of equity, often around 1%.

Accelerators:

Accelerators are more focused, time-intensive structured programs for companies with a proof of concept/minimum viable product (MVP) and market validation.

Accelerators do just that: accelerate company growth for startups with proven potential to exit (either eventually sell or go public). Because of this, accelerator interview processes are typically extensive and competitive.

Most programs can last anywhere from 10 weeks to 3-4 months. With many top accelerators, you’ll be expected to move to the city where it’s hosted and spend 40+ hours a week minimum in their dedicated coworking space, and several accelerators offer housing stipends to make the move easier.

These programs typically conclude with a demo day to pitch your product to a variety of community leaders, angel, and institutional investors.

Many accelerators are industry-agnostic, but some specialize in specific industries such as The Brandery or Comcast LIFT Labs.

Accelerators offer exclusive access to investors, web hosting credits, other perks, and special access to program mentors as well as program alumni.

Because of this, the equity required is often somewhere in the range from 3% to 6%.

Y Combinator, one of the most prestigious accelerators in Silicon Valley, invests $150,000 in each startup in addition to its program for a 7% equity stake.

Overall, incubators and accelerators can offer extensive value for founders, but make sure to research carefully when choosing a program. Next up, we’ll talk about choosing the best accelerator for your company and founding team, so stay tuned!

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Business Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs: You’re unemployable in your own company, must define your role

(ENTREPRENEURS) Once you’ve built a successful business, it’s time to reexamine your role and determine where you fit in best.

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In my experience, most entrepreneurs are “accidental entrepreneurs.” They happened to be good at something, or they had a unique one-time opportunity to provide a product or service to the market. Then years later, they wake up one day and realize that they’re running a big business.

As an entrepreneur, one of the unintended consequences of building a business is that you become essentially unemployable within your own organization. After living the life of freedom, flexibility and responsibility of being a business owner, it’s difficult to go back to a “nine-to-five” job. This is why many entrepreneurs don’t enjoy staying with their businesses after they’ve sold to other organizations. Within months, they are frustrated that they’re no longer in control and the new owners are (in their opinion) making poor choices.

I see many situations where entrepreneurs are bad employees in their own organization. In fact, they may be the worst team members in the organization by having inconsistent schedules or poor communication skills and/or by inserting themselves into areas that aren’t useful. They can also have too much freedom and flexibility. And while most entrepreneurs insist on clearly defined roles, expectations and goals for all of their employees, they don’t always take the time to define their own roles, expectations and goals.

So why do entrepreneurs become bad employees?

I believe that it’s because they don’t have someone holding them accountable. Think about it: Who do they report to? They’re the owners. Part of the definition of “owner” is being accountable for everything but not accountable to anyone. Having a board of directors, a peer group or a business coach can provide some accountability for them, but another solution is to clarify their roles in the company and then abide by those definitions.

If you find yourself “unemployable” in your business, it’s time to define your role. It starts with outlining your main focus. Do you concentrate more on day-to-day execution or strategic, long-term decisions? Do you consider yourself an owner-operator or an investor?

Most entrepreneurs start as an owner-operator and put in countless hours of sweat equity doing whatever needs to be done to build the business. But over time they reinvest earnings in the business and hire a management team so they can step back and take on a more strategic role. Sometimes it’s not clear when the entrepreneur makes that transition, which can lead to challenges for the entire team.

Focus: Strategic Overview

If your main role is in dealing with long-term, strategic decisions, then it’s important for you to communicate that to the team. Clearly delegate tactical roles and responsibilities to the leadership team.

I’ve seen many instances where owners do more harm than good by haphazardly injecting themselves into tactical decisions that should be handled by the leadership team. Instead of jumping in when they see something they disagree with, I encourage owners to actively “coach” their leadership team to be better leaders. The approach of micromanaging every decision of others will frustrate everyone and lead to an underperforming organization.

I have one client that decided his role was to build strategic relationships and work on a new service offering. He was confident that his leadership team could handle the day-to-day operations of the business. Over time he discovered that being in the office every day was actually a distraction for him and his team. So, he moved his office out of the building.

To maintain his ownership responsibilities to the company, he scheduled one afternoon a week to physically be in the office. Team members knew they could schedule time with him during that weekly window when he temporarily set up office space in a conference room. Not having a permanent office in the building also sent a message to the team that he was not responsible for day-to-day decisions. Sometimes not having an office in the building is better than the team seeing the owner’s office empty on a regular basis.

Focus: Day-to-Day Execution

If you decide that your role is in the day-to-day execution of the business, then clearly define your role in the same way you would define any other team member role. Are you in charge of marketing? Sales? Finance? Operations? Technology? R&D? Or, some combination of multiple roles? Take the time to outline your responsibilities and communicate them to the team.

Just as you define your role, also define what you are NOT going to do and who is responsible for those areas. After all, sectioning off some tactical work does not abdicate you from long-term decision-making. You must set aside time to make the long-term, strategic decisions of the company.

Being an entrepreneur sounds glamorous to those that haven’t done it, but ultimately, the owner is accountable for everything that happens in their organization. It can be quite sobering. And while some entrepreneurs have a delusional belief that they can do everything in a company, it’s not a path to long-term success.

All entrepreneurs have to decide what their role should be in their organization – even if it means that they’re contributing to their “unemployable” status.

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Business Entrepreneur

7 books every entrepreneur should read

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) You’ve heard it said, “do as I say and not as I do.” Read these books from authors who have figured out what works and what doesn’t when starting a business.

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If you’re thinking about leading a startup (or already do), but are not sure where to go, the internet is often the first place we look. Surely, you can find dozens of blogs, articles, stories, and opinionated editorials that can help give you something to think about.

However, there are tons and tons of great books that can help you think about what you need to get started, how you could benefit from changing your mindset, or address challenges you may confront as you begin your entrepreneurial journey. Take a look at the following 7 you may want to add to your bookshelf.

1. The Startup Checklist: 25 Steps to a Scalable, High-Growth Business
This text not only boasts a 5 start rating on Amazon, but offers what few books do – practical, tangible, down to earth advice. Where lots of books try to tell you a story, talk strategy, and share wins, author David Rose instead focuses on advice that assumes no prior experience – and breaks it down from the fundamentals.

2. Nail It then Scale It: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Creating and Managing Breakthrough Innovation
Nathan Furr and Paul Ahlstrom focus on creating a lean startup by offering a step-by-step process that focuses on nailing the product, saving time, and saving money. The first step is about testing assumptions about your business, and then adjusting to growing it (hence: Nail It and Scale It). Strong aspects of this book include a great theoretical foundation, and an easy to follow framework.

3. The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls that Can Sink a Startup
Wasserman’s strength here is that he focuses not only on the financial challenges, but identifies the human cost of bad relationships – ultimately how bad decisions at the inception of a start-up set the stage for its downfall. This book is a great tool to proactively avoid future legal challenges down the row, and also discusses the importance of getting it right from the start.

4. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
Horowitz writes about his experiences, taken from his blog, in a way that even inexperienced managers can touch and learn. The advice here really focuses on leading a start-up, and what lessons his experience has given him. Presented in a humorous, honest, and poignantly profane way.

5. The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company
Blank and Dorf here standout due the sheer mass of this text. A comprehensive volume at 573 pages, my favorite piece for new investors is a focus on valued metrics – leveraging data to fuel growth.

6. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
A personal favorite of mine, this book is recommended for entrepreneurs not because it’s focus on business, but as a reminder that those of you wanting to start up are people. You have limited resources to manage as a person, and will need to adjust your perspective on what you care about. This book is about changing your mindset to pick your battles and be more focused.

7. Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup
Bill Aulet starts with an approach that entrepreneurs can be taught, and breaks down the process into 24 steps, highlighting the role of focus, the challenges you may encounter, and the use of innovation. This text wins due to its practicality for new start-ups, and a specific method for creating new ventures. It also features a workbook as an additional, optional resource.

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