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Productivity for Entrepreneurs During the Holiday Season

For entrepreneurs assiduously chasing every lead and working around the clock to launch their dream to conquer the world, the holiday season can be very frustrating. Emails and phone calls go unanswered as important contacts focus elsewhere until the after-effects of the festive season have worn off. This is a good opportunity for overloaded entrepreneurs to focus on the foundation of the business and to recharge themselves.

Explore your market.

Expect people to be distracted during the holiday season by family and celebrations. Instead of being frustrated, use this time to catch up on important work that often takes a back seat while you’re busy chasing your dream. This is a great time to conduct internet-based research to help you better understand the markets, customers, competitors and evolving technologies that will influence your plans. Include in this research learning as much as you can about the things that most interest your customers about the nature of the products and services you plan to offer. Try to find out where these prospects get the information they rely on to influence their decisions. This will help you to create an effective marketing and communications strategy when you are ready.

Make a plan.

Look ahead at the next twelve months and list every action or event that must occur in order to move your business forward to accomplish your goals. Prioritize these items and insert them into a project timeline format with deliverables, milestones, target dates, name of person responsible and dependencies between them. Include on this list key contacts and other third party resources that will be helpful to your plans. Time permitting; begin preparing the communications that you will use to reach these individuals. This planning work will help you to hit the ground running after the holidays and it eliminates the fog of confusion about what to focus on next.

Recharge your batteries.

You boost your creativity when you are having fun so the most important thing you can do during the holidays is take a break. Relax, take time off, rest, have fun and you’ll be amazed at your impressive creativity and problem-solving abilities when you’re ready to re-engage. Removing all of the clutter from your brain helps you to focus on what’s truly important. During the holidays, this happens to be your family and friends and your own sanity and well-being. There is no point worrying about all of the things that you cannot do during the holidays.

Simple Resources For Profits

The internet has opened the door to an endless amount of tools business owners can utilize to ensure their business grows. These resources are inexpensive and are also very easy for entrepreneurs to learn how to use them in the most effective way possible. The most valuable online resource available for businesses is social networks. Below are three reasons why joining a social network can result in business profits.

Worldwide Exposure: If you are actively participating in the various social networks offered on the internet you are expanding and adding diversity to your client base. Your messages are being sent to people from all corners of the planet, most of those whom are normally impossible to outreach to without the simplistic means of social networking. Unlike typical networking, there are no geographical boundaries, which will most definitely assist with the expansion of your business earnings.

Inexpensive Marketing: Social networking websites allow for businesses to grasp on to an incredible marketing tool that costs you time rather than money. The valuable time put into social networking will ultimately pay off. Through the powers of social networks, businesses are able to promote themselves to a wide array of people in a personable way. These messages being relayed to the network members not only market your company, but they also allow for a gain in website traffic as you can offer a link for readers to click on. Enticing messages with a discount code or a reason to click the link will create the best results.

Accessibility: Most entrepreneurs aren’t able to network face to face with others to the capacity of online social networks. The exposure of your company anytime of day anywhere in the world is a crucial component in the aid of aiming for an increased profit. Not only are you able to provide information to people who are tuned in to these networks 24/7, you are cutting the time spent on the face to face networking opportunities that are sometimes not even as effective. The interactivity element of social media gives users the more personable experience they’re looking for.

These are three reasons why the online resource of social networking can result in a boost in your company’s earnings. What were once used solely by college students for communicating are now your business’ best friends.

Ten Tools For Entrepreneurs

If you don’t have the inspiration of an interesting or unique idea you’re NOT an entrepreneur. All entrepreneurial endeavors start with an idea – to do/make something bigger, better, faster, more efficient, or brand-new that the world has never before seen. Once you have such an idea, do you know what to do with it? The following is a list of general tools you will almost certainly need to pursue your new career as an entrepreneur. You can expand on any of these items with the use of the online search engines:

1. Industry-specific Research Tools and Resources
Once you have your brainstorm you’ll need to find out if someone else has already had a similar one or if your idea looks like one the market is craving. The best way to find this out without spending a lot of cash is to delve into the various resources that are at your disposal. Certainly, online searches are the first place to look, but don’t discount books & magazines that you can find in your local library. A good, helpful librarian is invaluable in cases where you might stumble a little with your online search terms or keywords. A librarian can help you find the volumes with competitors/products data sources and demographic info. that you might otherwise have to subscribe or purchase on your own. Some of these resources that you can access for free at the local library can be very costly to access online. Believe it or not, not EVERYTHING is accessible online for free. Depending on your product/service idea, you may also want to look up government contracting info. to see if the government is already using your idea. If you still feel that you have the next best thing since sliced bread you may want to pay a patent or copyright service to confirm that it’s not already protected by someone else.

2. Money
At this point you have an idea and a direction. Now you need the most basic thing in an entrepreneur’s tool kit: MONEY. There are various resources for assistance with funding. However, without a network of contacts with ‘angel investors’ or venture capital funding sources, you will probably have to start looking closer to home. If your credit is good, credit cards and small-business loans are always an option. Many startups begin with money from family &/or friends. In many cases, depending on the field you are entering, grants can be available, especially if you qualify as a minority- or women-owned-business. In many cases, you may have to have already established a track record with your product or service, which is somewhat of a catch-22 when you’re trying to get started. In any case, you will need to perfect your ‘elevator pitch’ with modifications for friends/family vs. other types of investors. You have to stir up some interest in you and your idea(s) if you expect to get any kind of help no matter how great you think your idea is.

3. Skills
Aside from the necessary skills inherent in your chosen field, there are several skills that you will have to ‘get the hang of’ or master to be a successful entrepreneur. You may have some or all of them already; you may develop them by the ‘seat of your pants’, or; you may have to learn these skills as soon as possible or retain the ‘close up and personal’ intimate help from another person who will become like an appendage to you.

Public speaking and leadership skills can be acquired through group education. There are tips and techniques you can be taught to boost your understanding of how best to deal with people and present yourself, especially if you’re having trouble obtaining funding. This type of education will also help you with networking, which is an invaluable skill you will also have to develop, especially if you don’t already have much of a network. How are you going to share and promote your idea(s)/product(s)/service(s) without being able to talk to members of a network? Public speaking is one of the top five fears of people everywhere; in some cases, even more than the fear of dying. You can overcome that fear and you must to be a successful entrepreneur unless you have a partner who can speak for you.

Depending on the successful acceptance of your idea by the people who can help you make it happen, you will probably have to have or develop some selling/marketing skills. Removing any fear you may have of speaking in front of strangers is the essential first step. Selling and marketing are not the same and require different skills, but these can be learned if you’re not a natural salesman or marketing whiz.
There’s also a good chance you will be called on to perform some customer service after your product(s)/service(s) are put out there for all the world to comment on. In that case, you will not only need to know your product(s)/service(s) inside out, but you will have to display the customer rapport skills necessary to thrive in the world where most people follow the old adage, “The customer is always right.”, unless you have the funding to hire the best people to handle that for you.

4. Outside Services
I can’t stress enough the importance of a good mentor who is qualified and well-educated in your field. You should start the mentor acquisition process as soon as possible, and in many cases it may not cost you anything on the front end to get started. You may even be able to find a good mentor who just wants to help you succeed as he/she has already done that in their field. There are many forms of mentorship available and you should not be averse to spending what you can afford to acquire the services of a good mentor. Personally, I avoid those who self-proclaim themselves to be mentors or gurus – I want that label provided by others in the know – but that may make it a little more difficult to find a true mentor or guru. Look for references.

With that being said, you will almost certainly require good legal help specific to your field at some point in time. The sooner the better if you want to protect your idea(s) and your money if/when you’re considering investors or partners.

You will most likely also need some help with financial management, accounting and record-keeping.

Banking, whether online or bricks-and-mortar, will be necessary to process all those checks you’ll have coming in. But, while I advocate automated systems as much as possible, automatic banking systems can prove to be rather expensive in the long run and frequently as hard to get out of as health club memberships.

You may also need, depending on your idea(s) and direction, freelancers to help you realize you vision on the appropriate scale.

The right ‘outside services’ can help you profit and keep you out of trouble. Do your research and talk to your network. Look into mastermind groups in your area of interest/expertise, or start your own.

5. Product/Concept Development and Manufacturing
Whether your product is a physical one, such as a ‘better mouse trap’, or a virtual electronic product, such as an e-book, you will probably need some help in creating and producing the final prototype and then mass-producing it. Even with a new e-book, do you know how to set it up on a website? Do you know how to code your great idea? With physical products, the use of 3D printers has become a fast and convenient way to produce a prototype of most products or components, including those with moving parts. Is your product design an electronic device? Do you know what it would take to mass produce it in a manufacturing plant? What if you have come up with a new service that nobody’s ever thought of before. Your service could be the next Domino’s pizza. But it’s not likely to happen right away if you don’t know anything about franchising. Use your network and your industry-specific research tools and resources to find the people who can assist you in this area. If you’re putting a budget together to present to funding sources, you will probably need to take care of this area before you even start creating such presentations.

6. Office/Productivity
Now that you are on your way to creating a company, there are a number of tools you will need to make your company a viable, day-to-day efficient, productive entity. Even if you’ve started up your company in your garage, these are most of the tools you will need, some of which you may already have: Equipment; Computers, printers, copiers (&/or scanners) are all essential pieces of office equipment. If you are purchasing new, look for mainstream equipment that has a good warranty with on-site tech./repair service. You don’t want to be spending your valuable time tinkering with equipment problems. You also want to network everything together as much as possible while maintaining the highest security you can afford.

Communications; A versatile, reliable, expandable telephone system is an absolute necessity if you’re going to be anything more than a one-man, sole proprietor business. There are several good choices available for VOIP systems if your broadband service is fast with little or no latency, so you’re not tied to a land line even in a multi-person office. You will also want to invest in a good contact manager program (avoid proprietary programs that may be bundled with phone systems where possible) that can be shared among your staff members. ‘Smartphones’ are a necessity if you &/or your staff are going to be ‘in the field’ with any regularity.

Software; there may be industry- or field-specific software for your endeavor. You will also most likely need an ‘office suite’ of sorts for basic word-processing and spreadsheet work, and possibly presentation production. There are free office suites available in lieu of some paid suites with which you may already be familiar. You may also find a need for bookkeeping, project management and time management software, but these usually come with a tougher learning curve than you may be used to. Be sure to invest in a secure data backup system as well, whether Internet or cloud-based or through equipment at your location. Remember though, clouds don’t burn.

7. Marketing/Promotion/Sales/Reputation
Since you’re all set up as a ‘going concern’ now, with a product or service to peddle, how do you get the word out to potential buyers/clients/customers? Have you thought of a marketing plan? Who can help you with the marketing and automate it as much as possible? If you’re marketing is successful, who will tally the sales, call on customers, perform the service, etc. Online marketing has become very inexpensive compared to offline marketing, but they are both still necessary to ‘blitz’ the media and get your product(s) or service(s) ‘out there’ where people will be aware of them. Look into e-mail list managers and autoresponders if you’re going to mount an online campaign. The cheapest way (in money, not necessarily time) to get started marketing and testing is online, particularly with social media. If you aren’t as savvy at the various forms of social media then hire a firm that can take care of this for you. Do your research. Even if your product or service is very B2B within a specific industry niche, you can still use social media to create a ‘buzz’ and collect feedback as well as cover customer service issues. Try looking into mobile apps for an eye-opener. Social media also allows for easy collaboration and even management and there are social media tools whereby you can monitor and even manage your reputation as well as your brand’s reputation.

8. Sales and Payment Acceptance
YAY! You’ve made your first sale or acquired your first customer. Now what do you do? If your business is based online, then you will probably want to look into shopping carts and/or CPC & CPM revenue if you haven’t already. Make it as easy as possible for your clients/customers to pay you and for yourself to be able to accept their payments and to make refunds when necessary. A service such as PayPal is a great way to get started if you’re not yet in a position to accept credit cards as a merchant. If your services are performed in the field, there are card scanners that attach to your smartphone and app’s that will allow you to process credit cards away from your office. (Refer back to items #4 and #6 above.)

9. Internal Characteristics
These may be the most important tools for an entrepreneur to possess. The average person can be an entrepreneur, but they are more likely to succeed if they possess theses characteristics. They are not, however, all necessarily innate and most of them can be learned, although many are much harder to learn if you are not taught or shown them through example at an early age. Yet it is possible for a person to be born with some or more of them. Imagination and creativity, drive, passion, optimism and tenacity are more easily brought to the surface if you have those tendencies genetically. But they all can be learned and all are essential qualities of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs must love business, love success and love money (hopefully as a tool for doing good). But successful entrepreneurs must have a work ethic that drives them to be hardworking, committed, analytical and decisive. They must also be, and believe they are, capable, competent and responsible – willing to accept the consequences of their actions, good or bad, no matter what niche they occupy. And you cannot be shy and be a successful entrepreneur. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

10. Education
Finally, successful entrepreneurs seem to always be on a quest to learn. They are almost never satisfied with ‘resting on their laurels’, but are constantly looking to do something new &/or improved. As such, they are almost always contributing to the greater good in some fashion or other. You do not have to have much of a formal education in order to become a great entrepreneur. Some of our best & brightest have been high school or college dropouts. But they usually dropped out because they were not learning enough, or learning fast enough, about their chosen entrepreneurial field. Start learning more about your chosen field immediately. Begin your reading list right now and fill it, not only with information about the items on the above list and your chosen field, but with inspiration reinforcing the what if’s, why’s and how’s of your quest for entrepreneurial success. Improve yourself! Let me know if you need help discovering the ways you can do this.

Internet Entrepreneur Guide

Internet entrepreneurs are best trained by getting out there and practicing their skills as much as they can. Fancy business schools for entrepreneurs will only teach you business fundamentals. They will teach you how to budget and how to plan. However, going to any of these schools will not make you a successful internet entrepreneur outright.

In all honesty any hard working individual wanting to make an internet business can discover everything he needs to know by applying himself online. There are resources out there that are available online that contain every bit of knowledge you need to be successful.

So what makes an internet entrepreneur successful or not? Successful entrepreneurs work hard at what they do. They’re constantly working to develop their business and meet their goals. Taking action is by far the most important thing to do. Even if you don’t make money from your business ventures you’ll be learning invaluable lessons no amount of schooling could teach you.

So where do you begin then? Well one of the most important aspects of internet business is marketing. Marketing is the means of how we drive the crowd to our business offers and how we solve their needs. I would say any net entrepreneur should start out by doing some affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is simply promoting others businesses stuff in exchange for a commission for each referred sale. This practice alone can make you thousands of dollars every month. However, more importantly you’ll be learning valuable marketing skills.

Advertising for Entrepreneurs

Many successful online businesses thrive off the profit they make from the advertising they do. Advertising in the Internet is a proven success as well as a cost effective solution to gain web traffic and potential customers into your business. There are plenty of ways on how to promote a product or service in the Internet that are very easy to accomplish. Websites that are good for advertising and promotion abound online namely social networking sites. Plenty of websites owners use these places to reach out to their existing customers, generate new prospects for their business or open up a new venture for their brand. This is where the importance of advertising for entrepreneurs is a must in order to gain leverage in their market.

A simple way to advertise online is to create an account in a social networking website that depicts the business as well as the products and services it offers. This profile should provide plenty of information on how they can be a solution to a person’s problem and what they can do in order to get it done. One effective way when it comes to marketing in these networks is to connect to as many people as possible so that every time you make an advertisement, you are able to reach out to a huge crowd all at once. Start by creating interesting articles and blogs that can catch the attention of your audience. Provide as many resources as you can that can help a person as they read through your write ups. This is one of the reasons why advertising for entrepreneurs is vital.

When promoting, it is also important to have a website up and running in order to take this process a step further. After you have gotten your prospects acquainted with your business, it is time to direct them to a website where they can find out more about your services. This website can include a shopping ability that allows visitors to purchase your services immediately. So what you need to do in your social network account is to continue publishing informative resources that can interest your prospects and include a link to your website with each post. That way, every person that reads your posts can click on the link to find out more about your business.

That is a great way to do marketing in a website that offers plenty of opportunities to do so. Advertising for entrepreneurs is an important aspect that each business should look into to increase their overall revenue. Aside from that, they are able to reach out to people at a personal level making the business friendlier in appearance. Marketing in social networks also has a good possibility that other businesses might think of partnering up with your brand. That is why it is also important that you keep your posts clean and your appearance as warn as possible in order to welcome new ventures as they become available. Make the most out of this and your business will soar to great heights.

8 Reasons Why it is Not Appropriate For Entrepreneurs

Reason #1 – How do you research new?

Traditional business planning 101, talks about getting the market research right before you do anything else. Trouble is, how to you research new? Innovation, the mainstay of the entrepreneur’s actions, is by definition, something that does not currently exist. What was the size of the desktop computer market when Bill Gates decided to put one on every desk? He saw what did not exist which is why it was impossible to research and document.

Besides, entrepreneurial opportunities mostly emerge in markets of great turbulence and change making it nearly impossible for things to stay still long enough to be researched. Entrepreneurs gain their best market research from actually launching in a semi-test mode and then adapting to the market as it responds to their new venture’s offer.

Reason # 2 – It’s all going to change anyway

The traditional business plan asks us to sit down and plan out the next 3-5 years and describe in detail the evolving sequence of events. Those of us that have actually launched multiple new ventures know that you are flat out getting the first 3-5 month right, let alone the next 3-5 years. This was also verified by the study Professor Amarnath V. Bhide conducted into entrepreneurial firms, where he discovered that less than 14% of entrepreneurial ventures actually found their sustainable growth path on the one they expected at the outset. This revelation is contained in his book “The Origin and Evolution of New Businesses”.

Experienced entrepreneurs know that there are just too many variables in resources, market acceptances, product development and the entrepreneur themselves to predict meaningfully and in detail the traditional 3-5 year business plan’s outlook. Again, the experienced entrepreneur will rely more on their ability to adapt to the changing environment as it evolves around them, rather than carry out the detailed instructions of an operational plan fundamentally created in ignorance.

Reason # 3 – Opportunities won’t wait

Make no mistake, it is going to take you about 3-6 months to write a traditional business plan. Now, if your opportunity is prepared to wait around for you to complete that task then good, but more than likely the opportunity you are researching has already been exploited by another entrepreneur who understood that ‘timing was everything’.

Entrepreneurship is all about the trigger point where commitment is required or the opportunity is lost. Those rushing for the pen to write will soon find that their ‘window of opportunity’ is very fleeting and without the timely and pro-active action, it is lost forever.

Reason # 4 – It’s already happening anyway

If you are a serious contender for actually launching a new venture, and not just a dreamer, then in part you already have a business launch in play with your prototypes, your trial offers to in-house customers and in the gathering of your network of contacts that you have identified will get you launched.

Most entrepreneurial text books agree that over 70% of successful entrepreneurial enterprises are started by current domain experts who have directly experienced the pain of a particular problem for which they have come up with a solution. They have less need for a traditional plan because they are more than likely to use their insider knowledge and experience and strategic alliances to firstly evaluate the opportunity and then to take it to market via their highly accessible distribution channels.

Reason # 5- It’s too ridged and doesn’t represent how entrepreneur’s think

There is very little flexibility in a traditional business plan. It’s presented as a one-size-fits-all when clearly it does not. Too much of the traditional planning approach is skewed towards an existing business going forward and is not well structured for an ‘idea whose time has come’, as it is for the entrepreneurial venture. It is a corporate tool fundamentally created under a risk avoidance mind-set where as an entrepreneur’s outlook in the planning process is from a risk management one.

Reason # 6 – Entrepreneur’s know and accept the ‘affordable loss’

The ease of business entry via the internet has made the cost of being wrong of little consequence. Through the medium of eBay, on-line marketing and the like, products and services can be tried and tested in the ‘real world’ prior to any significant commitment of resources. This allows for the process of modification and adaptation of the business model to meet the market needs ‘on the fly’ and so creates a far more commercially proven business plan (proof of concept) than the traditional generally untested but written ones.

Reason # 7 – It’s a poor selling option

I am yet to see a photocopy salesperson dump the 100 page manual on the desk of a prospective buyer and think it is a Star 1 strategy for making the photocopy sale. It just would not work. Why then do we think that a 50 page traditional business plan document is going to achieve a different result. Even significant purchases that we make like buying a car, we simply want to know maybe the top 5-10 key issues, and in finding satisfaction on these we make the sale. All the while, the car’s manual remains in the glove box unread until we have well and truly driven the car from the yard.

Reason # 8 – What does it prove anyway?

Too many new venture hopefuls concentrate on creating the perfect business plan where they should be concentrating on creating the perfect cash flow. As a proof of concept tool, there are far more convincing methods that you could adopt. (A web site collecting email addresses of interested buyers for your product, a prototype already in the market under limited release, customer lists and testimonials, embedded release with a key strategic partner, customer and supplier support). It is actually very likely that the planning process is actually counter-productive for the entrepreneur because it can create a certain paralysis from too much analysis. What’s needed, and what most successful entrepreneur’s supply – is action. Doing it. Making it happen.

4 Resources For Your Online Business You Shouldn’t Be Without

If you are seeking extreme success as an online business owner, there are many online business applications, software, and resources for your online business that you should consider making an integral part of your toolkit. Here, I will highlight the top 4 tools every entrepreneur should have and use.

1. Digital Camera

A good quality digital camera is an essential part of any entrepreneur’s toolkit. Whether you are selling products or selling yourself, it is true that a picture is worth a thousand words. Because you should be regularly blogging as well as publishing articles, you will want to have a camera handy to add photos to the copy you publish, as it enhances the impact. Your website and other online branding can also be enhanced by high quality imagery, so a decent digital camera (which can be had for under $100) can be an essential instrument to help you build your business.

2. Skype or Oovoo

In the more practical realm of business communication, Skype or Oovoo is a cost-effective and necessary business resource that makes it possible for you to be on the phone and online with your clients, team members, and prospective customers without running up a long distance phone bill or exceeding your minute allowance on your cell phone plan. Both Skype and Oovoo offer premium versions that allow for group video conferencing, but the free downloadable version of each program is typically enough to help any entrepreneur get launched without facing any high overhead costs.

3. Facebook and Twitter

Without social media marketing, you might as well not even open an online business, and with new functionality from Facebook for business pages as well as the partnership between Facebook and Bing, you need to create and maintain social media accounts. Because Twitter is not only an effective marketing application on its own but also can help you drive more fans to your Facebook page, I recommend getting started with both immediately. In fact, as soon as you secure your domain name, you should create your associated Twitter account and fan page.

4. Google Calendar

Staying organized continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing work at home entrepreneurs, and Google calendar is a free organization tool that is easy to use. You can plug in appointments, goals, daily tasks, and other events, and it will generate email reminders to you to help you stay on track and on task.

Resources For Home Based Business Owners

Anyone who runs a business from their home needs some help from time to time. Check out these resources for home based business owners.

Small Business Administration – The SBA, which is run by the US government, is a great resource for owners of small businesses. They offer everything from small business planning, to advice and help on running a business, to local resources, to financial assistance. Definitely a great place for small business owners to look for help and advice. You can find their website at sba.org.

Score.org – Score is a partner with the SBA, and is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping small businesses grow and educating entrepreneurs. They offer free, confidential business counseling, low cost business workshops, “how to” articles, and free business templates. Once your business is up and running, you can also volunteer with Score to help other business owners succeed.

Inc.com – Inc.com is “the daily resource for entrepreneurs”. They offer free business advice, information on companies of all sizes, and also have a blog and magazine.

Allbusiness.com – Allbusiness.com offers several helpful things for small business owners. They have several blogs on the subjects of business, marketing, tax and finances, legal questions and more. They also have discussion forums where you can ask experts and other business owners for help.

No matter what sort of business you run or what industry you’re in (or even if you’re just thinking about starting a business), there are lots of resources out there to help you. Getting some advice from a successful businessman or woman who has been where you are can be invaluable in getting your business started and succeeding.

Top 10 iTunes Podcasts For Entrepreneurs

Podcasts are a great (and free!) way to stay up to date on current issues that many of today’s businessmen and entrepreneurs face. You can download these to your iPod and listen to them throughout the day whether at work, in the car, or on the treadmill. There are a number of podcasts to choose from, below is a list of favorites that are relevant to both aspiring and proven entrepreneurs. Most importantly, these podcasts are updated frequently.

Startup Nation – These podcasts include information and insights that every beginner entrepreneur will appreciate and enjoy. Updated very frequently, a great resource.

Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders – Sponsored by Stanford University, this podcast is updated every Wednesday and includes talks and conversations with some of today’s most innovative and successful entrepreneurs and business people. Like the University itself, many of the podcasts are technology based.

Wall Street Journal on Small Business – Excellent podcast updated every Monday and usually less than ten minutes long. Topics usually address management and financial issues small businesses face.

Knowledge @ Wharton – Online research and business analysis by the Wharton School of the University of Penn. Although not updated as frequently as other podcasts (new podcasts added a couple times each month) the topics are always intriguing and include some of today’s brightest thinkers, authors, professors and business leaders.

Struggling Entrepreneur – Great resource for entrepreneurs who haven’t quite made it yet or who may be knee deep in the startup process seeking insight and inspiration. Topics are somewhat similar to the Startup Nation podcasts.

Harvard Business IdeaCast – Weekly podcasts from one of the world’s top Universities (with highest paid alumni). Featured guests include the leading global thinkers, professors, and business managers. Not all topics are directly related to entrepreneurship or even the business world but all are relevant/interesting to any innovator.

NPR: Business Story of the Day – Daily podcasts usually less than 5 minutes in length. Not necessarily a great knowledge resource but rather a quick and entertaining tidbit about a current business happening.

TEDTalks – Podcasts from the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conferences from some of the world’s most captivating, intellectual, and iconic people on a variety of topics. Again, these podcasts are not directly related to entrepreneurship but a great source for new ideas and innovative thinking.

The Economist – While in business school many professors advised each student to read two publications above all others: the Wall Street Journal and The Economist. Includes audio content on a wide variety of topics including world politics, business, finance, economics, science, technology, culture and the arts.

Social Innovation Conversations – Lectures and interviews regarding the latest ideas in social change. Topics include social entrepreneurship, environmental sustainability, philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, and responsible investing.

College Campuses Are Amazing Resources for Entrepreneurs to Utilize When Launching a Business

Recently I read about a new cosmetic product that was launched on a college campus. This bootstrapped product was taking advantage of a resource that can be available to all, but is rarely accessed by any. The entrepreneurs behind the novel lip balm Kisstixx offer an example of just one way to leverage the benefits that are present in abundance on university campuses everywhere.

Shake Smart natural smoothies are another example of a start-up bootstrapped on a university campus. Clever entrepreneurs for this breakthrough concoction looked closely at their personal environment and realized that many, if not all, of the assets they needed to perfect, test and launch their product was on offer within their schools facilities.

The modern university is an amazing amalgam of talent, facilities, knowledge, money and energy. Students are almost universally ambitious. Faculty is experienced and keen to see their student charges succeed in their chosen fields. College administrators are excited to leverage their facilities and resources in ways that drive institutional reputations and endowments. This is the perfect confluence of opportunity and assets for innovators seeking to commercialize their novel business concepts.

Let’s start with the student body. Each member is majoring in an offered course of study. Each is driven to gain as much education as possible in their field of study and compliment this knowledge with practical, complimentary work experience; Thus, the scramble for internships.

For our client consumer product development projects we often visit college deans and ask for student participation in accomplishing specific research and development tasks. Inevitably the dean is happy to recommend one or more students. The students are thrilled for the opportunity to add to their credentials with a hands-on work experience that can be detailed for future employers to consider. Our clients always are amazed at the enthusiasm and quality of the work product provided by
their interns.

We all read about the technology advances that are born in some university and then become massive commercial successes. Universities across the country have taken notice of this opportunity and almost all have Technology Transfer programs established or in development. They actively seek ideas that can be patented and commercialized by utilizing the massive resources, and fixed overheads, that are a constant in every college. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to approach these programs with their concepts and ideas for review, consideration and possible joint venture collaboration.

We have utilized the resources of colleges and universities on a number of our Consumer Product projects. Schools are not only keen to develop science and technology opportunities. They are aggressively seeking products and services that can be perfected and launched in many areas. For one client we used the Nutrition and Dietary college program to develop a gluten and sugar free line of bakery goods. Focus Groups and test markets conducted at colleges are ideal venues for gauging market sentiment about key elements of Branding, Packaging, taste, pricing, etc.

Business Schools today almost universally emphasize an Entrepreneurial course of study. A capstone class requirement to qualify for a degree is that each student must write or collaborate on creating a customized Business Plan. Let these eager students work on your Business Plan.

Many inventors approach us seeking help in designing, prototyping and engineering their product idea. Many colleges possess every tool needed to create CAD art, scale models, assembly and engineering plans. The College of Engineering is a wonderful tool to access when needing prototype work completed on a small budget and with professionalism.

Wellness drinks and supplements, skin care, oral care, exercise and sporting goods products, fashion design and juvenile products are all product areas in which we have used the assets that are available, and FREE, at a local college or university. Students, faculty and administrations actually welcome the chance to apply their theoretical knowledge to gain practical project experience from working on real world product development. Take advantage of this wonderful resource. After all, as a taxpayer you are paying for these excellent resources.