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    Tag Archive: advice

    Crowdfunding? Beware!

    Sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and GoFundMe have given entrepreneurs exciting options for funding the development and creation of a business or product. But not every experience with crowdfunding is a good one. There are some important pitfalls to keep in mind!

    Lessons from failure: The Coolest

    One of my favorite crowdfunded products is The Coolest. Before watching the video above, I didn’t know how much I wanted something like this! The inventor of the Coolest, Ryan Grepper, raised more than $13 million to bring his dream to life! Unfortunately, this entrepreneur’s dream turned into a nightmare.

    Raising a lot of money to develop a product seems like a good idea. But it only works if you鸿运彩票新版’ve calculated you鸿运彩票新版r pricing correctly before you鸿运彩票新版 start raising! Grepper’s mistake was pricing his Kickstarter rewards too low: he lost money with every unit promised. Part of this was because of production problems and supplier issues. Many of the assumptions he made when calculating his pricing didn’t bear out.

    The solution: a change in thinking

    Instead of thinking about crowdfunding as a way to gain startup capital, it’s more useful to think about crowdfunding as a mechanism for pre-selling products. Only the margin above you鸿运彩票新版r costs should be thought of as startup capital. For Grepper, increasing his margins when setting his pricing would have given him the financial latitude to overcome his production problems.

    Doing it right: Peak Design

    Peak Design’s Travel Tripod is their 12th Kickstarter project. They don’t use Kickstarter for startup funding; they use it as a sales channel. Can you鸿运彩票新版 use a sales channel for startup funding? Yes, and this is a strongly encouraged practice! But only plan on being able to use the portion of you鸿运彩票新版r sales that you鸿运彩票新版 would otherwise call profit to cover you鸿运彩票新版r startup costs.

    Avoid mistakes: pricing it right!

    For more help with pricing, see our Pricing Magic Course or Pricing Magic eBook! And if you鸿运彩票新版 want some more personal attention, you鸿运彩票新版 can hire Andrew as an entrepreneurial coach.

    How to Make a Web Site for Your Startup

    Your business needs a website. It’s not hard to make a site, but it is important! I always tell entrepreneurs that you鸿运彩票新版 can pay for a website one of two ways: with money or with time. Having a website legitimizes you鸿运彩票新版r business, and it can even be a factor that funders look at when they consider you鸿运彩票新版r investment worthiness.

    Paying With Time

    If you鸿运彩票新版 have a lot of time, some experience with making websites, and a big store of patience, you鸿运彩票新版 can roll you鸿运彩票新版r own site. Here are a few of the more popular tools for doing that:


    I’m a fan of and have been using it since 2004. It was originally created as a blogging platform, but it can just as easily be used to manage a website. It’s highly customizable, with a huge community of developers making solutions (in the form of plugins) for almost any problem you鸿运彩票新版 want to solve. There’s a good reason WordPress is used by as much as . One of my favorite add-ons for WordPress is , a great set of plugins for selling stuff with WordPress.


    touts themselves as an easy solution for making sites, and simple drag-and-drop templates. Their web sites are nice-looking, but their popularity is fueled by a pretty aggressive marketing campaign. They have an interesting offer for a .


    is more than a website builder – it’s an eCommerce platform. You can set up eCommerce with any of these solutions, but Shopify was built with this in mind. Credit card processing and other features are built right in.


    is a popular solution, known for their free sites. There are a lot of ugly Wix sites out there, but some nice ones, as well.

    Paying With Money

    If you鸿运彩票新版 want to get started more quickly, focus on you鸿运彩票新版r core competencies, and have someone build you鸿运彩票新版 a great-looking site, you鸿运彩票新版 have plenty of options! One of my favorites is . Bet and her team are great to work with – real people who will work with you鸿运彩票新版 to meet you鸿运彩票新版r web needs.

    I already have a site

    Good for you鸿运彩票新版! If you鸿运彩票新版 want a free 2-3 minute video review of you鸿运彩票新版r website, Bet Hannon is offering a . She and her team will tell you鸿运彩票新版 what’s working and what you鸿运彩票新版 can improve. It takes about 30 seconds to sign up for this, and it’s totally free.

    How valuable are brands?

    Bumper sticker: There’s nothing a little Starbucks and Disney can’t fix

    Taio Cruz, in his 2010 song Dynamite, sings,

    “I came to dance, dance, dance, dance

    I hit the floor ’cause that’s my plans, plans, plans, plans

    I’m wearin’ all my favorite brands, brands, brands, brands

    Give me some space for both my hands, hands, hands, hands.”

    For Taio (and his fellow songwriters on that particular number), the clothing he wears makes a difference in the quality of his experience. But it’s not the cut, color, or look of the clothing, it’s the brand that matters. It’s the same reason Taio rolls up on a sick BMW motorcycle in the music video for this song. We define ourselves by the brands we choose.

    In the (now-classic) Christmas movie A Christmas Story, the narrator (Ralphie) explains his father by saying, “Some men are Baptists, others Catholics. My father was an Oldsmobile man.”

    As customers, we define ourselves by the brands we consume. Many people think of themselves as Marlboro Men or Lululemon girls. We create self-conceptions based on our status as Wal-mart shoppers or Whole Foods people.

    If you鸿运彩票新版’re crafting a brand, identify the hooks that you鸿运彩票新版r customers use to identify with you鸿运彩票新版r brand. Remember that you鸿运彩票新版r market doesn’t just want to buy a product or service – they want an experience with you鸿运彩票新版r brand.  Use the creation of a brand to make meaning and create community.

    You know you鸿运彩票新版r brand is successful when you鸿运彩票新版r customers start identifying each other and interacting apart from you鸿运彩票新版. Photoshop User Magazine and Photoshop World is a great example. Owned by Kelby Media Group, this community is a user group that collects Adobe’s fans and customers and allows them to celebrate and improve the work that makes them Adobe users. When you鸿运彩票新版r customers are willing to fly across the country to meet other like-minded customers, you鸿运彩票新版 have created a very engaging brand.

    Here are some steps toward strengthening you鸿运彩票新版r brand:

    1. Identifying you鸿运彩票新版r brand’s values.
    2. Where are there people who care about what you鸿运彩票新版 care about? Who cares about this more than you鸿运彩票新版 do?
    3. How can you鸿运彩票新版 add value to these people’s lives?
    4. What tangible interaction points can you鸿运彩票新版 craft with you鸿运彩票新版r customers?
    5. What elements can you鸿运彩票新版 add to the customer experience to surface the things that you鸿运彩票新版 and you鸿运彩票新版r customers care about?

    Use the Contact page if you鸿运彩票新版’d like to talk about building you鸿运彩票新版r brand.

    How entrepreneurs get things done

    Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.Entrepreneurs are creatives. They’re pushed by external forces and pulled between ambitions that compete for mental space. Their dreams are rarely linear and often interrelated. Putting timelines to dreams is one of the hardest tasks an aspiring entrepreneur can face. They need systems for capturing, making sense of, and dealing with vastly disparate interests, from this month’s accounting to regulatory concerns to a new product direction. In a sense, entrepreneurs are the idealized type of the knowledge worker, but amplified to the furthest degree. Knowledge workers often have structures or supervisors to reign in their creativity, but entrepreneurs typically have neither. Their structures must be self-constructed if they exist at all.

    Entrepreneurs walk along a cliff with a precipice waiting. Their challenge: how creative can I be without falling to the risk of not executing? For wannabe-preneurs to succeed, they need to build in an executive function that’ll allow them to turn dreams into timelines and timelines into reality.

    Productivity is the answer to this challenge. My two favorite thinkers about productivity are David Allen and Leo Babauta.

    Getting Things Done

    David Allen wrote the outstanding book, “,” back in 2001. I was thrilled to find out that he’s written an update to the book, and that an  was just released about a week ago. Allen lays out a simple, easy-to-implement system for getting more done with less stress. If you鸿运彩票新版 want to become a productivity ninja, this is you鸿运彩票新版r white belt training. I highly recommend this book, and David Allen’s approach.


    Leo Babauta writes the , along with a collection of books. They’re about working and living well. His book, “,” is available both for free and for purchase. I started reading the free version and liked it so much that I paid for the full version. It’s a wonderful daily read for entrepreneurs and other people who have a lot of competing inputs.

    Have you鸿运彩票新版 read either of these books? How do you鸿运彩票新版 balance you鸿运彩票新版r creativity, you鸿运彩票新版r responsibilities, and you鸿运彩票新版r business ideas? Leave a comment or let me know on Twitter at !

    When to register you鸿运彩票新版r trademark

    One question I hear from a lot of first-time entrepreneurs is how they should go about registering their trademark. There area  few issues to consider here. First, let me state upfront that I’m not an attorney, not an expert in intellectual property, and I’m not giving anyone legal advice. But I hope that I can clarify the role of trademark in you鸿运彩票新版r company’s startup journey.

    Interbrand's Top 8 brands of 2015

    Interbrand’s Top 8 brands of 2015

    Trademark Basics

    In the United States, trademark is handled by the . A trademark is the mark that helps customers to tell you鸿运彩票新版r product or service from those of you鸿运彩票新版r competitors. It’s an important part of you鸿运彩票新版r company’s brand identity. As with copyright, you鸿运彩票新版 don’t have to actually register you鸿运彩票新版r trademark to start using it. Unlike copyright (which costs $55 to register), it costs between $10,000 and $30,000 to register a Trademark. It’s so expensive because of the time needed to search for previous similar uses of the mark and the attorney’s fees required for the lengthy application process.

    When to register

    The biggest misconception I hear about trademarks is that you鸿运彩票新版 need to go through the extensive registration process before you鸿运彩票新版 begin selling products or services to customers. The truth is that this is NOT a preliminary step, and you鸿运彩票新版 can start doing business without registration.

    I can almost hear the objection: “But what if someone rips off my trademark and starts using my before I can get it registered?” My response is that entrepreneurs shouldn’t rely on a trademark as the only differentiator between their products or services and those of their competitors.

    If the only thing that makes you鸿运彩票新版 better than you鸿运彩票新版r competitors is a logo, then you鸿运彩票新版 don’t deserve to lead you鸿运彩票新版r intended market. Your goal as an entrepreneur is to create as many barriers to entry behind you鸿运彩票新版 as possible. Trademark will eventually be one of these, but you鸿运彩票新版 should also consider how to outperform you鸿运彩票新版r competition on cost, price, service, delivery, availability, quality, and usefulness.

    It’s good to look better than you鸿运彩票新版r competition, but it’s preferable to BE better than you鸿运彩票新版r competition.

    You should plan to register you鸿运彩票新版r trademark eventually. But you鸿运彩票新版r first task as an entrepreneur is to develop a product or service, get it into customers’ hands, start generating revenue, and focus of being the best (or cheapest or fastest) at what you鸿运彩票新版 do. Some of these tasks require money, but they all require hustle. And hustle is both free and rare.

    Get out there and make it happen!

    *Note: Below is a video that explains all the details of Trademarks and registration, straight from the US Patent and Trademark office. They provide the best technical guidance available. The video IS almost 42 minutes long, so strap in if you鸿运彩票新版 plan to watch the entire thing.