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The Founder’s Dictionary 2014: Updated Startup Trends and Terminology

March 10, 2014 by Akira Hirai


Startup Terms

If you have spent any time reading sites like TechCrunch, Hacker News, or just about any startup blog or small business website, you’ve probably noticed that the tech startup field has more jargon and industry-specific terminology than most. At times it seems like its own separate language, and it can be tough for even an experienced entrepreneur to keep up. On top of all this, the startup landscape is shifting all the time, with new business models and funding opportunities emerging regularly. Sure, there is Urban Dictionary for slang, and [Read More]

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The Fallacy of First Mover Advantage

February 18, 2014 by Shyam Jha


The Fallacy of First Mover Advantage

“No one remembers the second man on the moon,” goes the marketing adage. “Or second to market.” Fans of Buzz Aldrin may disagree, but the fact remains that Neil Armstrong is the name that first comes to mind when thinking about the conquest of the moon. Being first to market is a much-hyped strategic advantage. Indeed, there are several cases of first mover advantage holders who created a new market space with a new product or service, and continued to dominate that segment. Think Ford in automobiles, Gillette in shaving, [Read More]

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The Business Plan as Guiding Light, Messenger, and Living Document

February 4, 2014 by Joan Morgen


The business plan as guiding light and messenger

You’ve developed a product, and have determined that there is a real market for it. That’s an important first step. Now, how are you going to move your product from the drawing board to the consumer? Like embarking on any other major change in life, you need a plan. Whether you’re a start-up or an established organization going through transition or transformation, the importance of a solid business plan cannot be overstated. The process of creating a business starts by formulating a five year business plan. Determining who you should [Read More]

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Surprise! It Helps to Know What You Are Doing

January 30, 2014 by Jimmy Lewin and Akira Hirai


Entrepreneurs need to know what they are doing

Clients come to us frequently and tell us that they have a really good idea and they need a business plan so that they can get the idea funded and launch a successful enterprise. The idea is {state idea here}. In response, our first two questions are usually: Do you have knowledge of this industry? What is your background? As any experienced business person will tell you, a number of good things have to happen for an entrepreneur to fund, launch, and operate a successful business. The number of moving [Read More]

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Hiring Independent Contractors: Know the Pitfalls

January 27, 2014 by Akira Hirai


Independent Contractor Outsourcing

Independent contractors and freelancers, or independent specialists, represent a rapidly expanding category of entrepreneurship. Contractors have specialized skills in a given field and work independently, selling their expertise by the hour rather than working as a traditional corporate employee. Traditional employees come with overhead: healthcare benefits, employment taxes, HR compliance, training, paid time off, and often much more. There’s nothing wrong with any of this as long as your employees are necessary for delivering your firm’s core competency. In other areas, however, it may make more sense to outsource specialized, [Read More]

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Eight Traits of True Founders

January 11, 2014 by Marty Zwilling


Eight Traits of True Founders

Business success begins in the mind of the startup founder and his team. A winning startup is a team of entrepreneurs who build and run the business as an extension of who they are, rather than some extrapolation of the Google or Facebook model. It’s not so easy to fake the important attributes when the going gets rough. So before you risk it all by jumping into a startup, do a reality check on your own mind to see if you possess a majority of the following attributes, summarized from [Read More]

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Financing Your Growth

December 20, 2013 by Jimmy Lewin and Akira Hirai


financing your growth

Believe it or not, this post was inspired by a print advertisement for by BMO Harris Bank in a recent issue of Inc. Magazine. The ad was about “The Five Keys to Financing Growth.” It is an ad designed to promote the Bank’s small business banking products. The ad begins: “Every company should have a strategy in place to finance growth from day one, with at least a rough outline of how you intend to do that included in your business plan.” BMO quotes Patricia G. Greene, the Paul T. Babson Chair [Read More]

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What Not to Say to Investors

December 4, 2013 by Akira Hirai


What Not To Say To Investors

The world is full of advice for what to say and how to pitch to investors, but what about what not to say? Rookie entrepreneurs are often far too eager to try to impress investors, and end up saying things that set off alarm bells. Over the course of my consulting career, I’ve written a lot of successful business plans and spoken with countless entrepreneurs. After listening to so many pitches, I have identified some phrases you should never use with investors, either in conversation or in writing: “All we [Read More]

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The Worst States for Entrepreneurs

November 21, 2013 by Jimmy Lewin and Akira Hirai


What are the worst states for business?

Last March, we wrote a post called If You Could Pick Any Place for Your Business… The post talked about a feasibility study that we did for an international client to assist him in determining where in the U.S. he should establish his business. We discussed how we looked at a number of factors including what states appeared to be the most business-friendly. Business-friendly states seem to be universally defined as states that enjoy such things as a low cost of doing business, low state income taxes, high quality of [Read More]

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7 Reasons to Break Out of Stealth Mode

November 2, 2013 by Akira Hirai


Reasons to Break Out of Stealth Mode

The entrepreneurship community thrives on sharing ideas and prides itself on having a mentorship-friendly ethos. As new entrepreneurs get into the game, there is increased demand for established entrepreneurs to share their daily routines and explain how they accomplished specific goals. Alex Turnbull, founder of Groove, recently started a series of blog posts documenting the company’s  journey to $100,000 in revenue. Every post is packed with detailed revenue and membership figures, charts, survey results, and customer emails. Take a look at the comments section below each post and you’ll find [Read More]

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