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Helping Entrepreneurs Succeed


(Oh come on, it’s not that bad!)

Since September 2008, when Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, the economy has been abysmal. People have been forced from their homes, unemployment has hovered above 10% and banks still aren’t lending enough money to small businesses. These are pretty miserable times aren’t they?

Maybe not.

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Last night I watched a show on HBO called How to Make It In America. I thought the show was awesome and it gives you a sense of what it’s like being a 20-something entrepreneur in NYC. The two main characters, Ben Epstein and Cam Calderon, are partners who are trying to start their own vintage clothing line. They pretty much hustle, grind and bust their asses trying to make it on their own.

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When starting or growing a business, the idea of raising money can be overwhelming. Should I raise money? When should I raise money? Where do I start? What do investors expect? How much will it cost me?

I won’t lie, raising money will be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done as an entrepreneur, but it’s also one of the healthiest things you can do for your business. Taking OPM (Other Peoples Money) will force you to clean up your act, articulate your value-proposition and organize your plans. If you decide that you do want to raise money, whether its to get started or to help accelerate growth, there is a continuum you need to understand before seeking capital.

This list ranks sources of capital from smallest amount / earliest-stage / most risky to largest amounts / latest-stage / lowest risk

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Q: If I were to give you $1 million of stock in one company, what company would you choose?

A: If you didn’t pick Google, you’re out of your mind.

Google owns the Internet. Google has the world’s best search engine. Through it’s wholly owned subsidiary, YouTube, Google dominates online video. Google has also dominated online advertising with AdWords and AdSense. Now Google is working on democratizing television advertising with GoogleTV.

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Whether you’re just starting your own business, or you’re running a Fortune 500 company, this book is an absolute must read. Instead of spending $70k at business school, I could have spent $20 and spared two years of my life! I’m sure most of you have read Good to Great, but if you haven’t yet then you need to buy this book immediately and start reading it tonight.

I will recommend a ton of other great business books, but Good to Great is the only one that is a must read. Jim Collins does an amazing job dissecting the reasons why some companies are mediocre while others are exceptional. He uses scientific method and facts, as opposed to opinions, to illustrate the characteristics that make companies great.

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A friend of mine, who happens to also be a successful, serial-entrepreneur, recently started a website called HeadStartup.com. HeadStartUp is the largest database of really effective web-based tools and resources to help you get your small business startup up and running, fast.

I’m not endorsing the site because David is my friend, I’m endorsing the site because I use it myself, and our portfolio companies have found it very useful as well.

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One of the coolest companies I’ve come across during my young career is Zappos (Zappos.com). As most of you know, Zappos sells great products and has a very user-friendly website,  but what sets Zappos apart is their amazing customer service.

Zappos ships items out the same day you place an order, which means you get your stuff the next day. If you ever  need to call Zappos the first thing you’ll notice is that somebody actually answers the phone, they’re friendly, and they speak fluent english! After you receive your order, if you don’t like the item for any reason you can send it back at no charge using the pre-paid postage provided in the box.

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