Writing Content People Will Share, The Basics

Guest post contributed by Marta Segal Block, Editor of GrouponWorks. It’s not news anymore, writing great content can bring people to your site, increase your brand recognition, and grow your sales. But great content alone isn’t enough, you also have to write great content that readers want to share. There’s a lot of research out there about algorithms, what content gets shared the most, and what goes viral. Here are some basic steps anyone wanting to create content should take. Make sure that you are set up to share your content. Pay attention to your social media accounts and make sure you are sharing the content of others and building relationships. Make sure your website is designed in such a way that the content is easy to find and read from a variety of platforms. Think about and research what content is being shared in your field, and how. Are …
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What New Revenue Recognition Rules Mean For Your Startup

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has been working on updating its rules for revenue recognition since 2002. This year, it announced new guidance created jointly with the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). The changes are slated to go into effect in 2017 for public companies and in 2018 for private ones. The new rules are designed to improve comparability of statements across companies, industries, and countries; increase disclosure and reporting quality; tamp down on fraud; and help investors to better gauge performance. They cover everything from when revenue is recognized, to the amount of required disclosures, to the degree of discretion in the use of estimates. They’ll have wide impact, especially for technology companies. What does this mean for your business? First, the changes will affect GAAP filers only. I covered the importance of GAAP accounting in an earlier post, but basically, accrual accounting is the most consistent, widely …
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9 Things You Should Do To Grow Your Customer Base

This post was originally published in Inc. Acquiring new customers is a permanent fixture of your sales process. But how do you develop new strategies to earn new business? The Young Entrepreneur Council asked nine successful founders to name some unusual, or at least lesser-known, effective customer acquisition strategies they’ve used recently. Their best answers are below. 1. Visit Popular Conferences If you are a seed, or even a funded start-up, you may not have the resources to attend some of the big-name conferences (which can cost up to of tens of thousands of dollars). Instead, stand outside of the conference venues—dressed appropriately—and meet the attendees while they are on lunch break. This is an effective strategy that’s worked for us on numerous occasions. —Sunil Rajaraman, Scripted.com 2. Investing in Old-Fashioned Relationship-Building While everyone is busy looking for the next viral campaign, we find old-fashioned relationship-building still trumps all other …
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Funding More Minority Entrepreneurs: The Next Ice Bucket Challenge?

There’s been a lot of focus lately on the lack of gender diversity in tech, and the specific hurdles female entrepreneurs face. I’m thinking about a different diversity challenge though, namely the funding gap facing entrepreneurs of color. What drives it, and how can we in the startup ecosystem move the needle? Minority Entrepreneur Stats Maybe it’s an occupational hazard, but I always like to start with the numbers! According to a study from CB Insights, minority entrepreneurs received only 1% of VC funding in 2010. This figure excludes Asians, who received 12% that year. A different study, this one from the University of New Hampshire’s Center for Venture research, cited a meager figure for angel funding, with only 14.7% of minority entrepreneurs receiving angel funding in 2013 versus a nearly 21.6% funding rate for all businesses seeking funding that year. Why is this the case and what can we …
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Marketing to Your Core Users is Key to Getting Traction

This guest post by John Petersen, originally appeared on Firehawk Creative. I often tell people before we begin working with them that we do the easy part. Sure, writing code and building a functioning app is a skill that most people don’t possess, but it’s what comes after development that almost everyone underestimates. The ability to attract your core group of power users is going to define your early success. Most startups fail miserably with this. Here are the 3 best techniques I’ve ever used to attract early adopters. Best Buyer Strategy What it is: The first thing you need to do is figure out who your core user is going to be and how to market to them. Often times, entrepreneurs think that they can just put their app out there and their users will magically find it. This isn’t fairy tale land. You have to do everything in …
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4 Things Every Founder Should Know About Convertible Equity

Lately I‘ve been getting more and more questions about convertible equity: “What is it?” and “Should I use it?” So I figured now’s the right time to answer a few questions and fill in some blanks. In short, convertible equity is a form of financing that gives investors the right to preferred stock once a triggering event occurs. So what’s that mean? First some background… Convertible debt Convertible debt is a common feature of startup seed rounds, used in more than ⅔ of all financings. Issuance takes the form of a short-term note that converts to equity (usually at a discount of 15-20%) at a later date, typically when a startup raises a minimum specified amount of Series A financing. Convertible notes may or may not include a cap on valuation (we see ceilings of $3M-6M in seed stage deals) that ensures early investors participate in any upside and are …
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Stick To Real News To Get Your Startup Press Releases Noticed

Originally published in Fox Business. The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) posed the following question to members: What one tip do you have for writing press releases that actually get noticed? Read on for their answers. No. 1: Skip the Fluff When drafting a press release, think like a reporter. A reporter will read the headline and the first few sentences; if it doesn’t capture him in the first few seconds, it gets deleted. So get to the point right away by keeping it short and easy to read. Make your headline irresistible, and write like a reporter by using relevant statistics and interesting, timely factoids to tell your story. — Tom Cannon of BungoBox No. 2: Tie in Current Events One of the most effective ways to increase your media pickups is to enhance the newsworthiness of your story by tying it to a relevant current event. If there was …
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How to Make Your Startup A Talent Magnet

No matter how great your startup idea, ultimately consistent execution (including hiring and retaining the right people), is the biggest determinant of long-term business success. Our expert panelists: Karen Reinhold, Shareholder at Hopkins Carley, Tom Byrne, Vice President at Wells Fargo Insurance, Amanda Christoff, Managing Director at Premier Inc., and Sirk Roh, COO of EGFS, shared what you need to do now to make your startup a talent magnet. Here are some pointers. Hiring Plan Competition for top talent is really fierce. You can’t afford to take a scattershot approach to hiring the right human capital. The key is to first identify, then prioritize your needs as part of putting together an effective hiring strategy that covers sourcing, attracting talent, and sealing the deal. In other words, come up with a hiring plan. As part of that plan, make sure you educate yourself on the current marketplace dynamics so that …
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Just Starting Up: 15 Bloggers You Should Read

This guest post by David Cheng was originally published on Zenpayroll. If you’re looking to start a business, there’s no better time. But being an entrepreneur can be daunting. Where do you even begin? Fortunately, there are lots of great online resources for first time (or serial) entrepreneurs. Here are our 15 favorite bloggers for starting your small business. Small Business 1. Gene Marks Gene is the leading expert on small businesses, with an active readership across multiple syndication platforms. Gene’s blog on the New York Times is a great digest of the most significant political, economic, financial, and technological trends that affect business management. Recent posts: Can You Guess the Killer Business App of 2014? Please Don’t Call Yourself a Small-Business Owner 2. Martin Zwilling Martin has 30 years of executive experience in all aspects of building a company: including product management, marketing, and software development. He blogs on …
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Startup Pitch Decks That Will Get You Funded

How do you put together a pitch deck that impresses investors? What goes in one anyway? And how can you make maximum impact when you’re giving the pitch? Marc Phillips, Managing Director at Arafura Ventures, Jim Fulton, Partner at Cooley LLP, and EGFS COO Sirk Roh, covered all that and more in our recent webinar: Startup Pitch Decks That Work. If you missed the webinar, here’s my slide-by-slide take of the highlights. At the outset Select investors who can re-up on their investment and who can help you beyond just giving money. Putting together your deck Slide 1: Logo/Mission/Positioning Line.Founders This slide is your elevator pitch. In 15-20 seconds or less, you should convey a sense of excitement, while getting across to investors that you are “investment ready.” For best results, make this emotive, using images and logos where you can. Use your positioning line to convey your mission and …
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