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Is Your Office Conducive to Productivity? 11 Jun 2019, 7:45 am

For any business, and startups in particular, productivity is extremely important to being successful in the long run. Unfortunately, a lot of companies unknowingly limit their potential by failing to pay attention to the significance of office design. By understanding the correlation between design and output, you can give your business an advantage.

How Design Impacts Productivity 

Up until the late 20th century, the belief was that salary, experience, and innate cognitive abilities were responsible for the efficiency and output of individual employees. And while this is true, a groundbreaking experiment in 1985 revealed that environmental influences are also involved. Specifically, researchers Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister discovered that layout and design of office space directly affect productivity.

In their study, DeMarco and Lister asked 600 software developers across 92 different organizations to fill out surveys prior to competing in a coding competition that measured work performance. The results were astonishing: Those whose surveys reflected positive feelings about their workspaces outperformed the average employee by more than two-fold. 

Since this initial experiment, countless other studies have been conducted on the topic and they all seem to reiterate the same thing: The design and décor in a workplace influences the way people think, positively or negatively, and limits or expands their productivity potential.  

4 Ways Office Conducive Can Improve Productivity

From a management perspective, these findings are critically important. By optimizing your office and workspace, you can actually get more out of your employees. Practically speaking, here are some specific steps you can take:

  1. Incorporate Unique Elements

There’s nothing inspiring about an office that looks like it belongs in an office supply catalog. If you want to motivate your employees to maximize productivity, try incorporating some unique elements into key workspaces.

By definition, incorporating unique elements into the office will look different for every business, but one option is to accent modern pieces with antique furniture. DECASO, a Decorative Arts Society, recommends trying “an old-meets-new mix to achieve balance and character” in the home. The same approach could be taken in the office.

Another suggestion is to use elements that aren’t originally intended to serve as furniture or décor. For example, you could use a ping-pong table as a conference room table, artificial turf as carpet, or shipping containers as study nooks.

  1. Pay Attention to Lighting and Acoustics

Two of the more important, yet undervalued elements in office design are lighting and acoustics. A study conducted by the American Society of Interior Design shows that 68 percent of employees aren’t satisfied with the lighting in their offices. Countless other studies reveal that open floor plans with loud acoustics can be distracting. So what’s the solution?

For lighting, sunlight is considered best. If at all possible, you should find ways to rely less on artificial light and more on natural light. As for acoustics, balance out an open floor plan by including private workspaces where employees can seclude themselves when necessary.  

  1. Enhance Ergonomics 

Nothing is worse for productivity – or one’s health! – than failing to give proper ergonomics the attention it deserves,” Resource Furniture explains. “Poor posture can lead to eyestrain, headaches, neck and backaches, and fatigue.  But healthy posture begins with good design, so it is crucial to adhere to ergonomic guidelines, outlined by OSHA, to avoid strain and injury.”

It’s possible to have good ergonomics and compelling design. The key is to invest in office furniture that can be optimized by the user. Items like adjustable chairs and standing desks are a good place to start. 

  1. Encourage Creativity

You may think you know what’s best for your employees, but you won’t always be right. In addition to implementing your own design choices, encourage employees to express themselves by getting creative with their individual workspaces. This expression of creativity can enhance satisfaction and positively impact performance.

Optimize Your Office for Productivity 

If you’ve never been made aware of the relationship between office design and productivity, you probably haven’t paid much attention to the different design elements in your employees’ workspaces. But now that you know just how influential design is, you can begin to optimize with output and efficiency in mind. Take things one step at a time and enjoy the fruits of your labor.


Originally published on Calendar by 

The post Is Your Office Conducive to Productivity? appeared first on KillerStartups.

How Startups Can Promote Employee Wellness on a Shoestring Budget 7 Jun 2019, 8:00 am

There’s no way around it: Startup life takes a toll on workers’ well-being. Every project means developing new processes. Every employee spearheads a function — or three — on his or her own. Every mistake increases the chances the company won’t make it to adulthood.

Spend 60 hours a week in that sort of environment, and see how you feel. Is it any surprise wellness programs are now most common at startups, where 85% of leaders with one think it’s worth the investment?

The trouble is that startups rarely have the resources to offer what employees coming from enterprises might expect in a wellness program. On-site clinics, biometric screenings, and company-provided fitness trackers require a wellness budget of five figures or more.

Without those resources, startups have to get scrappy. To cover a wide range of wellness areas on a shoestring budget:

1. Play team sports for increased Employee Wellness.

Paid gym memberships are a staple of corporate wellness programs, but they don’t come cheap. At around $50 per employee per month, fitness memberships for a six-person team add up to $3,600 per year. For a company without revenue rolling in, that’s unsustainable.

Instead, kill three birds with one all-but-free stone: competitive sports. Not only do team sports build muscle and cardiovascular endurance, but they also serve as bonding activities and mental health supports. Some mental health experts even suggest them for ADHD treatment and depression relief. Not bad, considering that most team sports require just a court, a ball, and a bat or racket.

2. Create a meditation space.

Meditation isn’t magic; it’s just the act of being mindful. Simply by focusing attention on the here and now, meditation reduces anxiety, improves sleep, controls pain, and can even fight addictions.

What’s the ideal environment for meditation? Set up a small space — ideally a quiet room with windows — with comfortable mats. Use decorations like live plants, paintings, and tapestries to bring a soft, contemplative feel to the room. For workers who like to meditate to music or nature sounds, add a Bluetooth speaker. Finally, hang a sign on the door that says something like “Meditation in progress” on one side to cut down on disturbances.

3. Set work-life boundaries.

It’s not an exaggeration that some startup leaders work 80-hour weeks. Even if those leaders don’t ask their team members to do the same, the pressure is obvious. When there’s work to be done and the boss isn’t leaving, only the bravest of workers would pack their bags. It doesn’t take many of those weeks for burnout and sleep deprivation to set in.

Work boundaries can be tough to set — and even harder to stick to — but the truth is that productivity declines past 50 working hours per week. Try setting core hours, optional hours, and never-ever hours. Perhaps everyone should work from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., for example, but never from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Then, to fill their quota, team members can pick and choose from the remaining hours.

4. Give back together.

In a way older generations simply don’t, Millennials make volunteering a priority. Not only does spending an afternoon out of the office together build team bonds, but it can also further physical and mental wellness goals. Many volunteer activities, like litter clean-up, are physical in nature. Others, like reading to children, promote emotional health by helping employees de-stress in a community setting.

Wellness doesn’t have to be complicated, and it certainly doesn’t have to be expensive. Startups simply need to do what they do best: Leverage what few resources they have to build something big.

The post How Startups Can Promote Employee Wellness on a Shoestring Budget appeared first on KillerStartups.

7 Proven Strategies That Help Entrepreneurs Handle Stress 6 Jun 2019, 6:08 pm

Entrepreneurs are pushed to the brink. Their willpower is constantly tested as they are presented with countless challenges and obstacles. All that pressure leads to stress. Stress is most often a result of high levels of activity over a long period of time. If you want to maintain a healthy mental and physical state you need to learn how to manage that stress.

Here are seven proven strategies that help entrepreneurs handle stress.

Acknowledge the choices you make

More often than not, stress is caused by choices you make while running your business. The worst thing you can do at this point is feel sorry for yourself and blame it on bad circumstances.

As an entrepreneur you’re going to make decisions every single day. Some will be small and some may determine the fate of your entire company. You need to develop the mental fortitude to acknowledge the choices you make, both good and bad. If you’re looking for other things or people to blame it’ll only amplify the stress it puts on you. High performing entrepreneurs acknowledge the choices they make from the time they wake up to the time they’re asleep. You need to do the same.

Put your problems in perspective

A great way to bounce back from problems is to put them in perspective. Don’t let little problems turn into catastrophes. You lost one of your key team members? Go find someone better. Did one of your potential investors pull out at the last second? Then they probably weren’t a good fit in the first place. Very few people have the drive let alone the opportunity to become an entrepreneur. Embrace it and remember that your problems are only as big as you make them.

Write it out

Writing serves as a great outlet for your emotions and will help you gain a bit more clarity. It also gives you the opportunity to get everything off your chest without laying all your problems on someone else. When you become overwhelmed with stress, grab a journal and take a few minutes to write things out.

When you start writing you don’t need to be formal or start from the beginning either. As you mind wanders jot down your thoughts. If solutions start to come to you, you can start putting together a short to do list in your journal. If you take this approach make sure to keep your list short. You don’t want to come out of the writing session with a page of to do’s, if that’s the case make sure you rank items by importance and make sure you’re being precise.

Don’t always be a cheapskate

When starting a business it’s important to be frugal. Your capital is your lifeblood and as the founder you need to be aware of every penny that comes in and out of the business. That said, there are times when you don’t want to be cheap.

When it comes to expenses like legal or insurance fees you need to allocate an appropriate amount of your budget to take care of them. In startups, Murphy’s Law will always come to bite you in the you know what. What can go wrong, probably will. That said, you want to make sure you’re covered. Take the time to find a reliable legal council and don’t skip out on shielding your business from potential liabilities.

Find the silver lining

If you want to be an entrepreneur you need to develop mental strength. Startups are one of if not the toughest career path you can take in life. Those who dwell on the negatives and feel sorry for themselves will end up with time wasted and no business to run. Those who are resilient and find even the smallest ounce of light in the darkest of situations will be successful.

Successful entrepreneurs recognize that there is plenty of good that can come from a stressful situation. For example let’s say you’ve spent the last 6-months building a mobile application that allows people to apply filters to photos they’ve taken. You launch the product, and find out that people aren’t really interested in applying filters. They actually prefer sharing them with their friends. Sure you just spent 6 months building an application nobody really wanted. But the user feedback just told you what they want. That’s how Instagram became Instagram.

The point is you need to always look for the silver lining. There are always lessons to be learned from mistakes. Those mistakes are what helps us grow and become better entrepreneurs tomorrow. The next time you’re stressed, try your hardest to look for at least one positive. You’d be surprised with how many you can find.

Get outside and exercise

Research has shown that physical activity is an excellent outlet for negative emotions such as stress, anger, and anxiety. As you exercise, your body releases endorphins which give you a natural high. This natural pick me up will help you clear you head and keep your stress at bay.

Some suggest any type of exercise is helpful. Which is true. However, the best way to truly sweat out your stress is by exercising outdoors. Your physical environment plays a major role on your mood. The difference between running on a treadmill and on a trail with a nice view is huge. Even if you take a jog around the neighborhood it’s much better than working out indoors.

Talk with other entrepreneurs

When you’re stressed, it’s never a good idea to bottle it up and keep it within. Whether you need to talk with your best friend or a coworker it’s all very helpful. The best approach you can take is talk with other entrepreneurs. You’ll soon figure out that you are far from alone. Aside from providing moral support, other entrepreneurs may have solutions to your problems since they’ve been there before.

At the end of the day, stress is a part of entrepreneurship. The difference between those who can handle their stress and those who cant is experience and mental fortitude. The seven strategies listed above will help you determine your best methods of coping with stress so you can get back on the horse and build your empire!


Originally published on Calendar by Max Palmer.

The post 7 Proven Strategies That Help Entrepreneurs Handle Stress appeared first on KillerStartups.

Why Motivation is About Deciding What Really Matters 28 May 2019, 7:45 am

I remember the first real job I quit. Even though I was recently given a raise and enjoyed my co-workers, I was way too stressed. I was also spending too much time at work and not what really matters to me at the time. I gave everything to that company and I had bigger things in mind for myself.

Eventually I realized that there was more to life than this specific job. As a result, I put in my two weeks notice and found a gig that allowed me to enjoy what mattered in my life.

Be motivated by your life.

This isn’t an anomaly. Employees aren’t motivated by just compensation. Their motivated by factors like challenging work, recognition, meaningfulness, and quality of work life. In other words, we’re motivated by a sense of purpose.

But, this type of motivation isn’t just confined to the work environment. Knowing your purpose helps you find your comfort zone, or start a business. It also comes with the following benefits.

Motivation helps you focus.

When you decide what really matters most to you, you’ll be able to increase your focus. This is because it forces you to do one thing at time, use time efficiently, and keeps you moving in the right direction. What’s more, when you have focus, you’re better suited to block out distractions.

Guides you to what really matters.

Let’s say you’re meeting a client at a restaurant you’ve never been to. You wouldn’t just hop in the car and start driving. You would put the address in your GPS so that you are guided in the right direction.

When you know what matters, it guides you throughout your life — both personally and professionally. Additionally, it simplifies your decisions. This is because it encourages you to only make decisions that will help you arrive at your destination.

Sparks passion.

Knowing your purpose helps you find your true passion. And, as you probably know, passion is what pushes us to do incredible things. Without that spark, we’re not as motivated to reach our dreams, goals, and ambitions.

Overcome fears.

When you believe in something, you develop the courage to overcome those fears that have been holding you back. For instance, starting a business is frightening. But if your purpose is to start a company that makes the world just a little bit better, you’ll be able to conquer those fears.

Encourages a value-based life.

“When we lead lives based on what matters to us most, we’re happier and more fulfilled,” writes Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. “However, when we lead lives based on ideas that don’t fit anymore, we use random things to fill us up and typically end up feeling empty anyway.”

This is because “living from our authentic values” guide us in making decisions. It also helps us define goals, connect with the right people, and ensures that we’re always on the right path.

Attracts the right things.

Doing what matters to you will attract the right people, events, and circumstances into your life.

It helps find that mentor who will help you get your startup rolling. You’ll want to join that new yoga class to help you get in shape or sharpen your focus. And, you’ll take advantage of any new opportunity that comes your way if it fits into your bigger picture.

Motivation enables you to live a life of integrity.

Let’s say you just got a job offer. A really good job that is paying you a ton of money and comes with unbeatable benefits. The problem? The company doesn’t gel with your values.

You politely turn down the offer. The reason? You have integrity because you know what’s important to you — and it’s not a six-figure salary.

This may not sound important, but as David Brooks wrote perfectly in The New York Times:

“If you live for external achievement, years pass and the deepest parts of you go unexplored and unstructured. You lack a moral vocabulary. It is easy to slip into a self-satisfied moral mediocrity. You grade yourself on a forgiving curve. You figure as long as you are not obviously hurting anybody and people seem to like you, you must be O.K.

But you live with an unconscious boredom, separated from the deepest meaning of life and the highest moral joys. Gradually, a humiliating gap opens between your actual self and your desired self, between you and those incandescent souls you sometimes meet.”

You’ll get more done.

It’s true. In fact, those things that seemed really hard to do become a lot easier.

Think about when you first joined the gym. You probably couldn’t lift much weight or stay on the bike very long. But with your purpose pushing you along, you’ve kept at it. Now you’re lifting more weight than ever and are able to stay on the bike for thirty minutes without getting winded.

Life is just more fun.

Let’s face it, when you know your purpose, you’ll end-up enjoying every minute of life.

That’s because you’re doing something that makes you happy and fulfilled. It also helps you find creative ways to overcome any situation, instead of being held back because of fear.

How to focus on what matters most.

Make no mistake about. Knowing what really matter is the driving force behind motivation. But, how can you focus on what matters most?

  • Determine your priorities. What do you want out of life? What’s your passion? What is your mission?
  • Create a plan. Now you want to draw-up a plan that takes you from where you today to where you want to be. If you want to start a business, then write down the actions to get started. This could be conducting market research, coming up with a name, and getting your business incorporated.
  • Keep your priorities straight. You have a plan. Now it’s time to see it though by taking one-step a time. The easiest way to achieve these is by focusing on your three most important tasks and crossing them off your to-do before anything else.
  • Say “no.” You need to set boundaries. If not, you end-up saying yes to tasks that aren’t a priority for you or don’t play a part in your purpose. You will end up fulfilling someone else’s purpose.


Originally published on Calendar by .

The post Why Motivation is About Deciding What Really Matters appeared first on KillerStartups.

Home Gardening, Finally Made Easy 27 May 2019, 2:25 pm

There’s a green thumb within each and every one of us, just begging to come out and play.

 

But unfortunately, for most of us, it never does.  Despite the best intentions we might have, most first-timers have no clue even where to begin when it comes to gardening.  What plants should I buy? How large of a space should I devote? What other equipment will I need? These are all questions that need answering – and unlike with other hobbies, there’s not a ton of info available on the digital realm to point people in the right direction.

 

Even if you do manage to get some plants in the ground, the gardening journey has only just begun.  Garden maintenance calls for a real combination of art and science – one that doesn’t simply materialize overnight and usually requires a few failed attempts first.  The whole point is watch your plants grow and flourish, after all, and maybe even yield some tasty produce.

 

Why keep going at it blindly, or leaving the fate of your garden up to chance?  Introducing ThePlantMe: your new home gardening companion that makes plant care easy, even for the most confused of beginners.

ThePlantMe is brought to users in the form of an easy-to-use iOS app containing everything you need to explore your new hobby.  They’ve gathered advice & recommendations from some of the world’s top home gardeners to provide the ultimate plant management formula to users – delivered with just a few taps of the screen.

 

It starts with garden preparation and plant selection.  New users can access information on some of the most popular plants, or use their search feature, to uncover the ideal garden mix for their geographic area and situation.  This will help increase a new gardener’s chances at success right out of the gates.

From there, ThePlantMe readily provides information on plant state and growth progress in real time.  This can be used to help optimize key maintenance decisions including how much to water, when to cut leaves, and when to reposition – all of which are helped along via additional suggestions made in the app.

 

The platform’s notification system simplifies things even further by always providing reminders on when and how to precisely care for your tiny green pals.  This makes ThePlantMe a great tool not just for beginners, but also professionals who have many gardens and are pressed for time.

New users can receive this effortless, all-in-one plant care as a free trial for the first month, and then for an annual price of just $49.99 once the trial period ends.  Here are just a few more features and benefits ThePlantMe provides to the home gardening world:

 

  • Can have an unlimited number of plants in your list
  • Trackable, photo-based plant growth history
  • The ability to view plants in AR
  • The ability to purchase auto-renewable subscriptions

 

Foundr Mykhaylo Grynets has been hard at work implementing these features since opening for business earlier this year, and now has his app active on the Apple App Store.  Going forward, he plans to implement even more cutting-edge features for users, in addition to expanding the available selection of plants.

 

Interested in trying ThePlantMe for yourself, or want more information?  You can visit their page on the App Store at https://theplantme.com/ks/app/theplantme.  The Founder can also be reached directly at grynets1@gmail.com.

 

Photos: ThePlantMe

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4 C-Suite Roles You Should Consider Outsourcing 25 May 2019, 8:00 am

When you think about outsourcing, what comes to mind? Offshore manufacturers? Freelance writers?

According to project management software provider Mavenlink, a growing number of firms is opting to outsource roles once thought safe: C-level executives. While the Mavenlink report noted that 47 percent of surveyed executives would consider filling senior-level roles with contractors, the real surprise was that 63 percent of them say they’d prefer contract work to traditional full-time arrangements.

Why, exactly, are companies outsourcing top-level leadership roles? Their reasons vary, but the big two are time and money. The Center for American Progress found that, because executive searches tend to take months or years, the replacement cost for highly educated executives is up to 213 percent of the role’s salary. Replacing a CEO making $200,000 per year, for instance, would likely cost a company upwards of $400,000.

Outsourcing at the Top

In the context of replacement cost, it’s perhaps not surprising that employers are outsourcing their leading roles. Some of them, however, are better candidates for outsourcing than others:

1. Chief marketing officer

At first, this executive position might seem like the worst to outsource. After all, the CMO steers the company’s brand and customer relationships: How could an outsider possibly be the best choice?

The main reason, according to Erik Huberman, CEO and founder of Hawke Media, is trust. “When we start a marketing strategy, we look at awareness, nurturing, and trust,” Huberman, an outsourced CMO himself, explained in Forbes. “You can’t expect people to go for it right away. Seventy-five percent of consumers won’t buy from a brand if they don’t trust it.” A Label Insight survey confirms that 73 percent of consumers view transparency as more important than price.

Why, exactly, is outsourcing the right choice for building trust? Because trust-building is notoriously hard, CMOs with experience cultivating it at multiple firms tend to fare better than those with little experience in the role. But given that a veteran CMO makes more than $170,000 per year, few non-enterprise firms can afford to hire one.

2. Chief financial officer

Although many entrepreneurs know their way around a basic budget, they quickly find themselves in over their heads as their companies grow. Startup leaders usually start searching for a CFO once lenders begin asking them for cash flow projections and covenants, CFO Paul Shackford, founder of outsourced CFO firm B2B CFO, told Entrepreneur.

On one hand, entrepreneurs could hire a full-time CFO — at a median cost of more than $425,000 per year; on the other, they could contract it out. Although Shackford noted that outsourcing the CFO role can save 20 to 30 percent compared to the cost of a full-time employee, a competent outsourced CFO should actually add 1 to 2 percent of a company’s net income via his or her investment strategy.

3. Chief investment officer

Like the chief financial officer, the chief investment officer is an executive-level steward of the company’s assets. Compared to the CFO, though, the CIO is typically managing more money at a larger organization, with fewer day-to-day responsibilities.

Thanks to those factors, four in ten institutional investors studied by Natixis Investment Managers already outsource to some extent. The number interested in outsourcing their CIO, however, continues to grow: Natixis found that across the year duration of its survey, the number of organizations considering outsourcing at least some CIO responsibilities grew by a third. Cited by 49 percent of respondents, the top reason was access to specialist expertise.

Cary Grace, CEO of consulting firm Aon Hewitt, suggests multiple market factors are to blame for the outsourced CIO’s rise. “The markets are more complex and volatile, there’s increasingly geopolitical uncertainty, so (asset owners) are continuing to seek outside expertise,” Grace explained to Pensions & Investments.

4. Chief information security officer

At enterprises and startups alike, information security is another place firms often need outside expertise. Not only is this role critical for safeguarding users’ data, but it’s actually required by law for certain New York state firms.

What if a startup in New York or elsewhere can’t afford a CISO? Fortunately, the law allows businesses to outsource the function. Capstone IT points out that the cost of outsourcing the role costs merely v what the New York State Department of Financial Services charges firms for noncompliance.

Not sure where to start? CSO suggests searching for a virtual CISO with broad expertise. He or she should, for instance, have experience writing corporate security policies, complying with industry frameworks like HIPAA, and conducting vendor risk assessments.

The C-suite might seem like an unusual place for contractors, but virtual executives make it possible for firms to get the expertise they need at a price they can afford. If that’s not enough reason to experiment with executive outsourcing, what is?

The post 4 C-Suite Roles You Should Consider Outsourcing appeared first on KillerStartups.

Thinking About Starting a Business? Here Are Some Important Statistics to Know 23 May 2019, 7:45 am

Entrepreneurship is no walk in the park. In fact, launching a business can be one of the hardest things many people experience in their entire lives. From early mornings to late nights, it’s a time-consuming task, however nonetheless rewarding. Yet, before you take the plunge into entrepreneurship, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into.

Today, there are over 29.6 million small businesses in the U.S., which makes up a whopping 99.9 percent of all businesses in the country. However, all too often new businesses find themselves closing their doors within the first couple of years. In fact, 20 percent of businesses fail in the first year and that number jumps to 50 percent by year five.

To make sure your business isn’t just one of these statistics, here are 10 important things to know before starting a business.

1. It’s a saturated industry.

Today, there are millions of businesses out there. That’s why it’s more important than ever to make your business stand out from the crowd and offer something niche. To give you a better idea, in 2017, there were 29.6 million small businesses just in the United States. And those small businesses make up 99.9 percent of all businesses in the country, according to the Small Business Association.

2. There are high failure rates.

With the highly competitive startup landscape of today, it’s vital to test out your business idea to make sure it has a high success rate. Because all too often, businesses find themselves closing up shop. On average, 20 percent of new businesses fail within the first year. By the third year, this number reaches 34 percent, by year five 50 percent and by year ten 70 percent.

3. Some entrepreneurs don’t make a salary at all.

Starting a business comes at a cost. From overhead costs to salaries, depending on the type of business you launch will determine how much you’ll be spending and making. That being said, don’t expect to become a millionaire overnight. In fact, according to a 2017 study, 86.3 percent of small business owners say they take a salary of less than $100,000, and 30 percent of those say they don’t take one at all.

4. Some loans can be harder to get than others.

Many entrepreneurs turn to banks and other financial institutions to secure a loan for their small business. If you’re one of these people, here are a few stats to know. According to recent research, big banks approved 24.1 percent of small business loans last year. However, don’t worry — small banks and other types of lenders have higher rates of approval for bank loans. In 2017, small banks approved 48.9 percent of small business loans and alternative lenders 58.2 percent.

5. Capital can fluctuate.

Every business needs capital to get started. Of course, depending on the type of business and what exactly it requires will determine how much money you need to successfully get started. On average, research finds that 64 percent of small business owners typically start with $10,000 or less. Another 12 percent usually begin with $10,000 to $20,000, 11 percent with $20,000 to $50,000 and 13 percent with $50,000 or more.

6. Some entrepreneurs dip into their savings.

When they’re just getting starting, many small business owners choose to self-fund. In fact, according to a 2015 study, 75 percent of small business owners use their own money as their primary source of startup funding.

7. Small business owners wear lots of hats.

Entrepreneurship is not easy, especially when you’re first starting out. And to save money, many small business owners find themselves taking on many roles. For example, according to recent research, nearly half of small business owners take care of their own marketing efforts. Other research suggests that 20 percent of small business owners spend 10 to 24 hours a month on accounting, and 50 percent spend nearly ten hours.

8. Home offices are very common.

When you’re just starting out, one great way to save money is by launching your business from home. In fact, according to the SBA, 52 percent of small businesses in the U.S. were home-based in 2014, and this number has remained fairly constant since.

9. Some industries are stronger than others.

Before choosing what exactly your startup will be, it’s important to do some research about the hottest industries at the moment. According to recent research the top industries with the highest forecasted growth rates are health care, marijuana, e-commerce and information technology.

10. Economic uncertainty can be a major challenge.

There are certain challenges in the startup world that have the potential to thwart your new business’ growth. Recent research finds the biggest challenges that stop businesses from scaling are economic uncertainty, lower consumer spending and regulatory burdens.

 


Originally published on Calendar by .

The post Thinking About Starting a Business? Here Are Some Important Statistics to Know appeared first on KillerStartups.

Vape Simplified 21 May 2019, 8:51 am

The Marlboro Man has to be rolling over in his grave.

 

The tobacco cigarette is dying a slow death thanks to the popularity of vaping – which involves the smoking of flavored vapor & nicotine solutions heated by an e-cigarette, vape pen, or similar device.  Vaping is generally less toxic, more convenient, better smelling, and better tasting than traditional cigarette smoking.

 

But with any hot new consumer trend comes a sea of people attempting to capitalize – and vaping is no different.  The market has become flooded with businesses selling various forms of vape solution and accessories, to the point where there’s seemingly a new brand name on the shelves every day.

 

While this massive selection might be seen as a good thing for more experienced vapers, it can be incredibly overwhelming for those just starting out.  Plus, attempting to navigate between legit vendors and those “pretenders” that are just in it to make a quick buck is confusing, and can lead to the purchase of some less-than-quality products.

 

The time is now to end the madness in the vape community, and legitimize the industry to a level that traditional cigarettes once enjoyed.  Introducing Vape Store: Australia’s leading online vape destination.

The online retail platform at the Vape Store offers high quality starter kits, advanced kits, premium eLiquids, and accessories – all at competitive prices from the convenience of your laptop or mobile device.  The website also features unique comparison tables that allow shoppers to easily compare features and help them choose the best products.

 

It’s all part of the Vape Store’s goal of simplifying the shopping process to help vapers of any level find the kit that best suits their needs.  “Most popular” kits and recommendations are also revealed based on key product features to help guide consumers even more in the right direction.

 

First time vaper?  No problem! Vape Store has a large collection of vape starter kits, which include everything you need to get started on your vaping journey.  Once more experienced, shoppers can browse from a variety of advanced vape kits including a larger tank, internal battery, and mesh coil for the ultimate advanced vape experience.

 

The Vape Store starter kit, for example, features a smooth finish stainless steel and Pyrex glass vape pen that can be ordered for as little as $34.95.  To create those more full-flavored clouds, vapers can opt for more advanced kits starting at $59.95. Outside of the kits, other examples of popular product offerings include:

 

  • 10-packs of 30mL eLiquid juice (non-nicotine) for $10
  • 30mL bottle of Banana Ice Cream flavor Sticky Fingers eJuice for $14.75
  • Vaporesso NRG GT core coil for $3.95
  • Innokin T18 Endura replacement tanks for $14.95
  • And many more!

The company also offers free shipping to any destination in Australia, in addition to free standard shipping on orders over $99 (express shipping also available).  This, along with the company’s focus on quality and convenience, has allowed Founder Richard Davids to build up a strong early customer base for his store despite just launching it earlier this year.

 

Whether you’re just embarking on your vaping quest or are simply looking for a better shopping experience, you can see the Vape Store for yourself by visiting www.vapestore.com.au.  The company can also be reached directly via email at sales@vapestore.com.au.

 

Photos: Vape Store

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The Power of Celebrity Involvement in Startups 20 May 2019, 8:00 am

The power of celebrity is not limited to social circles and red carpet after-party admissions. Many famous celebrities have successfully capitalized on their celebrity to cofound and grow their own companies to elevated heights.

In the past, celebrity involvement in a venture was limited to stakeholder buy-ins and endorsements. But a new generation of celebrities has begun to foster their own personal entrepreneurial spirit — and they have inspired and infused the same in Hollywood. Many celebs have put their personal assets and money — not only their fame — into the build-and-scale technology-enabled companies.

Gwyneth Paltrow owns the wildly successful retailer Goop, Gary Vaynerchuk runs his own online media conglomerate, and Beats By Dre has become a household name. Jessica Alba has been able to leverage her fame and industry connections to raise over $70 million in Series C venture funding for her company, The Honest Company. Shows like Shark Tank, Dragon’s Den, and the ability of startups to advertise for funding, has shown a clear trend — and this trend is about to explode.

Here are just four reasons that highlight the power of celebrity involvement in any startup.

Capital Injection

Slated as the number one reason businesses fail is insufficient cash flow. Genuinely, many startups struggle to acquire the necessary capital they need to fund their business plans and keep them running until the product or service can stand on its own, monetary-making, feet.

Investors look to business leaders they can trust, who have the prowess to produce a viable product, earning them a worthy return in capital. We tend to trust what and who we know, and most people are familiar with celebrities.

Take actress Kate Hudson’s startup which sells fitness products online. While all products are high-quality, the idea itself is not unique. Fortunately, Hudson and company were able to raise $85 million in Series-D funding and the company is worth over $1 billion. Hudson now has plans to significantly expand Fabeletics to become a global giant.

Celebrity endorsements can also be a powerful tool for crowdfunding online or advertising your startup. Think of the crowdfunding campaign to make Kylie Jenner, who is already rich, much richer. Add an endorsement from a celebrity like that and your startup could receive crowdfunding simply for its namesake.

Free Endorsements

Investors and customers rely heavily on social proof (i.e., reviews, endorsements, etc.) to decide whether or not they should purchase from a brand. One study purported that consumers have an easier time recalling a product that is endorsed by a celebrity.

Think of Jennifer Anniston’s Smart Water campaign, Kylie Jenner’s (now disastrous) Pepsi campaign, and Britney Spears’ famed Got Milk campaign. Influencer marketing is nothing new, but celebrities bring along their own influence and the influence of others, which is quite rare.

Access to Other Thought Leaders and Influencers

Celebrities and influencers also have access to thought leaders and bloggers in their industry that can give startups some much-needed buzz. Consider the countless interviews Jessica Alba has down on behalf of her company with small magazines and bloggers to drive traffic to her company’s website.

Celebrities like Kevin Hart have built a tech network through their investment, including backing companies like the talent booking marketplace Special Guest App cofounded by comedian / actor Damon Wayans Jr. In the case of Special Guest Damon was able to promote Special Guest last year on National TV during his interview on the Ellen Show.

People want to interview celebrities and want to hear from celebrities. Not only do celebrity influencers open up online opportunities, but also speaking opportunities at conferences and trade shows that go a long way.

Access an Established Audience

Finally, celebrities carry a certain amount of influence with their audience that can encourage greater brand loyalty and recall. Whether it’s gaining initial traffic to your website or getting some social shares, having celebrity involvement in a startup eliminates much of the footwork required to build a following.

As this trend continues to explode, it won’t be inconceivable for the tech industry and Hollywood to become much closer. For all of the benefits, the tech industry has enjoyed from this, one could call it a perfect marriage.

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How to Overcome Entrepreneur Burnout 16 May 2019, 7:45 am

Entrepreneurship can be a rewarding experience, but it can also require a ton of time, motivation, sacrifice, and energy. This often leads to burnouts. I’ve faced multiple burnouts as an entrepreneur and I’ve become pretty aware of the warning signs.

If you feel like you’re running on empty, worrying too much or having anxiety breakdowns, or if you just feel a lack motivation to be productive and work on what used to bring you excitement and joy, you are probably experiencing burnout.

As an entrepreneur, what makes it worse is trying to force yourself to push through regardless of how you feel. Deadlines still need to be met and you still need to eat but ignoring burnout will only make it worse. Here are a few things you can do to overcome entrepreneur burnout and get your spark back.

Identify the Source

First, you must get to the root of the cause of your burnout. Ask yourself what’s making you feel stressed, anxious, or tired when it comes to your work life.

Maybe you took on a project that has left you less than inspired or maybe you took on too much. It’s important to narrow down some sources that could be causing you distress so you can eliminate or reduce them.

Start Saying No

Are you a ‘yes’ person? Saying yes to everything can easily lead to burnout. When you say yes, it creates a new priority and everything can’t be prioritized when it comes to your business.

It’s important to go back to your core goals and values and only say yes to the projects and opportunities that align with that.

This may mean cutting ties with others or handing off assignments and tasks to your team or other colleagues. That’s okay. As you lighten, your burden, you will start to gain more clarity and overcome the burnout.

Set Realistic Expectations

Saying no more will help you begin to set realistic expectations and establish boundaries. If you’ve reached a point of burnout, that means you’re feeling fatigued and overworked.

As a result, you need to set more realistic expectations for yourself and your business. Break up larger goals, start block scheduling your days and don’t be afraid to take the necessary time to actually meet deadlines without added stress and pressure.

Take Time Off

Most people who are burnt out just need a break. Some entrepreneurs find it difficult to take time off because they can’t just cash in vacation hours like traditional employees can.

This just means you have to plan for breaks and create your own PTO package. Start setting a portion of your profit aside for a vacation or just a weekend relaxing at home.

Being your own boss means you have the freedom to control when you work and play so take advantage of it. When you come back to work, you’ll feel refueled.

Create Time For Your Passion Project

You may be experiencing burnout if you’re no longer doing work that you’re passionate about. Business owners get to choose what work they do but they also have to focus on profit. You may find yourself chasing after work that brings in good money but is mentally demanding and doesn’t really make you feel fulfilled.

This is the place I found myself in last year. I went to a summit and spoke with a mentor who recommended I find an easy and low-effort way to make money with my business to cover my basic expenses while I use the rest of my time to work on a passion project.

A passion project may not bring in any money at first, but it can help you break through burnout. When you start getting involved with work you love and enjoy again, you’ll have more motivation, energy, and drive to get up and work each day.

Have you ever experienced entrepreneur burnout? What led to the burnout and how did you overcome it?


Originally published here, by Choncé Maddox.

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4 Reasons Why You Should Start a Business When You’re Young 14 May 2019, 7:45 am

If you’ve ever wanted to start a business, you’re certainly not alone. Whether you think of the next best thing in tech or an easier way to deliver pizzas, the opportunities are truly endless. What separates the “wantrepreneurs” from the entrepreneurs is action. A great idea is worthless without execution.

So when’s the best time to start a business? After years of experience working for a corporation? Once you’ve settled with your family? Truthfully, there’s no golden rule for when you should embark on your journey. However, there are tons of advantages to starting a business early on in life.

Here are four reasons why you should start your business when you’re young.

Fail fast, fail often…fail early.

This quote is used a lot in motivational speaking. We’re told time and time again we need to fail in order to succeed. Like every motivational quote, you need to take it with a grain of salt. Yes, it’s true that you will probably fail many times before you have a big win, however you need to learn how to fail well.

When your business goes under, it sucks. You’ll be discouraged and you’ll have trouble motivating yourself for the next gig. This is why it’s important to fail when you’re young. I launched my first business fresh out of high school. After about a year, we decided to cut our losses.

I was discouraged for months. All that time spent down on myself was time wasted. That said, it’s a good thing I was only 18 and full of energy at the time. Failing fast and failing often is important, but failing early is key. After your first big failure, the next few will be easy.

There’s typically much less at stake.

When we’re young, we generally have less responsibilities. You probably don’t have a family, no mortgage to pay, and if you’re lucky you’re still on your parents’ medical insurance.

Starting a business puts a lot at risk. Aside from your finances, you’re also going to commit 110% of your time. Giving up a year when you’re splitting a room with your co-founder versus a year when you’re supporting a family is a huge difference.

Long-term assets.

If done right, a business can be one of the best long-term assets you can build. Put in the time now, to make a passive income for the rest of your life.

If you’re a millennial like me, you need to get started building assets as early as possible. If you simply trade your time for money, by earning a salary, you just won’t get ahead in life. While it’s tough, building long-term assets is always worth it. That said, you need to start as early as possible.

You’ll get a taste of the ‘real world’.

I’ve always been a hands on learner. I was never able to grasp concepts in the classroom. I just needed to get out and do it.  Classrooms and corporate positions are often very controlled environments. While you can definitely learn a lot, you’ll miss out on some key lessons.

Starting a business is the perfect way to get your ‘real world’ education. There’s no teacher or manager telling you what needs to be done. You need to come up with your own ideas, marketing plans, fundraising goals, hire employees, and much more. When you make a mistake, there won’t be anyone to cover for you. These lessons are invaluable, and can only be learned from experience.

To be honest, it’s never too late to start a business. However, there is an optimal time – and it’s in your youth. So get out there and get to work!


Originally published here, by .

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The People’s Smart Home Provider 10 May 2019, 11:57 am

The machines are catching up.  Thanks to the amazing Internet of Things, some inanimate objects now have a level of intelligence that rivals human beings.

The IoT is placing a whole new world of possibilities at our disposal – connecting everyday objects through an interactive network and giving them previously unimaginable functionality.  But like so many other breakthrough technologies, it remains out of reach for most people at its current point.

This is especially true when it comes to smart home automation.  Being able to control and manage much of what your home has to offer from anywhere in the world is a distinct possibility – but the lofty price tag makes this unrealistic for a large portion of the population.  Don’t forget, there was a time not too long ago when a new PC cost thousands of dollars.

The reality, however, is that many smart home systems are actually affordable – most people just expect them to be out of their price range.  This keeps them away from ever learning what they’re all about in the first place and understanding how much they could help their lives.

The time has come to open the world’s eyes with SYS Smart Home Technology: a new solutions provider looking to bring their innovative home automation systems to the masses.  The company is doing so through their Community Partnership Program, which gets people educated, excited, and involved with the smart home action while simultaneously funding local churches.

The community-based initiative allows churches to sign up and offer congregation members free smart home equipment when they sign up for SYS’ smart home security monitoring.  For each member who does so, SYS will then donate 20% of the sale right back to the ministry.

What’s more, SYS packages start at just $2.50 per day.  Thousands of people who were left out in the cold previously can therefore start powering their homes towards the new age of the IoT right from their mobile devices.  From unlocking the door for a delivery man to switching off lights remotely, the SYS system lets users capitalize on all smart home tech has to offer while also helping save money on utilities.

In addition to convenience, their systems also deliver added safety – including the ability to check on kids while you’re away and identify burglars in the event of a crime.  SYS offers three different packages to customers, with the following elements included in their top level Gold package:

  • 1 smart automation control panel
  • 3 door and window sensors
  • 1 motion sensor
  • 1 smart lock
  • 1 key fob
  • 1 media player with 3 months of Gynesys TV

Going forward, SYS plans to continue adding features and functionality to its current smart home offerings.  On the marketing end, they are prepared to begin aggressively going after ministries in multiple markets to promote the Community Partnership Program. This is a great program for simultaneously helping communities gain affordable access to smart home technology and for funding lifechanging churches and ministries throughout the country.

For more information on SYS Smart Home Technology and to view a detailed explainer video, visit them online at http://mychurch.myfreeautomation.com/.  You can also reach the team via email at akugel@fullscalemedia.com.

 

Photos: Security Sales & Integration; Alarm.com

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10 Productivity Tools Every Business Owner Needs 9 May 2019, 7:45 am

Being a business owner demands a diversity of different responsibilities. You’ll wear an HR hat when hiring and managing employees. Then, you’ll don a financial hat when projecting revenue. After that, you’ll put on other hats for working with clients, generating new ideas, and navigating legal issues. But, there’s one important quality that underlies all these important roles: your productivity and the productivity tools you choose to use.

Productivity Tools are the Real Key to Success

Most of us start the day with a cup of coffee or spend time “getting in the zone” to be more productive. With today’s technology, there are countless digital productivity tools you can use to enhance your productivity as well. And, if you want to stay competitive and give your business the best chance for success, it’s in your best interest to adopt them:

1. Email Analytics

Here’s the high-level view: EmailAnalytics is like Google Analytics, but for Gmail. In seconds, EmailAnalytics pulls all the data from your Gmail account and breaks down how you’ve been using it. Hence, you realize who sends you the most emails, when you send and receive the most emails, and even how you’re writing and reading them. This is all to help you improve your email habits for the better. Since you probably spend 20 hours a week or more just on emailing, the benefits here can’t be understated.

2. IFTTT

IFTTT, short for “if this, then that,” is a free platform designed to help business owners (and everyday consumers) connect their apps and devices together with more integrated, automatic functionality. Even if you’re not tech-savvy, the platform allows you to write short scripts that automatically trigger specific actions under certain circumstances. It has the potential to automate virtually any repetitive or predictable task you engage in. This could save you hours of work overall.

3. Slack

Team communication can make or break your productivity. This is why Slack endeavors to make it simpler and more straightforward for everyone. Slack helps you organize your employees into groups all within one simple platform. Therefore, you can chat at any time and still keep your conversation threads in order.

4. G Suite

G Suite is one of the most ubiquitous sets of tools for business owners everywhere—and for good reason. Its cloud-based software includes collaboration tools for things like document editing and sharing. There are also tools for emailing, calendar coordination, and even file storage. If you’re running a startup with a limited budget, you can get access to most of these tools for free. Even the upgraded package is only $5 per user per month.

5. Evernote

If you take notes frequently, Evernote is a must-have app. Available for every device and operating system, Evernote allows you to take notes on the fly, whether you type, speak, or handwrite them. It keeps everything organized for you. The productivity tool can even turn some of your notes into task lists that improve efficiency.

6. Trello

Trello is one of the top names in project management thanks to its innovative system of boards, cards, and notes. These tools keep you and your team more organized than ever before. With it, you can ensure that no task ever gets lost in the shuffle. Plus, your team remains active and focused on the most important projects.

7. Buffer

If you use social media for your business, you need an app like Buffer. It automates some of your social media tasks and makes the rest of them easier to manage. With its app, you can schedule posts in advance and track how your content performs. Additionally, you can manage all your social media accounts in one central location.

8. Asana

At its core, Asana is a task management app. It allows you to create high-level projects and ground-level task lists within those projects. Then, you can assign those tasks to individuals and track how they’re completed. It’s ideal for both collaboration and long-term analytics. Therefore, you can spot productivity hiccups and take action before they become a problem.

9. GoCo

If you’re stuck dealing with HR responsibilities frequently, there’s no better productivity tool to have in your arsenal than GoCo. It is designed to make HR management easier. You get cloud access to your employee documents, time-off balances, salary data, benefits data, and performance reviews. You can even integrate it with your payroll system to make life even easier.

10. Upwork

Even the most productive and hardworking entrepreneurs can’t do everything on their own. Eventually, you’ll need to hire someone part-time or for a short-term contract to help you fill the gap. That’s where Upwork comes in. It’s a simple, easy-to-use and easy-to-navigate platform that will help you connect with the perfect freelancer for practically any job. Accordingly, it can save you time, money, or both.

Productivity Gains Mean Profitability Boost

These productivity tools are designed to help you get more done throughout the day. You can work more efficiently and ultimately help your business become more profitable. Since they range from free to inexpensive, they’re well worth your time and money.


Originally published here, by .

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Brace Yourselves: A Better Orthosis Solution has Arrived 8 May 2019, 7:13 pm

As a society, we’ve never had more of a craving for physical exercise and fitness.

 

But with this desire for more active living comes unwanted aches and pains – especially when it comes to knees.  The limitation of knee issues is an unfortunate reality for millions of individuals. Knee replacement surgery is an option, but the exorbitant cost and highly invasive nature keeps most people away.

 

As an alternative, many opt to wear knee braces due to their affordable cost and lack of surgical requirement.  And while they do provide some relief, current solutions are are stiff, rigid, don’t use natural rubber, and don’t form-fit to the wearer’s body – thus limiting range of motion.  This can put a huge damper on desires for a more active lifestyle.

 

It’s time to stop being held back by status quo orthosis products.  Introducing SuperSkin Orthosis: the very first non-metal, hydrophobic knee brace of its kind.  SuperSkin’s uni-body nature provides dynamic flexible support that protects and empowers the wearer to live life to its fullest.

The brace’s proprietary design is centered on a single piece of material that stores force as it flexes – form-fitting to the user’s body and allowing range of motion that similar solutions can’t duplicate.  It was uncovered through design processes that haven’t been utilized in the industry before – including 3D printing and laser scanning of legs.

 

This result?  SuperSkin helps decelerate distal joint forces throughout a natural range of motion rather than bracing and restricting movement – placing no limitations on who can benefit from its use.  Superstar athletes and weekend warriors alike can now seamlessly return from performance deficits and injury.

 

Additional features the SuperSkin provides include:

 

  • It’s sweat-proof
  • It’s antibacterial and antimicrobial
  • It’s made from natural rubber (100% silicone)

The innovation was conceptualized by Co-Founder Tennyson Wilson back in 2016.  Since then, the company has been in stealth mode – working to secure trademark and patent rights while simultaneously beta testing & researching with the San Francisco States Kinesiology department.

 

Their early May 2019 launch of a Kickstarter campaign signified the end of stealth mode – and returns have been great already.  SuperSkin had already raised over $4,000 just a few days in, on top of drawing significant customer interest through their Facebook page.

 

Kickstarter funds will be used to make improvements after a year of beta testing – including decreasing wall thickness, adding alternating friction bumps, and building in a cross strap for additional support.  Looking further ahead, the company plans to release elbow braces, a companion app, and other product line extensions.

 

Want to learn more about SuperSkin Orthosis, and perhaps contribute to their Kickstarter campaign?  Feel free to visit it here, or check out their website at www.superskinorthosis.com.  The Co-Founder can also be reached directly at tennyson@superskinorthosis.com.

 

Photos: SuperSkin Orthosis

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Wellness Boom Creates Fertile Ground For Natural Health Startups 8 May 2019, 8:00 am

Over the last few years, health and wellness have been top concerns and new products are everywhere, vying for public attention – and while it’s a competitive marketplace, this is good news for startups. Both investors and buyers are interested in exploring new opportunities for enhancing their health and sales are booming.

Selling A Trend

One of the primary reasons that wellness startups are thriving right now is that trendy topics get a lot of media coverage and coverage fuels sales. What’s more, these brands are masters of new media; wellness startups know how to work with PR firms and traditional publications as well as how to push products via social media influencers. Those influencers play a key role in getting new products into mainstream homes through their appealing Instagram posts, blog reviews, and other promotional strategies. Partnerships between wellness startups and influencers help to sell new products in a pervasive yet personal way.

Trend Spotters

It takes more than just media coverage and influencer support for new wellness startups to succeed. They also need to know the trends inside and out. In 2019, these wellness trends include, for example, a big emphasis on circadian rhythms as a component of overall wellness, a renewed interest in the ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda, and increased availability of natural wellness products at mainstream pharmacies and grocery stores. This push for increased availability is also a big motivator for new brands trying to break into the market. A larger group of buyers means there’s room for more brands to compete and succeed.

Breakout Brands

Whether you’re an investor, a distributor, or just a shopper, health and wellness startups are excited to make a case for their new products, and many of these products channel traditional medicine and folk practices. For example, projections by Grand View Research say the medicinal mushroom market is expected to be worth $50 billion within the next six years as brands promote the idea of “functional foods” and the anti-inflammatory nature of mushrooms.

Brands like Host Defense are leveraging the medicinal nature of mushrooms with their US-grown supplements, each targeted to a specific function and drawing on the unique compounds of mushrooms such as cordyceps, chaga, and lion’s mane. The fact that these products are American made is of particular importance since, despite the growing popularity of medicinal mushrooms, their roots in Eastern Asia have many consumers worried about the safety of the supply chain.

Another traditional practice startups are promoting with a modern twist is the notion of color therapy and how colors relate to the chakras. So how do you rebrand chakras for 2019? With an app, of course. Pranadigma emits imperceptible flashes of light based on users’ specific health needs, leaving a trace of light that boosts the targeted chakras. It can also support specific healing and wellness goals such as quitting smoking, improved sleep, and pain relief.

Modern Branding

Finally, it’s important to consider how modern branding is changing how startups sell wellness products, a phenomenon that can be traced back to Goop and similar modern wellness brands. Goop’s vitamins, for example, have catchy names like Nerd Alert, Knock Me Out, and Ball In The Air that describe their intended effects, and other startups are following this lead.

At acupuncture-forward startup WTHN, which counts the founders of SoulCycle and Sweetgreen among its investors, supplements based on Chinese medicine are rebranded with millennial-ready names like Oops I Did It Again, a recovery formula, and Dream On, a supplement meant for sleep and relaxation. These products supplement emphasis on acupuncture, which aims to make the treatment more accessible and affordable, but they also fit neatly within the new wellness startup culture.

It’s an exciting time to be part of the health and wellness world with new innovations popping up constantly – but how large can the market get? With falling prices and increased availability in mainstream stores, as well as the option to deliver wellness via an app, it seems like the sky is the limit for today’s startups.

The post Wellness Boom Creates Fertile Ground For Natural Health Startups appeared first on KillerStartups.

Automated Financial Modeling for Your Business 7 May 2019, 9:09 pm

For small businesses, cutting corners where you can is an unfortunate reality.

 

One common area where this fact rears its ugly head is in financial management.  The F500s and VC-backed companies of the world are afforded the luxury of Big Four accounting, enterprise software, and other top-level resources – resulting in optimized financial analyses and strategic development.  The rest of us, however, aren’t so lucky.

 

Smaller players must instead resort to the use of Quickbooks or even Excel spreadsheets.  But while these solutions might offer familiarity, they fall short where it really matters – especially in terms of actionable analysis and automation.

 

The time has come to empower all business leaders to run their companies the same way the giants of the world do – regardless of financial restrictions.  Introducing RMI Insights: a machine learning-based visual financial modeling platform that allows businesses to seamlessly automate monthly financial planning and analysis functions.

Democratization of corporate strategy and development – even for the smallest of businesses – has finally arrived.  RMI Insights allows executives to instantly assess actual performance against target performance with little more than a simple PDF or CSV upload of historical financial statements.  Waive goodbye to Excel!

 

Powered by machine learning algorithms, the platform will then do the rest.  Users may visually adjust the key drivers for their targets – including COGS, working capital, and revenue growth – without needing any specific expertise or training.  This results in vastly improved decision making going forward for business leaders.

 

Users can automate RMI-driven financial processes even further by connecting the platform to their company’s ERP (i.e. Quickbooks).  Additional features offered include:

 

  • Ability to invite fellow executives & investors to collaborate with the platform
  • Results presented visually and downloadable as PDF or Excel files
  • KPI dashboard & monthly budgeting tools allow for continuous actual vs. target tracking
  • Valuations of a business can be presented in real time
  • Real-time benchmarking against similar public companies
  • Deal Assessor tool available for investment managers

Wall Street veteran Varun Balan founded RMI back in 2014, and has led the company to 212% YoY growth ever since.  Fast forward to today and the platform currently serves over 20 happy enterprise customers, and a strong growth pipeline as evidenced by continued 10%+ monthly sales increases.

 

On the heels of raising capital from a prominent venture partner at a large DC-based firm, RMI Insights is looking forward to continuing to help empower and grow businesses everywhere.  The platform will officially launch to the mass market on June 17, 2019. – and the sky’s the limit from there.

 

Special discounts are available to customers that sign-up prior to this launch date.  To take advantage or for more information, simply visit www.rmiinsights.com.  The Founder can also be reached directly at varun@rmiinsights.com.

 

Photos: RMI Insights

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Build Things People Want with Scoops 7 May 2019, 1:56 pm

Just because it sounds awesome to you, doesn’t mean it’ll resonate with the masses.

 

If you listen closely enough, chances are you’ll hear dozens of new business ideas throughout the course of a week.  Some budding entrepreneurs even act swiftly on these ideas and begin crafting their ventures – but almost all will never see the light of day.  Why? Because they’re building things that nobody wants.

 

This is the #1 reason startups fail – as the time and money spent developing an offering that ends up being unappealing virtually always sinks the ship.  Founders often get blinded by excitement and simply don’t spend enough time asking themselves whether or not their solution solves a real problem.

 

It’s just super important to have a dialogue with prospective customers and understand their concerns, hesitations, and frustrations upfront – uncovering why they would or would not be a user.  That said, finding a large enough sample size of these people and truly understanding their thoughts is another challenge altogether – often leaving the task on the back burner for good.

 

Product development is a massive investment – so why keep risking it?  It’s time to validate your ideas before building anything with Scoops: a new question & answer platform that uses real people to test concepts, find early adopters, and find out honest opinions on usage potential.

Scoops allows users to conduct research via an independent respondent group.  For just $12, you can ask 100 people a question and then follow-up with additional actions that delve deeper into your idea.  And unlike survey panels, you can have back-and-forth conversations with as many people as you want.

 

The platform operates through a visually-appealing app that’s easy for both sides of the coin to navigate.  Simply ask any question regarding your idea, get the answers you need, and review those answers in the form of multiple choice, respondent comments, or short answers.

 

From there, you’ll have a variety of follow-up options – including asking another question if you’re surprised by the answers, sending a link if many people like the idea, or even conducting an interview if you think you’ve found a prospective customer.  Additional features and benefits that Scoops provides include:

 

  • Very stringent requirements for sourcing respondents
  • Regular scrambling & repeating of questions to defeat answer bias
  • Respondents are balanced out with different ages, occupations, genders, etc.
  • Respondents receive donations to a charity on their behalf (which the company matches), and can also earn gift cards
  • Easy-to-use live chat available for customer service

Scoops was conceptualized by Christopher Lee in 2018, who has wasted no time in building it into the promising position it sits in today.  The platform has earned significant positive feedback from startup leaders, including Savor CEO Nick Tchir.

 

If you’d like more information or want to try Scoops for yourself, visit them online at http://scoops.io/ they’re giving first-time users 1 free question & follow-up (a $7 value)!  You can also reach them directly via email at chris@scoops.io.

 

Photos: Scoops

The post Build Things People Want with Scoops appeared first on KillerStartups.

The Aspiring Entrepreneur’s Guide to Business Financing 7 May 2019, 7:45 am

Americans are more debt-ridden than ever, with around 80 percent of Americans currently carrying debt. While some of this is tied up in mortgages or medical debt, much of it also stems from student loans and credit cards. In fact, the average Gen Xer carries more than $8,000 in credit card debt, while the average Millennial is saddled with nearly $5,000.

And this debt doesn’t just follow us around when we’re alive. Seventy-three percent of Americans died with debt in 2016, and the average debt load was near $62,000. That’s no small chunk of change, and it means people are hindered from doing everything they want to do while they’re alive.

Debt can specifically be a big hindrance to entrepreneurs looking to start or expand businesses. Qualifying for a traditional bank loan to fund a small business is notoriously difficult; in fact, only 8 percent of startups use bank loans for financing. People looking to launch or grow their ventures instead need to educate themselves on their options.

What’s the Big Deal?

Student loan debt is on the rise, which influences graduates’ job choices and results in fewer would-be entrepreneurs taking the leap. With the average debt level hovering just above $30,000, it’s hard for young entrepreneurs to consider taking on more debt.

Worse, a big student debt load may actually make it harder for them to qualify for funding — Millennials with student debt are having a harder time reaching financial milestones than earlier generations because of their diminished credit scores. While the national average credit score is 667, Millennials’ average sits at 625. And the magic line distinguishing bad credit from good is 629, meaning these young entrepreneurs are viewed by traditional lending institutions as high-risk bets with bad credit.

While old-school lenders may not be motivated to invest in these fledgling entrepreneurs, the economy needs them: They create jobs, bring opportunities to small and rural towns, and develop innovations that propel industries forward. Because of this, other financing options have emerged to provide funding for businesses with the potential to make a real impact.

Assessing the Options

While big bank loans were once viewed as the standard avenue for funding, the digital banking landscape has created new options and made existing options more accessible. The first step, however, is for entrepreneurs to determine how much money they need and why.

Business owners borrow for all sorts of reasons, from operating expenses to marketing campaigns. Knowing how much these efforts will cost — and how much they’ll take from existing projects and workflows — is important for ensuring the debt load is appropriate. “It’s smart to make sure your business doesn’t take on too much debt,” says Daniel Wesley, the founder of Creditloan.com, a site dedicated to educating on personal finance and money management. “The other side of the problem is when a business doesn’t borrow enough.”

Wesley has seen entrepreneurs both max out their possible loan amounts and borrow very tight amounts. Each has a downside. Those who’ve maxed out may have trouble getting loans in the future, and those who didn’t borrow enough can have cash flow problems that affect the rest of the business. He says business owners should budget for up to an additional 15 percent of the loan cost to be on the safe side.

The second step is for business owners to determine which type of financing is best for them.

  • Credit cards: Those with personal credit card debt may cringe, but business credit cards are a good fit for short-term financing. Many have high interest rates, but they also frequently come with 0 percent interest for the initial six- or 12-month period. If a business owner needs cash in that time period but can pay it back before interest kicks in, it’s essentially an interest-free loan. Add in rewards programs, including cash back, and some entrepreneurs can make money off the financing they needed temporarily.
  • Lines of credit: Lines of credit are revolving, meaning entrepreneurs can borrow what they need, pay it off, and see their line of credit replenished to be used again. Interest is only charged on the amount borrowed, not on the amount approved. These lines of credit are typically unsecured, which prevents business owners from having to put up collateral, such as product inventory or real estate.
  • Working capital loans: These loans are intended to help a small business get through a cash crunch, lasting as short as a month or as long as a year. This is a good option for a startup that needs to finance a new product line prior to release or fulfill a large order prior to payment. Such loans are intended solely for operational use, not for acquiring assets or making investments.
  • Small business loans: These can take many forms, from online loans to Small Business Administration loans. Entrepreneurs need to consider the loan terms, repayment schedule, and collateral needed to secure these types of loans. Online loans, for example, can get small business owners same-day approval, while SBA loans have lower interest rates than most other options.
  • Invoice factoring: For those wanting to avoid debt altogether, invoice factoring — selling a business’s invoices at a discounted rate to a factoring company — may be an option. In this scenario, the business receives a lump sum payment from the factoring company, which is paid by customers when they fork over the money they owe. Invoice factoring doesn’t require collateral and can allow companies to keep long-term customers on longer payment periods.

Entrepreneurs have to assess their options to determine which type of financing is best for their situation. If their cash flow is strong but they need financing to pay for a big equipment investment, a small business loan may be the best option. A business that doesn’t want to put up any collateral may opt for a line of credit instead.

As these options show, however, bad credit, poor past budgeting, and debt don’t have to prevent entrepreneurs from building their businesses. With an open mind, a strong business plan, and market demand, business financing is always a possibility — it just may take a different form than many expect.


Originally published here, by .

The post The Aspiring Entrepreneur’s Guide to Business Financing appeared first on KillerStartups.

4 Useful Tips for The First Time Entrepreneur 2 May 2019, 7:45 am

Entrepreneurship can’t really be taught. If you want to learn how to become an entrepreneur you need to just get out and do it. You need to go through the trials and tribulations of running a startup. That experience is invaluable. That all said, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t learn as much as you can from those who’ve paved the way for you. This knowledge won’t guarantee your success but it may help you avoid certain pitfalls along the way.

Here are four useful tips for the first time entrepreneur:

Stick to What You Know

When starting a business you should always stick to what you know. Running a company is hard enough. Running a company in an industry you’re unfamiliar with is typically a big mistake. The main reason individuals start businesses in fields that aren’t knowledgeable in is because they see a larger opportunity.

Again, there are situations where this may make sense. For example, if your co-founder has experience in that space it may be worth the risk. However most of the time you should avoid going down that path.

Stick to What You Love

In addition to working in an industry you’re an expert in you should also work in one that you’re genuinely passionate about. In a startup you’ll go months even years before making any money. Those months when you’re eating Top Ramen struggling to pay your bills are the toughest. This is when that inner passion comes into play. That passion is what gets you through those tough months and eventually on to building a wildly successful company.

Again, it’s common to want to forego passion for bigger opportunities elsewhere. I can promise you that your happiness is more important than a larger paycheck.

Stay Focused

Many first time entrepreneurs are anxious to jump at any opportunity that comes their way. Throughout my life i’ve been told to never put all my eggs in one basket. In addition to that i’ve also been told to stick to one thing and do it well rather than do 10 things poorly. So which one’s correct? The answer is both.

In business you should never rely on one source or one opportunity. However, if you’re running a company it should be your main focus. If you don’t give your company your full attention it’ll hurt your productivity and effectiveness for that company. If you want to have another project to work on as a back-up for your original concept then it may say something about your business. It’s always okay to close down shop if you think it’s time.

Know When to “Take It Behind The Barn”

As I mentioned above it’s always okay to close down shop if you think your company has run it’s course. In fact, this is one of the most valuable tips I can give a first time entrepreneur. Your business is like your baby. You want to see it grow and flourish into a magnificent entity. This makes it difficult to truly evaluate your business from an outside perspective.

If things aren’t going well and they’ve been that way for a while it’s time to take a giant step back. At some point you need to decide if it’s worth continuing with a business. Your time is your most valuable asset at the end of the day. If your business is taking up too much time with nothing in return it may be time to shut it down. I’ve done this many times, and it sucks. In the end of the day though, I know I made the right choice.

Running a startup is tough. That said you’re going to need all the help you can get. If you’re a first time entrepreneur make sure you take note of the four tips listed above.


Originally published here, by .

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3 Painless Ways to Plan Out Your Content Calendar 30 Apr 2019, 7:45 am

Organization and planning are key when it comes to putting out quality content for your business. A content calendar helps save you time and energy when it comes to brainstorming topics and themes and can help you stay on track.

Whether you’re launching products, delivering value via your blog, or sending emails to your list, here are a few helpful tips for planning out your 2018 content calendar quickly and with ease.

Create a Theme For Each Month

This is common for bloggers to do. If you are trying to keep your content fresh and relevant, you’ll find it helpful to come with monthly themes you can base your content on. Then, all you need to do is brainstorm topics that fit within that category.

For example, lots of people tend to be interested in goal-setting and starting fresh in January. You may even have a launch for your business that could be an entire theme for a particular month.

Be sure to set goals for your business for the year first along with how much content you want to produce each month before you decide on your monthly content theme.

Determine Which Issues Your Customers Need Addressed

Are there unique challenges in your industry that customers face? If you’re not sure, ask them. Reach out to your email list with a survey. Join Facebook groups on your niche and just observe the conversations and questions asked there.

Use your findings to create a list of potential topics, promotions, and lead magnets you can create. Sometimes, it’s easy to run dry on content ideas, but by doing this ahead of time, you can stock up on plenty of topics to use when the time is right.

Repurpose Old Content

Another easy way to plan out your content calendar for 2018 is to repurpose a lot of older content that people have. found helpful. Do you have popular blog posts, e-books, case studies etc.? If there are evergreen, you can always update and repurpose them in the new year.

For example, you may want to take some popular written content and turn it into a webinar, infographic, masterclass, video, or course.

You can also update older blog posts that have been popular and create new lead magnets to grow your email list.

Keep It Limited and Create Funnels

Another idea for easy content planning is to keep your free and open content simple, helpful, and limited and create opt-ins to get people on your email list to receive exclusive content from you.

This is where you’ll create an evergreen email funnel to establish authority, build trust, and sell your products or services. Once you create your email funnel series, you can automate it for new sign-ups and won’t have to add much content in the future. This is a great way to set yourself up for 2018 and the years to come.

Have you planned out your content calendar for 2018 yet? Do you use any of these strategies?


Originally published here, by Choncé Maddox.

The post 3 Painless Ways to Plan Out Your Content Calendar appeared first on KillerStartups.

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