The Government’s War on the Little Guy

Government war on the little guyby John Stossel –
Marty the Magician performed magic tricks for kids, including the traditional rabbit-out-of-a-hat. Then one day: “I was signing autographs and taking pictures with children and their parents,” he told me. “Suddenly, a badge was thrown into the mix, and an inspector said, ‘Let me see your license.'”

In “Harry Potter” books, a creepy Ministry of Magic controls young wizards. Now in the USA, government regulates stage magicians—one of the countless ways it makes life harder for the little guy.

Marty’s torment didn’t end with a demand for his license. “She said, from now on, you cannot use your rabbit until you fill out paperwork, pay the $40 license fee. We’ll have to inspect your home.”

Ten times since, regulators showed up unannounced at Marty’s house. At one point, an inspector he hadn’t seen before appeared. He hoped things had changed for the better. [Read more…]

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Jeff Bezos (Amazon): Top Ten Maxims for Business Success

Jeff Bezos Amazon Top Ten Maxims for Business Success Chris Banescu –
Jeff Bezos, the founder and current CEO of Amazon.com, offers ten maxims that have helped him turn Amazon into the world-class company it is today. Leaders should consider these important principles if they want to insure the long-term success of their businesses. The list was compiled by George Anders, Forbes contributor who writes about management, careers and unforgettable personalities. This story appeared in the April 23, 2012 issue of FORBES magazine.

1. “Base your strategy on things that won’t change.”
Selling lipstick, tractor seats, e-book readers and data storage is all part of one big plan with three big constants: offer wider selection, lower prices and fast, reliable delivery.

2. “Obsess over customers.”
Early on Bezos brought an empty chair into meetings so lieutenants would be forced to think about the crucial participant who wasn’t in the room: the customer. Now that ­surrogate’s role is played by specially trained employees, dubbed “Customer Experience Bar Raisers.” When they frown, vice ­presidents tremble. [Read more…]

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Seven Reasons Why Venture Capitalists Will Hate Your Idea

Entrepreneurship Venture Capitalists by Josh Linkner –
Having witnessed thousands of entrepreneurial pitches as a venture capitalist, I’ve seen the gamut from the good, the bad and the ugly. Of the pitches any VC sees, very few will actually receive funding; there are a lot of factors in that equation, so even for those companies that might be appealing, terms, location, market share, traction and other hurdles sometimes get in the way of signing a check.

However, you’ve got no shot at funding if your potential venture capitalist flat-out hates your idea. If your “next great” idea has any of the following characteristics, there’s a solid chance a VC isn’t going to dig it. [Read more…]

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When Is It Time to Throw in the Towel?

Time to Throw in the Towel by Chris Banescu –
This is an interesting perspective from veteran entrepreneur and Inc. magazine columnist Norm Brodsky. Most entrepreneurs are independent, visionary, and courageous spirits driven to work had and achieve success regardless of personal sacrifices and risks. However, there are situations in which no matter how hard we work we may need to throw in the towel and chose to pursue a different venture or path; while still taking away critical lessons and experiences that can be invaluable.

Passion, vision, and drive are important attributes of all entrepreneurs, but so is pragmatism. Sometimes walking away from an unprofitable business or problematic venture is the best solution in the greater scheme of things. Luckily, the lessons learned and knowledge gained from such situations will be useful in future business or other entrepreneurial endeavors. [Read more…]

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Why Most Ideas are Worthless

Most Ideas are Worthless By focusing less on your next “big idea” and more on the actual execution, you’ll have a better chance of building a successful new business.

by Karl Stark and Bill Stewart –
Maybe it’s the Facebook craze, or the warped view of entrepreneurialism that Hollywood and mainstream media have created. For ages, young and hopeful entrepreneurs have embraced the fallacy that great ideas are the root of entrepreneurial success and instant wealth. People say, “If only I would have thought of that, I’d be rich!”

Those of us who have built businesses know that success is rarely about the breakthrough idea. Clearly, a good idea is important, but it’s just not the source of limitless riches. Real entrepreneurial success most often comes from hard work, risk-taking, and developing a product or solution that creates real value for customers. [Read more…]

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Michael O’Leary on Ryanair Success and EU Incompetence

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary by Lachlan Markay –
Innovation and market disruption can be powerful forces for economic growth. But government involvement in the market tends to be a force against disruption, and hence a force against innovation. The drive to protect the dominant companies – often justified in the name of job preservation — prevents success for companies that offer better, cheaper, or different products or services.

The European Union received a frank lesson in these economic truths when it brought Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary to speak at its recent innovation convention. In a rousing and thoroughly entertaining speech and subsequent Q&A, O’Leary roasted the European Commission’s attempts to protect Europe’s major airlines, often at the expense of innovation in the industry.

“This is the first time I think that I or Ryanair have ever been invited to a conference by the European Union,” O’Leary jibed, “because as most of you know, the European Union spends most of its time either suing me, torturing me, criticizing me, or condemning me for lowering the cost of air travel all over Europe.” [Read more…]

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JetBlue Airways Chairman Joel Peterson: Innovation Is Hiding In Plain Sight

JetBlue Airways Innovation in Plain Sight by Lydia Dishman –
Sometimes innovation looks like good old-fashioned customer service served with a heaping helping of passion from a forward-thinking entrepreneur.

Sometimes innovation doesn’t look like a new social media channel, iPhone, app, or nifty widget. In fact, Joel Peterson believes that innovation is hiding in plain sight. Peterson tells Fast Company, “It’s any time you are doing something in a better way.” The way he sees it, innovation can be simply, “tweaks around the edges [of existing products and services], and a lot of people don’t get credit.”

Peterson sees it happen all the time. Most people don’t know he’s chairman of JetBlue Airways–and the discount airline’s first investor–or that he founded Peterson Partners, a Salt Lake City-based private equity group with some half a billion dollars under management, as well as Peterson Ventures which funds startups. [Read more…]

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Dwolla – New Payment System Sidesteps Credit Cards

Dwolla - New Payment Systemby Alyson Shontell –
There’s a tiny 12-person startup churning out of Des Moines, Iowa.

Dwolla was founded by 28-year-old Ben Milne; it’s an innovative online payment system that sidesteps credit cards completely.

Milne has no finance background yet his little operation is moving between $30 and $50 million per month; it’s on track to move more than $350 million in the next year.

Unlike PayPal, Dwolla doesn’t take a percentage of the transaction. It only asks for $0.25 whether it’s moving $1 or $1,000. [Read more…]

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How to Lead With Purpose

Leadership with purpose compass by Marla Tabaka –
The purpose-driven company is led by someone who has a reliable inner compass guiding them. John Baldoni asks: What’s your direction?

Can you describe the purpose of your business in a single sentence? Do you—and does every single person who is connected with your organization—have a reason to believe in that mission? Internationally recognized leadership educator John Baldoni believes that when an organization succeeds, it is because everyone involved knows precisely what they do—and why they do it. Even in start-up mode, an entrepreneur needs to constantly consider his or her mission and purpose to ensure growth and success. I recently spoke with Baldoni, the author of Lead with Purpose: Giving Your Organization a Reason to Believe in Itself, about the the defining qualities and responsibilities of one who leads with purpose. [Read more…]

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Entrepreneurs: Leading the Way Out

Entrepreneurs Lead by Greg Pesci –
Entrepreneurs, free to pursue their economic dreams, built America! They are, and always have been, its creators of jobs, growth, and wealth.

In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in Democracy in America:“It may be said that, in the United States, there is no limit to the inventiveness of man to discover the ways of increasing wealth and to satisfy the public’s needs.” He continued, “the primary reason for [America’s] rapid progress, their strength and greatness is their bold approach to industrial undertakings.” What impressed De Tocqueville most about business in America was “not so much the marvelous grandeur of some undertaking as the innumerable multitude of small ones.”

Data from the Census Bureau (Business Dynamics Statistics) demonstrate that since 1977 American entrepreneurs in firms less than five years old have been responsible for literally all the net job creation in this country. For more than 30 years, new companies have led job creation in America. Recently, Carl J. Schramm of the Kauffman Foundation stated, “new and young companies and the entrepreneurs that create them are the engines of job creation and eventual recovery.” With 9.8 percent unemployment, if we want to create jobs in America we need to free up entrepreneurs and not burden them with increased taxes or regulation. [Read more…]

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Just Manic Enough: Seeking Perfect Entrepreneurs

9/18/2010 – David Segal –
Imagine you are a venture capitalist. One day a man comes to you and says, “I want to build the game layer on top of the world.”

You don’t know what “the game layer” is, let alone whether it should be built atop the world. But he has a passionate speech about a business plan, conceived when he was a college freshman, that he says will change the planet — making it more entertaining, more engaging, and giving humans a new way to interact with businesses and one another. [Read more…]

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Entrepreneurship Helps Make America Great

6/30/2010 – John Stossel –
For all its problems, America is a great place. And one thing that makes America great is its prosperity. Yes, some people have suffered during the recession — but compared to all the other countries in the history of the world, America is rich. Why?

One reason is that America is a good place to do business. [Read more…]

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The 20 Most Important Questions In Business

6/17/2010 – Christopher Steiner and Brett Nelson –
Entrepreneurs can’t completely inoculate their businesses from the vagaries of the market. What they can do is wrestle with the fundamental questions that govern the fate of any enterprise. We’ve done our best to compile the 20 most important ones.

Digging for those answers is a grueling exercise–one that takes serious intellectual and emotional honesty. With any hope, the process begins long before money’s been spent, products are built and customers are lost. [Read more…]

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The Power Of Personal Passion

5/26/2010 – Eileen Gittins –
How entrepreneurs can turn what they love doing into successful businesses.

Most people think about their jobs as the thing they do, instead of the thing they get to do. When you can build a culture where people feel privileged instead of entitled, that’s magic. And that’s what the best Silicon Valley companies do: They tap into the power of personal passion. [Read more…]

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Message to an Entrepreneur: You’re a Chump

4/28/2010 – Mike Whalen – Washington Times –
Major policy changes can have long-term cultural implications. Major changes can impact behavior almost immediately, but the real cultural implications are a result of the often subtle changes in individual attitudes. With the Obama administration, I believe we will see such cultural changes.

I am an entrepreneur. I started with a little 100-seat restaurant almost 32 years ago. My wife and I, along with many good people, built our company the old-fashioned American way. We worked night and day, lived very frugally for a long time, put almost everything back into the company, borrowed more and more money backed by personal guarantees, hired more people and built more buildings. [Read more…]

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Can Entrepreneurship Be Taught To Big Business?

Forbes.com | by Matt Symonds | 4/23/2010
Entrepreneurship has become big business. Nearly two-thirds of all the colleges and universities in the U.S. offer formal courses in it, 10 times as many as in the 1970s, when only 200 institutions had the temerity to think they could teach such a thing. Now business schools are realizing that even if not everyone wants to be their own boss, people do want to know the secrets of successful entrepreneurship. So they are looking at a new set of potential students–“corporate entrepreneurs.”[Read more…]

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Lessons From a Blue-Collar Millionaire

Inc.com | by Bo Burlingham | 2/1/2010
When Nick Sarillo launched his pizza business, he had one goal in mind: to create a corporate culture unlike any he had seen.

It’s Takeout Tuesday at Nick’s Pizza & Pub, and the air is thick with the smells of hot pizza crust, peppers, onions, and cheese. Eighteen young men and women — most of them high school age — form an assembly line between a row of worktables and a long bank of pizza ovens. The kids laugh and shout, even as they focus intently on their tasks.

Nick Sarillo, 47, stands halfway down the assembly line, holding a giant wooden pizza board. As the company’s founder and CEO, he doesn’t usually work the pizza line anymore. [Read more…]

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Why B-Schools Set Up Entrepreneurs To Fail

Forbes.com | by Sramana Mitra | 2/26/2009
Business schools need to focus on bootstrapping, not only raising money from VCs.

I know I am entering highly contentious territory. Academia generally looks down upon entrepreneurs even as they teach entrepreneurship in business schools and other university programs around the world.

Meanwhile, I have come to observe that most business school programs have an extensive emphasis on fundraising, especially from venture capitalists, and very little pragmatic understanding of what it really takes to get a venture off the ground. As a result, business schools launch students into the real world with completely unrealistic expectations, set up to fail. [Read more…]

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The Way I Work: Kathy Ireland

Inc.com | As told to Liz Welch | 12/1/2009

Former supermodel Kathy Ireland founded a little company to make products for “busy moms” like herself. Now, with revenue of $1.4 billion, she’s busier than ever.

When she was in her 20s and a model, Kathy Ireland says, her job description was “Shut up and pose.” So it irks her when anyone suggests that the 46-year-old CEO and chief designer of Kathy Ireland Worldwide is merely the face of her $1.4 billion business. Ireland, who launched the Los Angeles–based company in 1993 and is the majority shareholder, began by creating a line of socks and parlayed that into a large licensing deal with Kmart that lasted until 2003. Now she puts her stamp on more than 15,000 products — including scented candles, dining room sets, porcelain dishes, wood flooring, skin care products, and swimsuits. [Read more…]

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Five Attributes Of Enduring Family Businesses

Five Attributes Of Enduring Family Businessesby C. Caspar, A. Dias, H. Elstrodt
The keys to long-term success are professional management and keeping the family committed to and capable of carrying on as the owner. Family businesses are an often overlooked form of ownership. Yet they are all around us–from neighborhood mom-and-pop stores and the millions of small and midsize companies that underpin many economies to household names such as BMW, Samsung and Wal-Mart Stores.

One-third of all companies in the S&P 500 index and 40% of the 250 largest companies in France and Germany are defined as family businesses, meaning that a family owns a significant share and can influence important decisions, particularly the election of the chairman and CEO. [Read more…]

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Entrepreneurs Go on Strike

American Thinker | by C. Edmund Wright | Nov. 20, 2009

Can Barney Frank dunk on Lebron? No, he cannot. Nor can anyone else in Washington. Nor can they catch passes from Ben Rothlisberger in the Super Bowl or strike out Derek Jeter in the World Series. They are not equipped to do so. So what?

This ridiculous image speaks to the business malaise infecting the economy since Obama took office. The point is that politicians are equally ill-equipped to run the auto industry or the health industry or the lending industry or the insurance industry — and their determination to do so is sucking all the dynamism from the entrepreneurial class in this country. [Read more…]

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How to Liberate an Economy

Entrepreneurs understand the importance of freedom in the workplace.
City Journal | by Guy Sorman | October 21, 2009

Brian Carney and Isaac Getz’s Freedom, Inc. is a timely book. It’s also countercyclical and somewhat counterintuitive. After all, most of today’s writing about economics and business is haunted by the current crisis: nearly every author and commentator expects that either more or less government intervention will bring the economy out of its difficulties. But Carney and Getz remind us that without well-managed enterprises, there would be no economy at all.

Crisis or no crisis, the engine of economic growth has always been, and will always remain, entrepreneurs. Nations without entrepreneurs—whether they drive them out with excessive taxes and regulations, or in more extreme cases, suppress, exile, or kill them—never reach prosperity. One can often ascertain the condition of a nation’s economy by assessing the cultural, legal, fiscal, and social status of its entrepreneurial class. [Read more…]

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Capitalism: A True Love Story

Forbes.com | by Steve Forbes | October 19, 2009

How is wealth created? Seemingly a strange question for Forbes readers, but the question is hardly an academic one in the wake of the credit crisis and ensuing global recession. It has profound political implications that will affect our economic future.

Clearly, a sizable portion of the assets created in recent years turned out to be “make believe,” the result of an unsustainable, ephemeral bubble in housing and the churning out of increasingly exotic, ultimately toxic financial instruments. It’s one thing for folks and institutions that hold suspect paper to lose out, but it’s quite another when the process that created the stuff ends up undermining the global financial system and battering the lives of hundreds of millions of other people. [Read more…]

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