Weekend Reading: Here’s our weekly link roundup of small business buzz, musings and muchness. A curation of the best small business talk around the web.
Despite its popularity in America, Starbucks struggled when it first expanded to the European market. Neither product quality nor a lack of promotion was at fault; Europeans simply wished to sip their coffee or tea in the café with personalized service. Target, meanwhile, stumbled when trying to break into Canada. While its stores were a prime shopping destination for Canadians traveling south of the border, its locations in the country have stalled as customers have deemed the products inferior. (Wall Street Journal)
The new era of highly connected and interactive technology is changing not only how business employees interact with customers, but also how they interact with each other, and with their company. I am happy to see reports that young companies are in the forefront of these trends, on both the customer trends and the employee trends. Both are required to stay competitive. (Forbes)
Online content is ridiculously powerful. High quality content can communicate that you’re a bonafide expert, turn you into a member of the Twitterati, and make people fall in love with your brand. Online content is the Internet’s version of a Bosch power tool! However, just like any power tool, you’ve got to use it carefully. (YFS Magazine)
I’ve met with dozens and dozens of VC investors over the years, both formally and informally. Some passed on my company. Others we passed on. I’ve also had hundreds of conversations with other entrepreneurs about their experiences with venture investors. These opportunities have given me a good understanding as to what makes a great (and not-so-great) venture capitalist. I also worked in private equity for years before starting CircleUp, and this experience has given me the added perspective of having sat on both sides of the table. (VentureBeat)
The life of the small business owner or entrepreneur is all golden, right? You’ve really got it made when you have a business of your own, and you can forget all about worrying about money ever again. Or at least that’s one of the myths that follow entrepreneurs and small business owners around, and one that might lead to failure, if someone were to really believe it and to sit back and wait for their million dollar idea to sell itself, or for that huge customer base to rush to your store or website. (Ecopreneurist)
The founding fathers of enterprise lived by a simple maxim: crush the little guy. Rockefeller, Carnegie, Morgan and their ilk may have built the modern industrial age but they did it on the carcasses of a million small business owners. Rockefeller is probably the best known for his ruthless assault on entrepreneurs in a campaign that included buying up all the chemicals they needed to refine their oil, buying up all the barrels so they had nowhere to store their oil, and offering his oil to the market at next-to-nothing until he literally bankrupted anyone who stood in his way. For these industrialists, destroying entrepreneurs wasn’t just a matter of personal advancement, it was a holy crusade; a war between the forces of small business and big business capitalism in which the future belonged to the biggest. (Forbes)
Let’s face it: The startup field is still a boys’ club. From founders and CEOs to investors and acquirers, we often see men in leadership positions. Women start fewer companies and raise far less in venture capital, but some of that is starting to change. There is more support for female founders than ever before, and they and their ideas are finding more paths to success. Here’s why this year will be the best yet for entrepreneurs who happen to be women. (Huffington Post)
Leveraging customer word-of-mouth recommendations is the most effective marketing and sales strategy available to companies focused on accelerating growth. Of course, winning those customer recommendations can be a challenge. It’s so effective because it utilizes personal relationships, and in-depth discussions to communicate the best parts of your company’s offering. But that poses the biggest hurdle, as well — overcoming the fact that customers will not recommend your company lightly. After all, it’s asking them to put their personal credibility on the line. (OpenView Partners)
Ultimately, Instagram is all about visual story telling which makes it a great platform to share your brand story one captivating photo at a time. So, if you love Instagram as much as we do – or if you’re just getting started – here’s a look at 10 #mustfollow Instagram accounts every entrepreneur should know about. (YFS Magazine)
Venture capitalists are bad at practicing what they preach. They’ll tell their portfolio companies they can’t be all things to all people, they’ve got to know their customer, hone their approach, and focus on value. All the while, their own investments are often all over the map. It’s human nature to go after the next exciting, shiny thing. And the buzz around hot new companies and new markets can make it easy for a herd mentality to kick-in. Plus, VCs are always prone to contracting a bad case of FOMO — fear of missing out — on the next WhatsApp. (OpenView Partners)
As a serial entrepreneur, you learn a thing or two about small business. You learn the ins and outs; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Most importantly, you become highly aware of simple truths — things that seem way too simple — those “things” that are behind the scenes of successful entrepreneurs. In retrospect, I’ve learned the following indisputable truths about entrepreneurship. When you tell would-be entrepreneurs these truths, some novices will “Gasp!”, “Awe!” or outright ignore them, but it doesn’t make them any less true. (YFS Magazine)
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