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What are the common mistakes that seed-funded startup founders make?I raised $500,000 at 19. I was on my way to change the world. Three years later everything burned down.This post is not about how to shoot for the stars or run a company. Others are better at that.This is about what not to do.I’ve made every mistake possible. But ironically, I’m constantly meeting teams doing the exact same things that caused my first startup to implode. Everything I’m writing about I’ve experienced first hand through my own startups as well as various businesses I’ve been involved in. It’s been all my fault and this is my story.Some of you will disagree with me. Others will have things to add. I’m happy to discuss in the comments.Here’s my attempt.ZUCKERBERG SYNDROMMy girlfriend didn’t know what I was working on for nine months. I slept with a chair blocking the front door. My phone was tapped. Corporate America and Uncle Sam were listening. Someone was going to kill me to steal the idea.I really believed this. So I did everything possible (literally) to avoid getting feedback out of the fear of having our idea stolen.Ultimately, secrecy and stupidity killed us. Three years and hundreds of thousands later, we released an alpha version to a modest 30 people for the first time. Everyone hated it. Our capital was gone. Our morale: zero.I see this all the time. Startup founders hiding their ideas because of the fear that someone will steal it. Remember: no one cares about you. Your biggest issue is getting discovered. If someone steals your idea, that means you’re doing something right.Because of this syndrome, most startups are wasting their time and money building products no one wants. Why? Lack of testing. The biggest mistake a company can make (product wise) is to avoid talking to and testing with potential and current users. Every day. It’s also one of the main reasons startup’s fail.If you’re not constantly releasing and looking for feedback you’re either a) delusional (me) thinking too many people will sign up/buy your product and you won’t be able to scale b) scared that it’s not good enough (me) or c) someone will steal your idea (as I was).A. SCALING“Your priority, in short, is proving that people will use your product at all. If they won’t, then it won’t matter if you can’t scale. If they will, then you will figure out a way to scale. I’ve never seen a startup die because it couldn’t scale fast enough. I’ve seen hundreds of startups die because people refused to embrace their product.” — Guy Kawasaki [Emphasis mine]I’ve done this and I’ve experienced this in the past three startups I’ve worked in. It’s completely delusional. If five out of five people tell you that they wouldn’t use your product (before you build), quit. If eight out of ten people tell you that they hate this feature and you empirically see that they’re not using it, kill it. Don’t assume. Always be testing.More on feedback below.b. TESTINGSee point A.C. STEALING(!)No one will steal your idea. It takes time, money, skills and immorality to steal. Not everyone is born that lucky.Most importantly, no one cares about your idea.They’ll only start caring when there’s a massive amount of initial traction (50,000+ users). By then, you’ve already established a strong user/customer base and it’s too late for the others.HIRING FOR WEAKNESSOnly hire for a strength that needs to be filled in your company. Never for a weakness.Not once did any of the startups I worked in hire for a strength. I repetitively recommended hiring people purely out of loneliness, fear and scarcity repetitively. Each time it sunk us deeper.But what does that mean?Hiring for a weakness means that you attempt to fill a weakness in the fundamenetals in your company by hiring for a weakness. Example: If you’re building a product and it’s not gaining traction and your company doesn’t have inherent fundamentals, hiring Ryan Holiday to sell your product won’t help. You can’t fight weakness with weakness.However, if you have a rockstar engineering team and you want to add a marketing person to help take the product get to another level, then you’re adding a strength.Hiring for weakness also means:a. You hire a B+ player instead of a A+ player.b. You hire people so that they go through the struggle with you, so that they share your fears and paranoia. Not so they execute on what’s needed.c. Hiring someone to fill a position. Not to compliment the rest of the company.d. Hiring someone and not having any idea of what the hell you want them to do.e. It means hiring someone because you think there’s no one else. Scarcity.f. Hiring a client’s friend. Because you’re scared.It’s ultimately about the fundamentals. If the fundamentals of the product and the team aren’t there, adding someone is just adding a weakness. It won’t help, because it’s not a strength.PAINTER’S DILEMMAApproving emails? One week treks. Our first wireframes? $40K and four months. Did we have a working product after all this? No. We failed.The Painter’s Dilemma is when you’re so deep in the details of your project that you don’t even know what the idea is anymore. You’re blind. When you’re too deep you need help.How to solve it? Stop. Talk to people. Get feedback. Iterate and build. Release. Breathe.Repeat the loop.The more feedback you get the healthier you and your product are.FEEDBACK*I can’t emphasize this enough. If you don’t get feedback (everyday) you will die. I never got feedback. EVER. Well, until the cash ran out. Oops.If you’re not getting qualitiative and quantitive feedback/data everyday, the cancer will start.It’s easy: speak to people, Google Analytics, send surveys. Just don’t hide from it.*This is the crucial and worth a dedicated blog post in the future.COMMUNICATE“Don’t talk to him, he doesn’t understand. He’s out of the picture next funding round anyways.” I hid everything internally. It was easy, we were in 5 different countries! Our developers were remote (I’ll get to that) and Basecamp was our only means of communication. In other startups, I wouldn’t included people from discussions because “it isn’t necessary. That isn’t their job”New features, awful designs, conniving plans were all pushed through a funnel. I was the leader of the deceiving. Architecting a blue print to push my own delusional “never test and succeed” agenda. My style? The longer the email the less likely someone important will read it. What a strategy. As always, the CEO is the biggest idiot.I don’t care if you’re a church, a tech startup or a non-profit. If you don’t have a system of communication in place that keeps everyone aware of what everyone is doing in the company, in real-time, for every milestone, everyday, you will die very soon.Lesson: Live and breath Scrum.SCREW LAWYERSLawyers are criminals.I spent $15,000 on legal documents/fees we never used. Every entrepreneur/startup I’m involved with thinks lawyers are the first step to success. Bullshit.DOCSAll the legal documents you ever need are available online. If you’re B2B, all companies that you’ll work with have their own standard LOEs, NDAs, etc., that they anyways steal from Fortune 500 companies. Request it. Then use it. B2C? Here.BUT I NEED A TRADEMARK!Unless you have 10,000 clients you don’t need to think about copyright or even the name. Prove the concept first. Worry later. If you do have to worry, those are very nice worries to have.PATENT IT!Patenting something that isn’t validated with at least 10,000 clients is moronic. Ironically, this is the only mistake my first startup didn’t follow through with (fully, at least).DECISION MAKINGI was traumatized from taking decisions. Most startups never take decisions. In other statups I work in, decisions took weeks. People join startups for the reason of avoiding bureaucracy but everyone still does it. Why? Lack of trust and overview of the team, so they choke the process (have I suggested Scrum?).The board should decide on the vision and the group should decide what to execute on by creating a backlog for the week. The team should then have the power to execute it. With a great communication process in place, teammates should be able to take decisions without reporting to anyone while keeping everyone updated with everything’s that going on, live. Have a flat structure to achieve this by using Scrum.Let people do their jobs. Trust them. Don’t have a tedious review process as most startups do. Don’t suffocate the system. Empower your people.Read Scrum by Jeff Sutherland on how to manage your team. Then read Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal for how to organize the information flow. Both books compliment each other perfectly.THE BOARDThe ideal board is 3–5 people maximum if you’re a startup. Anything above that means that either no decisions will ever be taken (my first company) or someone has a hidden agenda and profits from a discombobulated board.A business is not a democracy. Unanimous decisions don’t work and will never work.Who’s should I put on the Board?Only investors/shareholders who hold a large stake and are extremely active in the success of your venture.INVESTORSSmart Money vs Still MoneyJust because someone is offering you cash almost always means you shouldn’t accept it.Your investor can have the greatest contacts in the pharmecutical industry. She can be CEO of Merck. If she doesn’t have a massive network in whatever industry you’re in, it’s worthless. The money will be worth nothing. This is true 100% of the time.Always onboard investors that can help you in your niche industry.MEETINGSThis is my top 3 favorites. Most won’t agree with me on this.I’ve never been to a meeting that has made me money/funded my venture. I don’t think anyone has. Has anyone ever handed you a check at a meeting? I doubt it. Today, it usually happens by wire-transfer.Meetings are pointless. Every team I meet, consult for/work with all think that going to meetings is the most crucial part of business. Most importantly, the whole team should be there. Pick up the fucking phone. Travel is time and money expensive. Even if you’re taking a cab.I would fly 10,000 miles for a 3 hour meeting and then fly back to Europe that same day. $30K. Gone.“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be: ‘meetings.’” - Dave BarryMost of the discussion can be ironed out over email and FaceTime.Ok yes, I agree. Meeting in person is important. But not until it’s necessary. Most of the time, it’s unecessary. And even when it is, it shouldn’t always be an excuse to leave work for a business lunch or to Shanghai for the day.Avoid meetings. Get more done.It’s a waste of time 99% of the time.FOUNDING PARTNERS = YOUR SPOUSEYou will be married to your partners and investors for the next 7–10 years. Choose wisely.Know your team. Speak to your investor’s enemies. Get references for everyone.Don’t be a deceiver. Use Scrum.WORKING HOURSWe worked 16 hour days. Yey! Startup life!No. Work 8–10 hours and you’ll get more done than working 18 hours a day. Don’t believe me. It’s proven.Working 18 hour days leads to a burn out, which leads to painter’s dilemma, then delusion, then deceiving others around you, then depression. Then it’s too late.Ultimately, the more you work the more mistakes you’re prone to make. Mistakes made are mistakes that need to be corrected. Mistakes that aren’t correct can take up to 24x longer to correct than if they were corrected immediately.But you can’t see that. You’re burned out. You’re in Painter.PRODUCT / MARKET VALIDATIONAnother reason I refused to test in the three product startups I was involved in was because “the ideas work successfully elsewhere. They will also work here.” Doesn’t work like that.Just because you’re making a mishmash of several products that have product/market validation elsewhere doesn’t mean people are willing to use your product. I have yet to meet a new founder who hasn’t claimed this.In order for someone to switch to your product, your product needs to be at least 8x better.*Is your product really 8x better than your biggest competitor? If the answer isn’t a clear yes, quit.*Read Hooked by Nir Eyal and Ryan Hoover for how to build habit forming products.RECREATING THE WHEEL“God gave you eyes, so plagarize.” -Michael LewisNo need to re-create the wheel. Everything is out there already for a reason. Use APIs, read books (many books), steal functions, designs, ideas, marketing slogans, branding, on boarding processes, software, colors, clients, everything from other people/companies who are successful.This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t test it in your own environment. You must validate every single function that you put out there. Use the Lean Startup KanBan by Ash Maurya for this.DILUTIONWe gave away 51% for our first funding round. How much did we plan to keep when we “exited?” Think about that. It doesn’t make sense.Startups do this all the time. If you retain 51% after the seed round, how much does the founding team plan to keep by Series B? 20%? If you take the average of what you got paid for equity after the exit + your salary you’ll be paying more in taxes with a minimum wage paycheck for the past 8 years it took you to exit. Might as well work in a shoe store.If you don’t have the bargaining power (a validated product) to raise money with, quit.GUYS IN SUITSOur tech partners wore suits. That made us comfortable. They ended up quoting $100k. We ended up with nothing.If you see tech people in suits, run.OUTSOURCINGI lost well over $100,000 for our first version that was outsourced. We were smart enough to not learn from our mistakes so we found another team to outsource with. Another hefty sum gone. Only myself to blame.I’ve had terrible experiences with outsourcing and great experiences with in-house development.However, many products (we all use everyday) have found great success in outsourcing. I also know many entrepreneurs who outsource and are extremely succesful. While there are massive benefits, there are also downfalls. If you plan to, find a free consulting company that has pre-screened teams.Either way, using Scrum increases your chances of success in-house or out.YOUR TEAMEntrepreneurs read about Steve Jobs’ management style and think he was a tyrant. So they curse at their employees and tell everyone that they are “shit.” They think that’s how a company should be run and that’s how teammates should be treated. Wrong. Treat your team like shit and you’ll get shit.Either way, that’s not how Steve Jobs did it. Steve Jobs empowered his team. He told them that what they’re outputting is shit because he knew that they could do better. Because they are the best in the industry. He made them feel good. He challenged them and today Apple is Apple because of that.On the other hand, I lied. Didn’t speak about the hard things and repressed whatever fear or worry we had. We were scared that someone would quit or that we would look bad if we showed our emotions in front of our investors.You should always be able to tell your teammates all the fears and worries you have. Chances are, if you’re worried about something, everyone is worried about the same thing. Bring it up. Talk about it. I keep mentioning Scrum* because it encourages team members telling each other what’s bothering them and what’s impending the growth progress. This is key to not failing.Not once, in any of the startups I was in, did I or others get credit for great work or for their ideas that ended up being implemented. Not once did anyone congratualte a teammate on a engineering triumph, a beautiful design or a new lead. Startups think “business is business. This isn’t a cute place to pat each other on the backs.”BUT THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT A BUSINESS SHOULD BE. You should be holding each other up, helping one another and listening to the problems in the team. Because ultimately, you’re on the same mission.The second the negativity flows in people become scared. They stop raising issues, telling you how they feel and how to improve the business. When that happens you start to slowly die because you’ve fell into dillusion that everything is working. Six months later, you’re on the street.Empower your team. Congratulate people. Love each other. When someone screws up, tell them that. But also tell them how to improve and ask them why they think they screwed up and how to make their job easier.You’re a team. Be one.*Believe it or not, I’m not affiliated with Scrum in anyway. I’m not even a Scrum Master.—When I reflect on all the stupidity I’ve personally done and the startups I’ve been involved in, I realize that the only thing I ever followed up through and executed with absolute perfection, were the things that eventually ended up killing us: not telling a soul what our idea was. Talking to lawyers. Partnering with bad teams. Hiring out of weakness. Going to too many meetings. No decision making system. Not using Scrum. Hiring people out of fear. Hiding from reality.Mistakes are simple to make but hard to correct. They’re usually the first option that pops up. But as entrepreneurs we do thing because they’re hard, not because they’re easy.Hard choices take a long time to get right. It takes guts, intuition, experience and lots of luck. But never settle. Never accept your situation.Life can always be better.…..This was originally posted on the NY Observer and our blog on Penta.Follow me @lukaivicev or contact me directly at email@example.com.
What are the hottest markets for an entrepreneur to tap into right now?Here are FOUR markets to look at now…Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Tesla, and Microsoft.Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, driverless cars, robotics, and gene augmentation.If you’re not invested in one of those companies or you're not working in one of those industries, then you’re missing the bus… Right?That’s what it seems like.Everyday there is some new technological breakthrough or some new multi-billion dollar idea.That’s very exciting for the consumer.But, what about the everyday entrepreneur?What about the average person who is trying to start a business out of their garage?How the heck are you going to set up a lab to edit human genes? How are you going to engineer a car to drive itself?Unless you have some serious financial backing, you’re going to have a very tough time competing with those big companies.What happened to the simple businesses that anyone can start?They’re out there. You just have to ignore all the noise you hear in the news everyday.Here are four markets that you should look at today that have massive upside potential, but don’t require massive investment.-1. China’s Middle ClassChina is difficult to understand. I’ll be the first to admit that.I’ve been numerous times and I always leave with more questions than answers.The last time I was there, a couple of months ago, I took this picture:Yes, that is a line of people waiting to go into a Chanel store.I’ve been to plenty of malls throughout the US and the rest of the world, as I’m sure you have too. Do you ever see lines of people waiting to go into high-end stores?But, this Chanel store wasn’t alone. Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, and numerous other high-end retailers had lines out their door as well.It's the rise of the Chinese middle class that is fueling this shopping binge... and it's just starting.The middle class in China already outnumbers the middle class in the United States. But, unlike the US, this demographic is still growing.Source: BIInstead of importing products from China to the US...Import products from the US to China.Chinese online retail website tmall.com ranks in the top 20 websites of the world - ahead of Instagram and Netflix.While this may seem counter-intuitive, the facts speak for themselves.There are more buyers in China than the US.So... go sell things to China! Especially high-end products.(We will be going VERY in-depth on this next year. E/P members, stand by.)-2. Home Services - Plumbing, Electrical, HVACSounds boring, right?Well, that's exactly why you should pay attention to these services.Unclogging pipes, rewiring houses, and fixing air conditioning units aren't really the most exciting things to talk about.But, these simple tasks are not going to be replaced by robots anytime soon.So who is going to be working in these jobs?Great question.It's not like teens are going to college to get their degree in plumbing.Source: ROThe days of going to trade schools are long gone. We have an increasing number of college graduates who know how to write 20 page essays, but can't replace a fuse if their life depended on it.The demand for these services will continue to increase as the population grows, but the labor pool to fill these jobs will decrease. This will inevitably result in higher prices for these once simple tasks.(If you are looking to start a business in one these service related industries, please contact me, as I am currently looking to invest in a simple, well run, small company.)-3. Baby Boomer ServicesThis is a pure numbers game.Pick a service and don't make it over-complicated. The shear volume of potential clients will ensure that you'll be successful if you can just stick to your business plan.Source: USCBAnd don't over complicate it. There are already some big players in this space, but there are plenty of services that are being ignored.Instead of building a senior care facility... provide the food services, building maintenance, or transportation that the facility contracts out.-4. CannabisThis is probably the lowest hanging fruit I can think of for a variety of reasons.First, cannabis is federally illegal in the United States and most of the world. That means that the major players that are federally regulated (think banks, pension funds, and institutional investors) can't touch the market.Second, there is still a negative stigma around cannabis that will take a while to dissipate. This means that early adopters will have first-mover's advantage.Third, most people currently in the cannabis industry are focused on actually growing the plant, which leaves all of the auxiliary services relatively uncrowded.If you are skeptical about the future of cannabis, consider this:Cannabis is legal for adult recreational use in 8 US states representing over 20% of the US population. According to Arcview Market Research, the leading cannabis industry market research group, the legal cannabis business in the US and Canada generated almost $6.7B in sales in 2016, up 34% from 2015. Arcview estimates the industry will grow to $22.6B by 2021.And that's just the recreational market.Medical cannabis is currently legal in 29 US states.Source: ProConThe cat is too far out of the bag.While cannabis is still federally illegal, I cannot see a scenario where states would have to reverse legislation.Especially when a state, like Colorado, generates over $1 billion a year in tax revenue.Just think what California - the sixth largest economy in the world - will receive next year when cannabis becomes legal for recreational use.-Remember, there is always an opportunity around every corner.If you think you've missed out on the mountain of money that has been made in the tech industry lately, don't worry.While everyone has been focused on high-flying tech, these industries have been slowly plugging along with little attention.Get after it!
What are some best ways of using 3D printers as a small business model?The growth model seems to be a printer in every business on the way to general replication. Manufacturing is the current emphasis. That may not make sense everywhere and there may be particular uses which prohibit it, so there are likely to be channels like in other segments of the economy, but competition will tend to increase. The tools that enable new industries could be very successful. Small businesses try to fill niches that are underserved by the majors, e.g. designs, costs, customization, turnaround, materials, quantities, complex items, specialty categories, displace existing sectors, etc. Someone is going to try to capitalize on the momentum and create franchises for entrepreneurs. Once certain products become dominant, they may be licensed. Some industries are regulated. There may be aftermarkets. The way it looks in India may be different from the US, China or Europe since they would each try to exploit local supplies and surpluses to export to each other. They may complement one another's software and product lines. They would also look for any reinforcing technologies.Funding would require a business plan and sources, whether loans, crowd, or angels. That means attempting to map out industry trends and profitability. At some point there may be consolidation so timing is signNow.3D printing will explode in 2014, thanks to the expiration of key patents3D Printing IndustryHow 3D printing will change our world - Money - dnaWorldwide shipments of 3D printers to grow 49% in 2013: Gartner - The Times of India3D printing in the emerging markets: IndiaStratasys’ Mojo 3D Printer Released in India3D Printing in India, Talk about Being Behind - NextBigWhat.comA Database of 120 Different 3D Printers, With Prices & StatsShapeways - Make, buy, and sell products with 3D Printing3D Printing Service i.materialise
What are the most effective methods of promoting surveys online?Excellent question.I have actually written about that in the past. Let me run it down for you.We hear it all the time that you need to get feedback from your customers.Yes.But how? How do you collect feedback?The value your company places on customer feedback is what will separate you from a good or great company.“Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions” – Ken BlanchardBut feedback is only effective when you are able to get it right. In other words, feedback is helpful when you manage to get it from the right person, in a timely manner and format.Building a successful voice of the customer (VoC) program requires patience and commitment. Knowing how to unlock and read the signs of user inputs is what sets apart a surviving from a thriving company.Having such an organized program in place will ensure that your team gets the right amount of feedback, but also the true benefits of those responses.It will lead your team to define the customer experience your customers want. Yes, turns out those customer insights are effective.So, how do you promote your survey?Optimize For The Right Feedback ChannelFirst, it’s important to identify the right channel(s) to collect those feedback.Do Your HomeworkThere are different questions you can ask yourselves.Where Are Your Customers Staying?The first thing to figure out is where your customers are staying. You don’t want to send them feedback request through email if none of your customers read their email.Similarly, if you own a Facebook Group with your users, and you managed to foster a community of engaged users, you would want to get their feedback through the Facebook Group. It would save them an email in their Inbox, they would be thankful for that, but it would also feed your group with more engagement.If you are requesting SaaS feedback, ie. your customers are actual users of your application, consider using an in-app widget from tools such as Feedier to request relevant feedback.Which Channel Can You Leverage Without Coming Off as Spammy?The same way you want to be relevant to your customers, you also want to make sure that they will engage your message.Which is why following-up is key.Sending too many messages is not ideal, neither. Make sure to have a cohesive approach across the organization, and inform all your colleagues about the requests, you don’t want to sound redundant.Let’s get into the different channels you can use to get feedback from your customers.Request Feedback Response By EmailThe first channel and the most obvious one is email.Email works great when you are in regular contact through the channel and they expect to see your messages.You can ask your customer feedback question directly in the email.Make sure to A/B test email copy and subject line.33% of email recipients open emails based on the subject line alone.Ask Customer To Fill Out a SurveyBesides asking for feedback through direct email, you can also ask your customers to fill out a survey. Consider channels such as:Website SurveyText Message SurveyIn-App SurveyDirect link to the survey through Email, Social Media, or online communitiesCustomer Support SurveyIf you are going to use a feedback survey, the first thing you want to do is identify the right customer feedback tool for your use-case.Using surveys would allow you to get more structured and organized feedback, all in one place. You could also reap the benefits of integrations with other tools such as your Customer Relationship Management software.Use a Website Feedback WidgetAs you have seen, surveying your customers can be done through different channels. One of the most effective in one-site.For instance, if you want to obtain direct feedback from your customers ordering on your website, you could trigger a pop-up on the order confirmation page.Another example is the release of a new feature in your web application. You could wait for a special event to occur and request the feedback at this point. Tools such as Intercom allow you to get feedback through chat-messaging, and tools such as Feedier would allow you to embed your feedback form in the widget.This would be obviously automated. If you have a large user base, you should consider whether you need to ask for feedback to every single customer or not.Collect Feedback From Customer Support SessionOne quick piece of feedback you can receive is immediately after a support ticket is closed.This would not only help you determine the effectiveness of your support team and their answers, but also the cadence at which your customers expect you to answer.Leverage Online Forums And Social Media FeedbackBeing active on social media and online communities is another way to get feedback, which is usually set aside.Crowdsourcing feedback on niche/industry and associated engaged and active forums works fantastically well and is frequently overlooked. An example of this in action that I’ve recently discovered is Indie Hackers and Failory In this example, it’s mainly for entrepreneurs and developers but has wider marketing and business appeal also.Lee Wilson, Head of SEO, Vertical LeapYou can not only seek feedback by engaging with communities, asking questions, and even dropping a link to your actual feedback surveys.Consider adding value to the community before immediately pushing for feedback. You don’t want to come across as too selfish.Communities such as Reddit have special requirements and a minimum number of engagements needed before being able to post. It cuts through the spam.Besides leveraging communities, you can also build an engaged base of fans on social media. Not only you can actively seek feedback, but also you can listen and wait for the feedback from your customers to come in naturally.We will touch on this in section 5.4. Ask For Feedback From Customers The Right WayBuilding a feedback machine means that you provide a cohesive customer experience. Your feedback requests seem natural to your customers, and they are able to answer them smoothly.You get what you ask for.If you are not able to ask for the right feedback question, you will not get the expected feedback.Ask For Feedback At The Right TimeThe first thing you want to do is ask time-relevant feedback. The same way you would not want to receive a Christmas offer during Summer, your customers don’t want to receive irrelevant feedback request.For instance, in the case of customer service feedback, you would want to send your request right away, as soon as the support ticket is closed. Sending the request 3 days after the ticket has been closed would not make any sense, the customer has moved on by then.The same way you would not want to ask for feedback in the middle of the checkout process, you don’t want to interrupt your customer halfway through the flow.Respect Your Customers’ TimeI hate the feeling of my time being wasted. Don’t you?Always be respectful of your customers’ time when asking for feedback.You could even be even kinder with your customers and incentivize them for their feedback, and their time.More About Survey Gamification In This ArticleThis is usually referred to as survey incentives. This is a surefire technique to build relationships with your customers and show them how much you value their time.But it also depends on what you’re asking for. If this is for simple feedback, an incentive would not be that helpful.Either way, ask straightforward questions and strive to make the customer experience as cohesive and easy as possible.
What are the top must-reads for entrepreneurs?10 Books to Read for Entrepreneurial SuccessBelow are 10 books which I highly recommend you read for entrepreneurial success.The Millionaire Fastlane“What if I told you ‘insane’ was working fifty hours a week in some office for fifty years at the end of which they tell you to piss off; ending up in some retirement village hoping to die before suffering the indignity of trying to make it to the toilet on time? Wouldn’t you consider that to be insane?” – Steve BuscemiIs your financial plan destined for greatness or mediocrity? Is your financial plan tied to variables you can’t control, such as the stock market or your job? Why spend 40 years working 40 hours a week so you can be rich in a wheelchair? It doesn’t make sense.The Millionaire Fastlane is a great book which targets individuals who are willing to live like no one else today, so that they can live like nobody else tomorrow.The End of JobsEntrepreneurship is connecting, creating, and inventing systems – be they businesses, people, ideas, or processes.The End of Jobs, by Taylor Pearson, discusses how now is the best time in the history of the world to become an entrepreneur. Pearson spent three years interviewing hundreds of entrepreneurs from all over the world and working with dozens of them to grow their businesses.The End of Jobs is the culmination of Pearson’s interviews and experiences. This book was eye-opening, thought provoking, and gives a rough outline of how you could be a successful entrepreneur.Financial IntelligenceMany companies and executives expect managers to use financial data to allocate resources and run their departments.Unfortunately, even with this expectation, many managers can’t read a balance sheet, don’t understand how to calculate return on investment, and don’t understand all of the assumptions that go into the income statement and statement of cash flows.With all of these moving parts, it’s essential to have a very strong understanding of accounting and finance – that’s where Financial Intelligence comes in.In Financial Intelligence, Karen Berman and Joe Knight teach the basics of finance – but with a twist. Financial reporting, they argue, is as much art as science.The Slight EdgeHumans are creatures of habit. Every day, we make simple decisions: what to eat, should we exercise, should I call my parents, should I read my book, etc. Are the decisions you are making helping your life? Or are they detrimental to your life? Are they bringing you closer to your goals? Or are you still a long time away from achieving those goals?The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson, walks us through a strategy to achieve success in anything we want in life. Do you want to lose weight? Well, first, you have to start. You have to be consistent. A positive attitude helps keep you going. You will have to pay the price, and you may need to be committed for the long haul. It will be worth it!Sam Walton: Made in AmericaAs a student of personal finance and entrepreneurship, Sam Walton’s story of success and growth interested me. Sam Walton: Made in America was one of the recommended books on Jeff Bezos’ reading list.If a nobody from the Midwest can build a retailing empire from the ground up, then there must be something to learn.Sam Walton: Made in America, is Sam Walton’s autobiography of his life and work. Starting in the 30’s, he talks about growing up during the Great Depression, and the impact it had on his life. Then he takes you on a 50 year retailing journey, from his days running his first store, to owning a national brand and a company bringing in billions of dollars a year. This book was a great read – I definitely recommend it!Question Based SellingWithout sales, you have no business. Let’s look at a great book on sales.Secrets of Question Based Selling, represents a shift in traditional sales thinking.In the past, sales training programs focused on defining the steps of the sales process. It turns out that just identifying “what to do” provides no advantage over competitors who also have a sales process in place, as it’s likely their process is very similar (if not identical) to yours.As a result, rather than just continually rehashing the sales process, Question Based Selling was specifically developed to teach salespeople and entire sales teams “how” to execute more effectively. There’s a reason top salespeople in every industry (and within every company), are outperforming their struggling counterparts, even though they’re all following the same sales process steps!Spin SellingThe method of SPIN selling was developed, through the careful observation of sales experts on 35,000 sales calls, to identify exactly why a sale was successful or not.It turns out that specific questions and the quality of those questions were most important during the sales process.The book, SPIN selling, talks about these specific questions: Situation questions, Problem questions, Implication questions, and Need-payoff questions.For business to business, and large product salespeople, this is a fantastic book for you to read and apply.Zero To OneZero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, by Peter Thiel, with Blake Masters, touches on the mindset required to create a thriving and successful business in the modern world. In addition to thoughts on the required mindset, he poses questions and criteria which are important for any founder to ask and examine as they decide to go into the harsh world of startups and business.Peter Thiel co-founded PayPal and Palantir, and has made investments in other startups, such as Facebook, SpaceX, and LinkedIn.Given this first hand experience in working in and with startups, he created a class which he taught to Stanford students on startups; Zero to One is the book version of this class.POP!Whether you’re an entrepreneur, sales manager, or executive, you know that when it comes to connecting with your customers, every word counts.In POP! you learn about the secrets behind some of the biggest successful brands, names, and slogans.This is a great book for you if you are looking to break through the crowd, stay at the top of the mind for your customers, and make a huge impact.I really enjoyed it while doing through my most recent re-brand of my business. Check it out!The Power of BrokeHave you ever been down to your last fifty dollars? You didn’t know where to go? Were you energized by the fact you had no where to go but up? What you experienced was the power of broke…The Power of Broke is a book about how being broke, on a tight budget, and hungry for success can be motivating, exhilarating, and a catalyst for great success.It’s a story book profiling a number of successful entrepreneurs who didn’t have large amounts of funding starting off.I was drawn to reading The Power of Broke because I saw Daymond John on the popular TV Show Shark Tank and wanted to learn more about his story. In addition, I’m constantly looking to surround myself with the ideas of successful business owners and entrepreneurs. There is no better way than to read about them in books!ConclusionYour level of success will rarely exceed your level of personal development, because success is something you attract by the person you become.The world of business is a wild one – there is so much to learn and know.Look to grow a little bit each and every day.While there’s so much to learn and know, you can become knowledgeable in any field you want over time.
How do you put together a dream team in Silicon Valley?From what I’ve seen, this is how I would do it:Work for a signNow time in industry across multiple companies. Leave a good mark everywhere you go.When you need your dream team, get a few others you’ve worked with on board. They must be great, possibly famous, and united in your efforts. That’s the core of your dream team.Use those people and their networks to recruit and fill out your dream team.Outside of your control, but useful: do all the above during a recession or an uninteresting time in a specific tech field. People are more ready to leave their current jobs.My impression is that serially successful entrepreneurs are very strong at putting together teams like this. Andy Bechtolsheim is one such person: hit company after hit company, plus his keen sense as an angel investor (especially Google, but many others as well). When he funds or starts a company, it gets my close attention.
What are the biggest misconceptions about Japan and Japanese culture?Biggest? Why only the biggest? I have had so many misconceptions to deal with while interacting with foreigners including on Quora. This would be a perfect opportunity for me to express my own native Japanese perspectives on some of the well distributed ideas regarding our country.Table of contentsJapanese trains are always on time.Most Japanese people are niceJapanese think only Japan has four seasons.Japanese people think they are not Asians.Japan is a very safe country.If you go to a Japanese High School, you can date and become happy forever like in Anime.In Tokyo, there are vending machines which sells underpants of High School Girls.Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world.Are you ready? Here we go!Japanese trains are always on time.Always? Hmm, I’ve never seen a single day where the infamous Chuo line was on time. Not to mention that I would even care since they come once every two minutes.The punctuality of Japanese public transportation has been discussed frequently in foreign nations however, what they are often not aware of is the fact that such claims are something from the past. Punctuality of train systems, particularly in Tokyo has deteriorated signNowly for the past two decades.This is often the result of extensive connection service with other train lines within the region.The best example would be the Tokyu Toyoko Line. Opened in the 1920s, the 24km train line which connects Tokyo and Yokohama carries one million people back and forth every single day. In the 1960s, the simple train line which went back and forth from Shibuya to Yokohama got a new destination by sharing lines with a subway line. By 2014, the network has grown to include 4 subway lines, 5 private overground lines, two lines of their own, and one Tourist line.Hence any single unrelated issue from different lines on the other side of the country now affects the punctuality of the train line.Hence, when you're in a rush, make sure you go to your train station ten minutes early, especially if you are changing trains multiple times. You will thank me for that.Also dont forget about the frequent train jumpers who jump into trains to commit suicide. They are the worst.Most Japanese people are niceWe are professionals at acting nice. Since childhood, we receive intensive training on how to be nice to others, especially during our teenage years. Politeness skills is like trunks for elephants. It is required to survive. People who lack such skills would experience the force of natural selection. Hence, we seldom show our real emotions. In fact, when the Japanese have started showing you their real emotion in public, you should know that you have massively fu*ked something up. (I learned this in the hard way)Japanese are polite but not necessary nice.I remember when I was studying in America I was calling the Japanese bank since my credit card was stolen.The head of the dorm suggested me to contact the credit card company and have them mail it to me.Sir, I have lost my credit card and have no money what so ever. Can you help?Operator: Okay. In that case, please come to the bank immediately with your ID. We will give you the new card in person with your valid identification.Sir, unfortunately, I am currently in California, not Tokyo. I physically cannot take the card.Operator: Okay, then please cancel your activity abroad immediately and see our staff in Tokyo as soon as possible.Sir, I do not even have the money to purchase ticket back to Tokyo. Can you mail the new card to this address?Operator: That would be the violation of the company guideline. Please come to the our office in person.Okay, sir, then can I have my mother take the card for me? She has my valid ID with legal documents proving that she is my parent.Operator: I am sorry, you are the only one who we can give you your new card.Then, what the fuck can I do!?!?! This is an emergency. I fucking have no money to go back to Tokyo what so fucking ever!!!!!Operator: In that case, please contact to the Japanese Embassy. Thank you.It was the most cold blooded polite person ever to talk. The Americans are often rude, but they have hearts. Who I called acted like a robot. It made me feel very lonely.Japanese think only Japan has four seasons.Oh, come on! I see these statements all over the internet including Quora. Is this a joke of some sort? Sure, many of us still thinks Russia (and Putin) is Communist, all Americans have guns and shoot anyone suspicious, all foreign lands are dangerous, and Scotland are Englishman as well (and are obsessed with teas). However I have never met or heard of anyone who holds such a ridiculous view anywhere. I mean, simple 6th grade science can debunk such myth (If it were to exist, that is). We are not that comically unintelligent.Japanese people think they are not Asians.Here is another common myth which frequently surface out online. This may come from the Meiji era policy 脱亜入欧 (Exit Asia Enter Europe). However, such ideas are outdated, especially after the cold war when the term East vs West became less relevant.However, we dont use the term Asia frequently in the first place.In school we learn there are six continents in the world.North AmericaSouth AmericaAntarcticaAfricaEurasiaAustraliaStrangely, in maps published in Europe and Americas, there is a peculiar borderline passing through the Former Soviet Union and Turkey.Like thisWhat is this!?Japan is a very safe country.Maybe. Relative to places like the United States or South Africa.I am going to say relatively because, well, I used to think like you until I learned it in the hard way.Also minor crimes such as theft and groping are quite common. Young female individuals should be extra careful.Friend: Officer, my bike was stolen! Someone broke the chain from where I parked!Cop: Nay, they happen often here. Dont get bothered by it.Friend: I have the Security Registration number hereCop: Dude, it doesn't matter. It wont come back. I think you should better buy a new one. They aren’t expensive anymore.—One day in OsakaIf you go to a Japanese High School, you can date and become happy forever like in Anime.Oh shit. Did you imagine that as a high school life in Japan?? Ahahhahaha! Enjoy the taste of reality!If you were a high school student in Japan and had a girlfriend and especially so had a successful career after that, you'll be instantly slaughtered by angry envious mobsters.There is a reason why high school dating is such a major theme in Japanese entertainment industry. Why would anyone consume something which they already have? Huh? Huuuuuuuh????There are two types of teenagers in Japan, those who would be successful, and those who would not. Being a successful teenager means to go to a high profile university via entrance exams. Such success requires a specific environment, at least to the general public.If you want to succeed, have a stable job in the future, or your parents want you to be that way, you will be locked into a fierce competition between other teenagers. No time for dating. Sorry.In fact, you wouldn't have any options in the first place. Frequently, you would be locked into your study room by your parents to finish homework for the cram school you attend every day from 5pm to 10 pm. Also, don’t forget your school work as well! In fact, many schools would do whatever means to keep you on track. You likely need permission from your teacher to go to anywhere other than school or home even after the classes are over. Many parents install GPS on the teens phone to keep track of them. Dating with a girl?? Out of question!!In fact, most teenage dating happens in rural areas among people who don’t have plans to have a high profile careers as they have stable income from farming and fishing.Also, don’t forget the social obsession against teenage romance. If you're caught dating as a teenager, you'll get unwanted attention from noisy grown ups who would follow you like pikmins.In Tokyo, there are vending machines which sales underpants of High School Girls.Sigh* What the Fu*k!? I mean, Whaaat tha Foooooh!!!This claim has been around the internet all over the place, even being cited by high profile non-comedic opinion makers. No. I have never seen anything like that, even in the most fishy places in Tokyo like Akihabara, nor have heard any claims of such being reported.No one in Japan are aware of such thing nor are talking about it, even the most savage netizens such as 2channel users.Here are the responses from them1：風吹けば名無し＠＼(^o^)／： 2017/06/27(火)ええんか？(Thats even okay?)6：風吹けば名無し＠＼(^o^)／： 2017/06/27(火) こマ？(What!? True?)3：風吹けば名無し＠＼(^o^)／： 2017/06/27(火) よく知ってるな(How do you know that?)4：風吹けば名無し＠＼(^o^)／： 2017/06/27(火)どこに売ってるんだよ 教えてくれ(Where do they sell those? Tell me)*Edited and Translated by myselfEven the 2 chan users, who are professionals at underground industries were not aware of such thing which pretty much proves such thing does not exist in the first place.Legally speaking, public display of obscene materials are strictly prohibited in Tokyo. Such vending machines surely would be illegal.So, no. No high school panties. Don’t be disappointed if you cannot find those after you exit Narita or Haneda. I warned you! (We don’t even need people with such intentions to come to Japan in the first place)But don’t fret. We do have quite a lot of other awesome vending machines around the town so enjoy those instead.Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world.Yes, Japan has a relatively high suicide rate compared to the world average. Yet, the statement “one of the highest” is actually an overstatement.According to the WHO, the suicide rate in Japan (per 100k people) is 15.4, while the world average is 10.7. It is relatively high if you think that every two suicides in the world, there are three in Japan. However, if you compare with other nations, things get complicated. For example, the United States scores around 12.6 which is only 2.8 points lower then Japan. South Korea scores over 24 while Sri Lanka, almost 35. Many former Communist countries in Eastern Europe and the USSR ranks much higher then Japan. Therefore Japan does not have one of the highest suicide rates in the world.Yet, why do we associate Japan with Suicide so much? There is no definite answer to this as no one has studied it, however, guesses can be made.One reason could be the fact that our tradition of Seppuku and Kamikaze being widely known throughout the world. People seem to associate Japan with Seppuku and Kamikaze quite commonly. And yes, Kamikaze and Seppuku are sometimes seen in a positive note in everyday life in Japan, but most of us consider such tradition as extreme and outdated.Another reason could be the notoriously high suicide rates among the youths.Recent studies show that Japan has the highest suicide rates among the youths since the 2000s. Tragedy among the youths often gets closed up internationally and such news frequently appear in world news headlines such as BBC and CNN even if they are covered very little in Japan.Footnotes 【画像あり】人気海外ドラマ「東京じゃJKのパンツが自販機で売ってる」 : キニ速