Even the world’s most brilliant idea doesn’t mean much if no one knows about it. It needs marketing, promotion, advertising–a viral wildfire that sweeps across the nation, and even oceans.
Companies with plenty of cash can launch real marketing campaigns, and hope they go viral. But what do you do when you don’t have that much money? It’s called PR. Public Relations. A powerful tool that can make you the talk of the town without spending a lot. But only if it’s done well.
I have used PR as a very effective marketing and advertising tool for many years, for all of my companies. And in that time I learned some very valuable lessons…
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You can maintain your entrepreneurial culture–long after you raise funding, and start making money. Here’s how.
Early in my entrepreneurial career, American Express acquired my first start-up, a company called Competitive Technologies. I remember wondering why a company with seemingly infinite resources would buy my much smaller one. And executives there told me why: there are some aspects of the way start-ups operate that even the world’s most established companies can benefit from.
Here’s a few ways long-standing and even large companies can behave more like start-ups:
1. Stand for Something
People you know who work for bigger companies are sometimes envious of the sense of belonging that start-up counterparts have. The sense of mission, the excitement. So put it back. Find a cause and rally all your employees around it. Give them a unifying sense of purpose, something they can share and…
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A serial entrepreneur who has raised $100 million in his lifetime explains exactly how he did it.
I often help entrepreneurs raise money from investors. I’m not a venture capitalist or investment banker, but I have raised millions of dollars for companies I’ve started, so I know what works.
A few years ago, some technology company founders I was mentoring asked me to come with them to their investor pitch. I helped them get the presentation fine tuned and ready. But we never got to the presentation. Five minutes into the introductions, the lead investor stood up and said: “We don’t do technology investments, why are you even here?”
How could this happen, you ask? I did too. But here’s the No. 1 rule of working with investors that this company, and so many others, failed to follow: Do your homework.
In addition to pitching for money my entire life, I have also sat on the other side of the table, listening to hundreds or perhaps thousands of pitches from entrepreneurs and…
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Your customers are constantly being bombarded with new information. Simplicity has never been more powerful.
It’s amazing how complex our lives have become. Nothing’s simple anymore. Think about it. Even your Facebook page has a million things going on. The increase in complexity has led to a decrease in focus. It’s hard to know what even matters anymore.
Well the same is true for your customers. The noise is so deafening sometimes that your most important message can easily get lost in the shuffle. What are you trying to tell me? What do I need to know about you and your products? What is it you want me to remember about you, your company?
Everybody’s talking at once, saying so much, that customers can no longer remember what we started talking about in the first place. Tweets are flying through the atmosphere as thick as a flock of birds, filling minds with an endless stream of useless information, and crowding out the few things that were really worth knowing.
Why is this so important? Because the world is noisier now than it’s ever been, the competition is tougher and more global, and your customer is being bombarded around the clock with a…
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Start by asking a potential hire his life’s goals–and then draw a roadmap of how those can be achieved working for you.
The most important ingredient to entrepreneurial success is talented employees.
Even with lots of funding, an average team will only produce average results. The best business plan in the world can’t execute itself. It needs a talented team of motivated people with the right skills to get the job done. Considering how important finding talent is to entrepreneurial success, it amazes me the backward approach many leaders take to recruit talent.
All too often, leaders recruit by explaining what their plan is, and by talking about what they want to do. After being recruited that way myself one time, I felt like saying, “So let me get this straight. You want me to work 100 hours a week for the next five years so you can buy a new boat?” (The bad news is I think he would have said, “Yes”.)
When I was building my first start-up, CTI, which American Express later acquired, I grew my team by asking each potential new employee to begin by telling me his goals. I asked recruits what…
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Where will you find your next powerful idea? It might just be when you take a close look at a different business.
You never see bankers at a medical conference. Or teachers poking around the construction industry. After all, what could bankers learn from treating patients, or teachers from construction sites? But the answer is plenty.
I speak about innovation at conferences for every industry. And I see the same faces, sorted into their industry silos, talking to the same people about the same problems and solutions every time. Similarly, when I visit companies, I see health care people knee-deep in health care problems, their noses buried in health care books. I see accountants up to their shirt sleeves in Quicken, studying GAAP principles. The consultants read The McKinsey Way. You get the idea. This is what these folks get paid for, after all.
But they’re all missing something. Something big…
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Become the best darn whatever-you-are that you can be. Set aside your other good ideas. The rest will follow.
The other day, I received a business plan from a pair of entrepreneurs who are smart, talented, and passionate–exactly the formula you want to see. I reviewed the plan they sent me (well, OK, just the PowerPoint). And they had a great idea. Interesting enough to keep reading.
But when I got to the fifth slide, they had another idea. And then later, another idea. Three good ideas in one plan. Sounds like a bargain, right? Wrong! Only a fraction of ideas actually get pulled off.
What do you think happens when you try to launch three ideas at once? Nothing. To implement even one good idea takes a mountain of work–strategic planning, product development, marketing pushes, financing, administration, human resources, and so much more. Taking one idea to profits is hard. To be successful as an entrepreneur, you have to…
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Find out why your customers come to you. And focus on making whatever that is faster and easier to get. So there I was, on the road with the pop sensation ‘N Sync, inside one of the biggest music stores in Times Square in August 2000.
As the CEO of a start-up entertainment company, I was trying to remake the movieGrease with ‘N Sync in the starring role. And while my friendship with the band didn’t make me one ounce cooler, it did give me a unique view into the inner workings of the music industry.
Because of the immense popularity of the band at that time, the owners of the major music store chain were with us in the room. Watching people come in and out of the giant store to…
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“Years ago I met the world’s top-ranked pool player, a woman named Jeanette Lee. Her nickname was the “Black Widow.” They called her that because she wore all black–and destroyed her competition the same way black widow spiders devour their mates.
Jeanette was competing in a high stakes pool tournament for charity, which–as a member of Priceline.com’s founding executive team–I was attending as a sponsor. At one point, Jeanette had an easy shot. The cue ball was right in front of the No. 12 ball, which sat on the lip of the corner pocket. I watched as she studied the shot. And studied the shot. And studied the shot some more. Finally I asked her why…”
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ColorJar Co-Founder Jeff Hoffman had the honor of meeting with the G8 Global Leaders at Camp David in Washington DC to discuss his experiences with entrepreneurship at the request of the United States State Department. Jeff had the honor of leading 25 different countries in a discussion about the global impact of entrepreneurship and small businesses. Jeff helped create a communiqué that put forth a proposal for action to simulate entrepreneurial efforts. Jeff later presented the communiqué to the White House who in turn presented the findings and recommendations to global leaders attending the G8 Summit.
Due to the falling global economy, leaders from around the world have been gravely concerned with the rising percentage of unemployment. With the pressure to create more jobs, leaders have highlighted the positive impact of small businesses on the new economy. In the last five years, 80% of new job postings and opportunities were from small businesses and entrepreneurs. Because of this, the leaders of the G8 conference brought people from around the world to come together in order to create agendas for global action towards entrepreneurship. The session was comprised of leaders from 25 different countries such as Spain, Chile, Australia, France, Germany, Nigeria, United Kingdom, and China.
In addition to the communiqué, Jeff and a group of other inspired entrepreneurs decided to continue working on additional plans to address issues facing entrepreneurs. The group has continued the movement beyond their Camp David meetup, holding a multi-counry Skype call to continue their discussions and plans.