Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Since You Can't Manipulate Time, Try These 13 Time-Saving Tips
As an entrepreneur you have no limits or restrictions. There is nothing that you can’t achieve. Well, except for freezing time.
Time is the most valuable commodity to an entrepreneur. Most of us would do anything to have another hour in the day. But until someone creates an app to manipulate time, we are forced to manage our time extremely efficiently. Here are 13 tips to help make your days more productive.
1. Schedule “You” time. Set aside a block of time to get your personal stuff out of the way. Things such as paying bills and attending to personal emails can take away from your work.
2. Disconnect when you need 100 percent focus. Preparing for an important meeting or a pitch? Turn off your mobile phone, close your email and route your office calls to voicemail. You will be more productive without the distractions.
3. Maintain a “to-do” list. Keep an accurate list and cross tasks off as you complete them. Create your list at the end of each day for the next day -- this allows you to attack the tasks as soon as your start your day.
4. Don’t be scared of technology. Embrace technology. I’ve seen people at their desk waiting on hold, holding the phone to their ear. Throw a Bluetooth headset into the situation and you can answer emails or attack your to-do list while you wait.
5. Say no. You may hate to disappoint people, but for your own productivity, learn how to say "no" to people. It isn’t always the greatest feeling, but it is impossible to appease everyone. If you said "yes" to everyone and every request you would have no time to do what you need to accomplish.
6. Be ultra responsive. We all have iPhones and smartphones, so use them. If you are out of the office and receive an email that you can easily address on the spot, do so! The other day I received this email:
"I’ll email you when I get back to the office. 
Sent from my iPhone"
The response didn’t require this person to be in the office. It was a simple "yes" or "no" response that would have taken less time to type out than the response they sent. If you can reply while out of the office it eliminates wasted time when you get back.
7. Eliminate negative energy. Nothing can drain your energy or ruin your day faster than individuals with negative energy. Dating someone who is negative about everything? Have a friend that dumps his or her sob story on you daily? Cut ties. Don’t let negative individuals take time out of your day.
8. Don’t put off the non-glamorous tasks. When your “to-do” list has some unattractive tasks, they will consume your thoughts until they are completed. Knock them out first so you can have a clear head to plow through the rest of your tasks.
9. Address problems or issues immediately. In that same vein, waiting to fix a problem can be the difference between a 15-minute quick solution and a complete mess that takes you days to clean up. 
10. Get physical. Get 30-minutes of physical activity in every morning before you start your day. You will have more energy throughout the day and you won't feel sluggish. Feeling tired or lazy sucks up valuable time. When I hit the gym each morning it gives me the energy to focus on my brand the entire day.
11. Delegate. If you have a team or staff at your disposal, utilize them. Many entrepreneurs are so stubborn and think they can do it all. Delegating appropriate tasks will free up your time.
12. Write everything down. Use the "notes" app on your smartphone or use a traditional notepad and pen -- and make sure it is always next to you. Have you ever sat down and tried to remember something from earlier as the clock ticks away? Precious time wasted!
13. Keep a schedule. If you have tasks that require your attention each week, stick to a schedule. Things such as accounting, payroll and reporting can typically be done at the same time each week. Rather than scrambling to find time to get it done, establish a designated time and stick to it.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

10 Pointers Every Young Entrepreneur Needs to Know
A young entrepreneur might run across a lot of articles offering advice for the new business owner. But how many articles are actually geared toward the young entrepreneur?
As a former young entrepreneur myself (now I'm 30), I’ve decided to share my insights from my past experiences -- all the types of things that I wish someone had passed on to me when I was first starting out.

1. Do what you love.

When I graduated from college I worked at a job that I didn’t like because it paid me well. I hated to go into work each day. I admit that entrepreneurs typically make the worst employees because they want to be out there growing their own enterprise. Figure out what you love and then become the best that there is at it.
Your passion for your product or service will keep you motivated and get you through the tough times. Yes, there will be challenging moments. But when you work on something that you actually care about (as opposed to just trying to make a quick buck), you'll probably be happy, have direction and fight as hard as you can to make this crazy idea of yours become a reality. 

2. Stay focused.

It’s awfully tempting to jump from project to project, especially when it seems as if a million opportunities are flying by. But don't become distracted from the big picture. Instead of working on multiple projects, stay on track and complete the task at hand. If you’re working on multiple projects, you can spread yourself too thin, which will have an effect on your performance, productivity and resources. Perfect that one thing instead of working on five so-so projects.

3. Exploit online resources.

The Internet is a gold mine of resources. For example, visit the site of the U.S. Small Business Administration for advice about writing business plans, legal considerations, loans and even local resources to help you get that startup off the ground. Other awesome online resources are the websites of SCORE, America’s Small Business Development CenterBplansVentureBeat and, of course,

4. Find a mentor.

Whether you turn to a local entrepreneur, a business leader or a weathered vet that you meet through LinkedIn, having a mentor is one of the best resources you can have. Not only might a mentor have experience (such as dealing with venture capitalists), he or she also could possess an extensive network and help you connect with the right people to make your startup a success.
Don’t be afraid to cold call or email a big name in the industry. Many of these big names like to help younger entrepreneurs as a way of giving back. I met my mentor when I was 12. He was the owner of a large carpet store. I was his paper boy. I delivered his paper in the perfect location every day for three months till one day I saw him. I asked him straight up, Will you be my mentor? He said yes. He’s still a mentor to me today along with many other people.

5. Take care of yourself. 

I was a young go-getter once. (At age 12 I started my first candy stand and had three at one point.) I know exactly how it is: You think that you're invincible. Here’s the breaking news: You’re not.
As an entrepreneur, you might find it easy to push aside healthy lifestyle essentials, such as getting exercise, eating a balanced diet and securing enough sleep. But what good will you be if you’re tired or your immune system if weak? Plus, exercise is a great way to relieve some stress.
Don’t forget to make time for yourself. You need to take a break from work or you might burn yourself out. I personally love to listen to books and have since I was a kid. I’m not very good at reading as I have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder so I listen to books. Find what works for you!

6. Define your market.

Failing to define the market is a common mistake of a lot of young entrepreneurs. Always remember to consider if your business plan makes sense for your market. If you're dreaming up a late-pizza delivery service, do you start it in a business district or a college town? There are a number of ways for you to try to define your market, such as by demographics or psychological factors.  
I always hear people in the fashion industry tell me that their world is a $1.2 trillion market. Technically they may be correct. But if your product is hipster pants, the market isn’t $1.2 trillion. How many hipsters are there in the world? How many of them would purchase your product on a yearly basis? 

7. Be able to explain your business at a whim.

You never know when you’ll have to explain your business. You could run into an investor in an elevator or end up making a sales pitch to a customer while out to eat. Always be ready to clearly and quickly state your mission, service and product or goals.
This is something I learned from Derek Anderson, the founder of Startup Grind, which hosts events for entrepreneurs. He took me to lunch about three years ago and asked me what I did and the business I was promoting. I really didn’t know how to answer. Since then I have refined my pitch so that when someone asks me what I do, I can tell them in five words or less. Practice your 5-second, 15-second and 1-minute pitch over and over. This will help you be able to explain your business to anyone out there in any situation.

8. Remember, you run a startup. 

Just because you secured some funding that doesn’t give you the right to act like you’re a rock star. A luxury home, an office with an actual shark tank or a really fast car are all just a big waste of money, especially in the beginning. Remember, you run a little-known startup (and you're not Richard Branson overseeing a large successful company). Be careful about managing your cash flow and make sure that you keep track of expenses. That's not being cheap. It’s being wise. You don’t want to burn through all your cash too early.

9. There are still rules.  

A major perk that comes with being an entrepreneur is that you’re the boss. You can make your own hours and develop your vision of a company. In short, you’re doing whatever you want. And it’s awesome. But there are some rules that all entrpereneurs have to follow like registering your business and paying taxes. These are just some of the not-so-much fun things you have to handle. If not, you’re going to be in just a little bit of trouble.

10. Know when to fold 'em.

Sure, I’ve had success running and selling several different companies, but do you know how many I’ve started and stopped because they weren’t taking off?  Tons. Some say 9 out of every 10 business fail within the first couple years. 
Don’t let your pride get in the way of closing your company. I learned this the hard way in college when I launched what became my first failure, Utefan. I knew that what I was doing wasn’t going to work or make money. I kept putting money into it and spending time on it. Eventually I had to give up my pride and stop. Know when to let go.
If you’re not familiar with the classic Kenny Rogers song “The Gambler,”then stop what you’re doing and check it out. It offers some of the best advice ever. Why? Just like any great gambler, you have to know when to fold 'em. Instead of continuing to work on a fledgling business, it’s best to walk away and reflect on what went wrong. It’s not going to be easy. But it’s inevitable. And you’ll take that lesson with on your next venture. 

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Do You Still Need a Marketing Plan? Yes, But Constant Updating Is Key.
Today’s marketers face a different challenge than did their predecessors of just a decade ago. The constant rise and fall of new online networks of people and platforms, from MySpace to WhatsApp, has changed the way companies find, connect with and acquire new customers.
Real-time marketing has involved companies demonstrating quick response to public events (think Oreo’s tweet about last year's Super Bowl power outage). Today, effective digital marketing is typified by use of rapid A/B testing, iterating and optimizing on ideas and campaigns and aggressively scaling the tested strategies that prove most promising. This more scientific approach has been formulated by forward-thinking online marketers under the pressure of managing constant change.
In today's fast-paced world the old marketing plan is antiquated. While planning is still important, it needs to evolve into a more iterative and nimble process.
Agile contemporary marketers know there’s a good chance that conditions will be different next month. Unlike marketers a decade ago, they have better visibility about which programs succeed and which fail. Successful campaigns can be doubled down on, shifting resources from poor performers to maximize growth. This newfound dexterity is the key to their success.
Since marketers have adapted, why haven’t most marketing budgets and plans?
In a world of constant adjustment and real-time performance feedback, long-term plans and fixed budgets are becoming increasingly unrealistic. It’s enough to make someone wonder whether marketing plans are even relevant anymore. Yet implementing a marketing program without any sort of plan or strategy seems not only unwise but flat out reckless.
So what does an agile marketing plan of today look like? I asked this very questions of the community at the site I started,, where marketers share ideas and best practices, and participants in the conversation had a lot of interesting insights, which I've synthesized below:

1. The stage and size of the company matters.

Startups and Fortune 500 firms have very different priorities and challenges. By definition their planning needs are different. For startups, being noticed and acquiring new users trumps devoting hours to developing a long-term vision. Large brands have a different challenge: Finding initiatives that will create meaningful growth is key, and these big bets require more planning to protect the company from big losses. The first step in creating a more nimble planning process is to right size it for the company's stage. There is no one-size-fits-all marketing plan.

2. Agile companies need agile plans.

For startups and perhaps all companies, the 50-page Powerpoint marketing presentation is a relic. Shorter feedback loops necessitate shorter-term, more focused planning. Companies that try to create year-long plans and budgets lock themselves into a structure that won't allow them to capitalize on rapidly emerging opportunities or cut campaigns that are clearly losing money.
Big companies can miss out without flexibility built into their planning and execution.
Rather than formulating one- or two-year plans, many companies now choose to create three- or six-month road maps that are designed to target the next business milestone as quickly as possible. In one such short-term plan, the goal might be to focus on validating a new market segment or completing a series of tests for ways to better attract and convert more consumers into buyers.
Once those growth hypotheses are proved (or disproved) over the course of a few months, the next stage of a plan might focus on expanding deeper into the market, testing ways to acquire customers in an adjunct segment or retention strategies to handle new customers.

3. Design a plan that's cohesive, with adequate vision.

During a time of constant change, keeping everyone in an organization on the same page is a challenge. Moving fast can throw even the closest knit of groups out of sync -- particularly when staffers work across a large organization. Even as the day-to-day operational reins are loosened so teams can capitalize on short-lived opportunities, everyone must row in the same direction.
Yet the plan still needs to keep everyone aligned with a vision for the company: What the company is -- its branding, positioning, target markets, competitor analysis and product information -- must be clear. Set the growth goals, major initiatives for achieving them, which key performance indicators will be used and the resources required. The plan should also express the company's knowledge about what’s worked and why.

4. Be open to change and iteration.

Marketing plans should be created in a format so staffers can provide feedback and learning based on a campaign's performance and suggest new opportunities for driving growth. Rather than a Powerpoint etched in stone, agile plans must be living documents that are constantly referenced and updated. With team members contributing real-time data, this document can serve not just as a plan but a nerve center for the marketing organization to keep tabs on what’s working.
A plan that's continually updated, packed with relevant test and program results, is not only more relevant. It's also more effective for driving growth, keeping staffers aligned and ensuring that opportunities are capitalized upon. Business owners can then allocate resources not according to annual budgets but on performance, putting more wood behind their most potent arrows and deftly making adjustments when conditions change. Keep planning docs on a company intranet or wiki that can be updated and commented on, or use Google Docs for smaller teams. 

5. Collaborate across departments.

Today’s companies that are growing fastest haven’t done so with traditional marketing campaigns. It’s been the products themselves that generate the growth. While marketers previously weren't involved in product decisions, tighter collaboration is needed across departments. Product, engineering and marketing need to work together to create sustainable growth.
In researching successful companies, Morgan Brown and I repeatedly found that removing barriers between teams is essential for finding new growth opportunities. For the 10 companies we profiled in our book,Startup Growth Engines, agility came through coordination throughout a company, with every department involved in and invested in driving growth. Plans need to account for growth everywhere, not just at the marketing campaign level.


Sunday, 3 August 2014

5 Essential Reads for Startup Entrepreneurs
For entrepreneurs to stay afloat in the startup world, they have to be able to learn on the fly. Otherwise, they will just sink.
While I believe the best lessons come from actual experience, founders can also learn a great deal from listening to experienced entrepreneurs, talking to mentors and simply picking up a book.
Here are a handful of reads I’ve found that perfectly encapsulate the woes of scaling a business and provide a great blueprint for helping founders through certain startup phases.

1. The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business by Patrick Lencioni

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business by Patrick Lencioni
Businesses usually don’t fail due to a lack of talent but more so because of poor harnessing of the smart people under your roof. That’s the key takeaway from The Advantage, a short read that covers everything you need to know about instilling culture and communicating clearly throughout the organization.
Creating a consistent culture is key to effectively scaling your business. It permeates all aspects and, if done right, guides everything through hiring and firing, enforcing daily productivity and employee engagement and effectively measuring performance.

2. Principles by Ray Dalio

Principles by Ray Dalio

If you’re honest not just with yourself but with your colleagues about your own weaknesses, you can hire the right people to fill the gaps. The counterintuitive argument Dalio makes in Principles -- available as a free pdf download -- is that instilling honesty about failures and shortcoming lays the ground for risk taking. The book was instrumental in helping us realize when we had found my own replacement as COO of NerdWallet. “If you find that you can’t do something well, fire yourself … If you are disappointed because you can’t be the best person to do everything, you are terribly na├»ve because nobody can do everything well,” Dalio writes.
Dalio is definitely on to something. His hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, is the largest in the world, making him one of the richest men on the planet.

3. In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy

In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy
In the Plex can be read several ways: as a "fanboy" journey into "geek never-never land" or as an inspirational journey of a pair of entrepreneurs who, against the odds, created one of the world’s most admired companies.
As an entrepreneur, I read the book with a great deal of relief. Google went through all the same bumps in the road other startups go through: hiring and management problems and difficulties trying to maintain culture as growth occurs. At every stage of growth, Google’s problems are relatable to any startup.

4. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
In his book, the co-founder of venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, literally dissects all the difficult things that come along with owning (and running) a company. For instance, he writes: “The hard thing isn’t hiring great people. The hard thing is when those “great people” develop a sense of entitlement and start demanding unreasonable things. The hard thing isn’t setting up an organizational chart. The hard thing is getting people to communicate within the organization that you just designed." Amen.

5. The Four-Hour Work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss

The Four-Hour Work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss by Timothy Ferriss
This book is controversial and some of its tenets are honestly total crap but there are some nuggets of wisdom for working smarter, not harder.
Running a high-growth company, you can’t expect to only work four hours a week, or only check your email once a week. But if you cut out the extreme examples, Ferriss provides excellent tips on how to hack your time to be more productive. He covers how to most effectively outsource time-consuming tasks, how to cut out unnecessary correspondence to best manage an overflowing inbox and how to use the 80/20 rule to hyper-prioritize your efforts.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Big Organizational Challenges Can Be Overcome With Transparency

With five different generations active in the workforce, it is more important and difficult than ever to keep morale high, employees engaged and turnover low.
According to a 2012 report by Bersin and Associates, $720 million is spent annually on employee-engagement activities alone, and that is expected to increase drastically to about $1.5 billion.
However, the real solution is relatively simple and completely free, yet very few companies embrace the concept: organizational transparency.
At ClearCompany, we conduct annual goal-setting and alignment meetings with presentations by executives and department heads, as well as quarterly check-ins to report on progress. As a result of this company-wide transparency, we have a highly-engaged team and amazing morale. Very few people leave.
Getting started on the path to transparency might be easier than you suspect. Follow these tips to make positive changes that will impact your bottom line:
1. Bring everyone together in an informal setting. 
One of the most powerful aspects of transparency is the clarity it brings to the workplace. Without both transparency and clarity, employees can feel overlooked and confused about their role within the company.
Bring small groups of management and employees together in an informal setting. Present the opportunity as one in which employees can express general concerns, share positive experiences and have an open conversation about what is working and what isn’t.
Beginning the dialogue can be as simple as discussing interesting happenings in the industry and your team’s take on them. Then, lead the conversation into current projects, milestones, and areas of difficulty that need to be overcome.
Don’t come into these meetings with a formal agenda, but allow the opportunity for your team to speak freely and feel comfortable engaging. Just by introducing transparency within a company, employee morale increases exponentially.
2. Identify and share the “5 W's” of company decisions.
 When business decisions are made -- whether big or small -- fill employees in on the details. If information is consistently withheld, it is difficult for employees to understand the strategy and trajectory of the company and their role within it. As such, their work can easily become misaligned or out of scope.
Share the “5 W’s” -- who, what, where, why and when -- of company pivots. This not only engages employees and helps them feel valued, but also clarifies how they will be impacted by the changes. Also, make sure management is available and able to answer questions.
To remain engaged, productive members of your corporate community, employees must understand what their personal responsibility is relative to any changes coming down the pike.
Being open and transparent about company challenges also allows employees to see the bigger picture and feel more empowered to play an active role. With this level of understanding and engagement, your teams will proactively introduce new and creative ways of finding solutions.
3. Be transparent about turnover and encourage mentorship. 
If employees are continually watching team members come and go with no understanding of the cause, retention will suffer.
Remain transparent about employee departures. Clearly communicating team changes in a timely manner will keep employees confident in the team you have worked hard to put in place. They will feel secure not only in their jobs, but also in their specific role and contributions.
Also, leverage transparency to build more collaborative processes. Encourage your leadership team to be true mentors and take an active interest in improving employee skills. Try setting long-term personal goals for each employee that affect the company and their continued growth within it.
By valuing and championing transparency like we have at ClearCompany, you will naturally develop a culture of honesty, collaboration and strong leadership, helping everyone grow. This type of transparent and value-driven culture will see employees stick around for the long haul.

An Ode to Transparency
An Ode to Transparency
Advice can be a great thing, but sadly the average entrepreneur receives so much that he or she must become an expert in filtering out the information that simply won’t work. But there is one piece of advice that is worthwhile that works across all industry sectors and types: Have regular, relaxed companywide meetings where members of the team can receive important updates, hang out and wind down together.
Regularly gathering all employees to discuss what is happening and creating a scenario where honesty and ideas run freely can help companies build toward the ideal of transparency.
Before our managers knew it was the right word for what we were doing, transparency was part of my company's culture: At, the status of every marketing campaign and product in development is routinely made available to every employee. We've even taken this concept into the physical realm by making sure all our walls are of glass. Regular meetings take place at the team, department and company levels to discuss priorities, challenges and potential new directions.
All these decisions have helped us build a stronger company and these are the reasons why:

1. Unity

As startups mature and grow, they inevitably run into the challenge of transferring the passion for the company to those who weren't there from the beginning. The key to building commitment at a growing company is ensuring that all employees, no matter when they joined the team, are given a voice and empowered to collectively help lead the organization forward.
Transparency plays a critical role. Keeping employees informed of wider company issues, struggles and accomplishments pays off: Any employee could have an opinion or idea that leads to a breakthrough. It also helps break down departmental walls and barriers that can sometimes hamper the sense of company unity. By keeping the full team in the loop, the leaders are showing that every individual is necessary and appreciated, a feeling that will only breed a stronger commitment to working together and furthering the organization's goals.

2. Creativity

From the first day, Wix instituted a companywide communication system that automatically informs the entire team about status updates for products, campaigns and sales. Throughout the company, massive screens show projects going on in the company.
Beyond serving as an efficient internal communications system for a staff that now numbers more than 700 employees, it also allows for maximizing our most important asset: human capital.
Over the last six years, employees from marketing have developed brilliant ideas for feature updates. Ad campaigns have been initiated as a result of quirky ideas from developers and products dreamed up by the customer-service team.
Not only is important to spend lots of time and energy in hiring and retaining talented and creative professionals. Part of maximizing this talent is giving employees access to information.
A CEO needs to set the vision for a company makes a big mistake by assuming that he or she is the smartest person in the company. Opening up access to information means trusting that the best ideas may come from other places. We've embraced this mentality and because of it our company has thrived.

3. Accountability

Companies that don't offer access to information will inevitably suffer from problems of accountability and finger-pointing. For example, one course of action might help a certain project while simultaneously damaging another. Or managers might oversee tasks with incomplete information, with only the senior leadership possessing the ability to put the puzzle pieces together. The result is a team that will constantly and rightfully say, How could I have known?
But when all players on a team understand how the pieces fit together, their actions can be channeled in ways that foster growth and progress.
Giving employees responsibility and demanding accountability aren't harsh realities: They are signs of respect, appreciation and trust. Colleagues will know when they're appreciated, and few things show this more than the willingness to put faith in them.
The effort to conceal information from employees is not only counterproductive. It's exhausting. So a leader might ask, What do I gain by deciding who gets to know what? Transparency, on the other hand, pays off by facilitating a high level of employee involvement and encouraging staff contribution to quality decision-making. It also requires far less energy.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

15 Signs You're an Entrepreneur
15 Signs You're an Entrepreneur
Pressed to describe the stereotypical entrepreneur, which words would you use? Passionate? Dedicated? Optimistic? Sure, those apply. But insecure and troublemaker are more accurate, according to 'treps who know a success when they see one. Do the following traits, characteristics and quirks describe you? Well then, you might be an entrepreneur (at heart, if not yet in practice).

1. You take action.

Barbara Corcoran, founder of The Corcoran Group, co-star of TV'sShark Tank and author of Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 into a Billion Dollar Business, says people who have a concept but not necessarily a detailed strategy are more likely to have that entrepreneurial je ne sais quoi. "I hate entrepreneurs with beautiful business plans," she says.
Barbara Corcoran
Corcoran's recommendation? "Invent as [you] go," rather than spending time writing a plan at your desk. In fact, she believes that people with life experience have an active problem-solving ability and think-on-your-feet resourcefulness that can be more valuable than book smarts alone. Those who study business may be prone to overanalyzing situations rather than taking action.

2. You're insecure.

"Many entrepreneurs judged as ambitious are really insecure underneath," Corcoran says. When evaluating potential investments, she adds, "I want someone who is scared to death." Those who are nervous about failing can become hyperfocused and willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. If you feel insecure, use that emotion to drive you to achieve your business goals.

3. You're crafty.

"One of my favorite TV shows growing up was MacGyver," confides Tony Hsieh, CEO of Las Vegas-based Zappos, "because he never had exactly the resources he needed but would somehow figure out how to make everything work out."
Always resourceful: Zappos chief Tony Hsieh.
A lifelong entrepreneur, Hsieh has done everything from starting a worm farm to making buttons and selling pizzas, so he admires MacGyver's "combination of creativity, optimism and street smarts. Ultimately, I think that's what being an entrepreneur is all about--playing MacGyver, but for business." It's not about having enough resources, he explains, but being resourceful with what you do have.

4. You're obsessed With cash flow.

Before founding Brainshark, a Waltham, Mass.-based developer of technology for business presentations, Joe Gustafson bootstrapped a venture called Relational Courseware. "All I ever thought about wascash flow and liquidity," he says, admitting, "there were seven times in [the company's] eight-year history when I was days or hours away from payroll and didn't have enough cash to make it."
How did he respond? "In the early days, you could step up and put expenses on your personal credit card, but that can only go so far," he says. "You need cash--even if you have the best company and the best receivables in the world--to fight the battle one more day." Other strategies he recommends include working with a partner who can provide cash advances on projects and maintaining close communication with suppliers.

5. You get into hot water.

Stephane Bourque, founder and CEO of Vancouver, British Columbia-based Incognito Software, says true entrepreneurial types are more likely to ask for forgiveness than permission, forging ahead to address the opportunities or issues they recognize, even without approval from higher-ups.
"Entrepreneurs are never satisfied with the status quo," says Bourque, who discovered he was not destined for the corporate world when he kept coming up with new and better ways of doing things--ideas that were not necessarily appreciated by his bosses and often were interpreted as unwanted criticism. Now, he says, "I wish my employees would get into more trouble," because it shows they are on the lookout for opportunities to improve themselves or company operations.

6. You're fearless.

Where most avoid risk, entrepreneurs see potential, says Robert Irvine, chef and host of Food Network's Restaurant: Impossible. True 'treps are not afraid to leverage their houses and run up their credit card balances in order to amass the funds they need to create a new venture. In some ways, he says, they are the ultimate optimists, because they operate under the belief that their investments of time and money will eventually pay off.

7. You can't sit still.

Entrepreneurs have unbridled energy that fuels them long past the time when their employees have gone home. They are eager, excited and energized about business in a way that makes them stand out. Irvine would know: He owns a restaurant in South Carolina, is opening another in the Pentagon and has a line of food and clothing products, on top of hosting his TV show.

8. You're malleable.

"If you have only one acceptable outcome in mind, your chances of making it are slim," cautions Rosemary Camposano, president and CEO of Silicon Valley chain Halo Blow Dry Bars. If you are willing to listen, your clients will show you which of your products or services provide the most value.
Her original vision for Halo was part blow-dry bar, part gift shop, "to help busy women multitask," she explains. But she quickly learned that the gift shop was causing confusion about the nature of her business, so she took it out, replaced it with an extra blow-dry chair, and things took off. Smart entrepreneurs constantly evolve, tweaking their business concepts in response to market feedback.

9. You enjoy navel gazing.

Without direct supervisors, entrepreneurs need to be comfortable with the process of evaluating their own performance, says Laura Novak Meyer, owner of Pennsylvania's Little Nest Portraits. That requires "a willingness to solicit feedback from those around you to self-improve," she says, as well as paying close attention to feedback you may not have asked for, such as customer complaints or being outpaced by competitors. Little Nest surveys every client to ask for opportunities for improvement, and Meyer has worked closely with a business coach for the past five years to identify personal areas where she needs to improve.

10. You're motivated by challenges.

When confronted by problems, many employees try to pass the buck or otherwise wash their hands of the situation. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, rise to the occasion. "Challenges motivate them to work harder," says Jeff Platt, CEO of the Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park franchise. "An entrepreneur doesn't think anything is insurmountable … He looks adversity in the eye and keeps going."
Candace Nelson, founder of Sprinkles Cupcakes, agrees. Despite naysayers who questioned her idea for a bakery in the midst of the carb-fearing early-2000s, she persevered and now has locations in eight states. In fact, she was one of the first entrepreneurs in a business that became an ongoing craze, sparking numerous copycats.

11. You consider yourself an outsider.

Entrepreneurs aren't always accepted, says Vincent Petryk, founder of J.P. Licks, a Boston chain of ice-cream shops. They may be seen as opinionated, quirky and demanding--but that is not necessarily a bad thing. "They are often rejected for being different in some way, and that just makes them work harder," Petryk says. When his former boss didn't approve of his off-duty research into ice-cream quality, he went out on his own to develop a made-from-scratch dessert in bold flavors. Rather than copying what most other ice-cream shops were doing, including buying from the same well-known suppliers, Petryk forged his own path. His early competitors? All but one are no longer in business.

12 . You recover quickly.

It's a popular notion that successful entrepreneurs fail fast and fail often. For Corcoran, the trick is in the speed of recovery: If you fail, resist the urge to mope or feel sorry for yourself. Don't wallow; move on to the next big thing immediately.

13. You fulfill needs.

Many people recognize marketplace holes, but it is the true entrepreneur who takes them from cocktail napkin to reality, says Jennifer Dawn, partner in New York City-based Savor the Success, a business network for women. "Entrepreneurs think of a way to fix it and take steps to fix it. They are innovators." So when Savor's network of women began asking for advice and input from co-founder Angela Jia Kim, she and Dawn created a new product: Savor Circles. These mastermind groups connect four members who give each other tailored input and expertise; even better, they provide Savor the Success with a new revenue stream.

14. You surround yourself with advisors.

Actress Jessica Alba, co-founder and president of Santa Monica, Calif.-based The Honest Company, which sells baby, home and personal-care products, notes that "it's important to surround yourself with people smarter than you and to listen to ideas that aren't yours. I'm open to ideas that aren't mine and people that know what I don't, because I think success takes communication, collaboration and, sometimes, failure."
"Success takes communication, collaboration and, sometimes, failure."
--Jessica Alba, The Honest Company
In other words: True 'treps don't hire yes men; they talk to those with experience and conduct thorough research, gathering as much information as they can to make informed decisions rather than taking a shot in the dark.

15. You work and play hard.

"Entrepreneurs fall down and pick themselves up until they get it right," says Micha Kaufman, who snowboards and sails in addition to runningFiverr, the fast-growth online freelance marketplace he co-founded.
You know the type: Micha Kaufman of Fiverr.
Like in sports, the key to success in business is staying super-focused, the CEO notes. During Fiverr's launch, instead of trying to deal with "an endless number of potential challenges," Kaufman and his team focused on "the single biggest challenge every marketplace has: building liquidity.
Without liquidity, there is no marketplace. It's like worrying about the skills needed for frontside-360 jumps before getting on a snowboard and learning the basics."