4 Steps to Prepare for a Startup While You are Still Employed

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in skmurphy, Startup CEO: Question of the Day

Someone with the label selfemploy posted the following question (note the fact that he is in Bangalore appears later in the thread, I have included it in the body of the question) on Hacker News earlier this month. As the recession continues to affect not only in Silicon Valley but  many engineers around the world may remain concerned over this same set of issues and potential missed opportunity:

Background: I am a hacker/developer in Bangalore with over 10 years of experience working with cutting-edge software consulting company. Clients list includes fortune 500 companies many of them banks and some product companies. Skill set includes technology and project execution but not marketing and people management.I am married with kids.

Problem: Always wanted to be an entrepreneur, right from the college days but never got myself to do anything about it. Now it seems time is running out.

Is it too late to get into startup mode?

My answer was four suggestions and an observation:

  1. Save your money.
  2. Adjust your lifestyle to allow you to live on a lower spending rate.
  3. Make sure your spouse is supportive of starting something.
  4. Take your time and find at least one co-founder. If you don’t know them well do some smaller projects together first.

Older entrepreneurs bring social capital, commitment, and an ability to focus and persist.

Where Can I Find Speaking Engagements?

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Startup CEO: Question of the Day, Startups

If your New Years Resolution is to speak more, you might be wonder where to go. One type of group that is always looking for speakers are local user groups. User groups offer an informal network and forum for the exchange of ideas, tips, and gotchas. With user groups I also include professional group because the members usually are faced with the same set of problems and challenges and are willing to share problems and solutions. They can be a source of direct leads and referrals — from folks who have interacted with you and substantiate your reliability and character — once you have established yourself as a solid member not just a tourist.

Besides speaking, there are many other ways you can contribute. Here are some suggestions. Think about what can you offer?

  • Training Workshop
  • Write Articles for Newsletter
  • Be a Speaker
  • Plan Something Fun
  • Contribute to Group Forums, Bulletin Boards or Discussion Groups
  • Sponsorships & Prizes

It’s OK to visit a group meeting once or twice to see if it’s the right group, but you should make a personal commitment to regularly attend for a year or so if you want to join the group. Trust is built over time and finding small ways to meaningfully contribute will improve your legitimate reputation in the community.
Provided you can be patient, and abide by the community standards and unwritten rules, user groups offer you opportunities for good face to face discussions (often supplemented by an on-line forum or e-mail reflector) and speaking.

3 Tips for Entrepreneurs Planning a Startup

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Consulting Business, Startup CEO: Question of the Day, Startups

How do you plan when you are in a small software startup? Big company planning models are not just overkill, they are not appropriate for small firms. Startups need a lightweight planning and development model to thread the narrows between “just do it” and “let’s study the problem a little longer.”

We use an one-page planning model. The one-page business plan is different from traditional models. It’s an ACTION plan. Traditional models are out of date by the time they are finished! That’s one reason why they don’t work. They are also very general, trying to fit everyone, as a result are never really useful.

But a one-page model is not a vehicle for raising money or soliciting investment – that requires a different approach. This is an operating plan. The important thing here is the process of planning, developing a better understanding of the business and the options available.

  • Define and understand yourself, your competencies, your product, and your customer.
  • Identify your immediate, mid-term, and long term goals as well as an action plan to reach them
  • Clarify and clearly state your business model and path to revenue

Here’s 3 tips to make it usable.

  1. Keep it simple and usable.
  2. Stick to one page.
  3. Use bullets to jot down ideas. It is not about writing volumes.

Our Idea to Revenue workbook has individual worksheets. Each key concept is presented in a tight, one-page question-and-answer format. We also guide you through the process in the Idea to Revenue Workshop.

Can you recommend an accountant?

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, Startup CEO: Question of the Day, Startups

You can’t go wrong with Ogden Lilly at Boitano Sargent and Lilly. Odgen has done my taxes on the business side for more than a dozen years and helped on the personal side for some complicated returns. I have referred a number of folks to him over the years and always had good results, even when they were facing serious issues in an audit due to prior mistakes or poor practice.

408-287-2123 ogden@bslcpa.com www.bslcpa.com

What is Your Website Grade?

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Startup CEO: Question of the Day, Startups, Tools for Startups

I found an interesting little tool Website Grader which evaluates your website. It produces a score and a list of things you can do to improve it. Some of the things I don’t agree with, but most are pretty good. Last night I played with it and the best sites I looked at were 80-70/100 and the poor ones were below 20/100.

At first I thought the comments on meta-data were bogus, but it is explained better in the blog article Understanding The Magic Of Meta-Data. It points out that although search engines don’t use them exclusively, most SEO experts do recommend that websites use meta-tags. The Meta Description Tag may influence the description of your page. The Meta Keywords Tag is useful for synonyms and less common words. These tags can work in conjunction with your website text.

Also see an earlier post Philipp Lenssen’s Tips For Crafting a Linkable Blog Post.

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