How to outsource yourself on a Ramen Noodle Budget

It took me a long time to get to this point where I stopped complaining that I couldn’t clone myself, and missing deadlines to letting technology work for me by being able to outsource my life! Think of all the little (sometimes big) mundane task that absolutely need to get done but constantly pull you from working on big vision, big money calls, meeting and deals.

So I am sharing with you some life/business hacks that have worked for me over the years

Phone/Answering Service: Ultimate life saver! First off I refuse to walk around with more then one phone, so Google Voice was perfect for me in the beginning, having a separate number when business calls come in that was also free Winning!!! As our team ramped up we moved to Grasshopper.com so that we could have multiple mailboxes and a professional greetings, but if you are constantly on the go and can’t always get to the phone, you can easily upset your clients when every time they call they get voicemail. Starting at around $239 a month you can use Ruby Receptionist which provides you a live receptionist to answer your calls, take messages, forward calls to your cell and make phone calls on your behalf all while monitoring everything from their app. There are some cheaper alternatives out there but I have used Ruby Receptionist for over a year and their high level of customer services is worth every penny.

Virtual Assistants: Need an excel spreadsheet put together or research done before a big client meeting or what about flowers orders for your significant others birthday, or scheduling. I have used virtual assistance for years, some for one off projects others for long term day to day work. Elance.com, Fiverr.com and FancyHands are 3 services I can vouch for, Odesk comes highly recommend by a ton of people, but I personally was not a fan. Task start as low as $5.00 an hour

Cloud Storage: Seems like no matter what you do you can never have enough storage for all your amazing client pictures and videos, or the deck, that is ridiculously too big but you don’t want to resize it because you need your client to see just how badass every pixel of your talent really is. Fret not my friend, while Google has Google Drive that gives you a ton of space for free, Dropbox is still at the top of my list for it’s ease of use and relatively cheap monthly plans.

Cleaning: While this is not necessary for you business it does free up your time so that you can focus on your business. I used and love Molly Maids but it was often hard to work around their schedule, Handy has a nice little handy app that allows you to schedule within 8 hours, add extras like laundry, windows, stove and dry cleaning and best of all you can pay directly within the app. Your time is money and if it takes you 3 hours on the weekends to clean up that’s 3 hours you could be putting towards catapulting your company.

Legal: Legal Zoom is cool and you see and hear their commercials all over the place but for the most part you are paying for information and templates and still have to do a lot of the leg work. I’m a fan of CourtBuddy, which is an app that allows you to hire attorneys based on your budget and your needs. No more sweating bullets thinking that contract review is going to cost you a small fortune.

Office/Meeting Space: It’s time my friends to graduate from Starbucks as your meeting location. Sure the coffee smells great but no amount of side eye is going to stop the bariesta from blending that frapachino while you are on a conference call. I love working out of WeWork and they are practically everywhere, which is great because once you are a member in one location you have access to them all globally. But if you are on an extreme Ramen Noodle Budget then check out liquidspaces, starting at around $15 an hour. On their site you can find conference rooms and meeting spaces all around the US, if you really have time to dig you can even find free spaces.

4 Things I Didn’t Know About Investors Before I Took Their Money

So many of us are obsessed with getting investors no one really talks about the real down side. So, you cashed the check, now what? Managing the relationship with your investors is an important skill that new entrepreneurs have to learn and sometimes the hard way. I really should title this blog post 1001 things I didn’t know about investors before I took the money but for brevity sake I will tackle the top 4.

Taking an investment is essentially a marriage but more like a shot gun wedding.

In the beginning everyone is excited and happy. The wooing is heavy on both sides. They come in and look at your process, you go and check out their office, a few rounds of dinner and drinks. I like you, you like me, your numbers add up, term sheet looks good lets bring in the lawyers and get married.

However, this is usually quick and not so quick process all at the same time. Honestly, once you get to the paperwork it’s more like a painful prenuptial agreement where everyone is questioning trust and work ethic, trying to get their best interest on paper just in case everything goes wrong but somehow you should not really take it personally. You really need to take your time to ask the right questions about company culture and practices and realize that you will be in weekly if not daily contact with this person or company. If you are able to reach out to other companies they have invested in to get an idea of what it is like to really work with this company on a day to day long term basis. Just like dating, everything they do is cute until you have to wake up next to them day in and day out and notice their bad habits like cutting their toenails in the bed. In short do your research and don’t get blinded by the money.

There’s no such thing as a silent partner it’s more like loud whispers or yelling.

Ask yourself the honest question…How silent are you when you give someone money? Why would you expect someone that has given you thousands or even millions of dollars to not want to have some sort of say about how their money is being spent. No matter if they have 1% equity or 51%, they have given you their money and they may have a high level of expertise in your field. They will want to have an input.

Set and manage expectations in the very beginning. Be careful of how much you call your investor asking for advice and resources because you want to make sure that they feel confident about you, your team and your circle. Just like the overbearing helicopter parent that has just let their child extend their curfew don’t give them reason to feel like they need to cross every “T” and dot every “I” for you. Make sure your every move makes your investor feel confident that they have made the right decision and that they can let you run your business the way you want to run your business.

You need more than money…

It’s so easy to get wowed by the money. You will need more then just money and sometimes you will find that you don’t really need money at all. Be clear express your needs to your investor and determine what resources and doors your partners can open for you or if they can open those doors at all. The right partner should be able to not only assist you financially but also help with resources that will accelerate growth for your business. They are there to help make sure that your business is a success. So, be clear on exactly what you need from them to help your business win big.

Define your exit plan before you sign, because they have…

Just like Hollywood shot gun weddings the majority of investors are not looking to grow old with you. They see huge potential in your industry and of course a high ROI. The view of most investors is that there must be an identifiable exit route and an identifiable exit valuation before investing. Some of the best advice I received a few years ago was to determine if you are going to sell your business or keep it in the family for generations either way you need to treat your business like you are going to sell it because it gets you in a scaleable mindset from day one. When you take on investor money its a little different. Are you going to sell and everyone cash out, sell and stay on to run the business as an employee or make enough money to buy out your investor. Your investor is not a charity, they are looking to eventually cash out one way or another and have made that decision before extending a term sheet to you. You need to make sure you have your own exit plan decision before you get the term sheet.

Promoting and Supporting Youth Entrepreneurship in the Community

Supporting entrepreneurs demands specific types of action that differ from promoting economic and business growth in general.

Economic initiatives that use top-down models, such as large-dollar government contracts or technology parks rarely benefit entrepreneurs. Large corporations soak up all the advantages of these initiatives since they are the ones capable of collecting the mass amounts of resources and man-power needed extract benefits. Start-ups, without vast capital to draw from, are left out in the cold.

Spurring entrepreneurship growth requires bottom-up models. Many states have already recognized the importance of bottom up growth. Nevada, Colorado, New York, and Tennessee are all making it a significant point in their development plans.

In addition to bottom-up programs communities should avoid mimicking successful entrepreneurial communities of the past like Silicon Valley. Cities should play to their strengths and focus on local policy. Perhaps the single most important action for a community to take is to connect its aspiring entrepreneurs. Start-up businesses and start-up communities survive on synergy. In order to promote synergy communities can designate areas and markets for entrepreneurs to locate their businesses. They can also host networking events to bring entrepreneurs together.

The final major push for a community to make is education. Education bolsters the foundation for youth entrepreneurship. Perhaps the biggest threat to the future of entrepreneurship is the education gap. People are the most important resource to entrepreneurship and education is how a community invests in people.

Communities that focus on educational programs build entrepreneurs for the future. Instruction in business finance and economics sets up students to successfully manage assets and resources, a crucial talent for the survival of a start-up company.

Classes that teach coding prepare students to compete in an economy plugged into the world wide web. In this regard the United States is falling behind. Schools in Estonia begin teaching coding in the 1st grade, equipping students to succeed in a technology dominated world. A community that is serious about securing its future in entrepreneurship might consider a similar program.