Archive for the 'General' Category

Welcome (me) to StartupStudents.com!

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My name is Ansel Taft and I am the new owner of StartupStudents.com.

decided to acquire Startup Students and add to the conversation of young entrepreneurialism. I feel my background and experience offer rich lessons to draw from, and guide this site’s readers toward a business of their own. But before I get into my background, let me first offer thanks and good luck to the site’s originator, Brett Adams.

Brett started this site in July of 2007 and helped grow this site into a home for hundreds, sometimes thousands, of young business pioneers could come to learn to be better at their craft. He was a good steward of the entrepreneurial spirit and I thank him for his efforts. Unfortunately, as all things, it came to an ‘end’ when his time was stretched thin and he felt he should transfer it to someone who would be able to apply more energy to the site.

As the new sheriff in town, my goal is to write an engaging post once a week (or more, as I am able). I am a thirty-four year old entrepreneur with several active businesses (click to call website widgets, free website bullet icons for unordered lists, easy acne cures) and even more half-baked businesses on the horizon (premium web traffic (3/4 baked), article and press release directory (2/3 baked),  SEO savvy WordPress web design (1/4 baked)). I even own many domains I could turn into viable businesses if I had the time or Imperial cloning machines. As you can tell, I have invested heavily in WordPress. I personally believe it is the best content management system (CMS), especially for the money!

Let me finish by offering more information on my background:

  • I am college educated. I spent (*cough*) nine years acquiring three degrees from three schools. I have an Economics degree from San Diego State University and an AS, AA, from San Diego Miramar College in, respectively, Business Administration and Liberal Studies. I also attended Tulane University in the mid-Ninties, when I was still ‘finding myself.’ I will probably not offer thoughts on college, except to say, get through it. Increasingly, a four-year degree is a must.
  • I was a freelance web designer back in the late Ninties, back when it was fashionable to use tables to format a web page.
  • I have worked for several real estate offices, the largest Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) and an industry-leading software start-up.
  • My titles have included: designer, desktop support (IT), network admin, project manager and corporate (software) trainer.

As you can see, I’ve worked in organizations small to large, local to national firms, and my own individual businesses. I have to say, nothing satisfies me, intrigues me, and challenges me like owning my own businesses. I get to use every facet of my being to overcome the challenges laid before me. There is always a problem to fix, a process to improve, and books to read. Which leads to the important point that my only real problem is finding enough hours to accomplish everything, while minding a work/life balance. I can’t neglect my new bride of three months!

I hope the readers of StartupStudents.com come from a similar place and that I can offer you something of value. Nothing would thrill me more than to help you hatch your own business. So please, feel free to drop me a line and let me know what you’re working on. I would be happy to field questions, at they’re likely to spur new articles. And if it leads to new exposure for your business… so be it!

Until next time…

-Ansel Taft

10 Must Read Books for Young Entrepreneurs

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Came across this post on Under 30 CEO the other day and had to share it in full.  You can find the original post here.

Crush it – Gary Vaynerchuk

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Do you have a hobby you wish you could indulge in all day? An obsession that keeps you up at night? Now is the perfect time to take that passion and make a living doing what you love. In Crush It! Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion, Gary Vaynerchuk shows you how to use the power of the Internet to turn your real interests into real businesses.

Gary spent years building his family business from a local wine shop into a national industry leader. Then one day he turned on a video camera, and by using the secrets revealed here, transformed his entire life and earning potential by building his personal brand. By the end of this book, readers will have learned how to harness the power of the Internet to make their entrepreneurial dreams come true.

Step by step, Crush It! is the ultimate driver’s manual for modern business.

The New Community Rules – Tamar Weinberg

the-new-community-rules-tamar-weinberg

Blogs, networking sites, and other examples of the social web provide businesses with a largely untapped marketing channel for products and services. But how do you take advantage of them? With The New Community Rules, you’ll understand how social web technologies work, and learn the most practical and effective ways to reach people who frequent these sites.Written by an expert in social media and viral marketing, this book cuts through the hype and jargon to give you intelligent advice and strategies for positioning your business on the social web, with case studies that show how other companies have used this approach.

Many consumers today use the Web as a voice. The New Community Rules demonstrates how you can join the conversation, contribute to the community, and bring people to your product or service.

Trust Agents – Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

trust-agents

This book is your guide to a new form of power broker–web natives who trade in trust, reputation, and relationships using tools you may never even have heard of. You will learn what you need to look for in such an agent for your business or how to become one yourself. Trust Agents is your guide to the deep end of meaningful relationships on the web.

The book explores how business people can use the Web’s new social software tools to build awareness, influence, reputation, and eventually authority. It focuses on methods of building trust and wielding influence, and how these efforts impact business processes and goals. In three parts, the book defines the landscape of this generation’s web, explains who trust agents are, and analyzes the mechanics of trust in today’s economy where reputation is key. Part career advice, part communications management, and part technology know-how, Trust Agents aims to deliver high level theory, actionable next steps, and stories and case studies to bolster the opinions and experiences of the authors.

Anatomy of Buzz Revisited – Emanuel Rosen

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A new edition of the definitive handbook on word-of-mouth marketing, completely revised and updated for today’s online world. With two-thirds new material and scores of current examples from today’s most successful companies, The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited takes readers inside the world of word-of-mouth marketing and explains how and why it works. Based on over one hundred new interviews with thought leaders, marketing executives, researchers, and consumers, The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited shows how to:

* Generate genuine buzz both online and off.
* Encourage people to talk about your products and services—and help spread the word among their friends, colleagues, and communities.
* Adapt traditional word-of-mouth strategies in today’s era of Facebook, YouTube, and consumer-generated media.

Smart, surprising, and filled with cutting-edge strategies and insights, The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited is essential for anyone who wants to get attention for a product, message, or idea in today’s message-cluttered world.

Upstarts!: How GenY Entrepreneurs are Rocking the World of Business and 8 Ways You Can Profit from Their Success – Donna Fenn

upstarts

Generation Y is creating startups at an unprecedented rate, and their approach to business is unlike anything you’ve seen. The generation described by the media as spoiled, entitled, even narcissistic, is proving these notions false every day. Inspired by the rock-star entrepreneurs of previous generations and driven by a burning desire to control their own destinies, GenY is rewriting the entrepreneurial playbook one cool startup at a time.

Inc. magazine writer Donna Fenn interviewed more than 150 young CEOs to learn what makes them tick. While upstarts are motivated by similar aspirations of past generations, their way of doing business is radically different—and it’s changing the way everyone must do business now.

Upstarts examines and analyzes this entrepreneurial revolution to reveal eight critical lessons every entrepreneur and marketer must learn. Fenn describes a generation of entrepreneurs that is highly collaborative and team-oriented. It’s quick and alert when it comes to new technologies. It’s hell-bent on changing the world. And it’s totally impatient with outmoded business models.

Viral Loop – Adam Penenberg

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Many of the most successful Web 2.0 companies, including MySpace, YouTube, eBay, and rising stars like Twitter and Flickr, are prime examples of what journalist Adam L. Penenberg calls a “viral loop”–to use it, you have to spread it. After all, what’s the sense of being on Facebook if none of your friends are? The result: Never before has there been the potential to create wealth this fast, on this scale, and starting with so little.

In this game-changing must-read, Penenberg tells the fascinating story of the entrepreneurs who first harnessed the unprecedented potential of viral loops to create the successful online businesses–some worth billions of dollars–that we have all grown to rely on. The trick is that they created something people really want, so much so that their customers happily spread the word about their product for them.

All kinds of businesses–from the smallest start-ups to nonprofit organizations to the biggest multinational corporations–can use the paradigm-busting power of viral loops to enable their business through technology. Viral Loop is a must-read for any entrepreneur or business interested in uncorking viral loops to benefit their bottom line.

Career Renegade – Johnathan Fields

jonathan_fieldsRenegade in the title is appropriate, especially if readers are searching for a traditional career guide, which this is not. Instead, former high-powered New York City lawyer turned serial entrepreneur Fields leans heavily on the 75 percent of employees who are dissatisfied with their jobs. The first part involves discovering one’s secret passion, via a few exercises. What makes the journey with this author worthwhile are his sections on determining the exact work path (yes, via research on the Internet) and on developing a business. The references and ideas will inspire; he also interviews quite a few renewed careerists, whether it’s the tale of the young mother who started the Young Rembrandts franchise or an artist who found her passion in creating edible art through her family-owned Rivera Bakehouse. Part 3 zeroes in on honing online knowledge and creating an authority figure, via such social networks as MySpace or through blogging and word of mouth. –Barbara Jacobs

B-A-M!: Delivering Customer Service in a Self-Service World – Barry Moltz

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BAM! Is a no nonsense book that teaches companies why they want to deliver effective customer service in this self-service world and how to do it The book debunks the 20 common myths of customer service-from “The customer is always right” to “Customer service means the same thing to everyone,” to “Companies achieve customer service by under-promising and over-delivering”-myths that too many companies use automatically to run their customer service practices and policies without ever questioning them. BAM! replaces myths with a tactical approach that shows companies how to make more money through attitudes and actions that will help their customers feel satisfied in good times or bad.Creating satisfied customers is the only enduring competitive advantage left in a world market where virtually everything is a commodity. Forget the customer service platitudes. The only reason a company should offer excellent customer service is because it will make money for the business.

Free: The Future of a Radical Price – Chris Anderson

free-chris-anderson1The New York Times bestselling author heralds the new future of business in Free. In his revolutionary bestseller, The Long Tail, Chris Anderson demonstrated how the online marketplace creates thriving niche markets, allowing products and eager consumers to connect in a way that has never been possible before. Now, in Free, he makes the compelling case that in many instances businesses can profit more from giving things away than they can by charging for them. In order to succeed in the twenty-first century economy, Free is more than a promotional gimmick: It’s a business strategy that is essential to a company’s successful future.

In Free,Chris Anderson explores this radical idea for the new economy, and demonstrates how this revolutionary price can be harnessed for the benefit of both consumers and business alike.

The Facebook Era: Tapping Online Social Networks to Build Better Products, Reach New Audiences, and Sell More Stuff – Clara Shih

facebookeracover-335x500The ‘90s were about the World Wide Web of information and the power of linking web pages. Today it’s about the World Wide Web of people and the power of the social graph. Online social networks are fundamentally changing the way we live, work, and interact. They offer businesses immense opportunities to transform customer relationships for profit: opportunities that touch virtually every business function, from sales and marketing to recruiting, collaboration to executive decision-making, product development to innovation. In The Facebook Era, Clara Shih systematically outlines the business promise of social networking and shows how to transform that promise into reality

Right this minute, more than 1.5 million people are on Facebook. They’re interacting with friends–and talking about your brands. They’re learning about your business–and providing valuable information you can use to market and sell. In the Facebook Era, you’re closer to your customers than ever before. Read this book, and then go get them!

The 7 Habits of Every Young Entrepreneur

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Young entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes.  But what truly makes an entrepreneur, is his or her desire to win.  A willingness to lead and a commitment to succeed.  These are just a few common characteristics that successful entrepreneurs share the world over.  Do you posess the traits below?  Any other traits you think should be added to the list?

  1. Laser Focus – The best entrepreneurs stick to their guns.  Find your passion and then follow it through.
  2. Confidence – You need to have the confidence to make a decision without always being concerned about other’s opinions.  Stand by your decisions without caving in to the pressures around you.
  3. Creativity– Young entrepreneurs must think outside the box in order to stand out in a sea of conformity.
  4. Fearlessness – Don’t fear the competition. the consumer, the reaper, or failure itself.
  5. Leadership– You must have the ability to lead your ideas to fruition, and leverage those around you to do so.
  6. Scholarship – True entrepreneurs never stop learnin, especially those young entrepreneurs out there still in college!
  7. Financial Savvy –  Knowing where your money is going and where it is coming in is very important.

Did I miss anything?

Class dismissed.

Top 10 Success or Failure Characteristics of Young Entrepreneurs

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When determining if you have what it takes to become the next great startup student, it’s a good idea to check which characteristics you have. Heres the top 10 from both sides of the aisle.

Top 10 Killer Factors (the bad ones):

  1. Weak Personality
  2. The Loner Syndrome
  3. Cash Flow Troubles
  4. Lack of Marketing Strategies
  5. Lack of Control
  6. No Plan
  7. Associate with the Wrong Crowd
  8. Not Enough Financial Backing
  9. Underestimating your Competition
  10. Lack of Focus on your Core Idea

And now for the Top 10 Success Factors of young entrepreneurs:

  1. A Willingness to Succeed
  2. Self Confidence
  3. Understands the Competition
  4. Uses a Targeted Marketing Strategy
  5. Clear Idea for their next Startup
  6. Healthy Managerial Support
  7. Cooperates well with Others
  8. Well Structured in Life and Business
  9. Keeps Close Tabs on Finances
  10. The Business Plan

#10 is a biggie, and we’ll will discuss it in depth over the coming months with tips and strategies, templates, research, and everything else you’ll need when developing the plan for your startup.

If you possess a few (or many) of the Killer Characteristics (remember – those are the bad ones) don’t worry, you’re not alone! I just ask you to make a concise effort to move towards the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs.

Class dismissed, see you tomorrow!

Do You Have What it Takes to be a Young Entrepreneur?

Topic: General, Quizzes, Self Exploration, Startups| Comments Off on Do You Have What it Takes to be a Young Entrepreneur?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I never took a test on the first day of class. Don’t worry though, this one isn’t graded. Here is a quick four question test to see if you’ve got the goods when it comes to being a startup student.

  1. Determine the difference between what you want to do in life (and business) and what you’re good at. Make a quick list of your skillset and hold onto that for future reference.
  2. What drives you to succeed and what gives you satisfaction in your daily life?
  3. Determine your values and priorities. Looking ahead, what values and priorities do you want to establish for your new venture? Can you find any differences between the two?
  4. Having measured these differences, do you have what it takes to overcome those differences?

Life and business overlap – especially for young entrepreneurs. Knowing the difference between your own personal values and those of your future startup is essential to the success of your next venture as a student startup.

Class dismissed, see you back here tomorrow!

Just an Introduction

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Since this is the first post, it’s only sensible to get rid of the introductions before we move onto the juicy stuff tomorrow. This blog will be a place for young entrepreneurs to learn skills and share ideas for creating the next big startup. I am the owner of a web development company and am working on a startup of my own – so I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted on the status of that venture.

Startup Students will be structured almost like an online classroom. I’ll be delivering a new lesson all the time, and while they wont always build upon each other, it would definitely be beneficial to read up on previous posts down the line – so be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed so you’ll stay updated!

I want everyone to learn as much as they can while creating the next student startup, so remember to digg some posts and make a few comments along the way.

Class will be in session tomorrow so I’ll see all you startup students then!