Climbing mountain of success is straightforward for starting your own business, right? Separate fiction and fact for entrepreneurs.

Many people have ideas about what it is and what it takes to be an entrepreneur. If you have chosen to become a business leader, it is critically important to understand the difference between fiction and fact when it comes to entrepreneurship. Here are some of the most common misconceptions:

A Straightforward Climb Up Mountain of Success?

Fiction: Successful entrepreneurs have climbed straight up the mountain of success without faltering. Fact: Though some have higher business success rates than others, no one climbs straight up the mountain without taking some pretty gnarly falls, either because they lost their balance or they got pushed. The difference is that successful entrepreneurs have the intelligence to quickly understand what happened and the courage to immediately start climbing again.

Being Boss Means Being Free?

Fiction: Being your own boss gives you total freedom. Fact: Being accountable for the direction of organizations and responsible for the well-being of employees and clients often means that going where you want, when you want is impossible. You are free to follow your intuition, which is a great freedom, but your time is highly constrained since people are counting on you for solutions so that they can live well.

Being CEO Means Never Being Alone?

Fiction: Entrepreneurs are part of large groups, surrounded by people. Fact: Though this is true, and, in fact, surrounding yourself with great people is one of the most important keys to successful entrepreneurship, being an entrepreneur can be an isolating experience. When you are starting your venture, you may be an army of one, pushing things forward with no one to tell you whether it is a good idea or not. And, even when things are up and running, making decisions requires an individuality that can be isolating as well.

Money Is What Gets You Started?

Fiction: You need money to make money. Fact: It is a great head start, of course, to begin a venture with resources. More resources, on average, produce better outcomes. But it is not necessary. In fact, if you can find your way through those initial stages, lessons learned by getting over the top with limited resources can sustain a venture into maturity. Someone with inner resources is always preferable to someone who only has outside resources. Building from the inside out makes you stronger in the long term.

Getting Rich = Success?

Fiction: Being successful is all about getting rich. Fact: Though getting rich can serve as an indicator of success, it is just one. And, no doubt, money can help get you through the rough patches. But, as you move toward to a more mature understanding of the world,  having family, clients and employees who are living better lives because of you is truly what marks success.

Born to Be an Entrepreneur?

Fiction: Entrepreneurs are born successful. Fact: Most folks looking from the outside see a confident leader and assume they were overnight successes. They don’t see the level of focus needed, the grinding responsibilities. Or, the  blood, sweat, and tears it took to get to that big office. They don’t know how the venture started. Without fanfare, a single individual pushed an idea that hardly anyone seemed too excited about.  

If you feel the call to start your own business—if you have killer ideas and the persistence to move them forward—then separating fiction and fact is one of the most important things any entrepreneur can do.

Knowledge Resources for Entrepreneurs
(Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash)

It seems like everyone wants to become an entrepreneur but many do not have the knowledge to do so. To help out everyone who has had the entrepreneurial drive, here are a few resources which may help understand how to analyze a product, how to find a product-market fit, how to define the role of the founders, how to form a strong work culture, and how to stay solvent. With this knowledge, you might also find ways to choose a good board of directors, good analytics, and how to form a strategy for your business.

Knowledge:

Steve Blank’s List of Tools and Blogs for entrepreneurs comes from the associate professor of entrepreneurship at Stanford and writer of the “Startup Owner’s Manual” and “Four Stages to the Epiphany.” Steve Blank has founded eight companies, of which four went public. Forbes listed him as one of the most influential men in the technology sector, and while his thoughts might be skewed towards that sector, his views on entrepreneurship shouldn’t be ignored. Steve is the originator of the lean startup method for creating companies popularized by his student, Eric Reis.

Paul Graham’s Essays are sometimes considered must-read material for ambitious entrepreneurs. These essays were created by the venture capitalist and software engineer who co-founded Y Combinator, a business designed to help startups. This collection of essays has wonderful phrases like “You need three things to create a successful startup: to start with good people, to make something customers actually want, and to spend as little money as possible. Most startups that fail do it because they fail at one of these. A startup that does all three will probably succeed.” With such simple and effective advice, it’s easy to see the value in his writing. Warning: some of the essays are political pieces.

Books:

The Lean Startup presents a “new” entrepreneurship movement which can be summed up in the following quote: “The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else.” This method seeks to test a product, fail faster, and prove the product is worth improving. It does this by building a minimum viable product and developing more only when the situation requires it. The Build-Measure-Learn loop of product development is the main takeaway from this great book, but the wisdom contained within this book makes it a compelling read.

Blitzscaling is a new book by Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh which deals with how to set up businesses to experience massive growth. Hoffman co-founded LinkedIn and Yeh co-founded Wasabi Ventures, so both are used to creating companies with massive growth. This book shows how an entrepreneur might position their company in a way to take advantage of massive growth opportunities. Entrepreneurs involved with Blitzscaling also delivered a variety of entrepreneurship lectures at Stanford, which can be found here.

Funding:

Y Combinator wants to be the first investor in a company and helps it to be successful. If you send in an application, Y Combinator may invite you to a 3-month training “boot camp” with other founders. Y Combinator may be able to set up connections between founders while teaching entrepreneurs how to pitch to investors. This resource attempts to give startups the right knowledge to help create a business that can thrive. They also provide a long list of interesting ideas they think will change the future if an entrepreneur is looking for inspiration.

Floodgate tries to be one of the first to invest in a company. They evaluate a startup on five separate characteristics:

  1. Proprietary Power – Everyone is trying to be better, but can you be different? Can it be completely unfair to compete against you? Can it be unassailable, for example like 25 years of research that you have exclusive rights to?
  2. Product Power – Does the business solve a problem that exists in the market? Does it solve the problem in such a way that it is obvious, convenient, and inspiring? Did the business quickly attract the attention of a lot of people and grow out of control?
  3. Company Power – Does your company have the proper foundations? Does it have a culture that minimizes management debt and technical debt? Does it have lightweight meetings, efficient teams, and the right meetings? Can everyone execute better and faster?
  4. Business Model Power – Does the way your business model work make sense? Does your company have a good financial plan to translate consumer interest and participation into profits? How will the business model change when the business is successful?
  5. Competitive Power – Can you reframe or redefine how people think of the market? Can you change distribution channels as Amazon did with “the online bookstore”? Is your Business unique enough to immediately stick in a customer’s mind?

Companies that pass these judgments are a “Godzilla” company. Companies like this are more likely to attract investors, which may propel the business forward.

Series Seed equity financing docs can help with any additional funding that an entrepreneur might need by providing open source documentation to help entrepreneurs apply for their Series A, B, and C funding. Michael Dearing, the founder of Harrison Metal, has stated that these documents are his exclusive templates for funding.

Let us know if you have any other entrepreneurial knowledge you would be willing to share in the comments below.

What is your entrepreneurial DNA? Are you a Builder, Specialist, Opportunist, and Innovator? Understanding strengths and weaknesses determines outcomes.

 

You have an amazing innovation you want to bring to market. Your innovation, though, is only one factor in this statement. The other one is you. Your strengths and weaknesses as an entrepreneur will intensely impact your ability to succeed. Investors are increasingly looking to back entrepreneurs whose strengths match up with their projects. One portfolio manager of high-growth international companies, Joe Abraham, calls these characteristics your entrepreneurial DNA, which he breaks down into four quadrants: Builder, Specialist, Opportunist, and Innovator.

Builder

Do you excel at constructing an organization from the foundation up? If so, you might be a Builder. These entrepreneurs pride themselves on their strategic abilities, seeing exactly what needs to happen to get to a specific goal, staying ahead of the competition at every step. They love the battle and love winning even more. Often, Builders are described as calculating, ruthless, cold, focused, and driven.

Specialist

Specialists enter an industry and spend the rest of their lives becoming an expert. They are strong on knowledge and relationships in their specific corner of the business world, but can struggle to stand out in a crowded marketplace of competitors. Specialists are great at starting small, family businesses, but, when it comes to scaling, lack the vision and broader experience to succeed.

Opportunist

Are you a dreamer? Do you pride yourself on your limitless imagination? Opportunists dream big, go big, and, when they crash, go down in flames big. When you find yourself, for good or bad, diving into projects more quickly than is expedient, you are flying your Opportunist flag. Impatient, these entrepreneurs are constantly looking to be in the right place at the right time to make money.

Innovator

The strength of the Innovator is to work meticulously and tirelessly to perfect their invention, product, system, recipe, or product. Their weakness is that they focus so much on their innovations, they miss opportunities because the realities of the business environment are less engaging than innovation breakthroughs and solutions.    

There is no explicit formula for success. Each of these types of entrepreneurs have strengths and weaknesses that powerfully impact the likelihood of successfully bringing an innovation to market. Investors, more than anything, are looking for execution rather than an idea. For investors, when a Builder teams up with an Innovator, the potential for success is unlimited.

Even if you don’t believe in narrowly defined characteristics determining outcomes, it is critically important to fully understand your strengths and weaknesses. To bring your innovation to market, you will have to build a team that makes up for your weaknesses. The success of your business may depend upon your ability to look inward, before you start looking outward.  

Learning More Every day

Every entrepreneur can gain an advantage by learning faster. Industries change every day and the amount of information that needs to be sifted through is monumental. Yet, there are some modern tools and concepts that may increase the speed of learning for a large portion of people. Here are a few of the tools that some of us have found useful for out-learning the competition.

Learn What Is Necessary:

Having the tools is important but knowing how to learn is the other part of the equation. Without knowing what you should be learning, or how to decide whether something is worth studying, the act of learning may still be a waste of time.

If a book contains information that may be useful to you, it may be wise to read up on a review, summary, or report of the material before beginning any reading. The condensed information may be enough to continue or to steer you in the right direction towards the information you need.

When starting a new book, keep summaries in mind as well. The table of contents, index, or last page in a chapter may contain all the information you need.

Warning: Your body may only be able to handle 90 minutes of engagement at a time. Some believe 25 minutes of engagement followed by a 5-minute break is essential. You may learn better by repeating lessons, quizzing yourself on if you understand the lesson, and performing a task using the lesson to make sure you know it. Try not to push yourself too much when learning, and remember to take regular breaks and get plenty of sleep.

Speed Up Learning:

Spreeder is a speed reading program that formats words in such a way to make it possible to read them especially quickly. You might find yourself reading much faster after Spreeder sets a pace, positions words to be in clumps of 5 to 7, and (optionally) removes words that are deemed inconsequential to understanding the meaning of the text. The program also calculates how long it will take to read at your current reading speed, which can help plan the act of reading a book with other parts of the day.

Mercury Reader formats sites in a way that makes them easier to read by removing ads and putting the words in a clear legible font. By using Mercury reader you can also send articles to your Kindle, which puts them in a Spreeder accessible format.

Video Speed Controller speeds up videos on chrome up to 64x their normal speed. Unfortunately, at around 4x to 5x of the average listening speed many voices may be difficult to interpret. However, if you are viewing a video with great subtitles you may be able to silence the voice and treat some videos like Spreeder with increased visuals. If the subtitles are not great you can use the voice to clarify the text.

Anki is a digital flashcard system used to test memorization of a certain topic. The cards are displayed at a decreased frequency depending on how well a person memorizes them over time. Anki follows a belief that memory improves through spaced repetition and effort. Because of this, it starts showing a card to a user less frequently as a user masters the concept.

Learning Sources:

Lynda is an educational service that provides training videos for a wide variety of skills. Many libraries have a deal with Lynda where members gain free access to Lynda’s lessons. In addition, LinkedIn connects to Lynda’s learning network, which can immediately influence your network.

Udemy is a version of Lynda that anyone can join. Individuals can make custom classes, a certificate for completing the class, and a 30-day money back guarantee in case you don’t think what you’re learning is useful. Users have the option of rating each class which helps make the most useful classes more likely to appear. Each class offers a certificate of completion to prove that you have completed the class, which may be important if a user needs a record of taking the class.

Degreed is the Facebook of learning resources. It contains many different educational providers and different resources and comments on the different sources. At Degreed you can pay someone to review your learning plan and potentially earn a degree.

Let us know if you use anything to increase your learning speed. Tell us about the tools you use to learn in the comments below.

Travelling quickly through a city.

Every entrepreneur strives for speed and effectiveness. With the right tools, every entrepreneur can increase their speed and effectiveness. In the modern day, the number of tools available is so plentiful that no one knows which are significant enough to use. Here are a few of the tools that have been tested by us and found to speed up some of our processes.

Faster Processes:

Video Speed Controller – How often do you watch videos for research? This extension allows HTML5 videos (including Udemy and YouTube) to have a viewing speed of your choice between 0.07 and 64.0 times the normal viewing speed of a video. Watching videos at x2 speed, or up to x4 may be reasonable depending on the speaker. It is possible to complete several hours’ worth of research at a fraction of the time. If you are a fast reader you may be able to turn on captions and watch a video at speeds faster than the speaker can articulate.

Feedly – If your work requires research from a lot of different sources, why not collect them and have them displayed to you every morning? Feedly allows you to follow multiple sources and have them displayed every day by category. This app can inform a viewer of all the industry-specific news they need in record time. Feedly can be remarkably useful for getting information quickly in the morning.

Evernote – This is a note-taking tool that can be accessed quickly that can synchronize with communication apps like Slack or CRMs like SalesForce. Evernote can also allow you to quickly scan and share documents or clips of articles from the web. With this sharing feature, Evernote can effectively help teams sync up bursts of inspiration.

Faster Commands:

Quicksilver – Set up quick “verbs” to use different programs with quick speed. With Quicksilver a user can type “Call Dad” and have the computer look into the contact information and dial the number for you. This tool is Mac only. The most popular Windows equivalent is probably Launchy.

AutoHotKey – You can define specific mouse movements, button presses, or gestures for specific processes on your computer using AutoHotKey. For example, you can click and move your mouse in a “G” motion to open google. If you can think of a gesture or button combination then AutoHotKey can train your computer to immediately perform that action and speed up your workflow. If there is any other keyboard or mouse press that a user wants to use for a specific purpose they can dedicate their computer to that purpose.

Texter – Texter may be one of the fastest ways to type text if you have something that you write constantly. For those moments when you need to type, you can set up shortcuts with these programs. You can use this program for common long form responses; for example, you can set “MyContact” to automatically insert your contact info:

My Name

MyEmail@gmail.com

(555)555-5555

My Address

Do you have something that you write all the time that could be auto-completed like this?

Automation:

IFTTT – This device does nothing more than let other programs talk to one another. Seemingly this is not very powerful, but it becomes much better when you realize you can ask for an email weather forecast every morning and can post some aspects of social media simultaneously. For those interested in even more time-saving functions, rival company Zapier markets itself as a more business-friendly alternative and Huginn is an open-source version of IFTTT that you can program yourself.

Doodle – Doodle is a planning tool that allows people to automatically sync their schedules together. This can save a lot of hassle over having two people constantly readjusting their time. It is also possible to put your own schedule in the program and ask others to plan around it. The program syncs up with Google Calendar, which makes it easy to get reminders for your plan.

LastPass – LastPass collects all your passwords in a vault and asks to fill its vault with all the passwords that you use while using this feature. Anytime you revisit the site, LastPass will provide a button to immediately repopulate the password area. LastPass requires a master password to get into the vault and look at your saved passwords. By adopting this app into your life you can have a wide variety of passwords without having to worry about your memory, and you can save time that you would have otherwise used to fill out the password field.

Email Productivity:

Unroll.me – This program can allow users to see a dashboard of all their subscriptions and newsletters every morning. The program also helps de-clutter e-mail and helps the user unenroll from any subscription service they are participating in.

SaneBox – This program looks at your e-mail and determines which e-mails you probably haven’t been looking at and puts all of those in its own file for you to reference later.

Productivity Chrome Extensions:

Toby – Toby is an alternative bookmark generator that allows you to attach pages that you are not using to the “New tab” section of your computer in a customized filing system for later. By using Toby it is easy to separate pages that you’ll need for yourself and pages that you need in case someone requires them later.

Pocket – There are times at work when an article immediately catches my attention, but I don’t have time to read it. Pocket solves this problem by storing articles you might want to read later. This extension also connects between devices to enable reading articles in another location providing the Gmail accounts are linked. Pocket has successfully stopped me from indulging in too much research that might be useful at work and allows me to focus on whatever is necessary for that day. In this way, Pocket increases productivity at work.

Time Management:

RescueTime – Would you like to keep a detailed analysis of where you spend your time and have a report sent back to you in email form? If so then a report by RescueTime may be a good way to find out exactly how much time you spend on each website or tool while using your computer. If you decide that any of the sites you visit are bad habits, you may be able to gain a little more time in your life by using the next app.

StayFocused – This program can restrict access to sites of your choice for a set amount of time. This can be used for your own personal development in order to reclaim focus. If you use this with RescueTime you may be able to pinpoint the sites that do the most harm to your productivity.

 

We hope that these tools help you as much as they have helped us. Do you use any other tools or techniques for your own productivity? Please share in the comment section below!

Entrepreneurs distinguish themselves by linking together qualities such as being positively engaged, true grit, and open to change and learning

No knock on business owners, but not all people who own businesses are entrepreneurs. Like entrepreneurs, business owners risk more, take on more responsibility, and have more control over their work lives than employees. The difference, then, is the motivation. Entrepreneurs are not simply trying to make a living, but measure themselves by their achievement and success. As Peter Drucker, one of the founders of modern management, says, an entrepreneur is “someone who always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.”

And though not every entrepreneur is the same, there are core elements that many share. These qualities link together, forming chains of strength that entrepreneurs use to pull themselves forward. Here are a few:

Proactively Engaged

Successful entrepreneurs have the vision to initiate actions, playing offense instead of defense. Instead of doing the bare minimum, or even underperforming, they outwork, outhustle, and outthink their competitors. This proactiveness has entrepreneurs looking ahead to where they want to go, versus constantly being stuck in regret over where they’ve been.

True Grit

Is life a series of obstacles or learning opportunities? Your answer to this question might tell you if you are truly an entrepreneur. In your effort to build solutions to market needs, you will face endless vexing and seemingly unsolvable issues. If you rage and resist these challenges, you might want to find another line of work. Entrepreneurs are consistently adaptable and resourceful. This allows them to persevere when most are ready to quit, thriving on adversity that make them better and stronger individuals.

And Change

Though everyone knows that the world is constantly shifting, most try to build a wall against it, yearning for predictability in a flood of transition. Real entrepreneurs actually embrace change, because that is where opportunity exists. Charles Darwin noted that species’ survival depends not on strength or intelligence, but on adaptability. Entrepreneurs view change as a positive and know that their ability to respond and adapt gives them an edge in every situation.

Learning is Earning

An entrepreneur unwilling to learn is like a river without water: empty and with nowhere to go. A deep understanding of every facet of business and life is essential and is the only way forward. A hunger for new ideas identifies you as an entrepreneur. Every facet of your business requires knowledge, and a willingness to learn is the only way to gain that crucial knowledge.

Feeding the Machine

An entrepreneur willingly sacrifices any activities that don’t nourish the brain with quality content. Wasting time with gossip or social media is ditched. Instead, entrepreneurs favor inputs that build knowledge and experience. Personal time sustains the body and mind. Feeding the machine requires the commitment of the whole person, body, mind, and spirit to building solutions in shifting, challenging environments.

Passion

All of your energy, motivation, and hard work are fueled by your passion. If you wake up every morning, fired up about what you’re doing, passionate to thrive and succeed, then you are a true entrepreneur. If you spend your days thinking about retirement, or a beach, or some other escape from the moment at hand, then you might want to consider retiring to that beach. Entrepreneurs’ hearts beat with their lifeblood of building and achieving.

Is life like a giant dirt track? Or is a giant dirt track like life? No matter, the intensity of dirt bike riding brings you right into the moment.

Is life like a giant dirt track? Or is a giant dirt track like life? Either way, when you’re timing the jumps and finding the right lines, riding around a screaming dirt bike course is an amazing rush. The intensity of dirt bike riding brings you right into the moment when the track is rutted and the dirt is flying. If there are other bikes out there, it is loud. For someone who loves it, though, it is as quiet as the inside of a church. All the chaos dissolves. You know there is a line out there. And if you find it and follow it, it will get you where you need to go. You just have to find the line.

How Do You Find the Line?

Being present, vulnerable and alive. Being in the groove, decisive and intuitive. Letting it happen. Making it happen. In the moment.  

So maybe riding a radical dirt track is like life.

When you are looking at life and business decisions, you also have to be absolutely vulnerable and alive. If something obscures your vision, an emotional reaction or holding onto an assumption or illusion, you will miss something important. And that something might be painful. And not just for you. For your family, clients, and employees.

And those people, those connections, are the most valuable assets you have. They are why you work so hard. You should be grateful for their trust.

See the Line That Provides Optimal Results

And, just as in dirt bike riding, there is, in business and life, a channel of prosperity out there. And you have to be completely open and clear, alert and awake. You have to become so focused that the chaos slips away and you are fully immersed in the moment. Ready to see the line that provides optimal results. And then be decisive and intuitive, perfectly in the moment.

And if you’re not in the moment? If you lose your focus? You can get hurt out there. And if you’re afraid? Unsure? You can get hurt out there. So I guess life is like riding a dirt bike track, too.

And even if you don’t find your bliss by blasting along a rugged, choppy track of flying dirt, you still have to let the chaos slip away. You still have to be vulnerable and alive. And completely in the moment.

Accepting, being ready for the bolt out of the blue is the path to a better life, according to Dan Millman in “Way of the Peaceful Warrior.”

“There are no ordinary moments,” says Dan Millman in “Way of the Peaceful Warrior.”

According to Millman, when moments are layered with meaning, infused with life, they cannot be ordinary. They are only tired and mundane if you see them that way. If you live them that way. Every day, you have challenges. You have stuff thrown at you. You are working diligently toward one thing but, hey, here comes something completely out of the blue.

Here Comes That Bolt

The phrase “out of the blue” comes from an old English poem, in which a bolt of lightning strikes from out of a clear blue sky.

In an ordinary life, in an ordinary moment, you don’t accept things out of the blue. You resist, and get angry and frustrated. You have your plans and this out of the blue thing, whatever it is, doesn’t fit in. But if you treat every moment as extraordinary, then you know things are coming out of the blue. Acceptance. Not lamenting, not inviting. Lightening just is. You just are.

And, since you are no longer resisting, you are aware as the bolt is coming toward you. You better understand its power and presence. And the more you do this, the more you can see other things coming at you, too, no matter what color the sky is. It can come out of the yellow, red, purple, or chartreuse. It doesn’t matter!

“Better to Make a Mistake with Your Full Force…”

In “Way of the Peaceful Warrior,” Millman also says: “It’s better to make a mistake with the full force of your being than to timidly avoid mistakes with a trembling spirit. Responsibility means recognizing both pleasure and price, action and consequence, then making a choice.”

Millman has been around a long time. In fact, he is still doing handstands when he feels like it. Just because it feels good. He is over 70.

This is the spirit to bring to your life. Whether you are at work, exercising, recreating, or just being with your family. You should be all in. All the time.

And this is the spirit to foster in all your efforts. Ask everyone to join you on this journey. You are here to help people, to spiritually enrich the lives of those you serve and those around you. To substantively make lives better. And don’t be misled, this is no walk in the park. The reason people shy away from lightning strikes is that they can be scary, demanding, and uncomfortable. But you can’t do anything hidden away, as Millman says, “trembling” and “timid.”

So ask yourself, and everyone gathered around you, to be in each moment with the “full force of their being.” To be a peaceful warrior. To be aware and alive.

Even when lightning strikes.

Because, in life and business, that tremendous eruption of electricity is where all the good stuff is: the best ideas, the greatest strategies, all of the raw, unharnessed energy.

It’s exactly where you need to be.

Industry conferences might be the perfect place for CEOs to discuss mental health issues associated with business leaders.

Strong handshakes and powerful keynote speeches. News of disruptive trends and insurgent strategies. The latest technological advances. As dynamic and demanding as they are, industry conferences aren’t normally known as places to make human connections and discuss mental health. 

But at least one founder and CEO, Erin McKelvey, sees that as just another unhealthy industry standard in need of unsettling.

Mental Health Struggles

In a recent article in Entrepreneur, McKelvey points to studies that show that entrepreneurs are more likely to feel isolated and alone. While depression affects about seven percent of the general population, a study, Touched With Fire, reports that 30 percent of entrepreneurs have lifetime histories with depression. They also had much higher rates of ADHD, substance abuse, and bipolar diagnosis. And even asymptomatic entrepreneurs had higher rates of close relatives who experienced these mental health conditions.

Suffering at these higher rates, what is an entrepreneur to do?

Mostly, until now, entrepreneurs have had to gut it out. As founders and leaders, entrepreneurs have cultivated facades of invulnerability and strength. Even as they crumble inside.

McKelvey, after struggling to understand the suicides of a close friend and two colleagues, found that connection and empathy were keys. She opened up to colleagues at a conference and, communicating honestly and vulnerably, made deeper, important connections with her peers. Validated and understood, she was ready to face the stigmas associated with depression and entrepreneurship.

Foster Intimate Discussions

Her conclusion is that industry conference keynotes could focus on dealing with everyday stresses and how to develop coping skills. Also, conferences could arrange seating that encourages smaller groups, two to four people, to foster more intimate discussions. Finally, event planners can motivate honest, real talk with discussion cards and questions, such as:

  • Tell us about a wrenching decision you had to make last week with an employee or colleague.
  • How do you manage your work-life balance? Is there such a thing?
  • Do you feel like you can let down in front of your organization?
  • Do you feel like you need to be a superhero all the time, every day?

Touched with Fire also recommends destigmatizing people with mental health differences by understanding the strengths and weaknesses associated with entrepreneurs. It is crucial they are informed about mental health vulnerabilities associated with risk-taking innovators and leaders. With empathy and understanding, entrepreneurs can continue to create economic value, generate jobs, and create social and market solutions while moderating their suffering.

Three green text bubbles on the left, to symbolize positive reviews, next to three red text bubbles to imitate negative reviews.

Getting positive reviews going may take a while, because people are really only likely to publish a good review if the service was particularly spectacular. But if given some sort of prompting, like a verbal asking of “hey, would you mind leaving a good review for the store later on if you have a chance?” or a reminder on a receipt can go a long way. When a review page starts getting those glowing reviews going, it’s something worth being proud of and even sharing with the business’ employees.

But, inevitably, not everyone is going to be happy with the services they receive. Upset customers are over 50% more likely to leave a negative review. If a business on average has more positive interactions with customers, the concern over negative reviews can be mitigated. It may not feel great to have a negative review left, but as a business grows it’s bound to happen.

What’s a problem, though, is fraudulent reviews. Customers that are upset for reasons probably way beyond what happened with a company may not just leave one negative, but several, some of which may be made up. Or, petty competition may throw up some bad reviews to make themselves look better. Getting rid of fraudulent reviews isn’t always easy, but there are ways to go about it. Reporting those fraudulent reviews is usually the way to go about that, but there will have to be sufficient evidence that the review is fake so there’s no “he said/she said”.

Whatever comes a business’ way, it’s important to look towards the future, and work hard. That positive attitude will transfer over into better customer interactions, until even a few bad reviews can’t dim the shine of the tons of positive reviews a business might someday have.