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Article

Celebrate the Tiny Wins Like Super Bowls


  

When we talk about celebrating startup wins, it's not about a big funding round. It's the fact that we just made payroll again.

Along the way, we forget to celebrate those tiny wins. Instead, we get distracted by the day-to-day problems, the emotional roller coaster, and the grind that is startup life.

What Kind of Wins Should we Celebrate?

Every possible positive step.

We just shipped a feature. We increased site traffic by 10% over last month. Our last customer just sent us a glowing review to the team. Every last one.

Each of those victories compounds into the overall goal. When we overlook them, or worse, fail to recognize them within our team, we lose out on the opportunity to build positive morale and momentum.

In a startup, morale...



Article

What's Product Design?


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What is product design?

Product design is the entire process of taking a product from idea to customers — and everything in between.

“There’s a widespread misconception that design is all about aesthetics,” product designer Eric Eriksson writes. “Most people don’t seem to understand that it’s about solving problems instead.”

There’s another, more limited, definition of product design which we’re not going to explore in detail here. But basically, that other definition is talking just about how a product looks and functions. For the sake of product design for startups, we’re focusing on the more holistic, process-oriented definition.

What’s the difference between product design and product development?

While product design is part of produc...



Article

10 Aspects of Starting Up That You Shouldn’t Dread


  

Question: What is one part of starting up that was easier than you anticipated?

Finding a Support Network

“A support network of other entrepreneurs will make any journey a lot more enjoyable—and a lot easier, too! By joining key networking groups, like YEC, and moving into a co-working space, building a support group of like-minded entrepreneurs after starting ZinePak was easier than I would have imagined. I never expected to make so many close friends so quickly!”

Brittany Hodak
ZinePak
@brittanyhodak

Forming the Business Entity

“What I initially believed would be the most difficult part about starting a business for myself, which I would say is the process of coming up with and registering a name, filling out the prope...



Article

What Is Product Differentiation?


  

What Is product differentiation?

Product differentiation is process used by companies to clarify the differences between their products and other products on the market. Those other products can include competitors but also a company’s own products, to prevent overlap between the offerings. The goal is to find a product’s unique selling point (USP).

Why is product differentiation important?

Product differentiation is important because it makes your product stand out from the crowd! It’s easier and easier to create a company or sell a product or connect directly with factories in China these days. So what makes your housewares product or dating app or SaaS product different from all of the other housewares products, dating apps, and SaaS pr...



Article

The Secrets to Crafting an Irresistible Elevator Pitch (With Examples)


  

What is an elevator pitch?

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: a Founder and a VC walk into an elevator…

In all seriousness, if you’ve spent any time swimming in the startup waters, you’re probably familiar with the idea of the elevator pitch. But in case you missed that day in Founder School, the scenario is this:

Say you got in an elevator, and standing in that elevator was the one person that could make or break your business. You have the length of that elevator ride to convince this person to get on board. And no, the electricity can’t suddenly cut out and leave you with a couple of hours to fill instead of a handful of seconds.

Well — What the @#*! do you say?

We’ll get to that.

Why are elevator pitches important?

There’s a reas...



Article

My Startup Stalled — Now What?


  

“When we first launched things were going gangbusters. But since then, things have kind of flat-lined. The business seems stalled. What do we do from here?"

Is it a blip or a trend?

Part of the challenge with running a startup is that we simply don't have any history of whether past performance was the future of our business or "just a really good quarter.”

For this reason, it's hard to tell whether we're really stalled until enough time has gone by that we can see the writing on the wall.

We imagine a "successful startup" always has a stout growth trend that runs "up and to the right" on every chart. But that's actually not really true.

Yes, there are some standout companies that smash records, but most companies grow slowly over a long ...



Article

Simple Ways to Create Delightful, Cross-Device Experiences


  

It’s a crazy, multi-device world.

According to one report from Facebook, 60% of online adults in the U.S. and U.K. use at least two devices each day, meaning that mobile is at the epicenter of many brands’ marketing, sales, and product strategies.

This trend creates a window of opportunity for companies that are looking to reach audiences at multiple points in their buyer journeys. The challenge, however, is that mass-market tools and analytics technologies haven’t caught up—basic reports in Google Analytics only provide aggregate-level traffic data, for instance. It’s tough to dissect the steps that your audiences are taking to become customers and repeat customers.

Despite this lack of transparency, one concept holds tried and true: you’r...



Article

Getting Hacked: What to Know and How to Recover


  

Unfortunately, my site (SujanPatel.com) was hacked again, but I’m happy to report that everything is back up and running – no data lost and no personal information compromised.

I wish I could say that this was the first time somebody messed with my site, but what I’ve come to learn is that getting hacked is part of the price of admission for running on WordPress.

Don’t get me wrong – I love WordPress. The fact that it’s open source and widely adopted means tons of great templates, plugins and add-ons, many of which I use to power this blog. But those same pros turn into cons when you take into consideration the fact that hackers have the same amount of access as you do.

Dealing with the potential for WordPress hacks requires two things – be...



Article

How to Stop Company-Wide Games of Telephone


  

Imagine stumbling across a Glassdoor review of your company filled with damaging declarations and seemingly unfounded statements. You’d be shocked, right? I know I was.

Our former employee’s description seemed so foreign, I didn’t recognize the company being described. According to the review, we were growing too fast, too furiously; we were operating in a knee-jerk manner.

It was clear the past employee wasn’t aware that we look to hyper-vet everything we do. Decisions are hardly made on whims; they’re quite nuanced. Of course, none of that matters to employees if they’re not hearing the truth.

What had happened? To make a long story short, complete miscommunication on our part.

We’re not the only business that’s dealt with miscommunicati...



Article

Sales Funnel Optimization with Hiten Shah


  

Hiten Shah, Co-Founder of Quick Sprout, KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg, is a proven sales and growth expert. His years of experience founding, advising, investing in or working with startups have crystallized into a wealth of knowledge about how to grow a successful company.

If you have the time, watch the video below to hear Hiten reflect on how he thinks about sales funnels. To help you out, we’ve outlined the major points below for your easy perusal, as well as provided some foundational information about sales funnels to further illuminate Hiten’s point of view.

Hiten explains that essentially, a sales funnel is the “step-by-step process of things your user or customer does to accomplish a goal.” You may not think that your customers go th...



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