46 Money Saving Tips For Startups

Good tips for bootstrapping your new business venture via Breaking Free 46 Ways to Start a Business with No Money.  Thanks to Brian Armstrong (@brian_armstrong) for both the reminders and new ideas for starting a new venture with little to no money.  We know from the Kauffan Foundation that most entrepreneurs start with their own resources and/or borrow from family and friends when starting a new biz.

New businesses need services and Brian offers tips on the best bang-for-the-buck.

  1. Don’t hire employees
  2. Don’t pay rent
  3. Get free legal advice
  4. Get 250 free business cards
  5. Build a free website

Those are a few on his comprehensive list.  What tips would you add?

 

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The Purpose of Santa

January 3, 1863 cover of Harper's Weekly, one ...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been thinking about this Santa subject a lot.  I wrote this about the Psychology Today post (The Case for Keeping Santa) and also commented on this post by  Ted Torreson’s (@ted_torreson) via his blog Faith in Motion.  Bottom-line, like most issues, there are shades of interpretation.

One of the greatest gifts (and burdens) from our Creator is free will.  A burden because the choice is left to each of us whether to follow the teachings of Jesus or not.  It seems the purpose for this gift may have been to ensure that humans came to God out of choice.  Choosing freely makes the choice more genuine.  Have you ever felt pressured to say something nice when someone is fishing for compliments?  “Don’t I look great in this outfit?”

I believe this also encourages us to think (a lot) about everything from what apple color is best for maximum taste satisfaction to the purpose for human existence.  Over the last 200,000 years we learned, shared and collaborated with humans across the globe, which brings us to this unique place in time.  While we are no smarter than the first humans, we are more knowledgeable.  In order for us to go beyond survival we learned to thrive by finding ways to simplify our needs so we can concentrate on higher function desires, which led us from tribes to civilizations.

The basis for our western society stem from some shared beliefs.  Whether Believer or not, Judeo-Christian moral and spiritual beliefs form the basis of our society, just as do Roman and English Common Laws.  But, that is written history.  Before humans began to write and before they painted on rocks, they shared around camp fires.  We tell stories about historical and fictional people to help us make sense of the world, as well as to pass on critical information to our descendants.  From myths, to parables to oral and written histories; humans tell stories through word or image that they hope will be the glue that binds a community together.

The Christmas stories we love to hear, tell, watch and sing ensure that our progeny cherish our values.  Humans seek out ever more creative stories to spark curiosity about the morals being conveyed.  Did you ever have an uncle that told the same story every Thanksgiving?  Did you start tuning out after awhile or begin to mock him?  However, if that uncle was instead telling new stories each year that while different involved the same characters you might be more prone to listen…especially, if he had some oratory skill.   This creative license allows humans to continue refining our stories while sharing the same values each time.

I think the stories about Santa Claus fulfill that same purpose.  While the story shouldn’t be a substitute for the Christmas story of an immaculate birth, it can nevertheless provide a vehicle to share important facets of the Good News.  The life of Jesus provides a model life for Christians to follow.  While no one is praying at the altar of Santa (well, besides Macy’s), the story gives us a shared cultural reference to promote giving, joy, family and faith.  The farther we travel down the evolutionary road the farther from fact stories becomes until they are almost all fictional.  However, hopefully we retain the morals and values that we cherished.

Humans evolved into great story tellers.  Think about those Lascaux cave paintings in France compared to National Geographic TV.  Same fascination with wildlife, but richer image.  I think while the Santa stories moved away from the historical basis the best parts remained.  Merry Christmas!

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7 Fundamental Truths For Kids

Though not a comprehensive list, these 7 truths represent the foundation of my Leadership-dad philosophy.  I strive to model these behaviors, as well as reinforce them through stories and lessons.

curiousCURIOSITY

Curiosity fuels an interesting life.  The day you stop being curious, you simply stop being useful.  Don’t just ask why, figure out how.  As Dr. Bruce Perry, MD, PhD (@bdperry) posits, curiosity leads to experimentation, which leads to mastery and finally confidence.

 

 

 

Problem Solvers = Entrepreneurs.

Image via Indrasis Blog

OPTIMISM

You are going to fail.  Seek out new experiences like they are gifts on Christmas morning.  In time you will fail less and win more, but without the failures you won’t know how to appreciate the wins.

 

 

 

Positive Attitude = Positive Influence

thrive

thriving lone tree in the rocks

Resilience

Life is hard.  The older you get the harder it gets.  When you are a kid, you can’t wait to be an adult so no one tells you what to do.  Unfortunately, those rule making teachers and parents don’t go away, they just turn into police, politicians and spouses.

As Catherine McCarthy, PhD. posits in her blog post How Can You Thrive? The difference between success and failure is attitude.

Attitude = Prosperity

Courageous

Courageously Tackle the Lego Fire Walk?

BE COURAGEOUS

Don’t be stubborn or fool hardy, but never compromise your core values.  Few things in life warrant risking your life, everything else is negotiable.  That doesn’t mean you just roll over either.  The art of negotiation is that the other person walks away feeling they won, too.  Don’t fight to win, fight for what’s right.

 


Courage = Strength

Fairness

Fairness

FAIRNESS

Life may seem unfair at times, but focus on those things within your immediate control (e.g. your treatment of others). Follow a higher sense of fairness.  Treat others with equal or greater respect than you treat yourself.  And, remember that all people are created equal.  Never treat another less than you and never allow others to treat you less than them.

 

Fairness = Equality

Image via faithforsinners.com

FAITH

Faith in God, faith in yourself, and faith in love.  These three things pulled me through most of my life.  Many would ask me about my confident positive attitude and this would be my answer.  I know that God has my back, that I can do anything and that I my loved ones are my safety net. These beliefs never let me down.  My biggest failures occurred when I didn’t trust in all three.

Faith = Confidence

wealth

wealth

WEALTH

You may not ever discover your purpose.  You will not know all the people you influence.  If you seek meaningful work that allows you to contribute to something noble, then you will fulfill my dreams for you.  More importantly count your blessings because faith in God will take care of your needs.  You can concentrate on creating abundance within your family and others.  Wealth does not mean financial gain, as much as it means financial well-being providing you the means to follow your passions.

Wealth = Quality of Life

These guiding principles helped to shape me and I believe they will help to positively shape my kids, too.

Please tell me what you think.  What did I forget?  Do you disagree? Agree? What are the most important things you teach your kids?

I look forward to hearing from you.

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8 Reasons High Achievers Flounder

This post by Cynthia Kivland (@WCICoach) Smarter Workplaces: Why High Achievers Flounder via @leadchangegroup describes the potential reasons high achievers may fail.  These 8 winning behaviors that make managers successful initially may hamper their ability to become leaders.

  1. Driven to achieve results
  2. Doers
  3. Highly Motivated
  4. Addicted to positive feedback
  5. Competitive
  6. Passionate about work
  7. Safe risk takers
  8. Guilt-ridden

Cynthia’s post was inspired by the Harvard Business Review article Managing Yourself: The Paradox of Excellence. Please see both articles linked here to see if you or someone you know might be so successful that they are derailing themselves.

 

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Kick Santa To The Curb?

English: Santa Claus with a little girl Espera...

Image via Wikipedia

I just read The Case for Keeping Santa by Lynne Griffin (@Lynne_Griffin).  She discusses the positive values promoted by the stories surrounding Santa Claus.  For example:

Joy

Create some joyful childhood memories.

Generosity

“Santa’s biggest legacy is his desire to give without receiving.”

Wonder

“How does he get around the world in one night? Do reindeer really fly? Learning to question and make sense of the unbelievable is an important skill for a child. Just thinking about this Christmas tale encourages critical thinking and reasoning skills. Join your child on the quest to understand.”

Faith

“Santa is your child’s first experience believing in something he cannot see. Believing in Santa is a beginning step toward teaching your child about faith. Spirituality is based on learning to trust in a higher power, in God.”

Hope

This lesson keeps us all going.  Utilizing this story bolsters a child’s desire for better days to come.  Of course, as Lynne points out, it can be equally dangerous if not tempered.

She also gives some tips for answering the inevitable questions that will come as children mature.  “Don’t lie just to keep the myth alive.”

I recently participated in a discussion with others about what and when to tell a child about Santa and the Christian position on Christmas.  Ted Torreson authored the post Why I Won’t Be Teaching My Children About Santa Claus.  As a pastor, he makes the case that perhaps we do our children a disservice by not telling them about the reason for the season and the real story of St. Nicolas.

As parents, we want to teach our kids about faith, love and life.  But, we also want them to maintain vivid imaginations and grow up with the values we cherish.  The many positive characteristics of Santa seem worth perpetuating.  Especially, that of the cheerful giver!

19 Differences Between Leaders and Managers

Leadership Challenge

Leadership Challenge and Lolly Daskal highlights differences between leaders and managers

 

@lollydaskal (Lolly Daskal) wrote this post about Leaders vs. Managers.  She lists 19 differences like:

  1. Leaders lead people. Managers manage people – sounds simple, but often missed by upper management
  2. Leaders inspire. Managers comfort – And bad managers often discourage team members with inconsistency
  3. Leaders have followers. Managers have subordinates – there is nothing more discouraging than managers with titles demanding strict adherence to a hierarchical structure.  This also limits organic growth by limiting good ideas from floating up.

She clearly understands the difference.  I find that the best practices of leadership are well known and yet not frequently practiced or expected.  Too bad, but hopefully we are near the tipping point.  I think Gen X and Millennials are different leaders and have different expectations.  Therefore, things will change eventually.

I found the Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner @KouzesPosner to be a terrific edition to anyone’s library of reference books on leadership. The world is full of managers that are incompetent at best and at worst negligent.  Their own fear and paranoia helped them reach their position, but they quickly find themselves over their heads because they lack the ability to trust those around them.  The Leadership Challenge points out the basic traits that any team looks for in a leader.  And, in all of their research around the globe honesty is at the top of the list.

Moonshine – The Ultimate Bootstrapped Biz

Popcorn Sutton

I am becoming a fan of this website – The Art of Manliness – because it is entertaining and a good source of manly content.

This article posted there chronicling the one year business journey from idea to product launch is truly inspirational.

Yeah, I’m not talking about illicit liquor, but a new cologne by three guys that challenged each other and brought their idea to market.  It takes chutzpa to follow your ideas.  And, it takes more to become a success.  The story got me thinking right away about all of my hair brained ideas.  Most of my entrepreneurial success has really been as an intrepreneur (entrepreneurial activities within an organization) = Less risk and less reward.  But, I have other ideas simmering that may one day allow me to test the more dangerous entrepreneurial waters.

 

The End of Brick and Mortar Universities?

MIT

Tamar Lewin of the NY Times writes about the expansion of MIT’s OpenCourseWare offerings and soon you’ll also be able to prove your mastery with a certificate.  This trend will be a game changer.

I think people will always desire to learn together face-to-face, but not all.  Traditional physical campus space will eventually shrink or convert to other uses as more and more students choose free learning opportunities.

MIT OCW Intro Video

9 Tips to Write Retweetable Tweets

In MIT Sloan’s  Management review, Arvind Malhotra, Claudia Kubowicz Malhotra and Alan See write about what does and does not work to make your tweets retweetable.

  1. Size Matters
  2. LOOK! Grab Their Attention
  3. Just Ask
  4. Make it Personal
  5. Share
  6. Practical & Useful
  7. Save $$
  8. Relevant
  9. Act Now

Click here to read entire article.

7 Surprising Reasons The West Won

Niall Ferguson lists 6 reasons western societies with 19% of global population controlled 75% of the world’s resources.  I think he missed one.

  1. Competition – Many corporations, similar to the City of London Corporation in the 12th Century, along other governments were competing with one another.  Think about the number of western European languages spoken around the world today due to colonization.
  2. The Scientific Revolution – while we all know gun powder came to Europe from China, it was the Europeans that continued to experiment with it and mash together multiple scientific disciplines in order to improve it.  Niall’s example is a German using Newtonian physics to improve the accuracy of bombs.
  3. Property Rights – I think this is probably one of the most fundamental rights in American history that contributed to stability and growth of the middle class.  Even the poorest could own property which might remain for generations.  Though, many injustices occurred over property disputes, those legal protections help the poorest prevail against the richest.
  4. Modern Medicine – ensuring people lived longer, healthier, and productive lives.  Imagine the additional productivity of one person by nearly doubling their life expectancy.  Just the simple act of surgeons washing their hands before getting elbow deep into another person’s abdomen probably saved a few million lives.
  5. The Consumer Society – Henry Ford paid much higher wages than other manufacturers at the time.  He wanted Ford employees to afford Model Ts which in turn kept demand high for his product.  For all the benefits of consumerism, there lurk many dangers as 2008 proved.  The rising middle class in China and India creates demand for high-end western luxuries, but desires in the west for those goods at ever cheaper prices led to the decline of manufacturing in the west.
  6. Work Ethic – Western society’s work ethic turned virgin soil into vast acres of corn, cotton, tobacco and grazing land.  Now the Native Americans that provided the seeds for tobacco and corn to the newcomers were equally (if not more) successful than Europeans at growing these crops.  The difference was profit versus subsistence.  It was the European demand for tobacco that encouraged a strong work ethic.  Niall uses the examples of North and South Korea along with East and West Germany.  The communist state produces markedly less quantity and quality than do non-communist states.
  7. Why? – I suppose you could lump this into the scientific revolution above, but really this is the ability to question authority, as well as, the desire to understand the reason an apple feels compelled to hurl itself toward earth.  The inalienable rights of mankind to desire freedom and reject tyranny led to asking why.  I think some of the basic tenets of Christianity contributed to this enlightened thought.  Even though Catholicism suppressed western society for centuries, once peasants demanded the right to read and interpret the bible for themselves, The Church’s strangle hold loosened forever.

Niall fears (as do I) that the rest of the world will quickly catch up and overtake western society, but it is not too late.  While governments are slow to react and bogged down in squabbles over Keynesian economics, we must act now to prepare our kids for challenges of the 21st century.  Mark Twain said, he never let his education get in the way of his learning.  Join me in teaching our children to be creative problem solvers that bravely seek answers to WHY.