Got Your Chips?

By October 1, credit card holders and merchants were supposed to have switched to EVM chip-enabled credit cards and chip card readers. It seems that many consumers and businesses have blown that deadline.

 
 

If you haven’t received a new credit card with chip technology, don’t worry. More than 200 million new chip cards have been sent to cardholders, according to Bankrate.com. Your old card with the magnetic “swipe strip” will still work when you need to make a charge. But missing the deadline may be more consequential to merchants, who now have new fraud liability.

 
 

Merchants who failed to upgrade their card readers to chip technology could now be liable for losses from fraud. Previously, the issuing banks had been solely responsible for fraudulent use of credit cards.

 
 

EVM technology (EVM stands for Europay, VISA and Mastercard — the consortium that standardized the chip technology) has been in use in Europe for a decade and in Canada for the past two years. The chips have a good record of lowering fraud losses.

 
 

The move to EVM chip technology has been spurred by the major banks and has been accepted by major retailers, who understand the new potential liability. But many smaller merchants have either not understood the new liability or have been unwilling to spend the money on new card readers.

 
 

The chip is a more complicated technology that foils “swipe fraud,” in which information from the magnetic strip on an older card is easily stolen. The chips provide a unique code for each transaction, so the data changes each time the card is used. Of course, the chip card won’t prevent fraudulent use when someone is ordering over the phone or the Internet using the card. But it’s estimated that three-quarters of the more than $3.8 billion in annual fraud losses at retail outlets could be avoided if chip cards were in use.

 
 

Using Your Chip Card

 
 

Your new card looks almost the same, but you’ll notice the difference because you insert your chip card into the merchant’s reading device, and it stays in the device until the transaction is completed. For example, if you’re at a restaurant your server will bring one of the new devices to the table, where you will manually insert the tip as well as your PIN to complete the transaction. Then you remove your card, and the server can hand you a printed receipt.

 
 

Be on the lookout for your new card in the mail. Switch over to using it immediately, as it will work in all the older swipe readers as well as the new chip readers. And be sure to destroy the old card. But remember that the chip isn’t the total answer to credit card fraud. Keep these tips in mind:

 
 

1. Check your card balance and transactions online every week — or more frequently if you use the card often. Even though you’re 100 percent protected against fraud, it helps to discover it quickly — especially now that banks will be pursuing the merchants for reimbursement!

 
 

2. Use a separate card for online purchases. That way if your information is stolen you will be able to restore your saved credit card information at websites more easily when you get a new card.

 
 

3. Keep a separate list at home of all your credit cards, the account numbers and the toll-free numbers to call if a card is stolen. (You won’t be able to access the toll-free number on the back of the card if your wallet is stolen!)

 
 

Credit card fraud is costly — not only to the banks, and now the merchants. It raises the price of consumer goods for all of us. So instead of being annoyed at the need to change credit cards, we should applaud the industry for offering more protections. We will all be better off. And that’s The Savage Truth.

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Counterintuitive Marketing: Short Copy Does Not Sell Better

Much of the marketing that is done is based on conjecture with little application of knowledge or bona fide data.

 
 

Marketers, who never really learned marketing deeply enough, base their judgments on their opinions, which are too often shaped by misconceptions.

 
 

One of the most common misconceptions is that people nowadays will not pay attention to ads or communications that have more than a minimal amount of ad copy.

 
 

The reasons most commonly given to support this notion are that people …

 
 
    1. Do not like to read.
 
    1. Have short attention spans.
 
    1. Are in the habit of reading short messages in texts.
 
    1. Are too distracted with multiple media channels.
 
  1. Have their noses buried in mobile devices.
 
 

While these reasons are often true, the conclusion that short copy sells better is not.

 
 

Everything is relative

 
 

Good marketers know that only members of the target audience can decide what is “too long” and what is “too short.” When I saw the movie Titanic, it was over 3 hours long. I thought it was too long. Teenage girls thought it was too short and watched the movie over and over again. Leonardo DiCaprio was not on the screen enough for them.

 
 

If people are really interested in something, they want more. If they are not interested, they want less. You cannot have too much of a good thing, but any amount of a bad thing is too much.

 
 

One of my favorite T-shirt’s of all time has a picture of Albert Einstein on it with a headline that reads, “Sit on a hot stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. Sit next to a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.”

 
 

Less can be more since we are busy or lazy

 
 

Of course, if the content creator can get the essential information into the consumer’s head with less copy, that is usually a good thing because it saves the consumer’s time – a clear benefit since most of us are either busy or lazy.

 
 

However, it is nearly impossible to pick out who in the target audience wants more and who wants less. What is a good marketer to do? The answer is format the information into “bite-sized” pieces using sub-headlines and graphic elements.

 
 

For those who want less, they can read the headline, look at the photo, perhaps read the subheads and then skip to where they can buy it. For those who want more, the longer body text can provide that too.

 
 

Yes, less can be more, but the way marketers should look at this is well-written long copy is usually a far more concise version of text that would otherwise be a lot longer.

 
 

Most importantly, good marketers format it in a way to allow “busy or lazy” consumers to pick out the main benefits without reading, viewing, or listening to the entire content.

 
 

What marketing legends say

 
 

In his book Ogilvy on Advertising, David Ogilvy says…

 
 

“All my experience says that for a great many products, long copy sells more than short … advertisements with long copy convey the impression that you have something important to say, whether people read the copy or not.”

 
 

Dr. Charles Edwards, former dean of the Graduate School of Retailing at New York University is quoted as saying…

 
 

The more facts you tell, the more you sell. An advertisement’s chance for success invariably increases as the number of pertinent merchandise facts included in the advertisement increases.”

 
 

In his book, “Tested Advertising Methods,” John Caples says…

 
 

“Advertisers who can trace the direct sales results from their ads use long copy because it pulls better than short copy… Brief, reminder-style copy consisting of a few words or a slogan does not pull inquiries as well as long copy packed with facts and reader benefits about your product or service.”

 
 

There are many more quotes from many more experts, but in deference to my previous post on the power of three, I will stop here.

 
 

More recent proof from the fast-paced online world

 
 

I know what some of you are thinking. The people I quoted above are “old guys” who are long gone. What they said is no longer relevant in our fast-paced, distracted, short-attention-span world.

 
 

While those “in the know” understand that the wisdom of these “old guys” is more powerful today than ever, I need to address this objection head on. The fact is that data shows that long copy typically sells better than short copy online too. Marketing Experiments did a series of tests for clients to show the effect of copy length on Website conversion rates. In all their tests, the long copy outperformed the short copy by wide margins.

 
 

Need more proof? On the Conversion Rate Experts Web site, they share how they were able to boost Crazy Egg’s conversion rate by 363%. Can you guess how they did it? They made the home page 20 times longer!

 
 

Why longer copy typically outsells shorter copy

 
 

Even though it is counter-intuitive, why does longer copy typically outsell shorter copy? While the list of reasons could be very long, I will limit them to seven. Longer copy enables the advertiser to…

 
 
    1. Provide more benefits, which in turn, shows more people how the product or company can help them.
 
    1. Show the product or company is more important since it has more capabilities.
 
    1. Answer more questions and generate more sales since selling involves answering objections.
 
    1. Target the customer better so those who respond are more likely to buy.
 
    1. Give those who want more information the information they need so they will be more comfortable buying your product or doing business with your company.
 
    1. Give those who are “busy or lazy” and don’t want to read a lot the ability to skim the important points without requiring them to read, listen to, or watch it all. This requires good formatting.
 
  1. Provide more keyword-rich copy to boost organic search engine results.
 
 

Hopefully, this post will help you convince the skeptical throngs who still believe that shorter copy sells better. Since it is a counter-intuitive notion, you need proof to support you.

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Bakery Reportedly Refusing To Pay Lesbian Couple After Discriminating Against Them

 

The owners of an Oregon bakery violated their state’s anti-discrimination laws by turning away a lesbian couple in 2013, and apparently, they aren’t done breaking the law just yet. 

 

Aaron and Melissa Klein, who owned and operated Sweet Cakes by Melissa, are now reportedly defying the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries’ order to pay $135,000 to Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, the couple they turned away two years ago. 

 

The Willamette Week cites an email chain between Jenn Gaddis, the chief prosecutor in the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries’ administrative prosecution unit, and the Kleins’ attorneys Hebert Grey, Tyler Smith and Anna Harmon about ways the couple might satisfy their obligation. The most recent email exchange was Sept. 16, when Gaddis wrote back to Grey, seeking immediate payment from the Kleins. 

 

“Otherwise we have no other option but to docket the judgment against them,” the email reads. “It is unfortunate that they will not seek the bond or irrevocable letter of credit, that you had initially stated they were interested in seeking, when they have clearly raised close to $500,000 with which to pay the damage award.”   

 

In the email, Gaddis points to funds raised on the Kleins’ behalf via an online fundraising campaign. Docketing the judgment would put the bureau in a position to place a lien on the couple’s property or other assets. 

 

The news comes days after the Kleins’ appearance at the Value Voters Summit, which is dedicated to preserving the “bedrock values of traditional marriage, religious liberty, sanctity of life and limited government,” in Washington, D.C. During the summit, Aaron Klein told HuffPost Gay Voices Editor-at-Large Michelangelo Signorile that he believed that baking a cake was an “artistic expression,” and as such, is a case of free speech. 

 

He was quick to distance himself from Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who has defiantly refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite being jailed for contempt of court, but nonetheless suggested suggested that he and other business owners should have the right to turn away a Muslim couple who might be seeking a wedding cake. 

 

“When it comes to baking a wedding cake there is so much more involved than just baking a cake and sending it out the door,” he said. “I think that I should be able to say what I want, when I want, just like you.”

 

As always, this case has us shaking our heads. 

 

Also on HuffPost: 

 
 
//
 

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Volkswagen Cars Aren’t The Only Ones Releasing More Pollutants Than They Should

 

New diesel cars from Renault, Nissan, Hyundai, Citroen, Fiat, Volvo and other manufacturers have been found to emit substantially higher levels of pollution when tested in more realistic driving conditions, according to new data seen by the Guardian.

 

Research compiled by Adac, Europe’s largest motoring organisation, shows that some of the diesel cars it examined released over 10 times more NOx than revealed by existing EU tests, using an alternative standard due to be introduced later this decade.

 

Adac put the diesel cars through the EU’s existing lab-based regulatory test (NEDC) and then compared the results with a second, UN-developed test (WLTC) which, while still lab-based, is longer and is believed to better represent real driving conditions. The WLTC is currently due to be introduced by the EU in 2017.

 

The biggest polluters according to Adac’s own data are:

 
 
    • Nissan’s X-Trail 1.6 cDi, which produced over 14 times more NOx in the WLTC test. A Nissan spokeswoman said: “We can state unequivocally that we are committed to upholding the law and meeting regulations in all markets.”
 
    • Renault’s Espace Energy dCi 160 emitted over 11 times more NOx in the WLTC test, with Renault’s Grand Scenic and Kadjar also among Adac’s top 10 polluters. A Renault Group spokesman said: “The group complies with all regulations and legislation for the markets in which it operates. Its vehicles are not equipped with defeat devices.”
 
    • Adac found Jeep’s Renegade 2.0 emitted 10 times more NOx while other cars producing at least six times more NOx included Hyundai’s i20 1.1, Fiat’s 500x 1.6 and Citroen’s DS5 Hybrid4. “Hyundai Motor abides by the testing regulations and methods of each region where it sells cars including Europe,” said a spokeswoman. Citroen, Fiat and Jeep did not respond to requests for comment.
 
 

Reinhard Kolke, head of test and technical affairs at Adac’s state-of-the-art test centre in Bavaria, told the Guardian: “If all cars complied with [the official EU NOx limit], we would have solved all the worst health effects. Every consumer has the right to expect all manufacturers to do this. But still there are these gross emitters.”

 

The controversy over high nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from diesel cars was sparked when Volkswagen, then its Audi and Skoda brands, were caught using software in millions of cars to cheat pollution tests. There is no suggestion of cheating in Adac’s analysis, but only a quarter of the 79 different cars ADAC tested using the WLTC standard matched their official performance on the existing EU test.

 
 

Peter Mock, one of the team at the International Council on Clean Transportation who exposed the VW diesel scandal, said the Adac test centre was “absolutely trustworthy”.

 

But Mock said the high profile now being given to the issue of misleading emissions data left him with mixed feelings. “I feel happy, but I also feel sad because there was enough data and people knew for a long time. The emissions in cities have not gone down like we expected and they could have been reduced a long time ago.”

 

The failure of the regulatory tests is the main cause of illegal levels of NO2 in many cities, according to a recent UK government document. “It has had an absolutely enormous effect,” said Prof Alistair Lewis, an air pollution expert at the University of York. “The costs will be in thousands of deaths and billions of pounds, all passed on to the taxpayer.”

 
 

Emissions experts have warned for some time that there were problems with official lab-based NOx tests, meaning there was a failure to limit on-the-road emissions. “Gaming and optimising the test is ubiquitous across the industry,” said Greg Archer, an emissions expert at Transport & Environment.

 

A recent T&E round-up of evidence found this affected nine out of 10 new diesel cars, which were on average seven times more polluting in the real world. But the Adac data are the first detailed list of specific makes and models affected.

 

Adac also measured a Volvo S60 D4 producing NOx emissions over 14 times the official test level – but a Volvo spokesman said that in this instance the car was faulty. “We are investigating this incident further,” he said. “An early indication is that the emission control system was out of order.”

 

Kolke said Adac had not been contacted by Volvo and that the car would have needed additional equipment fitted to reduce NOx emissions to low levels. The Adac tests also measured a Volvo V60 D3 emitting three times the official test level. The Volvo spokesman said: “Every Volvo car on the market today meets the legal Euro 6 standard for NOx emissions, based on the current test.”

 

T&E argues that the Adac WLTC tests are minimum estimates of actual on-the-road emissions. Archer said the EU must back up the WLTC with on-the-road tests and end the practice of carmakers paying for the tests at their preferred test centres. “It is more realistic but it still isn’t entirely representative,” said Archer. “We still think there is a gap of about 25% between the WLTC test and typical average new car driving.”

 

One politician said that the Adac tests showed there was an urgent need for review. “The Adac tests show the diesel emissions scandal is happening right across the industry,” said Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder, who is a lead negotiator in the European parliament on the EU’s new air quality law.

 

“We urgently need to reform. This is not just about customers being misled, it is about the thousands of premature deaths due to air pollution each year.”

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Tesla’s Elon Musk Gives VW a Lesson in Clean Air at Model X Launch

By Alison van Diggelen, host of Fresh Dialogues

 
 

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Last night, the long awaited Tesla Model X was launched and Elon Musk took great pleasure in underlining its clean air qualities. He couldn’t contain a smile, as he talked about air quality and referred to “recent events” i.e. the VW DieselGate scandal.

 

Musk showed off the SUV’s giant air filter (10 times the size of a typical one) and said:

 
 

“Recent events have illustrated the importance of air safety…(in the Model X) you can have air quality levels comparable to a hospital operating room.” Elon Musk

 
 

Musk then got somber, put on his superhero hat and showed the massive crowd estimates of how air quality can reduce life expectancy in some of the world’s most polluted cities: Beijing, 22 months; Los Angeles, 8 months and Paris, 7 months.

 
 

According to Musk, using the high quality “X-size” air filter plus a smaller one (still larger than an average car’s air filter) gives the Model X a 700 fold improvement in city smog filtering. The company claims it’s also 300 times better at filtering bacteria, 500 times better at filtering allergens, and 800 times better at filtering viruses.

 
 

But the biggest cheer of all came when Musk made this surprise announcement:

 

“If there’s ever an apocalyptic scenario, you just press the bio-weapon defence button – this is a real button.”

 
 

I asked George Blankenship, former VP at Tesla, about Tesla’s clean air focus.

 

“Who else is going to think in that magnitude with something as normal as an air filter? These are the kinds of things that Elon pushes to the limit and delivers products that no one else can deliver. The reason he’s doing it is to save the planet. It’s all about the survival of this planet and the atmosphere.” George Blankenship

 

We discussed how VW’s emissions cheating scandal might impact electric car makers like Tesla.

 

“It’s unfortunate that others feel they have to do things like that in order to compete. It’s the absolute opposite of what Tesla does…they find a solution. It reinforces that innovative companies that come up with a solution that others don’t…there’s a reward for it: 5 star crash ratings, cleaner air than a surgical room. That’s what innovative companies do as opposed to companies that try to figure out how to bend the rules to get an advantage.” George Blankenship

 
 

After a thorough tour of the Model X features, including the elegant falcon wings, Elon delivered keys to some of the first Model X buyers. This time round, Elon beat his friend, and first Model S owner, Steve Jurvetson and got the number one Tesla Model X. There’s definitely admiration, perhaps a little envy, captured in my photo here.

 
 

Check out more Tesla Model X photos at Fresh Dialogues

 

And join the conversation on Facebook

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Here’s Why Most Businesses Fail: 6 Mistakes New Entrepreneurs Make

This article was originally published on Elite Daily.

 
 
 
 

You want your business to succeed.

 
 

I get it.

 
 

Who doesn’t want to see a business — into which a person dedicates blood, sweat and tears — blossom? But, just so you know, 80 percent of businesses fail within their first years.

 
 

That statistic is terrifying and you don’t want to end up on the wrong side of it.

 
 

Fortunately, knowledge is power and understanding why entrepreneurs fail at building profitable businesses can help you to avoid making the same blunders.

 
 

I don’t have all the answers, but I can share the patterns I’ve noticed in other failed businesses.

 
 

If you can manage to avoid these six common reasons why entrepreneurs fail, you will greatly increase your chance of becoming one of the 20 percent of entrepreneurs who succeed:

 
 

1. They Waste All Their Time Planning

 
 

The landscape of entrepreneurship is changing, and what is taught in business textbooks doesn’t always remain relevant. This is especially true of online businesses.

 
 

So, when you begin your entrepreneurial journey with a 45-page business plan, you’re putting the cart before the horse.

 
 

Why? Well, business plans aren’t based on reality. They are built around “what if,” “maybe” and “on the chance that.”

 
 

The online nature of most new businesses renders these business plans obsolete within weeks.

 
 

A one-page plan is often more effective, takes less time and allows you to remain flexible as well as adaptable.

 
 

2. They Obsess About Creating the Perfect Business Idea

 
 

The easiest way to fail at entrepreneurship?

 
 

Never taking action to actually become an entrepreneur because you obsess over your idea too much.

 
 

This is the reality for many wantrepreneurs. We obsess about the details of our business ideas and spend all of our time researching.

 
 

Don’t get me wrong: Research is necessary, and you don’t want to set yourself up for failure by acting on a poorly-researched idea.

 
 

But when you obsess too much, you come up against analysis paralysis: The inability to make any decision because the information you’re consuming is paralyzing you.

 
 

And as we obsess, we fool ourselves into believing we’re taking action because we’re putting in so much work.

 
 

If you fall into this trap of obsessing over finding the perfect business idea, you’ll become paralyzed. If you don’t take action, you will never become an entrepreneur at all, thereby failing.

 
 

3. They Tried To Be Too Innovative

 
 

The only way to succeed in business is to come up with an idea that has never been done before, right?

 
 

One that’s innovative and new? Fun and exciting? Cutting edge?

 
 

Wrong.

 
 

In the current business world, most things have already been done before and if it hasn’t been done, it’s often a sign it shouldn’t happen.

 
 

Truly innovative ideas tend to be in the technology sphere and are expensive undertakings. They’re often best left for the pros, like Apple, not beginner entrepreneurs.

 
 

Sure, you could argue that Apple is so successful because of its innovative new ideas, and you would be right. But you’re not Apple. You are trying to get your small business off of the ground, not trying to become the next technology maven.

 
 

Not yet, anyway.

 
 

4. They Worked Hard, But Not Smart

 
 

New entrepreneurs often feel they have to be everything to their businesses: sales, design, copywriting, administration, communications, marketing — everything.

 
 

But, the one-size-fits-all model of the entrepreneur is completely ineffective. You’re far more likely to succeed if you do solely what you’re good at doing.

 
 

The entrepreneur who is excellent in sales but lets administrative tasks fall behind will be far more successful than the entrepreneur who is doing what she can to keep up with sales, administration, web design, marketing and communications all at once.

 
 

Channel your energy into the small amount of activities that you excel at doing, and either outsource the rest or let your business ride on the wave you’ve created with doing excellent, focused work.

 
 

If you keep trying to do it all, you’ll be mediocre at everything, rather than great at one thing and mediocrity is the fast track to failure.

 
 

5. They Spent Too Much Money On Marketing

 
 

Within the first couple of years, there’s no such thing as too much marketing, right?

 
 

That’s what we’ve heard over and over again from industry experts and marketing firms.

 
 

But, I’ll let you in on a little secret: It’s not true. In fact, some of the best business marketing is free. Think content marketing, word of mouth and adding incredible value.

 
 

If you’re skeptical, spend some time trying everything, then, drop 80 percent of the marketing actions you are taking (that provide only 20 percent of the results), and re-channel your energy — and budget, if it requires it — toward the remaining 20 percent.

 
 

Try the free stuff first. Don’t go belly up because you kept opening your wallet to pay for marketing.

 
 

6. They Followed Their Passion Straight Into the Ground

 
 

Everyone tells you to “follow your passion” and you’ve been soul-searching so you can leverage your passion to build your business.

 
 

But, entrepreneurs who follow their passions don’t make money; entrepreneurs who provide value to their target markets make money. And sometimes, you’ll be lucky enough to have the overlap where your passion provides value to others.

 
 

One thing new entrepreneurs fail to realize is that you’ll feel a lot of passion for your business, even if it’s not focused around a pre-existing passion.

 
 

After all, you’re growing it, nurturing it and putting your blood, sweat and tears into it. Your business is your brainchild and unless you really hate the topic, you’ll be passionate about it for the simple fact that it’s your baby.

 
 

It’s Time to Stop Making These Silly Mistakes

 
 

You deserve to succeed. You’ve worked hard to bring your dream to fruition.

 
 

Luckily, your hard work will pay off if you spend your time and energy on the right actions. So, get out there and increase your chances of success.

 
 

With a few strategic moves and tweaks, your business will become one of the 20 percent that succeeds.

 
 

About Sarah: I used to have to ask for vacation time off. Now I travel when I want, work when I am most creative, and spend more time with my friends and family. I can help you do the same. Sign up here for free tips, tricks, and hacks to build your own lifestyle business and start loving Mondays again.

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Leading In A World of Disruption

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In today’s world of technology-driven transformation, leaders need to embrace a new leadership principle if they want their organization to be relevant today and in the future. In recent years, leaders have added agility — being able to change quickly based on external circumstances — as an organizational competency. But digital disruption from the outside-in has been coming at an ever-increasing speed, and it’s only getting faster. The pace of disruption forces agility, causing leaders to react, crisis manage, and put out fires on a daily basis.

 

 

 

Knowing this, it’s evident that being agile is very good, but is not enough to jump ahead of the competition. Today’s leaders need to not only react faster, they need to become anticipatory. Continue reading

No Startup Today Will Succeed Without These 7 Things

So, you’re going to found a startup?

 
 

What do you need? Some hustle? Some cash? A little luck, maybe?

 
 

The cutthroat, rough-and-tumble world of tech startups is no place for the faint of heart. Being a Type A with a good idea does not alone predict success.

 
 

Often, startups fail from the start due to misguided beliefs on what it takes to succeed — the mindset, tools, and resources. Plenty of articles or mentors will explain the things you “must have,” but will those actually guarantee success?

 
 

The brutal reality looks like this: There’s no special combination of tools, amount of funding, or set of skills that accurately predicts success 100% of the time. There are, however, several features that every single successful startup since the dawn of time have in common.

 
 

Without these seven things, you don’t have a prayer.

 
 

1. You must start.

 
 

Millions of people would like to think of themselves as an entrepreneur. There’s only one small problem: They haven’t started a business yet.

 
 

A “good idea” does not make you successful, nor does passion alone. For your dreams of entrepreneurship to become a reality, you need to actually launch that business.

 
 

2. You must have people.

 
 

The world of startup lore is dominated by larger-than-life personalities like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Richard Branson.

 
 

These are powerful people with brilliant ideas, but none of these people built their gigantic fortunes and massive businesses alone.

 
 

You’re going to need a team of people if you want your business to succeed. I highly recommend partnering with a co-founder. You’ll also need people to create your product, design it, market it, sell it, code it, and whatever else it is that you need. That takes more people than simply one’s self.

 
 

Startups require people, not just lone personalities.

 
 

3. You must make mistakes.

 
 

Mistakes are part of life, especially in the startup world. To found a startup is to make a series of mistakes, sprinkled in with a few random successes.

 
 

Plan well, work hard, but expect to commit huge mistakes along the way. (Sometimes, the big expensive ones are the most valuable.)

 
 

4. You must have passion.

 
 

There’s no such thing as a startup or founder who is “meh” about his product.

 
 

Passion drives some of the world’s most notable businesses. It takes passion to push through hard times, to pitch a product, and to create a tribe.

 
 

Please don’t get the wrong idea here. Passion alone does not a startup make. Plenty of wantrepreneurs have fizzled out, hoping to run on the fuel of passion. But even though passion alone may not carry you across the finish line of success, it will certainly help you get there.

 
 

5. You must have customers.

 
 

Listen to this face-palming fact: You must have customers in order to have a business.

 
 

It’s so obvious, that some companies overlook it. They become more interested in the thrill of the new technology or their “great idea” that they forget to test it, learn about the market, or define their target audience.

 
 

That’s a mistake.

 
 

Before you declare your startup as “successful” make sure you have customers — people with money, and people who give you that money in exchange for your goods or services.

 
 

6. You must grow.

 
 

What is growth? What does it look like? Will you know it when you see it? More importantly, can you scale? How will the company grow? How do you growth hack?

 
 

In order to qualify for that label of “successful,” a company has to get beyond the garage stage. You wouldn’t know the name “Apple” if they were still selling computers from 2066 Crist Dr., Los Altos, CA.

 
 

Every successful startup must navigate beyond neophyte. It can be a painful experience. Read about any startup’s growth — Apple, Google, Facebook, Uber, whatever you choose — and it will sound more like a fight club chronicle than the unicorn you admire from afar.

 
 

Growth is messy, but crucial.

 
 

7. You must know when you’re beat.

 
 

Most startups are going to fail. It’s just one of those statistical things that you’re going to have to accept.

 
 

But to stare at the gut-wrenching 90% failure rate is to miss the point. There’s always a second chance, a third chance, a fourth, and so on.

 
 

You’ve never heard of the startup that didn’t make it. It’s incorporation papers are shuffled in some Secretary of State’s filing archives, never to see the light of day. But something emerges from the decay of a failed business — a new business.

 
 

If you know when you’re beat, you can stop wasting your time, frying your brain, and wearing yourself down. You can pull the plug, and do something different. Maybe this next one will be The One.

 
 

Conclusion

 
 

Founding a startup will break you down, chew you up, and spit you out. It’s hard, soul-draining, brutalizing work. There are plenty of reasons why I would tell you not to found a startup.

 
 

But for all its brutalities, founding a startup is a glorious thing. Here are the seven essentials:

 
    1. Just start.
 
    1. Grow a team.
 
    1. Boldly make awful mistakes.
 
    1. Seize upon passion.
 
    1. Make sure you have customers.
 
    1. Grow.
 
  1. Surrender when you’re sunk.
 
 

Ready to do this? Good. Go out and startup.

 
 

What would you say are the essentials of a successful startup?

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Repackaging Your Business’s Discoveries to Increase Your Reach

2015-09-29-1443546354-2397783-TyMorse.jpgTy Morse is the CEO of Songwhale, an interactive technology company focusing on enterprise SMS solutions and Direct Response campaigns, both domestic and international. Since the company’s 2007 launch, Ty has grown Songwhale from 2 people to over 100. A two time Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist, Ty has been featured in the NY Times, Wired, NPR, PBS, and Discovery Channel and published in Forbes, the NY Report, and Geek.

 
 

So often in business, we try to move forward and look for what’s going to put us ahead of the competition. Sometimes that means that we overlook the value of the discoveries we’ve made along the way. One of the best ways to grow your business may be to take something that you’ve already created and add a new side endeavor by focusing on a singular piece of the larger product or service.

 
 

Use Customer Reviews to Decide What to Build Next

 
 

For example, at Songwhale, we have spent almost a decade developing intricate SMS solutions for brands around the country. Our platforms included multiple SMS features like Friend Forwarding, Direct Response Marketing and Keyword Text-In. Each of these features is linked to a central system. We presented the entire package, including the development of creative campaigns, to customers for all their marketing needs. As a result of our broad system offerings and extensive reach, our clients were primarily national or multi-state brands, which worked really well. However, we often had conversations with smaller, local businesses that wanted to take advantage but found the cost to be out-of-reach.

 
 

The tipping point for us came in the form of a discussion with a local restauranteur. After seeing our campaign for a national pizza chain, the owner of single pizza shop in Pittsburgh got in touch with us to find out how he could use our services. He was really excited about our ideas for how he could use our platform to grow his business. When we got to the pricing, however, his enthusiasm took a clear nosedive; his response was, “I’d love to use your service, but I can’t pay that much.” As a result, we started imagining how we could streamline our service to make it more cost effective for smaller businesses.

 
 

Scale Back to Create Another Product

 
 

We talked at length with the pizza shop owner about what exactly he needed and realized that if we stripped out some of the features in the technology we had built, we could provide what he was looking for as a self-service platform. Since we had already designed a text messaging platform with multiple features, we leveraged that technology to create a new brand that offered similar features at a lower price point. The result became our feature called Cheapest Texting.

 
 

As this experience demonstrates, we were able to take a larger product and scale back to create a new brand for smaller, more hands-on clients. We didn’t have to make a huge investment in a new product or come up with a new and exciting idea — what was new and exciting was streamlining our product to make it meet more marketers’ needs, especially at the local level.

 
 

Look at your business and the frameworks you have already created: ask yourself if there is a part of your product or service that you can scale back to connect with a larger base market or a side group. Find out if there are any assets you already have that you can use in a new way to create greater revenue. Streamline, focus and strip away excess in order to create something not necessarily new, but more accessible to potential customers beyond your target market. You’ll be able to create new brands for your business using models you already have.

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Window Dressing Wednesday – Don’t be Fooled by False Profits!

 

So many things to talk about today.  

 
 
 
 

None of it really matters as it’s the last day of the month and windows have to be dressed and already yesterday’s losses are more than reversed with 1% pre-market (low-volume) gains that are taking us back to our weak bounce lines, which remain:

 
 
 
 
    •  

      Dow 16,200 (weak) and 16,650 (strong) 

       
 
    •  

      S&P 1,900 (weak) and 1,950 (strong) 

       
 
    •  

      Nasdaq 4,550 (weak) and 4,700 (strong)

       
 
    •  

      NYSE 10,050 (weak) and 10,300 (strong)

       
 
    •  

      Russell 1,130 (weak) and 1,160 (strong).

       
 
 
 
 

All red is, obviously, not a good sign but we’ll be bouncing up to test some of the weak bounces again so we’ll reserve judgment until we see what sticks.  I already warned our Members not to try to jump in bullish as it’s not likely we go much higher than 1.25% and I think we’ll be rejected around there (16,200, 1,900, 4,125 (on the 100), 10,100 and 1,090).  Those are the bounce levels our 5% Rule™ tells us to expect intra-day.  In the bigger picture, the S&P looks like this:

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 

I did a full 2-part rundown on the S&P back on August 13th, so I won’t rehash it here but I will reprint my closing statement from that very thorough evaluations post:

 
 
 
 
 

So, upon further examination, there is no change to our stance of being short the markets at these levels which, on the Futures this morning, are 17,400 on the Dow (/YM), 2,095 on the S&P (/ES), 4,550 on the Nasdaq (/NQ) and 1,212.50 on the Russell (/TF) and, as usual, we look to short the laggard of the set with tight stops above.  We also took on a more aggressive SDS (ultra-short S&P) position yesterday afternoon – as we felt the run-up was nonsense anyway – this post just confirms our gut reaction

 
 
 
 
 

As noted on Monday, our Futures shorts made over $40,000 by that day and well over $50,000 by Monday’s close, when we flipped a bit more bullish expecting the bounce we have right now (into the end of the month).  Unfortunately, it’s too dangerous to flip around and go short again this morning because Yellen is speaking at 2pm but we’ll be very happy to short a run-up into the close spurred by nothing more than more Fed BS

 
 
 
 

Finally, Goldman Sachs has joined me on the dark side and admitted my targets for the S&P were right all along.  Goldman Sachs now expects the S&P 500-stock index to finish in the red in 2015.  Chief U.S. equity strategist David Kostin lowered his year-end price target for the S&P 500 to 2,000, from 2,100, “citing slower than anticipated growth from the world’s two biggest economies and lower-than-expected oil prices.”  

 
 

Gee – ya think?

 
 
 
 
 

Kostin’s team lowered its estimate for calendar-year earnings to $109, from $114, which would mark a decline of 3 percent from 2014. 

 
 
 
 
 

Like me, GS remains long-term bullish – it’s just that prices have gotten ahead of themselves and valuations need to normalize.  That is a good and healthy thing for markets to do.  

 
 
 
 

On the darker side, Lord Vader Carl Icahn is warning us that low rates have led corporate managers to employ financial engineering and accounting shenanigans to boost earnings per share – which is something I have been pointing out for a couple of years now – but it’s nice to see Carl finally catch on too.  

 
 
 
 

The long form of his video is here and, of course, it’s a lot of self-serving BS from a man who just formed his own Political Action Committee that will support candidates who want to cut taxes for Billionaires, cut benefits for the poor and generally allow corporations to rum amok – AMERICA, F-Yeah!  He does, however, make some good points.  

 
 
 
 

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isSlim=1

 
 
 
 

As I said, he’s not wrong, I simply object to him using our problems to push for solutions that will only serve to benefit him.  I thought there was going to be a rimshot on the drums when he said we shouldn’t quibble over whether Corporations pay 15% or 0% on the $2,500,000,000,000 they have hidden overseas in an effort to avoid taxes.  How about just pay the 35% they owe Carl?  

 
 
 
 

Repatriating Carl’s money from hidden tax havens won’t fix what’s wrong with this county.  US corporations are sitting on $2Tn other dollars at home and they sure aren’t using it to produce jobs or increase salaries for their workers or to provide benefits – how will another $2.5Tn help – other than to give them just enough money to take over or crush what few small businesses remain in this country.  

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 

Why can’t Hillary or Bernie just go on TV with charts like this that CLEARLY explain what’s going on in this country?  In order to change things, the people have to understand the problem and, thanks to Bush’s insane changes in our education system, economics is not even taught in schools anymore – you have to elect to take it in College or some progressive High Schools.  Politics, philosophy – off the agenda – the last thing the GOP wants is a well-educated voter.  

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 

This is not politics folks, this is economics!  There are political forces who try to influence the economy in order to get more power – that’s how the games work.  The Democrats push to make people secure in their health and retirement and well-educated so that there will be enough wealth to SHARE with those who are less fortunate and yes, that’s called SOCIALISM.  The Republicans want you to fear as many things as possible so you willingly give up your liberty and obey those in authority who hold themselves up as your superiors.  Well educated people don’t tend to do that.  

 
 
 
 

It’s VERY easy to fix our economy.  Elect me dictator and I’ll have it done in a week.  This is a $19Tn economy and all we have to do is place a 25% Value Added Tax (VAT) on all goods and services with no exemptions and we would raise $4.75Tn.  The Government currently collects $3.5Tn, which includes Payroll taxes so you would not have to pay one additional penny in tax, other than state taxes, and you would never have to file your tax returns again.  The only change would be that there would be a 25% bump on goods and services you buy that is turned over to the Government.    

 
 
 
 

Since our budget is currently a bit under $4Tn, we could use $500Bn to pay off our debts in the next 30 years and we can take $250Bn and give it to the bottom 20% (60M people) for about $4,000 each in aid – more than doubling what they get now per family.  That will pretty much eliminate poverty and that $250Bn would flow right back into the system as their lifestyles improve and, as a bonus – it’s very likely they would need less health care and save us that much anyway.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 

If you spend $20,000 a year, you end up paying $5,000 in taxes but my plan gives people earning less than $20,000 at least $4,000 back – very fair.   If you buy a private jet or a yacht, however, you pay your 25% taxes instead of the current system where you get a tax break – Carl Icahn and Donald Trump do not like that!  

 
 
 
 

The beauty of a VAT system (and there are over 100 countries in the World using one now) is that corporations can’t cheat.  That’s why the GOP is so against it.  I know I pay more than 25% of my income in taxes and so does any honest person or corporation – only the cheaters have an issue with this.  Best of all, no company will be able to sell goods or services in the US and hide their profits overseas – taxes are collected at the point of sale and there are no loopholes to hide the money in.  

 
 
 
 

Well, there’s my first day as dictator taken care of.   On day 2 I’d fix the climate and day 3 would have to be infrastructure – which might bleed into day 4 so hold my calls…

 
 
 
 

 

 

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