Posts Tagged "startup ideas"

What once housed his summer savings now reminds this CEO to build a strong team and focus on shared goals.


3 min read

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December 2018

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When I was nine years old, I overheard my parents arguing about the rent. They didn’t have the money to pay it. I had a Mickey Mouse piggy bank with $30 saved up, which was a lot of money to me, so I thought I had the solution and offered it to them. “Thank you; that’s sweet, but it won’t cut it,” they said, “and it’s not for you to worry about anyway.” I remember thinking, If that’s not enough, I can get more.

I grew up in Los Angeles’ Brentwood neighborhood in the early ’80s. Friends and I spent summers skateboarding all over. We also had a casual business operation: We’d wash neighborhood cars for $5 each, then immediately spend that money at McDonald’s. When I heard my parents arguing about rent, I set out to grow the operation. 

Related: This 9-Year-Old Boy Became KIND’s CFO for the Day and Learned an Amazing Lesson

I told my friends that if they helped me wash more cars, I’d buy an aboveground pool for the neighborhood. Whatever was left I’d save for rent. We went door to door offering our services, and every night I’d stuff my Mickey Mouse piggy bank with $5 bills. After a while, I had to buy another Mickey Mouse bank to accommodate the cash — and then a third. Before long, I bought a $1,500 pool (which made me a complete rock star) and still had $1,500 left over.

I gave the remaining money to my parents, who thought I stole it. When I told them about my business, they cried — and did ultimately put it toward rent. From that moment on, I never stopped hustling. You can do a lot of good with money. 

When I think back to that piggy bank — or see any image of Mickey Mouse — it reminds me of that hustle, and how important it is to incentivize a team. Our car-washing days were a success because my friends knew they would benefit directly from our work. Even today, that memory impacts how I work at Luxury Brand Partners. We develop and operate beauty brands, and our management team has equity in all our companies. When we recently sold our brand Oribe, that team benefited from the sale. It felt so good — the same as when my friends and I bought that pool.


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I got control of my body weight, but meanwhile my business was suffering.


6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


At the age of 17, I weighed 365 lbs. 

Within 18 months I shed half my body mass, dropping to just 180 lbs. During those 18 months, I ate like a bodybuilder and worked out each day. I pushed my body to new limits, and as I look back nearly a decade later, I’m proud of what I achieved.

Related: What Being Embezzled Out of $5 Million Taught Me About Forgiveness and Moving on

Because I was unhappy. I had built several successful businesses at a time most people were finishing high school, but I didn’t appreciate what I had (and I wasn’t happy with who I was). I wanted to become a new version of myself so badly that I committed to losing all that weight. Each day I woke up with vision and drive, committed to working toward my goal (no matter what).

This period taught me a lot about myself: what I’m capable of, how I’d spent most my life self-sabotaging myself, the effects self improvement has on your mind and body. I felt like a new person, but life was far from perfect.

I lost 180 lbs. but gained nearly $1 million of debt.

As the weight dropped off, my success in business seemed to go with it. I slipped into nearly $1 million of debt, and had to literally rebuild my life from the bottom up. It was a tough period for me, mentally, physically and emotionally. 

I felt like a huge failure, but my weight-loss seemed to anchor me. 

I knew I had made many mistakes, but I could also see what I was capable of. I saw how powerful (and important) it is to have persistence, perseverance, motivation, drive and a vision. 

My physical transformation gave me the belief that I could transform my business. It helped me build the mental toughness I needed to overcome the debt and start all over again. It showed me that no matter what, you have the to power change your fortunes, so long as you focus on these three very important elements. 

Related: How This Entrepreneur Bounced Back After Losing a Partnership, Laying Off Her Team and Dealing with $100 Million at Stake

Life isn’t an obligation. It’s an opportunity.

Life’s a roller coaster, and entrepreneurship makes the entire ride a whole lot crazier. It’s intense, full of ups and downs … and I’ve spent my entire life riding it.

Through the good and the bad, there are three key elements to self-improvement that you need to have in abundance at all times: determination, patience and dedication.

If you lose sight of these three things, it’s easy to lose sight of what you’re doing. You’ll wander off course and slip into debt, put on weight, turn to the bottle or whatever your version of self-sabotage is. You begin to play the victim and look at life as an obligation.

But, it isn’t — life is an opportunity. 

Whatever your situation is right now, you have an opportunity to grow and learn. Slipping into debt is an opportunity to rise from the ashes and build something better. Being 365 lbs. is an opportunity to transform your body and teach yourself what you’re capable of.

As I look back, I realize this is what I did when I lost all that weight. I had tried beforehand and failed, because I didn’t have the determination, patience or dedication.

But, this time it was different! I stopped self-pitying and playing the victim, and decided to take action. I wanted to become someone better, and it all began by pushing out my comfort zone.

Related: She Had to Fire 35 People on Her Second Day on the Job. Here’s How She Handled It — and Her Advice for Rebuilding Trust.

Your comfort zone is where self improvement goes to die.

As a species, we crave comfort. It’s in our DNA: to avoid dangerous situations and feel safe whenever possible. So as people, once we find comfort, we cling to it. We know we have a problem, but eating makes us feel better. So, we continue to eat because it’s comfortable.

Each day our brain convinces us to stay inside our comfort zone, because everything outside is scary and dangerous. So, we create stories in our head that everything is okay. We complain, play the victim, blame other people, say we’re unlucky, get angry and frustrated, and turn to things that make us feel better, and generally walk through life blind. Because being blind to our problem is easier (and safer) than facing it.

But, this is no way to live your life. And it is no way to build a business.

As an entrepreneur, your comfort zone is your biggest enemy. You cannot live inside it, and you must break free from it every single day. So long as you have these three key elements to self improvement — determination, patience and dedication — you have all you need to do so.

It’s not to say it’s easy, but with these three ingredients you have the power to do anything.

Related: 5 Big Lies That Block Your Progress — and How to Conquer Them

Self improvement as an entrepreneur is important.

Your life is like a story, and you are the one writing it. As you do, your story will ebb and flow. Sometimes the words come easy, and other times they don’t. Some chapters need major editing, and some will remain a work in progress. 

This is fine. At all times you have the power to turn a blank page into a word of art.

It took me losing half my body mass to realize this, and to appreciate what I’m capable of. It showed me how dangerous “comfort” is. It gave me the skills to build the businesses I have today. It ignited my growth mindset and helped me grow as a person. It taught me how important self improvement is, not only to become the best man I can, but to push and challenge myself as an entrepreneur so I can fulfill my purpose and vision.

Slipping into nearly $1 million of debt wasn’t fun, nor was losing 180-plus lbs. But, it’s made me who I am, and it’s all part of my journey.

What happens to you is part of yours, so never let go of your determination, patience and dedication. It’s all you need to evolve to the next level.


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When starting up as a new entrepreneur, the first thing to do is avoid making constant business blunders, no matter how insignificant they seem.


5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Most new entrepreneurs make terrible, dumb mistakes that crash their businesses before they can even get started.

They make these grave mistakes not because they are unintelligent, have low IQs or possess little experience. New entrepreneurs allow these blunders because they don’t see them as issues. Thus, they fail to invest their resources into fixing the problems until the problems bulldoze their companies.

Related: 10 Ways Leaders Fix Mistakes Without Making It Worse

Here are the top three dumb mistakes new entrepreneurs make, and a lasting solution to each oversight.

1. Superficiality

We live in a world of superficiality — shallowness, no attention to detail, not focusing on satisfying our customers.

In a world of 140 characters, many of us build products fast and hope for quick cash. The focus is more on “build and sell fast” than on quality and originality. Many entrepreneurs, especially the newbies, fall into this superficiality trap.

These would-be entrepreneurs refuse to sharpen their skills, ship broken products and provide terrible customer experience. That’s why many startups don’t see the light of day. What’s the solution?

Customer obsession. Your startup exists to serve your customers. Be obsessed with always pleasing them with your product.

Obsessive attention to detail. Before you build or ship any product, check every tiny detail with care. Don’t settle. Don’t let your team rest until you have completed the project to above-standard quality.

Constant learning. Knowledge is the antidote of superficiality. Keep learning, so you can satisfy your customers with unstoppable value and become the go-to person in your industry.

In the end, dumping the superficiality habit requires a change in mindset. You can get rid of it with constant practice and obsession with quality. That means focusing on getting good at one thing, before moving on to something else.

Let’s talk about that next.

Related: 3 Marketing Mistakes That Kill Tech Startups

2. Chasing two rabbits at a time

Amateur founders are quick to craft multiple ideas, bloating their online stores with a vast array of products and constantly rewriting their missions to accommodate their offerings. But, is that the brilliant idea they think it is? No, it’s not.

A friend of mine who is a freelance web designer recently told me that he had added copywriting on top of his web design services. “I want to increase my income, you know,” he excitedly told me.

I told him not to do that. I told him to focus instead on his design services so that he would become known as an expert in that category. But, he didn’t take my advice. The last time I checked, he had quit his freelancing career altogether.

Obviously, he was frustrated because he was chasing more than one rabbit at a time. As Confucius beautifully said, “Man who chases two rabbits catches neither.” Don’t offer two services or products at a time.

What you need as a new entrepreneur is credibility, not money. And the only way to establish yourself as credible is to focus on refining and improving your skill set, your product, and your offering. Only then can your customers regard you as the best provider of a particular product or service.

Related: This Is the Biggest Mistake Entrepreneurs Make in Their Finances

3. Ignoring “minor issues”

For new entrepreneurs, a comma splice in their home page copy is not something to worry about. “It’s just a minor issue,” they say. A broken link in their Facebook page is no big deal. “It’s just a minor thing,” they say. One negative customer review? Well, that’s just a “hot-tempered customer,” they say. “It’s just a minor thing.”

But is it? The reality is, these are not minor issues. These are big issues. Remember, all problems start small before they gradually metamorphose into big, uncontrollable setbacks.

That little comma splice on your homepage can lead to a tsunami of credibility issues. An error in spelling will then portray your brand as another fake company in the marketplace. Protect your brand. Don’t leave any tiny issue unresolved. Fix it — fast.

When starting up as a new entrepreneur, the first thing to do is avoid making constant business blunders, no matter how insignificant they seem.

Don’t be superficial in responding to your customers’ inquiries. Take your time to provide them with in-depth answers to their questions. Don’t chase too many opportunities, lest you fall into bloat and overload. Instead, focus on providing one product, and ensure that it stands out from the crowd.

Don’t ignore the small issues. They’ll grow into bigger problems. Nip them in the bud before they destroy your company. Everyone makes mistakes, even veteran entrepreneurs, but learning how to fix these three big blunders will save your little startup from crashing early.


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You are a smart, talented leader. Unleash your power.


6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Women, it’s time for us to suit up. We need to harness our unique feminine advantages as women to dominate in business. After years of trying to show we are equal to men, we have not made any progress. Why? Women have been playing by the wrong playbook — the male playbook. The rules of that playbook are rigged against us.

Related: How to Address Gender Inequity at Work

We need to start using our own playbook to change things. No more “learning in” or “outmanning the men” or “beating the men at their own game.” It’s time for women to capitalize on our unique advantages as women to succeed and lead in business.

Those unique feminine advantages have nothing to do with our sexuality. Rather, we have a weapon that is far more potent. Research has shown that emotional intelligence is key for being a successful business leader. Of the 12 competencies researchers have developed as key markers of the emotional intelligence required for leadership, women score higher than men in 11 out of the 12. And on the 12th we’re tied with men. We don’t just excel in the warm and fuzzy skills. We come out ahead of men in hard business skills traditionally associated with men like “driving for results” and “taking initiative.” It’s time for us to transform the gender rules by using these superior leadership skills to advance our careers.

Here’s how to move forward:

1. Suit up using your emotional intelligence.

Combining intelligence, empathy and emotions magnifies our capacity for analysis and our comprehension of interpersonal dynamics. We can use these superior leadership skills to read the emotions and motivations of the people we are dealing with, gauge the situation strategically, choose a nuanced course of action and take control.

Related: Shifting the Paradigm to Embrace Gender Differences

2. Stand up with confidence.

Confidence trumps competence every time. How many times in a meeting has a man, who clearly doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about, speak with the utmost certainty and end up drawing praise and respect from his audience? Why? Study after study shows that success in the business world requires more than competence. Our efforts to demonstrate that we deserve promotion, compensation and success based on merit are misguided because business is not a meritocracy. Confidence beats competence.

The good news is that confidence is a skill, and like any other skill, it can be acquired. Step one is to just do it. Act as if you exude self-confidence. Fake it until you become it. Walk the walk and talk the talk.

3. Shut up that internal critical voice.

Stop self-sabotage. Society has been drilling male supremacy into us since we were little girls, and we’ve internalized it and convinced ourselves to buy into the patriarchy by giving away our power. All too often, we are our own worst enemy. This internal voice sews seeds of self-doubt, fear of failure and the fear of being revealed as a fraud. Ruthlessly target those thoughts, consciously shut them down and replace them with self-affirmative, encouraging talk.

4. Speak up.

If you have an idea or disagree with what’s being said, speak up. Shut down mansplaining and manterrupting and stop allowing men to appropriate your ideas as their own. When you are speaking, do not yield, and call out any man who interrupts you. If necessary, bluntly say “Stop interrupting me and let me finish.”

When you talk, make sure to use empowering language that exudes confidence. Never apologize before you speak. The word “sorry” should be banished from your vocabulary. Similarly, never caveat what you are about to say with prefaces such as “I’m not sure but” or “I might be wrong but.” Use direct, forceful language.

Related: Powerful Women Don’t Need the Limelight to Be Influential. Here’s Why.

Male speech patterns are more assertive, direct and succinct. Women’s speech patterns are perceived as weak, unassertive, and tentative. Use short sentences. This makes it harder for people to interrupt you.

Remember that body language matters. Make your physical presence known: Lean forward at the table, point to the person you’ve chosen to acknowledge for a comment, put the flats of your hands on the table to make a point and look that person squarely in the eye or stand up and walk to the front of the room — whatever it takes.

5. Step up.

Opportunities are rarely handed to you on a plate. Remember that if you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it. How will you ever achieve your goals if you only perform those assignments you are handed? Ask for what you want — plum assignments, leadership roles, salary increases and promotions. Take risks and advocate for yourself. Take the hard job even if it’s a stretch for you. If you don’t, some man will. When you are assigned a major project, dive into it and take charge.

6. Show up.

Reaching a goal is usually a marathon, not a sprint. Demonstrate the tenacity to continuously prove yourself. Seize the next challenge and keep achieving. Push back against those who deny you what you need.

7. Smarten up.

Focus on earning respect, not popularity. As women, we tend to be people-pleasers and hyper-sensitive to nuance. The same emotional sensitivity that gives us our high emotional intelligence also make us wary about displeasing others, risk-averse and bad at dealing with negative feedback. Understand that success is not a popularity contest. Women have to learn to withstand disapproval and criticism and, when necessary, to take hard, contrary positions. The most likable people are not regarded as leaders. Instead, to achieve success be respected, decisive and inspiring.

Let’s get started. Women do not have to put up with male domination any longer. It’s time to stop surrendering control to the men around you, letting them order you around or allowing them to treat you with disrespect as if you are of a lower social status than they are. You are a smart, talented leader. Unleash your power.


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Kickstarter backers loved it — and so will you.


2 min read

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.


Missed connection flights. Uncomfortable hotel mattresses. An “out of order” sign on the conference room’s only coffee machine.

There’s a lot to fret about when it comes to business trips, but your luggage shouldn’t be one of them.

Crafted from premium, weather-resistant nylon ripstop and weighing less than one pound, the Bomber Barrel Duffel Bag is ideal for the oft-traveling professional. Modern, stylish, and versatile, its design features inner and outer pockets for small items such as your wallet, keys, and boarding pass. It also includes a matching travel kit for your toiletries.

So it’s nice to look at and capable of carrying all your business-casual essentials, but can this minimalist duffel survive a few days on the road? Actually, yes: The Bomber is a bag that’s clearly built to last, with military-grade clips, reinforced handles, emergency paracord zipper pulls, and an adjustable, padded, quick-release shoulder strap for convenient (and comfortable) transport. In fact, the Bomber is such a perfect mix of form and functionality that it currently holds the title of being the most successful bag in Kickstarter history with more than $430,000 raised in pledges. 

The Bomber Barrel Duffel Bag and its matching travel kit typically cost $200, but for the next few days, Entrepreneur readers can purchase them as a set for only $69.99 — a savings of 65 percent


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If you’ve been contemplating ditching your 9-to-5 for self-employment, here are five things that will make your transition easier in the long-term.


7 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Starting a new business isn’t easy and it, of course, has its share of ups and downs.

Some months are outstanding (financially), while others aren’t.

Some months you’re in “pitch mode” to land new business and others you’re delegating work to be performed, hiring new team members, firing ones who aren’t working out and doing all the “things” that nobody on social media will ever know, hear or see.

For a person who’s historically been a “corporate intrapreneur” — otherwise referred to as someone who acts entrepreneurial yet is paid a salary as an employee of a company — to have full autonomy to show up and do your work on your terms while having the security blanket of a paycheck can be rewarding.

However, the thought of not having that direct deposit hit one’s bank account every 15th and 30th of the month can also be terrified to the point of paralysis by analysis.

“How will I pay my rent?”

“How will I make my mortgage next month?”

“How will I sustain my lifestyle?”

“How will I be able to afford expensive dinners and vacations?”

These are all questions that run through the minds of corporate intrepreneurs — who have an entrepreneurial mindset — and lead them to stay put more times than none.

It’s fear. It’s self-doubt. And, it’s real.

On Oct. 1, 2018, when my LinkedIn inbox became flooded with “Congrats on your work anniversary!” messages, I took a moment to reflect on what it took for me to walk away from a job that previously paid me over $150,000 per year.

For beginners, working a full-time job with a salary and benefits isn’t a bad thing if you look at it from the perspective of you’re being paid to learn new tasks and gain experience(s) which will you take with you for the rest of your career. Experience which someday you can charge large sums of money for.

Post-recession, circa 2012, I had to temporarily step away from being self-employed and go work for corporations to rebuild my credit and save up money, which had been nonexistent in the previous four-year period.

One of those jobs led me to start social media for Winn-Dixie, one of the largest supermarket chains in the U.S.; the other was working at LinkedIn, which relocated my family and me to San Francisco and opened up a new world of opportunities which previously didn’t exist.

However, there comes the point when the paycheck, company logo or work culture does not fulfill your needs, and you have to assess whether your purpose and passion are more important than a paycheck.

If you’ve been contemplating ditching your 9-to-5 for self-employment, here are five things that will make your transition easier in the long-term:

1. Have a bigger objective in mind outside of your day job.

If you cannot answer that you love your job, then you’re in the wrong position. I often will meet gainfully employed professionals who dislike their boss or the company that they work for but feel that staying put outweighs the risk of going elsewhere — including on their own. If you have years of experience and don’t think that your value is recognized within your organization and are being held down, perhaps think about freelance consulting on the side to get a feel for what it’s like cutting your invoices, sending out proposals and doing work independently.

2. Start building an identity outside of your current job title.

As soon as you get the “itch” to work for yourself, make your priority not what you will do but how you will do it. Begin with building a professional identity outside of your job title or company logo. Many working professionals are known as “James at X Company” or “Susan from Y Company” because they’ve built their entire legacy around being an employee of a high-profile organization — which is fine, but there comes the point where you need to create your own identity independent of that employer.

Begin writing for publications in your industry as your name only — unaffiliated with your employer or current job title. Start speaking more at industry conferences. Participate in online groups on Facebook and LinkedIn to grow your identity and thought leadership but also to network.

3. Secretly network within your network.

For two years before I exited my corporate job to start my social media marketing agency Gil Media Co., I met privately with close colleagues to share with them my vision for “next steps,” either at industry conferences or by phone. While you don’t want to share your intentions publicly with the world just yet, what you do want is for your closest colleagues to act as informal advisors who may have a job for you (on a freelance basis) or can introduce you to someone that might be looking for your expertise. You’d be surprised at exactly how many major corporations are looking for consultants or freelancers with your skill set and expertise.

4.  Don’t quit without paying clients.

Unless you’re fired or laid off from your job, do not quit unless you have a paying client or two. Not having guaranteed income will bring you stress which will make it harder for you to focus on the basics of getting a business up and running. Therefore, it is critical that you have income coming in from other sources before you become self-employed (by choice). You should also have at least six months of salary in liquid cash saved up to help you bridge the period between going out on your own to bringing in consistent business.

In my case, a year before leaving my corporate job I picked up a client (ironically from a free speaking gig)  which afforded me the ability to save cash that would eventually buy me a runway. 

5. Document the process.

Sharing your story is a competitive advantage. Why? Because it’s your story. Strangers will be more inclined to help you when they see someone who’s sharing their vulnerabilities. As I share in the video and short documentary above titled “Chasing Opportunity,” a layoff in the financial services industry in 2008 led me to discover social media as a gateway to rebuilding and rebranding myself, which led me down a new career path to where I find myself today. While my story is unique to me, it’s also real and relatable.

As you’re growing a new business document the process of growth — and sometimes failure — through daily stories on Instagram or Facebook. Leverage mediums like YouTube and LinkedIn, too, to amplify awareness around whatever your “hustle” is. You will find that there’s a world of opportunity waiting for you outside of your city or state if you see it. However, sharing who you are, what you do and what you want to accomplish is critical to unlocking it.

If you need advice to help with your transition, let’s connect on social media and discuss.

Watch more videos from Carlos Gil on his YouTube channel. Follow Carlos Gil on Instagram @CarlosGil83.

Related: How to Use Instagram for Lead Generation




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