Tag Archives: entrepreneur

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting My Business

We always say “if I only knew then what I know now…” when we look back on how little we knew in a situation. As an entrepreneur, there’s plenty I wish I could tell myself seven years ago…

1. You’re More of an Expert Than You Think. Early on, I felt so new. There were so many other marketing professionals I compared myself to, and I felt that I didn’t know a drop of what they did. It was probably true, but I lacked the confidence to consider myself an expert. Hey, everyone knows more than at least one person out there, right? Continue reading


Build A Business For Your Chance to Win $50,000


The Shopify Build A Business competition is back, and this time it’s bigger and better than ever.

Here at BizLaunch, we love anything that encourages people to flex their entrepreneurial muscles and dive headfirst into the wonderful world of small business—and that’s exactly what Shopify are doing with the launch of their fourth annual Build A Business Competition.

Over the past three years, the contest has helped create over 15,000 new businesses that have sold over $60 million in products; so if you’ve ever thought about starting your own business or selling something online, now’s the time to take the plunge.

This year they’ve teamed up with The Huffington Post and some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world to help new and emerging stores grow their business, and for the 2013 competition, the nine stores that sell the most in their respective categories over a two-month period will each receive $50,000 in cash and a VIP trip to New York for an exclusive meeting with their competition mentor.

Here’s How It Works:

To participate in this year’s competition, all you have to do is come up with a product to sell, open a Shopify store and pick a category (which will determine your mentor). At the end of the competition, the nine stores that sell the most over any two month period during the competition will each win a $50,000 cash prize and a VIP trip to New York to meet with their mentor.

The competition runs from October 1st, 2013 to May 31st, 2014 and any Shopify store that was opened after June 1st, 2013 may join the competition*.

The Grand Prizes:

Each of the nine competition winners will receive:

  • $50,000 USD

  • A VIP trip to New York City to meet with their mentors

  • A complete Shopify POS package, with iPad, allowing you to sell to your customers in-person.

The Categories and Mentors:

Shopify are partnering with some of worlds smartest and most successful entrepreneurs for this years competition; people who’ve all built wildly successful businesses through hard work, dedication, and savvy marketing skills—and now they’re here to help you do the same.

Grand prize winners will get an exclusive meeting with the mentor from their category, and the investment, guidance and personal network that these entrepreneurs bring to the table would bring massive value to any business. In addition to mentoring the winners in person, all entrants will also get exclusive access to mentor advice and content through the Build A Business dashboard during the competition.

So what are you waiting for? You’re only four steps away from the opportunity of a lifetime.

To enter Shopify’s Build A Business competition, click here.

*The competition is open to residents of US (select states), Canada, UK, AUS, and NZ.

Learning the 'Facts of Business Life'

All entrepreneurs wish there was a manual to help them become successful and grow their companies, right? Bill McBean provides such a manual in his book, The Facts of Business Life: What Every Successful Business Owner Knows That You Don’t. In the book, McBean elaborates on seven business facts, including:

  • If You Don’t Lead, No One will Follow
  • If You Don’t Control It, You Don’t Own It
  • Protecting Your Company’s Assets Should Be Your First Priority
  • Planning is About Preparing for the Future, Not Predicting It
  • If You Don’t Market Your Business, You Won’t Have One
  • The Marketplace is a War Zone
  • You Don’t Just Have to Know the Business You’re In, You Have to Know Business

Each chapter offers lessons and anecdotes to help business owners clear through the distractions to find their way to success. And while some of this advice seems commonsense, the author presents it in a way that benefits even the savviest business owner. Continue reading

Builder, Opportunist, Specialist, Innovator: Which Type of Entrepreneur Are You?

No two entrepreneurs are exactly alike, but they do share similar characteristics. In his book, Entrepreneurial DNA: The Breakthrough Discovery That Aligns Your Business to our Unique Strengths, Joe Abraham talks about four types of entrepreneurs. Take a look and determine which one you’re most like.


If you’re a builder, you’re all about creating a business from scratch. You’re focused and driven, and will do anything to help your business succeed. You sacrifice time and money to make that happen (sometimes to your family’s chagrin).  You’re a great salesperson, and work to motivate your team to be as enthusiastic about the company as you are.


As an opportunist, you’re great at seeing the potential of an idea or a business.  You want to make money quickly, and aren’t interested in nurturing your business for any other reason. People who flip houses or invest in IPOs are usually considered opportunists. You don’t want to work all your life (or even right now) but you recognize that you have to make your business succeed in order to relax on a beach somewhere.


Specialists get into business because they have extensive knowledge and interest in a particular field. Running a business helps them help other people.  They’re not in business to make millions, but rather because they can do what they love every day for years. Specialists aren’t aggressive about sales, and may have trouble differentiating themselves from other specialists.

Continue reading

Get out of the shoe box and into the Wave

Unless you’re an accountant you probably hate accounting. Heck I’d even bet that most accountants probably hate accounting, but it’s an essential part of any small business. Accounting – when done correctly – helps small business owners record transactions, prepare financial statements and tax returns, and also maintains order in their day-to-day business operations.

Unfortunately many small businesses are still relying on a shoe box full of receipts to prepare their records. The shoe box method can be dangerous because it can lead to creeping expenses, overdue accounts, cash flow shortages, data insecurity, added personnel costs, audit risks and even bankruptcy (eek!). These risks are very real, so I asked Kirk Simpson President and CEO of Wave Accounting why so many small businesses are still using this method.

“People don’t start small businesses because they love accounting,” he said, “They start them because they want to be a photographer, or real estate professional or a life coach.” For many small business owners accounting is the necessary evil that comes with running the business they are passionate about. And naturally, the tasks that small business owners hate the most are often the ones that they tend to neglect.

“The accounting process is very painful and very manual for small business owners,” he continued. Even with the help of online spreadsheets and expensive accounting software, many small business owners still find the task daunting. According to Kirk the problem with traditional accounting systems is that they aren’t intuitive for small business owners. “Many of the accounting programs still make you manually enter your expenses. At Wave, we atomize the process as much as possible so there is less manual entry.” Through partnerships with financial institutions, Wave will automatically import and categorize small business banking transactions into the software so business owners can see where they are spending their money.

Another problem with accounting software according to Kirk is that it makes small business owners keep their business and personal spending separate. ”The reality is that many small business owners use the same credit card on the weekends to buy diapers as they do during the week to buy office supplies.” Wave makes it easy for small business owners to categorize their spending based on whether it’s for business or personal use.”

The secret to the company’s widespread success and adoption is that they developed the service based on the accounting needs of small business owners (what a genius idea!). “We spent a lot of time developing the software based on how small business owners actually work, not the way an accountant, bookkeeper or software program tells them they should,” he said. With over twenty years of combined experience in the digital media and small business accounting industries, both Kirk and his co-founder James Lochrie strive to keep the perfect mix of utility and usability at all times. Maintaining this fine balance has helped them become a leading provider of free accounting software and is why thousands of small businesses are starting to use their service.

The key thing to take away from this is that accounting doesn’t have to be difficult. With the free tools that are available, small business owners can be more informed when it comes to running their business. Being more informed not only leads to better organization at tax season, but it also ensures that small issues are dealt with before they turn into major problems.

For more information about this topic, attend one of our free small business webinars.

Turning Waste into Business – Char Technologies

Turning Waste into Business – Char Technologies

Have you ever heard of the expression ‘sleeves off the vest? ‘This term is used to describe a company who uses waste from one product to create a totally new product. A more common phrase is: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

With over 7 billion people living on the planet companies have turned to alternative sources to fill the growing demand for energy. One form is renewable-natural gas which is developed by using the methane gas commonly found in landfill waste. Though there are a number of companies who provide renewable-natural gas, progress in the industry has been slow due to a dangerous chemical called hydrogen sulfide (H2S) that is found in methane gas. Because this chemical is highly poisonous and corrosive – the removal of this chemical has been a problem for renewable gas companies.

That’s until Andrew White came up with a solution to the problem. While obtaining his Masters in Chemical Engineering at the University of Toronto he toured a renewable energy plant. “I was astonished to see how much waste was created from producing renewable natural gas,” he said. “After seeing that, I wanted to turn the waste it into something these companies could use.”

That’s when Char Technologies was born. Andrew’s solution was to create a re-useable filter that would remove the H2S from methane gas. Similar to a Brita water filter, the product works by removing the chemical from the waste so it can easily be converted into clean energy. Perhaps the most intriguing part of the business is that it has no waste. Once a filter is full, Char Technologies will collect the used filters and re-purpose the materials for other uses.

For this innovation, Andrew won $25,000 in the Ivey Business Plan Competition earlier this year. He is now seeking a second round of funding to develop a prototype of the product. For more information please contact Andrew White directly at Andrew.white@chartechnologies.com

Startup Story: Sarah Prevette and RedWire

RedWire  RedWireNation
Sarah Prevette

Company name


What does your business do?
RedWire is a service for entrepreneurs to collaborate, knowledge-share & communicate with other entrepreneurs.

What makes your business different? What is that you do that makes your business unique?
RedWire is unique not only in its features and functionality, but also in it’s focus.

Other applications exist, but are either social in nature or largely about maintaining relationships with people you were already connected to. RedWire has a very specific focus in that all users are explicitly relevant to entrepreneurs and that the its primary aim is to expand your network to include people you wouldn’t otherwise be connected to.

Why did you decide to start your own business?
As a first-time entrepreneur with Upinion.com, I struggled with not having a network of peers to turn to for advice, ideas or resources. I saw a need for a unified community that facilitated connections between entrepreneurs.

RedWire was built to facilitate knowledge-sharing between entrepreneurs globally.

What’s the best part of being an entrepreneur?
The best part of being an entrepreneur is the privilege of spending each moment of your life working on your passion.

The best part of RedWire is that we’re immersed in the start-up scene – we’re in an exciting community of talented people doing amazingly ambitious things – the passion is palpable and highly contagious.

What’s the worst part of being and entrepreneur?
The worst part of being an entrepreneur is being entirely reliant on only yourself. Ironically, that’s probably one of the best parts too!

There is an inherent loneliness to the gig – but we’re trying to fix that by building a community of support on RedWire.

How long have you been in business?
6 Months

How did you raise the start-up cash?
We were fortunate enough to have people who believed in the idea and able to provide us significant runway for us to go through multiple iterations and development before becoming self sufficient.

Identify and discuss a few lessons you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
You’ve got to be the 3 A’s:
Amazing, Accessible & Authentic.

Focus on providing real value, being a part of the community & being completely transparent. These are the values that have come to the forefront as most important over the past several months.

What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?

  1. Just do it.
    Too many people sit on their great ideas or talk it out forever. Take the risk & find a way. Making the commitment to actually do it is the hurtle most people don’t make it over.

  2. You’re going to fail.
    You need to know it, accept it when it happens, learn from it and adjust immediately. Strive to fail quickly – all businesses are evolving iterations. He who best adapts wins.
    Your new strategy? Try. Fail. Adapt. Repeat.

  3. Isolation kills.
    Your opinion, while undoubtedly fabulous, isn’t the only one. Bring other people into the fold early – bounce ideas, ask questions and share issues. Get opinions. Get lots of them. They’re not all right but the fodder for thought is invaluable.

  4. Beware the tyranny of vocal minorities.
    Following up on the “they’re not all right” point – ensure your opinions are coming from a wide breadth and depth. Too often startups heed bad advice that comes from a small but overly vocal minority. Don’t mistake loud for smart.

  5. Throw modesty out the window.
    It goes against everything you’ve ever been taught about etiquette but you need to promote yourself. A startup’s brand begins and ends with the people behind it. It’s your personal responsibility to increase awareness about what you’re doing and you do that through sharing. Feigning modesty about what you’re doing when asked only creates a perception that it’s not very good. The best thing you’ve got at your disposal is your passion – share that excitement with people and watch it spread.

What are your goals and plans for the future?
We’re excited to unveil a brand new version of the service very soon… we’re anxious to debut and share what we’ve been working on behind the scenes!

An announcement will be made shortly on when the new site will go live…stay tuned!

Join us on http://www.RedWireNation.com

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