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How To Pivot And Adjust – The Three Keys to Success

How To Pivot And Adjust – The Three Keys to Success

How to pivot is an important question as the tempo of change accelerates. First, we should look at what causes a change on a macro level. Then, we’ll explore how startups and small businesses can be proactive in making adjustments. The three overarching themes that drive change around us are the advancement of technology, the flow of information, and the interconnected nature of the world.

The Advancement of Technology

We live in a world that changes faster than it ever has before. Technology and the demand for tech skills are also expanding. These days, by the time you open the box of your new computer or phone, it’s outdated. In fact, by the time, the latest Apple laptop has been designed, built, manufactured, shipped, sits in the box at the retail store, and sold — that computer is now significantly behind the new capabilities that are in the world. It’s seemingly impossible to keep up. 

The cassette tape hit U.S. homes in 1964 and thrived in the 1970s and 1980s. It wasn’t until 1991 that CD’s became the better technology with higher fidelity audio and eclipsed sales of cassette tapes and vinyl. In 2001 CD’s really cemented their place as the default solution. Tapes died a quick death, with the last major album released on tape in 2009. This means audio cassettes had a nice 35 year run as a viable technology. But consider the replacement for the CD. In 2001 Apple released the iPod and by 2005 iTune sales eclipsed CD sales. That’s right, the change happened in just four years (not 35 years). Would the MP3 player be the future? Nope. Just ten years later music streaming services would eclipse MP3 sales as the new leader. Technology advanced quickly and rapidly. With this advancement comes a lot of change to markets and interactions.

The Flow of Information

Advancement in technology is not the only thing that is continually disrupting our world. The flow of information today and the amount of knowledge we have at our fingertips is exponential and ever-changing. Information moves at an almost instantaneous rate. People around the world can learn things as soon as it is released and respond accordingly, constantly keeping the competitive landscape on its toes. The need to respond and stay competitive in that type of environment is consequently difficult. The challenge today is more not so much knowledge, but understanding and execution.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: How Profitable Should My Startup Be?

The Interconnected Nature of the World

Because we live in a global economy, the faster things change, the more we become dependent on one another. This is evident when an event occurs, whether it’s good or bad, in one part of the world it can clearly affect the rest of the world. Even if the event might have nothing to do with you, your company, your employees, or your business — it can greatly affect you because of the interconnected nature of our world. Many products today are sourced from one area of the world, assembled in another, and sold in yet another. Supply chains have become incredibly complex. Small business can sell services globally from anywhere.

How does a Business Plan in a World that Changes Rapidly? 

Because of the advancement of technology, the flow of information, and the interconnected nature of our world, leaders, small businesses and entrepreneurs, must become more nimble. 

The Two Types of Mistakes a Business Makes in Response to a Changing Economy

  1. Ignore: The first type of response is to ignore. They look at something, like the novel Coronavirus, and think, “no one could have ever predicted that and planned for it and so we’re all just gonna move on with our lives.” 
  1. Over-plan: The second type of response is the opposite. A business can start to try to create contingency plans for every little thing, creating a diminishing rate of return where the business is spending way too much time, energy, and resources on ideas unlikely to happen. It can be crippling to the decision process, which ultimately affects the ability of the business to thrive. It’s paralysis by analysis.

The survival of the business depends on the ability to plan for 80% and then work hard on organization, leadership structures, and processes that are nimble. A surviving business is a learning organization that values an ability to pivot and learn. It’s about planning for the ability to change and adjust, not planning for every individual change.

How to Become a Learning Organization

How do you structure a team to be nimble? There are four fundamental keys to become a learning organization.

  1. Leverage Technology: A surviving business needs to be at the forefront of technology.
  2. Learn Quickly: Knowledge needs to pass quickly through the organization. Technology needs to be used to process that knowledge and make it meaningful. 
  3. Understand Interdependencies: A smart business will understand how they are connected and dependent across supply chains around the world. Once they understand this, plans need to be organized to have necessary adjustments in place if an event were to occur to affect the interdependent partnerships.
  4. Prioritize Commitments: Looking at goals, deliverables, payments that might typically be longterm commitments, and finding ways to prioritize those into shorter-term, more nimble commitments. Real estate is one of those items that has been a longterm, inefficient commitment. Good questions to ask yourself and your company are: what are some current commitments that are unnecessary and that you can get rid of? Perhaps you need a coworking space?

Businesses That Are Pivoting Successfully

Some of the companies that have done well at this are retail stores, specifically big box stores. So let’s look at a company like Best Buy, Walmart, or Target. These companies have leveraged technology and pivoted in the ever-changing economy. For identified their local retail stores are just distributed warehouses. They have revamped their online platforms to leverage direct to consumer possibilities. Consumers can purchase online items that are available locally in-store and have options to pick up on-demand or have the item shipped to their house from a store that’s close. In doing so, these big box stores have shifted from retail stores around the country to distributed small warehouses where they can quickly get items to the consumer. It may sound like a small shift in thinking, but it’s a huge shift in execution and purpose.

Are You Ready for Change?

The world is changing at a rapid pace and we can no longer set 10-year plans without adjustments. Today businesses must constantly question their direction and reorient. The world will get upended on a more regular basis, whether it be from a global pandemic like the Coronavirus or the rapidly changing technology, the flow of information, and the interdependent nature of the world. Survival is based on moving and pivoting quickly. Think of it like an athlete who has trained their body to adjust, react, and respond quickly to their environment. Build your company to be nimble and ready for action. Set your goals and look to the horizon, but always be prepared to pivot.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: The Complete Entrepreneurship Syllabus

How Profitable Should My Startup Be?

How Profitable Should My Startup Be?

What does it mean to be ramen profitable? In this blog post, we’ll explore what that term means and how to execute that concept in your startup. Let’s dive in!

Profitability. Burn rate. Runway. All these terms get floated around when building a company. Some may think there are two options for a company: either lose as little as possible or make as much as possible. But, like many things in life, there is more complexity to the issue.

There are companies like WeWork who lost nearly $2 billion of cash between 2018 and 2019. But there are others like Juul who have increased revenue from about $200 million to nearly $1 billion in just one year. They also attained about $12 million in profit during that run.

For any startup, there is a balance between profitability and growth. This doesn’t mean, though, that the only two options are burning billions or making a few million. A third option is making just enough profit to cover the founder’s expenses. In doing so, your company is sustainable. Many call this ramen profitability.

Ramen Profitability Defined

Ramen profitability is a term that was popularized by venture capitalist and serial entrepreneur Paul Graham and since he is the man responsible for bringing this term into the lexicon of the business world, he is undoubtedly best equipped to define it.

In his words, ramen profitability “means a startup makes just enough to pay the founders’ living expenses.” This is a different form of profitability than startups have typically pursued. For entrepreneurs, profitability typically means a big bet is paying off in big ways. The main importance of ramen profitability is that you make just enough and it buys you time.

Ramen Profitable Startups vs Typical Startup

Startup guy writing on a white board

During the early days of a startup, striving to achieve ramen profitability is an excellent way to ensure that a company will survive without raising a lot of capital. In Nebraska, it can be difficult to find venture capital even with a growing network of angel investors. Often, when operating in Lincoln or Omaha, founders struggle to find meaningful investment at early stages like they in larger markets on the coast.  A company that has attained enough profit to survive without growth capital can assure it will stick around long enough to find the right investors.

Traditionally, startups have sought out investors in an effort to raise capital that is then spent on building the company. This approach might mean that a business does not see profits for many, many years to come but, when profitability is reached, millions of dollars may be generated. In and around Nebraska, investors are more attracted to stability, profitability, and control. Because of this, ramen profitability is a great approach in the early days of new ventures.

With ramen profitability, a startup can achieve profitability much earlier since investment debts aren’t draining the company. With this approach, the goals are simply to eschew raising capital while focusing on achieving a high enough level of profitability to at least pay for the salary of any founders. Once that benchmark has been reached, the company is profitable.

Related: Guide to Finding Angel Investors in Omaha

Ramen Profitability Is an Excellent Indicator of Viability

For startups looking to delay raising capital, the time spent working with a goal of ramen profitability in mind can bring about a few benefits.

One very big advantage is the fact that reaching this goal perfectly indicates the viability of a startup. That’s because, once profitability is achieved, three things can be inferred:

  • People are happy to pay for the product, which means that the market exists;
  • The founders solved a pain point in the market
  • The startup’s founders were able to control spending and successfully manage cash flow to achieve profitability

All of these indicators are important benchmarks to achieve when the time does come to start talking with investors.

Advantages Inherent to Ramen Profitability

Choosing to govern a startup with the goal of ramen profitability in mind can have many advantages with some being more obvious than others.

  • You can often negotiate better terms with investors, banks, or landlords when you are profitable as a company.
  • A startup’s profitability will also work to the advantage of its founders when approaching investors because profit, no matter how small, will prove the viability of the business.
  • Finally, because ramen profitability allows founders to delay the process of raising capital, they are better able to focus their time on the business instead of dealing with endless meetings and negotiations with investors.

Ramen Profitability Is Not a One-Size Fits All Approach

While ramen profitability certainly has its advantages, it isn’t the perfect fit for all entrepreneurs. That’s because, for some startups, such a large infusion of cash is needed right from the beginning that raising capital is virtually unavoidable. It really depends on your end goal. If you’re more concerned with blitz scaling and are okay with burning through money quickly, then ramen profitability isn’t for you. On the contrary, if you’re more interested in long-term growth and becoming a profitable company, ramen profitability is the route for you and your business to take.

Ramen Profitability is the Solution Your Business Need

Once all of the advantages and disadvantages inherent to ramen profitably are considered, it’s easy to see why it’s such an attractive option for founder on the Silicon Prairie. In places like Nebraska, capital is difficult to find and often takes a much longer time to secure than it might in larger metro areas. Most investors in the Omaha and Lincoln area are more risk-averse, especially in the early stages of new businesses. Ramen profitability assures founders they can stay afloat while they work to secure funding.

Office space can really chew up startup cash fast. That’s why we built Populus to be flexible and cost-effective office space for teams of 2-20. Check out ourcoworking spaces in Omaha and let us support you with an amazing and affordable workspace.

Related: LLC or Inc: What’s Better for a Startup?

Startups Move to Nebraska as Populus Coworking Grows

Startups Move to Nebraska as Populus Coworking Grows

Omaha, NE – Brain drain may be a concern for Nebraskans, but Populus Coworking has seen an influx of exciting companies from outside of the state.

Launched officially in August of 2019, Populus is a 9,500 SF shared office space at 26th and Farnam streets. The coworking space provides a home for small businesses, startups, and remote workers. It currently has about 70 members.

In February, VidaNyx moved its headquarters to Populus from Seattle. Invest Nebraska and NelNet Inc led a record series A of $5M to move operations to Omaha, NE, and bring on CEO Sara Boyd, previously CEO of the Omaha Community Foundation. VidaNyx is making several full time hires here in Omaha to fill out its local team.

Populus Coworking is also excited to welcome Techtonic out of Boulder, Colorado. The company recently opened an Omaha location after closing a $6 million Series B led by Camden Partners. “Techtonic is a transformative company addressing the overwhelming demand for tech developers,” commented Jason Tagler, Partner at Camden Partners.

John Bunting co-founded a startup studio in Las Vegas but recently relocated to Omaha. He recognized a need for this model in the Midwest and launched Beeso Studio with an HQ at Populus Coworking. Beeso Studio partners with startups to ensure their long term success by providing low-cost services for software development, project management, marketing, business development, operations, and advisement.

Additionally, Populus has welcomed remote workers from exciting companies like Redhat, which was purchased last year by IBM for $33 billion. The public company Altaba (AABA), formerly part of Yahoo, has executives at the space. Companies from Iowa and South Dakota are currently negotiating opportunities to land at Populus.

Nearly twenty new full-time jobs have been created in Omaha by Populus Coworking members and over $16 million in venture capital attracted since opening in August of 2019

Incredible businesses are building in the Midwest. Populus Coworking creates spaces to attract and support these organizations in Omaha.

Takeaways from the World’s Top Innovators

Takeaways from the World’s Top Innovators

Six months ago, I was an exhausted startup employee and became friends with an overworked journalist. Over a pitcher of beer, we discussed creating a podcast on innovation called The Commonwealth. I would host the show and land the biggest guests possible. My friend, Alec McChesney, would produce the content and manage distribution.

Since first putting our podcast idea on a napkin, this passion project has taken us on a wild ride. After building up some episodes, Alec left journalism to take a job as a Marketing Strategist at Firespring. My startup went through a restructuring and laid me off. This gave me the opportunity to focus on the show full-time.

We’ve now been releasing episodes for three months. The Commonwealth has given me the chance to pray in a mosque with people attempting to bring peace to the Middle East. I’ve been able to talk with the visionary behind Microsoft Office over the phone and laugh with a Maroon 5 groupie who leveraged her connections to launch a career in fashion.

The amount I’ve learned from each guest is tremendous; I can’t even appreciate it all just yet. However, these are currently my top takeaways since we started this show.

Use Disposable Resources | Amanda Valentine

Amanda Valentine moved to Los Angeles to follow her brother who was forming a new band. The brother would play lead guitar. Adam Levine would sing. They named the band Maroon 5.

Amanda started getting involved in wardrobe design for the band. She moved to Nashville to start her own boutique shop when she auditioned for Project Runway. She was voted off the show after a poor performance on Season 11. When season 13 rolled around, the producers asked if they could include her on a list of previous contestants for fans to vote back onto the show. She said yes. 

Her friend, Adam Levine, Tweeted the link. All the Maroon 5 fans voted. She made that season and placed runner up.

“Most really successful fashion designers come from really wealthy families,” Amanda told me on the episode, “Zac Posen is funded by his family’s trust fund. Same with Tory Burch.”

She didn’t have a family trust. But, she did have a famous brother and leveraged that resource to help her succeed. Most people don’t have trust funds or famous siblings. However, many people have resources available to them that they don’t use because they are too afraid to ask.

Know Your Core Offering | Runza

Donald Everett is the President of Runza. His grandmother opened their first fast-food restaurant in 1949. The chain today is run by the third generation of Everetts, has 85 locations in the Midwest and is beloved by most that call themselves Nebraskans.

Runza has experimented with multiple menu items throughout the years, most recently a vegetarian Runza. Some have been incredible successes, while others have dramatically flopped.

When asked the approach Runza takes to these new menu items, Donald said, “At the end of the day, Runza sandwiches, fries, hamburgers account for 80% of our sales. The other things are noise. You have to make sure whatever thing you add to that menu isn’t a flippant decision. You have to make sure you know how it’ll impact the execution of your other products.”

Being the best at everything is impossible. Pick one to focus on. When adding something to that core competency, make sure it doesn’t distract from the rest.

It’ll Go Unexpected Places | Nelnet

Jeff Noordhoek is the CEO of Nelnet, one of the biggest student loan businesses in the world. I asked Jeff if he ever thought the company would grow to this size when he joined the team as the third employee.

“The short answer is I had no idea it would get to this level. This idea for this business came about when Mike (Dunlap), who’s speaking later on the episode, and a friend Steve Butterfield came together and said we’re going to start a company. They approached two friends—I was one of them—with the idea that we’d finance student loans.

“At the time I remember thinking: ‘This is a big risk, it’s a startup company. If we made it to 10 people, in my mind, we’d be highly successful.’ Here we are, 23 years later, with 6,800 employees. We have 560 open positions today.”

Jeff continues: “At the time, I had no idea what it would get to. But that’s the beauty of life.”

Value Diverse Experiences | Buildertrend

Buildertrend is a construction management SaaS company in Omaha, Nebraska. After emailing hello@buildertrend.com, I was able to get time with its three founders.

Buildertrend started with Jeff and Steve Dugger building websites and software in their parents basement. The freelance work allowed them to create products that solved problems across a variety of industries. After making a website for a construction company, word got around with local home builders wanting a website. Jeff and Steve saw the pain point and brought on their high school buddy with sales experience, Dan Houghton. Thirteen years later, the company has 500 employees with software that’s used around the world. Without dabbling in multiple industries and projects, Jeff and Steve wouldn’t have been able to discover the construction pain point.

It Takes Times | The Commonwealth

Creating this show has given me the ability to speak with some remarkable and renowned individuals. We built up some episodes before launching the show. When we released the first episode, we didn’t get thousands of hits overnight. Podcasts grow primarily through word of mouth, which takes time to develop. This project has been consuming, frustrating, exciting and overwhelming… depending on the time of the day.

We have a specific vision where we want this show to take us. If achieving it were easy, everyone would have a well-known podcast. It doesn’t happen overnight. But the first step in building anything is laying the first brick.


Nick Castner is the Host of The Commonwealth podcast. Follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

Startups Move to Nebraska as Populus Coworking Grows

Startups Shouldn’t Overlook Council Bluffs

Just across the river from Omaha, only moments away from Downtown, are the 65,000 people of Council Bluffs. Between the Bluffs and Downtown Omaha is the mighty Missouri River. But there’s more than just the river that stands between the two cities. For a long time now, there have been stigmas and assumptions that separate the cities. 

Entrepreneurs, though, should be careful not to overlook Council Bluffs. The area has a lot to offer, and its leadership is ready and able to support and nurture new companies. 

What makes Council Bluffs unique for startups? A lot says Niki Ferguson, who works as the Manager of Entrepreneurial Development at Advance Southwest Iowa Corporation. “Some great things are happening on the east side of the river,” Niki said in our interview with her. “For example, we have an awesome art scene that includes the new PACE building, the Harvester artist lofts, and public art.” The Pottawattamie Arts Culture Entertainment (PACE) project is a $27 million undertaking that will be complete in early 2020. According to the Omaha Wolrd Herald, the building will house the new American Midwest Ballet, Chanticleer Community Theatre, Kanesville Symphony, and the Kitchen Council for entrepreneur chefs.

“There is also a big push for community building and revitalization projects, as seen on the 100 Block, west Broadway corridor and the riverfront,” said Niki. “Not to mention, Blink – free community wifi.”

You may also be interested in Omaha Startup Press

For some time, there has been a debate in Omaha on the use of our riverfront property. Council Bluffs, though, has stepped up the game on their side of the river. The area includes performance space, new class A office, condos, parks, and more. It’s a very vibrant scene.

The Southwest Iowa area knows how essential startups will be to their future. Niki was clear, “Entrepreneurs will always play a huge role in the economic vitality of our city.” She continued, “they will be the ones who develop solutions to our challenges. Council Bluffs will welcome, and is ready to support, those innovative solutions.”

Perhaps the most significant advantage Nebraska entrepreneurs may have when considering Council Bluffs is the ability to establish an Iowa presence without going far from home. Establishing a headquarters in Iowa opens companies up to a whole new world of relationships, resources, and opportunities. Iowa offers its entrepreneurs and small business owners some incredible incentives. Here are a few of those opportunities:

The Iowa West Foundation

Since its inception, the Iowa West Foundation’s grant program has awarded more than $430 million. The organization funds non-profits in education, economic development, and healthy families.

Learn More Here >

The Iowa Demonstration Fund

With awards up to $125,000, the Demonstration Fund is designed to assist companies with market-ready innovative technologies or products that have a clear potential for commercial viability. 

Learn More Here >

The Iowa Innovation Acceleration Fund

With awards up to $500,000, the Iowa Innovation Acceleration Fund promotes the formation and growth of businesses that engage in the transfer of technology to competitive, profitable companies that create high-paying jobs.

Learn More Here >

Targeted Small Business Program

The Targeted Small Business (TSB) program is designed to help women, individuals with minority status, service-connected disabled veterans, and individuals with disabilities overcome some of the hurdles to start or grow a small business in Iowa.

Learn More Here >

Tech Brews Council Bluffs

Tech Brews is a program by the Technology Association of Iowa. For those familiar with 1 Million Cups, Tech Brews is a similar concept. The event happens monthly in Council Bluffs and is hosted at the Kitchen Council space. It’s an excellent opportunity to meet and connect with local entrepreneurs and builders.

John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers

Members of the Iowa startup community will be able to access the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers at Iowa Universities. There is strong support for founders in Iowa’s university system. Building in Council Bluffs gives entrepreneurs the ability to engage these excellent programs.

Growing the Bluffs is good for Omaha as well. It’s common knowledge in economic development that there is momentum and energy in density. When density is high, good things happen. Council Bluffs is just minutes from downtown Omaha and selecting this as a primary home or secondary headquarters is likely better for Omaha’s density than building on the far western or southern edges of the city. 

What’s next for Council Bluffs? Probably a lot. The Bluffs is also an extension of the Omaha Chamber of Commerce and part of the We Don’t Coast collective. “I think Council Bluffs is the next up and coming neighborhood in the metro,” said Niki. “All of the players from the city, county, non-profit organizations, business owners, etc. all work collaboratively for the same common goal: to change the narrative and showcase the opportunities.”

She continued, “I would challenge anyone to come across the river and spend some time here. Come check out the 100 block, attend an event at Baylis Park, and visit Downtown. I guarantee your opinion will change. There are opportunities in CB for businesses and startups, as well as an awesome quality of life. I’m excited about the future of Council Bluffs!”

You may also be interested in A Guide to how Omaha Ranks Amongst Midwest Startup Cities

Complete Entrepreneurship Syllabus

Complete Entrepreneurship Syllabus

Can you learn entrepreneurship?

You can learn to be an entrepreneur. Like many things in life, there isn’t one type of personality or set of skills that make a great founder. Too often, people look at a few successful founders and draw a single set of conclusions. For instance, we might find that three or four successful people have a great morning routine. We may then assume that to be successful, we also need a morning routine. But this is no different than finding that the Apple co-founders are both named Steve, so you’ll only find success if you are also named Steve.

While many people are born with a disposition towards taking risks or learn grit early in life, this doesn’t mean things can’t be developed over time. In the following syllabus, we will outline key materials that aspiring entrepreneurs should study. This is a living and breathing document that we will continue to update over time. Bookmark it and check back often for new content and excellent references.

  1. What is entrepreneurship?
  2. Are you a freelancer or founder?
  3. The history of great entrepreneurs
  4. The psychology of innovation
  5. It’s about execution, not ideas
  6. Venture Capital Funding basics
  7. Other ways to fund your company
  8. Marketing 101 for startup founders
  9. Sales 101 for startup founders
  10. Intellectual property and startup law
  11. Top startup mentors to follow
  12. Top books for entrepreneurs

There are so many dynamics to a startup. The very idea of innovation requires the exploration of new, different, and unique ideas. Entrepreneurs must break with traditional rules and ways of doing things to blaze an original path forward. Great founders aren’t created by reading a few books. Still, it would be foolish to assume that the study of theory and wisdom of others isn’t helpful. On the contrary, rules aren’t strategically broken without first understanding them.

The intention of this syllabus on entrepreneurship is not to be an exhaustive resource. This is intended, instead, to a curated resource of the top content for aspiring founders.

You might also want to explore our recent entrepreneurship conference with speakers like Scott Belsky, Kevin Olusola, Roddy Chong, and many more. https://populus.co/conference/


What is entrepreneurship

It might seem like an obvious question with an easy answer, but it often is not so easy. Some might consider only venture capital type tech companies as entrepreneurship. Others might think of any small business owner. Still, some might think of any sales job or side hustle as entrepreneurial.

Many grow up understanding entrepreneurship because they have a parent, friend, or other family member creating things. Others grow up with no concept of what it means to start something new and create economic value. Here are some resources that help answer these questions.

Entrepreneurship: A Working Definition

“For some, it refers to venture capital-backed startups and their kin; for others, to any small business. For some, “corporate entrepreneurship” is a rallying cry; for others, an oxymoron.”

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Are you a freelancer or founder?

There is a big difference between freelance work and starting a company. Primarily, companies intend to scale and employee people. Freelancers are creating a job for themselves. Founders generate employment for others. Freelancing is an essential and rewarding career, but it is very different from entrepreneurship.

Seth Godin Startup School: Freelancer or Entrepreneur?

Seth discusses creating a monopoly, describes the differences between freelancers and entrepreneurs, and talks about how a business is connected to marketing.

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Freelancer Vs. Entrepreneur Vs. Consultants. Are They Interchangeable?

The difference between being an entrepreneur and freelancer?

  • Entrepreneurs have automation, systems, and employees that work in their businesses that they created without their direct involvement.
  • Freelancers exchange time for money (but you accept a job at a rate that you charge, which is more than a traditional job).
  • The difference between the two is time.

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The history of great entrepreneurs

There is a difference between entrepreneurs and inventors. Though we might often think of innovative people like Thomas Edison, our interest here is on the ability to innovate and take that to market. Here, we want to explore the great capitalists and company builders of the past.

Biography: John D. Rockefeller, Senior

“The impression was gaining ground with me that it was a good thing to let the money be my servant and not make myself a slave to the money…”

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Henry Ford

Henry Ford was nearly 40 when he founded Ford Motor Co. in 1903. At the time, “horseless carriages” were expensive toys available only to a wealthy few. Yet in just four decades, Ford’s innovative vision of mass production would not only produce the first reliable, affordable “automobile for the masses,” but would also spark a modern industrial revolution.

(opens in a new tab)”>Read The Article >

How America’s First Self-Made Female Millionaire Built Her Fortune

America’s first black female millionaire — and the first woman of any race to become a self-made millionaire — built an empire from nearly nothing in one of the most spectacular rags-to-riches stories in U.S. history.

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The psychology of innovation

Building new things is hard work. It can come with great rewards, but also a significant toll on your body. The following articles discuss the mental health of founders and how this relates to creativity and innovation. The topic of mental health is critical to any exploration of entrepreneurship. It simply does not receive enough discussion. 

The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship

Successful entrepreneurs achieve hero status in our culture. We idolize the Mark Zuckerbergs and the Elon Musks. And we celebrate the blazingly fast growth of the Inc. 500 companies. But many of those entrepreneurs, like Smith, harbor secret demons: Before they made it big, they struggled through moments of near-debilitating anxiety and despair–times when it seemed everything might crumble.

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Why startup founders should open up about their mental health

Why does it matter? Because while we talk about grind all the time we forget to admit that there is a much darker side to the entrepreneurship, the one that makes founders feeling down. That, in turn, creates an imbalanced reality when talking about your success and the ways to reach it is fine but sharing your inner struggles is not.

(opens in a new tab)”>Read The Article >

Are Entrepreneurs “Touched with Fire”?

The findings of this study are important because they suggest an underlying relationship between entrepreneurship and many of the affective, cognitive, and behavioral differences associated with mental health conditions

(opens in a new tab)”>Read The Article >


It’s about execution, not ideas

Ideas don’t make businesses. Execution is the real game here. Entrepreneurs are those that can do the disciplined work of turning an idea into a company. They have the courage, dedication, and commitment to create new things, not merely think of them.

A Real Guide on How to Find Your Passion

For the things we love most, we sacrifice. Like a martyr who gives his life for a cause he is passionate about, we are willing to struggle and endure for things that have our affection. We dedicate ourselves to those things naturally because of their meaning, not merely because of how they make us feel.

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Ideas Are One Thing But Execution Is Everything

The front end of innovation, or “ideating” is the energizing and glamorous part. Execution seems like behind-the-scenes dirty work. But without the reality of execution, big ideas go nowhere, even in startups.

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Ideation to Execution: Forget the Top Step, Worry About the Next Step

For many of us, coming up with an idea is where the journey ends. We think, “oh, that’d be nice if this existed to solve X problem,” and there it dies. Entrepreneurs are those that go beyond the niceties, pushing forward into the reality of what it takes to make the idea an actuality.

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Venture Capital Funding basics

Venture capital is an industry that many misunderstand. Most of the time, it is not uber-wealthy individuals writing giant checks, nor is the nerf guns and all nigh keg parties you see on TV. Most of the venture capital industry involves fund managers, who are individuals that raise lots of money from other people and invest in specific types of startup opportunities.

The Beginner’s Guide To VC

tl;dr: Tired of being the only person on the couch who doesn’t understand the jokes in Silicon Valley? We’ve got you covered.

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A Guide to Finding Angel Investors in Omaha

This guide should help if you’re you’re struggling to find angel investors in Omaha or around Nebraska. A word of caution, though, before we begin. Never lose focus on business development. Every hour spent hunting for investors is an hour you could’ve spent acquiring more business, which makes finding investment a lot easier. The more traction you have, the more success you’ll have with investors.

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Venture Capital 101: Structure, Returns, Exit and Beyond

A good venture capitalist is a thoughtful, experienced ally, who sits alongside the entrepreneur as a partner and a mentor, knowing full well that their fate is intertwined. Most venture capitalists fall into the following three types — domain expert, operator or networker. 

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How To Fund Your Company

While raising money from Angels or venture capital can be appealing, it’s not right for many companies. Venture funding is focused on outsized returns often associated with tech companies. What if you’re not building a high growth tech company? Or what if you don’t want the intense pressure that comes with venture capital? There are many other ways to fund your startup.

How Profitable Should My Startup Be?

For any startup, there is a balance between profitability and growth. This doesn’t mean, though, that the only two options are burning billions or making a few million. A third option is making just enough profit to cover the founder’s expenses. In doing so, your company sustainable. Many call this ramen profitability. 

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The 10 Most Reliable Ways to Fund a Startup

Of course, every alternative has advantages and disadvantages, so any given one may not be available or attractive to you. For example, professional investors put great priority on your previous experience in building a business, and they expect to own a portion of the business equity and control for the funds they do provide. These are tough for a first-time entrepreneur.

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How to Fund Your Business Startup: 5 Fast and Popular Options

Whether you are in the initial stages of starting your business or looking for additional funding to grow; prepare to be flexible and creative. Remember, your source of funding may not all come from a single place.

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Marketing 101 for startup founders

Marketing for small business owners or startup founders can be a confusing subject. There are so many opportunities out there. The one key to great marketing is consistency. People trust what is consistent – so be consistent in your visuals, messaging, voice, and tone. No matter what kind of company you have, you’re going to need a few basics: a website and visitors. We’ll start our fundamentals of marketing with those subjects.

The Beginner’s Guide To Content Marketing

Content marketing is a relatively new type of marketing that provides free media-type content to customers in exchange for their attention. Unlike traditional advertising which interrupts customers to get noticed, content marketing provides content that customers want in exchange for permission to market a product or service.

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From 0 to Launch: 6 Steps to Building Your First Website

If you’re just messing around and blogging as a hobby – no problem – feel free to use a website template. But, if you’re trying to build a business website, you’re setting yourself up to fail. Bottom line: don’t do it! Here are some reasons why…

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The 61 Best Marketing Tools for Every Business & Budget

The list of recommended tools below is sorted into different sections so you can get a better sense of what tools are available for different functions of the job. At the end, you’ll see the whole list of 61 tools that you can skim and bookmark for later. Nearly 50 of them are free marketing tools, which means the product offers either a free version with limited resources or a select group of tools inside the product that are yours to use at no charge.

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Download 11 Killer Lead Magnet Ideas & Templates

I ran a small experiment in which I tested a handful of new lead magnet ideas, picked the ones that performed the best and then showed them to visitors on relevant pages. In this article, I’m going to share the 11 highest-converting lead magnets from that experiment.

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Sales 101 for startup founders

For young companies, sales are everyone’s job. Often founders have technical or leadership experience, but not a lot of sales experience. Without sales, your company is only a hobby. The following articles will help jumpstart your sales knowledge. Ultimately, though, you need to get out there and start talking to potential customers. 

Noobs guide: B2B vs B2C vs B2D Marketing

This post is aimed at new entrepreneurs, startups, or others in small companies that are looking to grow, especially people who don’t already have marketing backgrounds.

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We Break Down B2B vs. B2C Marketing

Business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers aim to capture the attention of two distinct audiences. And although there are many similarities between these types of marketing, how they engage audiences on each channel is actually quite different. First, let’s clarify what B2B and B2C is.

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The future of sales: 6 skills every B2B sales rep needs

Today, a highly personalized approach is a prerequisite, with 75% of prospects being more likely to buy into a customized offer.

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170 Sales Terms From A — Z: The Updated Glossary of B2B Sales Definitions

With the rise of AI, new sales technology and automation at the forefront of the sales echo chamber these days, we thought we’d take a moment to bring it back to BASICS — that’s why we’ve rounded up this complete glossary of sales terms and definitions to help you remember where it all started.

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How Do I Build a Prospecting Plan?


Intellectual property and startup law

First, this is not legal advice. Populus is not a law firm, and you should probably hire a lawyer – so we take zero responsibility for the outcomes of this information (just to be clear). We’ll try to shed some light on a few common questions that come along with starting a new business. Because this is a self-guided startup syllabus, we’re not going to recommend any specific law firms, but we’d be happy to do so if you’d like to contact us.

LLC OR INC: What’s Better for a Startup?

One of the most common questions about starting a business is which legal entity a startup should form. If you’d like to know how to decide what kind of business to form, you’re in the right place.

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When is a Startup Non-Disclosure Really Required?

 If you are totally risk-averse, then push to always get signed NDAs. You won’t last long as an entrepreneur in this category, since a startup is all about taking risks. On the other hand, if you intend to patent an idea, you need a signed confidentiality agreement from everyone knowing details, or you will legally lose patent rights.

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Easy Funding, Financing, and Valuation Documents

While the safe may not be suitable for all financing situations, the terms are intended to be balanced, taking into account both the startup’s and the investors’ interests. As with the original safe, there are still trade-offs between simplicity and comprehensiveness, so while not every edge case is addressed, we believe the safe covers the most pertinent and common issues.

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Top startup mentors to follow

There are a lot of voices out there. Finding a mentor can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Lucky for us, with the internet, we can learn from some of the best around the world. Here are a few of the top voices we would encourage you to follow. This is not an exhaustive list, of course, but we hope it gives you a good start. 

Brene Brown

Ben Horowitz

Seth Godin

Jason Freid

Sara Blakely

First Round Capital


Top books for entrepreneurs

There are a lot of great books out there, but a few really stand above the others for entrepreneurial advice. If you’re looking for a great foundation of startup knowledge, these are the ones we think are must-reads.

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Every day we experience the uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure that define what it means to be vulnerable, or to dare greatly. Whether the arena is a new relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family conversation, we must find the courage to walk into vulnerability and engage with our whole hearts.

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

People like Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers might have little in common, but they all started with why. It was their natural ability to start with why that enabled them to inspire those around them and to achieve remarkable things.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

“Every time I read a management or self-help book, I find myself saying, “That’s fine, but that wasn’t really the hard thing about the situation.” The hard thing isn’t setting a big, hairy, audacious goal. The hard thing is laying people off when you miss the big goal. The hard thing isn’t hiring great people. The hard thing is when those “great people” develop a sense of entitlement and start demanding unreasonable things. The hard thing isn’t setting up an organizational chart. The hard thing is getting people to communicate within the organization that you just designed. The hard thing isn’t dreaming big. The hard thing is waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat when the dream turns into a nightmare.”

Thinking, Fast and Slow

“A general “law of least effort” applies to cognitive as well as physical exertion. The law asserts that if there are several ways of achieving the same goal, people will eventually gravitate to the least demanding course of action. In the economy of action, effort is a cost, and the acquisition of skill is driven by the balance of benefits and costs. Laziness is built deep into our nature.”

The Messy Middle: Finding Your Way Through the Hardest and Most Crucial Part of Any Bold Venture

“Sadly, most people are not patient enough to reap the fruits of their own labor. Great teams gain their strength and resilience while toiling their way through the valleys, not just from relishing the view from the peaks.”

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

“Customers won’t care about any particular technology unless it solves a particular problem in a superior way. And if you can’t monopolize a unique solution for a small market, you’ll be stuck with vicious competition.”

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