Rough morning in Old City. 2-Alarm blaze at Suit Corner (SW corner of 3rd and Market).
Matt Streisfeld of LLR Partners gives a solid FinCapDev webinar that dives into the fintech investment landscape. (Pay no mind to the fact that the first minute is silence. It gets going from there.)
The newspapers [Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News] did everything they could to hold onto their audience, meaning that they reduced the publications’ content while raising prices. For some reason, this did not work.
Open for Business: A Quick Guide to Starting Your Venture in the Cloud (ebook by Kashoo)
Scenes from the FinCapDev New York Hackathon at WeWork Lounge
We Need to Stop Telling Everyone to Start a Small Business
Disclaimer: There’s nothing political about this post. If you extract such, that’s on you.
Read any blog, pick up any paper, watch any cable news show, listen to any speech and there’s a good chance you’ll hear the phrase “start a small business.” And that makes sense: entrepreneurship is sexy. Bootstraps are emotionally stirring. Small businesses are the backbone of the economy. The road to recovery is lined by them.
And that’s because it’s simple to start a small business and make it successful, right? Anybody can do it! All you need is a storefront or a computer or a “love of [dogs, people, logistics, code, cupcakes, clothes, money, etc.].”
Wrong. Simply wrong.
Starting a small business is not easy. In fact, it’s probably one of the hardest things someone can ever decide to undertake. It’s the epitome of risk. There is no seamless transition from a steady paycheck job to entrepreneurship. Becoming an entrepreneur means that you are now responsible for everything, including but not limited to entity formation, accounting, marketing, finance, sales, technology, business development, retail space (if necessary), vehicles, hiring, equipment, travel, budgets, negotiating, staff management, benefits, retirement, payroll, more sales, bills, taxes, filings, vendors, customers, more business development… Ev. Ree. Thin. Guh.
And the most daunting part? Paying yourself is often the last priority. Your business can survive if you don’t pay yourself. It can’t survive if you don’t, say, pay the rent on your retail location or your accountant to tell you how much your business has to pay in taxes. There is a significant likelihood that you personally won’t see a dime out of the business for months. Maybe years. Are the millions we’re encouraging to “follow that dream and start a small business” prepared for that?
This isn’t intended to be negative, but rather realistic. It’s naive to think that everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur, small business owner, whatever you want to call it. Small business failure rates vary depending on the source, but 60 percent within the first two years isn’t extreme. THAT’S A LOT. And that’s reality.
But we shouldn’t tell them no. We shouldn’t tell people not to give it a shot. Entrepreneurship can be one of the most life-changing journeys you can take, for better and for worse. It should not be discouraged. What we need to do is stop being so casual in our collective encouragement that anyone can do it; that it’s easy and the surefire solution to a crappy job. We also need to stop using “so that someone can start a small business” as a rationale for anything. Because if starting a small business is one single thing, it’s really, really hard.
One hundred percent accurate.
Some shots from Thursday’s Bay Area Fintech Startups Meetup where folks from Foundation Capital, Juntos Finanzas, PayNearMe, Nexxo Financial, and FinCapDev talked underserved.
FinCapDev Hackathons Coming to SF, NYC
Two hackathons really worth checking out. Big cash prizes, chance to land a guaranteed FinCapDev Finalists slot, real use cases to build for, good cause. For more info, check out FinCapDev Hackathons.
Media Databases Breed Bad PR
In the world of PR agency land, one of the first things a newbie encounters is a media database. It’s a service that the agency pays for. It provides contact and bio information for literally everyone that’s “in the media.” Beat reporters, producers, feature writers, anchors, assignment desks, bloggers, pundits, you name it. Our aforementioned newbie is often charged with logging into a media database and compiling media lists: rosters that, in theory, align with a client, campaign, project, etc. They pass this to their higher up, get a glance of approval and then “pitch” against it. However, true pitching (aka, personal, relevant outreach that has some actual context and true relevance) isn’t what usually happens. Said list (which often numbers into the hundreds or thousands and are developed by simple keyword searches) is fed into a mail merge and every “recipient” gets the same thing. In a way, it’s sort of like spam.
So put yourself in the shoes of those recipients. Would you want to get and will you even care about a mass-blast? Of course not. It is apparent that the sender cares just enough about you, what you’re working on and what your audience cares about to lop you in with four digits worth of “peers.”
But jumping back to how these list are created, to say they are less then scrubbed is an understatement. As mentioned, they’re often created by keyword searches with a few filters. Example: anyone who covers “business” at a daily anywhere in the U.S. Can you imagine how many people that might be? And can you imagine how many are likely poorly targeted since “business” is such a catchall that lots of media cover? Does building a media list in this way save time? Sure. But it’s likely at the cost of quality.
If media databases and the lists the spawn are bad for PR, what’s the alternative? As mentioned before, start by listening. Actually absorb the relevant media and its content. Make a Twitter list. Build your list by hand. (Can’t find the email addresses and contact info you need, you say? Bull. If someone even remotely works in the digital realm, you can find their email address. Stop making excuses.) Start small. Make soft intros. Be useful to the media you seek.
Folks in the media make it beyond apparent what they cover, what they care about and what their audience wants. All you have to do is go get it.
When scheduling a call in which you want something from someone, ALWAYS know and stick to THEIR time zone. Don’t make them count.