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Top 20 3D Printing Communities Online

LinkedIn Groups

3D Printing
3D Printing  14,218 members
3D Printing Guild
3D Printing Guild
3,977 members
TCT + Personalize - 3D Printing & Additive Manufacturing Network
TCT + Personalize – 3D Printing & Additive Manufacturing Network
1,947 members
3D Printing at Home
3D Printing at Home
1,204 members
3D Printing Entrepreneurs
3D Printing Entrepreneurs
940 members

Shapeways 3D Printing Community
822 members
2D and or 3D Top CAD Experts
2D and or 3D Top CAD Experts
25,860 members
" Additive Manufacturing (AM) " - Rapid Prototyping ( RP ), Tooling and Manufacturing -3D Printing
” Additive Manufacturing (AM) ” – Rapid Prototyping ( RP ), Tooling and Manufacturing -3D Printing
4,814 members

Forums

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RepRap – #reprap on freenode IRC; /r/Reprap on reddit

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3DPrintBoard.com: Threads 1,273 Posts 5,435 Members 899
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3DPrinting-Forums.com: Total posts 1555 • Total topics 585 • Total members 1005

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SoliForum: Registered users: 4,621. Total number of topics: 4,919

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Forum.3ders.org: Connected with the 3der.org 3D printing blog.

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Shapeways Forum: 3D Printing Forum connected to the Shapeways ecommerce community.

Google+


3D Printing
Come and troubleshoot, show off, or post news!
63,385 members

additive manufacturing for manufacturing parts
617 members

Reddit:

reddit

r/3DPrinting News, information, links and fun things related to 3D printing, 3D printers, rapid manufacturing, desktop fabrication etc.

Websites:

Youmagine

YouMagine is an online community for everyone who’s eager to explore the world of 3D printing.

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Ultimaker – “The Ultimaker is the new kid on the block for 3D printing which officially started selling in May 2011.” They also have a community forum.

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MakerBot’s Thingiverse is a thriving design community for discovering, making, and sharing 3D printable things.

Feel free to leave a comment if we left any out!

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entrepreneurship Uncategorized

You will only receive a fraction of the value that you create in the world.

Most employees, contractors, and freelancers adopt a give and take mindset. You do X and receive Y. If you do X and do not directly receive Y, your parents or mentors encourage you to be less giving because people will take advantage of you. While this mindset may hold true for legal contracts, in my opinion, this mentality is the recipe for failure in entrepreneurship.

Often times, it takes months, if not years, for hard work to snowball into even small amounts of traction or financial results. You are not always directly compensated for your efforts, be it talking with potential customers, writing promotion articles, or building new functionality into your product.

In his recent PandoMonthly interview, Brian Chesky talked about some of the pivots that Airbnb went through before beginning to take off and generate cash. Although his initial efforts may have seemed like failed attempts at building a company or work that he was not compensated for in the marketplace, they were directly related to his success farther down the road.

Few people will tell you that when you actually do see success, you will rarely receive 100% of the rewards of your hard work.

Kickstarter, the popular crowdfunding website that helps creative types fundraise online, is a good example of this. Since their launch, they have helped people raise over $800 million. However, since they take 5% of funds raised, they only have received $40 million in revenues from these crowdfunding projects. After taxes and expenses, the founders likely see a fraction of that amount each year as dividends.

You will only receive a fraction of the value that you create in the world.

If you grow a company to annual sales of $100 million, you personally might only be earning $1 million from dividends after taxes, retained earnings, and money paid out to other shareholders. Assuming an average annual customer value of $500, you would be making 200,000 lives better with your product each year. However, you would only directly receive the annual monetary worth of 2,000 customers (not including the value of your stake in the asset which can be sold later).

Don’t worry about being directly paid for your work. Just work harder than your competitors to add as much value as possible to your customers’ lives.

If you do this and bundle it in the form of products, services, and customer service, you will soar past your competition and give your customers a reason to talk about your awesome company.

When networking, the same rule applies.

Adopt a 100:1 give/receive ratio.

This means that for every 100 people you help in some way, 1 of  those people will lead to new clients, good opportunities, money, or helpful introductions.

In internet marketing, it’s natural to expect a 1% conversion rate for actions like banner clicks or twitter recommendations. Many times, it’s even less than 1%.

For example, in order to make $1-2 from an article you write online using programs like google adsense or chikita with a 1% conversion rate and an average of 1 page view per unique visitor, the article must be helpful to at least 100 people. They must have clicked on it or read it.

If you genuinely help 100 new people that you meet in some way, be it making an introduction, providing feedback, or sharing relevant articles, only expect 1% to lead to worthwhile clients, connections, or opportunities.

This might not seem like a lot, but let’s say you have a service based business that generates an average of $5,000 per customer. Maybe you are a web developer or a marketing consultant

If you interact with a minimum of 200 new people a year (easy to do when people find your content via google, you interact with them on social media, or go to meetup.com events), you would end up interacting with 1000 new people after five years. Holding to the 1% idea, this would be 10 people that directly lead to tangible new business or $50,000 over those five years.

It might not seem like a lot, but when you engage in content marketing or create helpful free online resources, over time, the number of new people you meet each year online will grow exponentially. In addition, by organizing in-person events or speaking at meetup.com events, you can increase the likelihood of meeting new people.

You will only receive a fraction of the value that you create in the world, so try to create a lot of value for other people!

By adopting this mindset, not only will you become the kind of giving person that others want to work with, but as you begin making money and start seeing happy clients or customers, this intangible philosophy becomes a part of your brand and why you are different from your competition.

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entrepreneurship Uncategorized

3 Startups Marketing Tips For Companies on A Tight Budget

Every now and then, you receive those $100 google adwords credits and $50 facebook credits. You might drive a little bit of traffic to your website and maybe get one or two conversions. Unfortunately, for most bootstrapped startups, it isn’t a viable marketing plan to keep spending upwards of $1 – $5 cost per click (depending on the keywords), especially if your revenue per user is low starting out.

Instead, check out some of the tips below for cheap startup marketing alternatives. Just keep in mind that in order to expect results, you’re going to be paying in one way or another, be it hard work or financially.

The goal of all marketing in the early stages should be to build a list of customers or fans that give you permission to send them messages, either via email, social media, or through apps. Click to Tweet.

1. Content Marketing

Content marketing may take at least 6 months to begin showing results, but it’s a no brainer investment for a startup, especially if part of your sales process includes educating customers or proving your “expert status” to browsers looking to buy.

Content marketing can take the form of blog posts, youtube videos, infographics, podcasts, and more. Typically, this content is given away for free and solves a problem that your customer has.

For example, many non-profit owners struggle with internet marketing and are frequently combing the web for free advice. If you type into google “internet marketing for non-profits,” this Moz article will come up Online Marketing Tips for Nonprofits.

After reading this article, you have the opportunity to check out the company’s products and services, which includes a product that helps small businesses with SEO and internet marketing.

Moz isn’t paying for this article to be in a top spot on google, but because it is helpful and free, customers can find the webpage and a certain percentage will click through and buy their products.

The goal of content marketing is to begin a dialogue with your customers and prove that you know what you are talking about. 

Start creating blog posts now, aimed at solving your customer’s problems or educating them about about your industry. If you aim for three blog posts a week and promote them on LinkedIn groups, Google+ groups, Twitter, Facebook, and your Newsletter, you’ll begin seeing more traffic to your website. With more traffic you can always experiment to see what types of content yield good conversions and sign ups.

Content marketing has helped me build up an email list of close to 2,000 individuals in a little under 10 months. I’ve written an article on CrowdCrux about using content marketing. The focus of the article is on promoting a crowdfunding campaign, but the same principles apply.

2. Social Media Marketing

When I first started CrowdCrux, I thought that social media marketing was all hyped up and overrated. Boy was I wrong. Every single person that “follows” you on twitter, “likes” your facebook page, or “circles you” on google+ is essentially saying “I want to receive messages from you.”

When you tweet or post, they will see these messages and your social media profile becomes a distribution platform. In addition, when users re-tweet you or re-share your messages, your business is exposed to a whole new set of potential customers.

Be smart and start building your social profiles early. Post interesting content, relevant links, and every now and again your own messages or content. Interact in the community, retweet, use hashtags and mention people in your posts.

Social media is at the very top of the sales funnel, where you can attract new leads and begin a dialogue with new customers. You can also keep an eye on how existing customers are responding to your service.

Social media has helped me build up a following of 4,000+ people in 10 months that receive my messages and check out my links. I’ve written an article on CrowdCrux about using Twitter. The focus of the article is on promoting a crowdfunding campaign, but the same principles apply.

3. LinkedIn + Meeetup.com

In an age of digital overload, sometimes old fashioned in-person events are the best way to stand out in the community, especially if you are younger.

Yes, it can be intimidating to go to a Meetup.com event if you are 16-25 and most of the people are in their late 20s, however, I’ve been to countless events and I started going when I was 19. People don’t bite. They love it when younger people are looking to learn more about a particular industry or get their foot in the door of the business world.

One of my favorite reasons for having turned 21 in 2013 was being able to go to networking events that served alcohol, as many of the events take place in these kinds of establishments.

Try not to think of attending interest-specific events as “sales”, so much as establishing relationships with people in the community and your target customers. Learn from them. Ask them questions. Get inside their heads.

I’ve written up a brief overview of LinkedIn on CrowdCrux. Again, the focus of the article is on promoting a crowdfunding campaign, but the same principles apply.

Conclusion

Like with most things in life, the earlier you start, the better. Always remember that great things take time. Start building up your sales funnel now, and you’ll benefit down the road. You can even automatize social media marketing with tools like Buffer and Hootsuite.

If you have any questions or would like me to expand on any of these broad points, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

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entrepreneurship Uncategorized

How to build a small business in college

A startup that is ramen profitable generates enough cash to pay all expenses, including the founder’s living expenses. Instead of taking a part-time job, securing a paid internship, or living exclusively off work study funds, use your time in college to build a ramen profitable business.

Not only will this give you more options once you graduate college, but you will learn a tremendous amount about sales, marketing, accounting, and social media.

Service startups vs. product startups.

A service-based business is one where you exchange your time for money. However, rather than being labeled an “employee” of a company, you own the company and are labeled as a “consultant” or “contractor.” Instead of customers, you have clients.

A product-based business is one where you create a product, which you sell to customers. This product can be physical or intangible, like a website or a mobile app. It costs money or time to create the product. The hope is that you will generate enough cash from the product over a span of time to justify the investment.

In my experience, it’s much easier to create a ramen profitable service business than a ramen profitable product-based company. This is mainly because you are dealing with your own or another’s skill set in a service company. Likely, there already is a demand in the job market for the skill set you, your partner, or your employees have. The hard part is securing the initial clients and keeping the jobs coming in. For this reason, the focus of this blog post will be on how to build a service-based business in college.

Evaluate what you are good at.

In a service-based business, you will be selling your skills to potential employers, be they individuals or other businesses. Begin to take stock of what you are good at, what you know better than most people, what “skills” you have, and how you can prove it.

For example, if you know how to do front end development work or make wordpress websites, this is marketable skill that you can build a service-based business around. If you are a good writer, if you are good at video editing, or if you know how to use adobe photoshop/illustrator, these are all awesome skills that can be at the foundation of a service based company.

Evaluate what people on your campus are good at.

When you start a service company, the skills of you, your cofounders, and your employees are what your’e selling. If your campus has a lot of talented web developers, designers, or video producers, you should make use of the resources around you.

Form a relationship with another person that has a highly marketable skill and make it your mission to find contract jobs for them. You can start the business together. After you begin making some initial income, you can bring on subcontractors for jobs to help ease the burden on your cofounder or business partner.

Don’t have a skill?

Even people that don’t have a marketable skill or know anyone with an in-demand skill set can build a service company. They just need to begin learning the basics of sales. With a willingness to learn and work hard in sales, you can generate leads for other companies or sell affiliate products and services.

Identify companies in your area and their needs.

What types of companies operate near your college campus or your friend’s campus? What problems do they experience in their respective industries and what role do college interns have at these companies? By identifying the problems that companies in your area experience, you will be able to brainstorm services you can provide more easily.

For example, if the companies in your city have trouble reaching out to students at local colleges and the career service departments do a horrible job of linking up companies with students interested in internships, that is a problem that you could solve. Why not organize events between students and employers or start a website where students can connect with other students that interned at local companies. They could then learn more about what it’s like to work at various companies in the area for the summer.

Identify individuals in your area and their needs.

The best way to brainstorm business ideas for service companies is to identify the problems that your peers and other members of the university community experience.

For example, if many people on your campus have trouble with writing essays, an easy service idea would be to create an essay writing or reviewing service. If parents of students on campus live far away from the college, you might consider creating a gift-packaging service where you will send students gifts on behalf of parents that include goodies such as homemade cookies, brownies, and candy.

Get business cards and a website.

Once you’ve identified your skills, the skills of the people on your campus, and the problems of individuals and businesses near your college, you should be able to come up with a few service driven business ideas. Pick your best idea and come up with a name.

It’s absolutely essential that you get business cards. Potential customers may ask for one and often times business cards are exchanged at networking events.

I use VistaPrint and Moo for business cards. I also highly recommend getting a website, twitter account, and setting up a company LinkedIn profile. You should get a personal LinkedIn profile if you don’t have one already.

You can purchase a domain name from Godaddy or 1&1 and use a cheap hosting provider like Bluehost or Hostgator to set up a website. In addition, there are many free wordpress templates out there you can use to create a professional looking business website in minutes.

Try it out for three months.

Try it out for a definitive time period and analyze the results. Test your hypothesis that there is a demand for this kind of service and that you can fill that demand. Questions? Leave a comment below.

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entrepreneurship Uncategorized

John D. Rockefeller’s 5 Startup Lessons

rockefellerJohn D. Rockefeller is widely considered to be one of the richest men in history, with an estimated net worth of $663.4 billion in 2007 dollars. His company, Standard Oil, was at the heart of the American petroleum revolution and its industry dominance led to the creation of anti-trust legislation and fair competition laws. There is more information about Rockefeller’s humble beginnings at the end of this article.

1. Save Compulsively and Invest

Over the course of three years, Rockefeller saved up a year’s salary as a clerk and at the age of 19 launched his first venture buying and selling produce. Known for his thoroughness, Rockefeller had the unlikely combination of also being a risk-taker, and took out a $20,000 (2010 dollars) loan from his father to start the venture.

He was incredibly conservative with his earnings, marking personal expenses down in an accounting ledger. Eventually, his savings from the produce venture allowed him to transition into the oil refinery business, which paved the way for his future financial success and fame.

“I wore a thin overcoat and thought how comfortable I should be when I could afford a long, thick Ulster. I carried a lunch in my pocket until I was a rich man. I trained myself in the school of self-control and self-denial. It was hard on me, but I would rather be my own tyrant than have someone else tyrannize me.” – John D. Rockefeller

2. Dont Try To “Get Rich Quick”

Contrary to the advice of most “wealth gurus,” Rockefeller’s story underscores the idea that wealth is acquired over a lifetime of hard work and focused intensity.

“You will remember that the business in its early years was a sort of gold-field rush. Great fortunes were made by some of the first adventurers, and everything was carried on in a sort of helter-skelter way.

Rockefeller represented the second, more rational stage of capitalist development, when the colorful daredevils and pioneering speculators gave way to the men who had grown up in the hard school of life, calculating and daring at the same time.

Above all, they were temperate, reliable, shrewd, and completely devoted to their business.” – Titan by Ron Chernow

3. Self-Motivation is Key

It’s easy to be excited in the early days of a new venture. Maybe even for the first few months, you continue to come to work, eager to realize your dreams of building up your company and having an impact in the world.

As the months turn into years, and workplace repetition kicks in, it can be difficult to maintain that same level of passion and drive for your business. However, maintaining this edge is essential for spotting industry-shifting opportunities and for putting in more effort than your competitors.

External motivation is important. Often times this is comprised of numbers. How much money you have in the bank. How many visitors come to your website. How many employees you have.

Still, internal motivation is more important, because external motivation isn’t always there.

Read it in Rockefeller’s own words:

“For years on end I never had a solid night’s sleep, worrying about how it was to come out. I tossed about in bed night after night worrying over the outcome. All the fortune that have made has not served to compensate for the anxiety of that period.” – Source 

During this period, Rockefeller gave himself nightly sermons where he motivated himself, maintained control over his emotions, and gathered his strength for another day of hard work.

4. Pick the right marketplace

There’s no doubt that Rockefeller was a shrewd businessman. Likely, he would have risen to the top in a multitude of industries. However, it’s highly unlikely that he would have been worth as much, had he not been at the heart of the petroleum revolution.

Not only did Rockefeller pick the oil industry, but he picked oil refining in particular, as opposed to extraction or transportation. Over time, this allowed him to have an unprecedented amount of control over the marketplace, which led to the creation of new anti-trust legislation to prevent the creation of monopolies.

His choice to enter the oil industry was perfectly suited to his ability to minimize costs and develop management systems. Eventually, Standard Oil dramatically decreased the price of oil and kerosene by making use of economies of scale.

Although his predatory pricing practices and market domination drove countless other entrepreneurs out of business, it led to a great consumer product and made the founder rich. At the time, the oil industry was the best place for Rockefeller to gain this kind of marketplace control.

5. Build A Strong Team

Rockefeller had a knack for attracting great people and quickly assessing partners. He was able to build a strong organization that was passionate about their industry dominance and that was eager to expand.

Many of his generals or head managers thrived in the highly competitive environment and would sometimes go out of there way to encourage unsavory industry practices to help the company get ahead.

In addition, Rockefeller structured his organization in a way that protected him from federal laws. Many of his managers took questionable actions of their own accord. He didn’t allow anyone aside from his top managers to speak with him. The rest of the organization communicated with the top managers.

Although his team may not have helped the company conduct honest business in today’s standards, at the time, the country’s legal system was not as advanced and there wasn’t as much of a crackdown on monopolistic practices.

The way that Rockefeller got his entire team to beat to the same drum and row in the same direction is a testament to the power of a group of people working with focused intensity on a common goal.

Rockefeller’s Rise to Riches

Note: all conversions are in 2010 dollars

Rockefeller’s first recorded earnings came from farm labor where he made $0.375 cents per day ($8.67). He experienced his first non-wage earnings when he loaned a farmer $50 ($1,155.42) at 7% interest and made $3.50 ($80.88) at the end of the year.

The notion that one could make money from money was a big eye-opener for little Rockefeller.

“He was thunderstruck by the happy math [computing the interest he would get at the end of the year], which hit him with the force of a revelation…’The impression was gaining ground with me that it was a good thing to let the money be my slave and not make myself a slave to money.’” – Titan by Ron Chernow

Rockefeller got his first job as a clerk at age 16 for a commission merchants/produce shippers firm. He was paid $200 ($4,621.67) a year initially and shortly after received a raise so that he was paid $300 ($6,932.50) a year.

When he was 19 years old, Rockefeller had saved up $800 (equivalent to a year’s salary at this point in his career) ($19,906.14) and both he and his business partner invested a total of $4,000 ($99,530.70) in a startup company that would buy and sell produce. Since both partners were required to invest $2,000 ($49,765.35) and Rockefeller fell short, he made up the difference through a loan from his father.

The profit from this first venture in his first year was $4,400 ($105,475.70) and the profit after the Civil War when he was 23 was $17,000 ($407,519.74). Around this time, Rockefeller got his first loan outside of his family from a local bank for $2,000 ($49,765.35).

The total capital for his first refining venture at age 24 (his firm pledged half) was $8,000 ($139,995.02).  In the next year, he was audacious and borrowed $100,000 to expand the business ($1,749,937.73).

At age 25, he bought out his business partner in the oil refinery business for $72,500 ($998,980.20) and gave up his half interest in the commission business. At this time, the oil refinery was the largest in Cleveland and treated 500 barrels of crude oil daily. It was also one of the largest facilities in the world.

At this point in his career, although Rockefeller is not famous, there is no question that he was rich. In the next four years, he spent most of his time gathering cash from banks and investors and implementing plans to expand his business. He also began his controversial bargaining with the railroad companies. At age 29, he bought a conservative house on “Millionaires’ Row.”

After this rise to power period, Rockefeller spent the remainder of his years building a monopoly of the oil industry and amassing more wealth than anyone thought possible.

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entrepreneurship Uncategorized

Top 10 Ways to Meet a Startup Cofounder

1. Meetup.com & Networking Events

This is the most obvious way to meet a startup cofounder. Depending on your geographic area, there should be at least a handful of business, technology, or startup-related meetup.com events going on every month.

For example, I searched meetup.com for the terms “startup” and “entrepreneurship,” filtered by “within 5 miles of NYC,” ad got the results below. You would then find out when these groups meet, mark them down on your calendar, and get ready to mingle!

Believe it or not, I met my first co-founder this way and we went together to build a music-related website while in college and also launched a small a web development business.

meetup startup nycstartup meetup nyc

You can also seek out other networking events to meet potential technical or business cofounders. The first time you meet someone that is part of your local area ecosystem, I’d ask if there are any events, listserves, newsletters, or organizations that you should be aware of.

Usually, if you don’t know where to start, local incubators, accelerators, and technology-related co-working spaces will put on events or help you find the organizations that do. I also find that Eventbrite is a great way to find networking events, though they usually cost $$. I’ve included a snapshot below, where I searched “entrepreneurship” and filtered by my location and most recent upcoming events.

eventbrite startup

You could also subscribe to Startup Digest to see the startup-related events that are happening in your area each week. This list compiles events all over the world, including USA, Europe, Australia, Russia, Asia, Canada, and more.startup digest

2. Founder Matching Websites

Some of the top cofounder dating or founder matching websites include:

1. CoFoundersLab – “Join the largest community of more than 25,000 founders, advisers, and interns to help launch or grow your business.” CoFoundersLab also puts on events around the US to help entrepreneurs find a cofounder.

2. CollabFinder – “CollabFinder Groups give your community members a place to team up and launch projects.”

3. FounderDating – “FounderDating is the premiere online network for entrepreneurs to connect with cofounders & advisors and find cofounders to work with on their next venture.”

4. Founder2Be – “Find a co-founder. Founder2be is the largest startup community for developers, web designers, marketers and anyone looking to start a startup worldwide.”

5. FoundersNation – “Find or Become a Startup Co-Founder in Israel, New York or London. Co-Founders Wanted.”

** Did I leave out your website? Leave a comment on this article!

I’ve found a cofounder through CoFoundersLab in the past. We worked on this application.

3. Hackathons

Hackathons are a great way to meet programmers and potential technical cofounders. I think the best way to find hackathons in your area is to get plugged in to the local tech scene and ask around. You can just google “hackathons in ___”  or try using Eventbrite, like I did below.

hackathon eventbrite nyc

You can also search websites like Hackathon.io to browse local hackathons or find a hackerspace in your area using this tool.

There are also larger, well-known events like Startup Weekend, where you need to register in advance.

startup weekend

4. Online Communities

Online communities are a good way to get to know potential cofounders before working together. Usually, the communities are centered around sharing content, providing feedback, or discussing industry news. The one problem with online communities is that it’s difficult to find someone in your area, but I still find them to be very valuable. I found one cofounder I am still working with via one of my own online forums.

1. Startups Subreddit – “A community for all backgrounds, levels of expertise, and business experience. We are a forum of entrepreneurs working towards unbiased and anonymous feedback, advice, ideas, and discussion.”

2. Digital Point Forum – A massive online community that includes sections on: programming, business, and internet marketing.

3. StartupNation Forum – The forum attached to StartupNation, a entrepreneurship blog and resources.

4. Warrior Forum – The #1 internet marketing forum in the world.

5. JointBF – Formerly “teen business forum” this community now accepts entrepreneurs of all ages.

6. KickstarterForum.org – A community for creative types, inventors, and more.

There are many more LinkedIn groups that you can join related to programming, business, or internet marketing. I also recommend joining some that are made up of members in your target market.

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 1.38.51 PMScreen Shot 2014-05-23 at 1.40.28 PMScreen Shot 2014-05-23 at 1.40.34 PMScreen Shot 2014-05-23 at 1.40.40 PMScreen Shot 2014-05-23 at 1.40.46 PM

I’ve also included a few google+ groups related to startups and entrepreneurship. Again, there are a lot to choose from whether you are looking for a programmer or someone who can drive traffic to your new application. Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 1.46.17 PMScreen Shot 2014-05-23 at 1.46.24 PM

5. Produce Great Work

Remember that entrepreneurs have found business partners for hundreds of years before the internet existed. The best way to attract another high-quality entrepreneur is to produce great work yourself. Not only does it demonstrate that you have something to bring to the table, but it also lessens the worry that you will leave your business partner hanging and stop working hard at some point during the venture.

If you’re a programmer, build up your GitHub profile and produce working prototypes. If you’re a so-called “sales expert” prove it with your sales record! If you are a killer “internet marketer,” then be able to demonstrate that via sales, traffic stats, and SEO results.

Everyone, when they are first starting out, thinks it’s about money or fundraising. It couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’d pick a cofounder who is willing to hustle and has a respectable skill set over a cofounder that has money to jumpstart the venture any day of the week.

If you’re only contribution to the venture is that you have money saved or have read up on what it takes to start a company, you are in trouble. Focusing on producing great work and being really good at something will not only increase your chances of success, but will also make it easier to attract a cofounder with a complementary skill set.

6. Local Colleges and Universities

A lot of local college and university have entrepreneurship departments, technology departments, and graduate school programs in business. If you’re not affiliated with the university, you might have to do some networking with people who are to get invited to events, but more often than not, I’ve found that universities are receptive to allowing outside members to attend events or network with graduate students if they are a “guest.”

7. Work With A Lot Of People

The longer that I do this, the more I think it’s crucial that you work with a lot of people on very small projects that may not matter in the grand scheme of things, but that will give you some feedback on their working style, commitment level, passion, and interests.

Someone could look great on paper, but be horrible at time management or quickly lose interest with every new project they do. Finding a cofounder is a lot like dating, and when you are business partners, it’s like marriage. You might get lucky on the first try, but you should go to lengths to avoid a land mine that could lead to legal issues and headache.

Get to know people gradually by doing small projects with them and when you find out you like them and work well together, consider doing larger projects.

8. Meet Angel Investors and Mentors

In my experience, the best angel investors and mentors are very well networked and therefore can connect you with the right people.

A mentor is usually familiar with several different local entrepreneurs and can introduce you to people who may have complementary skill sets or similar values/vision. He or she is the person who says “you guys should talk, I think you would hit it off.”

When you are starting out, you won’t know many people in the community so forming a relationship with a person who does will increase the chances of finding a suitable cofounder.

9. Co-working spaces, Incubators, and Accelerators

Just like universities, co-working spaces, incubators, and accelerators are in the business of educating their members to increase the chances of their success. They often times put on networking events and presentations related to technology, entrepreneurship, and marketing. These are opportunities for you to meet other entrepreneurs.

Just because some of these entrepreneurs are involved in startups already doesn’t mean you shouldn’t network with them. You never know if you will work together on a project in the future and who they may be able to introduce you to.

I also recommend that if you have an expertise in a certain area (like social media, or sales), that you offer to speak at one of the events. It might seem a little presumptuous, but if you have the credentials to back up your skills, it’s a great way to quickly set yourself apart from the pack and become better known in the community.

10. Help Out a lot of People.

Finally, I think the golden rule in this process is to be helpful. The more people you help, even in small ways, the more business relationships you will develop and the better known you will become in the community as someone who is helpful, honest, and hard-working, which is the type of person other entrepreneurs want to work with.

This is a priceless asset and can become a part of your overall personal brand. You never know who might say “Oh, you should meet so and so. You guys are both working in this industry and he’s a great guy.” Sounds like dating right? Haha. It is. Good luck!

Did you find this article to be helpful?

Let me know in a comment below! Also – I’d love to hear other ideas or ways you have met (or think you can meet) a startup cofounder.

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Blogging Uncategorized

Choosing a blog niche

By now, we’re all familiar with Eric Ries’ famous book “The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses.” If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading it. I would say of all the books I’ve read on entrepreneurship and startups, it’s definitely one of the top 2 that have influenced my life.

Most of us apply Lean Startup techniques like MVP (minimum viable testing) and rapid iterations to software development only. However, I’ve found it to be ridiculously useful for any kind of entrepreneurial adventure I’ve done, whether it’s a service-based business or figuring out blog topics to write about. 

Seeing as this is a new blog, I’ve been searching for a new direction and decided to apply some of these techniques to find a niche I am passionate about and that has value. Check out my steps and results below.

For those who don’t know, I have been programming since 8th grade and transitioned to business in college. Having built up a successful blog, I always wondered why internet marketers and programmers don’t get together to build some cool stuff and kick some ass. I’ve experienced both sides of the table, and don’t get it. Yes, there are some examples like Neil Patel with CrazyEgg and KissMetrics, but it’s not mainstream.

So, I decided to ask the question on Reddit

1. Crowdsource The Idea With Reddit

Screen Shot 2014-05-17 at 4.41.16 PM

I asked the Reddit community, “Why don’t programmers and marketers get together more frequently.” My post received over 44 comments. Overwhelming, the common reply was: As a developer I’d love to work with an internet marketer, I just have no idea where to meet one…”

This post spawned another Reddit thread: “Programmers and Marketers Matchup Thread,” which received 55 upvotes and 139 comments.

reddit thread

Clearly, programmers want to be hooked up with internet marketers and vice versa. In addition, some programmers do believe that internet marketers are scummy people (black-hat) and some marketers think that programmers are replaceable.

My thoughts: I’ve always found blogging as a great way to network with new people from around the world and also bring together groups of people. When you have a good blog, a community will begin to form around the niche.

If I was to create content that would be useful to tech startups (from a internet marketing perspective), I could meet some awesome developers and possibly hook them up with killer internet marketers to make great things happen.

“Leaders lead when they take positions, when they connect with their tribes, and when they help the tribe connect to itself.” 
― Seth Godin

“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea… A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.” ― Seth Godin, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

If I could give these two groups with different technical abilities a way to interact and communicate, I think the world would be a better place.

2. Check Search Trends

Below, I’ve plugged a few different keywords into google trends to track their popularity over time. Since all sustainable blogs (aside from entertainment blogs) receive most of their traffic from search engines, this is a good way to determine whether or not it’s a promising topic.

google trends

Chart A

Search terms: internet marketing, startups, entrepreneurship, entrepreneur, social media.

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 6.00.30 PM

Chart B

Search Terms: Internet marketing, startups, entrepreneurship.

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 6.01.58 PM

Chart C

Search Terms: Content marketing, Startups

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 6.02.19 PM

Chart D

Search Terms: Entrepreneurship, online marketing, seo, social media.

Takeaways

As you can see from Chart A, “internet marketing” is actually going down in terms of search volume relative to the other terms. “Online marketing” had a huge spike in early 2013, but since then has gone back to its normal level (relatively no growth).

This tells me that internet marketing is an established community (forums, bloggers, etc) and will be hard to break into as an authority. These blogs write for internet marketers (or aspiring ones), so my ideal audience should not be internet marketers.

Chart A also shows that “social media” delivers massive traffic to content writers and is also growing in interest over time. There are already established experts in this space, so it will also be difficult to break into. However, it’s good because since there is an established community, it will be easier to network with other content creators for mutual promotion.

Chart B and C show that “entrepreneurship” is a relatively established community and is not growing. Clearly, it delivers some great traffic, as magazines have been built on this demographic. The data in chart D is very encouraging. Not only is search volume for “startups” and “content marketing” relatively small, making it easier to break into, but it is also growing. Startup keyword search is growing at a decently aggressive rate since 2011.

Finally, chart D puts the major keywords into scale (social media, SEO, etc). Social media has almost reached SEO in terms of search volume (which is impressive) and ironically is now delivering traffic on the same scale as SEO, which makes sense why search volume is up because people want to learn how to deliver traffic with social media.

3. Do Keyword Research

The Google Adwords: Keyword Tool is awesome for researching search volume, competitiveness, and advertising potential for certain keywords.

Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 4.58.40 PM

Once you select “Get search volume for a list of keywords or groups,” enter the keywords you would like analyzed. You will then get a chart like the one below. Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 5.00.41 PM

It shows that the terms “social media” and “internet marketing” have high CPC (cost per click) and a good amount of traffic. Terms related to the startup/entrepreneurship community have a decent quantity of traffic, but much lower CPC and lower competition.

You could also use the tool to measure the search traffic for competitors in your niche (note: just people searching the name of a particular competitor).

Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 5.07.48 PMClearly, there is an audience out there interested in startup-related content and an audience interested in internet marketing. My hypothesis is that startup entrepreneurs (particularly tech-related) could benefit from internet marketing knowledge, so that a blog with a focus on providing this audience this type of content would be a different type of niche.

It would not be targeting internet marketers and it would not be “startup tips.” It would be how to get customers organically for your own software product when you are a small tech team.

4. Do Alexa Comparisons

I’m going to be comparing KillerStartups with Tech Cocktail, DuctTapeMarketing, IncomeDiary,  and BothSidesofTheTable.

Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 5.18.45 PM

I’ve also included TechCocktail below, which had a large presence in DC (where I went to school). It was cool to watch them grow.Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 5.18.58 PM

You can use this information to decide which blogs to guest post on.

Concluding Thoughts

If I’m going to rank in any way and be able to compete with larger established blogs that target tech startup entrepreneurs, I’m going to have to go after unique long-tail keywords.

These 4 tools listed above gave me a bit of an overview of how the marketplace currently stands. What tools do you use to research competition or a niche? Leave a comment below.

 

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entrepreneurship Uncategorized

Solving the Chicken and the Egg Problem

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve likely come across this problem more than once, whether it was a consumer internet product, blog, or website you were trying to create. In short, the problem can be summed up as follows:

You need users or readers to make money (ads or products). Users or readers will only be interested in your website if other people are reading/using/buying. How do you solve this issue?

How to solve the chicken and egg problem w/

  1. Blogs
  2. Forums & Online Communities
  3. Services (Consulting, Contracting, etc)

1. Blogs

blog

You’d be surprised, but the answer to this question is relatively simple. Let’s say you want to start blogging about a topic, but you don’t have any previous authority in the space and you don’t have a following.

People will only be interested in your tips and advice if you have credibility, so how can you get readers if you don’t already have readers and/or credibility in the space?

Interview People Who Have Credibility

This is the easiest way to get over the chicken and egg problem when blogging. This is how I started with CrowdCrux and how I continue to provide value to readers. Not only will you learn a tremendous amount about your subject (and pass that on to your readers), but you will also form relationships and new connections.

Link to Resources

You don’t always have to personally answer questions in a blog post. For example, if the reader wants to know “How do I get PR for my new startup company,” instead of providing your own advice or interviewing a PR professional, you could link to 10-20 websites, blogs, forums, and online groups that will help answer this question. You could then do a closing statement recommending a particular piece of PR software like BuzzStream (CRM tool) or Haro (Get free publicity by being an expert on topics).

Research Posts and Conduct Experiments

With some articles, I can just pretty much do a brain dumb and write up my cumulative knowledge into a useful post, but most of the time I need to do a little research. There’s nothing wrong with this!

By citing websites and linking to other bloggers, you will strengthen the credibility of your articles and the chance that other bloggers will share your new article with their followers via social media (because they see you linked to them).

You could also get over the hurdle of not having credibility by conducting experiments! For example, if you wanted to advise readers on the merits of advertising on Twitter, why not spend $50 on your own twitter ads for particular keywords and post your results with screenshots?

My Experience

Solving the chicken and egg problem with blogs takes time (think 6 months). If you consistently deliver remarkable content, build up your social networks, email list, and keep promoting your content to the right audience, you will begin to get repeat readers, comments, and be linked to by other blogs.

You will then slowly begin to see your content ranking better in google, which will bring new readers, along with more social shares, subscribers, etc. The key to solving this system is to first concentrate on producing remarkable content over an initial hump of 6 months, along with marketing it appropriately. The readers will come in time. As as you get more readers, your credibility will increase until you are considered an “expert” in the space.

2. Forums and Online Communities

As I wrote about in my previous post, building an online community takes time. You need users to make advertising revenue and users will only engage in a discussion if they see other people having discussions on the website.

So how do you jumpstart the discussion?

Put your Email Out There

Generating a sizable email list from scratch is tough. One way you can get around this is to simply put your email out there. This way, when members of your target demographic get in touch for whatever reason, you can direct them to the forum and give them some kind of incentive to sign up and make a post. I did this to jumpstart my forum.

Provide Free Advice and Feedback

Eventually, users will find your forum via google and social media because one of your posts answers a question they have (like how do I do ‘x’), but in the meantime, while you are building up an index of posts, you need to give users a reason to want to come to your forum. What will they get out of this?

Free feedback, advice, and promotions are a great way to do this. Yes, it’s a huge time drain, but it will also bolster your credibility in the community. If your feedback is helpful, you may also be able to get some consulting gigs out of it.

Give Users A Reason To Come Back

I’d recommend modifying your forum or community theme so that 1: You are generating an email list from day 1 and 2: you make it the default setting that users will get a notification when there is a reply to one of their topics.

Don’t count on people to come back to your website, give them a reason to. Whether that’s email updates or notifications, it will improve engagement and help jumpstart the forum.

Kill Spam Before it Spreads

Not only will spam posts that link out to other toxic websites hurt your SEO ranking, but they will also deter new users from joining the community. No one wants to be a part of a community that looks like it’s not managed or is growing weeds. Kill spam before it spreads to avoid turning away new or existing users.

Create Original Content

I like to treat my forum like a mini blog. I try to create original content every now and again that answer users’ questions and almost have the layout of a blog post. Google loves original/quality content and spending time creating it will improve your search engine rankings.

Again – This takes time. At one point, you will see that you have thousands of users with X number of posts and consistent daily traffic, but it won’t happen overnight.

3. Service-Based Companies

handshake-220233_640My first service-based company was technically Books2eBooks, but after that I also started a web development company.

Here are a few tips I learned for getting initial clients.

Give a Big Discount

This is kind of a no-brainer, but offer to do the work for free for your first client! Mark Cuban in his book, How to Win at the Sport of Business, describes how he offered to do his first client job for no-pay (except cost of software he was selling) and also help the customer install it.

We also gave big discounts to our initial clients, because they were taking a risk hiring us. Just make sure they understand you’re only discounting the price, not the value you will deliver.

Get Testimonials and Show Past Work

LinkedIn recommendations are a great way to show that you’re a capable and talented worker. Any way that you can convince potential clients that you’ve performed well in the past via concrete recommendations or bodies of work will go a long way. If possible, try to get a recommendation from a previous boss, teacher, coworker who has some credibility in your company’s new industry.

I know it may seem like you are setting up a service-based business, but really you’re just going to be applying for jobs, whether it’s for you starting out or your company further down the road (contract/subcontract). You should treat getting your first client like applying for a job. Sell yourself!

Passion and Personalized Attention

The #1 thing you have going for you when you are starting out, aside from your technical abilities, is your passion and the level of personalized attention you can give a client. Be sure to stress these selling points when you are trying to reel in your first customer, because it’s a huge advantage.

Surprise Your Client

I love the phrase, “under-promise and over-deliver.” There’s nothing better than spending your hard-earned money on a service provider and being genuinely impressed or surprised with their performance. It just kind of makes you want to recommend them, because they honestly did a good job!

Even adding in little surprises like a handwritten note after the project is complete or referring a new customer/client to your client can go a long way.

Ask For Referrals and Testimonials

Finally, it’s paramount that once you render remarkable services, you ask for both a testimonial and a referral. You will use this testimonial to secure future clients, which will jumpstart your business.

Conclusion

Above, I’ve put together a few ways to solve the chicken-and-egg problem. However, this list is by no means complete. If you’d like my input on how to solve the chicken-and-egg problem for your business, leave a comment below!

I’d also love to hear whether or not you found this article to be helpful :).

 

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Blogging Uncategorized

My First Blog (Stats and Lessons Learned)

My first blog was a personal blog that kind of functioned as a mashup of book reviews, experiences, pictures, and philosophical thoughts. I’ve since taken down that blog, but I wanted to look back and share some of the statistics from the blog.

I’ve included screenshots of the blog’s all-time stats below. Keep in mind, I was not “writing for anyone,” so these are the kind of stats you might expect for basically keeping an online journal.

myblog stats

blog stats 2

As you can see, 2009 and 2010 had some huge spikes (relatively), which all came from google search. I had no desire to write for an audience at this time, so the spikes are pretty much dumb luck. I was ranking for terms that no one in their right mind would think of targeting because they were so out there. To give you an idea,  I’ve also provided some stats below on the top posts and blog clicks.

blog screenshot3

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 9.32.26 PM As you can see from the screenshots above, my book reviews were bringing in some good traffic relative to the rest of the posts. In addition, when I blogged about my experience about interviewing for Harvard during Junior year of high-school (or was it Senior year?), it turns out that a lot of other students were searching online, trying to figure out what the interview would be like, which led to a lot of traffic from google.

I was also picked up on another “how to” blog, which linked to my Harvard interview experience, pushing it up in rankings and giving me a lot more traffic relative to the amount of traffic I was already doing.

I also ranked for a strange term “cigar butt investing” at the time, which was Warren Buffet’s approach to stock investing that I was trying for a bit.

Since 2014, I’ve taken down the blog. It was up for about 5 years. Seeing as it was more of a personal blog, I had outgrown it and wanted to venture onto new things, even though it was averaging 50 views a day and I wasn’t adding any new content.

Below, I’ve listed out some of the lessons I learned from blogging with this first personal blog.

1. You need to keep blogging.

As you can see, there are huge swings in my traffic. This is primarily due to the inconsistency with which I was blogging. I would go for weeks/months without blogging, and then pick it up again. I found that my site overall ranked better in google when I was consistently adding content (3 times per weekish).

2. You can build a business from blogging.

When I launched my very first business, Book2eBooks, which I’ve catalogued here, most of my customers found me from my blog with the search terms “convert books to ebooks,” because that was the title of my post.

The business website was relatively new, but my blog’s domain had been around for a while and ended up ranking well for those terms. I had discovered content marketing, without realizing it.

I also validated the business idea. The traction on the blog post proved that people were looking for a way to convert their books into ebooks. If you look at the stats, you can see it drove 684 people to the business website.

3. You can get in trouble blogging. People are listening.

Despite the fact that I was receiving visitors, I didn’t actually think people read my posts. Boy, was I wrong. I was interning at this company one summer and ended up writing a bad review of the book that the owner of the company had written.

It showed up in google, got thousands of views instantly, and I had a very awkward talk with management, where they very nicely asked me to take the post down. Phew. Could have been worse. Kudos to the company, they also didn’t fire me. The owner had a notorious streak for being…demanding, but apparently he/she had just laughed it off. Again, phew.

I’ve also recently had another fiasco with one of my professional blogs that I might get into in another post. Be careful what you say and post online!

4. Time is not your enemy.

Sounds backwards right? You heard me right. Time is not your enemy when blogging. The longer your domain is around and the longer you put out quality content, the easier it will be to rank for new key terms and have your posts picked up by other sources.

If I had to do it again, I would have started a professional blog way earlier than when I did. Think about it…at certain points I was averaging over 300 views a day, simply from dumb luck. I wasn’t trying to write for anyone.

Start blogging as early as possible. Write quality articles. Post at minimum once per week, at most 3 times per week (hard to keep up the focus and quality if you post more than this), and over the course of a few years you’ll build up a small traffic generator that you can use as a base to launch products.

5. Think about your audience.

Although I say that I wasn’t “trying to write for anyone,” the posts that did well had a specific audience. The Harvard interview post would be useful for people who wanted to get a sense of what the interview was like when you applied to Harvard.

The cigar butt stock investing answered questions about what the technique actually is that they may have read about from Warren Buffet’s biography (and then typed the term into google).

The book reviews clearly had an audience. People who wanted to get a sense of what the book was like would read them. Remember, GoodReads and other book review websites didn’t really exist back then (at least to my knowledge).

6. Blogging is the Ultimate Networking Tool

I’ve met so many people through my current blog now and I also did then. You tend to meet/attract people who have similar interests as the topic you are writing about, whether that’s books or investing.

When you are beginning to blog, don’t just think about what kind of customers or followers you might want, but think about what types of people you want to meet.

Conclusion

Do you have a question about my stats or about blogging? Leave a comment below! Hope the post was helpful.

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entrepreneurship Uncategorized

What can you execute on?

When I first started out trying to make companies/products in college, I held to the advice that it’s best to attract a cofounder and build the startup together.

Having recently been doing a lot of solo projects, I’ve realized that one of the biggest limiters to success for an entrepreneur is what he or she can actually execute on.

Of course, there is always the argument that “if the idea is good enough, then I will be able to attract capital, which I can use to hire people that can execute on it.”

The catch 22 is, you need to build a prototype to get any kind of interest from investors, especially if you are younger and don’t have experience under your belt. Therefore, I think that long-term, the absolute #1 way to increase your chances of being successful is to improve your own skill-set and to form relationships with other entrepreneurs who are determined to do the same.

I think that setting out to learn one new skill a year is very doable and, over time, will expand the types of business ideas you can execute on. It will also decrease the risk of doing a startup, as with better skills, you are more employable and should the venture fail, you won’t be left out on the street. You will be able to hustle your way into a job.

My Story

Below, I’ve put together how the different skill sets I’ve managed to pick up have impacted my journey.

Writing

I started getting into writing when I was pretty young. I always wanted to be an author and also loved reading. I would write short-stories, poems, and even a full length novel.

In high school, I took classes in creative writing during the summer. I never thought of it as work, because I loved it. Ultimately, I haven’t produced any remarkable works – but my parents were supportive and I enjoyed it.

Now, most of my small success is due to my writing abilities (blogging). Somehow, I never saw that coming, but it certainly has turned into a valuable skill set.

Lesson: It’s so much easier to learn a new skill when you are passionate about the topic. You don’t even think of it as work.

Programming

I always thought the idea of making software was kind of interesting. I remember taking a game development course when I was a lot younger where we used multimedia fusion to make games. It was so cool! I really wanted to take programming classes in high school, but since math was always my weak subject, my parents would only let me if I agreed to take programming classes in the summer of 7th and 8th grade.

I had no idea what to take. I read a HTML book before the classes in the summer of 7th grade. It was pretty straight forward and I enjoyed it. I thought programming would be easy…LOL.

It ends up that my first “language” was C++ and BASIC (I took the classes together – bad idea – I had no idea what I was doing). It was super hard and it didn’t help that my instructor was a good programmer, because I needed more of step-by-step explanations. I also never understood “why” we were doing things a certain way.

After that first summer semester (there were two each summer), I knew programming wasn’t for me, and it made me mad that some other people in the class were more advanced or picked it up quicker. However, since my parents had already paid for the second semester, I was forced to stick with it.

The next semester, I took visual basic and HTML/CSS classes. Slowly, it began to click. I started to finally understand how computers work and that only made me want to learn more. I started going to these used book fairs and would make my parents buy used programming books because the new ones were super expensive. I could get three used ones for the price of a new one.

My library in my room was filling up with books on C++, Web design, and Visual Basic. Programming was still very hard, but I was getting the hang of it.

Throughout the school year, I continued to learn and build small programs. When I was bored in class, I would write them down on scraps of paper and then test them out when I got home to see if I did everything correctly. I started learning a little bit about java and the summer after 8th grade, I took more classes through the same program at Bently college.

That next summer it was: 3d Max, Java, more c++, and Perl. I also learned some PHP on the side. I just couldn’t get enough of the stuff! It was also a great camp environment where we would play networked computer games and when people weren’t looking, set up different computers in the room to allow remote desktoping so we could play tricks on other campers and control their screen.

The summer classes prepared me pretty well for high school and I took programming classes up until senior year of high school. I also took a few illustrator/photoshop classes in high school.

At that point, I was beginning to lose interest in the idea of becoming a programmer as a career. I strongly disliked my junior year high school teacher and realized if I ever had a boss like that, I would be very unhappy. I also realized I wasn’t the “best” programmer, even though I could do it.

In college, I learned a bit more web development and tried my hand at Ruby on Rails, but I didn’t have the same level of passion as earlier. Still, following that passion while it lasted has given me some awesome skills that I’m using now building startups that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Never can tell where following your passions will lead.

Lesson: There is always a difficult period initially when picking up a new skill. At first, everything seems unfamiliar and difficult. If you press through that period however, you will begin to see some results, which will motivate you even more and you will begin to enjoy the process.

Psychology

I started getting interested in psychology in high school and for a while was convinced I was going to be a psychologist or psychiatrist. I’m still fascinated with psychology, but I think at the time, it was linked to my growing passion for philosophy and beginning to question the world as a young adult.

Like with programming, I bought a TON of books on psychology and devoured them. This passion lasted into college, when I stubbornly took upper level psychology courses as a freshman (and did well lol – bragging) because I didn’t get why I shouldn’t be able to.

Ultimately, it wasn’t until I started to become interested in startups when this passion waned. Still – it’s given me a unique insight into how the mind works and why people do what they do, which informs my business decisions.

Lesson: You don’t need to have a career plan to learn a new subject. Sometimes, it can just be for fun and it may benefit you down the road.

Exercise

It might sound weird to include exercise as a skill-set, but I think setting and achieving exercise goals has helped me as an entrepreneur more than any of the above.

We all have certain conceptions about who we are and what we look like. When I decided towards the end of high school that I wanted to look and feel a certain way about my body, I had no idea how to begin changing my muscle tone or fat levels.

Like with the other passions, I read a lot of books, watched a lot of youtube videos on fitness, and started lifting weights and running. It took me about 2 years, but I ultimately figured out the best practices for my body and started seeing great gains in muscle mass and had a six pack for the first time of my life. It feels awesome to be complemented or for people who knew you previously to be surprised at your progress.

Setting and achieving long-term goals gives you a certain confidence that you can do anything, as long as you focus on making measurable improvements each day and stay consistent. Achieving my exercise goals made me realize that I could achieve anything if I set my mind to it and even if I wasn’t successful initially, I could figure it out along the way.

Lesson: Consistency, focus, and rapid learning are vital to achieve success. You can’t just go to the gym and have one good workout. You have to have consistently good workouts over a period of months, while also feeding your body the proper doses of protein to give your muscles the resources to grow.

Business & Sales

As I look back on these passions now, some of them started from a curiosity standpoint. Some started when I redefined who I wanted to be in the world. My passion for business began with a book (Rich Dad Poor Dad), when I realized I didn’t know as much about the world as I should and that I didn’t know much about the “rules of the game”.

It kindled a fire in me and like with the above interests, I read everything I could get my hand on. For about a year, I took classes in college related to business, watched youtube videos and read books until I felt comfortable with my understanding of how business worked.

At that point, I started getting some real world experience and interned at a few companies and entered some business plan competitions. I got over my fear of sales, networking, and public speaking deliberately by working with real customers, selling them products, and forcing myself to speaking in public.

Often times at networking events, I was the youngest person there, and since I was under 21, I couldn’t drink like the other people, which was super weird. I took a few small jobs solely for the purpose of learning to sell. At one point I worked with a company where I literally had to go into restaurants and eateries and sell the product cold. I quickly learned how to develop rapport and not come across as a psycho salesman.

Eventually, I started launching my own companies and products, which is where the real learning began.

Conclusion: What I learned

Great things have always come from following my passions, so I would recommend this for others as well. Even if it doesn’t lead to a tangible result, the skills you learn will help you later down the road.

We have a huge emphasis in society on only focusing and specializing in a particular area. In addition, any new learning should fit into a larger vision of becoming a doctor or a programmer. I think that’s complete B.S. and is primarily driven by employers looking to find employes to fit in a square peg. That type of rhetoric is to their advantage, not yours. Learn things that you want to learn and see where it takes you.

Concluding thought: You are always limited by your skillset and the skillset that you can attract. These skills have given me the ability to enter marketplaces that I wouldn’t be able to before. I am still lacking in many areas, so I am doing my best to learn one new skill a year. What will you commit to learning? 

 

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