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10 Tips for Selling your Startup to a Corporate

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For a long time, I have been sick and tired of having to fill out forms on my iPhone with such a small screen. Then I was lucky enough to meet Chris Koch and Chad Stephens from Lets Pop. I have seen thousands of pitch docs and presentations in my time, but the one I saw from Chris and Chad before I even thought about doing this interview, is the best I have ever seen!

The guys previously sold their last startup, 1Form, which was a platform to help tenants apply for rental properties, without having to repeat the process of entering their information every time.

This startup sold for $15 million AUD in 2014 and had Carsales.com founders Greg Roebuck, Wal Pisciotta and Steve Kloss invest in them.

It was a grander vision that caused them to want to sell 1Form, to fund their new startup Lets Pop. Their new startup takes the 1Form idea and applies it to everything, not just real estate.

The need for Pop came about when they realised they couldn’t build a form that would be able to be used by every single industry in the world. In simple terms, Pop is an application to replace the need to input information.

Lets Pop still have their original Carsales.com investors on board and as the business continues to grow rapidly they will asses whether relocating to Silicon Valley will help them achieve their global goals, be visible to the US market, meet their customers needs and have access to the valley’s valuation models.

 

What follows, in the interview that I did with Chris, are his top tips for selling your startup to a corporate!

 

1. Know when it’s the right time to sell your startup

For Chris, he says that it’s always a gut feeling of when the time is right. You can quite often get a feel for the inertia of your business, you can see what’s coming, you can see competitors joining and maybe they might enter the space you’re in. Or maybe the time is right and the value that you are getting out of your startup is at its maximum.

 

2. Approach is everything. Use those consultants for something useful

Try and approach a corporate in a way where it’s not you going directly in. Quite often, you will have consultants, accountants or companies that you work with within your startup, who have a relationship with corporates already. It would be a great idea to take one of these contacts out to lunch and ask them to get your startup in the door through a recommendation first, before trying any other way.

 “ If you want to ask a corporate to buy you, then you never want to come in the door as if you were asking for that. Asking for a corporate to purchase your startup yourself is automatically perceived as you being in a position of lesser power. “

Corporates will be looking at a number of things when looking to buy your startup, which will depend on the industry and the market. In the real estate industry for Chris, it was the data space that a lot of the corporates wanted to play in. Think about the markets you play in.

For other industries like tech, it might be talent – if your startup has got some talent then that’s attractive. In the banking world, it might specifically be technology that can streamline processes for the customer.

 

3. You need to create competitive tension

Domian.com.au and Realestate.com.au really helped create that competitive tension when the guys went to sell 1Form. Once you have an intro into a corporate then it’s worth mentioning in your meeting that you are thinking of divesting out of your startup and that you have other corporates interested. This creates a much better position of power than asking them to buy you. When you’re starting to get the word out that your startup is for sale, it’s best to try and go to similar competitors, all at once, within the industry you’re targeting.

When you use this strategy, what you will often find is that one of them will ask you for an exclusive period. That’s fine, but you have to just let them know that once that period is over, you will then shop it to their opposition. Obviously this is done in a friendly, professional, non smart-ass way.

 

4. Understand the advantages of both sides

The question you really need to ask yourself is how do you go about it and build your product in a way that a corporate couldn’t. You may hear a corporate say that they could build your technology or service themselves, but the reality is that that is very rarely the case. They could never build it with the speed and complexity that a startup could.

Quite often, what you will find is that if a corporate can see the benefit of your product or service and they understand that they couldn’t build it themselves, or as fast as you can, they may offer to buy you without you even asking.

If a corporate is using and relying on your technology then the decision may come down the track for them to want to buy it, so they are not paying fee’s to your startup. It’s only best to consider this offer if you have more than one corporate using your technology.

The thing to be very careful of here is that if one of your corporate customers is grossly larger than the rest, the corporate might realise that if they cancel their contract with you for a year or more (and make you bleed), buying your startup could be a much cheaper scenario for them. At the same time, you should ensure that your customer base is never completely dependent on one particular client.

 

5. Communication with corporates shouldn’t be like trying to understand a foreign language

If you’re trying to get a corporate to buy your startup then the way you communicate with them is crucial. You really need to control the process as much as possible and the best way to do this is with timelines and deadlines. You tell the corporate that if a decision is not by reached by a certain date; you are walking away as you have other people that you’re chatting to.

Failing to control the process properly could see your startup meeting with every executive in the corporates management ladder and having them still not be able to make a decision. In the initial stages of dealing with them you follow their process but the moment you hit a brick wall that’s frustrating, you immediately go outside of their process as hard and as fast as you can.

If one of the executive’s just comes back with a response to your proposal such as “thanks, I have seen your pitch deck which John Smith forwarded to me,” and you’re not getting much buy in, you don’t take that for an answer.

You need to go back to the person who is not that interested and say, “everyone else seems to be interested, how come you’re not.” In that response, you would even consider copying in everyone else from the corporate you have met with. You would also reiterate again that there is a deadline to make a decision and there are other competing clients who are interested.

When I was talking with Chris on this topic he also agreed with Filip Eldic, from our Bluedot interview,, that startups need to be very careful dealing with corporates in the early stages because it’s very easy to burn cash quickly on these types of proposals.

 

6. Write a great pitch deck

Before writing the pitch remember not to make it too long. If a corporate is looking at a pitch deck as part of their decision-making, below are some slides you might want to include.

  • Demonstrate what’s changed in society for your product to be relevant and what problems are occurring.
  • Very clearly, you need to show how your product solves that problem in a way that it hasn’t been solved in the past.
  • Halfway through the deck is a great spot to put the “who we are “slide.
  • Show an exact example of how you solve the problem
  • Spell out the high-level revenue opportunity
  • Talk about the size of the market for your product and how you’re going to get a percentage of it
  • Finally, show some competitive analysis

 “So many Startups come up with ideas that aren’t really solving a problem, they are creating a problem and then their product is fixing it. “

 

7. Decide how much to sell

For 1Form, the amount of equity they sold was a lot to do with where they were at and their future plans. This will often determine whether you sell part of your startup or the whole thing. Specifically, when selling equity to a corporate and not the whole thing, you can create a lot of headaches for your startup.

The corporate will want a board seat, a say in the decision-making and the suggestions they make about your product will be more about what might help their company, not the other companies who are your customers. All of this could slow you down so consider very carefully before going down this path.

 

8. Negotiating the price of your startup and what country to sell it in

Demonstrate the value of your startup and look at similar companies in similar spaces. It’s worth comparing the multiples and valuations that these companies received and using that as the basis for your own valuation. Once you have proven your model regionally, overseas corporates will be much more likely to want to be involved, so consider what country you sell your startup in.

The other thing to look at is what’s known as the accretive value. If the corporate you’re dealing with is listed on the stock exchange they will have a PE (price to earnings) value based on their share price. Whatever earnings are going to hit the company ‘s bottom line, because of the acquisition of your startup, can actually be used to work out the accretive value. You shouldn’t expect to get all of the accretive value, but you can certainly ask for a percentage of it.

Image Credit: SiliconValleyStock.com

Image Credit: SiliconValleyStock.com

An example of this would be, let’s say the company that’s acquiring your startup has a multiple on the stock market of 37, if you’re going to bring a bottom line hit of $1 million, they are effectively going to get an accretive value of $37 million. If they pay $30 million for your startup, that still leaves $7 million on the table for them. If you’re in Australia, the only issue you will have is that valuations aren’t looked at this way; they typically look at discounted cash flows. In Silicon Valley though, they certainly are.

 

9. Know your appetite for risk

With 1Form, the guys had many years of corporates approaching them to buy their technology. They decided that they had exhausted the market in Australia and that there was going to be a risk to try and take it global. The guys were fine with risk but realised that both going global, and building Lets Pop, was going to be risky.

The question then came, which one would have the bigger reward? The answer was simple, starting Lets Pop. Once the decision was made they had to focus all their energy on it and get red hot on their technology. The next step was then for them to go back to the corporates that had try to buy them before and tell them that they were interested in selling 1 Form.

 

10. Understand the timeframe

The time it takes to negotiate these deals is a hell of a lot longer than you may think. You have to get your partners, board / investors and the corporate all to agree. You also need to spend the time to go out and talk to the interested parties and put together the IM doc for this. From here you need to agree with the interested party, sign a term sheet and then this term sheet gets turned into a contract.

Once you have agreed on the contract (this takes a lot of time) then you have to finalise a lot of CP’s (condition precedents). Once all of this is done then the money will finally hit your bank account.

The process for 1Form took about 8 months from when they decided to sell, which is a relatively short time – it can take 1-2 years in some cases.

 The way I have written the process may sound like it’s all very complicated, but it’s really not and occurs on a daily basis. You just have to have the guts and determination to make it happen.

The exception to the rule though is in Silicon Valley, where these deals can be literally done overnight. The reason Chris and his team didn’t look to the valley when they sold 1Form was because they were visible to companies like Yahoo, Facebook and Google so when the phone call when out to them, because they hadn’t heard of their company, they just weren’t interested. This is why it made more sense for 1Form to be sold locally.

Not having these overseas companies be aware of their startup, was probably one mistake that Chris thinks they made and have learnt from.

“Be visible to the right people that will pay the most for your startup. These are usually the ones that can extract the most value from you.”

 

Now you have the money from the sale, what do you do now?

This part of the journey is going to be different for every startup. In Chris and Chad’s case, they never viewed selling their business as a retirement deal. What a lot of people told Chris and Chad, was to let the money sit in their account for at least a couple of months and not to go and buy anything straight away – this decision often has a lot to do with your risk appetite. Ideally you would also take some sort of holiday for around 3-6 months before jumping into anything else.

 

 Should you stay on after the sale?

A lot of this will depend on the deal that you have negotiated and the next thing that you want to do. If you stay on and you continue to grow the business for the company that acquired it, it looks great for anyone that wants to work with you again, but if you stay on and it doesn’t do well then it will affect your credibility going forward.

Typically once your startup is sold there will also be an earn out. For Chris, it was only 6 months but that is considered very short in these types of deals. The main reason for that was because Chris’s startups technology, did all the work, so there wasn’t any need to stay any longer.

Chris Koch and Chad Stephens from Lets Pop!

Chris Koch and Chad Stephens from Lets Pop!

I hope you got some good tips (I know I did) and if you’re sick and tired of filling out forms then I suggest you check out Lets Pop, as it will change your online experience.

 

Tim is best known as a long-time contributor on Addicted2Success. Tim's content has been shared millions of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around personal development and entrepreneurship. You can connect with Tim through his website www.timdenning.net

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Startups

4 Simple Ways to Transform Your Startup Into a Success

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Who said for a startup to become a success it must struggle for years? If planned and executed smartly, any startup can sail on the ship of success without any hurdles.

There are many myths associated with startups like ‘It has to be small because it is a startup,’ or ‘You just need an idea and the rest will follow,’ or even, ‘Investing in marketing or advertising for a startup is a waste”. Just because a startup is something new for you, doesn’t mean it’s new for people too.

There are thousands of others with your same idea already out there in the market. Hence, for your startup to climb the ladder of success as soon as you roll the dice, you better get the right figures i.e you better do what you need to do in the right manner and proportion. Confused? Let us make it more clear to you.

One of the most often quoted statistics is that 50% of all startups fail to survive even five years. And the reasons for their downfalls are so silly that later they repent only if they had taken care of it at the beginning itself, the startup could have survived. A post-mortem of 287 Startups was carried out by CBInsights among which, the common reasons of startup failure that emerged out were:

  • Lack of focus, motivation, commitment and passion
  • The eagerness of scaling too fast
  • Floating with pride and spending a lot
  • Ignoring good pieces of advice and falling into the wrong company
  • Lack of general and domain-specific business knowledge: finance, operations, and marketing and experience
  • Investing blunders and running out of cash
  • Improper budgeting
  • No getting market exposure
  • Poor product/service
  • No business plan/strategy
  • No/Poor marketing
  • Focusing only on profit and not on customers

For a startup to succeed, money and ideas are not enough, it needs a lot of input from your side as well to grow and survive, like your passion, commitment, willingness to adjust, patience and persistence, observation, relationship with all and basic knowledge and skill. But above all, professionalism is the most important factor. Starting small and new is nothing to be taken lightly. How you interact with your investors, clients or customers, matters, after all, they are the one who will make or break your startup.

Here are the 4 simple ways that will reflect your professionalism as well as turn your startup into a success:

1. Two heads are better than one

Go get a co-founder. Studies show that a startup with two founders significantly increases the odds of success. How? Because two balanced and fully invested partners can keep the startup going on their shoulders equally well. A co-founder means you will have someone to rely on, share the load, chip in during critical times, handle responsibilities, motivate each other and so on. In the end, so what you will have to share the fruit of success, at least your startup will have a balanced support which will prevent it from drowning in the future.

Take for example the Mistay Founder Pranav Prabhakar who believes that, “Multiple founders with complementary skills bring in wider perspective to the team. While taking key decisions and at high-pressure situations, it’s always preferable to have someone who can provide support and an alternative perspective,” and hence has Sandeep Jaiswal as the co-founder of Mistay.

According to Sandeep, ‘A co-founder makes it easy to navigate through tough times. A partner with complimenting skill-sets and different style of thinking is important to help avoid mistakes one would otherwise make, he stressed. So having a co-founder is like an extra support for your startup.

“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” – Thomas Edison, General Electric Co-founder

2. Get a website/app or both

If you are thinking an investment into web/app is a big waste of money, then hello, it’s 2018 and today from kids to oldies, everyone is constantly browsing either on a desktop/laptop or on mobile. Your potential customers, clients and investors are out there on all platforms and to make them learn about your startup, you must have a website or app of yours ready.

If you are still worried about the budget, for starters, host your site on WordPress which is the most popular CMS of the planet. Its versatility and possibilities are endless which you can take benefit of or go for professional pre-made website templates that easily available at affordable prices.

3. Let people know

Branding and marketing both are lifelines for a business and just because you are a startup doesn’t mean you can survive without them. Branding means establishing a professional presence in both online and offline medium. Make your company logo, colour and other identities visible everywhere as much as possible. Give your clients pens, diaries or other stationary items with your company logo, this will remind them of your great service.

Also, spend rightly on marketing even if you are running a single campaign, make it an effective one that creates an impact on the people. Don’t forget to check whether the market is right for your product/service. Marketing at the right time only will prove beneficial. For eg., marketing your summer clothes brand during winter is useless.

4. Deliver what you promised

Sticking with your word creates your professional image and even a slight slip in it will bring down your startup empire. Nothing is more irritating than a business failing to deliver what it promised. Don’t brag about anything it will only lose your potential customers, stain your reputation and in a worse scenario, get you in legal troubles. First, deliver what you told them you can gradually add and inform them if you wish to serve more. Until and unless, as a startup, don’t try to go overboard and create a mess of everything.

“Always deliver more than expected.” – Larry Page, Google Co-Founder

Turning an idea from concept to production is no cakewalk. The eagerness to establish into a giant is understandable, but, why take unnecessary big risks and crash in the end? Better study the market first, define what new you are giving, plan at its best, execute smartly and enjoy the rewards.

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Don’t Let The New Person Have Lunch By Themselves.

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I joined a new company two weeks ago. I’ve been the new person at work many times before — I know what it feels like. A new workplace is scary, overwhelming and challenging.

What I’m about to share with you makes me incredibly emotional and it’s very close to my heart.

During the week I saw someone else, who was also new, having lunch by themselves.

They walked through the big grey door by themselves, took one look over at all the tables, and then headed towards a table in the corner away from everybody. My heart sunk.

I knew what he was going through and it wasn’t easy. Right as he walked through the door, I was in the middle of a conversation.

Mid-sentence, I said:
“Excuse me for just a second. I’ll be right back.”

People sitting on my table looked at me funny. They knew I was odd and did weird stuff. They were trying to figure out what I was about to do in their own minds.

I’ve always been told that leadership is not about being the boss but setting the right example

I walked over to the other side of the lunchroom. I said:

“Would you like to come over and have lunch with us?”

I wanted him to feel part of the team. The first couple of weeks in any career are make or break — I should know given my recent exit from finance after seven years.


I know what it’s like to be the new person.

I was the new person in insurance.
Then I was the new person in business banking.
Then I was the new person in eCommerce.

Each time I was the new person I felt scared, incredibly fearful, overwhelmed, anxious and self-conscious. Not much has changed really. I still feel like that which is why I’m obsessed with being part of the solution.

The solution is this:

“Don’t let the new person have lunch by themselves.”

Taking the time to make people feel included and like they matter makes a difference. You could be the difference between a new person staying and having an epic time at work, or giving up in the first few months.


The difference is even bigger than you think.

What do I mean? If being the new person doesn’t go well, it can lead to many issues that you may not have realized. The new person could become lonely; the new person could underachieve and be fired; the new person could struggle to make friends.

These issues could lead to a failed career or not being able to pay bills or even mental illness.

As a worst case scenario, these issues could even lead to suicide. The difference of helping that one person to have lunch with the team could be far greater than you realize.


Inclusion is how we cure loneliness.

Loneliness is why we have social media, dating apps and cafes.

No one wants to be that person having lunch by themselves because they feel like they’re not enough or can’t fit in.

The cure to loneliness is inclusion”

You can be the difference by encouraging inclusion.

Be the leader and set the example of inclusion.

Embrace differences in culture, gender, sexual orientation and race.

Stopping someone from having lunch by themselves will teach you far more about life that you might think. Bottom line is this: we’re all the answer. Be inclusive.


One sentence can change everything.

That one sentence “Hey would you like to join us for lunch?” means more than you think. You were the new person once. I was the new person too.

That one sentence can change someone’s perspective.

It’s not about lunch buddies; it’s about leading with heart and being a good human being.

It’s what you must do. Next time you see someone having lunch by themselves, invite them over. If they are too shy to come over, sit down with them and have lunch together.

It’s the simple hacks like this that will change your reality.

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6 Important Strategies That Will Help You Grow a Successful Startup

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Congratulations – you’re here because you have a bright idea. The kind that prompts you to, pause in amazement to ask yourself why nobody ever thought of this before, tidy your desk, and start searching for advice on how to turn your brainwave into a profitable business. But where should you really begin?

Building a business is one of the greatest journeys you can embark upon. You can’t expect success overnight. Behind the meteoric rise of each ‘Uber for this’ and ‘Airbnb for that’, there are rivers of sweat, oceans of tears and months of lost sleep.

The foundation of a viable business is to identify a problem and provide a good solution – or a better one than your would-be customers can currently find. You should begin by thinking through your business plan and doing your market research. Be prepared to make changes to the product and to redefine your target market in response to your findings.

Your next step is to get the infrastructure of success in place. Become an expert by studying up on specialist sector information. Get get a professional-looking website, clean up your social media, contribute to relevant discussions online and in person: you should be seen as an authority.

Select the platforms you’ll use to market your product – does it need a video demonstration, or are you the author and sage behind the next hit eBook? Then, get to grips with Google. You’ll need to produce regular, relevant content for your site to rank highly, and understand how paid ads work in order to run campaigns or instruct an agency.

Think this summary sounds simple enough? You already know the roadmap to business stardom will be peppered with potholes. Here are six tips to prepare:

1. Get to work

Success is directly proportional to the effort you put in. You’ll be competing for funding and customers with many other companies. Most will have more capital and manpower than your business might see for another decade. If you want to get on level footing, the only way is to grind. Use size to your advantage.

There’s no middle-management or bureaucracy to prevent you from experimenting with new tactics or tailoring services to a particular client’s requirements. Bonus tip? Don’t quit your day job right away. It’s incredible how much time you can free up on evenings and weekends by reducing your Netflix consumption.

“A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.” – Richard Branson

2. Network, network, network

Mingling, schmoozing, hobnobbing – it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Maybe it seems pointless, or pushes you out of your comfort zone at first, but networking is an extremely  valuable use of your time. Polish your LinkedIn presence, go to business networking events, reach out to people you could learn from. Join discussion forums and contribute to them.

You could even consider applying to startup incubator programs such as TechStars, which offer a curated programme of introductions to both mentors and investors. You can’t predict when one of these contacts will offer a helping hand, but relationship building is key to securing support in your hour of need.

3. Tighten the purse strings

Startups don’t secure their founders a steady stream of income. There will be weeks when you’re flush, and months when your dreams of entrepreneurial success are eclipsed by dreams of a dinner that isn’t ramen. Without the privilege of a reliable income, life is easier to navigate when you’re equipped with budgeting smarts and a steely will. Get used to living within your means. Your salary cut will ultimately translate into a runway extension for your startup.

4. The customer is (still) king

Your brilliance and expertise can’t fund your startup by themselves! Customers put food on your table and sustain the viability of your business. Listen to what they want from you. Be prepared to tailor your offering to their needs. If you get an opportunity to deliver results for someone – seize it. You can offer them a perk no big business can match: flexibility.

5. Shortcuts leave you short-changed

If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right first time. Don’t give investors a chance to pick holes in your business proposition by spending time and money on work that needs to be re-done. Website bugs or a ‘content farm’ blog can damage the functionality of your business as well as your reputation.

Sure, you’ll get to the stage where your business is ready for a re-brand or an experienced hire brings in the knowledge to optimise your content, but there’s a difference between being keen to improve versus tolerating shoddy work. Get the best you can buy at every stage of growth.

“Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession and something you love. If you have an exit strategy, it’s not an obsession.” – Mark Cuban

6. Know your ‘why’

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. But how can you cultivate this toughness? In the early stages, you may not have a co-founder or employee to share the struggle. There will be no team to carry you through phases of crippling doubt. Whether you need to adjust the feng shui of your home office, admit that breaks are crucial to your wellbeing or build opportunities to socialise with likeminded individuals into your schedule, take time to work out the foundations of your mental fortitude.

Understand your ‘why’ – the reason behind your passion that gives you a true sense of purpose. Then, work to cultivate a balance. You can’t do everything, but you can make time for family, exercise, and the little things that save your sanity. The ability to self-motivate will serve you in every area of life, whether business is your vocation or not.

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No One Would Hire Me — Nothing Lasts Forever, Though.

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In 2011, I was down and out. I was defeated and felt like I’d never amount to anything.

This story is going to inspire you if you’ve ever faced a similar situation or felt defeated.

I’d finished working at the startup I founded with my brother and things didn’t look good. I had a dream at that time to utilize my digital marketing skills and work for an advertising agency where I could grow my skills.

Every job I applied for I was turned down.

Even though I’d had digital marketing experience and built a multi-million dollar business using that talent, it wasn’t formal learning or advertising agency experience.

So, I ended up taking a job in finance which I also knew nothing about. I took a junior role and a large pay cut and started my career at a bank. For seven years, on the side, I worked on my passion for social media and online marketing.

Two days ago, I was hired to run the digital marketing team for a well-known tech company with 900 staff. Against all the odds, I won the long game.

Here’s what you can learn:


No one can stop you.

Even with all the no’s and people that laughed at me in 2011, I didn’t stop.

I went into hiding for a while and built my skills. I started with blogging, then SEO, then pay per click and eventually landed in social media.

Just because someone won’t hire you today based on your skills, attitude and experience, doesn’t mean they won’t tomorrow.

In fact, without sounding cocky, people now have been bending over backwards to hire me as a consultant to help them with social media and digital marketing.

“The same people that said no to me now want to work with me”

You decide whether you stop based on rejection — nobody else. Keep going no matter the odds.


Be prepared to wait a few years.

Patience was what made the last two days feel incredible. It took seven years to get what I wanted and I had to be damn patient.

The mistake many of you make who are reading this is that you’re not prepared to wait years to get what you want.

When you accept that it takes years to achieve your goals, you work differently. You prepare yourself in a totally different way.

Wanting things too quickly forces you to sacrifice for the short-term and mess up the long-term. Slow down. Relax. You’ve got time.


It’s your attitude that counts.

When no one will hire you, it’s your attitude that counts.

If you walk into an interview or coffee catchup with an attitude problem, then your career dream is going to continue to be a problem.

You see it on those TV talent shows when a guy/girl walks out onto the stage and has been trying for a long time to make it as a musician. They have this sense of entitlement and their bad attitude is written all over their face.

Don’t be one of these people. Fix your attitude.

You’re only entitled to what you earn. Walk into interviews and face opportunities with a sense of humbleness.

Let humbleness be your dominant attitude and eventually you’ll have more opportunities than you could ever hope for.


Nothing lasts forever.

The no’s I got in 2011 lasted a few years.

The point is they didn’t last forever.
Just because you’re getting no’s today and being laughed at, doesn’t mean that will last forever. Nothing lasts forever including you.

“Keep going until the people that said no to you come around and are half-way towards a yes”

No one can deny you forever. People will admire you if you keep going and learn along the way.

Sometimes we can feel like we’ll always be rejected. That’s how I felt in 2011. I thought to myself “I’ve worked five years in digital marketing and built up a pretty successful business and people are still saying no to me. If not now, when?”

Now let me be honest for a second. I didn’t have the intelligence in 2011 to keep going. I was too dumb and too obsessed with myself. It was basically blind faith that kept me going. I wish I’d known back then that nothing lasts forever and believed it.

There were no mentors, advisors or as much self-help advice as there is now to tell me that the way I was thinking was madness.

You have the opportunity to learn from this lesson. Nothing. Lasts. Forever.


Push through.

When every obstacle there is, is standing in your way, sometimes all you need to do is keep pushing.

The way I did this was to keep writing. No one was paying attention to my advice, but that didn’t matter.

The only strategy I had at the time was to keep doing what felt fun to me and I believed I’d figure out the detail later or just never get paid to do what I liked doing.

Pushing through is about continuing to do the work even when the results don’t show.


Eventually, the odds will change if you change.

So what was missing in 2011? Why was I getting rejected even though I had the skills and experience?

I needed to change.

I was an arrogant, selfish, entitled son of a bitch who wouldn’t give a dime out of a dollar to anyone. I had to change myself.

I had to:

  1. Develop empowering beliefs
  2. Change my attitude
  3. Adopt a never say die mindset
  4. Learn abundance
  5. Give more to strangers
  6. Create value for people first via the internet
  7. Be grateful for what I have instead of always wanting more

Your odds of success won’t change until you change.

“You’re the problem and that’s the hardest advice to swallow”


Final thought.

It’s been a big few days. I’ve waited seven years to get what I want. The hardest thing about getting what you want is that it will feel good for a few weeks, and then you’ll want more.

That’s the crack addiction that comes with personal development.

I’m trying to detox from this addiction and be happy with what I’ve achieved to date.

Maybe no one will hire you today.

Maybe your life sucks right now.

Maybe you’ve dealt with a lot this year.

It’s all okay. Your odds of success will change when you change.

<<<>>>

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Entrepreneurs

5 Tips for Young People Starting a Business or Side-Hustle

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starting a business at a young age
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The decision to start a business or any sort of “side-hustle” takes a lot of nerve, especially when you’re only in your 20s. Yet, the ability to power on and keep going – through all the ups and downs of business is a feat to be truly admired. (more…)

With the desire to go "digital nomad" and help businesses with their social media, Chelsea Tobin founded her boutique social media agency, Queen of Swords Media, in 2018. She attended Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Business (Marketing major) and a Bachelor of Communication Studies (PR major). She enjoys speaking and writing about her journey so far in the world of business, self-development and mindfulness as a young millennial woman navigating her way through life, and of course social media. You can follow her on Instagram here.

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Startups

4 Simple Ways to Transform Your Startup Into a Success

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Who said for a startup to become a success it must struggle for years? If planned and executed smartly, any startup can sail on the ship of success without any hurdles.

There are many myths associated with startups like ‘It has to be small because it is a startup,’ or ‘You just need an idea and the rest will follow,’ or even, ‘Investing in marketing or advertising for a startup is a waste”. Just because a startup is something new for you, doesn’t mean it’s new for people too.

There are thousands of others with your same idea already out there in the market. Hence, for your startup to climb the ladder of success as soon as you roll the dice, you better get the right figures i.e you better do what you need to do in the right manner and proportion. Confused? Let us make it more clear to you.

One of the most often quoted statistics is that 50% of all startups fail to survive even five years. And the reasons for their downfalls are so silly that later they repent only if they had taken care of it at the beginning itself, the startup could have survived. A post-mortem of 287 Startups was carried out by CBInsights among which, the common reasons of startup failure that emerged out were:

  • Lack of focus, motivation, commitment and passion
  • The eagerness of scaling too fast
  • Floating with pride and spending a lot
  • Ignoring good pieces of advice and falling into the wrong company
  • Lack of general and domain-specific business knowledge: finance, operations, and marketing and experience
  • Investing blunders and running out of cash
  • Improper budgeting
  • No getting market exposure
  • Poor product/service
  • No business plan/strategy
  • No/Poor marketing
  • Focusing only on profit and not on customers

For a startup to succeed, money and ideas are not enough, it needs a lot of input from your side as well to grow and survive, like your passion, commitment, willingness to adjust, patience and persistence, observation, relationship with all and basic knowledge and skill. But above all, professionalism is the most important factor. Starting small and new is nothing to be taken lightly. How you interact with your investors, clients or customers, matters, after all, they are the one who will make or break your startup.

Here are the 4 simple ways that will reflect your professionalism as well as turn your startup into a success:

1. Two heads are better than one

Go get a co-founder. Studies show that a startup with two founders significantly increases the odds of success. How? Because two balanced and fully invested partners can keep the startup going on their shoulders equally well. A co-founder means you will have someone to rely on, share the load, chip in during critical times, handle responsibilities, motivate each other and so on. In the end, so what you will have to share the fruit of success, at least your startup will have a balanced support which will prevent it from drowning in the future.

Take for example the Mistay Founder Pranav Prabhakar who believes that, “Multiple founders with complementary skills bring in wider perspective to the team. While taking key decisions and at high-pressure situations, it’s always preferable to have someone who can provide support and an alternative perspective,” and hence has Sandeep Jaiswal as the co-founder of Mistay.

According to Sandeep, ‘A co-founder makes it easy to navigate through tough times. A partner with complimenting skill-sets and different style of thinking is important to help avoid mistakes one would otherwise make, he stressed. So having a co-founder is like an extra support for your startup.

“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” – Thomas Edison, General Electric Co-founder

2. Get a website/app or both

If you are thinking an investment into web/app is a big waste of money, then hello, it’s 2018 and today from kids to oldies, everyone is constantly browsing either on a desktop/laptop or on mobile. Your potential customers, clients and investors are out there on all platforms and to make them learn about your startup, you must have a website or app of yours ready.

If you are still worried about the budget, for starters, host your site on WordPress which is the most popular CMS of the planet. Its versatility and possibilities are endless which you can take benefit of or go for professional pre-made website templates that easily available at affordable prices.

3. Let people know

Branding and marketing both are lifelines for a business and just because you are a startup doesn’t mean you can survive without them. Branding means establishing a professional presence in both online and offline medium. Make your company logo, colour and other identities visible everywhere as much as possible. Give your clients pens, diaries or other stationary items with your company logo, this will remind them of your great service.

Also, spend rightly on marketing even if you are running a single campaign, make it an effective one that creates an impact on the people. Don’t forget to check whether the market is right for your product/service. Marketing at the right time only will prove beneficial. For eg., marketing your summer clothes brand during winter is useless.

4. Deliver what you promised

Sticking with your word creates your professional image and even a slight slip in it will bring down your startup empire. Nothing is more irritating than a business failing to deliver what it promised. Don’t brag about anything it will only lose your potential customers, stain your reputation and in a worse scenario, get you in legal troubles. First, deliver what you told them you can gradually add and inform them if you wish to serve more. Until and unless, as a startup, don’t try to go overboard and create a mess of everything.

“Always deliver more than expected.” – Larry Page, Google Co-Founder

Turning an idea from concept to production is no cakewalk. The eagerness to establish into a giant is understandable, but, why take unnecessary big risks and crash in the end? Better study the market first, define what new you are giving, plan at its best, execute smartly and enjoy the rewards.

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Startups

Don’t Let The New Person Have Lunch By Themselves.

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I joined a new company two weeks ago. I’ve been the new person at work many times before — I know what it feels like. A new workplace is scary, overwhelming and challenging.

What I’m about to share with you makes me incredibly emotional and it’s very close to my heart.

During the week I saw someone else, who was also new, having lunch by themselves.

They walked through the big grey door by themselves, took one look over at all the tables, and then headed towards a table in the corner away from everybody. My heart sunk.

I knew what he was going through and it wasn’t easy. Right as he walked through the door, I was in the middle of a conversation.

Mid-sentence, I said:
“Excuse me for just a second. I’ll be right back.”

People sitting on my table looked at me funny. They knew I was odd and did weird stuff. They were trying to figure out what I was about to do in their own minds.

I’ve always been told that leadership is not about being the boss but setting the right example

I walked over to the other side of the lunchroom. I said:

“Would you like to come over and have lunch with us?”

I wanted him to feel part of the team. The first couple of weeks in any career are make or break — I should know given my recent exit from finance after seven years.


I know what it’s like to be the new person.

I was the new person in insurance.
Then I was the new person in business banking.
Then I was the new person in eCommerce.

Each time I was the new person I felt scared, incredibly fearful, overwhelmed, anxious and self-conscious. Not much has changed really. I still feel like that which is why I’m obsessed with being part of the solution.

The solution is this:

“Don’t let the new person have lunch by themselves.”

Taking the time to make people feel included and like they matter makes a difference. You could be the difference between a new person staying and having an epic time at work, or giving up in the first few months.


The difference is even bigger than you think.

What do I mean? If being the new person doesn’t go well, it can lead to many issues that you may not have realized. The new person could become lonely; the new person could underachieve and be fired; the new person could struggle to make friends.

These issues could lead to a failed career or not being able to pay bills or even mental illness.

As a worst case scenario, these issues could even lead to suicide. The difference of helping that one person to have lunch with the team could be far greater than you realize.


Inclusion is how we cure loneliness.

Loneliness is why we have social media, dating apps and cafes.

No one wants to be that person having lunch by themselves because they feel like they’re not enough or can’t fit in.

The cure to loneliness is inclusion”

You can be the difference by encouraging inclusion.

Be the leader and set the example of inclusion.

Embrace differences in culture, gender, sexual orientation and race.

Stopping someone from having lunch by themselves will teach you far more about life that you might think. Bottom line is this: we’re all the answer. Be inclusive.


One sentence can change everything.

That one sentence “Hey would you like to join us for lunch?” means more than you think. You were the new person once. I was the new person too.

That one sentence can change someone’s perspective.

It’s not about lunch buddies; it’s about leading with heart and being a good human being.

It’s what you must do. Next time you see someone having lunch by themselves, invite them over. If they are too shy to come over, sit down with them and have lunch together.

It’s the simple hacks like this that will change your reality.

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Startups

6 Important Strategies That Will Help You Grow a Successful Startup

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Congratulations – you’re here because you have a bright idea. The kind that prompts you to, pause in amazement to ask yourself why nobody ever thought of this before, tidy your desk, and start searching for advice on how to turn your brainwave into a profitable business. But where should you really begin?

Building a business is one of the greatest journeys you can embark upon. You can’t expect success overnight. Behind the meteoric rise of each ‘Uber for this’ and ‘Airbnb for that’, there are rivers of sweat, oceans of tears and months of lost sleep.

The foundation of a viable business is to identify a problem and provide a good solution – or a better one than your would-be customers can currently find. You should begin by thinking through your business plan and doing your market research. Be prepared to make changes to the product and to redefine your target market in response to your findings.

Your next step is to get the infrastructure of success in place. Become an expert by studying up on specialist sector information. Get get a professional-looking website, clean up your social media, contribute to relevant discussions online and in person: you should be seen as an authority.

Select the platforms you’ll use to market your product – does it need a video demonstration, or are you the author and sage behind the next hit eBook? Then, get to grips with Google. You’ll need to produce regular, relevant content for your site to rank highly, and understand how paid ads work in order to run campaigns or instruct an agency.

Think this summary sounds simple enough? You already know the roadmap to business stardom will be peppered with potholes. Here are six tips to prepare:

1. Get to work

Success is directly proportional to the effort you put in. You’ll be competing for funding and customers with many other companies. Most will have more capital and manpower than your business might see for another decade. If you want to get on level footing, the only way is to grind. Use size to your advantage.

There’s no middle-management or bureaucracy to prevent you from experimenting with new tactics or tailoring services to a particular client’s requirements. Bonus tip? Don’t quit your day job right away. It’s incredible how much time you can free up on evenings and weekends by reducing your Netflix consumption.

“A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.” – Richard Branson

2. Network, network, network

Mingling, schmoozing, hobnobbing – it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Maybe it seems pointless, or pushes you out of your comfort zone at first, but networking is an extremely  valuable use of your time. Polish your LinkedIn presence, go to business networking events, reach out to people you could learn from. Join discussion forums and contribute to them.

You could even consider applying to startup incubator programs such as TechStars, which offer a curated programme of introductions to both mentors and investors. You can’t predict when one of these contacts will offer a helping hand, but relationship building is key to securing support in your hour of need.

3. Tighten the purse strings

Startups don’t secure their founders a steady stream of income. There will be weeks when you’re flush, and months when your dreams of entrepreneurial success are eclipsed by dreams of a dinner that isn’t ramen. Without the privilege of a reliable income, life is easier to navigate when you’re equipped with budgeting smarts and a steely will. Get used to living within your means. Your salary cut will ultimately translate into a runway extension for your startup.

4. The customer is (still) king

Your brilliance and expertise can’t fund your startup by themselves! Customers put food on your table and sustain the viability of your business. Listen to what they want from you. Be prepared to tailor your offering to their needs. If you get an opportunity to deliver results for someone – seize it. You can offer them a perk no big business can match: flexibility.

5. Shortcuts leave you short-changed

If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right first time. Don’t give investors a chance to pick holes in your business proposition by spending time and money on work that needs to be re-done. Website bugs or a ‘content farm’ blog can damage the functionality of your business as well as your reputation.

Sure, you’ll get to the stage where your business is ready for a re-brand or an experienced hire brings in the knowledge to optimise your content, but there’s a difference between being keen to improve versus tolerating shoddy work. Get the best you can buy at every stage of growth.

“Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession and something you love. If you have an exit strategy, it’s not an obsession.” – Mark Cuban

6. Know your ‘why’

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. But how can you cultivate this toughness? In the early stages, you may not have a co-founder or employee to share the struggle. There will be no team to carry you through phases of crippling doubt. Whether you need to adjust the feng shui of your home office, admit that breaks are crucial to your wellbeing or build opportunities to socialise with likeminded individuals into your schedule, take time to work out the foundations of your mental fortitude.

Understand your ‘why’ – the reason behind your passion that gives you a true sense of purpose. Then, work to cultivate a balance. You can’t do everything, but you can make time for family, exercise, and the little things that save your sanity. The ability to self-motivate will serve you in every area of life, whether business is your vocation or not.

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Startups

No One Would Hire Me — Nothing Lasts Forever, Though.

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In 2011, I was down and out. I was defeated and felt like I’d never amount to anything.

This story is going to inspire you if you’ve ever faced a similar situation or felt defeated.

I’d finished working at the startup I founded with my brother and things didn’t look good. I had a dream at that time to utilize my digital marketing skills and work for an advertising agency where I could grow my skills.

Every job I applied for I was turned down.

Even though I’d had digital marketing experience and built a multi-million dollar business using that talent, it wasn’t formal learning or advertising agency experience.

So, I ended up taking a job in finance which I also knew nothing about. I took a junior role and a large pay cut and started my career at a bank. For seven years, on the side, I worked on my passion for social media and online marketing.

Two days ago, I was hired to run the digital marketing team for a well-known tech company with 900 staff. Against all the odds, I won the long game.

Here’s what you can learn:


No one can stop you.

Even with all the no’s and people that laughed at me in 2011, I didn’t stop.

I went into hiding for a while and built my skills. I started with blogging, then SEO, then pay per click and eventually landed in social media.

Just because someone won’t hire you today based on your skills, attitude and experience, doesn’t mean they won’t tomorrow.

In fact, without sounding cocky, people now have been bending over backwards to hire me as a consultant to help them with social media and digital marketing.

“The same people that said no to me now want to work with me”

You decide whether you stop based on rejection — nobody else. Keep going no matter the odds.


Be prepared to wait a few years.

Patience was what made the last two days feel incredible. It took seven years to get what I wanted and I had to be damn patient.

The mistake many of you make who are reading this is that you’re not prepared to wait years to get what you want.

When you accept that it takes years to achieve your goals, you work differently. You prepare yourself in a totally different way.

Wanting things too quickly forces you to sacrifice for the short-term and mess up the long-term. Slow down. Relax. You’ve got time.


It’s your attitude that counts.

When no one will hire you, it’s your attitude that counts.

If you walk into an interview or coffee catchup with an attitude problem, then your career dream is going to continue to be a problem.

You see it on those TV talent shows when a guy/girl walks out onto the stage and has been trying for a long time to make it as a musician. They have this sense of entitlement and their bad attitude is written all over their face.

Don’t be one of these people. Fix your attitude.

You’re only entitled to what you earn. Walk into interviews and face opportunities with a sense of humbleness.

Let humbleness be your dominant attitude and eventually you’ll have more opportunities than you could ever hope for.


Nothing lasts forever.

The no’s I got in 2011 lasted a few years.

The point is they didn’t last forever.
Just because you’re getting no’s today and being laughed at, doesn’t mean that will last forever. Nothing lasts forever including you.

“Keep going until the people that said no to you come around and are half-way towards a yes”

No one can deny you forever. People will admire you if you keep going and learn along the way.

Sometimes we can feel like we’ll always be rejected. That’s how I felt in 2011. I thought to myself “I’ve worked five years in digital marketing and built up a pretty successful business and people are still saying no to me. If not now, when?”

Now let me be honest for a second. I didn’t have the intelligence in 2011 to keep going. I was too dumb and too obsessed with myself. It was basically blind faith that kept me going. I wish I’d known back then that nothing lasts forever and believed it.

There were no mentors, advisors or as much self-help advice as there is now to tell me that the way I was thinking was madness.

You have the opportunity to learn from this lesson. Nothing. Lasts. Forever.


Push through.

When every obstacle there is, is standing in your way, sometimes all you need to do is keep pushing.

The way I did this was to keep writing. No one was paying attention to my advice, but that didn’t matter.

The only strategy I had at the time was to keep doing what felt fun to me and I believed I’d figure out the detail later or just never get paid to do what I liked doing.

Pushing through is about continuing to do the work even when the results don’t show.


Eventually, the odds will change if you change.

So what was missing in 2011? Why was I getting rejected even though I had the skills and experience?

I needed to change.

I was an arrogant, selfish, entitled son of a bitch who wouldn’t give a dime out of a dollar to anyone. I had to change myself.

I had to:

  1. Develop empowering beliefs
  2. Change my attitude
  3. Adopt a never say die mindset
  4. Learn abundance
  5. Give more to strangers
  6. Create value for people first via the internet
  7. Be grateful for what I have instead of always wanting more

Your odds of success won’t change until you change.

“You’re the problem and that’s the hardest advice to swallow”


Final thought.

It’s been a big few days. I’ve waited seven years to get what I want. The hardest thing about getting what you want is that it will feel good for a few weeks, and then you’ll want more.

That’s the crack addiction that comes with personal development.

I’m trying to detox from this addiction and be happy with what I’ve achieved to date.

Maybe no one will hire you today.

Maybe your life sucks right now.

Maybe you’ve dealt with a lot this year.

It’s all okay. Your odds of success will change when you change.

<<<>>>

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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