Claims of idea theft have recently been highlighted in the Academy Award nominated movie The Social Network. The Winklevoss Twins and Divya Narendra alleged to have co-founded the popular social network which was subsequently stolen by Mark Zuckerberg and others.
Like Facebook a few years ago, The Huffington Post co-founders Arianna Huffington and Kenneth Lerer recently settled a lawsuit brought by two Democrat Party consultants, Peter Daou and James Boyce. The lawsuit claimed Daou and Boyce brought the idea of a liberal website to combat the Drudge Report to Huffington and Lerer. According the suit, Huffington and Lerer agreed to participate in the project but subsequently took the idea and raised $1 million behind Daou’s and Boyce’s backs.
Like many lawsuits, defendants usually reach settlements instead of going to court because the settlement amount is less than the legal fees one would spend defending the lawsuit. It happened with Facebook v. Winkelvoss et al and Arianna Huffington and Kenneth Lerer.
The fact that Arianna and Kenneth (and AOL) had to settle this frivolous lawsuit is ridiculous!
So what did Arianna Huffington teach me about starting a business?
I learned two important things. These two things are what most small business owners and entrepreneurs fail to recognize which leads to their failure.
Ideas are plentiful and unless your idea can be registered or patented, you’re probably not the only one who has had it.
In my bestselling book, Start Me Up! The No Business Plan, Business Plan, I wrote about the importance of execution over idea from an experience I had with a passenger (Wanda) on a flight I was on. Wanda had an idea for a business but didn’t want to tell me what the idea was because she was afraid of it being stolen. I told her what matters most is whether you can execute the idea to the point where you get your first customer. People fall in love with ideas but can’t execute on those ideas which exponentially increases their chances for failure. (She didn’t really like that comment but in business I tend to give it to you straight – with no chaser!)
a. Organizing the idea
b. Identifying the market
c. Creating a revenue model that works and doesn’t rely on dreaded banner advertising
d. Raising money
e. Managing the business and then eventually scaling it
An idea on the back of a napkin doesn’t cut it. As Paul Graham said, entrepreneurship is something best accomplished by doing. I highly doubt in 2004 Daou and Boyce would have been able to raise the $1 million necessary to launch a variation of The Huffington Post and scale it to where it is today.
Ok, so my partner and I came up with a blog idea that will combat the opposing political party’s leading blog network – are you interested?
Yeah, your idea isn’t new! Every other person watching MSNBC and Fox News had the same idea, so what?
I welcome your opinions, thoughts and comments!
Please share this post with people you know who want to start a business!
ps. I also write a blog for the The Huffington Post: http://www.HuffingtonPost.com/ebong-eka
TEDx was founded by in 1984 by architect and graphic designer Richard Saul Wurman. According to their website, the TEDx program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. I gave my first TEDx talk in December 2013 and the experience was amazingly inspiring. I have given presentations, speeches and talks in the past but this TEDx event was a unique experience. I spoke to over 100 people, primarily women who wanted and desired more in their lives.
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has taken a legislative and political beating. Many political pundits believe the Obamacare is a raw deal for Millennials. As if Millennials didn’t have enough to worry about – shaky job market, no health insurance, and large student loan debt!
According to a US News & World Report article by Bob Graboyes, younger, healthier Americans are required under Obamacare to overpay for their insurance so that older, sicker and (by and large) wealthier Americans can underpay for their insurance. This could explain why the Obama Administration initially focused on marketing to a younger demographic. The older population, comprised of Generation Xers, has Medicare while the poor have Medicaid.
The reality is, that’s how most of life works. Car insurance, government programs, property taxes – the list is endless. Safer drivers pay more money for car insurance premiums to subsidize the costs for insuring worse drivers. Wealthier and/or younger people pay social security taxes today to pay for seniors currently retired. Homeowners pay property taxes that fund local schools despite not having children.
The THREE C’s of Obamacare
1. Ends pre-existing condition exclusions for children – Health plans can’t limit/deny benefits for pre-existing condition for kids 19yrs old or younger
2. Young adults (under 26yrs old) can be Covered under parent’s health plan
3. Insurance companies can’t randomly cancel coverage for an honest mistake.
1. Bans lifetime limits on health plans (Insurance companies used to limit the amount of coverage over the insured’s lifetime in the plan)
2. Insurance companies now must publicly justify rate hikes – more transparency
3. Premiums must be spent on actual health care not administrative costs.
1. Some preventative care can be provided at no cost to the insured. (List of screenings, pre-natal care, vaccinations etc)
2. Choose your own the primary care doctor from your plan. (Big Issue)
3. Removes Insurance barriers to Emergency Services – You can get emergency care at a hospital outside of your health plan’s network
So do you need healthcare?
Three Types of Insurance Options –
A. Private Health Insurance plans
B. Medicaid (must qualify)
C. Job Based Insurance
After Choosing an Option –
1. Preview plans and evaluate estimated costs and savings.
Visit Healthcare.gov to find your options and review plans
2. How to Apply – Visit HealthCare.gov for information on the Marketplace
a. Paper Application
b. Online Application (Still a nightmare)
c. By Phone – 1-800-318-2596 – 24/7
d. You can also apply with an “in-person” assister
So what do you think about Obamacare? Do me a favor and post your comments. I want to do a soft survey of responses!
Also, if you know of anyone who may need info about Obamacare, please forward this to them.
Education is a hot button topic that inspires passionate responses from both sides of the political aisles. Whether you’re for “No Child Left Behind,” vouchers, charter schools or various other forms of education reform, we all realize that education is an important cog in the engine of a thriving economy.
If you’re watching television and paying attention to your social media feeds, chances are you’ve heard about a recent social media sh*t storm. And no, I’m not referring to Miley Cyrus’ twerking somewhere in America while dressed like a 21-year-old Ooma Lumpa or Super Mario’s wife.
I’m talking about the recent tweets about education by Jaden Smith…the son of Big Willy Style, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith.
Here are a few of his tweets that caused outrage:
“School Is The Tool To Brainwash The Youth.”
“If Newborn Babies Could Speak They Would Be The Most Intelligent Beings On Planet Earth.”
I actually agree with Jaden Smith in a limited sense… provided there is relevant context attached to it. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to add context to 140 characters. By and large, education can restrain us from trying new things and failing. More importantly, failure can be considered abhorrent.
Programmer, artist, teacher, writer, and speaker Marcus Geduld provided the much needed context I was looking for via one of his many Quora responses.
The following is one of Marcus Geduld’s Quora answers in its entirety to the question:
(This was published with explicit permission by Marcus Geduld.)
School trains us to get frustrated when we fail.
Failure is a very good thing. It’s one of the best — maybe the best — learning devices. Yet rather than capitalize on it, most schools work hard to turn failure into something distasteful. And by the time people graduate, having spent most of their formative years in an institution where failure is a sin, they have a huge aversion to failing.
In most schools, the major structural element is ranking. We’re wired to take ranking seriously. As soon as ranking exists, we care about it. A, B, C, D, F. Pass/Fail. And in the worst-case-scenario, you fail and are “kept back a grade,” which affects you socially.
I have many memories of teachers compounding the problem. The didn’t say, “How interesting: you got an F. Let’s examine the situation and see how that happened…” Instead, Fs came with stern lectures. When we got Fs, teachers (and parents) werevery disappointed in us.
(And I’ve never heard a teacher say, “Oh dear. You’ve gotten four As in a row. I must not be challenging you enough. Let’s see if we can push you to failure so that you can overcome it.)
They didn’t tell us that failure was a natural part of the learning process. They told us we had let them and ourselves down. We were basically told, over and over, for years, that if we got Fs, it was because we were lazy or stupid. Laziness is a moral failing; stupidity is an innate deficit. Failure — school tells us — means we’re moral and physical cripples.
People (understandably) hate this so much, that as soon as they can, they put themselves in a position where they never have to fail again. (Or where the chances of failing are as small as possible.) They find jobs that aren’t all that challenging after an initial learning curve. The goal, conscious or not, is to coast for the rest of one’s life.
Which gives adults very little day-to-day experience with failure. Most people I know failed at certain subjects in school (maybe not by getting Fs, but by struggling with those subjects for years), and now have simply decided “I’m not a ______ person” or “I just don’t get _______”, e.g. “I’m not a Math person” or “I just don’t get Shakespeare.” That absolves them from trying. Which keeps them from failing.
This is not the way we start out. If infants decided, after many hundreds of failures, “I’m just not a walking person” or “I just don’t get talking,” we’d all be screwed. Luckily, those skills are acquired before school gets its clutches on us.
The moral of the story is failure is OK provided you learn from it. Get started with your business, idea, interest etc. today!
Whether it’s called a full or partial government shutdown, some of the important areas of government are still operating. The federal parks and Statue of Liberty may be closed but some of the obvious areas, like security and military, are still working.
Today is October 15th and it’s the day certain federal income tax returns are due. If you extended your individual tax returns, partnerships and LLCs due date, they are due today!
According to the IRS, the shutdown or ‘lapse in appropriations’ don’t affect the federal tax law! As a result, you are still required to pay your taxes and send in your tax returns.
Most people have to send their tax returns today but there are a few exceptions:
a. Members of the military and others serving in Afghanistan or other combat zone typically have until at least 180 days after they leave the combat zone to both file returns and pay any taxes due.
b. People with extensions in parts of Colorado affected by severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides also have more time, until Dec. 2, 2013, to file and pay.
If you’re not in the military or a victim of severe storms here are a few things to think about:
1. E-file your tax returns because it’s easier.
2. If you’re expecting a tax refund, e-filing will increase the processing times.
3. You may qualify for free e-file. Check out the IRS.gov website for details.
You may be subject to penalties and interest if you don’t send your tax returns in and pay any taxes due by October 15th!
Either way, don’t panic!
Let me know if you have any question!
Please tweet, share and post!
Chances are you’ve heard these phrases from bosses, co-workers and friends. More importantly, these overused ‘time & space fillers’ are annoying and make you sound linguistically vapid.
So where’s this list from?
Bestselling business author and enterprise performance expert, Bernard Marr has written a number of seminal books and over 200 high profile reports and articles on managing organiszational performance. In other words, Bernard is acknowledged by the CEO Journal as one of today’s leading business brains.
Bernard shares the 10 Most Irritating Phrases Ever and I’m inclined to agree with him! Is it too late to add: “Paradigm Shift” or “Collaboration”
Top ten most irritating filler phrases
1. “At the end of the day” – What does that even mean? Does it mean later? Just leave it out!
2. “To be honest” – Why, are you normally not honest with me? What a crazy thing to say!
3. “If you know what I mean” – If I don’t know what you mean I would probably tell you. I don’t need a prompt.
4. “You know” – Is this a question or a statement?
5. “Having said that” – Yes, you have just said that. I was here, you have been speaking to me and I don’t need you to tell me that you have just said something to me!
6. “Like” – This is especially annoying if it is inserted a number of times into every single sentence. Why, oh, why?
7. “Literally” – Should mean ‘figuratively’ or exactly as you say. It makes so sense to ‘literally explode’ or to ‘literally die’.
8. “I am just saying’” – Yes, I have heard it. Should this make me feel better about the fact that you have just offended me or said something that didn’t make sense?
9. “Seriously” – Are you saying that you are telling me the truth or are you using it as a replacement for ‘yeah’ – I am, like, seriously confused!
10. “I mean” – Some people litter this phrase into every single sentence they say. It must be one of the most meaningless phrases of all.
What I need from you all:
A. Please tweet, share and like this list!
B. Send me phrases that Bernard may have missed and should be added. I’ll create another list and give you credit.
C. Follow me on Twitter: @ebongeka
D. Follow Bernard Marr on Twitter: @BernardMarr
Successful Entrepreneurship is about continually educating yourself and your customers. The entrepreneurs who commit to that tend to do well. Part of that education includes knowing what to do in your entrepreneurial journey. If you have an idea and you’re thinking about starting a company, you’ve probably heard about CorpNet.
Persistence and Perseverance
Nellie is the epitome of the modern woman. She is the CEO of CorpNet Inc., an entrepreneur, wife, and mother. She’s been in the document filing industry since 1997. Using her experience, she formed her first company based out of her living room. Working days and nights eventually would pay off for her. In 2005 her company was acquired by Intuit, and later in 2009 she and her business partners launched Corpnet.com.
Want to Know if You Have a Good Idea? Get Your First Customer
Nellie validated the idea for her first document processing company when she received her first client after creating a one page website in 1997. Online payments processing wasn’t a reality at the time so orders were taken via telephone. The validation came because Nellie was solving a problem that business owners had: Filing organization or incorporation papers for their new business!
In addition, adding value has completely differentiated CorpNet from her competitors. Nellie provides additional value by educating small business owners and entrepreneurs on the importance of protecting their personal assets through incorporation. She enjoys discussing legal and business issues including the process from business startup through acquisition. She should know because she’s experienced the complete process.
Getting Over Fears & Obstacles!
Fears, obstacles, and setbacks are things that prevent most people from starting their own business. Nellie had no real fears, obstacles, or setbacks because she literally had nothing to lose. The successes she experienced served as the fuel for future success and confidence. You may experience fears in starting your business but building a network of support can help you through the tough period. For Nellie, it was her business partner and husband!
Given her success with the company, Nellie’s business is now being challenged by competitor pricing gimmicks like “incorporate for free”. Competitors are also using Pay Per Click (PPC) tactics to make it harder for her site to be ranked where it once was on Google.
The Principles of Pricing
Pricing can be a problem for many small business owners; however, Nellie used her past experiences to determine the best pricing model for her services. She conducted a competitor analysis in her market and compared her findings to the needs of customers. Competition based pricing can be useful when market leaders exist. Her sales originate from the company’s website and in bound calls which gives the company the ability to add value to their service offering when speaking to customers.
The Idea is Never Enough
Nellie realized automation was the key to profitability. By listening to her employees, she also realized that creating processes and procedures was required to grow her company. Ideas are plentiful…everyone has them, but the execution of those ideas is the secret sauce. Automating repetitive tasks by creating policies and procedures improves the chances of business success. In addition, CorpNet uses customer feedback to develop new apps and tools to make it easier for customers to run their business.
Nellie’s biggest tip?
“Getting discouraged and frustrated at the amount of work in front of you is normal in the process of starting a business, but don’t let it overwhelm you or bring you down.”
1. All businesses start small – Including yours, so be patient!
2. Creating a plan allows you to reach your final goals.
3. Frustrations, discouragement and doubts are normal emotions but find mentors and advisors to provide support during the tough times.
4. Take your business seriously and take the proper steps involved in starting a business. ( i.e. selecting a business name, registering the name, register a website domain name, opening a business bank account etc.)
5. In business, success is found in the execution, not the idea!
Get started today! Please leave comments and tweet me at: @ebongeka