3 Reasons Why Partnerships Need to be Part of Your Growth Strategy

Carl Kruse

Securing the right strategic partnerships confers real advantages to your business. As entrepreneurs, we’re wired to go our own way, build things ourselves, and solve our own problems, but it’s critical that we temper that pioneering entrepreneurial spirit with a willingness to seek out partners who can help realize value for everyone involved.

Partnerships benefit your business in three main ways:

Revenue

According to Carl Kruse, the right partnerships boost revenue in several distinct ways. Aligning your goals and resources with a partner of course affords your business new revenue opportunities, but it’s also a chance for you to pool information and resources. This gives you more lead generation, increased distribution, and better customer intelligence, all of which translate into money for your business.

We’re currently partnered with a platform called Simon, which has allowed us to do some tremendous things around segmentation and marketing automation. Their tech has basically made obsolete the manual segmentation, CSV serving, and reporting that our dev team used to do to support targeted marketing. Enhanced customer intelligence + increased workflow efficiency = more dollars to our bottom line.

Carl Kruse | International Stock

On the revenue opportunity side, our partnerships with companies like Button and URX have allowed us to set up deep linking integrations with Uber, Parking Panda and Booking.Com, all three of which have contributed to revenue and have allowed us to monetize while providing value-add services to our user base.  Partnerships also have some secondary effects…

Press Coverage

…like press. Announcing an exciting partnership can generate positive buzz about your business, which yields numerous intangible benefits. Press mentions familiarize people with your company and its vision, which can be a major benefit when you’re looking to recruit talent. Good PR has other subtle advantages, too; even if no one remembers specifically how they heard of your company, that awareness will stick, and it can pay dividends from generating inbound business to warmer receptions when you approach investors.

Credibility

When you’re starting a company, it’s important to appear bigger and more established than you actually are. Trying to bring in your first five customers can be a real challenge when you’re essentially asking them to hand over a portion of their business to four twenty-somethings working out of a garage, but smart partnerships with established businesses can help alleviate those concerns.

Something as simple as having a recognizable logo on your homepage can go a long way toward instilling confidence in your potential customers, making it easier for them to say “yes” to working with you.

Originally posted at https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/249672

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8 Financial Tips for Entrepreneurs when Starting a New Business

If you are thinking of launching a startup, my hat goes off to you because it’s far from easy. Here are eight tips to help you avoid some of the common financial mistakes entrepreneurs make when starting a new business.

Entrepreneur Carl Kruse

1. Cash flow management is key

Most startups fail for a variety of reasons, but one is far more common than others — running out of money. You need to know where every single dollar is coming from and where every single dollar is going.

 If you don’t stay on top of your cash flow, you are going to put your business in a very dangerous position. It doesn’t matter how good your idea might be when you run out of money you hit a brick wall. Establish a budget and stick to it.

2. Track and monitor all spending

With a new startup, there are going to expense coming at you from every direction. Hiring a full-time staffer to handle the books, in the beginning, isn’t very budget-friendly, so use accounting software to remain organized.

Not only will this help with cash flow management, but it also makes it much easier when tax time rolls around every year. As you grow and the accounting becomes more complex, you will need to consider hiring a professional.

3. Limit your fixed expenses in the beginning

In the beginning stages of a startup, keeping your expenses low is the key to longevity. You don’t need a huge elaborate office in the heart of your city or fully catered meals three times a day.

Operate thin so you can allocate the majority of your capital to growth, which will enable you to one day implement any perk you want. Too many startups focus on the wrong things — like fancy offices and over-the-top amenities — and forget that generating revenue should be their top priority.

4. Remain optimistic but prepare for the worst

You never know what can happen when starting a business, so it is best to prepare yourself for the worst possible situation. Don’t quit your job and eliminate your main source of income until your business can replace that income.

Keep reserves — both personal and business — in an emergency savings account. You can never be too prepared for bad situations. Sadly, they do happen, often when you least expect them. As an entrepreneur, you are responsible for your retirement, so when you start making money consider things like a Roth IRA and some investments, even small ones. Anything is better than nothing — consider micro-investing opportunities or allocating funds on a monthly basis to an online platform like E*TRADE. I found their fees to be on the low side.

Carl Kruse

5. Every minute of your time has monetary value

Nothing has more monetary value than your time. You only get so much of it every day, so take that into consideration when you are planning your schedule and day-to-day duties. Every second you spend doing something unrelated to your business is time (and money) wasted.

6. Focus on customer acquisition

Without customers, you have no business. The sooner you figure out how to acquire customers and scale, the greater the chances are of your company making it. Once you identify different acquisition channels, work on optimization to lower your costs.

It’s impossible to test every possible acquisition channel at first, both in terms of time required and cost, so focus on the most lucrative opportunities. Once you successfully scale those, you’ll have the financial capability to explore other channels.

7. Make sure you pay yourself

Your hard work and dedication to your business alone isn’t going to put food on your table — you need to pay yourself. While you don’t need to compensate yourself with a big fat salary in the beginning, make sure you pay yourself enough to live.

Give yourself enough to live comfortably and focus on building your business. When you eliminate personal financial stress, it allows you to stay ultra-focused on your business. You can’t eat ramen noodles forever. Give yourself some padding and comfort.

8. Establish financial goals

Rather than just say, “I want to build a multi-million dollar company,” you need to break financial goals down into reachable and measurable ones.

Monthly, weekly or even daily revenue goals allow you to stay on track and make the adjustments necessary for constant growth. You can even set milestones to hit along the way, giving you a lot of smaller goals to constantly hit. Knocking out little goals can give you the confidence needed to keep powering through the entrepreneurial journey.

Originally posted at  https://www.entrepreneur.com

How to Make Your Company More Open and Connected?

From healthcare to government to education, it’s clear that we need a new way forward to make the world truly more open and connected. It sometimes seems like “business as usual” is still making it difficult for people to really feel like they are collaborating and communicating to get things done.

Carl Kruse

When we hear the words “more open and connected,” we typically think of social media and open floor plans.

Sustainability: Work from anywhere

Employees aren’t connecting over ping pong tables, and open floor plans aren’t making teams any more open with one another. Organizations become more open and connected simply through employee happiness. In a world with a population surpassing 7.5 billion people, with approximately 200,000 people moving into the world’s cities every day, building remote teams that work from anywhere is more important than ever in order to sidestep the pollution of dysfunctional daily travel that has spun out of control in virtually every city across America.

Become more sustainable by using messaging apps like Slack and HipChat, and video conferencing, to transform your employees’ home offices into productivity powerhouses.

Inclusion: Listen to everyone

Diversity awareness is on the rise, not only because we have put a human face to it, but also because diverse teams that collaborate closely are proven to be more innovative in the workplace. Today, success in business at all levels is innovation-driven and relationship-driven, not task-driven. A lack of diversity results in hive-mind and group-think, which is ultimately counterproductive.

Opening your doors to inclusion can make your organization more open and connected by considering — and acting on — fresh-faced perspectives from a larger and more diverse pool of minds, experience, and worldviews. Besides bonding over victories, nothing builds trust and connection among teams quite like people feeling that their own unique voices are being heard in a consistent and successful way.

Transparency: Learn from anyone

Today’s business world is flattening out, with a focus on meritocracy, and a distaste for the Industrial Era top-down hierarchy that defined the workplace for the Baby Boomer generation. One of the main reasons why key employees can become disconnected and demotivated is because they feel like they are out of the communications loop, or that communicating is too complex — they may feel a lack of ownership, because they may not feel a sense of transparency about where they are headed and why. Task-wise, miscommunication happen (an enemy of openness) all the time because of a lack of transparency in a number of workflow scenarios.

Carl Kruse believes that any team can quickly and easily come together and collaborate over these concepts. It’s true that social media can over-simplify our communications, and that open floor plans aren’t all that seamless —

if you are looking to create a more open and connected company, think outside the box and try to bake these three ideas into the foundation of your culture.

Originally posted at  https://www.entrepreneur.com

Reasons to Start a Business In Your 20s and 30s

Carl Kruse

Almost all of us think about starting a business at some point. The thought enters our minds when we come up with an ingenious way to stop an ice cream cone from dripping. Or we get a job and realize we want more control over our work. Or we hear about the multi-billionaires of the world and start fantasizing about making our own riches.

Whatever your own motivation, if you’re going to start a business, there’s an ideal time to do it — while you’re still in your 20s and 30s. Why is that?

Long-term potential returns

Imagine for a moment that you’ve built a successful business. It’s profitable and stable and generates a nice six-figure salary for you. Assume that this setup can continue indefinitely and that you enjoy the work. Wouldn’t you want to reap the accompanying rewards for as long as possible?

If so, start your business as early as possible. Yes, it’s an optimistic scenario, but an achievable one, even if it takes you two or three tries to build a successful enterprise. The bottom line is, the more time you can spend as an entrepreneur, the better long-term returns you’re going to see.

Risk tolerance

Let’s face it: Not all startups are going to make it. You need to be realistic, regardless of your age. Starting a business demands a lot of up-front investment, in both time and money, and you’ll bear the significant risk, in both your finances and your current or “backup” career.

Just as happens in the financial markets, the younger you are, the better you’re going to be able to tolerate that risk. You’ll have fewer responsibilities, fewer commitments and much more time to make up any losses you incur. Therefore, starting a business as early as possible mitigates your potential losses.

Energy and motivation

Carl Kruse - Businessman

It takes a lot of work to run a startup, too. Don’t forget that. Though not written in stone, the general rule is that younger professionals have more energy, motivation, and enthusiasm than their elders.

Maybe you’ll be a youthful spirit for the next several decades, but the thing is, you can’t know for sure. What seems like a solid “maybe” idea now may become a “no way” idea in 10 years, and the work you throw yourself into now may be work you’ll avoid at all costs next decade. Every year, your energy and motivation will decline. Take advantage of these personal assets while you have them.

Adaptability

Younger people tend to be more adaptable. Part of the reason is that they’ve had a shorter amount of time to be exposed to the norms and rules of the professional world, and are less committed to those entrenched ideas.

An even larger part of the reason is our unique technological age; we face major technological disruptions on a regular basis, and the only way for companies to survive is to adapt and integrate these new technologies.

In your 20s and 30s, you’ll stand a better chance of recognizing and incorporating these new technologies quickly; and as you get older, the rate of development for these technologies will grow even faster. So, start a business while you’re more nimble, and you’ll be able to brave ever-more volatile waters.

Originally posted at  https://www.entrepreneur.com/

CARL KRUSE DOT ORG REVIEW: ROCKY MOUNTAIN INSTITUTE

Nonprofit Profile:  ROCKY MOUNTAIN INSTITUTE (RMI)

In the U.S.,  oil fuels 94% of the transportation system with cars alone using about 8.8 million barrels of oil at a cost of $2 billion every day.

Carl Kruse

Making cars lighter is the single most effective way to dramatically reduce their fuel consumption and accelerate the electrification of their powertrains, weaning autos off oil entirely. One of the many initiatives the folks over at Rocky Mountain Institute are engaged in is shifting the auto industry from heavy steel to ultra light, ultra strong carbon fiber, enabling mainstream adoption of affordable electric vehicles that burn no oil.

I encourage everyone to look at what the Rocky Mountain Institute is doing in helping achieve a clean, prosperous, secure energy future. I can speak firsthand as to the caliber and excellence of the organization.

Carl Kruse

4 Ways Your Startup Could Save the World

Our country was built on the idea of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs continue to create 63 percent of the new jobs in the United States. In fact, up to 90 percent of jobs globally are created by entrepreneurs. As former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said, “Entrepreneurship is about innovating, breaking down barriers, taking risks and showing that new business models can tackle long-standing problems.” I am bullish because I believe that your companies are going to save the world.

carl-kruse

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were developed in 2015 by world leaders and entrepreneurs, serve as a solid framework for not only the end of poverty but also highlight problem areas for which businesses can find innovative solutions. I think of it as the world’s to do list and a great starting point for entrepreneurs who are looking to make a difference.

So how can you make a difference? Do you have an idea that will help alleviate one of the world’s pain points? Are you working to save the planet through your profitable company? Here are a few ways you can help save the world with Carl Kruse:

Make sure your company has a triple bottom line of people, planet, profit.

There is an opportunity to put purpose into profit. Weigh your profits equally with the impact on people and how your product enhances the planet. And by the way, this helps sales! Consumers pick purpose-driven products over those with no mission.

Collaborate across industries, sectors, and communities.

Traditionally, collaborations for global development have been thought about in terms of public-private partnerships or public-private-NGO partnerships. We now know the most successful and sustainable social good efforts have multiple layers of engagement that include stakeholders, for-profit companies, nonprofit agencies and government all working in tandem toward a goal. Seek out partners in government, find community leaders to be advisers and find overlapping missions with a nonprofit.

Make inclusion a core tenet of your business.

We are in a time where diversity and inclusion are more important than ever. Look at your company and teams to ensure you have various races, genders, and backgrounds working with you. Studies show diverse teams have better performance. Also, think broader — make sure you think about supplier diversity in your subcontracting.

Apply for pitch competitions that emphasize the global good.

Purpose-based pitch competitions are starting to emerge in the startup community, including #PitchwithPurpose, the first to include the potential impact on the SDGs as a judging criterion. These sorts of competitions allow entrepreneurs an opportunity to practice their pitch, exposure for the organization as well as possibly earn money to further their mission and impact global goals.

Originally posted at  https://www.entrepreneur.com/

Whatsoever You Do –Find Your 1,000 True Fans

A friend today asked me for a good book on marketing as if I would know, but I then remembered the impact Kevin Kelly’s essay “1,000 True Fans,” had on me some years ago and suggested to my friend he starts his research reading it.

Carl Kruse

As I myself went back to re-read “1,000 True Fans,” it now struck me as one of the sanest and best approaches to reaching people, e.g., marketing, especially if you are starting out, like my friend says. Kelly’s essay is perhaps the ultimate anti-branding approach to branding.
In looking around the web, I see the essay has found champions such as Tim Ferriss, who has included it in his latest work, “The Tools Of Titans” (another fantastic read for all things life-hacking, to not say life-changing) and dovetails with the spirit of people like Seth Godin who advocate the idea of starting out by marketing to one or two people and taking it from there; a super condensed notion of 1,000 true fans.

I’m not a marketer but I would not start any new venture – business, artistic or otherwise – without becoming real close to 1,000 True Fans.

Keep Doing Goodness,
Carl Kruse

Originally posted at http://carlkruse.org/2017/02/03/find-1000-true-fans/