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Below are a list of resources that will help you on your blogging or startup journey. I’ll refer to these items throughout my blog posts – all are tried and tested by moi.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. Everything listed below I have used, recommend & trust.
Thinking of starting a blog but not sure where to start? Worried you might choose the wrong topic? Want that blog to become your day job?
In this interview I caught up with Emilie Wapnik, founder of Puttlike.com, author of Renaissance Business, make your multi-potentiality your day job and owner of the world’s coolest shirt! I’ve known about Emilie for quite a while now and seen how, in just under a year, she started a blog, built a thriving community, quit her day job and now does what she loves full time (blogging, writing and helping others).
Emilie helps new bloggers decide what their blogs should be about (which from my experience is one of the most stressful parts of starting a new blog). Her new book, Renaissance Business, brings you through a step by step process how to decide what your blog should be about, how to make it unique and snazzy & how to grow a thriving community.
I wish her book was out when I started my blog – it would have saved my weeks of stress! It’s exactly what a new blogger needs – no hype, just great advice. Even after reading it now I’m making changes to my blog on the back of it. Thanks Emilie.
In this interview you will learn:
Check it out:
(subject to change and in no particular order)
I shifted uneasily in my chair. I was sitting on my own, too soon for another Latte I thought. I looked out the window, watching the meat packers struggle with their load for the local market. Not much longer now I hoped…
I was there to meet an Entrepreneur who asked me if I’d help him test a demo of their new product.
Although I didn’t really know the guy and my schedule was packed as full as an Irish bar on St Patrick’s day, I’m always keen to spread Entrepreneurial karma. So, I said sure, I could meet for 30 minutes at 11am.
There I was in Starbucks, 11.22am. No sign.
‘Excuse me’ the cute girl beside me asked: Are you here to see an accountant? Nope, seems we’ve both been stood-up.
A minute later he rocks up. Excuses are given. No stress, I say. I’ve only 10 mins now, so let’s rock into it.
So I spend about 15 mins using his demo and giving feedback. It’s a pretty good concept actually. Sure it still needs work, but the guy (and team) are making progress which is the best part.
However, I left Starbucks, unable to shake a negative feeling that I can’t quite put my finger on. Best I can describe it is: taken advantage of, unappreciated and a bit used.
Remember the last time you met someone that was all take, take, take? You just knew in your gut that they had NO interest in helping you, but rather were just interested in what they can get from you?
I reflected on this feeling later in the afternoon. Why did I feel it? Am I just getting too emotional in my old age?
Later that afternoon I got an email. I thought: fair play at least he’s following up with heartfelt thanks
Until I opened it and saw:
A thank you, with more requests. Man….this guy is All Take, Take, Take. I completed the survey but it’s the last thing I’ll ever do for him.
As entrepreneurs we often have to rely on people people’s goodwill and kindness to help us.
Don’t take this shit for granted!
If someone helps you out – be really appreciative of it! You don’t need to buy them dinner or bake them cookies, but be kind and considerate. Ask them how the important things in their lives are doing; at least pretend to be interested when they tell you. Trust me; this will get you a long way.
Being Take, Take, Take on the other hand is completely the antithesis of what creates brand advocates and supporters!!
I can’t be too hard on this entrepreneur as I’ve been guilty of this same sin in the past too. I’ve left people waiting, not been as appreciative as I should be, and not helped people at their time of need.
We entrepreneurs are typically single minded, driven and focussed – but if this single mindedness gives us blind spots that upset those around us it will stop us reaching our goals.
Ultimately: Not appreciating people who give up their free time to help our cause.
If people help you – repay them! (Not financially) Here are some suggestions how:
In short: Just be thoughtful and think of the other person’s needs, not just your own.
They’ll be much more likely to help you again and tell their friends about your great product that way.
The world will be a better place (and Starbucks a little emptier)
How do you use Setbacks to fuel your future success? How do you focus enough to build multiple streams of income? How do you get successful people to coach you?
In this interview I caught up with Carrie Wilkerson, author of the Barefoot Executive and mentor to over 100,000 successful entrepreneurs. Carrie’s got a really inspirational story – she overcame $100,000+ of debt, battled depression and weight problems to launch her first business which became hugely successful.
In this interview you will learn:
What’s better than discovering a great new book? What about if that book is free?
I’m a big fan of reading inspirational books – I’m also a great fan of free. So the two combined is bound to be a match made in heaven!
That’s why I’ve compiled a list of my 10 top eBooks for entrepreneurs and startups. The topics range from marketing to productivity to web development and all I have read and learnt a great deal from. There’s bound to be something here for you.
When I started out I looked to free eBooks to get a brief insight into many different topic areas, to see which resonated with me. Admittedly there’s some ‘forgetable’ eBooks out there, but also some gems. Hopefully this post will help you find some of these gems.
Yes, did you hear? – they’re all free. So go get ’em!
Extra tips: Got an iPad or Kindle yet? Ebook are made for them! Just download and read on the sofa like any book. I use Goodreader App (free) to read mine
Did you know this is the most read eBook of all time? How this guy gives away such an amazing book for free is just testament to his brilliance. Highly recommended if you’re new to Seth or a Seth veteran!
Read it to: Learn how to unleash a ‘virus’ like idea onto the market
Getting Real by 37 Signals
If you’re thinking of building anything web based you need to read this. By the authors of one of my favourite books, Rework, and creators of game changing web products like Basecamp. In short: they know their stuff.
Read it to: Discover the smarter, faster, cheaper way to build a web app
If you don’t know about Pat’s awesome Smart Passive Income blog by now, you really should. His free eBook tells you all you need to know to writing your first eBook (let me know when you do)
Read it to: Learn how to write your first eBook
Need to Know by Paul Myers
Great overview how to do business online, properly. No big hype like you normally get in these online business books and written in a very down to earth way. I read this a couple of times when I was just starting out and it really helped me. Less relevant if you’re already a seasoned pro.
Read it to: Get insights if you’re thinking of launching a blog or a web business
Probably the best productivity book out there (along with David Allen’s GTD), I use the techniques in this book every day. A great read on its own, or as a next step to David Allen’s book. Want to learn more about how to become more productive? Read my post on 10 Productivity Tips Every Entrepreneur Should Know
Read it to: Become more focussed, more productive and get more done
Chris Guilleabeau is an inspirational guy with a great story – travelling to every country in the world (currently 159 out of 193) while creating a huge community of people who don’t want to ‘conform’ to society norms.
Read it to: Get inspired, get ideas and plan your own world domination
Leo’s Zen habits blog is legendary – his mantra of minimising your life has created a movement. This book focus shares a lot of his core learnings about how to become more Zen in your busy work life.
Read it to: Declutter your life, feel more satisfied
Viral Copy by Brian Clark
If you write anything on the internet, the aim of the game is for it to go ‘viral’. Brian Clark of Copyblogger shares his top practical tips on how to write viral copy.
Read it to: Get your blog posts shared more often
We all know how much more entertaining it is to listen to a story than dry facts. What if we could use stories to inspire others and create change? This insightful eBook introduces digital storytelling and how we can use it.
Read it to: Learn how to inspire and lead through storytelling
Viral marketing is one of those funny things – everyone wants to do it but few know how. If anyone does, David Meerman Scott author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR does. The fact that this eBook has been downloaded over 1 million times speaks for itself.
Read it to: Learn how to get your ideas go viral!
Would you like to have more traffic going to your website? Would you like more people visiting your site and seeing your great content?
In this interview I caught up with Alex and Adam from FDC Studio, who speciailise in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and discussed how we can get more traffic to our website.
In this interview you will learn
Links discussed in this interview:
SEOMoz Free Trial (affiliate link)
SEO Book (affiliate link)
Think you can launch a business in 54 hours?
This weekend I had the opportunity to go to my first Startup Weekend event: Startup Weekend London 2011. Wow, was it fun.
In this post I’ll share my experience with Startup Weekend London, my team’s story, and some tips for Startup Weekend success.
For those who aren’t familiar with Startup Weekend, the concept is pretty simple: Get 300 ambitious entrepreneurs into a room and give them 54 hours to launch a business – you go from idea on Friday to presenting your idea to judges on Sunday (with working demos/websites expected as the norm). Easy! But this is no academic exercise – a host of successful companies began at Startup Weekends, so get it right and life as you know it can be very different on Monday.
The first evening is located in Greenwich,Londonat the suitably futuristic and inspiring Ravensbourne College, near the Millennium Dome inLondon. After some bonding over pizza and beer (the entrepreneurial aphrodisiac) things get started.
First up is selecting ideas and teams. There are 300 entrepreneurs in the room and before the end of the evening we’ll have selected ideas and got new team mates. The feeling of anticipation is electric as things kick off, with almost every mind in the room aware what could happen if they pick the right idea and the right team.
Entrepreneurs have 1 minute to pitch their idea to the crowd – with the hope it will attract a team able to make it happen. 64 out of 300 entrepreneurs pitched. I was one of them.
I pitched ideas that had been rolling around my head – to create a way to record conversations in Google+ Hangouts (a bit like the way I do for my interviews in Skype). My Friday night Pitch:
After all the pitches, people vote and the most popular dozen or so are brought up on stage and the rest choose which idea want to join. This is a frenzy! People grabbing talent to their teams – it was apparent that developers and (especially) designers were in demand.
Although I got some GREAT people interested in my idea, unfortunately I felt we didn’t have developers to make something real – so had to make the decision to jump ship to another team
Luckily I had been speaking to some great guys Gabriel, Terry and James who had a team based on the idea of a creating a ‘revolutionary’ interior deco website type thing. Well truth is, I didn’t fully understand the idea, despite Gabriel’s’ best attempts to explain. I felt a bit dumb for not understanding, so I pretended I did. Something I did realise however was that the guys were really really smart & kick-ass web/developing/UX’ers so that was good enough for me. The startup term is ‘backing the team not the idea’. So I did that. Oh and Vlad joined the team too.
Day 2 – Saturday
We kicked off, what was to be an eventful day, at a new venue – the fabulous Clerkenwell workshops. Less than 36 hours left to plan, design and build a world dominating business. The pressure was on.
The first thing to happen was a bit of an eyebrow raiser. After a series of short bun fights, about an hour into our first team meeting, our last minute team recruit, Vlad, got the hump and decided to leave team. Ah the joys.
So the original four team members remained and given the fact that were instantly much more productive, and we all got on like a house on fire for the rest of the weekend, I guess he wasn’t missed too badly.
We followed the Lean startup process as a way to give our idea-generation and validation some structure, and by midday we were all pretty convinced that world domination was just a formality (I do believe we had a conversation about what investment amounts we’d accept, while eating lunch – ahhhhh it’s healthy to dream).
Afternoon Startup Weekend mentors came in and ripped our ideas to shreds (in a constructive way) and when the workspace closed, we retired to a fantastic café in Camden, owned by the wife of one of the team, to put the pieces back together over a healthy mix of Fosters and curry.
Day 3 – Final day.
We had about 6 hours to finalise our plan, mock up our demo and create a match winning presentation.
Over the weekend our idea had evolved from an inspirational interior design online magazine to, well an inspirational interior design online magazine with a twist!
Our idea: Decomio was going to revolutionise the way people shop for furniture online, by allowing house proud homeowners to upload pictures of their funky pads, then tag (like you do on Facebook) your funky furniture. People can browse through all the cool pictures and if they like something they see – they can click the picture and buy it (a scientific process we called ‘wow, click, buy!’ ). We earn an affiliate fee; the homeowner gets a cut and the site user gets a funky piece of furniture. Everyone’s a winner!! We figured that it rode on the wave of Airbnb.com allowing people to profit from their homes.
This is what our Decomio.com demo looked like:
The 52 hours were finished. Time was up. Time to pitch:
The main presenting hall packed with expectant entrepreneurs, a total of 30 teams pitching their ideas. The format: 4 minutes pitch, 6 minutes questions from judges for each team. It was going to be a long, fun night.
As you might expect there was a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly. Presentations that stood out for me included: Crowdwrite, Mebetyoubet.com, Popup deals and the ‘Hot or Not’ for fusion trends (who I forget the name of) stood out for me.
And ours of course. Decomio.com Startup Weekend Presentation:
Alas, not Decomio.com. Although we felt our presentation was strong, it wasn’t to be. The winners were all great ideas and presentations. Well done everyone!
We all left exhausted, drained but delighted. Yeah we didn’t win but we had one hell of a time. Our decomio landing page is up – why not pop by?
So after experiencing my first Startup Weekend, here’s what you can expect to get from a Startup Weekend:
Well, quite frankly, no. I honestly can’t think of any. The whole event was amazingly well run, especially given the number of attendees (over 300). Even the food was top notch for the whole weekend (something close to my heart)
Two out of the three final winners had already launched before the event (the overall winners have been going for 10 months now), which does make it a little bit of an uneven playing field for teams that form for the first time on Friday. That said, it definitely adds to the event having these more established teams at Startup Weekend so not sure what the answer is. Perhaps separate prizes for new and established? Not sure, and quite frankly I don’t care. It was great and I can’t wait till the next one
I definitely learnt a lot this weekend so here’s some tips:
About Startup Weekend:
It’s 5am, the cockerels next door have been cock-a-doodling for half an hour now. I lay awake. My legs are throbbing like someone snook into my room overnight and tried to saw my hamstrings. And the gash on my left foot won’t get much more time to heal.
Sleep = recovery, and I need more of it.
Only in Thailand would you be allowed to keep cockerels in the middle of a city I cursed to myself as I roll over to desperately try get a few more minutes sleep.
*Beep, Beep, Beep*
It’s 6am. It’s time. A 10KM uphill run rolled by 7 hours of intense body combat.
This is my holiday.
Earlier this year, while travelling in Asia, I spent a week in Chang Mai, north Thailandat the Lanna Muay Thai Boxing camp.
It was a gruelling experience. You train twice a day (6am-10am and 4pm – 7pm), every day and you’re pushed to the limit physically, mentally and emotionally.
I loved it.
The head sensei is called Andy, a truly inspirational guy who spent a lot of time teaching me the fundamentals of Muay Thai (similar to kickboxing) Andy’s calmness strikes you as you meet him, but he can knock you down with a kick to the head before you get time to blink (believe me, I know).
Andy is a Classic Mentor, he says:
I get more satisfaction teaching people who will never get in the ring to fight. Changing peoples’ lives, changing their mindset, telling them they can actually achieve this stuff.
As I trained and learned from Andy and his team, I experienced the self discipline required to train Muay Thai: Getting up every morning and coming back for more every afternoon, I soon noticed the similarities between Andy’s teachings and what we experience as entrepreneurs.
(I also learned that I’m about as flexible as a plank of wood and you should never, ever, drop your guard)
Before I left Chang Mai, Andy shared with me his philosophies on what it takes to be a success, self confidence, how to spot a bullshitter and his no 1 essential ingredient to winning.
When reading the below, simply substitute ‘fighter’ for ‘entrepreneur’, and ‘fight’ for ‘startup’ to see how it all applies to an entrepreneur
Andy: ‘It’s not easy but if you persevere at it you’ll get better. And you have to do a lot of work on your own. You can’t wait all the time for people to come and tell you what to do. You have to be able to do it. Again, this applies in your everyday life.
Nobody’s gonna take your hand and tell you what to do and work every day. It’s up to you to go and do it.’
Andy: ‘The quickest way to say if the person is speaking the truth is that get them on pads.
I get people to come here all the time and tell me, “Oh Yeah! I fucked this and I’ve done that.” One minute on the pads and you tell me if you are telling the truth or not. So you can’t lie about yourself.
We had one guy here recently, he’s an American guy, and he was terrible. – “Oh, I’ve done this I’ve done that.” Take one look at him, not even on the pads, just sitting there on his bags. There’s no way this guy ever had a fight, let alone 50 of them’.
Andy: ‘You have to work hard if you want to be a fighter. You have to train hard and you have to do it every day. No one’s going to chase you to come and train.
So you have to have a good work ethic to be a successful fighter. But then you have to have a good work ethic to be successful at anything’.
Andy: ‘The first thing you’ll learn from a fight is your own heart, whether you actually want to do this or not. I get a lot of tough guys saying, “Come on! Oh yeah! I’m a street fighter.” They get in the ring and suddenly there’s a person opposite them who is trying to do the exact same thing his trying to do. And they change. They don’t have the heart to fight.
You’re choosing to get into that ring. And when you choose to get in that ring, you got to face up against somebody else and actually go and try to fight them and they try to do the same thing to you, it’s a different ball game.
So, you learn about yourself whether you really want to do this or not. Okay? Not everybody is meant to be a fighter. Not everybody can fight. Everybody must fight in order to be good at it. So that’s the first thing you need to learn about yourself’.
Andy: ‘It doesn’t matter how much I tell you “you have to train hard, you have to run…” It doesn’t matter. Until you have your first fight, you won’t believe me. Nobody believes me, until they have their first fight. Once they have their first fight I guarantee you they come back and sit down and they go, “You’re right! I need to get more…” Everybody does. No exceptions.’
Andy: ‘Some of my best results have been with people who you never ever expect to get in the ring. I had one English guy come here and he was the mildest meekest guy in the world. Always the quiet little mouse in the corner. He looked like this and after 6 weeks – “Thank you very much I had a really good time. I feel very confident. I might even try and fight next time I come. ” It’s happened a lot with people.’
Andy: ‘Self confidence comes through fitness through strength of the body. If you’re physically fit you’ll have self confidence in anything you want to get in life. You can get this from any kind of training.
But I think the one thing about doing a martial art or like this here, a fighting artist. It’s a pretty extreme sport. And it is extreme in one way that none other so-called “extreme sports” are, and having the fact that you are taking on another human being. Jump out an airplane or off a mountain or go up a mountain, that’s another different thing. You’re taking on nature. Taking on yourself. But when you get in that ring you no longer take on something, you take it on another person.’
‘It all ties in together. Everything that you have to do to train to fight, the time put in, the dedication, the perseverance, the good work ethic, patience. It’s all applicable in your ordinary life, outside the training here and outside of boxing and the fight. It’s all applicable; it will all help you just like it does in fighting help you in your ordinary life.’
Andy: ‘Consistency. That’s it. If you want it you must go do it. You must not do it for any other reason than you want to do it. If you really want to do it then just be consistent. That’s the only way you’re going to improve and get better. And there is no shortcut.
In fact, going a little bit slow to begin with is probably a shortcut – a quicker way to get there. Because everybody jumps in 2 feet first and gets hurt injury get time off and gets discourage. You’ve got to enjoy what you do. You got to take your time at it. You got to be patient at it. But be consistent.
Some people will come here, train in a month, and look like they’ve been here for 8 months and some people come here 8 months and look like they’ve only been here a month. But you know everybody gets there. Everyone gets there in the end.
There is no simple answer other than be consistent.
Do it every day and take time. Be patient. If you want to get an idea of what I’m talking about, there’s a small book it’s called ‘Mastery’ by George Leonard.
Google it you’ll find it.’
Thanks to Andy and his team for one of the most rewarding weeks of my life. You can contact the Lanna Muay Thai boxing campy by visiting their site: http://www.lannamuaythai.com/
If you like a challenge, I highly recommend it.
Any thoughts? Please share them in the comments below