Author Archives: MartinZwilling

8 Startup Gaps That Will Frustrate Funding Efforts

A while back I received a discouraging note from an entrepreneur with a patent and a medical software application who couldn’t find a dime of investment, and was grousing that seed funding just wasn’t available anymore. After exchanging a couple of notes, I concluded that she was more likely a victim of item #1 on...

How To Make An Ethical Difference In Your Business

Many people seem to have the sense that ethics are spiraling downward in business, yet most business professionals and entrepreneurs I know don’t believe they can make a difference. They don’t realize that if they don’t take an active role in the solution, they really become part of the problem. I do believe that most...

Great Early Stage Startup Behaviors Limit Scaling

Once you are able to achieve some real “traction” with your business (paying customers, revenue stream), it may seem the time to relax a bit, but in fact this is the point where many founders start to flounder. All the skills and instincts you needed to get to this level can actually start working against...

10 Reasons Not To Write A Business Plan First

If you are one of the new age of entrepreneurs who hates the thought of doing a business plan as a first step in starting your new venture you will love this message. More and more professionals agree that a better strategy is to explore and fine tune your assumptions before declaring a specific plan...

7 Keys To Business Success Learned From The Street

As a mentor and advisor to entrepreneurs, I find it’s easy to recognize “street smarts” when I see them, but it’s hard to explain the specifics to someone on the other end of the spectrum, even if they are willing to learn. Some people argue that street smarts are only a natural born skill, but...

How To Qualify As The Next Exceptional Entrepreneur

I tell entrepreneurs that Google was an “exception” to all the investment and startup rules, but I’ve always wondered what it takes to be an exception. Since every business is built by unique individuals, I’m totally convinced that exceptional people are the key to an exceptional company. To check out the Google founders, and because...

10 Common Startup Flaws Leading To An Early Demise

Based on my experience as a mentor and an entrepreneur, if you fail on your first startup, you are about average. That’s not bad, but who wants to be average? Every young entrepreneur knows implicitly that startup success is a long hard road. Statistics show that the failure rate for new startups within the first...

Customer Relationships Now Drive Brand Perceptions

Brands are people first. Customers are people too, so customers tend to take their relationship with a brand personally. Thus it’s not a surprise that people love their favorite smartphone brand, cringe when you mention their cable company, or even hate the mention of a particular bank. Startups, as well as every existing business, need...

Should Work Relationships Ever Be Friendships or More?

We all have to communicate and collaborate with other people at work, but most of us start out instinctively trying to maintain an emotional distance from others in the work environment. In fact, most employee training courses recommend the distance if the work relationship crosses management levels, and most management policies strictly forbid fraternizing with...

10 Tenets For Adapting To A Customer Culture Shift

I’m a very logical guy, so I still fondly remember when new solutions and technologies started trends on the basis of their logical strengths. In today’s world, it seems that emotion, not logic, sparks the new trends that become culture, and drives our devotion or disappointment in new products and brands. How does an entrepreneur...

10 Qualities Every Future Business Needs to Have

The reigning theory in business has long been that “alpha” leaders make the best entrepreneurs. These are aggressive, results-driven achievers who assert control, and insist on a hierarchical organizational model. Yet I am seeing more and more success from “beta” startup cultures, like Zappos and Amazon, where the emphasis is on collaboration, curation, and communication...

8 Startup Team Attributes That Maximize Creativity

An entrepreneur is literally “one who creates a new business.” The best new businesses are ones that have never been done before, so mastering creativity and recognizing creativity are key skills and mind-sets. But how does one recognize and nurture creativity in a person or team? In researching this question, I found a book by...

When A Startup Chooses IPO Most Founders Are Out

Many entrepreneurs still dream of “going public,” making billions of dollars, and playing with the big boys. They don’t realize that this option would likely be their worst nightmare, since it costs millions for the road show, usually dilutes your equity to a tiny fraction, and takes away all your entrepreneurial control. Consider the recent...

How To Begin Using Social Media In Your Business

When my friend’s small business was struggling a while back, I suggested he add some social media marketing initiatives, and his answer was that he was “too busy.” His business has since closed, but his mindset is still out there. According to a study of 1700 CEOs last year, only 60% of companies today use...

The Next Business Stage Requires Aggressive Growth

Early-stage entrepreneurs rightly keep their focus on creating an innovative product or service. After celebrating success at that level, they often find themselves ill-prepared to move to the next stage, for scaling their business into a high-performing enterprise. That’s where I see too much entrepreneur burnout, growth plateaus, and Founders being replaced, to their chagrin...

Proceed With Caution Selecting Startup Investments

Investing in entrepreneurs and startups is a fun but different world from investing in conventional stocks, bonds, and commodities. First of all, it’s more of an investment in people than in a business, since the startup is usually an idea barely half-baked when they need your money. Secondly, the risk is very high, since as...

10 Myths About Creativity Can Derail Your Startup

Every entrepreneur believes in their heart that their startup is more innovative and creative than their competitors. Yet none knows exactly where creativity comes from within, or how to pick and motivate the most creative people for the team. Most believe and follow one or more of the popular myths on business creativity, even though...

7 Myths About Ethics Which Will Hurt Your Business

New entrepreneurs tend to focus only on getting the product right, and assume that the right culture and ethics will come later simply by hiring good people. In fact, they need an early focus on developing their moral compass, as well as setting the right ethical tone. Building an ethical business is more than just...