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8 Excellent Web Resources for Startups

8 Excellent Web Resources for Startups

startup

    In my role as editor at FreelanceSwitch, something I see a lot is freelancers interested in taking their business a step further – trading in their status as a freelancer and sole trader in order to start a company or firm in their profession. I also personally know of a lot of people who have never been freelancers, but were just recently professionals in the corporate world and are now looking to run their own businesses because they don’t have a job anymore. Good information and knowledge is vital to improving the success of any endeavor, and here are eight websites that will inform and educate you on the subject of startup companies.

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    1. The Netsetter

    The Netsetter is a fairly new, but very interesting and informative blog aimed at a particular subset of startups with its very own culture, needs and ways of operating – that is, web-based business. The Netsetter is run by Collis Ta’eed, who is a very successful web entrepreneur himself, so you can trust the advice you get from here. Since web-based business is what most of you reading this will be interested in I recommend starting with The Netsetter.

    2. VentureBeat

    VentureBeat is a blog for those who are interested in private business and venture capital. It doesn’t so much teach you how to run a business as it does provide information that might inform your decisions – as the site itself says, VentureBeat’s mission is “to provide insider news and data about the entrepreneurial and venture community that is useful to decision makers.”

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    3. How to Change the World

    How to Change the World is the blog of Guy Kawasaki who is a well-known figure in the online community of entrepreneurs. The blog covers everything from generating buzz for your business and products to what you should and shouldn’t include in your resume.

    4. Men with Pens

    Men with Pens is actually the website of a US & Canadian copy and design business, but their blog is incredibly informative and covers everything from business to marketing and the kind of copy you should be using. What I love most about Men with Pens? It’s one of the few blogs that doesn’t sugarcoat every single post so much that it takes ten times longer to read. (That’s a legitimate concern. This is a productivity blog!)

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    5. Venture Hacks

    Venture Hacks, a blog with the tagline “Advice for entrepreneurs” just in case you weren’t clear on why it made the list, is an interesting read. Unlike most business blogs, it can probably be characterized by a certain amount of brevity and morselization that is still intellectual and useful. It provokes thought rather than filling in all the blanks for you and draws your attention to good information and interesting news.

    6. The Startup Lawyer

    If there’s one type of advice to prize above all others, I think it’s legal advice. I don’t mean to say that legal advice should always dictate your actions because sure, you’ll sometimes fly in its face and do the opposite of what your lawyer told you to, but the knowledge is invaluable. The Startup Lawyer is a blog that combines that most important type of advice with the topic of startups. What could be more useful?

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    7. Independent Street

    Independent Street is a Wall Street Journal blog, yet another case of old media trying to get into new media. This particular blog is, of course, aimed at entrepreneurial types and start-ups. It seems to me that half of everyone on the web has written off traditional media sources, but I think there’s still a lot they have to offer (in fact I think the quality of print journalism is usually much better than what you get online). By reading blogs like this you can be sure not everyone you take advice from thinks Twitter is the key to your marketing plan.

    8. Inc.

    Inc. is an interesting website aimed at small businesses and entrepreneurs. I enjoy it because while many blogs look at the subject from a point-of-view mired in the start-up phase, Inc. provides a more business oriented perspective that it sometimes seems is only adopted by big business. If I had to describe the content, I’d call it “strategic editorial” – it’s not step-by-step practical but it’s useful to get you thinking about where to go next.

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    Last Updated on April 8, 2019

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

    Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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    1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
    2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
    3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
    4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
    5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
    6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
    7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
    8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
    9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
    10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
    11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
    12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
    13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
    14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
    15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
    16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
    17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
    18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
    19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
    20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
    21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
    22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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