Pulling the Trigger

Last week, I finally pulled the trigger; I put in my notice with the law firm that I’ve been working for over the past four years.

Starting October 1st, I am going all-in, full-time, on my startup: a legal software company.

Although I’ve been part time at the firm since 2011, I’ve still put a lot of my heart into that company. I’ve been everything from the Salesforce girl, criminal paralegal, courthouse runner, bankruptcy legal assistant, salesperson, blogger and happy hour planner. I’ve spent my early adult years with those guys, learning and growing each day, so it’s hard to believe that in just two weeks, I’ll be completely on my own. But wow, what an awesome feeling to know that I will be working 120% on my own startup.

I know that it’s going to be a complete roller-coaster: climbing slowly to the top, fearful of the drop, but knowing that as I’m falling to the ground, momentum will shoot me back up again. Extreme highs and lows… but I’m ready to pour myself into it.

Photo taken from the cork in my wine bottle last night. Perfect.

Startup Resources: Recruiting and Office Space

The most important task for a startup founder is building the team. “Hire slow, fire fast.” is a great motto; having one bad seed could be detrimental to a startup’s future.

In order to build a rock star team, you have to be willing to give your team members rock star status: good pay, incentives, a happy work environment, company shares, exciting bonus features… whatever it is that you’re offering for the position, you need to consider the value of the personnel.

ON RECRUITING…

  1. If you are in the big startup cities (San Fran, NYC, Chicago) use Startupers.com. What a great site. It is the mecca for entrepreneurs looking for work.
  2. In search of a technical co-founder? Try reading this Quora string for advice on where to look.
  3. Check out this post from Dice on techniques to improve your tech job post.
  4. Here is a nice article on eight things to look for when hiring startup talent.

Once you get your team, I’m sure you’ll be working out of coffeeshops and your buddy’s basement for a couple months but once the time comes to find office space, where will you look?

ON OFFICE SPACE…

1) Coworking in Columbus – There are many great resources from The Metropreneur on coworking spaces around Columbus. Here are a few in the area:

2) Office Space Search – Searching for office space on Craigslist is lame. It’s usually one commercial company that monopolizes that entire section with 100 different ads that lead you in, only to find that they are all clicking you through to the same trashy space on the bad side of town. There has to be a better way, right? Here are a few sites I found that seem to be a better alternative.
Once you do find an office space, and it comes time to buy furniture and decorate, here are some links to help.
  1. Floorplanner.com – This is a great site that makes it easy for you to create floor plans and add furniture.
  2. Tips for Equipping Your Startup’s Office on the Cheap
  3. 55 Ways Young Entrepreneurs Can Cut Expenses
And here are just a few articles I found interesting and informative.
Have you built a rock star team? Where did you find your key players? What about office space?

Startup Resources: Toolboxes and Toys

I can safely say that one thing I am not lacking in entrepreneurism is organization. If you’re planning to pitch, whether it be to angels, VCs or potential co-founders, be sure to cover your bases and anticipate their questions.

Toys:

1) Valuation/Equity Calculator  – This calculator can help determine how much of your revenues will be disbursed between the founders, investors and options within the company.

2) Startup Plays – A cool concept. Online workspaces for building a startup.  How-to’s and step-by-step guides for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs equipped with templates, task lists and expert tips.

3) Startup Tools and Must Haves – I wrote this post a while back and cannot express how helpful Business Model Toolbox and LivePlan have been in my startup journey.

4) Startup Stay – In beta right now, this is the ultimate startup site for the traveling entrepreneur. Find and stay with other like-minded entrepreneurs during your business travels.

Toolboxes:

1) Startup Foundry Toolbox – An amazing resource you need for everything startup related.

2) The Art of the Elevator Pitch – A slideshow tutorial to demonstrate how to craft a beautiful elevator pitch.

3) Startup Tools by Steve Blank – Boom! This site has the works. Everything you ever wanted to know about building an internet business including website setup, SEO tools, CRMs, wireframing tools and so much more!

4) Startup Weekend Resources – Database full of resources from the great Startup Weekend gurus.

5) TechCrunch article about convertible notes – This article explains convertible note seed funding and the advantages.

6) Fundraising 101 Checklist for Entrepreneurs – I love this post because with each number, there is an associated post full of useful information.

7) Tools and Services for a Lean Startup – A comprehensive list of tools and providers to accelerate your business.

8) Books for Startups – Giant list of books for building businesses broken down by strategy and style.

Startup Tools and Must Haves

 

As an entrepreneur, I often face challenges when it comes to deciding on the best business tools for my company. Lately, I’ve started using more practical methods of producing financial reports for investors rather than trying to figure it out with templates and a calculator. These are just a few of my favorite, affordable tools that have helped my business grow starting from the business plan up.

1.) Business Model Toolbox for iPad – $30. What’s great about this app is that you can create a custom business canvas and as you move through each section, not only does the app give you an explanation of the field but it also asks you questions to help you find your answers AND provides examples of what well known companies would answer. All of your thoughts are movable by using little post-its in the section. Once you dig deeper into the financials, the app will help you come up with figures based on the information that you entered.

2.) LivePlan – $20 per month. I’ve read a lot of business books and many tell you that you don’t need to come up with a business plan. If your company isn’t expecting to build extremely high revenues then that’s probably the case but for a business that requires capital, your investors are certainly going to want to see a plan. I’ve tried using other methods and just recently found LivePlan to be exactly what I needed. I love that the formulas are built into the software and there are many examples to help guide you along the way.

3.) Google Apps – Free. I use everything that Google offers: Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Reader,  Analytics, AdWords, Alerts and more. These are great products and they work so cohesively with each other. I have a total of 5 email addresses that are all synced into Gmail and it makes my work flow so much better. If you aren’t using alerts for your business, you need to start now! It’s a greta way to stay on top of industry news and updates. Also, it’ll help you find out who’s talking about your company and what they have to say.

4.) Zoho – Free – $25 per month. I’ve used several CRMs and although I love Salesforce, it is a little pricey. Zoho is very affordable and offers many things that Salesforce does such as scheduling mass emails for marketing, setting up templates, tracking the leads through the sales process and connecting with Google Apps.

5.) RingCentral – $10 per month. RingCentral is where I house my 800 number, the e-fax and I am able to add a local line for each of my clients (if needed) for an additional $3 per month. Each number is set up with a separate voice mail or call center rules. My favorite part of RingCentral is the mobile app. I can ring out from my cell phone from any of the business numbers.

6.) IdeaPaint – When I get an office, I am totally painting it with IdeaPaint. It looks like such a creative way to collaborate, brainstorm and interact with your colleagues!

7.) MailChimp: I love mailchimp’s brand. They offer great resources and advice on email marketing and you can add up to 2,000 subscribers to your newsletter list on the free account. It’s a great way to build and track your email marketing campaign.

8.) Dropbox, Basecamp, Square, Hootsuite… These are some of the other tools I use for business on a daily basis. Square offers free credit card processing (with a low processing fee), Dropbox allows you to share documents seamlessly, Basecamp is a great project management tool and Hootsuite is my favorite social media manager!

What are your favorite business tools? 

Morning Happiness Techniques

Wake up with a smile and improve your attitude! Here are a few of my happiness techniques each morning that I do in order to have a more fulfilling and enjoyable day.

  1. Listen to music while getting ready – Turning on a little Norah Jones or even NPR helps me tune out the anticipatory stress of work and focus on a fresh start.
  2. Open the windows – Birds chirping, cool breeze, sunshine beams – the signs of a perfect day.
  3. Stimulate your mind – Take 30 minutes to sit down and do something you really enjoy first thing in the morning whether it’s reading a magazine, watching the news or browsing your favorite blogs on your iPad.
  4. NO Rushing – Wake up a little earlier. Make time for breakfast. Stop rushing. It truly will make a difference.
  5. Morning miles – Some of my best days start out with a refreshing jog in the morning fog.
  6. Think of 5 adjectives that you want to feel and strive to be that way throughout the day. Some of my favorites: innovative, cheerful, fortunate, charming, creative.

Life can be full of I don’t want to’s and mundane routines. If you don’t love something in your life, change it. There are too many other opportunities and exciting adventures out there waiting for you. You just need to have the right attitude about yourself and your future.

Do you have any favorite techniques or ideas to start your day off with a smile?