Join me June 2 at the Lansing Regional Chamber for the Business Education Series – Social Media Panel

Join me June 2 at the Lansing Regional Chamber for the Business Education Series – Social Media Panel

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I am thrilled to announce I will be one of three speakers featured on a Social Media panel for the June Business Education Series by the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce. If you’re in Greater Lansing, come out Tuesday, June 2 8-9:30 and there will be light breakfast, which is a plus! Click here to register.

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What does the future of social media look like for small and medium size businesses? How can you manage Facebook, Twitter, and other social media and still have time to run the business? What about Pinterest, Tumblr, or Instagram? Get advice from our panel of social media experts who will share tips and strategies about how to find new customers and generate more sales using Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. Confirmed presenters include Julie Holton, Director of Marketing, Fraser Trebilcock, Kate Snyder, APR, principal strategist and owner, Piper & Gold Public Relations and Courtney Maki, founder, Glow Social Media.
10 Rules for a Great Startup Idea – Kevin Siskar

10 Rules for a Great Startup Idea – Kevin Siskar

Maki Lane:

I believe everyone should start a business in their lifetime. Whether selling lemonade in the driveway at 6 years old or making handmade greeting cards at 60, it’s an opportunity everyone should experience. So these 10 rules are for anyone who’s ready to take that first step.

My favorite rule is number 10, “Share your idea”. I often hear one of the two following concerns from apprehensive entrepreneurs, “I don’t want to jinx it” and “I don’t want someone to steal my idea”. First, I’m a strong believer of speaking things into existence, you never know how the person you tell can help you move forward! Second, unless you just invented the next Facebook and have a set of twins at your job snooping around you computer, it’s highly unlikely.

So read the rules and get started! You never know where your business will take you unless you start it!

Originally posted on ShareMe:

Someday, I’ll start a business. Someday…
Here’s a summary of Kevin Siskar’s Article on 10 Rules for a Great Startup Idea which I strongly agree.

Link to Original Article on Huffington Post

1. You are a Passionate About It
…As Elon Musk famously said, “Being an entrepreneur is like eating glass and staring into the abyss of death.” If you don’t have the requisite passion, your chances of seeing a project through are minimal…
2. It’s Simple
…All the great businesses of our time have started with an incredibly simple idea, and then expanded upon that. If you can start by solving one problem, with one product, for one customer, you will be sufficiently focused and can have a great foundation for success…
3. One Revenue Stream
…In the early stage, you need to be laser-focused on one revenue stream, and your idea needs to have a clear, singular revenue…

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Summer is coming, and that means… Internship Opportunities! Graphic Design Summer Internship – Glow Social Media

Summer is coming, and that means… Internship Opportunities! Graphic Design Summer Internship – Glow Social Media

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Summer is coming, and that means… Internship Opportunities!

As a graduate of Florida A&M University’s School of Business & Industry, summer did not mean lounging at the beach or by the pool drinking Corona Light. It meant putting on a suit and going to work from 9-5. Luckily, an internship with Glow Social Media won’t involve a suit, and if you have a good internet connection you can still get that beach time in.

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Visit my firm’s latest internship posting for a Graphic Design Summer Intern, if your or someone you know fits the bill.

Would you say that to a man?: The tiny cuts of workplace sexism. 

Would you say that to a man?: The tiny cuts of workplace sexism. 

Maki Lane:

After a brief stint in corporate America and having just passed the two year mark as Founder of my first startup, I’m aware of sexism in the workplace more than ever.

  

 With the equal pay conversations coming to a head, I think it’s important to continue educating career-women, especially those 20-something’s entering the workforce for the first time.

When I first entered the work world I experienced most of the infractions cited in the following article but brushed many, if not all of them off, especially having been raised in a gender-specific society opposed to now, where Microsoft writes letters to young girls telling them to continue their path toward tech and commercials encourage them to live life “like a girl”, and not in the context which the media told me in the late 80s and 90s.

 I appreciate reminders to be aware of these minor infractions, or tiny cuts, but also am acutely aware that to change requires a new way of educating our young people about gender equality. To create collaborative teams from grade school on will have a great impact on the workplaces of the future. Leaning in is great, as long as there’s no one behind you pushing you over the edge, male or female.

Originally posted on Of Means and Ends:

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“I’m not going to apply for the job because I want you to get it.”

I was in my mid-20s and a promotion opened up in my division at work and I planned to apply for it. Given the hierarchy in our department, one male coworker and I were the natural ones to consider for the job. When the topic came up, that’s what he said to me: “I’m not going to apply for the job because I want you to get it.” I don’t remember what I said in the moment, but I remember quietly seething and thinking, “Don’t do me any favors. Go ahead and apply and I’ll still get it.”

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The Surprising Activity That Helps You Reach Your Goals

The Surprising Activity That Helps You Reach Your Goals

Hint: It’s easier thank you think!

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I have the pleasure of working with business coach Tom Hamp, with AdviCoach of Mid-Michigan. Over the past few weeks he has helped me get organized – set and reach goals to grow my business and as an entrepreneur. Without saying explicitly, he has created a series of habits for me – standing Coaching Sessions, goal setting, list making, and lead follow up. The following Advi-Coach article featured on Forbes recommends just that – forming habits is the key to reaching your goals. Specifically, committing to working on your goals in small parts every day for a set period of time.

The most interesting take-away from the study was the following:

Psychologist Wendy Wood and colleagues find that when people turn actions into habits, there is an emotional benefit: people feel less stressed.  One of the problems with leaving an item on a to-do list is that by being on your list each time, it grows in mind share (and potentially, in the stress of not having completed it).

Read the full article here and let us know your thoughts!

In the mean time, here’s Tom’s strategic planning seminar on Driving Change.

Finding a Startup CEO Role

Finding a Startup CEO Role

Maki Lane:

There are plenty of opportunities for CEO roles at startups, but as David Cummings speaks about in his blog, “Finding a Startup CEO Role”. He focuses a lot of his bullets on networking, with Venture Capitalists, Angel Investors and LinkedIn connections. My personal bullet would involve connecting with a business coach or consultant to connect with their clients.

David and I agree on one main premise, focus on traditional networking and focus on growing existing relationships.

Originally posted on David Cummings on Startups:

In the last month I’ve had two successful tech executives reach out to me looking for help to find a role as the CEO of an early or growth stage startup. Both executives have strong track records and see the CEO role as the next step in their career progression. While there aren’t a number of publicly available open positions for this role (have you ever seen a careers section of a company’s site list CEO as a position available?), they do exist and require extra work to find.

Here are a few thoughts on finding a startup CEO role:

  • Network with local VCs as they often know of opportunities
  • Meet with local angel investors and ask about their portfolio companies
  • Talk to local attorneys and accountants that have a focus on tech startups
  • Ping connections on LinkedIn and ask for introductions
  • Reach out to head hunters and executive recruiters…

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COULD LANSING BECOME A STARTUP CITY? 50 STARTUPS LATER, WE THINK SO.

COULD LANSING BECOME A STARTUP CITY? 50 STARTUPS LATER, WE THINK SO.

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I met Jesse Flores, an former ATLien like me, last year at a Lansing Regional Chamber strategy session. We’d “met” on twitter a few weeks prior so it was fun to connect in person. I am really excited about the work he’s doing with StartUp Lansing and look forward to what he will bring Greater Lansing in 2015. And as the owner of a two year old business, Glow Social Media, I’m continuing to grow in this community as well. 

In a recent post, Jesse talks about the 50 start ups he’s featured on his website, the various incubators around town, as well as launch programs like The Hatch. Here’s more from Jesse:

An important milestone was reached last week and I completely missed it. Two weeks ago, with our feature of Ventatti, we featured our 50th Startup Spotlight.

This is really exciting. It’s also important for a variety of reasons.

First, it means StartupLansing has been able to go strong for about a year. When we launched this, I wasn’t sure we’d last a few months. Yet, here we are. In fact, we’ve seen our readership and traffic grow quite a bit each month.

Much more importantly, it means that we’ve been able to find – and feature – a different startup for 50 weeks straight. That’s 50 startups. From Lansing.

And it’s not all.

Startups of All Shapes and Sizes

These 50 startups are each of them unique. They are in different industries ranging from fashion to tech to healthcare. They are at various stages of growth. But, they are doing their part to grow their businesses which, over time, will grow and diversify our local economy.

In fact, some of the startups are doing quite well. Like Signing Saavy, which has millions of users, Health Numeric, who’s traction and growth is starting to accelerate, and Courseweaver, who just raised a $600k round.

Many are startups, founded by students out of the Hatch. Startups like Tech Twurl, who are generating revenue and recently competed in a nationally selective competition at South By Southwest. Or OneSound, who is competing at Greenlight next week. There’s even a startup that lets you run around in a giant bubble.

But, contrary to perception, not all startups are being founded by students. People in the community are starting companies, too.

We have makers and fashion startups and other sorts of small businesses. Some, like Poochie Bowl, cross categories – they have a retail location in Meridian Mall, where they not only sell their flagship product, but encourage children to tinker and learn to build their own products through their Mini Maker space.

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At The Runway, Lansing’s newest incubator, several fashion companies are starting to take off. Companies that focus on things like men’s accessories, baby clothes, or clothes that allow you to look nice and be comfortable, without worrying about being too hot or sweating (Lawrence Hunt & Our Own).

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Many are in the seminal stages of growth. This is especially the case for  many of the companies we feature that are born out of The Hatching, a pitch competition event that occurs on the last Thursday of every month (the next one is this Thursday at Dublin Square, if you’d like to check it out). But every company starts somewhere.

And some have failed. But, that’s to be expected. It’s a healthy sign that people are trying to move the needle forward.

The crazy thing is that these 50 companies are just a drop in the bucket of a broader entrepreneurial ecosystem. See, we operate on a shoestring budget (our operating budget is entirely funded by revenue from my software company) and only have the bandwidth to feature just one startup or entrepreneurial project a year. I know there are dozens we’re missing.

Maybe more.

For instance, Spartan Innovations, the arm of Michigan State University charged with taking university intellectual property to market, is working daily to find – and launch – companies that could potentially transform their industry and the region. Seasoned founders, like Jason Schreiber (who founded – and sold – Arialink, currently launching Lightspeed) are launching other companies, too.

It’s an exciting time to be working on a business here.

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People Are Trying

When I moved here nearly eighteen months ago (how time flies!), I was skeptical that I’d find any real, interesting startup activity. I had braced myself to be bored and planned to spend time hopping back and forth from here to Atlanta as much as possible. Atlanta, after all, is becoming a hot city for startups (though, it’s not really known as one…sound familiar?).

How wrong I’ve been.

It’s small, but the entrepreneurial ecosystem here is growing. For instance, one of the indicators of a healthy startup community is the frequency of consistent, well-attended, relevant events. Last year, we could rely on the Hatching as that event. In some months, it felt like the only event, as we struggled to figure out what to put on our calendar and feature in the newsletter.

Now, we have the Hatching, Startup Grind, Tech Tuesday, and Innovate State, for starters, that happen every month (or, each week, in the case of Tech Tuesday). We’ve had twoStartupWeekendsone 3 Day Startup, and a Maker Week in the past six months or so. And take a look at our event calendar; on many weeks there is more than one event targeted at the startup community.

That’s amazing.

The point is that people here are trying. The startup community is growing. People are pursuing their ideas and pursuing their dreams. And that’s what it takes.

That’s how we transform a culture, it’s how we transform an economy.

Still a Ways to Go

Despite what progress has been made this past year, there is still a ways to go. We still need support systems to help startups excel beyond the idea stage and into growth. We don’t have many startups yet that have started to experience the kind of aggressive growth that attracts outside capital. Some, but not many.

For example, a private accelerator, on the order of something like TechStars, would be a huge asset. I personally would love to see a relationship established with Flashpoint, the accelerator I participated in while in Atlanta. They have a close relationship with Georgia Tech and I think the model might translate nicely to MSU. More importantly, Flashpoint has taken several companies to market, many of whom have raised money from the likes of Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, Union Square Ventures, or Google Ventures.

You know, small, local firms.

We need more, experienced founders helping less-experienced founders master important early-stage problems like customer acquisition, growth models, and building business infrastructure. Experienced founders are the only ones that can help new entrepreneurs solve these problems, because they’re hard and not obvious to people without that experience.

(As an aside, this is why I encourage every founder who is serious about growth to attend Startup Grind – Dave Smith is bringing in some top-notch speakers and you can learn a lot).

Local capital is still risk-averse and largely sitting on the sidelines, reluctant to invest in people’s ideas. I don’t blame them – the job of the investor is to fund growth, not prototypes. Still, for a community like this, in a time like this, there needs to be some mechanism for serious early-stage founders to gain access to seed capital beyond the “friends, family, and fools” round.

All said, I’m really encouraged by the activity over the past year and you should be too. The startup community is picking up momentum and it’s only a matter of time until one of our companies is listed in Forbes (Some are already in Inc.).

Bob Tresize, the CEO of LEAP wrote an excellent article for the LSJ a few months ago bidding farewell to ‘the old Lansing.’ In it, he shared how much momentum is building in the region. He lauded the various assets that the region has in its favor which, when well harnessed, will help to build a 21st century economy.

To that end, these 50 founders are doing their part to grow their businesses and enhance the region. Will you join them?

Who Are These Startups?

Want to learn more about the entrepreneurs trying to grow their businesses in Lansing? Check out our Startup Spotlights!

Jesse’s original article lives here.