Tag Archives: online business

Tanzania is the #CountryoftheWeek – YALI Network

Did you know that some of the world’s oldest human skulls have been found in Tanzania’s Odulvai Gorge, which is also known as the cradle of humankind? But you don’t have to go back 200,000 years to discover other interesting facts about Tanzania, this week’s #CountryoftheWeek. Learn more and get better connected with Tanzania by liking U.S. Embassy Tanzania for the latest news!

Free Online Business Course – Want to start a startup? Get funded by Y Combinator

Want to start a startup? Get funded by Y Combinator.

The Free Online classes are on NOW!  We’re live, everyone!  here is the video for lecture 1! Happy watching!

  • The twitter hashtag for this class is #CS183B

Readings for Thursday are:

Stupid Apps and Changing the World by Sam Altman

Do things that Don’t Scale by Paul Graham

The way to get startup ideas is not to try to think of startup ideas. It’s to look for problems, preferably problems you have yourself.

The very best startup ideas tend to have three things in common: they’re something the founders themselves want, that they themselves can build, and that few others realize are worth doing. Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, Google, and Facebook all began this way.

Problems

Why is it so important to work on a problem you have? Among other things, it ensures the problem really exists. It sounds obvious to say you should only work on problems that exist. And yet by far the most common mistake startups make is to solve problems no one has.

I made it myself. In 1995 I started a company to put art galleries online. But galleries didn’t want to be online. It’s not how the art business works. So why did I spend 6 months working on this stupid idea? Because I didn’t pay attention to users. I invented a model of the world that didn’t correspond to reality, and worked from that. I didn’t notice my model was wrong until I tried to convince users to pay for what we’d built. Even then I took embarrassingly long to catch on. I was attached to my model of the world, and I’d spent a lot of time on the software. They had to want it!

Why do so many founders build things no one wants? Because they begin by trying to think of startup ideas. That m.o. is doubly dangerous: it doesn’t merely yield few good ideas; it yields bad ideas that sound plausible enough to fool you into working on them.

At YC we call these “made-up” or “sitcom” startup ideas. Imagine one of the characters on a TV show was starting a startup. The writers would have to invent something for it to do. But coming up with good startup ideas is hard. It’s not something you can do for the asking. So (unless they got amazingly lucky) the writers would come up with an idea that sounded plausible, but was actually bad.

For example, a social network for pet owners. It doesn’t sound obviously mistaken. Millions of people have pets. Often they care a lot about their pets and spend a lot of money on them. Surely many of these people would like a site where they could talk to other pet owners. Not all of them perhaps, but if just 2 or 3 percent were regular visitors, you could have millions of users. You could serve them targeted offers, and maybe charge for premium features. [1]

The danger of an idea like this is that when you run it by your friends with pets, they don’t say “I would never use this.” They say “Yeah, maybe I could see using something like that.” Even when the startup launches, it will sound plausible to a lot of people. They don’t want to use it themselves, at least not right now, but they could imagine other people wanting it. Sum that reaction across the entire population, and you have zero users.[2]

Well

When a startup launches, there have to be at least some users who really need what they’re making—not just people who could see themselves using it one day, but who want it urgently. Usually this initial group of users is small, for the simple reason that if there were something that large numbers of people urgently needed and that could be built with the amount of effort a startup usually puts into a version one, it would probably already exist. Which means you have to compromise on one dimension: you can either build something a large number of people want a small amount, or something a small number of people want a large amount. Choose the latter. Not all ideas of that type are good startup ideas, but nearly all good startup ideas are of that type.

Imagine a graph whose x axis represents all the people who might want what you’re making and whose y axis represents how much they want it. If you invert the scale on the y axis, you can envision companies as holes. Google is an immense crater: hundreds of millions of people use it, and they need it a lot. A startup just starting out can’t expect to excavate that much volume. So you have two choices about the shape of hole you start with. You can either dig a hole that’s broad but shallow, or one that’s narrow and deep, like a well.

Made-up startup ideas are usually of the first type. Lots of people are mildly interested in a social network for pet owners.

Nearly all good startup ideas are of the second type. Microsoft was a well when they made Altair Basic. There were only a couple thousand Altair owners, but without this software they were programming in machine language. Thirty years later Facebook had the same shape. Their first site was exclusively for Harvard students, of which there are only a few thousand, but those few thousand users wanted it a lot.

When you have an idea for a startup, ask yourself: who wants this right now? Who wants this so much that they’ll use it even when it’s a crappy version one made by a two-person startup they’ve never heard of? If you can’t answer that, the idea is probably bad. [3]

You don’t need the narrowness of the well per se. It’s depth you need; you get narrowness as a byproduct of optimizing for depth (and speed). But you almost always do get it. In practice the link between depth and narrowness is so strong that it’s a good sign when you know that an idea will appeal strongly to a specific group or type of user.

But while demand shaped like a well is almost a necessary condition for a good startup idea, it’s not a sufficient one. If Mark Zuckerberg had built something that could only ever have appealed to Harvard students, it would not have been a good startup idea. Facebook was a good idea because it started with a small market there was a fast path out of. Colleges are similar enough that if you build a facebook that works at Harvard, it will work at any college. So you spread rapidly through all the colleges. Once you have all the college students, you get everyone else simply by letting them in.

Similarly for Microsoft: Basic for the Altair; Basic for other machines; other languages besides Basic; operating systems; applications; IPO.

Self

How do you tell whether there’s a path out of an idea? How do you tell whether something is the germ of a giant company, or just a niche product? Often you can’t. The founders of Airbnb didn’t realize at first how big a market they were tapping. Initially they had a much narrower idea. They were going to let hosts rent out space on their floors during conventions. They didn’t foresee the expansion of this idea; it forced itself upon them gradually. All they knew at first is that they were onto something. That’s probably as much as Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg knew at first.

Occasionally it’s obvious from the beginning when there’s a path out of the initial niche. And sometimes I can see a path that’s not immediately obvious; that’s one of our specialties at YC. But there are limits to how well this can be done, no matter how much experience you have. The most important thing to understand about paths out of the initial idea is the meta-fact that these are hard to see.

So if you can’t predict whether there’s a path out of an idea, how do you choose between ideas? The truth is disappointing but interesting: if you’re the right sort of person, you have the right sort of hunches. If you’re at the leading edge of a field that’s changing fast, when you have a hunch that something is worth doing, you’re more likely to be right.

In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig says:

You want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It’s easy. Make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally.

I’ve wondered about that passage since I read it in high school. I’m not sure how useful his advice is for painting specifically, but it fits this situation well. Empirically, the way to have good startup ideas is to become the sort of person who has them.

Being at the leading edge of a field doesn’t mean you have to be one of the people pushing it forward. You can also be at the leading edge as a user. It was not so much because he was a programmer that Facebook seemed a good idea to Mark Zuckerberg as because he used computers so much. If you’d asked most 40 year olds in 2004 whether they’d like to publish their lives semi-publicly on the Internet, they’d have been horrified at the idea. But Mark already lived online; to him it seemed natural.

Paul Buchheit says that people at the leading edge of a rapidly changing field “live in the future.” Combine that with Pirsig and you get:

Live in the future, then build what’s missing.

That describes the way many if not most of the biggest startups got started. Neither Apple nor Yahoo nor Google nor Facebook were even supposed to be companies at first. They grew out of things their founders built because there seemed a gap in the world.

If you look at the way successful founders have had their ideas, it’s generally the result of some external stimulus hitting a prepared mind. Bill Gates and Paul Allen hear about the Altair and think “I bet we could write a Basic interpreter for it.” Drew Houston realizes he’s forgotten his USB stick and thinks “I really need to make my files live online.” Lots of people heard about the Altair. Lots forgot USB sticks. The reason those stimuli caused those founders to start companies was that their experiences had prepared them to notice the opportunities they represented.

The verb you want to be using with respect to startup ideas is not “think up” but “notice.” At YC we call ideas that grow naturally out of the founders’ own experiences “organic” startup ideas. The most successful startups almost all begin this way.

That may not have been what you wanted to hear. You may have expected recipes for coming up with startup ideas, and instead I’m telling you that the key is to have a mind that’s prepared in the right way. But disappointing though it may be, this is the truth. And it is a recipe of a sort, just one that in the worst case takes a year rather than a weekend.

If you’re not at the leading edge of some rapidly changing field, you can get to one. For example, anyone reasonably smart can probably get to an edge of programming (e.g. building mobile apps) in a year. Since a successful startup will consume at least 3-5 years of your life, a year’s preparation would be a reasonable investment. Especially if you’re also looking for a cofounder. [4]

You don’t have to learn programming to be at the leading edge of a domain that’s changing fast. Other domains change fast. But while learning to hack is not necessary, it is for the forseeable future sufficient. As Marc Andreessen put it, software is eating the world, and this trend has decades left to run.

Knowing how to hack also means that when you have ideas, you’ll be able to implement them. That’s not absolutely necessary (Jeff Bezos couldn’t) but it’s an advantage. It’s a big advantage, when you’re considering an idea like putting a college facebook online, if instead of merely thinking “That’s an interesting idea,” you can think instead “That’s an interesting idea. I’ll try building an initial version tonight.” It’s even better when you’re both a programmer and the target user, because then the cycle of generating new versions and testing them on users can happen inside one head.

Noticing

Once you’re living in the future in some respect, the way to notice startup ideas is to look for things that seem to be missing. If you’re really at the leading edge of a rapidly changing field, there will be things that are obviously missing. What won’t be obvious is that they’re startup ideas. So if you want to find startup ideas, don’t merely turn on the filter “What’s missing?” Also turn off every other filter, particularly “Could this be a big company?” There’s plenty of time to apply that test later. But if you’re thinking about that initially, it may not only filter out lots of good ideas, but also cause you to focus on bad ones.

Most things that are missing will take some time to see. You almost have to trick yourself into seeing the ideas around you.

But you know the ideas are out there. This is not one of those problems where there might not be an answer. It’s impossibly unlikely that this is the exact moment when technological progress stops. You can be sure people are going to build things in the next few years that will make you think “What did I do before x?”

And when these problems get solved, they will probably seem flamingly obvious in retrospect. What you need to do is turn off the filters that usually prevent you from seeing them. The most powerful is simply taking the current state of the world for granted. Even the most radically open-minded of us mostly do that. You couldn’t get from your bed to the front door if you stopped to question everything.

But if you’re looking for startup ideas you can sacrifice some of the efficiency of taking the status quo for granted and start to question things. Why is your inbox overflowing? Because you get a lot of email, or because it’s hard to get email out of your inbox? Why do you get so much email? What problems are people trying to solve by sending you email? Are there better ways to solve them? And why is it hard to get emails out of your inbox? Why do you keep emails around after you’ve read them? Is an inbox the optimal tool for that?

Pay particular attention to things that chafe you. The advantage of taking the status quo for granted is not just that it makes life (locally) more efficient, but also that it makes life more tolerable. If you knew about all the things we’ll get in the next 50 years but don’t have yet, you’d find present day life pretty constraining, just as someone from the present would if they were sent back 50 years in a time machine. When something annoys you, it could be because you’re living in the future.

When you find the right sort of problem, you should probably be able to describe it as obvious, at least to you. When we started Viaweb, all the online stores were built by hand, by web designers making individual HTML pages. It was obvious to us as programmers that these sites would have to be generated by software. [5]

Which means, strangely enough, that coming up with startup ideas is a question of seeing the obvious. That suggests how weird this process is: you’re trying to see things that are obvious, and yet that you hadn’t seen.

Since what you need to do here is loosen up your own mind, it may be best not to make too much of a direct frontal attack on the problem—i.e. to sit down and try to think of ideas. The best plan may be just to keep a background process running, looking for things that seem to be missing. Work on hard problems, driven mainly by curiousity, but have a second self watching over your shoulder, taking note of gaps and anomalies. [6]

Give yourself some time. You have a lot of control over the rate at which you turn yours into a prepared mind, but you have less control over the stimuli that spark ideas when they hit it. If Bill Gates and Paul Allen had constrained themselves to come up with a startup idea in one month, what if they’d chosen a month before the Altair appeared? They probably would have worked on a less promising idea. Drew Houston did work on a less promising idea before Dropbox: an SAT prep startup. But Dropbox was a much better idea, both in the absolute sense and also as a match for his skills. [7]

A good way to trick yourself into noticing ideas is to work on projects that seem like they’d be cool. If you do that, you’ll naturally tend to build things that are missing. It wouldn’t seem as interesting to build something that already existed.

Just as trying to think up startup ideas tends to produce bad ones, working on things that could be dismissed as “toys” often produces good ones. When something is described as a toy, that means it has everything an idea needs except being important. It’s cool; users love it; it just doesn’t matter. But if you’re living in the future and you build something cool that users love, it may matter more than outsiders think. Microcomputers seemed like toys when Apple and Microsoft started working on them. I’m old enough to remember that era; the usual term for people with their own microcomputers was “hobbyists.” BackRub seemed like an inconsequential science project. The Facebook was just a way for undergrads to stalk one another.

At YC we’re excited when we meet startups working on things that we could imagine know-it-alls on forums dismissing as toys. To us that’s positive evidence an idea is good.

If you can afford to take a long view (and arguably you can’t afford not to), you can turn “Live in the future and build what’s missing” into something even better:

Live in the future and build what seems interesting.

School

That’s what I’d advise college students to do, rather than trying to learn about “entrepreneurship.” “Entrepreneurship” is something you learn best by doing it. The examples of the most successful founders make that clear. What you should be spending your time on in college is ratcheting yourself into the future. College is an incomparable opportunity to do that. What a waste to sacrifice an opportunity to solve the hard part of starting a startup—becoming the sort of person who can have organic startup ideas—by spending time learning about the easy part. Especially since you won’t even really learn about it, any more than you’d learn about sex in a class. All you’ll learn is the words for things.

The clash of domains is a particularly fruitful source of ideas. If you know a lot about programming and you start learning about some other field, you’ll probably see problems that software could solve. In fact, you’re doubly likely to find good problems in another domain: (a) the inhabitants of that domain are not as likely as software people to have already solved their problems with software, and (b) since you come into the new domain totally ignorant, you don’t even know what the status quo is to take it for granted.

So if you’re a CS major and you want to start a startup, instead of taking a class on entrepreneurship you’re better off taking a class on, say, genetics. Or better still, go work for a biotech company. CS majors normally get summer jobs at computer hardware or software companies. But if you want to find startup ideas, you might do better to get a summer job in some unrelated field. [8]

Or don’t take any extra classes, and just build things. It’s no coincidence that Microsoft and Facebook both got started in January. At Harvard that is (or was) Reading Period, when students have no classes to attend because they’re supposed to be studying for finals. [9]

But don’t feel like you have to build things that will become startups. That’s premature optimization. Just build things. Preferably with other students. It’s not just the classes that make a university such a good place to crank oneself into the future. You’re also surrounded by other people trying to do the same thing. If you work together with them on projects, you’ll end up producing not just organic ideas, but organic ideas with organic founding teams—and that, empirically, is the best combination.

Beware of research. If an undergrad writes something all his friends start using, it’s quite likely to represent a good startup idea. Whereas a PhD dissertation is extremely unlikely to. For some reason, the more a project has to count as research, the less likely it is to be something that could be turned into a startup. [10] I think the reason is that the subset of ideas that count as research is so narrow that it’s unlikely that a project that satisfied that constraint would also satisfy the orthogonal constraint of solving users’ problems. Whereas when students (or professors) build something as a side-project, they automatically gravitate toward solving users’ problems—perhaps even with an additional energy that comes from being freed from the constraints of research.

Competition

Because a good idea should seem obvious, when you have one you’ll tend to feel that you’re late. Don’t let that deter you. Worrying that you’re late is one of the signs of a good idea. Ten minutes of searching the web will usually settle the question. Even if you find someone else working on the same thing, you’re probably not too late. It’s exceptionally rare for startups to be killed by competitors—so rare that you can almost discount the possibility. So unless you discover a competitor with the sort of lock-in that would prevent users from choosing you, don’t discard the idea.

If you’re uncertain, ask users. The question of whether you’re too late is subsumed by the question of whether anyone urgently needs what you plan to make. If you have something that no competitor does and that some subset of users urgently need, you have a beachhead. [11]

The question then is whether that beachhead is big enough. Or more importantly, who’s in it: if the beachhead consists of people doing something lots more people will be doing in the future, then it’s probably big enough no matter how small it is. For example, if you’re building something differentiated from competitors by the fact that it works on phones, but it only works on the newest phones, that’s probably a big enough beachhead.

Err on the side of doing things where you’ll face competitors. Inexperienced founders usually give competitors more credit than they deserve. Whether you succeed depends far more on you than on your competitors. So better a good idea with competitors than a bad one without.

You don’t need to worry about entering a “crowded market” so long as you have a thesis about what everyone else in it is overlooking. In fact that’s a very promising starting point. Google was that type of idea. Your thesis has to be more precise than “we’re going to make an x that doesn’t suck” though. You have to be able to phrase it in terms of something the incumbents are overlooking. Best of all is when you can say that they didn’t have the courage of their convictions, and that your plan is what they’d have done if they’d followed through on their own insights. Google was that type of idea too. The search engines that preceded them shied away from the most radical implications of what they were doing—particularly that the better a job they did, the faster users would leave.

A crowded market is actually a good sign, because it means both that there’s demand and that none of the existing solutions are good enough. A startup can’t hope to enter a market that’s obviously big and yet in which they have no competitors. So any startup that succeeds is either going to be entering a market with existing competitors, but armed with some secret weapon that will get them all the users (like Google), or entering a market that looks small but which will turn out to be big (like Microsoft). [12]

Filters

There are two more filters you’ll need to turn off if you want to notice startup ideas: the unsexy filter and the schlep filter.

Most programmers wish they could start a startup by just writing some brilliant code, pushing it to a server, and having users pay them lots of money. They’d prefer not to deal with tedious problems or get involved in messy ways with the real world. Which is a reasonable preference, because such things slow you down. But this preference is so widespread that the space of convenient startup ideas has been stripped pretty clean. If you let your mind wander a few blocks down the street to the messy, tedious ideas, you’ll find valuable ones just sitting there waiting to be implemented.

The schlep filter is so dangerous that I wrote a separate essay about the condition it induces, which I called schlep blindness. I gave Stripe as an example of a startup that benefited from turning off this filter, and a pretty striking example it is. Thousands of programmers were in a position to see this idea; thousands of programmers knew how painful it was to process payments before Stripe. But when they looked for startup ideas they didn’t see this one, because unconsciously they shrank from having to deal with payments. And dealing with payments is a schlep for Stripe, but not an intolerable one. In fact they might have had net less pain; because the fear of dealing with payments kept most people away from this idea, Stripe has had comparatively smooth sailing in other areas that are sometimes painful, like user acquisition. They didn’t have to try very hard to make themselves heard by users, because users were desperately waiting for what they were building.

The unsexy filter is similar to the schlep filter, except it keeps you from working on problems you despise rather than ones you fear. We overcame this one to work on Viaweb. There were interesting things about the architecture of our software, but we weren’t interested in ecommerce per se. We could see the problem was one that needed to be solved though.

Turning off the schlep filter is more important than turning off the unsexy filter, because the schlep filter is more likely to be an illusion. And even to the degree it isn’t, it’s a worse form of self-indulgence. Starting a successful startup is going to be fairly laborious no matter what. Even if the product doesn’t entail a lot of schleps, you’ll still have plenty dealing with investors, hiring and firing people, and so on. So if there’s some idea you think would be cool but you’re kept away from by fear of the schleps involved, don’t worry: any sufficiently good idea will have as many.

The unsexy filter, while still a source of error, is not as entirely useless as the schlep filter. If you’re at the leading edge of a field that’s changing rapidly, your ideas about what’s sexy will be somewhat correlated with what’s valuable in practice. Particularly as you get older and more experienced. Plus if you find an idea sexy, you’ll work on it more enthusiastically. [13]

Recipes

While the best way to discover startup ideas is to become the sort of person who has them and then build whatever interests you, sometimes you don’t have that luxury. Sometimes you need an idea now. For example, if you’re working on a startup and your initial idea turns out to be bad.

For the rest of this essay I’ll talk about tricks for coming up with startup ideas on demand. Although empirically you’re better off using the organic strategy, you could succeed this way. You just have to be more disciplined. When you use the organic method, you don’t even notice an idea unless it’s evidence that something is truly missing. But when you make a conscious effort to think of startup ideas, you have to replace this natural constraint with self-discipline. You’ll see a lot more ideas, most of them bad, so you need to be able to filter them.

One of the biggest dangers of not using the organic method is the example of the organic method. Organic ideas feel like inspirations. There are a lot of stories about successful startups that began when the founders had what seemed a crazy idea but “just knew” it was promising. When you feel that about an idea you’ve had while trying to come up with startup ideas, you’re probably mistaken.

When searching for ideas, look in areas where you have some expertise. If you’re a database expert, don’t build a chat app for teenagers (unless you’re also a teenager). Maybe it’s a good idea, but you can’t trust your judgment about that, so ignore it. There have to be other ideas that involve databases, and whose quality you can judge. Do you find it hard to come up with good ideas involving databases? That’s because your expertise raises your standards. Your ideas about chat apps are just as bad, but you’re giving yourself a Dunning-Kruger pass in that domain.

The place to start looking for ideas is things you need. Theremust be things you need. [14]

One good trick is to ask yourself whether in your previous job you ever found yourself saying “Why doesn’t someone make x? If someone made x we’d buy it in a second.” If you can think of any x people said that about, you probably have an idea. You know there’s demand, and people don’t say that about things that are impossible to build.

More generally, try asking yourself whether there’s something unusual about you that makes your needs different from most other people’s. You’re probably not the only one. It’s especially good if you’re different in a way people will increasingly be.

If you’re changing ideas, one unusual thing about you is the idea you’d previously been working on. Did you discover any needs while working on it? Several well-known startups began this way. Hotmail began as something its founders wrote to talk about their previous startup idea while they were working at their day jobs.[15]

A particularly promising way to be unusual is to be young. Some of the most valuable new ideas take root first among people in their teens and early twenties. And while young founders are at a disadvantage in some respects, they’re the only ones who really understand their peers. It would have been very hard for someone who wasn’t a college student to start Facebook. So if you’re a young founder (under 23 say), are there things you and your friends would like to do that current technology won’t let you?

The next best thing to an unmet need of your own is an unmet need of someone else. Try talking to everyone you can about the gaps they find in the world. What’s missing? What would they like to do that they can’t? What’s tedious or annoying, particularly in their work? Let the conversation get general; don’t be trying too hard to find startup ideas. You’re just looking for something to spark a thought. Maybe you’ll notice a problem they didn’t consciously realize they had, because you know how to solve it.

When you find an unmet need that isn’t your own, it may be somewhat blurry at first. The person who needs something may not know exactly what they need. In that case I often recommend that founders act like consultants—that they do what they’d do if they’d been retained to solve the problems of this one user. People’s problems are similar enough that nearly all the code you write this way will be reusable, and whatever isn’t will be a small price to start out certain that you’ve reached the bottom of the well. [16]

One way to ensure you do a good job solving other people’s problems is to make them your own. When Rajat Suri of E la Carte decided to write software for restaurants, he got a job as a waiter to learn how restaurants worked. That may seem like taking things to extremes, but startups are extreme. We love it when founders do such things.

In fact, one strategy I recommend to people who need a new idea is not merely to turn off their schlep and unsexy filters, but to seek out ideas that are unsexy or involve schleps. Don’t try to start Twitter. Those ideas are so rare that you can’t find them by looking for them. Make something unsexy that people will pay you for.

A good trick for bypassing the schlep and to some extent the unsexy filter is to ask what you wish someone else would build, so that you could use it. What would you pay for right now?

Since startups often garbage-collect broken companies and industries, it can be a good trick to look for those that are dying, or deserve to, and try to imagine what kind of company would profit from their demise. For example, journalism is in free fall at the moment. But there may still be money to be made from something like journalism. What sort of company might cause people in the future to say “this replaced journalism” on some axis?

But imagine asking that in the future, not now. When one company or industry replaces another, it usually comes in from the side. So don’t look for a replacement for x; look for something that people will later say turned out to be a replacement for x. And be imaginative about the axis along which the replacement occurs. Traditional journalism, for example, is a way for readers to get information and to kill time, a way for writers to make money and to get attention, and a vehicle for several different types of advertising. It could be replaced on any of these axes (it has already started to be on most).

When startups consume incumbents, they usually start by serving some small but important market that the big players ignore. It’s particularly good if there’s an admixture of disdain in the big players’ attitude, because that often misleads them. For example, after Steve Wozniak built the computer that became the Apple I, he felt obliged to give his then-employer Hewlett-Packard the option to produce it. Fortunately for him, they turned it down, and one of the reasons they did was that it used a TV for a monitor, which seemed intolerably déclassé to a high-end hardware company like HP was at the time. [17]

Are there groups of scruffy but sophisticated users like the early microcomputer “hobbyists” that are currently being ignored by the big players? A startup with its sights set on bigger things can often capture a small market easily by expending an effort that wouldn’t be justified by that market alone.

Similarly, since the most successful startups generally ride some wave bigger than themselves, it could be a good trick to look for waves and ask how one could benefit from them. The prices of gene sequencing and 3D printing are both experiencing Moore’s Law-like declines. What new things will we be able to do in the new world we’ll have in a few years? What are we unconsciously ruling out as impossible that will soon be possible?

Organic

But talking about looking explicitly for waves makes it clear that such recipes are plan B for getting startup ideas. Looking for waves is essentially a way to simulate the organic method. If you’re at the leading edge of some rapidly changing field, you don’t have to look for waves; you are the wave.

Finding startup ideas is a subtle business, and that’s why most people who try fail so miserably. It doesn’t work well simply to try to think of startup ideas. If you do that, you get bad ones that sound dangerously plausible. The best approach is more indirect: if you have the right sort of background, good startup ideas will seem obvious to you. But even then, not immediately. It takes time to come across situations where you notice something missing. And often these gaps won’t seem to be ideas for companies, just things that would be interesting to build. Which is why it’s good to have the time and the inclination to build things just because they’re interesting.

Live in the future and build what seems interesting. Strange as it sounds, that’s the real recipe.

Notes

[1] This form of bad idea has been around as long as the web. It was common in the 1990s, except then people who had it used to say they were going to create a portal for x instead of a social network for x. Structurally the idea is stone soup: you post a sign saying “this is the place for people interested in x,” and all those people show up and you make money from them. What lures founders into this sort of idea are statistics about the millions of people who might be interested in each type of x. What they forget is that any given person might have 20 affinities by this standard, and no one is going to visit 20 different communities regularly.

[2] I’m not saying, incidentally, that I know for sure a social network for pet owners is a bad idea. I know it’s a bad idea the way I know randomly generated DNA would not produce a viable organism. The set of plausible sounding startup ideas is many times larger than the set of good ones, and many of the good ones don’t even sound that plausible. So if all you know about a startup idea is that it sounds plausible, you have to assume it’s bad.

[3] More precisely, the users’ need has to give them sufficient activation energy to start using whatever you make, which can vary a lot. For example, the activation energy for enterprise software sold through traditional channels is very high, so you’d have to be a lot better to get users to switch. Whereas the activation energy required to switch to a new search engine is low. Which in turn is why search engines are so much better than enterprise software.

[4] This gets harder as you get older. While the space of ideas doesn’t have dangerous local maxima, the space of careers does. There are fairly high walls between most of the paths people take through life, and the older you get, the higher the walls become.

[5] It was also obvious to us that the web was going to be a big deal. Few non-programmers grasped that in 1995, but the programmers had seen what GUIs had done for desktop computers.

[6] Maybe it would work to have this second self keep a journal, and each night to make a brief entry listing the gaps and anomalies you’d noticed that day. Not startup ideas, just the raw gaps and anomalies.

[7] Sam Altman points out that taking time to come up with an idea is not merely a better strategy in an absolute sense, but also like an undervalued stock in that so few founders do it.

There’s comparatively little competition for the best ideas, because few founders are willing to put in the time required to notice them. Whereas there is a great deal of competition for mediocre ideas, because when people make up startup ideas, they tend to make up the same ones.

[8] For the computer hardware and software companies, summer jobs are the first phase of the recruiting funnel. But if you’re good you can skip the first phase. If you’re good you’ll have no trouble getting hired by these companies when you graduate, regardless of how you spent your summers.

[9] The empirical evidence suggests that if colleges want to help their students start startups, the best thing they can do is leave them alone in the right way.

[10] I’m speaking here of IT startups; in biotech things are different.

[11] This is an instance of a more general rule: focus on users, not competitors. The most important information about competitors is what you learn via users anyway.

[12] In practice most successful startups have elements of both. And you can describe each strategy in terms of the other by adjusting the boundaries of what you call the market. But it’s useful to consider these two ideas separately.

[13] I almost hesitate to raise that point though. Startups are businesses; the point of a business is to make money; and with that additional constraint, you can’t expect you’ll be able to spend all your time working on what interests you most.

[14] The need has to be a strong one. You can retroactively describe any made-up idea as something you need. But do you really need that recipe site or local event aggregator as much as Drew Houston needed Dropbox, or Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia needed Airbnb?

Quite often at YC I find myself asking founders “Would you use this thing yourself, if you hadn’t written it?” and you’d be surprised how often the answer is no.

[15] Paul Buchheit points out that trying to sell something bad can be a source of better ideas:

“The best technique I’ve found for dealing with YC companies that have bad ideas is to tell them to go sell the product ASAP (before wasting time building it). Not only do they learn that nobody wants what they are building, they very often come back with a real idea that they discovered in the process of trying to sell the bad idea.”

[16] Here’s a recipe that might produce the next Facebook, if you’re college students. If you have a connection to one of the more powerful sororities at your school, approach the queen bees thereof and offer to be their personal IT consultants, building anything they could imagine needing in their social lives that didn’t already exist. Anything that got built this way would be very promising, because such users are not just the most demanding but also the perfect point to spread from.

I have no idea whether this would work.

[17] And the reason it used a TV for a monitor is that Steve Wozniak started out by solving his own problems. He, like most of his peers, couldn’t afford a monitor.

Thanks to Sam Altman, Mike Arrington, Paul Buchheit, John Collison, Patrick Collison, Garry Tan, and Harj Taggar for reading drafts of this, and Marc Andreessen, Joe Gebbia, Reid Hoffman, Shel Kaphan, Mike Moritz and Kevin Systrom for answering my questions about startup history.


How to Turn a Worthless Business Idea into a Million-Dollar Startup

Everyone has ideas. I get ideas by the dozen. When I’m brushing my teeth, when I’m driving to work, when I’m at my desk reading an article. But that does not mean that all can be converted into million-dollar businesses.

Not that these cannot be converted into million-dollar businesses, but I may simply not be driven enough to see those particular ideas through to that milestone.

You may get many ideas, too. But if you don’t, don’t despair. You don’t need ideas to start a business. Regardless, your business ideas are worthless. Let me explain why.

Ideas are just ideas. An idea is the seed of a successful product or service. Without proper care and maintenance, it will not bloom. Ideas require solid research of the target market, a good strategy and a sound business plan, without which, ideas cannot go much further.

Related: 4 Ways to Find Your Next Revolutionary Business Idea

If you want to start a business and make a go of it, you need more than just an idea. To begin turning startup dream into a million-dollar business, consider the following advice.

1. Settle on one business idea.
If you’re mulling a number of ideas, odds are good that none of them will see the light of the day. Why do I say that? Because your approach is all wrong. Skimming through different ideas every day and figuring out whether they motivate you or whether they work won’t get you anywhere.

The amount of time you’re spending on them will likely be insufficient. An you’re probably not passionate about any of them. So how do you fix it? Take one idea that moves you, that you feel most passionate about and stay with it. Stay with one till you can’t go any further. Until you’ve given it your all.

Only then will you know whether or not that business idea is worth a million dollars.

2. Validate your idea.
Your idea is absolutely worthless if you keep it to yourself and do not test it with actual customers.

Writing a business plan with projections through market research is a sure-shot way to a startup doomsday. Nothing beats an actual customer using your product or service.

So how do you get to customers when you’re at the idea stage and don’t want to spend a huge sum building something they don’t want?

Build a minimum viable product or a prototype. The idea is to put out something that offers the main value of your startup or that solves the core problem of your customers.

The prototype could be a PowerPoint slide, a dialogue box or just a landing page. This is something that you can often build it in a day or a week. A prototype can be an actual functioning product with the core features offered.

Share this with your network and see the response. Are people excited to use it? Do they feel their needs or problems are resolved by using your product? Is it easy to use?

3. Execute.
There is no such thing as a million-dollar idea. Facebook was not a million- (or billion) dollar idea until it saw the light of the day, until it was executed.

Ideas evolve into products which themselves evolve over a period of time through constant customer feedback and use. You must build a prototype, beta or a minimum viable product and get it out in the hands of the customer. Let your customer decide whether the idea is of value or not.

Related: 5 Ways to Hatch Your Next Business Idea

Most people just don’t get their products out in time and spend most of their resources in trying to build that one perfect product. Save yourself some grief, time and, most of all, cash, and build on a product that your customers want.

4. Find a large market.
Don’t waste your time on an idea that does not cater to a large audience. Sure, you can start local and expand later, but is your idea solving the needs of a few hundreds? Is your idea scalable to the next hundred thousand? If not, you’re not building a business.

Validate whether the problem that you are trying to solve is truly the problem of the masses. And not just yours and a few neighbors and friends or your network.

Think big, think global, if you can.

Base your idea on a large audience and you’ve got yourself a product with the potential to grow into a larger and a more successful business.

5. Make it a must-have, not a nice-to-have.
A lot of ideas are utter nonsense. Those can surely be turned into selling products, but you won’t end up building a business out of them. These are the nice-to-have ideas.

You must spend time getting to know from the market whether your idea or product is a nice-to-have or a must-have. Nice-to-have products are mostly in the novelty domain or are not compelling enough for customers to buy or own.

If you want your ideas to develop into successful products that help you create and sustain a business, then go after must-have ideas.

So, decide what is important to you: the figment of your imagination that tells you your idea is a million-dollar one or validating it to build something that can get you the actual million dollars.

The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

By     http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/225354
Rahul Varshneya is the co-founder of Arkenea LLC, a company committed to helping entrepreneurs and businesses build, market and monetize their mobile apps, with offices in San Jose, Calif. and Pune, India

 

 

For V-Day Supporters from Eve in Bukavu

Victory Women in Development Association(viwida)U.S.A supports 1billion rising for justice against violence on women, children and some men. Every February, around valentine’s day, the whole world turn to a flashmob dancing in the streets. You can join v-day and get involve or donate http://www.onebillionrising.org/ and check out the videos from around the world and see how the supporters took Baghdad street in Korba, Heliopolis by surprise on Friday, February 2014 to rise for justice as part of the One Billion Rising 2014; or how Sophia College in Mumbai did a flashmob, or watch some great coverage from Mexico City. 

A letter from Bukavu, #Congo from Eve Ensler: bit.ly/1eAPrIz

Dear V-Day Supporters,

I am writing to you today from Bukavu, a delicious morning – a sweater of heat, soft wind, and a sweeping melody of feisty birds. The smell of jasmine drifts and palms sway, all infused with the holy sound of church drums and singers in the distance.

Thanks to all of you for your glorious support and for being part of this community that is creating and spreading an oasis of transformation, healing, and love.

Both City of Joy and V-World Farm are thriving in ways we never could have imagined. Not only have we recently harvested seven tons of rice, but by the end of May we will have graduated more than 400 young women who have changed their own lives and are now impacting the lives of those in their communities. City of Joy has become a full fledged garden in all respects, the thick purple bougainvillea, the six foot roses, the compost pile host to a stunning garden of cabbage and carrots, 300 new chickens.

The women attending City of Joy are beautiful in their hearts, bodies, and spirits. Their energy is nothing short of radiant and electric. Their dance is the dance of those who returned from the edge, who have stepped into their bodies and vitality, released their shame and rage and hurt, and are now ready to seize the world.

The young women at City of Joy are hungry to learn and hungry to share what they have learned. You can see this in all their programs from literacy, English, and computers, to human rights, self-defense, and sex education. The women have also made a most wonderful CD of original songs and a stunning music video. There is much creativity and art emerging from City of Joy.

We also see the political impact of the program in the way girls are asking questions of the government, demanding their rights, rising for justice in the streets of Bukavu.

V-World Farm

Here’s what’s new: an incredible road that facilitates better access to both sides of the land. We just harvested seven tons of rice. We had 10 pigs a years ago, now we have 168 pigs. There are eight ponds full of leaping Tilapia. There are ten young women from City Of Joy who work the lands and all of the City of Joy residents learn agriculture at the farm. There are avocados, Macademia nuts, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and orange trees.

The farm is now growing much of the food for City of Joy, reducing our budget. We are mid-construction on the administrative building and warehouse. Everything at V-World is recycled, all trees are turned into wood for building. We even make our own cement. We are incredibly grateful to the 11th Hour Project for making it all possible!

V-Men

For years now the V-Men movement has been evolving both in Congo and around the world. Dr. Mukwege, the Godfather of this movement, was awarded the inaugural V-Men award (established in his name) in 2008 at the Superdome in New Orleans. For months a core group of 20 men have been meeting in Bukavu, designing a vision of what this movement looks like and what it means to be a VMan. The selection of the 20 men was based on commitment and background. They were chosen by other local men who love and respect women. The group has advocates from a multitude of sectors including lawyers, teachers, doctors, a basketball referee, a psychologist, activists, military men and policeman.

At the first meeting the group discussed the origin of V-Men. They acknowledged the glaring gap in the feminist movement, which fights against violence against women. In order to bridge this gap, they decided they needed men to work in solidarity with women and share the same vision.  It is clear that men have largely ignored their responsibility in the community, namely to help protect women, speak out against the atrocities, actively be equal partners, and support women to go further and become leaders. Being a V-Man means breaking out of what Tony Porter calls the “Man Box.” The V-Men group decided to create a declaration that calls forth other men to join. The statement aims to announce that there are Congolese men who are committed and open and ready to fight with women to end this violence.

We were all in awe to witness this historic launching in South Kivu of the V-Men’s movement and public reading of the proclamation, done in chorus by the 20 men, including Marcellin Cishambo Ruhoya, Governor of South Kivu, who has committed to sponsor a national gathering of men from all over the country to escalate the movement.

One of the founders, Patrick Lwaboshi said, “The idea is to spread the seeds of the movement all over the Congo and the world. I joined the movement after working by the side of women for 5 years and after discovering men can easily convince other men to end violence against women. Many of us men are tired and heart broken to keep hearing the stories of rape and violence.”

The launch on March 7, the eve of International Women’s Day, was wildly successful and many men joined the movement. It was picked up by press all over the world, motivating other men to do the same.

Mayo Doctors

I would like to take this moment to honor some amazing doctors, three of whom actually saved my own life when I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Deborah Rhodes, Sean Dowdy, Eric Dozois, Emanuel Trabuco and nurse practitioner, Lois McGuire all traveled from the Mayo Clinic in the U.S. to Panzi Hospital and spent days performing operations and lectures with Dr. Mukwege. All of us at V-Day and City of Joy thank them for their amazing generosity and all the medical supplies they brought with them thanks to the Americares organization. We are overjoyed they came to dance with us at City of Joy on the last day of their visit.

A World of Thanks

And I want to thank every person who has done an event, organized a run, raised money at their high school, college, office, or church, by climbing mountains, throwing parties, or simply sending a check and telling their friends about our work. Your support and connection is crucial to our efforts. We cannot do this without you and we are forever grateful for your being with us and staying with us.

Thanks also to our incredible donors who are joined in community in the Circle of Joy (If you would like to join this circle, please let us know, contact development@vday.org). Their very generous donations and vision have allowed so much to happen.

My deepest love and gratitude to you all,

Eve

March 9, 2014 – http://www.onebillionrising.org/

5 Ways to Attract Targeted Facebook Fans for Your Business

It is not easy to get fans for your Facebook page or Website without spending some money. Whatever the social media you use you’ll find that the easier way to get fans is to pay for it; because, it all amounts to getting traffic to your sites and have people like your business and hope that traffic will somehow make a purchase, that is, if you’re selling anything. Even if you’re not selling, just to get enough amount of visitors to your site eventually you’ll need to pay for it. Meanwhile, you can still use these 5 ways to attract targeted fans from internet.
6 minute read, by KRISTI HINES
With over 1 billion active users, Facebook is the top social network where every business can find an audience. However, unlike Twitter, building your audience on Facebook can be a little more tricky.

In this post, we’re going to look at five ways to attract targeted fans to your Facebook page.

1. Add a Like Button or Like Box to your website.

When you implement the LIKE BUTTON or LIKE BOX on your website, you make it easy for people to like your page without ever leaving your website. This can help keep your visitors focused on your website and give them a reason to come back later.

Alternatively, you can use the the expanded Like Box to show your latest Facebook updates along with the Like Button for your page.

Either way, getting your website visitors as fans of your page is a definite plus when it comes to making sure your customers remember you before and after a sale.

2. Add your page to your personal profile.

Make it easy for family, friends, and people from search to become a fan of your business’s Facebook page through your personal profile by adding a link to your page in your Work & Education section. Simply go to edit your About section, and add your business as your employer. Make sure that your business page shows up in the dropdown to select.

Then enter your title and make it your current place of work. Once you’re finished, you should be able to go to your profile, hover over your business name, and see a popup for your business’s Facebook page.

001When you do this, you can also promote your Facebook page by commenting on sites using the Facebook comment system. Your page link will be displayed next to your personal profile link above all of your comments.

3. Invite your e-mail contacts and friends.

Facebook page owners have a few options under the Build Audience menu on their page. First off, they have more options than any other social network to find people to suggest your page to in your e-mail contacts.

You can also suggest your page to all of your Facebook friends. This will show them a notification that you have asked them to like their page.

003While suggesting to friends can be a little time consuming as there is no select all option, it can be worthwhile if you have dedicated friends who like your business.

4. Participate on relevant Facebook pages.

Did you know you can use Facebook as your business page, like other pages, and comment on them? This is a great way to get exposure in front of your target audience. Just find similar business pages (preferably not competitors as they could delete your comments), like them, and participate in the comments.

002For example, women’s clothing stores could participate on the Facebook pages for fashion magazines. Tennis shops could participate on ATP player’s fan pages. The possibilities are endless. And if you leave valuable comments, people will start to come back to your page to learn more about your business.

5. Invest in Facebook Advertising.

Facebook has lots of great options when it comes to advertising your page. You can start with page promotion using the Get More Likes campaign on your page itself.

You can also use Sponsored Stories in the main Facebook Ads section to promote posts on your page or your page itself to friends of the fans of your page.

If you do use the main Facebook Advertising, be sure to target your advertising to people who match the demographics and interests of your ideal customers. Your goal isn’t to gain massive exposure and lots of likes – it’s to gain targeted exposure for targeted fans!

Measure the Results

As you are building your targeted fan base on Facebook, you will want to see how the growth benefits your business’s bottom line. Connect your Facebook page along with your Google Analytics and e-commerce platform with a FREE SUMALL ACCOUNT today.

Then you can find out if the increase in fans leads to an increase in traffic and sales!

KRISTI HINES

Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, professional blogger, and social media enthusiast. You can follow her on Twitter and Google+.

 

Native Advertising Is Growing In Popularity

 

For many business owners, online advertising has traditionally meant banner ads and Pay Per Click campaigns with the likes of Google and Yahoo. While the online space was in its infancy for marketers, this approach was successful.

However, in recent years, consumers have become more discerning about how they’re marketed to, and this has resulted in banner ads and PPC campaigns taking a revenue hit. According to a recent article at Smart Insights, global clickthrough rates continue to show unimpressive interaction, with “banner blindness” a key factor in consumers ignoring straight-up advertising.

Instead, social ads and content marketing have started to drive bigger engagement, with consumers increasingly acting upon ads within the likes of Twitter and Facebook, as well as sponsored blog posts from bloggers promoting a certain brand or product.

Yet even these methods of advertising are beginning to be less effective, with reports showing consumers tiring of constant blatant promotion by bloggers, and confusion around disclosure of a paid/sponsored promotion via these channels.

With consumers looking for a better brand experience that doesn’t necessitate a barrage of ads, one area that’s set to break out in 2014 is that of native advertising.

What Is Native Advertising?

The problem with advertising is it can often seem out of place to the recipient. Mass advertising in particular—print ads or TV ads—is sent out based on attachment to a popular TV show or the reach of a newspaper or magazine. This leads to less relevance for the audience.

Online ads allowed marketers to become more focused, and begin to isolate target audiences based on age, demographic, browsing habits and more. However, this could still lead to irrelevant ads, with ads showing up based on a Web user’s browsing history, versus the ad matching the content being viewed.

This is where native advertising comes into play.

By matching advertorial to content, the hope is the increased relevance to the viewer results in the desired action for that ad. For example, let’s say you’re a fan of Ford vehicles. You visit a site like Jalopnik and, while reading about the new Ford F-150, you see an accompanying ad for tonneau covers, or tire pressure monitoring hardware.

By providing complementary ads to an audience on a relevant site, and providing context for the purchase, the chances of the ad being more successful are higher than an ad for toothpaste, for example.

Mobile native responses
It’s this contextual relevance that’s making native advertising so attractive to marketers, advertisers and business owners of all sizes. So how can your business benefit?

Native Ads As Content Marketing

As consumer behaviour shifts from making a purchase after seeing a brand ad to researching and validating through reading blogs and trusted online media sources, businesses need to think about how they can be a part of that shift.

A particularly effective approach is to partner with bloggers in your industry or niche, and provide relevant advertising opportunities for them where they can also benefit. There are multiple benefits to this method:

  • Both the blogger and his or her audience are relevant to your products or services, offering a warmer lead opportunity.
  • The blogger is respected by their audience and, as such, offers a higher potential for actions taken (downloads, demos, inquiries, etc.).
  • By partnering with a blogger, your business can bypass ineffective ad partners and provide fresh, relevant content direct to the source (blogger and audience).

To help you identify which bloggers are the most relevant to your brand, as opposed to those with a larger audience but less relevance, you can use tools like InkyBee and InNetwork to help you filter out the best matches.

These companies also offer excellent support in ensuring the bloggers who are the best fit for you are the ones identified by their technology.

Once you identify the bloggers, take the time to review their blogs and how they traditionally partner with third-parties like your brand. Some may display relevant ads next to an editorial, while some may offer sponsored content.

See which works best for the blogger you’re looking to connect with and then reach out with your proposal, identifying your budget and goals to ensure the blogger is the right fit from a financial standpoint.

Native Ads And Mobile

As desktop browsing continues to make way for mobile browsing as the preferred source of content consumption, so marketers and businesses need to adapt their tactics to meet this diversifying audience.

Indeed, ComScore predicts that mobile browsing will overtake desktop browsing in the next year.

Mobile versus desktop 2014
This opens up a host of different opportunities for businesses to connect with their customers on their chosen mobile platform.

  • Facebook reports that mobile ads have contributed more than $1.5 billion in revenue, with much of that coming from targeted, native ads in a Facebook user’s stream.
  • Social networks Instagram and Tumblr are enjoying profitable brand partnerships through in-line native ads that are part of the user experience.

For businesses already using social media as part of their marketing outreach, the mobile-readiness of these networks make it easy to create in-line ads that will go directly to a targeted customer base (Facebook Ads offer the option to be placed in both desktop and mobile feeds).

Additionally, there are dedicated solutions to help you create a mobile native ad. One such company is Namo Media, which provides a seamless way for you to include in-line ads on mobile apps. Nano Media’s templates adapt to your brand’s design, keeping ads unobtrusive and a natural part of your customer’s experience.

If your business doesn’t have the scale to build apps, solutions like Conduit Mobile enable you to create inexpensive apps with multiple features and promotional solutions.

Whether you’re looking to partner with bloggers and media for native ads through content marketing, or offering a dedicated mobile experience either through existing social networks or a dedicated app, it’s clear that native advertising is growing in popularity and effectiveness for marketers and businesses of all sizes.

With budgets increasingly being allocated to native advertising, now might be a good time to start considering how you can use it for your business, before your competitors leave you behind.

http://www.smallbusinessnewz.com/how-you-can-use-native-advertising-to-complement-content-marketing-2014-02#more

 

 

Youths are Representative of Power – Myth & Ego – The Mask of Power

As we take you through our Culture Exposed moments, please join us right here at Viwida-USA in supporting Youth Programs by helping to empower our youth as they are becoming Adults.
Watch these videos to understand some of our youths in different cultures; what they need to do in order for them to be transformed; how are they taking their power and mount on The Mask of Power as they journey through life and becoming responsible Adults. 
Youth are representative of power as they broke the dependency of Ego. Ego can’t reflect upon itself unless it has a mirror against which to read itself and that mirror is a Mythological schedule that lets it know where and what it is. Myth lets us know where we are across the ages of life.
A mythological schedule is like a patterned mirror, and the Ego see itself in that reflection and know where it is in the scoreboard. E.g: A person of age 40 who is wondering weather his going to be punished by his mother has not move on. This person should see himself as a free, willing, self responsible human being. He should have noble powers that will enable him to act in nobility.

To understand further the mystery of Ego, Myth and youth taking on the Mask of Power please see videos below….

Joseph Campbell–Myth As the Mirror for the Ego

Joseph Campbell–On Becoming an Adult

Civil Unrest to Intensify as the Decline in Economies Accelerates

Are we approaching another great financial crisis? Will Obama finish his second term without the bottom dropping out? While we are watching the collapsing currencies in Turkey, South America and etc.., will U.S.A’s time runs out rapidly? What have you done to prepare for the upcoming financial crisis, which is approaching like a storm? Or do you think all of this is not real, people are just making up stuff to scare Americans. Keep your eyes on the money for the next six months coming.!  
By Michael Snyder (The Economic Collapse Blog | Original Link)
stock-market

That didn’t take long.  On Monday, the Dow was down another 326 points.  Overall, the Dow has now fallen more than 1000 points from the peak of the market (16,588.25) back in late December.  This is the first time that we have seen the Dow drop below its 200-day moving average in more than a year, and there are many that believe that this is just the beginning of a major stock market decline.  Meanwhile, things are even worse in other parts of the world.  For example, the Nikkei is now down about 1700 points from its 2013 high.  This is causing havoc all over Asia, and the sharp movement that we have been seeing in the USD/JPY is creating a tremendous amount of anxiety among Forex traders.  For those that are not interested in the technical details, what all of this means is that global financial markets are starting to become extremely unstable.

Unfortunately, there does not appear to be much hope on the horizon for investors.  In fact, troubling news just continues to pour in from all over the planet.  Just consider the following…

-Major currencies all over South America continue to collapse.

-Massive central bank intervention has done little to slow down the currency collapse in Turkey.

-Investors pulled more than 6 billion dollars out of emerging market equity funds last week alone.

-The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) has risen above 20 for the first time in four months.

-Last month, new manufacturing orders in the United States declined at the fastest pace that we have seen since December 1980.

-Real disposable income in the United States has just experienced the largest year over year drop that we have seen since 1974.

-In January, vehicle sales for Ford were down 7.5 percent and vehicle sales for GM were down 12 percent.  Both companies are blaming bad weather.

-A major newspaper in the UK is warning that “growing problems in the Chinese banking system could spill over into a wider financial crisis“.

-U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is warning that the federal government could hit the debt ceiling by the end of this month if Congress does not act.

-It is being reported that Dell Computer plans to lay off more than 15,000 workers.

-The IMF recently said that the the probability that the global economy will fall into a deflation trap “may now be as high as 20%“.

-The Baltic Dry Index is now down 50 percent from its December highs.

If our economic troubles continue to mount, could we be facing a global “financial avalanche” fairly quickly?

That is what some very prominent analysts believe.

Below, I have posted quotes from five men that are greatly respected in the financial world.  What they have to say is quite chilling…

#1 Doug Casey: “Now is a very good time to start thinking financially because I’m afraid that this year, in 2014, we’re going to go back into the financial hurricane. We’ve been in the eye of the storm since 2009, but now we’re going to go back into the trailing edge of the storm, and it’s going to be much longer lasting and much worse and much different than what we had in 2008 and 2009.”

#2 Bill Fleckenstein: “The [price-to-earnings ratio] is 16, 17 times earnings,” Fleckenstein said on Tuesday’s episode of “Futures Now.” “Why would you pay 16 times for an S&P company? I don’t care about where rates are, because rates are artificially suppressed. Why isn’t that worth 11 or 12 times? Just by that analysis, you’d be down by a quarter or 30 percent. So there’s a huge amount of downside.”

#3 Egon von Greyerz of Matterhorn Asset Management: “Nothing goes (down) in a straight line, but the emerging market problems will accelerate and it will spread to the very overbought and the very overvalued stock markets and economies in the West.

So stock markets are now starting a secular bear trend which will last for many years, and we could see falls of massive proportions. At the end of this, the wealth that has been created in the last few decades will be destroyed.”

#4 Peter Schiff: “The crisis is imminent,” Schiff said.  ”I don’t think Obama is going to finish his second term without the bottom dropping out. And stock market investors are oblivious to the problems.”

“We’re broke, Schiff added.  ”We owe trillions. Look at our budget deficit; look at the debt to GDP ratio, the unfunded liabilities. If we were in the Eurozone, they would kick us out.”

#5 Gerald Celente: “This selloff in the emerging markets, with their currencies going down and their interest rates going up, it’s going to be disastrous and there are going to be riots everywhere…So as the decline in their economies accelerates, you are going to see the civil unrest intensify.”

—–Those that do not believe that we could ever see “civil unrest” on the streets of America should take note of what just happened in Seattle.

After the Seahawks won the Super Bowl, fans celebrated by “lighting fires, damaging historic buildings and ripping down street signs“.

If that is how average Americans will behave when something good happens, how will they act when the economy totally collapses and nobody can find work for an extended period of time?

We are rapidly approaching another great financial crisis.  Unfortunately, we didn’t learn any of the lessons that we should have learned last time.  It is being projected that the debt of the federal government will more than double during the Obama years, the “too big to fail banks” have collectively gotten 37 percent larger over the past five years, and the big banks have become more financially reckless than ever before.

When the next great financial crisis arrives (and without a doubt it is inevitable), millions more Americans will lose their jobs and millions more Americans will lose their homes.

Now is not the time to be buying lots of expensive new toys, going on expensive vacations or piling up lots of debt.

Now is the time to build up an emergency fund and to do whatever you can to get prepared for the great storm that is coming.

As you can see from the financial headlines, time is rapidly running out.

We Are Approaching A Global Economic Meltdown – Read all about it Now!! Do you think we will get what we deserve as a nation?

  Not too many people in America are paying attention to the upcoming doom on our global economy. I seem to have put up enough articles to warn and prepare those who got their mountains of golds in our markets and banks. These people are at risk of loosing their golden eggs if they don’t figure out other alternatives fast.                                                                                                                            Most of the 1% people around the world, with lots of money  are already doing and know what to do, as they are putting poor people into their graves while amassing more wealth. Check out the Congress and Senate houses in the up coming months and see how they are going to finish the poor people soon. If you don’t believe we are approaching global economic meltdown wait for another government shutdown in February.                                                       Wake up people of Americas! and start hoarding on medical supplies, can foods, iodine etc… Those things will skyrocket in prices when the meltdown hit!  Your heard it here!; don’t say you’re not warned…. Just check out the early warning signs below….

20 Early Warning Signs That We Are Approaching A Global Economic Meltdown

By Michael Snyder (The Economic Collapse Blog | Original Link)
2013-02-26-capitalism-is-not-working

Have you been paying attention to what has been happening in Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil, Ukraine, Turkey and China?  If you are like most Americans, you have not been.  Most Americans don’t seem to really care too much about what is happening in the rest of the world, but they should.  In major cities all over the globe right now, there is looting, violence, shortages of basic supplies, and runs on the banks.  We are not at a “global crisis” stage yet, but things are getting worse with each passing day.  For a while, I have felt that 2014 would turn out to be a major “turning point” for the global economy, and so far that is exactly what it is turning out to be.  The following are 20 early warning signs that we are rapidly approaching a global economic meltdown…

#1 The looting, violence and economic chaos that is happening in Argentina right now is a perfect example of what can happen when you print too much money

For Dominga Kanaza, it wasn’t just the soaring inflation or the weeklong blackouts or even the looting that frayed her nerves.

It was all of them combined.

At one point last month, the 37-year-old shop owner refused to open the metal shutters protecting her corner grocery in downtown Buenos Aires more than a few inches — just enough to sell soda to passersby on a sweltering summer day.

#2 The value of the Argentine Peso is absolutely collapsing.

#3 Widespread shortages, looting and accelerating inflation are also causing huge problems in Venezuela

Economic mismanagement in Venezuela has reached such a level that it risks inciting a violent popular reaction. Venezuela is experiencing declining export revenues, accelerating inflation and widespread shortages of basic consumer goods. At the same time, the Maduro administration has foreclosed peaceful options for Venezuelans to bring about a change in its current policies.

President Maduro, who came to power in a highly-contested election last April, has reacted to the economic crisis with interventionist and increasingly authoritarian measures. His recent orders to slash prices of goods sold in private businesses resulted in episodes of looting, which suggests a latent potential for violence. He has put the armed forces on the street to enforce his economic decrees, exposing them to popular discontent.

#4 In a stunning decision, the Venezuelan government has just announced that it has devalued the Bolivar by more than 40 percent.

#5 Brazilian stocks declined sharply on Thursday.  There is a tremendous amount of concern that the economic meltdown that is happening in Argentina is going to spill over into Brazil.

#6 Ukraine is rapidly coming apart at the seams

A tense ceasefire was announced in Kiev on the fifth day of violence, with radical protesters and riot police holding their position. Opposition leaders are negotiating with the government, but doubts remain that they will be able to stop the rioters.

#7 It appears that a bank run has begun in China

As China’s CNR reports, depositors in some of Yancheng City’s largest farmers’ co-operative mutual fund societies (“banks”) have been unable to withdraw “hundreds of millions” in deposits in the last few weeks. “Everyone wants to borrow and no one wants to save,” warned one ‘salesperson’, “and loan repayments are difficult to recover.” There is “no money” and the doors are locked.

#8 Art Cashin of UBS is warning that credit markets in China “may be broken“.  For much more on this, please see my recent article entitled “The $23 Trillion Credit Bubble In China Is Starting To Collapse – Global Financial Crisis Next?

#9 News that China’s manufacturing sector is contracting shook up financial markets on Thursday…

Wall Street was rattled by a key reading on China’s manufacturing which dropped below the key 50 level in January, according to HSBC. A reading below 50 on the HSBC flash manufacturing PMI suggests economic contraction.

#10 Japanese stocks experienced their biggest drop in 7 months on Thursday.

#11 The value of the Turkish Lira is absolutely collapsing.

#12 The unemployment rate in France has risen for 9 quarters in a row and recently soared to a new 16 year high.

#13 In Italy, the unemployment rate has soared to a brand new all-time record high of 12.7 percent.

#14 The unemployment rate in Spain is sitting at an all-time record high of 26.7 percent.

#15 This year, the Baltic Dry Index experienced the largest two week post-holiday decline that we have ever seen.

#16 Chipmaker Intel recently announced that it plans to eliminate5,000 jobs over the coming year.

#17 CNBC is reporting that U.S. retailers just experienced “the worst holiday season since 2008“.

#18 A recent CNBC article stated that U.S. consumers should expect a “tsunami” of store closings in the retail industry…

Get ready for the next era in retail—one that will be characterized by far fewer shops and smaller stores.

On Tuesday, Sears said that it will shutter its flagship store in downtown Chicago in April. It’s the latest of about 300 store closures in the U.S. that Sears has made since 2010. The news follows announcements earlier this month of multiple store closings from major department stores J.C. Penney and Macy’s.

Further signs of cuts in the industry came Wednesday, when Target said that it will eliminate 475 jobs worldwide, including some at its Minnesota headquarters, and not fill 700 empty positions.

#19 The U.S. Congress is facing another deadline to raise the debt ceiling in February.

#20 The Dow fell by more than 170 points on Thursday.  It is becoming increasingly likely that “the peak of the market” is now in the rear view mirror.

And I have not even mentioned the extreme drought that has caused the U.S. cattle herd to drop to a 61 year low or the nuclear radiation from Fukushima that is washing up on the west coast.

In light of everything above, is there anyone out there that still wants to claim that “everything is going to be okay” for the global economy?

Sadly, most Americans are not even aware of most of these things.

All over the country today, the number one news headline is about Justin Bieber.  The mainstream media is absolutely obsessed with celebrity scandals, and so is a very large percentage of the U.S. population.

A great economic storm is rapidly approaching, and most people don’t even seem to notice the storm clouds that are gathering on the horizon.

In the end, perhaps we will get what we deserve as a nation.

Viwida Feature:- The Women’s Business Center at Community First Fund

The Women’s Business Center at Community First Fund provides training, customized business counseling, loan capital, and advocacy support to small business enterprises. The goal of the Center is to develop more knowledgeable, better prepared business owners through these services and outside resources.The Center focuses on the unique needs of existing business owners by providing one-on-one counseling sessions to discuss specific business issues and offering intensive classroom training on how to establish your new business and manage your growth.

The Women’s Business Center at Community First Fund also offers special topics seminars, covering a variety of business issues such as gaining access to capital, marketing, networking,  and certification as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE).

The Women’s Business Center offers loan capital through its Women’s Business Loan Fund and through programs offered by Community First Fund. This loan capital may be used to help start up your new business or expand your existing business.

Additional funding to assist small minority- and women-owned contractors, who do not have access to lines of credit or other small business loans from traditional sources, is available from The Pennsylvania Business Opportunities Fund (BOF).  Loans from the BOF are administered by Community First Fund which partnered with the Department of General Services and the Department of Community and Economic Development to create the program.

For more information, please contact Lydia Walker, Director of Women’s Business Center.

State Procurement classRecent State Procurement class, taught in conjunction with the U.S. Small Business Administration

Women’s Business Resources

DID YOU KNOW?     According to the Small Business Administration, of the 23 million non-farm businesses in 2002, women owned 6.5 million businesses. These firms generated $940.8 billion in revenues, employed 7.1 million workers, and had $173.7 billion in payroll.   To find out more..