We had a great adventure with Arkansas Valley Adventures on our family trip to Colorado. AVA really nailed the customer follow-up experience too. What they got right:

  1. Say “thank you”
  2. Ask for feedback 
  3. Ask for reviews and sharing in social media
  4. Offer a discount for a future purchase 
Try these four things and you’ll turn one-time customers into long-time fans who promote you and come back for more.

AVA Thank You

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YEC Member Spotlight: Tynesia Boyea-Robinson, CEO of Reliance Methods

Tynesia Boyea Robinson is the CEO of Reliance Methods, which puts Americans to work by providing human capital strategy and placement solutions for clients like Walmart, Trammell Crow, and the federal government. Tynesia serves on numerous boards and has published several articles, which have been featured in the Washington Post and in Leap of Reason. Education: Harvard MBA, Duke University EE & Comp Sci. Follow her @tyboyea.

 

Who is your hero?

Marie Curie.

 

What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?

When I launched my first organization, a nonprofit that trained young people in technology and placed them in jobs, I remember being intimidated about managing people with more experience than I had. One of my mentors told me that many people with 20 years of experience have repeated the same year, 20 times. He shared that he often preferred working with less experienced folks because they are hungry and intellectually curious. Although I can’t travel back in time to be the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed entrepreneur I was then, every day I work to hold onto the spirit that gave me the courage to start my first endeavor.

 

RELATED: How To Build A Company With Strong Core Values

 

What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?

As an engineer by training, I don’t look at mistakes in the traditional way. I seek to prove a hypothesis based on the data I have available. Sometimes my hypothesis is proven true, other times it’s proven false. What matters is what I do with my findings to make us stronger and more likely to achieve our ultimate vision. That said, growth is one of the most difficult things I wrestle with. With my first organization, we grew way too fast based on the advice from investors. I learned then that I should analyze what Ishould do, not what I could do. It took about two to three years to address the challenges associated with low quality and high turnover from fast growth. It has made me approach future ventures more like the tortoise than the hare.

 

What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?

Nothing sexy, really. I check my calendar, otherwise I completely forget where I’m supposed to be and why. Usually that leads to researching whoever I’m meeting with and the ways I can be helpful to him/her. One of the most important things I do every morning is talk to my best friend, Marlissa Hudson. Being an entrepreneur is lonely at times, and she’s my cheering section, confidante and advisor. She pushes me to make sure that my decisions are true to who I am and who I want to be.

 

What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?

When I launched my business, I had several people offer to invest in Reliance Methods. While I thanked them, I knew that all funding comes with a price. I decided to bootstrap Reliance Methods by cashing in my 401K (gulp) because controlling our destiny is important to me. My goal is to launch and invest in a series of businesses that outperform the market by intentionally doing well and demanding good. I started down this path way before Conscious Capitalism or Purpose Economy were popular buzz words. I knew that I would need time to prove the concept without distraction. While I’m not opposed to outside investors, I’m a firm believer that entrepreneurs need to understand and be comfortable with the tradeoffs before accepting capital.

 

RELATED: Four Ways To Provide Value Rather Than Sell

 

Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?

Stop working on your business. I’m serious! It sounds crazy, but every entrepreneur should have time each day to do something that has nothing to do with their business. I usually have the biggest breakthroughs when I’m exposing myself to different thoughts or ideas. It will be hard in the beginning because most of us confuse constant activity with productivity, but gradually you will come to welcome the periods of reflection and intentionally build them into your day.

 

What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?

People feel like they have to choose between purpose and profit; meaning and money. But success to me is having both and showing other people how to achieve the same. I’ve worked in government, nonprofit, and for-profit organizations, and frankly, the distinctions are less important these days. The next frontier of the global economy is finding elegant solutions to the world’s most intractable problems. Everything else is a commodity.

 

It’s not about what your product or service is, it’s about what your product or service solves. And the smaller the problem you’re trying to solve, the more likely you will be supplanted by competitors. It’s the difference between leveraging big data to sell the most fashionable clothes and leveraging it to ensure everyone has clothing. And the more entrepreneurs we have with that mindset, the more we can achieve together in our lifetime.

 

 

Originally published by StartupCollective.

 

 

Photo Credits

StartupCollective

The post CEO Tynesia Boyea-Robinson Wakes Up Every Day As Ready To Work As The Day She Started appeared first on KillerStartups.

by Paul Jackson

 

For those of you preparing to take on the entrepreneurial life full-time, the best advice I can provide is to be as rigorous as possible with your finances when pursuing your funding goals. It’s never been easier to bring a great idea into reality – from accelerators to crowdfunding to good old-fashioned bootstrapping, there are many options for budding entrepreneurs to choose from.

 

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The real difficulty these days lies in keeping that great idea alive. The best way to do so is through a rigorous understanding of the financials involved in running a startup. Most companies continued success will rely heavily on securing investor funding, but competition for dollars is fierce – and without it long-term viability and profitability is unlikely. Keep your dream alive with the following financial advice for startups.

 

Financial Advice for Startups

1. Remember, no one wants to be a one hit wonder.

Recently, messaging app Yo has garnered significant media attention and raised $1 million in funding; it will be curious to see if it can continue the momentum it has generated thus far. Its simple premise, sending a ‘Yo’ to your contacts seems particularly easy to have jumpstarted, but where does it go from here?

 

While it might seem like an overnight success, the truth is that good, fun ideas are a dime a dozen. The skills and abilities to lead a team and turn that idea into an actual business are not.

 

Startup founders need to be able to reasonably talk about the future of their company, including finances. The inability to do so will be a huge turnoff to investors from the very start.

 

2. Resist the temptation to overvalue your venture.

If you are fortunate enough to land a coveted investor meeting, presenting a defensible valuation of your company is of the utmost importance. Just because companies like Snapchat are making billion-dollar headlines doesn’t mean you, too, need to overstate the value of your company in an effort to compete. Overvaluing a venture runs several risks, including appearing inexperienced or unreasonable, attracting incompatible investors, or securing the funding you need only to price yourself out of future funding rounds.

 

3. Seek the funding you need to be successful, and that’s it.

Some of today’s top companies started out with small and realistic rounds of funding. AirBnB, for instance, began with just $20,000 in seed money and grew into a company now valued at around $2.5 billion. Skype started off as an independent company with just $250,000 in angel investment, and continued its growth all the way towards acquisition by Microsoft in 2011. You don’t need millions to get started and keep your startup a float, just the know-how to strategically raise the funds you need and to be able to demonstrate that the money will be spent in the right places.

 

Keep in mind, new ventures are risky for investors, especially with first-time entrepreneurs. They want a clear go-to market strategy that is scalable. No one expects your startup to be an instant hit. Those are rare. They do expect you to have found a niche in the market that needs to be filled and know how to financially guide your idea into a long-term reality.

 

 

paul headshotPaul Jackson is an entrepreneur, angel investor, and aerospace engineer. His engineering expertise and entrepreneurial spirit are driving forces behind his founding of Integrus Capital and his co-founding of its flagship offerings, Worthworm and D-Strut LLC.

 

 

Photo Credits

Matthew Sutherland | Courtesy of Paul Jackson

The post Financial Tips For Avoiding Startup Failure appeared first on KillerStartups.

By Rieva Lesonsky

Life was a lot simpler for restaurant and bar owners back in the Mad Men days when martinis were considered “exotic” drinks. These days it’s a lot harder to keep consumers interested in alcoholic beverages (though whiskey is making a big comeback), as tastes seem to be continually changing.

According to trends newsletter Cassandra Daily, the “adult beverage industry is feeling creative…and one of its newest innovations blends two of Millennials’ favorite [drinks]—alcohol and coffee.

The newsletter cites several companies introducing coffee-infused alcoholic beverages, including Cabernet Coffee Expresso and Chardonnay Coffee Cappuccino from Friends Fun Wine. While these beverages are sold in cans, if you own a bar or restaurant take note that these beverages (both with hints of chocolate) are popular.

Acknowledging that coffee and alcohol have been (mega) successfully mixed before (Irish Coffee, anyone?), Los Angeles-based Fliquor Bean is making coffee-infused whiskey.

One caveat: There have been some health concerns about beverages that combine the punch of caffeine from the coffee and the booze. Fliquor Bean has created a (patent pending) process, which they say is “different because the caffeine comes from a natural process.”

Not to be outdone, People StyleWatch magazine recently reported,  “Creative cocktails made with teas like hibiscus and chamomile” are popping up at hot spots across the country.

Photo Courtesy: Friends Fun Wine

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+   and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.

The post Coffee Buzz appeared first on Small Biz Daily.

Basha Rubin was a student at Yale Law School when she realized that a huge percentage of businesses weren’t receiving sufficient legal representation. She decided to address this failing, and co-founded Priori Legal to help New York businesses obtain legal services quickly and affordably. She’s out to transform how businesses and lawyers interact, and her approach is making waves in the legal marketplace.

 

 

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Basha was kind enough to take some time out from her busy startup life – and her company’s imminent expansion and domination throughout the LA and San Fran markets – to tell us more about how to handle the haters and bring change to conservative professions. This is counsel you don’t wanna miss.

 

What inspired Priori Legal?

At Yale Law School, I worked in the legal clinics for 5 semesters. That experience inspired Priori. I saw how vital, even life-changing, excellent legal services can be for individuals and businesses alike. While the extremes in the marketplace are well-served – the wealthiest and those with access to free legal services – the middle 90% is underserved.

 

 

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Our mission is to make sure that high-quality legal services can be affordable, accessible, and efficient for businesses and business professionals of all kinds. Priori uses technology to make finding, hiring, and working with a lawyer as easy and enjoyable as it can be!

 

What makes Priori Legal so killer?

Priori is the easiest place for small businesses to find the best lawyers. We’re a curated online marketplace that connects startups and SMBs with a network of vetted lawyers at pre-negotiated below-market, fixed and transparent rates. We simplify and improve the process of finding, hiring, paying for and working with legal counsel.

 

Priori Legal logo

 

Priori focuses on the quality of the attorneys in our network with an extensive vetting process resulting in a 20% acceptance rate. When small business or individuals use Priori, they can rest-assured that they are only being shown high-quality attorneys, not searching through an open listing.

 

We also pre-negotiate a discount (25%) with our lawyers as well as exclusive flat-fee packages, so our clients save substantially over what they would pay on the open-market and they can predict the costs.

 

Finally, customer-service and a managed experience. Part of making legal easy for companies big and small is having a fantastic team who can help guide clients through the process at every stage of the game.

 

 

priorilegal.com

 

 

Any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Don’t let the haters get you down – but make sure you’re being realistic about your financial situation and runway. Many entrepreneurs I’ve met (and I’m guilty of this too) have very grand visions about the change they are going to make – and that’s important, but in your early days, sometime the best advice is to dive deep into your users and understand what’s working and what’s not.

 

What has been the biggest surprise about starting up?

Law is a conservative profession, so when I first started talking about Priori three years ago, I heard a lot of skepticism from lawyers. One lawyer told me Priori was the worst idea he’d ever heard in his whole life. The amazing part, though, is how quickly perception has changed – as we’ve gained traction over the past year, many of those people are now eager to participate!!

 

Priori Legal Team 2

 

 

How has being an entrepreneur changed or enriched your life?

A ‘can-do’ attitude. Especially in the early days, when something needed to happen, I had to be the one to do it – regardless of whether I knew a thing about it (and I usually didn’t). It’s been extremely empowering to build Priori, and watch people use it and truly benefit.

 

What is the tech scene like where you live?

New York City has a very dynamic and collaborative tech scene. Everyone is actively involved in that community through networking, partnerships, referrals, and sharing resources – and I would add that the legal tech community in NYC is especially close.

 

 

If your startup or small business is in need of legal services, checkout PrioriLegal.com. To learn more about these startup defenders, find them on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the Priori Legal Blog.

 

Photo Credits

Priori Legal | Courtesy of Basha Rubin

The post High-Quality Legal Services For Startups At Below-Market Rates appeared first on KillerStartups.