“I have a great business idea

Recently, we were speaking to a group of entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs when one of the latter asked a familiar question: “I have a great business idea; how do I get it funded?” We hear this concern frequently from entrepreneurs contemplating a startup. However, we don’t think that a lack of funding is typically the issue — it’s a symptom.

Related: The 10 Most Funded Kickstarter Campaigns Ever

Typically, the issue is that the would-be business owner either doesn’t actually need funding (in spite of what he or she thinks) or doesn’t have a compelling business plan that lays out clearly why prospective investors should plop down their hard-earned funds.

So, here is what we said and continue to say on this issue to prospective entrepreneurs:

You don’t need funding.

Many businesses can be bootstrapped at low cost. That is, they can be self-funded with minimal or no investment. Companies that meet this criteria have the following characteristics:

  • Startup costs and fixed costs are low or nonexistent.
  • Working capital can be kept to a minimum; there is no need to purchase large amounts of inventory or carry huge accounts receivable.
  • Overhead costs are modest. For example, the enterprise can be run out of the entrepreneur’s home; expensive office space, while desirable, isn’t required.
  • Employees either aren’t necessary or can be hired as needed on an hourly basis.
  • Revenue that exceeds variable costs can be generated quickly.

These businesses can be cash-low positive almost from the get-go. We’ve been approached numerous times by people wanting us to invest in these types of startups. And our response to them is always the same: You don’t need funding. You need to sell something. Get started.Demonstrate that there are people willing to pay for the product or service you are offering and that there are enough of them to allow you and your business to thrive.

One caution is that an entrepreneur may have a period of time when he or she won’t get paid and will need a plan for overcoming this lack of cash. But it’s important to know here that eclipsing break-even cash flow on a personal level usually takes twice as long and costs twice as much as you think. So, build a contingency into your thinking.

Concentrate on your business plan.

If the enterprise you wish to launch doesn’t fit the above criteria and you don’t personally have the money to underwrite the venture, you will need to seek funding after all. And here you will need to know the many sources of funding possible — from friends and family members, to private angel investors, to venture capital firms to alternative lenders.

However, one thing that all of these potential sources of funds will (or should) require is a solid business plan.

You can find detailed instructions on how to write a business plan on the web (and we suggest you do this research). However, there are a number of fundamental questions that any good business plan must address:

  • Why should a perspective customer buy your product or service rather than a competitor’s? What makes your offering different, better, worth the price you will charge? What unmet need are you meeting, or what need are you meeting better than the current alternatives?
  • Is there a segment of the market that values the thing that makes your offering different and is it large enough to sustain your business?
  • How will you reach your target segment with your marketing message?
  • What are the barriers to entry in your business? In other words, if you are successful, what will keep others from copying your idea?

Related: How To Write A Business Plan

In addition to addressing these questions, you’ll need a good set of financial projections. The financial projections must clearly show:

  • The economics of your business. You’ll need to lay out:
    • The one-time costs (e.g., equipment costs, etc.)
    • The overhead costs (e.g., rent, utilities, etc.)
    • A positive variable contribution — you can sell the product of service for more than it costs you to deliver it
  • How deep a hole you will dig before you become cash-flow positive and therefore how much money you will need
  • What you are willing to give up to get the funds (e.g., 20 percent of the business)
  • How long it will take for investors to earn back their investment
  • How much investors can expect to make after they have earned back their investment (their “return on investment”)

It’s critical to think about the deal from the investor’s prospective. You must show prospective investors what’s in it for them or they won’t be interested. The tips above are not, nor are they intended to be, comprehensive. However, they will give you a good start and provide a good acid test for any plan you develop. If your business plan doesn’t address these issues, it isn’t sufficient.

As we told the would-be entrepreneur at that meeting, lack of funding for a business isn’t the problem; it’s a symptom. The problem is typically either that your business doesn’t need funding or you don’t have a compelling business plan.

7 Solutions That Can Save a Relationship

 

It’s the rare couple that doesn’t run into a few bumps in the road. If you recognize ahead of time, though, what those relationship problems might be, you’ll have a much better chance of getting past them.

Even though every relationship has its ups and downs, successful couples have learned how to manage the bumps and keep their love life going, says marriage and family therapist Mitch Temple, author of The Marriage Turnaround. They hang in there, tackle problems, and learn how to work through the complex issues of everyday life. Many do this by reading self-help books and articles, attending seminars, going to counseling, observing other successful couples, or simply using trial and error.

Relationship Problem: Communication

All relationship problems stem from poor communication, according to Elaine Fantle Shimberg, author of Blending Families. “You can’t communicate while you’re checking your BlackBerry, watching TV, or flipping through the sports section,” she says.

Problem-solving strategies:

  • Make an actual appointment with each other, Shimberg says. If you live together, put the cell phones on vibrate, put the kids to bed, and let voicemail pick up your calls.
  • If you can’t “communicate” without raising your voices, go to a public spot like the library, park, or restaurant where you’d be embarrassed if anyone saw you screaming.
  • Set up some rules. Try not to interrupt until your partner is through speaking, or ban phrases such as “You always …” or “You never ….”
  • Use body language to show you’re listening. Don’t doodle, look at your watch, or pick at your nails. Nod so the other person knows you’re getting the message, and rephrase if you need to. For instance, say, “What I hear you saying is that you feel as though you have more chores at home, even though we’re both working.” If you’re right, the other can confirm. If what the other person really meant was, “Hey, you’re a slob and you create more work for me by having to pick up after you,” he or she can say so, but in a nicer way.

Relationship Problem: Sex

Even partners who love each other can be a mismatch, sexually. Mary Jo Fay, author of Please Dear, Not Tonight, says a lack of sexual self-awareness and education worsens these problems. But having sex is one of the last things you should give up, Fay says. “Sex,” she says, “brings us closer together, releases hormones that help our bodies both physically and mentally, and keeps the chemistry of a healthy couple healthy.”

Problem-solving strategies:

  • Plan, plan, plan. Fay suggests making an appointment, but not necessarily at night when everyone is tired. Maybe during the baby’s Saturday afternoon nap or a “before-work quickie.” Ask friends or family to take the kids every other Friday night for a sleepover. “When sex is on the calendar, it increases your anticipation,” Fay says. Changing things up a bit can make sex more fun, too, she says. Why not have sex in the kitchen? Or by the fire? Or standing up in the hallway?
  • Learn what truly turns you and your partner on by each of you coming up with a personal “Sexy List,” suggests California psychotherapist Allison Cohen. Swap the lists and use them to create more scenarios that turn you both on.
  • If your sexual relationship problems can’t be resolved on your own, Fay recommends consulting a qualified sex therapist to help you both address and resolve your issues.
  • Relationship Problem: Money

    Money problems can start even before the wedding vows are exchanged. They can stem, for example, from the expenses of courtship or from the high cost of a wedding. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) recommends that couples who have money woes take a deep breath and have a serious conversation about finances.

    Problem-solving strategies:

    • Be honest about your current financial situation. If things have gone south, continuing the same lifestyle is unrealistic.
    • Don’t approach the subject in the heat of battle. Instead, set aside a time that is convenient and non-threatening for both of you.
    • Acknowledge that one partner may be a saver and one a spender, understand there are benefits to both, and agree to learn from each other’s tendencies.
    • Don’t hide income or debt. Bring financial documents, including a recent credit report, pay stubs, bank statements, insurance policies, debts, and investments to the table.
    • Don’t blame.
    • Construct a joint budget that includes savings.
    • Decide which person will be responsible for paying the monthly bills.
    • Allow each person to have independence by setting aside money to be spent at his or her discretion.
    • Decide upon short-term and long-term goals. It’s OK to have individual goals, but you should have family goals, too.
    • Talk about caring for your parents as they age and how to appropriately plan for their financial needs if needed

 

Relationship Problem: Struggles Over Home Chores
Most partners work outside the home and often at more than one job. So it’s important to fairly divide the labor at home, says Paulette Kouffman-Sherman, author of Dating From the Inside Out.

Problem-solving strategies:

Be organized and clear about your respective jobs in the home, Kouffman-Sherman says. “Write all the jobs down and agree on who does what.” Be fair so no resentment builds.
Be open to other solutions, she says. If you both hate housework, maybe you can spring for a cleaning service. If one of you likes housework, the other partner can do the laundry and the yard. You can be creative and take preferences into account — as long as it feels fair to both of you.
Relationship Problem: Not Making Your Relationship a Priority
If you want to keep your love life going, making your relationship a focal point should not end when you say “I do.” “Relationships lose their luster. So make yours a priority,” says Karen Sherman, author of Marriage Magic! Find It, Keep It, and Make It

Problem-solving strategies:

  • Do the things you used to do when you were first dating: Show appreciation, compliment each other, contact each other through the day, and show interest in each other.
  • Plan date nights. Schedule time together on the calendar just as you would any other important event in your life.
  • Respect one another. Say “thank you,” and “I appreciate…” It lets your partner know that they matter.

Relationship Problem: Conflict

Occasional conflict is a part of life, according to New York-basedpsychologist Susan Silverman. But if you and your partner feel like you’re starring in your own nightmare version of the movie Groundhog Day — i.e. the same lousy situations keep repeating day after day — it’s time to break free of this toxic routine. When you make the effort, you can lessen the anger and take a calm look at underlying issues.

Problem-solving strategies:

You and your partner can learn to argue in a more civil, helpful manner, Silverman says. Make these strategies part of who you are in this relationship.

  • Realize you are not a victim. It is your choice whether you react and how you react.
  • Be honest with yourself. When you’re in the midst of an argument, are your comments geared toward resolving the conflict, or are you looking for payback? If your comments are blaming and hurtful, it’s best to take a deep breath and change your strategy.
  • Change it up. If you continue to respond in the way that’s brought you pain and unhappiness in the past, you can’t expect a different result this time. Just one little shift can make a big difference. If you usually jump right in to defend yourself before your partner is finished speaking, hold off for a few moments. You’ll be surprised at how such a small shift in tempo can change the whole tone of an argument.
  • Give a little; get a lot. Apologize when you’re wrong. Sure it’s tough, but just try it and watch something wonderful happen.

“You can’t control anyone else’s behavior,” Silverman says. “The only one in your charge is you.”

Last.

 

Problem-solving strategies:

  • Do the things you used to do when you were first dating: Show appreciation, compliment each other, contact each other through the day, and show interest in each other.
  • Plan date nights. Schedule time together on the calendar just as you would any other important event in your life.
  • Respect one another. Say “thank you,” and “I appreciate…” It lets your partner know that they matter.

Relationship Problem: Conflict

Occasional conflict is a part of life, according to New York-basedpsychologist Susan Silverman. But if you and your partner feel like you’re starring in your own nightmare version of the movie Groundhog Day — i.e. the same lousy situations keep repeating day after day — it’s time to break free of this toxic routine. When you make the effort, you can lessen the anger and take a calm look at underlying issues.

Problem-solving strategies:

You and your partner can learn to argue in a more civil, helpful manner, Silverman says. Make these strategies part of who you are in this relationship.

  • Realize you are not a victim. It is your choice whether you react and how you react.
  • Be honest with yourself. When you’re in the midst of an argument, are your comments geared toward resolving the conflict, or are you looking for payback? If your comments are blaming and hurtful, it’s best to take a deep breath and change your strategy.
  • Change it up. If you continue to respond in the way that’s brought you pain and unhappiness in the past, you can’t expect a different result this time. Just one little shift can make a big difference. If you usually jump right in to defend yourself before your partner is finished speaking, hold off for a few moments. You’ll be surprised at how such a small shift in tempo can change the whole tone of an argument.
  • Give a little; get a lot. Apologize when you’re wrong. Sure it’s tough, but just try it and watch something wonderful happen.

“You can’t control anyone else’s behavior,” Silverman says. “The only one in your charge is you.”

Relationship Problem: Trust

Trust is a key part of a relationship. Do you see certain things that cause you not to trust your partner? Or do you have unresolved issues that prevent you from trusting others?

Problem-solving strategies:

You and your partner can develop trust in each other by following these tips, Fay says.

  • Be consistent.
  • Be on time.
  • Do what you say you will do.
  • Don’t lie — not even little white lies to your partner or to others.
  • Be fair, even in an argument.
  • Be sensitive to the other’s feelings. You can still disagree, but don’t discount how your partner is feeling.
  • Call when you say you will.
  • Call to say you’ll be home late.
  • Carry your fair share of the workload.
  • Don’t overreact when things go wrong.
  • Never say things you can’t take back.
  • Don’t dig up old wounds.
  • Respect your partner’s boundaries.
  • Don’t be jealous.
  • Be a good listener.

Even though there are always going to be problems in a relationship, Sherman says you both can do things to minimize marriage problems, if not avoid them altogether.

First, be realistic. Thinking your mate will meet all your needs — and will be able to figure them out without your asking — is a Hollywood fantasy. “Ask for what you need directly,” she says.

Next, use humor — learn to let things go and enjoy one another more.

Finally, be willing to work on your relationship and to truly look at what needs to be done. Don’t think that things would be better with someone else. Unless you address problems, the same lack of skills that get in the way now will still be there and still cause problems no matter what relationship you’re in.

Here is Our Collection of Must-Watch Inspirational Videos on Vimeo

 

Every entrepreneur could use a shot of inspiration from time to time. Inspiration can help to fuel you when you’re up against long hours and hard work. Sometimes a great motivational pep talk can be all you need to boost your confidence and move through times of fatigue, challenge or adversity.

One great thing about YouTube is the host of really positive videos that are readily available. Even better than a great quote, a positive video can give you a real boost because it has the added benefit of music and visuals while hearing your heroes in their own words.

After much searching, here are six motivational videos that are a must see for entrepreneurs.

1. Life = Risk

This inspiring compilation is only one minute long, yet runs through many of the failures of some of the most well-known and successful people of history. It might be the shortest of this bunch, but it delivers great insight with every second. It’s all about the benefits of taking risk and the ways in which failures make us human and make us successful. As the tagline at the end of the video says, “If you’ve never failed, you’ve never lived.”

 

2. Be Phenomenal

“Start where you are, with what you have — because what you have right now is plenty!”

This great compilation by Motivation Grid really takes you through a journey to pump you up for greatness. At just over seven minutes, it’s the longest video of the six, but it’s well worth the journey. With a mix of incredible speeches by Les Brown, Eric Thomas and Ray Lewis, be sure you watch this one with a pad and paper because you’re going to want to write down many of the things you hear.

 

3. The Keys to Life: Running and Reading

“The person that works the hardest wins.” — Will Smith

A long-time favorite, this is a two-minute philosophical acceptance speech that Will Smith gave for an award years ago. The simple philosophy from this very successful entrepreneur is that running and reading are the two keys to life.

Smith explains that when you learn to run, you learn to push through the pain and ignore the little voice in your head that tells you to quit when things get hard. Then there’s reading — the key to learning, knowing you’re not alone and expanding you mind. Smith says it best and I highly encourage you to watch his philosophy on the two keys to life.

 

4. How Bad Do You Want It?

“When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.”

A five-minute video that sheds insight into the work, dedication and mental commitment it takes to really achieve true success. You have to want it and you have to work for it. There’s a saying about entrepreneurship that it is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t. You have to transcend your mental blocks if you want to achieve true greatness at your craft and enjoy success.

 

5. I Am First Not Second

This speech lays it all out up front when speaker John Doman says clearly, “I’m not here to tell a joke. I’m here to pick a fight — a fight with second place.”

This video has a little bit of a tough-love start to it, but the speaker’s point is well worth considering — if you’re OK with being runner up, you’re already not looking for success. The five-minute video builds from there with motivating music and words. It’s worth watching when you need a small kick in the pants to get going

6. Passion: The Secret Ingredient to Success

A wonderful compilation of video quotes from some of the most inspiring leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators of our time. It begins with Walt Disney and goes through greats such as Steve Jobs, Charlie Chaplin, Jon Stewart, Michael Jordan and many more. It’s a rare treat!

 

 

 

 

 

2 Ways to Resolve Conflicts and Solve Relationship Problems

When problem-solving everyday issues becomes a tug-of-war over who’s right and who’s wrong, then settling even the smallest of discussions becomes a battle. “A better alternative is what I call the win-win waltz,” says marriage expert Susan Heitler, Ph.D., author of The Power of Two. “We toss information back and forth, we have an ‘aha!’ moment, and we come up with solutions that work very well for both of us.”

You’ll also free yourself from the emotional and physical side effects of nasty fighting, such as feeling you’ve intimidated or dominated your mate — or that you’ve given in and given up on what you really want. You’ll have fewer tense times together, and actually improve your health. Couples who learn to solve problems constructively together cut their risk for stress-related health problems including depression, cardiovascular disease, and lowered immunity.

Step 1: Describe the Problem in a Few Words — and Let Your Partner Respond
The opening round in problem-solving involves getting your overview of the issue out on the table. Don’t let it smolder or expect your partner to guess!

Example:
You: “If we go to your parents’ house for the weekend, I won’t be able to get our tax return information together before the workweek starts.”

Your spouse: “My parents have been planning for this visit for months. I don’t think we can or should just cancel.”

Step 2: Look Together at Deeper Concerns
This is the exploration phase. Don’t try to “sell” your point of view to your spouse. And don’t try to solve the problem just yet. Do talk about underlying worries and issues that contribute to the problem you’re trying to solve. And do listen carefully to your partner’s concerns. Keep an open mind. Learn all you can about your own concerns and your partner’s. Your goal: See the big picture and form a mental list of both partners’ concerns. This is your common set of concerns that you’ll try to resolve in Step 3.

Example:
You: “I have a new deadline at work and meetings three nights this week, plus we promised to visit the neighbors on Tuesday night. The tax deadline is almost here. I’m afraid I’ll be up until 3 a.m. trying to do all this during the week. I’ll be grouchy and won’t do my best at work, and I won’t be very interested in socializing with our neighbors or contribute much to the meetings. I’m feeling squeezed.”

Your spouse: “I really want to see my parents before they leave for their vacation. I haven’t spent much time with them in several months. Plus, my mother invited my aunt and uncle over to see us, too. It’s important to me to be with my parents for more than a short visit, and to feel at home. I’d like you to see them, too, and be with me for the big family dinner.”

Exclusive Previews of Upcoming Movies in Early 2016

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Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known

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Photo by Nadine A. Gardner

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Dare to dream big

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I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.

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Running towards the sunrise.Photo by Nadine A. Gardner

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Perfect opportunity

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To find a peace of mind listen to your heart.

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Once in a lifetime

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