Startup Struggles Debunked

startup pitch

Who's better than US based, born and bred entrepreneurs, to tell us what the struggles are and how to solve them, in growing a startup company?

Many will tell you it takes balls of steel and nerves of iron. Many are not wrong. But there are a few salient characteristics of a successful startup entrepreneur such as:

1. They don't complain 2. They are resourceful 3. They start off small in order to grow bigger

Take Evona Niewiadomska, founder and head of Undiscovered Kitchen. When she first started out, she launched Summalist as a premium paying service. As time went by, she realized that it wasn't getting the traction she wanted and reverted it to a free service with a hopeful view that most of the subscribers would upgrade to a premium paying account. It paid off and her business is souring to new heights.

Wordpress has become one of the most popular and leaders in easy-to-use platforms to run your website from. Phil Derksen, founder and developer, based in Fresno, California in the US, is all about offering tips, shortcuts and tricks that create a further hunger for more. He believes in giving free advise in the form of blogs and short videos which then prompt customers to sign up for web based seminars and live Webinar's. The clinics he hosts give customers the chance to bring their pains so that he can assist with providing a solution.

And that is what most of the startup entrepreneurs are saying. Find a solution, a solution for your business issues and/or a solution for your customers. If you can solve a problem for a potential client then you are one step closer to bringing that client under your wing, one step closer to securing a new sale and an increase in revenue.

Keep it simple. Start out small and you will go far. All solid advise from already established and successful leaders in the entrepreneur world.

Brian Kurth, the founder of PivotPlanet and Revere, of Austin, Texas, US, has some nuggets of value to share with us too. Oddly, his advice is based around relaxing, getting enough sleep and re-energizing yourself. Balance is something that most of us struggle with and he wasn't immune to this, but over time realized that he couldn't function without a good solid sleep and finding ways to wind down.

Most of the problem, he claims, is in not taking regular breaks, even if this just means standing up from your desk or taking a brief walk to make a cup of Java. The eyes get a breather as well as our bodies. Sitting can be hellish on the muscles and bones.

At night, he is a firm believer in switching off all media devices, from Smart Phones to televisions. He does this 2 hours before he is going to go to sleep. Brian doesn't even set an alarm nowadays to wake up. His body knows, that if it gets the required amount of sleep and proper switch-off time, it will wake up when he needs it to. Waking up refreshed and ready to rock the world is just a given in his life.

Another powerful tip to distressing is that he lengthens the deadline date on projects. While he may know a certain project will take approximately 3 days to complete, he doubles it up to 6 days, which he feels gives him plenty leeway should there be issues. He tells his clients that the project will take 6 days and when he delivers early, they are properly stoked.

This all sounds wonderful and it would be nice to be able to tick off even one of his de-stress methods, but we all know it takes time to change a bad habit. Brian is in full agreement and confirms that this didn't all magically happen overnight. Be patient with yourself and give it time.

Sometimes, it is simply money or the lack thereof that hinders our progress to grow our startup business, but sometimes all we need is a little innovation. A good idea and a polite smile may be all one needs to get a project off the ground.

Know what's not working in your business and know what is working.

Many novice entrepreneurs have begged, borrowed and no, not stolen, from those around them, to produce the most innovative ventures. From hiring a train at no charge to publicize a brand new endeavor, to calling on other successful startups for their hunks of knowledge and expertise, for a new, seemingly silly exploit to get off the ground.

Use your resources. And by resources, this can be who you know but also what you know. Your brain is filled with tons of ideas. Mad ideas! Crazy-ass ideas! Ideas that make you lay awake at night. Ideas that form like little buds but which can blossom into full on rose bushes.

But if you don't try them out then how will you know if they will work or not?

Allow Foreign Immigrants Their Chance

we were all immigrants

What do Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have in common? Besides that, they are all multi-billionaires, that is?

Well, the one other common factor between these three powerhouses, is that they all support immigrants gaining work permits to commence with their start-up businesses.

The main and the most obvious reason to most is, that these self-starters agree with foreigners infiltrating American soils, because these outlanders have been responsible for 51% of the US Billion-Dollar Startup companies.

America is all about making money and while that might sound very superficial, it is 100% true. The US is one of the biggest producers of Billion-Dollar start-up companies and they have mostly immigrants to thank for this.

Think of Uber, the most successful self-starting company in the Dollar world. Whilst Travis Kalanick, one of the co-founders, is an American citizen, his parent's routes come from Czech and Austria. The latest valuation of Uber stands at a whopping $51 billion!

Palantir is another company that has a co-founder with foreign routes. Alexander Karp, again, whilst born in America, has a deep German background. Palantir is grossing $20 billion at the moment on the Billion Dollar Start-up Club and growing leaps and bounds as we speak.

Both these tycoons started off with an idea and brainpower. It is not to say that there are not full-blooded Americans in the population that can't start-up a company just as successfully, that could have the potential to join the Billion Dollar Start-up Club. We are just saying that it makes sense to allow foreigners their chance at it too, without making it so difficult.

And by difficult, we mean damn difficult. It took one immigrant, Jyoti Bansal, 7 years to obtain his green card, which enabled him to start up his software company. 7 years of wasted revenue and potential profit to the American community. AppDynamics Inc. is already valued at $1.9 billion and on the up and up at a fast pace. Imagine if Jyoti had been given his go ahead sooner? His dynamic company could be closer to the $20 billion mark by now and in turn assisting America with its flayling employment problem.

On that note, the amount of jobs created by these Start-up companies is huge. Analysts have calculated that over the next 10 years, these businesses could create up to 3.2 million jobs. And we all know that raising the unemployment lid is vital in America. In fact, all over the world!

Hence, why the likes of Bill Gates are pushing the pencil when it comes to alleviating the strict rules on immigrants securing a working visa?

The biggest issue is that visa applications have a cap and currently that cap is 85,000 per annum. Another aspect, which makes this cap cumbersome and unrealistic, is that the first 65,000 are for foreigners applying for the first time and the balance for foreign students finishing universities in America. This does not leave much room, especially when we are looking at the current stats and info, which show that America consists of over $40 million foreign-born occupants.

Many an immigrant has tried to start up a business, obtain funding and then hit a wall because they cannot confirm with the funding company when they will obtain their US Citizenship. Loads of dollars are poured into venture capital deals every year, but when it is clear that the company won't be able to operate and produce a profit in the near future, investors get nervous.

A big industry that will benefit from engaging and employing foreigners is the tech market. The tech industry forms the biggest part of America's total revenue and many foreign-born citizens have the ability to fit into and benefit this industry.

The recent Bill, which addresses these issues, is the EB-JOBS Act of 2015, and while it has a bright future, it is standing still at the moment. A potential flaw in this act is that it has restrictions for foreigners, in that, if they do not abide by certain job-creation and financial requirements, they may have their green cards withdrawn.

So, either way, our alien counterparts, whether they obtain a green card or struggle for years to obtain a green card, are going to, potentially, hit a snag if they cannot conform to these strict rules held by the EB-JOBS Act.

Interestingly enough, most of the Billion Dollar Start-up candidates hail from India. Think which, surprisingly, sells mostly small cost effective items like in the home wares, audio, fashion and automotive categories, to mention a few.

The rest are spread over the U.K., Canada, a few in Israel, Germany, and then a real small handful reigning from France and Ireland.

At the end of the day, given all the info, it makes sense to lift the heavy regulations on foreign immigrants and visas. Financially it is the most prudent move that America could make. The numbers speak for themselves. Now let their actions shout out loud too.

Childcare – becoming difficult


All children are the apple of their parent's eyes, their most precious and invaluable asset. Children are loved by the parents even before they are born. This precious bond taking shape right from day 1 of pregnancy just strengthens and develops through the pregnancy and by the time of birth this love just overwhelms the doting parents who wait in eager anticipation and delight to take the first look of the sweet little face. Such a love so selfless in nature with absolutely no expectations of anything in return is something that cannot be measured or explained and it stands true for almost all the parents universally.

All parents would strive to bring the best in everything for their children. It is every parent's heartfelt desire to spend as much time as possible with their precious offspring to create memorable moments lasting a lifetime. But in an ordinary family of today, the pressure of hand to mouth existence forces both parents to work to ease the financial circumstances and to provide a better environment and material comfort to their children. The question is, with the rising costs of child care, are they able to actually achieve what they set out to do sacrificing so much of quality time they would have otherwise spent with their children?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. It is not an easy task analysing the amount of money parents would be spending on childcare simply because that is dependent on a lot of factors like the location where you reside, type of childcare, number of hours/ week you would be putting your child and of course age of your child. So what causes such an exorbitant cost of childcare in the US?

The main culprit here would be no one else but the government. The government has laid down the stringent laws to regulate Childcare industry. The regulations on the area/ sq. foot/ child, number of children / Childcare employee etc. are quite strict. Therefore, a Childcare centre would need to pay more rather less in a rented property especially near city premises where most of the parents' offices operate and employ more people in order to adhere to these rules rather than face the harsh penalties. Such rules vary with each state in the US, so the cost will be invariably exceptionally high in some when compared to the others. In a recent study the cost of Childcare was found to be the highest in the state of Massachusetts, closely followed by New York. Nevada, Montana and Florida stand neck to neck. The cost was found to be relatively low in Wyoming but it is the lowest among all states in South Dakota. But on considering the share of household income spent on Childcare, New York stands out which is not at all surprising.

Health and safety of your child is not something to be compromised in exchange of cheap services. So what are the options for the parents other than to stay at home especially if the job is not worthwhile and low paid to boot.

The US government has recently proposed for an annual tax cut of $3000 per child and also more help for Childcare in lower - middle income group. But will this suffice?

We shall have to wait and see.

Acting in kind – An unbiased perspective


Every year, on the 11th of November, Veterans Day is celebrated in the US to honour the veterans who have served the nation. That day is a federal holiday dedicated to honouring the veterans.

Serving those who have served us has been the idea behind the original GI Bill and the latter post GI Bill 9/11. The particular term GI Bill is referred to different sort of benefits offered to the members of National Guard Armed Forces, Selected Reserve and Active Duty as well as their family members. These benefits are offered by the department of Veterans Affairs. The post GI Bill 9/11 facilitated the enrolment of many veterans and military personnel in various institutions for higher education at an amazingly high rate. Though this small step to help them in their transition from battlefield to college was somewhat gratifying but the real aim is to see them settled in their new career and lives. The Joint Task Force on Veterans' Affairs was established in 2009 by the Council on Social Work Education. This called upon the social work educators to train themselves so as to equip the veterans, military persona and their family to find placements and establish in the civilian field by developing their curricula and preparing research agenda. Let us see whether we have been successful in this matter or not?

Substantial cut especially in the military and armed forces in the recent years is due to two main factors: 1) cooling off of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and 2) extensive pressure on the government to cut down expenditure in the defence especially military expenditure. US layoff in the military has been massive since 2012. Since then there have been several public as well as private programmes to enable their transition into the civilian environment for education and job. Several companies came forward announcing their intention to serve those who have served us. The government also released several promotional videos calling upon the business community to recruit thousands of jobless veterans, stating that veterans do possess leadership, teamwork and problem solving skills which most companies would seek in an employee.

Despite this the unemployment rate remained high and many experts feared that the recession might strike again. The fact that simultaneous with the military cuts in the civilian field, some major technological giant companies also announced layoffs did not help the matter in the least. Recently the government announced that veterans would receive priority in job counselling and placement in the 2600 nationwide centres of the Department of Labour. Many programmes are initiated by the government and private sectors in their intention to serve those who served us.

Statistics reveal that unemployment rate for men, is less than that in women among the veterans. Also as per the latest record, the unemployment rate among those with disability is same as those without.

As of now the trends show an overall improvement in the job prospects. Hopefully this will continue till the full recovery of the job market to give place to those brave Americans who served the nation selflessly.