How to survive the entrepreneurial rollercoaster

- Tina Paparone is the co-founder and CEO of gift company BeMe. This article originally appeared on Under30CEO.com. The views expressed are her own -

Entrepreneurs tend to be a little bit crazy. Starting a business takes a touch of insanity, but running a business can sometimes send you over the edge. You put everything you have into your business, face challenges you never could have prepared for and on top of it all are constantly scrutinized. How do you stay sane? After two years of being on the rollercoaster ride of entrepreneurship, these are the things I’ve found help me manage the dips and stay focused on the loops.

Learn to be patient: Patience has never been my specialty. I come from a hyperactive, scream-over-each-other-to-be-heard type of family, where if you don’t move quickly you are likely to be left behind. This life in the fast-lane mentality had propelled me forward in both my education and career so I applied it to my startup, setting ambitious goals & keeping busy with an endless list of daily tasks. I became increasingly frustrated, however, when my efforts weren’t yielding the immediate results I expected them to.

The past year has taught me a lot about the value of patience. St. Augustine said it perfectly: “Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow – that is patience.” Eventually, I realized the same tactics that had always worked for me in highly structured environments weren’t completely applicable to my bootstrapping startup. I’ve learned to be happy making progress each day and to celebrate the small hurdles.

Open your eyes and ears: Sometimes I consider the amount of opportunities around me and am blown away. The crazy thing is that these opportunities have always existed, but I was always moving too fast with tunnel vision towards my next goal to notice them. Instead of listening to my environment, I always tried to make my environment listen to me. Once I opened my eyes to all of the wonderful opportunities out there, any lingering doubts about going out on my own vanished.

Can Jelli make radio compelling to iPod generation?

Entrepreneurs Mike Dougherty and Jateen Parekh have developed software that changes the way listeners interact with live radio, but a panel of experts was divided on whether their innovation would be able to bring iPod users back to the box.

Jelli, their San Francisco, California startup, uses a Web-based platform that allows listeners to make song requests through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and actually control the music that gets played on a live radio station (read original story here).

Popular music websites such as Pandora and Slacker already allow readers to vote on songs and control what gets played, but Dougherty said Jelli takes it a step further, giving surfers the ability to interact with a live FM radio station and “take over the stick,” as he called it.

National Small Business Week: Who cares?

– George A. Cloutier, a graduate of Harvard Business School, is the founder and CEO of American Management Services, one of the nation’s largest turnaround and management services firms specializing in small and mid-sized companies. He is also the author of the bestselling book “Profits Aren’t Everything, They’re the Only Thing”. The opinions expressed are his own. –

Certainly not the Obama Administration and Congress (both Democrats and Republicans) who have repeatedly failed small business at every opportunity with soaring rhetoric, empty promises, and adopting Lilliputian aid programs.

Most of the twenty-nine million small businesses and their fifty million employees’ won’t be celebrating National Small Business Week because they’re fighting the worst economic crisis in recent history. The twenty-five thousand plus small businesses failing every week, and the owners who have lost their life savings and depleted their 401k’s, will not be celebrating either.

What to do when the money runs out

- Seth Kravitz is the co-founder and CEO of Columbus, Ohio-based InsuranceAgents.com, which has been named one of Inc.com’s 500 fastest growing companies in the U.S. The views expressed are his own. -

Maybe you saw it coming, maybe it blindsided you, but whatever the cause you may run into a huge challenge millions of business owners have faced: you’re out of money.

A couple times over the course of the last six years my company has hit some pretty significant money problems. Each time we made it through, but it was a struggle.

Big banks not so popular among small businesses

A new study showed the big U.S. banks have some work to do to if they want to improve their image among small and mid-sized businesses.

The annual report, released by Portfolio.com and based on research conducted by American City Business Journals (ACBJ), surveyed 1,762 business owners, CEOs and presidents of companies with more than one employee and asked them to rank 207 brand-name companies, from the technology, telecom, travel, financial and media sectors, on a set of seven different attributes.

Among banks and financial services firms trust remained the biggest issue for the small business owners polled, said Godfrey Phillips, vice president for research at ACBJ.

Running a successful sales office

- Michael K. McKean is the CEO and director of new product development for the Knowland Group, a leading provider of business development solutions for the global hospitality industry. The views expressed are his own. -

“A-B-C. A-Always B-Be C-Closing…you close or you hit the bricks.”

This may work for Blake in the classic sales film Glengarry Glen Ross, but sales directors today know it’s not always that simple. No one can create the perfect sales office overnight, anymore than someone can wake up one day as a golf professional ready to win the Masters. Building a successful sales team takes skill, patience, and hard work.

But just as any golfer can quickly up their game with a few short lessons from a knowledgeable instructor, so can you improve your team with a few easy steps.

GDP numbers not so rosy for small business

The U.S.’s latest GDP figures show the economy is growing at its fastest pace in years, but small businesses are still reeling.

According to government data, U.S. 2009 fourth-quarter GDP grew at a 5.6-percent clip – the fastest pace since 2003. Government stimulus, greater exports and less-severe reductions in business inventories have been credited with the growth, but data from Sageworks, which compiles financial information on privately-held companies, paints a far bleaker picture for small businesses.

Drew White,  Sageworks’s chief financial officer, said the survey results representing “tens-to-hundreds of thousands” of U.S. privately-held companies, showed a marked decline in 2009 revenues. White said 2009 fourth-quarter sales, by small private businesses with less than $10 million in annual reported revenues, were down 6.4 percent (see the full report). That was a significant decline from the previous year, when 2008 fourth-quarter sales increased 2.4 percent. Pre-recessionary 2007 figures showed an increase of 5 percent. As a barometer, White said a 3-percent growth rate was “reasonable.”

What the healthcare bill means for small businesses

– Christa Rapoport is the chief compliance officer for independent benefits consulting and brokerage firm Corporate Synergies Group, Inc. The views expressed are her own. –

The House of Representatives last night passed the Senate’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590), as well as the Health Care & Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010 (H.R. 4872).

While the final details are being ironed out, now the big question is: what does that mean for small businesses?

Does size really matter to women entrepreneurs?

The results of a new survey show that nearly 90 percent of women business owners want to grow their companies, but few of them see hiring as a way to do it.

Nell Merlino, the founder and president of Count Me In, a not-for-profit organization that includes 70,000 online members, commissioned the report that polled 250 women small business owners and another 700 non-business owners nationwide. Merlino said the survey shines a light on why women-owned businesses don’t grow at a similar rate to those run by men and why broader societal misconceptions are preventing many women from expanding their businesses.

“There is a perception on the part of the public in general that women are in business to bring in a little money, as opposed to women are in business because they are supporting their families and they want to grow a business,” said Merlino, quoting the study’s findings that just 38 percent of Americans believe women entrepreneurs care about making a lot of money, compared to 63 percent who said male entrepreneurs care about the same.

The stimulus plan: A year later

– By Rosalind Resnick. This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com

Veronica Rose, founder and CEO of Aurora Electric, a Jamaica, N.Y., electrical contracting company, has spent nearly 20 years successfully bidding on government contracts. One of the first women to obtain a master electrician’s license in a heavily male-dominated industry, Rose has worked on major projects at JFK International Airport and the World Trade Center. Her seven-person firm boasts a customer list that includes General Electric, NBC and Columbia University.

So how much of the $787 billion in stimulus money that the government approved last year has ended up in Aurora Electric’s bank account?