How to be a confident entrepreneur – Blog

AB

Business requires you to be confident.

It has been proven that the most successful business people on the planet have high levels of certainty and confidence. It’s not something they’re born with. No-one in fact is born with it, it’s something that is built over time. So how can you create confidence?  

If I told you that tomorrow you are going to wake up at 6am and run a marathon. Some of you reading this might say; “let’s rock and roll!” Whereas the rest of you might have a look of horror on your face because you’re prepared. Mentally as well as physically. You simply haven’t trained and built the muscle.

Yet, if I said to you; “Tomorrow morning at 6am, I want you to run one kilometer,” then I’d bet you’d probably be willing to at least give it a try. Week by week you’d add on more kilometers, getting stonger and better as you go. The pattern of doing and getting better would build your confidence and over time lead you to be ready to run that marathon.

The key here is the doing and getting better as you go. Don’t expect perfection straight away. You see, to be confident is to be competent. Meaning, the more competent you are, the more confidence you’ll have.  

___

Short bio: 

Arnon Barnes started his first business at age 11 and built and sold his first multi million euro company by the age of 28! 

In the past 7 years Arnon has personally trained and coached more than 90 000 people from well over 65 different countries including, The Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the UK, Brazil, Singapore and South Africa to name a few.

Arnon is an explosive international speaker, author, investor and one of Europe’s leading and most exciting business mentors.

___

Want to meet and work with Arnon? Join one of his upcoming online training or masterclasses. For more information his website www.arnonbarnes.com or contact his office via info@arnonbarnes.com.

Talent alone won’t get you the job

What’s going to get you that job?

The articles I write are often directed at business leaders, but I wanted to direct this article to the people who are applying for jobs in medium sized businesses from a business owners perspective. 

You see, one way to grow a company is by hiring team members. Therefore, some years ago that is exactly what I did. I’m going to be bold and speak on behalf of my fellow business owners. You, as an employee might not be aware of this, but us business owners would never be able to get so far if it weren’t for you. We need you to do the things you’re passionate about and good at. Which in most cases are the things we are not good at, but this in return helps us stay in our super power and enables the company to grow. 

One of my companies is a small business and I myself still operate in it. It is my passion project. Therefore I am very conscious of who I let on my team. To me it’s like inviting someone into my family. What I want to avoid is having one rotten apple infect everyone else in a negative way. When hiring team members, one of my main objectives is to keep the company’s environment and my existing team safe. This will enable everyone to work and deliver to the highest standard. 

Of course you need to be talented in what you do. If you’re not, you could potentially harm a company more than do it any good. Yet, from my experience talent alone won’t get you the job. Therefore in this article I am going to be sharing my 5 main points which you can adopt to increase your chances of being hired. 

  1. Look the part

You may have applied for a position that doesn’t require you to wear a suit, but that doesn’t mean you should look like “it’s the weekend” in your interview. Yes, there are those Facebook cultures that embrace the whole casual vibe, but you simply can’t neglect human conditioning. You see, we are programmed to judge a person’s appearance within 3 seconds. We judge according to social dominance hierarchy and optically the majority of the people on the top look the part. So if you’re dressed like you’ve just rolled out of bed, well the person who’s done their best will instantly be ahead of you in the race and why would you want to take that risk?

2. Have a positive energy

Congratulations you’ve made it to the job interview. You’re very talented in your area of expertise and on paper you tick all the boxes. However so do the other 10 candidates who’ve gotten through to the interview rounds. In my opinion something that will instantly let you stand out from the rest is having a positive energy. Smile and be thankful! It’s not a given you got invited to this interview. In addition, the interviewer also took time out of his/her busy agenda to sit with you. Sound upbeat and happy. Having a positive energy will show your interviewer that you will be able to engage with fellow employees with an optimistic frame-of-mind and contribute to conversations and team meetings in a constructive manner. Having someone with this attitude on my team is a definite plus.

3. Be polite

It might sound cheesy, but in my opinion something that never goes out of fashion is politeness. It’s the number one social skill and in its essence shows respect. When you are polite in your interview your interviewer will see that you have the ability to show respect to your fellow team members as well as clients and business partners. 

4. Be open

What do I mean by this? When you’re at your interview or new workplace, try to leave your preconceptions and beliefs outside. Then when you go home and you still feel uncomfortable without them you can always take them on again. When discussions take place people often act in response to what they believe. Belief is a funny thing, you can’t see it, hear it, taste it or touch it. It’s completely invisible yet every person on the planet operates from this space. Being open minded doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything the other person is saying. However, just by being open to new ideas, concepts or beliefs makes way for endless possibilities. Having a flexible mind will show that you have the ability to think and act outside the box and move with a dynamic flow of entrepreneurship. You will be a major asset to the company.

5. Be yourself

I strongly believe that being yourself is key. Why? Because when you express your core values concerning a job, you will attract a company who equally shares these values. You might say; “but Arnon, won’t I scare companies away if I express my values out loud?” Yes, you will! These companies might not hire you, but that’s a good thing because if you are forced to conform to morals and values you are not happy with, over time you will become unhappy in your job. That will make you an unhappy employee and no one will benefit from that. 

Put all of these points together and you get something I’d like to call a winner’s attitude. As a business owner I can train talent or skills, but one thing I can’t train is attitude. When your attitude is right and you show this in your interview through the few points I have mentioned above you will stand out from the rest and your chances of being hired will drastically increase. Good luck out there!

Arnon Barnes started his first business at age 11 and built and sold his first multi million euro company by the age of 28! 

In the past 7 years Arnon has personally trained and coached more than 90 000 people from well over 65 different countries including, The Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the UK, Brazil, Singapore and South Africa to name a few.

Arnon is an explosive international speaker, author, investor and one of Europe’s leading and most exciting business mentors.

Want to meet and work with Arnon? Join one of his upcoming webinars? For more information about classes or coaching check out his website www.arnonbarnes.com or contact his office via info@arnonbarnes.com.

Passion Is Superior to Pension

Love, Heart, Low Poly, Valentine

William Hazlitt once said, “A strong passion for any object will insure success, for the desire of the end will point out the means.” Every person has the potential to be passionate. Everyone loves something. We are shaped and inspired by what we love. This reveals our passion. This is a choice, not a result. If you ignore what you are passionate about then you have ignored one of the greatest potentials inside you.

There are two classes of people in life: it is either you’re a “pensioner” or a “passioneer”. You can simply define and evaluate a man by the object of his pursuit. Joseph Campbell once said, “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.”There are many things in life that’ll catch your eye but only a few will catch your heart, pursue those things that catch your heart. John C. Maxwell said, “People don’t need to follow the common path to be successful. They need to follow their passion.” The fastest way to prosperity is to follow your passion; following your passion helps you achieve more freedom (financially, emotionally, socially, and spiritually). Any job that encourages redundancy and doesn’t place a demand on your creativity will eventually deplete your passion and waste away your ‘destiny!’ If you are in such stagnation, let it go and have no regrets.

Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life! In life, you’ll always be found doing any of these two things: either making a living or making a difference. Your job gives you an opportunity to make a living while your passion gives you an opportunity to make a difference. Nothing significant was ever achieved without a passion and when passion is lost, the essence of life vanishes, for passion is the only virtue that fuels all others. In a nutshell, Passion is the effortless path to discovering your purpose.

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you” -Maya Angelou. It is a great and decent calling to serve people and your country but it’s a greater and more honorable calling to pursue your passion, bless humanity and fulfill your destiny. In the awesome and award winning movie “ 3 Idiots”, the three friends seemed like idiots when they dared to pursue their passion, to the extent that one of them pursued his passion in photography at the detriment of a blooming career in Engineering; but time will always tell who the real ‘idiots’ are! Never allow anyone, no matter who they are or how much influence they have in your life to talk you out of your passion. Whatever happens, don’t negotiate your passion for anything. Whosoever tries to talk you out of your passion in life is your real enemy, hold on to it, sooner or later they’ll realize their folly and not yours!

Your passion is the only thing in life that is truly yours. In every true sense of the word, pursuing your pension is like chasing a mirage! There are so many stories where pension funds have been embezzled or better still, belated in payment. People can defraud you of your pension but never of your passion—you’re the only one that can defraud yourself of your passion. The story of dedicated people that died in long queues while pursuing their pension is both appalling and pathetic. Your pension should be an added advantage and must never be the object of your pursuit.

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”—Jim Rohn. The evolution of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) underlines fruitlessness of getting addicted to your pension at the detriment of your passion. Colonel Harland Sanders was an American business magnate best known for founding Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and later acting as the company’s goodwill ambassador and symbol. Sanders went through traumatizing experiences that eventually shaped his life. In 1903, Sanders dropped out of school and lived on a farm after arguments with his stepfather. He took a job painting horse carriages, worked as a farmhand for two years, worked with his uncle in a street car company as a conductor. He enlisted in the United States Army prematurely at the age of 16 and was discharged after three months. He moved to Sheffield and worked as a blacksmith’s helper and two months after as a train cleaner. Sanders had many failures and kept moving from one job to another. He later enrolled as a fireman, worked as a salesman thereafter and also sold life insurance.

In 1930, Sanders finally quit working as a result of the great depression and decided to look from within what he could do to make a difference. The turning point came one day as Colonel Sanders was sitting on his porch in Corbin, Kentucky; one morning, the mailman came up the walk and handed him his first social security check, then he was 65 years old, broke and defeated, he looked at the check and said, “My government is going to give me a hundred and five dollars a month so I can eke out an existence. Surely there is something I can do for myself and other people.” He was internally motivated and began to engage himself in deep thinking, and thinking always produces results.

The thought of his mother’s special recipe for fried chicken came to his mind. It was a particular formula which he considered somewhat special. He decided to try to sell franchises for marketing his fried chicken. Sanders began to cook chicken dishes and finally opened a little restaurant. It was doing well, then the highway was rerouted and he lost everything. He was sixty-five years old at the time. Though Harland Sanders’ chicken was a hit, there were still many challenges to surmount. He utilized the recipes and cooking skills his mother had taught him. His special meal was the fried chicken which he seasoned with his original blend of eleven spices and herbs; his recipes eventually became famous.

Sanders decided to sell Franchises for marketing his fried chicken formula but was turned down by scores of restaurants. After much rejection, he rounded up some investors and the legendary Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) was born. The KFC was one of the first fast food chains to expand internationally, opening outlets in Canada and later England, Mexico and Jamaica by the mid-60s. The company’s rapid expansion to more than 600 locations became overwhelming for the aging Sanders. His famous “finger-licking” Kentucky fried chicken made from a special recipe changed the face of “chicken” forever. Harland Sanders impact was so significant that Kentucky Governor, Ruby Laffoon, in 1935 made Harland an honorary Kentucky Colonel in recognition of his awesome impact, their advertising logo says it all-‘We do chicken right’. The greatest question of life is to ask yourself: ‘what is that one thing that I can do right? “Discover the one thing you were created to be, and be willing to pay the price to be it” – Anonymous.

Sanders’ life pointed towards two facts about making a difference: one, there is no age that is too much to make a difference; two, there is nothing too small or insignificant to make a difference with as long as it is your passion. Colonel Sanders at the age of 65, made a difference with his chicken recipe. It’s amazing how a man can make a difference all over the world just with “chicken”! The first and most imperative clarification is to know that your job is not your means of livelihood; your job should be a means to fuel your passion! The earlier you realize this basic truth of life, the less jaundiced your view becomes and the more clearly you’ll be able to position yourself in living a life of impact and value.

Normal Cousin said, “The greatest tragedy of life is not that we die but what dies in us while we live.”  Don’t carry your passion to the grave! I have always said it, if you don’t use your talents to realize your dream, somebody will use you to realize his. Don’t just be a dreamer, make it happen.

About the Author:

Andrew Habel is a result oriented professional with unwavering online presence. He is a subject matter expert in matters Entrepreneurship, Self development, Transformative Leadership and Management. He is a motivational speaker, lecturer and researcher. All these achievements have been achieved courtesy of his resilient utilization of technology and online presence. He is an award winning entrepreneur having won the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship program award of the year 2016. He founded Uwezo Accelerated and Tech Hub which is an Entrepreneurship and talent Incubator and Support Innovations for Peace and Education- NGO and does a lot of varied sector research and content writing. He is an online independent research, Subject matter expert, higher education programs assessor, moderator and lecturer. His mantra is Don’t dream it, Be it. He speaks loudly on many issues about self development, inspiration and positive living, entrepreneurship, transformative leadership and management on his blog https://www.andrewhabel.blogspot.com

 

The Principles of Entrepreneurship (The 16 P’s)

Startups, Entrepreneurship, Ideas

(1)PURPOSE

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. An entrepreneur must see beyond the moment; he must travel to a desirable future ahead of his followers to lead them there, hence, purpose and vision is sine qua non to entrepreneurship. Robert Byrne said, “The purpose of life is a life of purpose”. The hardest thing for an entrepreneur to discern is distraction. Purpose keeps you on course. A hustler is an ‘entrepreneur’ without a definite goal and purpose, a business without a definite purpose is open to abuse. An entrepreneur has a gold mine when he has a goal mind. Charles Noble said, “You must have long-term goal to keep you from being frustrated by short term failures”. Henry Ford had a global goal, to develop the first auto-mobile that the middle class Americans can afford to buy. His introduction of the model T automobile revolutionized the transportation and the American Industry. Ford’s goal was to: create a motor car for the great multitude.  At that time, automobiles were very expensive and custom-made machines. During the industrial revolution, cars were like buying a private jet today until Ford created the assembly line, the Ford’s dream: the creation of an inexpensive mass-produced automobile came to reality and today, the automobile is within reach for common People just because one man stuck to his purpose! Robert Brault said, “You can accept reality, or you can persist in your purpose until reality accepts you”.

(2) PASSION

Steve jobs said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do”.  Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work. Passion is the fuel that drives purpose. The things we are created to do excite us while the things we were not created to do exhaust us. Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls. Jack Welch said, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion”. Passion is the only virtue of entrepreneurs that is contagious. Money follows passion and not the other way around.

(3) PEOPLE

Margaret Wheatley said, “A leader is the one who has more faith in people than they do, and who holds opportunities open long enough for their competence to re-emerge .“ One of the greatest prerequisite of a great enterprise is that it will require people. The greatest form of bankruptcy in business is not money but people. People are definitely a company’s greatest asset. A company is only as good as the people it keeps. Growth and profit are a product of how people work together. It takes people to make the dream a reality. Bang Gae said, “Team work makes the dream work”.

(4) PROCESS

In quality control, the understanding is that as long as the process is perfect, the product is guaranteed, proper procedure eliminates unwanted consequences. The integrity of the product lies in the process, in fact, the process guarantees the product. George W. Bush once said, “You can’t do today’s job with yesterday’s methods and be in business tomorrow”. Great entrepreneurs understand that in business, if you focus on the goal and not the process, you inevitably compromise. Great entrepreneurs are process focused and not outcome focused, Noam Shpancer said, “the process is important regardless of the outcome”

(5) PRICE

Price must be value oriented and competitive, pricing is actually pretty simple; customers will not pay literally a penny more that the true value of the product. Katherine Paine said, “The moment you make a mistake in pricing, you’re eating into your reputation and profit”. Warren Buffet, the one-time richest man in the world said, “Price is what you pay, value is what you get”.

(6) PROBLEM

Mike Murdock said, “Money is the reward you get for solving someone’s problem”. In business, the man who has no problems to solve is out of the game. Successful entrepreneurs don’t just make profit, they proffer solutions to problems, a problem is a solution yet to be discovered. The richest man in Africa, Aliko Dangote, said  “ Every morning when I wake up, I make up my mind to solve as many problems, before retiring home”, no wonder he is the richest man in Africa! Great entrepreneurs think and solve problems for a living,  Albert Einstein said, “problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them”. When Albert Einstein was being interviewed to reveal the secret of his awesomeness, he said, “It is not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer”. No problem can stand the assault of sustained thinking.

(7) PROFIT

Profits are like breathing. You have to have them. But who would stay alive just to breath? You must consider the bottom line, but make it integrity before profit. Henry Ford, the father of modern automobile and one of the greatest entrepreneurs that the world has ever produced said, “A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large”. Businessmen who focus on profit wind up in the hole, profit is what happens when you do everything right. Ray Anderson said, “Business makes profit to exist. Surely it must exist for some higher, nobler purpose than that”.

(8) PRODUCT

Quality is the best kind of advertising. The quality of a product must never be compromised, for when quality is compromised, profit has been forfeited. Peter Drucker said, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product fits him and sells itself”. The easiest way to keep a business from becoming obsolete is to keep evolving and the moment the product becomes irrelevant, the business becomes irrelevant. Steve jobs, the main back bone behind the Apple innovations said, “If you keep your eye on the profit, you are going to skimp on the product. But if you focus on making really great products, then the profits will follow”. Tom Peters, author of in search of excellence said, “Be distinct or be extinct”. A product must meet a unique need; the easiest way to go into extinction is to do what every other person is doing.

(9) PERSISTENCE

Overcoming, Victory, Strength

Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States of America said, “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent  will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful man  with talent. Geniuses will not, unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent”. Where the willingness is great, the difficulties can never be great. Genius is one-percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration (Thomas A. Edison). One of the most impactful inventions of Thomas Alva Edison is the light bulb and despite the plethora of his errors and blunders, Thomas was unflinching in his resolve to make the world brighter than he met it. In response to a question on the number of times he failed, he said, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t”. The strength of entrepreneurs lies in their tenacity, consistence and persistence to a worthy cause. Winston Churchill, the former prime minister of Britain said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”  It is always too soon to quit (Norman Vincent Peale).

(10) PREPARATION/PLAN

Failure in business is a result; it is a result of not preparing. When you are too busy to plan, you will be too easy to be disorganized. Chance favors only the prepared mind. Henry Ford said, “There are many secrets to success in life but getting ready is the greatest of them all”. When opportunity presents itself, it is too late to prepare. The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his time when it comes, one of T.V screen goddess in America, Oprah Winfrey said, “I don’t believe in luck. I believe that success comes when preparation meets opportunity”.

Running, Sprint, Cinder-Track

(11) POSSIBILITIES

Great entrepreneurs have been considered to always see opportunities and possibilities even in adverse business conditions. Leaders are not always the first to see opportunities; they are simply the first to see and seize opportunities. Winston Churchill said, “A pessimist sees the difficulties in every opportunity”. No matter the difficulties and failures, an entrepreneur’s sight for possibilities must never be blurred. Henry Ford said, “Failure is an opportunity to start all over, more intelligently”.

(12) PARTNER

In this new wave of technology, you can’t do it all yourself, you have to form alliances. Every entrepreneur needs allies, and the bigger the responsibility, the more allies he needs.  If you can run the company a bit more collaboratively, you get a better result, because you have more bandwidth and checking and balancing going on.Bill Gates, the richest man in the world and the co-founder of the Microsoft Corporation has a secret about Microsoft, “Our success has really been based on partnerships from the very beginning”.

(13) POSITIONING/STRATEGIC POSITIONING

Not every environment accepts the progress you want to put across. Positioning gives a business market advantage. The bible says, “A house that is built upon a hill cannot be hidden”, this is also true for a business, there is a place for every business. Right positioning will ultimately give a business a competitive edge. One of the greatest miracles in product marketing is rebranding- just a little change in product content and packaging can cause an awesome change in demand!

Positioning is not only about location, there are place positioning, product positioning, market positioning, price positioning, brand positioning and promotion positioning. In the parable of the sower in Mathew 13:1-8, the master illustrated one of the greatest secrets of entrepreneurship- there is no bad seed, only bad soil!

(14) PROMOTION

P.T Barnum said, “Without Promotion something terrible happens ……..Nothing”. When you try to market to everyone, you reach no one, promotion helps in locating our target or prospective customers.  Promotion is more than advertising. It encompasses advertising and all other methods that are organized to advance the state of a product. Promotion can be defined as an activity, such as a sale or advertising campaign, designed to increase visibility or sales of a product but in a layman word, promotion helps to attract prospective customers. There are generally two types of promotion: Online and offline, the online involves social medias (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, Tagged, Myspace etc.), E-mails, Adds on Search Engines, Podcasting, Blogs, Website while the offline include: in store marketing, flyers etc.

(15) PRIORITY (The Pareto Principle)

The pattern underlying the Pareto (80/20) principle was discovered in 1897, by Italian Economist Vifredo Pareto (1848 – 1923). The principle helps us to manage our resources and time more effectively. It embodies the fact that 80% of output result from 20% inputs; it is therefore reasonable that we invest more of our time and resources on the 20% that gives 80% output and invest less time and resources on 80% inputs that gives 20% output. The principle is also referred to as the rule of the “vital few” and trivial many”. In business, products can be grouped into “vital few” and “trivial many”. There is 20% of the product that gives 80% income; a good entrepreneur must prioritize to give more attention, time, promotion and resources to the product that are the “selling point”.

(16) PRAYER

He who succeeds in his prayer life will succeed in life. He who fails in his prayer life will fail in life, these were the words of Mike Murdock. An entrepreneur must not make God the last resort. Failure in many business endeavors is a prayer failure; prayerlessness is leaving life to chance. John Wesley said, “We can do great things when we pray; but we can do nothing great until we pray”

Hands, Open, Candle, Candlelight, Prayer

Don’t Dream It, Be It. Make it happen and it will happen.

About the Author:

Andrew Habel is a result oriented professional with unwavering online presence. He is a subject matter expert in matters Entrepreneurship, Self development, Transformative Leadership and Management. He is a motivational speaker, lecturer and researcher. All these achievements have been achieved courtesy of his resilient utilization of technology and online presence. He is an award winning entrepreneur having won the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship program award of the year 2016. He founded Uwezo Accelerated and Tech Hub which is an Entrepreneurship and talent Incubator and Support Innovations for Peace and Education- NGO and does a lot of varied sector research and content writing. He is an online independent research, Subject matter expert, higher education programs assessor, moderator and lecturer. His mantra is Don’t dream it, Be it. He speaks loudly on many issues about self development, inspiration and positive living, entrepreneurship, transformative leadership and management on his blog https://www.andrewhabel.blogspot.com

 

Brief Guide on Business Plan Development

A business plan is a formal statement of business goals, why they are achievable and plans for reaching them. As an entrepreneur you are required to produce a business plan which you will execute to transform your business idea into a successful and profitable business that will ultimately achieve the set goals. A clear and convincing business plan provides you with a guide for building a
successful enterprise focused on achieving your personal and financial goals. It can also help persuade investors, including banks, to invest in what you are creating. This document will provide full details of what is required.

Office, Business, Colleagues, Meeting

The Importance of Passion
A good business idea requires an entrepreneur that cares about it. If you are not interested in your own business idea, then it is unlikely that you can make someone else to be interested in it. A key criterion for deciding which idea to take forward is that you find it interesting.

Planning
Writing a business plan requires both creative and rational thinking. You need to originate an idea (which you have done), but then you need to produce a rational argument about why your idea is a good idea. For a proposed new business that does not have a financial track record, when it comes to the financials of your business idea, you are essentially going to have to predict what might happen. You will have to make assumptions about future revenue streams and costs. Be clear in your financials what is based on assumptions, and what you can base on evidence. The more evidence you can find to lend credibility to your assumptions, the better.
Presentation
Presentation and grammar could keep readers interested in your business plan, so you need to take note of these. You can add a brand logo to the header of every page for branding purposes and professionalism. You can use appendices if you wish to include any visuals e.g. sample web pages or diagrams of your product.

Business Plan at A glance

Business Idea, Planning, Business Plan

A business plan is not meant to be an exact prediction of everything your business does now and will do in the future. Think of it like the plays that football teams practice. There are roles and responsibilities for each member of the team, but you cannot predict exactly how people will play in a match.

A business plan should be used as a guide to help you run the company. It helps you consider the most important aspects of your business in a comprehensive way. Everything we have done since Week 1 can be integrated into your business plan. You start to understand why this training was so important to the complete development of your idea.

It is long and time-consuming, but do not let other people write the business plan for you. Only the founding team of the company should be responsible for drafting and updating this document. Each question you will have is an opportunity to decide together what exactly it is that your business will do. Expect to have many questions while writing the plan. That is a normal part of the process, and a great chance to speak with friends, advisors, and your Mentors.

Generally speaking there are seven parts to a business plan:

  • Business Description
  • Market Analysis
  • Competitor Assessment
  • Marketing Plan
  • Operating Plan
  • Financial Plan

Go through the following questions and answer them to the best of your ability. Pay close attention to places where you are not confident in the answer. Those are the topics that you need to discuss with friends, advisors, and potential customers.

Business Summary

Why does your business exist?

What are the customer problems that you are trying to solve?

What motivates you to solve these problems?

What is unique about your solution?

Who owns the business?

How is the business structured legally?

Market Analysis

Who is your primary customer – individuals or businesses?

Why do your customers want to buy your product or service?

Is the user of your product or service the one who pays for it?

How large is your market geographically?

How large is your market financially?

Are there government regulations that will affect your business?

Competitor Assessment

Who creates similar products or services in the same area?

Who solves similar problems in the same area?

How much do these products or services cost for a basic version? A luxury version?

How are these products or services advertised to the customers?

Marketing Plan

How do you describe the best features of your product or service?

How do you describe the biggest benefits of using your product or service?

What would you like to charge for your product or service?

What is the minimum you can charge for your product or service and make a profit?

Will there be intermediate steps like a wholesale or retail partner?

Operating Plan

Who owns the company?

In which form is the business incorporated?

Who manages the day-to-day operations of the company?

How many employees do you have? How will you expand in the future?

How many contractors do you have? How will you expand in the future?

What sort of facilities and equipment do you need?

Do you need to consider intellectual property, such as proprietary technology?

Financial Plan

On a quarterly basis, how much income are you predicting over the next two years?

On a quarterly basis, how does your cash flow look over the next year?

How much does it cost to produce your product or service?

What are your largest costs this year? Next year?

When will your company be able to sustain itself financially?

Business, Plan, Tree, Growth, Grow

About the Author:

Andrew Habel Odongo is a result oriented professional with unwavering online presence. He is a subject matter expert in matters Entrepreneurship, Self development, Transformative Leadership and Management. He is a motivational speaker, lecturer and researcher. All these achievements have been achieved courtesy of his resilient utilization of technology and online presence. He is an award winning entrepreneur having won the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship program award of the year 2016. He founded Uwezo Accelerated and Tech Hub which is an Entrepreneurship and talent Incubator and Support Innovations for Peace and Education- NGO and does a lot of varied sector research and content writing. He is an online independent research, Subject matter expert, higher education programs assessor, moderator and lecturer. His mantra is Don’t dream it, Be it. He speaks loudly on many issues about self development, inspiration and positive living, entrepreneurship, transformative leadership and management on his blog https://www.andrewhabel.blogspot.com

 

A Writer Shares 5 Ways To Achieve Spectacular Results With Networking

Image by Antonio on Flickr

If you’ve never been to a writing conference before, I can give you one piece of advice right now: prepare to be overwhelmed. That’s how I felt when I attended my first writing conference, the AWP Annual Conference in Boston. There seemed to be no limit to the panels to attend, authors and editors to meet, and off-site readings at which to imbibe.

In retrospect, I’m not sure I made the most of it — there was simply too much to do, and I came into the conference with no plan whatsoever. However, after much reflection, I’ve determined what I could have done better so I can make the most of the next writing conference I attend. I’m here today to share my conclusions so that you, too, can take advantage of the myriad opportunities writing conferences provide (and not have retrospective FOMO like I did).

Tip #1: Set your goals beforehand

Perhaps the most important thing to do before attending a conference is to figure out what you want out of it. This is partly so you can make the most of the conference, and also partly so you can choose the right one in the first place! There are tons of different conference options out there, so picking one that aligns with your goals is key.

For example, if you’re a fiction writer looking to finish a piece of work, the workshop model of Sewanee Writers’ Conference would be an excellent choice. But if your manuscript is already finished and you’re looking for professionals or publishing knowledge, The Muse and the Marketplace might be better.

Once you’re at your chosen conference, keep your focus in mind. Whether this is generating more work, meeting editors, or gathering inspiration from the talks, you should always be working toward a concrete goal or set of goals. It can be easy to go into “vacation mode” at a conference, but remembering your goal(s) will give you the motivation to actually work. And trust me: you’ll be grateful later that you didn’t spend the whole weekend lounging by the pool.

Tip #2: Be prepared for anything

This tip applies mainly to the conference itself, but being prepared starts as early as registration! Some writing conferences sell out quickly, so it pays to register ASAP — plus many conferences offer a discount if you register early.

After you’re signed up, create a conference plan. Look at the schedule and come up with a personalized agenda that will keep you busy, but won’t send you running around like crazy. Do a bit of research on who’s who, especially the lecturers you plan on seeing; you never know with whom you might rub shoulders. On that note, try to memorize your “elevator pitch” as well — just a two-to-three sentence summary of what you’re working on currently. This will keep you from fumbling for words when that opportune moment arises.

And of course, thorough preparation naturally means bringing along essential materials. Take a backpack with a folder, notebook, at least two pens, business cards, and copies of your book’s written synopsis or first chapter if you have it available. You’ll also accumulate a lot of free stuff (yay conference swag!), so having a larger bag to carry it all could end up being a lifesaver.

Tip #3: Reach outside of your comfort zone

While it’s important to create goals that you can meet comfortably, it’s also good to think of ways you might broaden your horizons at a writing conference. This is certainly one of the things I regret about my first conference experience; I accomplished most of what I set out to do, but I hardly tried anything new or different, despite the plethora of unique opportunities.

To that end, you should always be thinking of potential ways to step outside your comfort zone during a conference — not so much that you end up super-stressed, but enough that you can later think, “Wow, I’m proud of myself for doing that!” For example, if you’re an introvert, you should try networking with strangers for an hour or two. Or if you normally write short fiction, you might attend a poetry panel discussion and then attempt to write some poetry of your own.

Remember, there are so many opportunities at writing conferences: critiques, panels, workshops, book fairs, one-on-ones, and more! You never know what kind of inspiration you’ll find or where you’ll find it, but there’s no better place to explore your options.

Tip #4: Connect with different people

If you’re anything like me, making the first move to talk to a stranger may be hard; however, it’s an absolute conference essential. It also might be tempting to only talk to professionals, but other authors can offer valuable experience and insights too.

Again, this is a great challenge for my fellow introverts, as the connections you forge at a conference could change the trajectory of your entire career! For instance, you might talk to an amazing designer who offers you a discount on their services, and you’re finally able to afford a dream cover for your book. Or you talk to an author who gives you a revelatory piece of advice that helps you untangle a difficult plot issue. You may even meet an acquiring editor for a publisher and snag yourself a contract!

Needless to say, the social anxiety that accompanies interacting with strangers can be pretty daunting, but the benefits are totally worth it. So make a goal of talking to at least one new person a day — after all, you all have writing in common, which usually makes for a great conversation starter.

Tip #5: Follow up after a few days

Even once you’ve left a conference, there are still plenty of opportunities to reap its rewards — mostly when it comes to retaining those valuable professional connections. That said, give people (and yourself) a day or two to decompress after the conference before you reach out. In addition to re-introductory emails, it’s also a nice touch to send some thank you emails, whether to a panelist who offered great advice, a staff member who helped you out, or a professional who offered to be your beta reader.

Keep in mind that if you start attending conferences regularly, you’ll likely run into a lot of the same people — and a little bit of courtesy goes a long way to helping them remember you in a positive light! On a related note, it might be reassuring to know that the more conferences you attend, the easier it gets. You’ll know how things run, execute your goals with greater ease, and effortlessly maintain those long-term relationships.

Writing conferences offer limitless inspiration and opportunities, and with these tips in mind, you’ll be well equipped to take advantage of what these writerly havens have to offer. So have go forth, network, and enjoy!

About The Author

Tess Patalano is a poet, teacher, and freelance writer. She’s written a number of pieces for Reedsy, the world’s best resource hub and marketplace for self-publishing authors. If you missed that AWP conference, but you’re still hoping to hire an editor in Boston (or anywhere else), you can sign up to meet them on Reedsy today.

Work, Don’t Talk

In the game, there’s often a whole lot more talkers than doers.

It’s hard to believe but it’s the absolute truth.

It’s even so bad, than in the Bible itself, it is said,

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”

See, even Jesus knew there was a whole lot of talkers around him who could spit a good game, but who were unwilling to do the stuff, walk the straight and narrow and do the work.

So that’s the problem we have with us today. I don’t care if you are a one-man startup like I am, or if you run a 100,000-people corporation, or are somewhere in between, you are probably doing a whole lot more talking than working.

If you know so much, go out there and prove it on the floor, before telling anyone you’re gonna do this and that or that.

construction-site-build-construction-work-159306

This is a nuance that gets lost in translation.

People see a great famous trash-talker like Michael Jordan or Ali, and they think,

“I can do that! I can talk up a big game too!”

Yes, but can you slam the layups, drive and dribble your way to the paint, and serve technical knockouts like a chef delivering extra fries at a McDonald’s drive-thru?

Because, before Michael Jordan went out on the floor and talked trash to competitors, he’d already beat em where it mattered:

He’d outworked them in the preparation!

So, walking on that floor, he KNEW! They were beat. They just didn’t know it yet. So here he was, doing em a small favor, givin em the pointers in case it hadn’t broken thru yet.

What would it be like to go up into the ring against a boxer like that? Like Ali, who knows you are beat and done before you ever step into the ring.

The only way to stand a chance is one word: WORK!

If you or your people are doing more talking than working, I hate to break it to you, but you’re all going down. It’s only a matter of time before the market catches on.

pexels-photo-64609

People sometimes get caught up in the hype and forget the fundamentals.

They look at a glamor CEO like Steve Jobs and think,

“If only I could present like the guy!”

Without realizing that you can present all you want, Steve Jobs could present and hype the iPhone all he wanted, but if people actually bought the thing and took it home, and it sucked, that would have brought the building down. Apple as we know it could have crumbled.

This is probably why Microsoft has done so poorly compared to its internet competitors in recent times. The giant seems to have been resting on its laurels.

Guess what? The market catches on, sometimes pretty fast.

So before you talk about your big plans and your vision and so forth, you better be prepared to do a whole lot of work to make that vision a reality.

And before you come out here and tell us all about it, what should you absolutely, definitely do first and get right beforehand?

WORK!

What Steve Jobs Knew About Failure That You Don’t

steve jobs

Writing the Towers of Zeyron rag magazine is as much about helping my readers with flashes of new insight as it is about creating a journal of insights that I will personally enjoy reading.

I’m both writer and reader of these updates, and would not have it any other way. I’m writing a site for my own consumption as well as anybody’s.

And the story I have for you today is one I personally find inspiring, very inspiring.

It’s Steve Jobs talking about failure.

We all know what a brilliant man Mr. Jobs was. We all know how he got booted out of Apple in a power struggle, how he battled with perceptions that he was a rude weirdo everywhere he went. And what a genius of engineering, design, aesthetic and marketing he was. All in one package.

This is what makes his words so powerful.

Steve Jobs basically says that most people reason themselves out of pursuing their goal for life because they tell themselves it won’t work, so why bother. Most people never pick up the phone, most people never call, and try the thing, they let the fear of failing convince them it’s better to stay in the place where it’s nice and warm and there is less risk of failure.

Well, this is how they cheat themselves out of the opportunities that could make the biggest difference because they are looking to bottom-feed, and the very best opportunities are somewhere way up there, far away from all the bottom-feeders dreaming on the floor but never doing anything.

As Steve Jobs says, “If you’re afraid of failure, you won’t get very far.”

This ties in with something else I found out listening to a talk by Mike Tyson. Mr. Tyson basically said, “Everytime I walked up into the ring I was death scared. But the trick was to never show it, to walk in like the other guy was the one who should be scared. And most times, it worked.”

Many KOs later, it’s clear if you let fear of failure talk you out of even trying, you need to rethink your mentality. The game is for doers!

Check out the entire video below. And leave your thoughts in the comments.

 

 

 

The Ultimate List of 200 Greatest Web Apps On The Net: A Product Maker’s Guide

Coursera

For web developers and designers out there, in an effort to be always improving our craft, it pays to see what others have accomplished.

By looking at the brilliance and mistakes of others, we become better and can emulate what works, and discard what doesn’t work.

I realize this list is highly subjective. It is meant purely as a representative sample of some of the best designs available on the web in 2016. However, it will be highly informative as a handy cheat-sheet of what has worked on the web so far, and also highlight what has not worked so well. Think of it as a starting point and guide for your explorations.

Please leave a comment below, if you agree with something like this. Even if you disagree, we can still learn from clashing points of view.

That said, here is my list of 200 of the best products available on the web today.

See any patterns in the list?

If this inspires you to go out and make a world-changing product of your own, I have done my job. Happy Coding!


#1 – #10

 

udacity

Udacity – With Udacity, you can pursue different “Nano Degrees” and attend virtual classes on everything from electronics to artificial intelligence, and a lot more. Helping millions learn almost anything from the comfort of their browser, this web app combines utility and elegant designs to make it the representative ideal of what we strive for on the web.

InstagramThe app Facebook acquired for $1 Billion back in 2012, allows people to connect with others, and share photos of their lives and experiences. Noteworthy design choices.

8Tracks – A design showcase. The app for music. Choose your pick. If Pandora is ever dead, this might be the reason.

Coursera

Coursera – Don’t know what it is with these educational product companies, but yeah, they seem to be popping up everywhere! Learn whatever you want, in style.

WunderList – Doesn’t do much besides manage your todo tasks, but does it with style.

soundcloud

SoundCloud – The app for discovering music you love. Turns a normal afternoon into a delightful adventure through blues, hard rock and Lord of the The Rings soundtracks, or whatever your favorite soup du jour.

Telegram – Delivers a new era of messaging. A case study of solid design.

Pinterest – The world’s catalogue of ideas, great for saving ideas and organizing them in boards, and discovering what others have pinned.

AirBnBActive in over 191 countries, AirBnB makes it possible to travel the world and meet people while saving you money on accommodation.

Quora – Helps you find the best answer to any question. Like Google on steroids, and cutting through the long search to find the best answer.


#11 – #20

VK



VK – Social networking app popular in Europe.

We Heart It – Discover inspiration and beautiful images every day.

Twitter – The app that took micro-blogging to the mainstream. Cutting edge concept and cutting edge designs are the norm here. Lends its name to design products like the famous Twitter Bootstrap. Don’t be too surprised if half the internet begins looking like Twitter.

Postach – The easiest way to blog.

vimeo

Vimeo – Watch and share videos with no ads. Takes a simple approach to design.

Flickr – The home of all your photos.

TED – TEDx is like Woodstock for intellectuals, minus the booze and the drugs. Besides that its celebrities are everything from guys whose books you have read to weirdos whose books you will find yourself reading months after watching their videos without knowing it. Such is the cult impact of TED.

Facebook – The app with a billion users. Its design has fallen behind in recent years, but users still can’t get enough of it. A good way to connect with your friends from high school.

500px – A photography community unlike any other. Stands out for its design sense.

Bebo – HQ for your group. Group video and audio chat.


#21 – #30

postly

Postly – Gives you private threads to share content with friends.

Mega – Focused on encryption and privacy, rethinks file storage from the ground up. You can snag 50GB of storage, and who knows what else.

Trello – Task-management and task-tracking tool famous for its well-designed cards, and inspiring designers around the world.

GitLab – Create and host source code repositories online using the popular Git version control software.

PhotoBucket – The trusted place to store, share and print your photographs since 2003.

couchsurfing

Couchsurfing – Global community of over 12 million travel enthusiasts in 230,000 cities. Helps you travel, live with hosts, and host others in your home town.

ZeroNet – Open, free and uncensorable websites using Bitcoin cryptography and BitTorrent networking.

Digg – A user-driven site that employs social democracy to bring new and upcoming stories to its front page

Yelp – User Reviews and Recommendations of Top Restaurants, Shopping, Nightlife, Entertainment, Services

Yahoo Mail – Free email service to connect you to the world.


#31 – #40

nomadlist

NomadList – Best cities to work and live in for digital nomads

LiveJournal – Discover global communities of friends who share your interests.

Github – Collaborate on code and discover open source projects using the Git version control system. Popular with geeks like you and me.

Alibaba – Find quality manufacturers, suppliers, exporters, importers, buyers, wholesalers, and products worldwide.

genius

Genius – The site allows users to provide annotations and interpretation of song lyrics, news stories, sources, poetry, and documents.

Codecademy – Interactive courses on how to program. Courses are created by community and cover CSS, Java, HTML.

Soup – Easy personal publishing for busy people.

Ge.tt – Share any number of files in seconds. Thoughtfully designed.

UpperPix – Online image manipulation app.

Directus – Open-source headless CMS. Sounds cutting edge, yeah it’s headless after all!


#41 – #50

fetchnotes

FetchNotes – Meet your mind’s best friend Fetchnotes is an easy way to keep track of anything and collaborate instantly.

Pandora – Internet Radio, music of all types. Allows you to discover artists you will like, and some songs you’ve never heard of but that sound like you’ve always known them.

CraftCMS – Focused content-management for web professionals.

LonelyPlanet – Love travel? Plan and book your perfect trip with expert advice, travel tips, destination information and inspiration from Lonely Planet.

news360

News360 – News discovery service with a knack for learning what you like and showing it to you.

TabDay – Organize your photos in a calendar.

Codepen – Show case of advanced techniques with editable source code.

KickStarter – Global crowdfunding platform focused on creativity.

Minds – Create your own blog online.

Waze – Free community-based mapping, traffic and navigation.


#51 – #60

penzu

Penzu – Your private, 100% customizable online journal. Loved by over 2 million writers around the world.

Spotify – Instant access to millions of songs.

Known – Create your own website online with ease.

xing

Xing – The platform for business networking.

Flipboard – Your personal magazine, helps you turn your favorite news sources into one coherent personalized magazine. Edit away, Editor!

Path – Private messaging between two people or many.

Youtube – The site with billions of page views, there’s a reason why. Youtube brings together entertainment, personal vlogging and information sharing by means of video, making for a unique experience.

Baidu – Leading Chinese search engine.

 

amazon

Amazon.com – Amazon, after all these years, still feels like walking into a giant supermarket with all kinds of goodies, from clothes and electronic gizmos, to books and obscure bric-bracs. How they manage to keep all that data organized is a big feat of engineering, so engineers take note.

Medium – It’s all too easy to spend hours on Medium, so beware. An easy way to read the thoughts of influencers all around the world, and post some of your own. This is state of the art for collaborative, open blogging.


#61 – #70

goodreads

GoodReads – Meet your next favorite book. A social network for bookworms.

Yandex Mail – Free, spam-free email.

Reddit – The front-page of the internet. Still has a very retro feel to its design, which is why it’s easy to sit back with a beer on the weekend and read Reddit for hours. Your boss wouldn’t be caught dead on Reddit.

Wikipedia – Organizes the world information for detailed and factual reference. Tells you about everything from the ancient Chinese to 3D printing and Elon Musk. And what JFK was doing on the day he got assassinated. Pretty handy reference.

Google Drive – The Google app that seems to be the best-designed one. It’s a useful tool for backing up your files online. Lots of storage available. I don’t know much about the technology behind the scenes, but it works rather well.

WordPress.com – A blogging platform that puts ease of use above all else. Elegant easy designs, customizable through themes. Still the best option for beginner bloggers, beating out the likes of Blogger and Medium.

livingsocial

LivingSocial –  An online marketplace that allows its registered users to buy and share things to do in their city.

TheCultureTrip – For adventurers, helps you discover the world’s cultures, wherever you are, wherever you go.

Google Maps – Find local businesses, view maps and get driving directions in Google Maps.

Deffe – Upload and share your images.


#71 – #80

leanote

LeaNote – Blog, take notes and organize your thoughts online.

Paypal – Send money, pay online, with the convenience of email.

Bing – Search the internet, Microsoft’s search engine.

BlogLovin – Follow your favorite blogs and discover new ones.

dailymotion

DailyMotion – Video-sharing platform.

Tizmos – Visual bookmarking site.

Noosfeer – Discover content about your favorite topics.

Yahoo – News and search in one big portal.

SubtleTV – Find out what to watch and funny videos from around the internet.

Grav – A modern, flat-file CMS.


#81 – #90

evernote

Evernote – Lets you capture information in a variety of formats, and store it in the cloud so you never forget important stuff.

WhatsApp – Chat with anyone around the world.

Yandex Search – Large search engine with a global footprint.

BobblePic –  Manage your content, create private albums, customize your profile and more.

openstreetmap

OpenStreetMap – An openly licensed map of the world being created by volunteers using local knowledge, GPS tracks and donated sources.

WikiLeaks – Publishes and comments on leaked documents alleging government and corporate misconduct.

HealthCare.gov – Official site of Affordable Care Act, a result of Obama’s controversial Obamacare.

AWS – Amazon Web Services offers reliable, scalable, and inexpensive cloud computing services.

Google Analytics –  Web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic.

Redaxscript – Ultra light blogging platform.

 


#91 – #100

vine

Vine– The entertainment network where videos and personalities get really big, really fast. Unfortunately, Vine is going out of business.

Weibo – Chinese microblogging platform.

CamJamm – Online album that lets you share images and videos.

Media Fire – Share, collaborate and organize your files online.

Schniggen – Allows you to upload images and share them with your friends, whilst keeping them from everyone else.

ebay

Ebay – Bid site to buy and sell electronics, cars, fashion apparel, collectibles, sporting goods, digital cameras, baby items, coupons, and everything else.

Taobao – China’s largest and most used internet portal.

Tumblr – Microblogging and social networking website

Oinker – Chat platform with idea and task management abilities.

Historious – Saves you time by saving pages you’ve seen before for easy lookup.


#101 – #110

todoist

Todoist – Start getting more done in less time.

VolaFile – Live filesharing and chat.

Google Hangouts – Hangouts bring conversations to life with photos, emoji, and even group video calls for free. Connect with friends across computers, Android, and Apple devices.

Hotels.com – Find cheap hotels and discounts. Compare hotel deals, offers and read unbiased reviews on hotels.

Walmart.com – Shop Walmart’s online specials and find savings in electronics, home, furniture, video games, baby, clothing, toys, gifts and more.

UsersCloud – Free unlimited cloud storage.

msn

Msn – Portal for shopping, news and money, e-mail, search, and chat.

GoCinchy – Save bookmarks in the cloud. What cloud? The cloud.

AliExpress –  Global retail marketplace targeted at consumers worldwide.

Youku – Chinese video-sharing website.

 


#111 – #120

slack

Slack – Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve at least tried Slack by now. Some people love it, others hate it. Real-time messaging, archiving and search for modern teams.

Faveous – Allows you to store information on phone numbers and bookmark them. A cold-caller’s dream app.

UltraImg – Lets you upload and share your images.

sparknotes

SparkNotes – Study guides and discussion forums offered on various academic subjects. Literature section includes brief analyses of characters, themes and plots.

Groupon – Discover and save on 1000s of great deals at nearby restaurants, spas, things to do, shopping, travel and more.

StackOverflow – The largest online community for programmers to learn, share their knowledge, and advance their careers.

Diaro – An online diary. No matter if it’s a short note or a lengthy diary entry, Diaro user friendly interface lets you organize everything conveniently

Flipkart – Indian online shopping site.

Twitch – Live streaming video platform.

Nicovideo.jp – Japanese video sharing site.


#121 – #130

skype

Skype – Skype keeps the world talking for free. Connect with friends worldwide over video chat, voice or text chat.

Google Play Music – You music in the cloud. Free radio for everything you do. Store 50000 tracks from your personal collection.

ImgSafe – Free Image Host.

JottIt – Create websites at the click of a button. Call me dumb but normally that’d require some JavaScript, no? Haha.

XMind – The most popular mind-mapping tool on the planet.

deviantart

DeviantArt – The world’s largest online social community for artists and art enthusiasts, and others with a sense of design.

Indeed.com – Search for jobs and apply online.

AliPay – Online payment platform by Alibaba.

Tudou – Chinese video-sharing site.

W3Schools – Free tutorials on the web and basic web development.


#131 – #140

angie's list

Angie’s List – Crowd-sourced reviews of local businesses.

TinyPic – Free image hosting, photo sharing and video hosting.

DuckDuckGo – The search engine that doesn’t track you. A superior search experience with smarter answers, less clutter and real privacy.

Booking.com –  Browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.

netease

Netease Music – Chinese music site.

SlideShare – Offers users the ability to upload and share publicly or privately PowerPoint presentations, Word documents and Adobe PDF Portfolios.

UpToBox – Host your files and share them with friends.

PostImage – Free image hosting.

UpToDown – App downloads for Android.

Snapdeal – India’s largest ecommerce site.


#141 – #150

imgur

Imgur – The best place to share and enjoy the most awesome images on the Internet.

9Gag – Has the best funny pics, gifs, videos, gaming, anime, manga, movie, tv, cosplay, sport, food, memes, and other funny items on the internet!

Putlocker – Watch and share your videos.

etsy

Etsy – Your place to buy and sell all things handmade.

WikiHow – Learn how to do anything with wikiHow, the world’s most popular how-to website

ImgBox – Fast, simple image hosting.

Weather.com – Provides a national and local weather forecast for cities, as well as weather radar, report and hurricane coverage.

Tistory – South Korean blog-publishing service that allows private or multi-user blogs.

WordReference – Free online dictionaries – Spanish, French, Italian, German and more.

Weebly – Create a free website or blog in minutes by using a simple drag and drop interface. No ads.


#151 – #160

ozock

Ozock – Create, share and discover the world’s most viral, funny and newsworthy stories.

Dash Dashboards – Create beautiful dashboards with a few clicks.

Picorator – Community-driven image-sharing service.

AngelList – Connects entrepreneurs to an increasingly large base of angel and venture investors while simultaneously exposing those investors to a stream of dealflow that’s been vetted by the AngelList team.

anydo

Any.do – Free todo list and task manager.

Calm.com – Unique meditations and inspirations every day.

Can I Stream It – Helps you identify where your favorite movies are available for streaming, rent or purchase.

FileThis – Go paperless, track your personal financial accounts and organize bills, invoices, statements, tax files and receipts in one secure place.

clickhole

ClickHole – ClickHole is the latest and greatest online social experience filled with the most clickable, irresistibly shareable content anywhere on the internet.

FlapMMO – A Flappy-bird-inspired game where you fly with the others avoiding the pipes and getting as far as you can.


#161 – #170

foursquare

FourSquare –  Helps you find the perfect places to go with friends. Discover the best food, nightlife, and entertainment in your area.

BuzzFeed – Media site with all the biggest news, videos, quizzes, and trending buzz you’ll want to share with your friends.

Papaly – Cloud bookmarking service.

Draggo – The new way to manage all your bookmarks online.

PixelDrain – Free file-sharing service.

Annotary – Bookmarking for the extremely inquisitive.

skyscanner

Skyscanner – Global metasearch engine for information on the World Wide Web that enables people to find comparisons for flights, hotels and car hire.

Fitocracy – Fitocracy motivates you and helps you succeed at fitness and level up in real life.

Glyde – The easiest way to buy and sell smartphones, tablets, MacBooks, video games, and iPods. Get cash for your gently-used items.

IMDb –  The world’s most popular and authoritative source for movie, TV and celebrity content.


#171 – #180

craigslist

CraigsList – Classified advertisements website with sections devoted to jobs, housing, personals, for sale, items wanted, services, community, gigs, résumés, and discussion forums. Looks dated, but insanely easy to use.

Gmail – Google’s consumer web apps look like they haven’t been updated in years. However, in terms of ease of use, you can’t argue much with them. That is the case with Gmail, the mail app of choice for millions of individuals.

Google Search – Google Search definitely puts functionality over design. It is a fast, efficient, search engine with a lot going on in the background.

Forgotify – Discover a previously unheard Spotify track.

SendSpace – Send files that are too big to send as email attachments.

Pinboard – Social bookmarking for introverts.

haiku deck

Haiku Deck –  Presentations That Inspire.

Gruik – Free and open-source note-taking service.

CrimeReports – Helps residents see and understand where crime is happening in their neighborhood and engage with their local law enforcement agencies.

Humble Bundle – Digital storefront for video games where you pay what you want for hidden gems and support charity!


#181 – #190

xkcd

XKCD – Popular web comic.

Pleated Jeans – News bloopers and other funny bits and pieces curated from the internet.

FAVable – Save your bookmarks on the web.

Peek – One-stop shop to discover and book amazing activities, tours, and more

wolframalpha

Wolfram Alpha – Smart online artificial intelligence calculator.

Start.io – Make a start page with a collection of the websites you care for

Blogmarks – Social bookmarking service.

Nick Reboot – Relive your childhood with a live stream of classic 90s television!

Uvibo – Uvibo provides you with a dynamic dashboard for social media. Forget about scrolling, manual updating or prioritizing.

Noisli –  Fantastic background noise and color generator for working and relaxing. Online soothing ambient sounds like White noise, Rain and Coffee Shop.


#191 – #200

lifehacker

LifeHacker – Tips and downloads for getting things done.

ItMages – Host images online.

RetailMeNot – Get discounts with coupon and promo codes for thousands of online stores.

ViaBox – Get a Forever FREE US address. Shop any US retailer. Ship to any country.

make

MAKE – DIY culture and tutorials.

Google News – News curated from major and local news sources.

TinyUpload.com – Perhaps taking the wrong cue from Google’s success with minimalist design, sets the bar unacceptably low for a file-sharing service.

rottentomatoes

RottenTomatoes – Isn’t it funny how your favorite movies seem to all have an unrealistically low ranking on RottenTomatoes? Well, just between you and me, now you can tell em web designers just don’t think their design chops are the best ever either!

Hacker News – Perhaps because it’s meant for hackers, this link-sharing and discussion site is notorious, along with Reddit and CraigsList, for taking a super laid-back approach to design.

ZippyShare – Unlimited Disk Space, online, makes the garish design somewhat more palatable.

And there we have it! 200 of the very best web apps in production on the internet today. Study them, like them, vilify them. But above all, learn from them! Copy what works, reject what fails, and share with the world your own web app creations.

The Real Sci-Fi Challenge: Because Our Best Ideas Are Feeble

our best ideas are not good enough

Here’s a big, bold challenge. Let’s take the best scifi ideas out into the real world, combine them with code and see if that doesn’t yield plausible solutions for today’s boldest challenges.

I’m calling this the Real Sci-Fi Challenge

With good reason. As bloggers and scifi writers our words can remain in imaginary universes and leave the world woefully unchanged so we need to work on implementation.

And for developers, the criticism is no less: we spend a lot of computing power computing useless trivial garbage and our ideas often lack breadth and imagination to engage real problems.

The Two Worlds Must Finally Collide

Hopefully, we can all begin to target bigger problems and begin to solve big thorny problems and address social ills in the process.

Are you ready to take on the challenge? Because our best ideas are feeble.

Today’s tech companies get a bad rap for not doing enough to solve big problems. I tend to agree.

As a sci-fi writer when I’m not coding, solving big problems is how we create exciting societies of the future where today’s problems have all been solved, and newer, more challenging problems are always on the horizon.

Our real-world work, sadly, tends to be a lot less exciting. I mean, a user-dashboard, another CRUD app, a game on an iPhone?

I’m already somewhat ahead in this challenge, but you should seriously consider taking it on and coming up with some ideas of your own to improve things as they are.

I already came up with a few unusual ideas, spanning everything from biohacking to raise our productivity levels to some solutions for water problems in emerging markets.

I came across Jennifer Dewalt’s blog, who was building webapps for a good 180 days, 180 web apps in total. I don’t know where you come from, but where I’m from, that’s a lot of code!

Later, I read a post on levels.io that described his ambitious goal of building 12 startups in 12 months, mostly focused on solutions for digital nomads.

This is not so different from National Novel Writing Month.

So if you a writer, I invite you to this challenge as well.

But now let’s get those ideas off the pages of our sci-fi works and into the real world.

Thus, given my whole intention to move the needle a bit on some of these big problems we have in Africa and the emerging world, I mean, who wouldn’t want…

On the internet people can be anonymous and names get blurred. This is a real problem for authors and entrepreneurs because we are trying to build a brand, and still have something of a private life! Many of my friends call me Ten in real life, and I’m publishing some sci-fi novels by my real name: Tendai Mutunhire. Anyhow, you can call me “Tomahawk”, that’s my scifi-cowboy coder nickname, that way if you can’t find my “About” page and remember my real name, you don’t start calling me “Scifi Challenge guy” haha.

So I’m taking on the challenge. Along with crafting my scifi novels in the Laudian Chronicles series, I’m beginning work on the first few startup ideas from the future, to sort of, bring some of that back here.

Technology can help accelerate the rate at which we solve problems, mitigate some of the problems we already have, and solve some of the massive inefficiencies in our markets and economies. Take, for instance, one of my ideas which is all about tapping into new levels of productivity in the daily lives of potentially millions of people by using these so-called “biohacks”, little optimizations based on the right organic biomaterial, compounds, supplements and dietary hacks to achieve peak productivity. In the far future, such biohacks are likely to be routine, widespread and customizable. If you are interested, read on!

Everything has to be about higher productivity now! If startups are gonna remain relevant, in the future, we need to start building systems that raise productivity, not reduce it. Snapchat, anyone? Nothing against it, but I live in Africa, and what I see all the time is the need for new solutions that can do something to raise productivity levels at a macro level. Easier said than done, so hopefully big thinkers from the scifi community and the coding community will emerge out of the woodwork with promising big new ideas.

We spend a lot of time on email, much of it quite irrelevant to us personally. There’s an obvious area of optimization, potentially applicable for millions of people. So that’s just an example of the scale of problems that I feel drawn to right now. It’s all boldly, perhaps foolishly, ambitious of course. I mean, replace email?! I don’t know, that’s why I’m launching it myself, partly it’s for the adventure, to see what happens. In a sense, the real world can be almost as exciting as the strange worlds we create in science fiction.

HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED

I need you to take on the challenge for yourself, or get involved in other ways. To make sure you get the updates via email, sign up for my occasional newsletter. I plan to send an update about once every two weeks or so. And leave comments on this blog so we can keep the discussion going. If you want to write a novel yourself, or build a world-changing startup, feel free to let me know so we can keep track and maybe make a bigger community around this.

If you have comments or other things to say, I suggest commenting on the blog, I’ll review comments and stuff but will try to stay off Facebook and other channels.

Except of course, Elixir channels. Sorry, that was a silly programming joke 😉

Now I think there’s a lot of lessons to be learned from something like this.

On the writing front, I have a few cozy ideas I’m crafting now and I’ve started reading some inspiring fiction again after a long hiatus so the ideas sort of hit me on the head more often.

For code, this is a good excuse to deploy cutting edge tech, and hopefully create an enduring impact, and learn something in the process.

I came up with a small list of world-changing ideas I’d like to see happen, so this will be a lot of fun. I don’t know how long it will take to implement these 5 or so startup ideas but I expect it to be long and difficult, can’t wait!

But that’s the adventure!

Now to see what the future of computers might look like, let’s do a basic history lesson and identify some of the major movements in software over the last 50 years.

An outline could look like this. (Read this section, it looks boring, but it’s very important!)

  1. Back In The Day, Machines learn to solve hardware problems e.g. pass some current through a wire and warm some wires together, giant giant machines that cost millions of dollars!
  2. In the Second Stage of Computing Machines, computers now learn to operate on a more abstract level, learn to solve math problems. Using 1s and 0s. 1 + 1 = 10 (binary)   2 + 2 =  100, and so forth, now I can just drop into an iex terminal and run: 2 + 2 // 4

And I get the result, but of course it took us a while to get to that point. But finally, computers could solve math problems!

  1. Then computers and software advanced under Bill Gates to the point of learning to solve Business Problems! Yaay!!! Who’d have thought! How smart is that! Can you imagine what a major breakthrough the personal computing era was. Spreadsheets, spreadsheets, spreadsheeets baby! VisiCalc! PC, IBM, Macintosh. A computer on every desk, a PC in every home! Truly, that era must have been a lot more exciting for entrepreneurs than today’s dumbed down Facebook era. Happily I’d trade with one of those guys. But yeah, business problems, a major win!
  2. Then, the current epoch, which really started with the internet bust during the Dot.com era, and truly coincided with the birth of the “brogrammer”. But note, computers were able to learn how to solve what I will call “personal problems and itches”. A whole lot of them, anything you can imagine for the “consumer individual”.

“I need to watch the game” Broadcast.com, Netflix.com etc.

“What will my pets eat” Pets.com, Amazon.com etc

“Where my music at!” Napster etc.

“I need to make friends” MySpace, Friendster

“I need to show my pictures!”  Flickr, Facebook, Instagram etc

“I need to back up my files”  Dropbox, Box, MegaUpload, Google Drive etc

  1. The future, an unknown challenge!

And #5 is still a blank.

Let’s try to see what might fill that blank over the next 10 years.

Hint: think some big hairy problem they show in the disaster section of the news!

In the Western World, a lot, if not most, people are already online. Very little growth there.

The major growth on the internet is now happening in places that do not often feature in the public conversation except when discussing what I alluded to above.

Little-known villages in India, small towns in China, places in Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh. Urban centers and not-so-urban centers in all these places.

Mobile phones.

Social network users who have never touched a PC, and don’t need to!

But now we are entering, as I said, an epoch in which the internet’s users are people in unmapped rural areas and under-developed countries, and with a whole lot of new challenges that have nothing to do with posting pictures to Facebook and showing how cute their cats are!

In other words, we are now faced with the predominant issue of big socio-economic ills.

Let’s review the history of computers again and just recollect how well or how badly they did in each of the prior eras, 1 to 5.

i.Era 1. Sure, computers could solve moving current through a bunch of wires.

ii.They could even solve mathematical problems. 1 + 1 = 2.

iii.And business problems. I mean, Microsoft did that so well, you just need to look at the traditional domination of Microsoft on the PC to realize how well!

iv.Same thing for computers solving personal itches, like sharing and doing the stuff that’s all about me! Easy stuff for bits and bytes!

v.But what about the new age of socio-economic problems? These are intertwined, difficult to extricate, noisy, gory, messy, bloody problems. How about that, huh? When you tackle this type of problem, you impact, not individuals and their consuming happiness (which has been done in the prior stages and is important, within limits), but societies and the destination of a civilization.

Where are the limits vis-a-vis what software can help us accomplish today?

Can computers combat radical Islam and protect kids in Somalia?

Can computers deliver better education to young kids in Tanzania?

Can computers help bring jobs to jobless youths in Soweto, South Africa?

And can computers alleviate the flooding problem in the Philippines?

Now the previous rounds of problems look almost too easy, and a bit uninspiring, compared to this. Now you are getting the meat of thorny, big, hairy, scary, life-and-blood problems. And don’t let anybody fool you and tell you it’s easy to solve the big problems in the emerging world. No more “4 Hour Work-week” baby!

Will today’s programmers rise to the challenge?

Boy, I wish Sean Parker was here to see this, am sure he could at least cook something up to begin! A flourish of brilliance or something, to rally the troops!

Or, reaching back even earlier, if only R. M. Stallman could see these problems here! A long way away from Emacsen, but could use that sharp mind!

And what if we could inspire a young Bill Gates to write an operating system that helps deliver secure voting free from interference? Could Eric S. Raymond, Yukihiro Matsumoto or Linus Torvalds concoct a mod to return the global economy to growth again?

Haha, I tricked you! THIS DARK, SCARY, IMPOSING RESPONSIBILITY IS ALL UP TO YOU PROGRAMMERS AND THINKERS OF TODAY!!

As programmers, bloggers, writers and whatever else we do, we need to start pushing ourselves towards solving these big era problems that are the rightful target of the next generation of computer programs.

Let the next Snap-whatever be a way to swipe and deliver love and happiness to a hungry kid in Syria. Or stop the war, or something.

Don’t worry if this appears daunting, it is! Some of our ideas will seem a bit frivolous before the sheer magnitude of the socio-economic challenges of the epoch.

And that’s a measure of the gravity and magnitude of the problems we now face.

And hopefully we can get programmers starting to think about the next billion internet users and the very real socio-economic problems that are a towering facet of their lives, and how our programs and software can meet them where they are as they emerge to join the internet.

So now before I begin, I challenge you, to answer for yourself, yes or no:

Can computers solve socio-economic problems?

The way that they solved electronic circuits, math, business, personal web services, and social networking.

In the past, you could always place a bet on the side of the computer eventually figuring out and being able to solve the stated problem effectively, in a straightforward amount of time:

Math?

Beating humans at chess?

Backing up files and running nuclear systems?

Driving a car?

All easy-peasy problems for our computing tools.

But strife in the third world? Morally defunct governments that destroy societies? Social ills in the townships and villages? Disasters due to inadequate resources and urban planning?

Personally, I think it’s far-fetched.

Particularly because socio-economic problems play with a lot of institutional influence, and quite often, the character of the people that control the social playing field.

So, in a sense, they involve a huge degree of “human problems” and “plain human fallibility”, not so much “tech problems”.

An astute observer will say “There’s no reason why talented hackers of the future cannot bring down evil governments”. We are still to see this really play out in modern times, and the history books will record it for future generations of hackers if, when it happens, but what about constructive type problems? Delivering healthcare to underserved villages? Achieving a redistribution of state oil revenues towards alleviating food shortages in the general populace, instead of the monarchy or dictator’s party lifestyle in the islands, and the like?

Much less dealing with drought preparedness and evacuations when earthquakes and disasters occur in marginalized areas?

Anyone who has sized up computers long enough and considered the possibilities will tell you these are tough things to write algorithms for.

Computers can’t.

But computers and software, utilized right, I think it fair to say, will be a big help to the social workers, activists, missionaries, writers, bloggers, and humanitarians who want to make a genuine difference.

And if programmers want to remain relevant with their little apps and gizmodos, they better start making the stuff that enables these people to do a better job to address the big problems we must solve in the immediate future.  

So this is the challenge I throw down to every programmer and thinker today. Before you deploy your next CRUD app, think about the unspoken billions around the world who have no lights.

—-