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Ultimate Guide to Crowdfunding Campaign Tools and Resources
Collaboration 10 min read

Ultimate Guide to Crowdfunding Campaign Tools and Resources

Crowdsourcing is a testament to the power of collaboration. Hundreds and even thousands of individual efforts combine to create something world-changing. If you’re jumping into the chaotic world of crowdsourcing to fund your startup or passion project, you’ve got a lot of hectic days and coffee-fueled nights ahead. Running a successful campaign, standing out in a sea of creative projects, and coordinating all the moving pieces takes a lot of hard work. Use these tools and resources to stay on top of it all and start writing your own crowdfunding success story. Step 1: Choose Your Platform There are hundreds of crowdfunding sites to choose from. Discover the key differences, strengths, and drawbacks of each platform and pick the right one for your project. 26 Top Crowdfunding Sites by Niche: Consult this list of popular crowdfunding sites, sorted by project type, for crucial details on fees and platform restrictions. Inc.’s 22 Crowdfunding Sites (& How to Choose One) Infographic: Answer a series of yes or no questions to discover exactly which of the top 20+ platforms fits your needs CrowdsUnite.com: Read reviews of hundreds of crowdfunding platforms to learn from others’ experiences and find help choosing the best option for you. Step 2: Do Your Homework Polish your reading glasses, find a comfy chair, and read up on platform requirements, best practices, and words of wisdom from the crowdfunding community. 10 Essential Elements of a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign: Crowdfunding success doesn't come by accident. These 10 tips will help you create the strongest possible campaign. Kickstarter's Creator Handbook, Indiegogo's Playbook, and Kickstarter Blog's "Tips" page: Peruse these guides for platform-specific requirements, plus targeted advice for your project's niche — from games to gadgets and beyond. The Crowdfunding Bible: Learn what to expect from the process, read advice on building a team and community around your project, get planning tips, and more. Nathaniel Hansen's Crowdfunding Best Practices: Follow this pre-launch checklist to help you make the most of every opportunity and resource at your disposal. 5 Rookie Crowdsourcing Mistakes: Watch this webinar for the inside scoop on the "Green Bar Effect," proven marketing strategies, and avoiding common mistakes. Kickspy: Get an inside peek at today's top Kickstarter projects and research past projects similar to yours. Crowdsourcing & Crowdfunding LinkedIn Group: Join this active hive of over 26,000 crowdfunders, with dozens of new discussions each month. CrowdfundBeat and CrowdfundingForum.com: Catch up on the latest crowdsourcing news and trends. Step 3: Read the Fine Print Don’t get caught off guard by legalities. Cover all your bases and make sure you know exactly what you’re signing up for! Crowdfund Capital Advisors, Understanding Crowdfunding Taxes and Kickstarter & Taxes: Do crowdsourcing donations qualify as income or gifts? What can you deduct from your taxes? Give these guides to your accountant and be prepared come April 15. JOBS Act review: The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act makes it easier for small businesses and startups to raise capital. Get all the details you need on this important legislation — in plain English. Step 4: Set Your Budget Time to talk numbers. How much do you need to turn a profit? Can you afford to offer that awesome backer reward? Think Before You Kickstart's Budgeting Tool: Play around with different rewards ideas to see how each one affects your overall project costs and total budget. Rewards Pricing Template: Input details like materials and shipping costs to determine exactly how much each reward type will cost you and its impact on your bottom line. Important!: Your budget must include more than just your project costs. Don’t forget about pesky fees — like the percentage the platform will take as its cut, bank fees, state and federal taxes, payment processing charges, and all the miscellaneous costs incurred when setting your final fundraising goal. Step 5: Plan and Manage Your Work Buckle up! It’s time to put the pedal to the metal and make your project plans a reality. Project management tools like Wrike: Track every task, coordinate all the moving pieces, get help from your team, and adjust to any bumps in the road. Google Drive, Dropbox and Box: Store important project files in the cloud, where it's easy to share with your team and access them from anywhere. Step 6: Build Your Product Find creatives and craftsmen to help with everything from brainstorming the perfect product name, designing an eye-catching logo, and building a professional prototype. 99 Designs, CrowdSpring, & Elance: Submit a description of your needs and designers will pitch you their work. You pay for the submission you like best. Some crowdsourcing platforms require you to have a prototype in hand before accepting your campaign. When it’s time to create a physical mockup of your idea, here are a few options: Thomasnet.com: Find the parts you need, or hire a local prototype developer. Shapelock and Sugru: Shape your prototype by hand with moldable plastic or rubber. Ponoko: Upload your copyrighted design, get a quote, and they'll make one for you. Shapeways: Get a 3-D print of your product in one of 30+ materials. Step 7: Create a Killer Campaign Page Flex your creative muscles! Showcase your project (and your personality) with beautiful visuals, compelling text, and enticing rewards. Anatomy of a Greater Kickstarter Project Page: Read tips for creating an exceptional project profile that will get people talking, sharing, and reaching for their wallets. Video 101 from Vimeo: Follow these 3 steps to great video, from choosing a camera to editing and post-production. Stupeflix and Animoto: Cut a stunning video with these online editing tools. Free Music Archive, JewelBeat, Freesound.org: Add something special to your video with these free or low-cost music selections and sound effects. Fiverr.com: Hire voiceover talent, artists, musicians, translators & other creatives for just 5 bucks. LinkedIn ProFinder: Leverage the vast LinkedIn network to find quality independent and freelance professionals in a variety of fields, from graphic design and copywriting and web and product development. ODesk and Guru.com: Get creative and technical help from talented freelancers. Vimeo and YouTube: Use these popular hosting services to embed your finished video on your project website or profile. Slideshare: Stand out from the video crowd with a sleek slideshow. Pixlr and FotoFlexer: Beautify your photos with these easy-to-use editing programs. Step 8: Generate Buzz Spread the word about your project, attract more backers, and build momentum to power your campaign across the goal line. Crowdfunding Promotion Beginner's Guide: Find tips for writing a convincing pitch, harnessing the power of friends and family, and brainstorming great rewards. Hubbub's Tips to Make Your Project Stand Out: With over 150,000 projects launched on Kickstarter alone, these tips will help you get noticed. LaunchRock Platform for Launching Startups: Create "coming soon" pages, build anticipation for your product, accept pre-sales, and more. Wordpress and Blogger: Set up a product blog to chronicle your progress, share exciting news and achievements, and build a community around your brand. Or, use Paper.li to create and share an online newspaper with the latest details. MailChimp and Boomerang for Gmail: Send sleek email newsletters to your backers with the latest news, and optimize Gmail by scheduling outgoing messages when you're away from your desk. Hootsuite and Buffer: Schedule social media posts and manage all your social networks in one hub. Use Twilert to get real-time notifications when your brand, hashtag or keyword is mentioned on Twitter. Kicktraq: Review analytics for your Kickstarter project for insights on how your promotional efforts impact the number of backers, page activity, and dollars pledged. CrowdfundingPR.org: Send your press release to this list of blogs, publications, and influencers that cover the crowdfunding industry. Crowdfund Mafia and Seeding Factory: Call in the professionals for help with press releases, media distribution, email templates, and more. Step 9: Get Your Products Made & Rewards Fulfilled  Congratulations! Your project reached its goal! But you can’t breathe easy just yet — it’s time to deliver the goods. US Domestic and International Shipping Rates: Check out this cheat sheet to calculate shipping costs down to the penny. ShipStation: Import your backers list, print labels in bulk, and schedule shipment with all the major carriers. ShipWire: Free up your garage by storing excess product in their warehouses, then let ShipWire automatically select the ideal carrier and route for each shipment. CustomInk, CafePress, and Zazzle: Print quality custom T-shirts. Tee Launch even ships directly to your backers. Thomasnet.com: Restock your manufacturing supplies, find local shops, download CAD models, and more. BackerKit: Manage and track each reward as it's delivered to your loyal backers. TaskRabbit and Zirtual: Hire a helping hand or personal assistant to cross daily tasks off your growing to-do list. Step 10: Keep Your Project Alive After the Campaign Clock Runs Out  Your campaign may be wrapping up, but that doesn’t mean your project has to end. Create a place for new customers to find and buy your product, and for current backers to stay connected to your brand. Vendevor: Embed an online store that can accept credit card payments on any site — like your project blog or Facebook fan page — with a single line of code. Swish.com, Outgrow.me, and TinyLightBulbs.com: Continue selling your products after your crowdfunding campaign ends through these online shops.   We applaud all the artists and innovators who build a collaborative community around their enterprise. And with these tools, you’ve got all the resources you need to successfully launch your own passion project. Have you ventured into the wild world of crowdfunding? What tools did you find useful during your crowdfunding campaign? We'd love to hear from you in the comments! Other articles you might like from Wrike: 10 Essential Elements of a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign 26 Top Crowdfunding Sites by Niche Image Credits: Crowdfunding by Rocío Lara. Some rights reserved.

5 Biggest Time Wasters Leading to Startup Failure (Infographic)
Productivity 3 min read

5 Biggest Time Wasters Leading to Startup Failure (Infographic)

Startup success isn't just about the perfect product. Now the emphasis is on speed: faster ideation, faster iterations, faster time to market. Startups are even told to "fail fast." But where do successful startups invest their precious time? And what are the costliest time management mistakes? Here are the top 5 time wasters to avoid. Failed startups... Wait too long to pivot. Companies that change their roadmap to meet customer demand are 52% less likely to scale prematurely. (In other words, they don't scale up without making sure there's sufficient demand for their product.) Spend too much time on product development. Failed startups focus too much time on their baby (the product) and don't dedicate enough time to customer development or evaluating market demand. Don't dedicate time to valuable business connections. 16% of failed startups cite a lack of networking and significant business relationships as a direct contributor to their downfall. Waste time getting their product to market. Delays in launching a product, or waiting to launch in order to incorporate non-essential features, was the root cause of failure in 20% of startups. Spend too much time at the office. 12.5% of startups say grueling work hours and burnout ultimately led to business failure. Want to know the other fatal poisons for startups? Check out the complete infographic for details on costly money mistakes and prioritization disasters. Source: Focus Your turn: What do you think is the #1 factor in startup failure? Share your thoughts in the comments!

26 Best Crowdfunding Sites by Niche
Leadership 10 min read

26 Best Crowdfunding Sites by Niche

The crowdfunding landscape has gotten pretty, well, crowded. It's not just Kickstarter anymore —when entrepreneurs and artists want to take their projects to the masses, they've got dozens of platforms to choose from. How can you tell which one suits your project best? We've broken down the best crowdfunding sites by industry and project type, and collected crucial details from the fine print to help you decide. Want a tool to help organize and manage your startup plans? Start your free Wrike trial today! Crowdfunding for Non-Profits, Charitable Causes, and Social Activists Causes.com Their cut: Nothing. Causes runs on ad revenue. A 4% transaction fee still applies. Perks: Free analytics to perfect your campaign along the way. Caveats: Must be a registered 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) to fundraise on Causes. All-or-nothing fundraising goals? Keep what you raise. Crowdrise Their cut: Crowdrise takes 5%, plus 2.9% transaction fees. Perks: Donors don’t need to make an account in order to contribute to your campaign. Two campaign types: individual or non-profit. Caveats: Page design options for the free version are limited. All-or-nothing fundraising goals? Keep what you raise. Fundly Their cut: Choose from three pricing tiers, depending on how many projects you want to run at once. The basic plan for a single project has no monthly fee, but Fundly takes a 4.9% cut for donations up to $50,000, plus 3% transaction fees. Perks: Helpful guides and tutorials are automatically sent to you at each step of your campaign. Caveats: Every project must have a video and a photo gallery. All-or-nothing fundraising goals? Keep what you raise. StartSomeGood Their cut: 5% for a successful campaign, plus 3% transaction fees. Perks: A member of their team will be assigned to your campaign and act as your personal guide, providing advice and resources at each step. Caveats: Projects must have a positive social impact, and need to be approved before they’re posted to the site. All-or-nothing fundraising goals? Yes.   YouCaring Their cut: Nothing. YouCaring is supported entirely by donations, just like the campaigns it hosts. 3% transaction fees do apply. Perks: Funds are available in your account as soon as they’re donated. Caveats: Once you post an update, you can’t edit it. All-or-nothing fundraising goals? Keep what you raise. Crowdfunding for Small Business Bolstr Their cut: Bolstr’s attorneys review each campaign before it’s launched, to protect both your business and potential investors. Legal fees range from $500-$1,000 (you can also use your own attorney). Other costs include a listing fee and regulatory filing fees. Perks: They help you raise funds from those most likely to continue supporting you after your campaign ends: your local community. Caveats: Not for struggling businesses. If your small business is thriving and you need funds to expand, Bolstr is for you. Must be incorporated (no sole proprietorships allowed) and pass their background checks. All-or-nothing fundraising goals? Yes. Community Sourced Capital Their cut: A one-time $250 launch fee. Once your campaign is successful, you’ll be charged $100 per month until the principal amount on your loan is repaid. Perks: Your $250 launch fee covers tech support, marketing assistance, and administrative help. Caveats: This is a loan, not a donation. Pledges are set at a fixed amount of $50. All-or-nothing fundraising goals? Yes. Fundable Their cut: $179/month. No fees are charged on the funds you raise, but transaction fees apply. Perks: Use their profile creation wizard to set up an attractive campaign page. Caveats: You can offer backers rewards or equity, but not both. All-or-nothing fundraising goals? Yes. Funding Community Their cut: Successful campaigns are charged an origination fee of 2.5%. Perks: You’ll receive better loan rates than from banks or other traditional lending agencies. Caveats: Loans are limited to $10,000 and must be repaid within 9 months. Interest rates depend on the type of company and your credit score. All-or-nothing fundraising goals? Yes. Localstake Their cut: Choose from three plans with varying support features and fees. For a business that has raised some funding but wants to access Localstake’s investor audience through their Boost plan, there is a one-time fee of $500, plus a fee of 3.75-7.5% for successful campaigns. Perks: With the Boost plan, you’ll get a dedicated advisor to help you run your campaign. Caveats: Must submit an application before your campaign is approved. All-or-nothing fundraising goals? Yes. Crowdfunding for Creatives, Artists, and Filmmakers Pozible Their cut: Depends on how much you raise. For successful campaigns that raise up to $100,000, the fee is 5%, plus 2.4% transaction fees. Perks: Take advantage of their Ambassador Network, made up of successful project creators who offer expertise and advice. Caveats: Once your successful campaign ends, pledges made via credit card are not immediately transferred to your account (approximate delay of 7 days). All-or-nothing fundraising goals? Yes. Pubslush Their cut: 4% fee, plus 3.5% transaction fees. Perks: Join the Pubslush Prep program for helpful resources, and take advantage of market analytics. Caveats: Literary projects only. All-or-nothing fundraising goals? Yes Seed & Spark Their cut: 5%. However, they give your backers the opportunity to add 5% to their pledge at checkout, so you get the full amount. (Seed & Spark says 90% of supporters choose to add that 5%.) Perks: Their CINEMA streaming video distribution platform is available for projects that are accepted on the site. Also, backers don’t need to create an account to support your project. Caveats: Each project is reviewed before being accepted by Seed & Spark. If your project isn’t accepted, they’ll give you some pointers to help you successfully resubmit. All-or-nothing fundraising goals? You must reach at least 80% of your goal. Slated Their cut: Nothing; filmmakers submit their projects for free. Investment agreements are made between individual users, without Slated's direct involvement. Perks: Access to the Slated community, which includes wealthy investors, plus sales agents and distributors. Caveats: Only the film's rights holder, or his/her designated representative, can start a campaign. All-or-nothing fundraising goals? Keep what you raise. Sponsume Their cut: 5% of successful campaigns. Transaction fees are 3.4%, and are paid by backers. Perks: Once you’ve reached your minimum funding target, donations are immediately available in your account. No need to wait until your campaign expires. Caveats: Your project must be submitted and approved before it’s posted. All-or-nothing fundraising goals? If you choose to set a minimum fundraising target, then yes. If you choose the “Keep it All” campaign type, you set an “optimum” funding target and keep whatever you raise. Crowdfunding for Science & Tech Experiment Their cut: Successful projects are charged a 5% fee, plus a 3% transaction fee. Perks: Backers don’t have to sign up or become members in order to support campaigns. Caveats: Research and results are the rewards, not t-shirts and bumper stickers. Backers don’t receive any incentives from campaigns, other than the satisfaction of contributing to scientific progress. All-or-nothing fundraising goals? Yes. Petridish Their cut: Unknown. Their site says they do charge a fee for their services, but does not specify the amount. Perks: Projects that don’t qualify for government funding, or whose needs surpass what’s usually covered through grants, can supplement their research funds through Petridish. Caveats: Petridish is currently in beta, so you’ll have to wait to submit until the site is accepting new projects. All-or-nothing fundraising goals? Yes. TechnoFunding Their cut: Successful campaigns are charged 5%, plus transaction fees. Perks: Check out their TechnoFunding lessons for tips from successful projects. Caveats: Projects must adhere to TechnoFunding guidelines in order to be published to the site. All-or-nothing fundraising goals? Yes. Crowdfunding for Startups Crowdfunder Their cut: Choose from two plans with varied features: $299/month and $999/month. Perks: Campaign plans include confidential document protection, investor analytics, live support, and access to their network of investors. Caveats: You’ll need certain documents in order to use their platform: a Term Sheet, Executive Summary, and an Investor Pitch Deck. All-or-nothing fundraising goals? Keep what you raise. SeedInvest Their cut: $250 per month technology fee; 7.5% fee for successful campaigns; and up to $3,500 in due diligence, escrow, and legal fees for successful campaigns. Perks: Experience. The founders are investors themselves, and their support team has overseen billions in private investments. Caveats: Their vetting process is thorough, so make sure you've got a professional proposal and expect it to take some time before your project is approved or rejected. All-or-nothing fundraising goals? Yes. SeedUps Their cut: 5% fee for successful campaigns. Perks: When the SeedUps team reviews your submission, they’ll give you suggestions for your campaign before setting up your live project page. Caveats: Fundraising range is between $25,000 - $500,000. All-or-nothing fundraising goals? Keep what you raise. StartUpValley Their cut: 5% of successful campaigns. Perks: Check out their blog for tips on successful crowdfunding tips for startups. Caveats: Currently in beta. They’re an equity-only platform, so you must be willing to accept investments in exchange for a stake in your company. All-or-nothing fundraising goals? Yes. For Miscellaneous Project Types Tilt Their cut: 2.5% for a successful campaign, plus 2.5% transaction fees. Perks: Flexible campaign options: Fundraise (hit a monetary goal); Sell something (sell a certain number of items); or Split an expense (attract a certain number of people to join the group). You can set your minimum goal, and also set a "dream goal." Caveats: Limited publicity makes it more difficult to get funding from complete strangers. Tilt's homepage doesn’t highlight current campaigns, so you’ll need to use your existing social networks to raise funds and help spread the word. All-or-nothing fundraising goals? Yes. Indiegogo Their cut: Choose from two funding models: flexible or fixed. With flexible funding, if you reach your goal, Indiegogo takes 4%. If you don’t, the fee is 9%. With fixed funding, Indiegogo takes 4% from fully-funded campaigns, plus transaction fees. Perks: Use the campaigning section of the Indiegogo Playbook for tips on making your campaign a success. Caveats: Projects are promoted on the site based on their “Gogofactor,” which determines where your project ranks in search, and whether it’s featured by Indiegogo on their homepage, newsletter, or blog. Gogofactors are determined by how active your campaign is, so boost your rank by frequently updating and sharing your page, and by earning new backers. All-or-nothing fundraising goals? Flexible Funding lets you keep what you earn, and Fixed Funding is all-or-nothing. Kickstarter Their cut: 5% of a successfully funded campaign, plus transaction fees between 3-5%. Perks: Easily the most well-known crowdfunding platform, with the widest audience. Caveats: Countless projects launch on the site every day, so standing out among the crowd can be more difficult. All-or-nothing fundraising goals? Yes. RocketHub Their cut: 4% if you meet your fundraising goal (8% if you don’t), plus 4% transaction fees. Perks: Enroll in RocketHub’s Success School and get helpful hints at every stage of your campaign. Caveats: RocketHub pushes you to use your existing support network to help fund your campaign. Be prepared to ask your Facebook friends and Twitter followers for donations. All-or-nothing fundraising goals? Keep what you raise. Bonus Sites Since publishing this post, a few crowdfunding sites have reached out to us and asked to be included on this list. After reviewing the sites, here are the details on a few more worthy platforms: StayClassy (For Non-Profits, Charitable Causes, and Social Activists)  Their cut: Varying subscription plans: $99/month with a 4% project fee, or $499/month with a 2% project fee, plus standard transaction fee of 2.2% + $0.30 per donation. Perks: Use the DonateDouble feature to take advantage of corporate donation-matching programs. Caveats: This site is meant for long-term fundraising, not time-sensitive or one-off  projects All-or-nothing?: Keep what you raise. MoolaHoop (For Small Businesses) Their cut: 9% for successful projects, plus 2.6% + .30 per transaction Perks: MoolaHoop is a rewards-based platform, so there are no loans to repay. Caveats: This platform is exclusively for women entrepreneurs. All-or-nothing? Yes. But, you can set different milestones, detailing what you can accomplish at each amount. As long as you reach your first milestone, you're funded. PlumFund (For Gifts and Charitable Causes) Their cut: No platform fees. 2.8% or $0.30 processing fee for online credit/debit card payments. Perks: This "crowd gifting" platform has 10 years of success behind it. Caveats: Built for personal gifts and family support, not businesses. All-or-nothing? No. Thrinacia Reach (For Miscellaneous Projects) Their cut: No platform fees. Credit card processing fees apply through Stripe. Perks: Use the provided snippet of code to display a donation widget on your existing website, making it easy for visitors to contribute. Caveats: You must sign up with Stripe in order to create a campaign and receive funds. All-or-nothing? No. If you're looking for information on a specific platform that you don't see listed here, check out Crowdsourcing.org's Crowdfunding Directory, or search CrowdsUnite.com to read reviews of hundreds of platforms from experienced crowdfunders. Good luck finding the best crowdfunding site for your purposes! And if you're gearing up for your first ever campaign, be sure to read our post on the 10 Essential Elements of a Successful Campaign.

The Essential Guide to Financing For Startups
Leadership 10 min read

The Essential Guide to Financing For Startups

Startup businesses need adequate funding to support operations. But there are a lot of myths around financing for startups that make the process more complex and prolonged than it needs to be.  For example, while most entrepreneurs assume venture capital will be their primary source of funding, only 6% of all startups actually receive anything from them. The good news is that, whether or not your company is part of that group, there are many financing options out there.  In this article, we’ll provide helpful information for startup business owners on managing their finances. We’ll also explain the various financing options available and what you can do to mitigate the threats to startup success along the way.  Keep reading to discover tips on how to create a winning strategy and responsibly manage financing for startups.  What is startup financing? Startup financing is money that early-stage companies can use to launch their products or grow their businesses. There are various types of startup financing and are put into two categories: dilutive and non-dilutive. In financing for startups, these terms essentially describe the nature of ownership between the company and its financing partners.  Dilutive funding is a type of funding that requires you to give away a portion of your company. Some examples include venture capitalists and investors. These financing options require the participation of the investors for the company to be successful. These are often hands-on relationships with the VCs actively participating in operations at a high level.  In non-dilutive financing, startup owners get to keep complete control of their vision. This includes sources such as grants and loans. Regardless of how much funding they receive, startups have all the decision-making power in the relationship. Sounds great, right?  The catch is that getting the money you need can be challenging, especially since you’ll likely need a few different types of funding. Not only are these programs competitive, but they are also restrictive. Loan issuers will often have strict requirements that startups must change their business plan to accommodate. Losing sight of vision is a huge risk for owners who are trying to fit a mold others have created just to get their company off the ground.  That being said, non-dilutive financing can be a huge help in terms of keeping your company running smoothly while maintaining creative freedom. Because freedom is a significant selling point for entrepreneurs, it’s no surprise that recent hybrid models of non-dilutive financing have cropped up to make up for its disadvantages. For example, revenue sharing models allow boutiques to receive guaranteed loan payments taken directly from company profits.  We’ve listed a few examples already, but to fully understand your options i, you’ll have to familiarize yourself with the major categories of startup financing.  Startup financing options Getting started with startup financing can be a challenging process. But it can be worth it if it helps your company start off on the right foot and avoid running into financial issues early on. Beat the odds with one or more of the following startup financing options all founders must know.  1. Crowdfunding  A crowdfunding campaign is an online platform where people give money to a company. In some cases, the crowdfunders exchange their money for an early product or service launch. Crowdfunding is a growing industry. There are a number of platforms that will allow you to raise funds for different projects. Each platform has its own unique perks. Platforms like Kickstarter allow companies to raise funds without having to pay for the platform or provide rewards. Equity crowdfunding is also a type of crowdfunding that allows backers to own a portion of a company. Crowdfunding is generally low-risk. However, a failed campaign can cost you time and money. 2. Loans A small business loan is typically secured by a business or personal loan. You may have to provide collateral or have a high credit score in order to get approved. The Small Business Association is a great resource for finding a startup loan. Through its website, you can search for information about the organization and get started. Unlike bank loans, microloans are unsecured. They can be offered to individuals with little or no credit history. The interest rates can vary. There are plenty of advantages to getting a loan, but there are also some downsides. Besides owing money, founders have to account for accrued interest and how having loans may negatively impact their ability to fundraise in other ways.  3. Investors An investor is someone who gives money to a business for the purpose of operating. The most coveted type of investor is an angel investor. An angel investor provides funds from their own company or personal accounts.  Angel investors typically expect a partial or full ownership stake in the company. Usually, they receive a payout based on the company's performance. When bringing on stakeholders, it’s important to consult with them before starting new projects.  To find an angel investor, first, create a business plan and pitch deck. This will help you stand out from the crowd and show the potential investor that you're serious about being a successful entrepreneur. 4. Grants Unlike loans, grants are not required to be repaid. They're highly competitive and can provide immediate cash to boost your business. Getting a small business grant can be challenging, but it can be worth it in the long run. There are numerous grants available to help small businesses, many of which can be found through industry associations and organizations that also offer loans.  5. Credit Cards A small business credit card is a type of financing that can be used for nearly any business need. It comes with a variety of interest rates and terms so comparison shopping is a must.  Like with most credit cards, the payment period typically spans 30 days. However, it can vary. You may pay interest on the difference or see an increase in interest owed over time.  Pro tip: Consider long payment terms, as these can help you maintain a healthy cash flow. 6. Venture Capital Venture capital is a type of private equity that is typically used to finance early-stage companies and startups. It comes from well-off investors and usually involves a variety of financial institutions. This funding is used to help the company reach a wider market. Unlike startup financing options, a VC requires a company's equity in exchange for the money it gives. If you're comfortable with having to share some of your earnings with someone else, a VC firm may be able to provide funding in a time of need. Before approaching a VC firm, make sure that you have a clear business plan. How to create a financing strategy for startups If you're a new business owner or still in the planning stages of starting a new venture, then you should get startup financing as soon as possible. But the financing journey doesn’t end once the cash is committed. Founders and owners must make sure that they understand the budget and revenue milestones attached to each round of financing they receive.  They should also create a step-by-step plan for achieving each of them in the right time frame. This requires a strong project management team and solution in order to achieve OKRs that both your team and your funding partner expect you to hit.  Tools you can use to surpass those expectations include: Gantt charts for visualizing your project plans advanced task assignment and monitoring tools for keeping things on track automated reporting for matching results back to your valuation and keeping investors engaged How to responsibly manage money as a self-funded startup There are many different opinions on what is considered responsible in the world of financing for startups. Some advise slow but steady fundraising with strategic alignments in order to grow over time and mitigate risk. Others believe it’s irresponsible to completely eliminate risk in the first place, as big risks can lead to big payouts.  Regardless of which side you’re leaning towards, you can use these tips for self-funded startups to meet and exceed expectations:  Lower fixed costs such as hiring wherever possible until you start to turn a profit.  Outsource essential tasks like app building and social media to skilled freelancers until you’re ready to fill out your team. Use a strong professional services management tool to do so.  Use a project management solution to organize management and contractors all in one platform.  Surround yourself with the right people when you can hire full-time employees.  Focus on building repeatable processes you can turn into templates within your project management software instead of reinventing the wheel for everything you do.  Set up your startup for success Rock-solid forecasting, project plans, and templatized operations make winning funding from any source that much easier. Those in charge of decision-making at various financing outfits prioritize brands who show a professional level of risk management and organization, which a product like Wrike helps teams accomplish. Whether you’re pitching your idea to an angel investor or need a well-laid-out plan for loan officers, Wrike can help you illustrate your ideas into an actionable business plan worth betting on.  Start with a two-week free trial of Wrike's software today.

How Fast-Growing Startups Can Leverage Machine Learning: A Conversation with Andrew Filev (Podcast)
Leadership 3 min read

How Fast-Growing Startups Can Leverage Machine Learning: A Conversation with Andrew Filev (Podcast)

Wrike's CEO Andrew Filev recently appeared on TechEmergence to share his ideas about practical applications for machine learning in startups. As Andrew explains, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence have the power to help businesses identify patterns and use them to improve their marketing efforts.  In the podcast, Andrew shares his thoughts on: Machine learning as a tool for customer segmentation to increase the impact and efficiency of outbound marketing and sales targeting Using deep learning to aggregate customer feedback and other signals to improve product/market fit and inform your product roadmap Evaluating machine learning and Artificial Intelligence tools, and implementing the right solutions and best practices for your business Listen to the full podcast at TechEmergence to hear more from Andrew!  

Startups Should Lean on Lean Project Management
Project Management 5 min read

Startups Should Lean on Lean Project Management

We are living in a world of entrepreneurs. Chances are you know one (at least), or you have your own ideas waiting to come to fruition. But ideas are expensive in reality. The question is, how can you get the most bang for your buck? How can CEOs and managers save money while chasing their dreams and accomplishing their goals?   Enter Lean project management. It is the star of simultaneous project frugality and product quality for businesses. As a more recent PM methodology, the term "lean startup" is credited as first appearing on Eric Ries' blog in 2008. In the midst of the high-turnover startup movement, Ries evangelized the need for fiscal responsibility and increased production speed in order to decrease the number of failed startups. The idea caught on like wildfire, spreading to entrepreneurs all over the globe. The #1 priority of running Lean PM is to eliminate wasted resources, known as mura. Extra labor, extra time, and extra materials that don't add value to the product or service — they all need to go. Focus on getting something in front of the customer quickly and without spending all your money. So how can you decide what resources you're wasting in order to run lean? Here are some lean product management principles. Declare Your MVP Before you can run lean, you must find your MVP — your Minimum Viable Product. It is the smallest number of features that need to be developed in order to push your product or service to your early adopters. Focus all your time, energy, and money on developing just your MVP, and nothing else. Yes, that means your product or service won't be completely evolved to fulfill all your dreams or the product roadmap, but it will be functional. With it, you can start learning and earning  — learning about customers' needs as they interact with your MVP, and earning money to expand upon the rest of your ideas. If your resources are going into developing an extra feature beyond the MVP ("It's just a little thing, it won't take much!") you are wasting time, manpower, and money. And you could be setting yourself up as the next failed startup. Every second and every dollar counts. You'll have time to expand upon the rest of your ideas later, but for now, speed is essential. Focus on getting something out there so that you can move on to the next step: improving your product through validated learning. Build-Measure-Learn Finding your MVP is not the end of the Lean PM. Eliminating mura is not enough for success. Startups fail because they don't create a process to measure progress, learn from mistakes, and improve for the future. Once you 1. BUILD your MVP, you need to 2. MEASURE customer response and feedback, and then 3. LEARN from that feedback and change your plans accordingly. Only give customers what they want. If they don't want it, then they won't pay for it, and you're risking failure by wasting resources to build something customers don't want. Every time you create something new or add a new feature, you must measure and learn to see if the planned next step should actually still be the next step. Remember, time is a resource too, and it's not on your side. Ries said, "Startups that succeed are those that manage to iterate enough times before running out of resources." You should be constantly evaluating your work-process breakdown to make sure you are only spending resources where necessary. This is true even after rolling out your initial MVP. Lean PM is not temporary! More Resources There are many great resources out there that go into depth about Lean project management and how you can implement it for your startup to do more with less. I recommend checking out these three: theleanstartup.comThe official website created by Eric Ries. It details the 5 principles of Lean PM and gives you great case studies from companies who ran lean and are succeeding. The Lean StartupThe book written by Eric Ries about his Lean startup movement. Even MORE detail than the website, it gives you Ries' recommendations for running lean and staying viable. Running LeanWritten by author Ash Maurya, with feedback from Eric Ries, this book of strategies breaks up the steps for successfully running lean — from creating your initial idea, to testing, to choosing the perfect time to raise funding. If you find your MVP and establish a process to learn from your customers, you have fought half the battle. It is difficult. Lean PM is a constant war against the urge to "add just one little thing" and spend time on side projects. But stick to your testing — if the customers don't want it now, you shouldn't build it! If you've ever thought about running lean, have tried and failed, or you are successfully running Lean PM at your company now, tell everyone about your Lean adventure in the comments. There's no better teacher than first-hand experience, and we'd love to learn from you.

$250K to $1.2M in 18 Months: Hubstaff's 2-Step Process for Hyper-Growth
Leadership 5 min read

$250K to $1.2M in 18 Months: Hubstaff's 2-Step Process for Hyper-Growth

What makes companies successful?  There are a myriad of factors for fast and sustainable business development, including building a powerful brand, forging strong partnerships, and having a flexible management system in place. But having a single, clear business goal is arguably one of the most important elements for success. A focused goal makes your team more purposeful in how they spend their time, and thus more productive—which paves the way for rapid company growth that's actually sustainable.  As a 100% self-funded and fully remote team, we at Hubstaff have been using a simple, two-step process that has helped us grow and scale our business sustainably. And we're happier and more productive than ever: our marketing strategy examples helped us go from $250K to $1.2M in revenue in just 18 months.  Here's how we did it: Step 1: Identify a single business goal As our co-founder Dave Nevogt says, a huge part of the battle of running a successful business is focusing your energy and resources on the right things. That’s why every year we set a very specific business goal and only take on projects that directly further this goal. Last year, our goal was to reach $70k in Monthly Recurring Revenue. To achieve this, we used the Theory of Constraints to break down our yearly business goal into quarterly goals. Then we broke quarterly goals down into weekly tasks: On our marketing team, for example, ROI on each task is measured by tracking time spent. Although a productivity tracking tool isn’t absolutely necessary, it does help make you (painfully) aware of how much time you’re wasting, which enhances productivity. Wrike's time tracking integration with Hubstaff helps us plan and prioritize upcoming work, as well as track time and productivity levels on each Wrike task without switching between tools. Step 2: Use time data to pinpoint tasks that drive ROI today Time data is one of your most important business metrics. Use it to assess ROI, know what’s working and what’s not, and determine the best use of your team's time. Plus, you can more effectively plan and scale your team based on actual business needs. For example, if your development team is spending more time on customer support than on dev work, it’s time to hire more support team members. Your team’s time data can give you these kinds of valuable insights.  At Hubstaff, we track time on all our tasks across all departments, from marketing and customer support to development. At the end of each week, month or quarter, we can see exactly how much time was spent on a particular task—and how much revenue it generated.  Here is the formula our marketing team uses to measure ROI for each task: Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) = (# of hours spent on that task) x (your hourly wage + other expenses, like software tools)/(# of paying customers acquired from the task)  Let’s say, from the above snapshot, I spent 5 hours updating our FAQ, used a $25 tool, and my hourly wage is $35. Using our analytics, I discovered we added 10 paying customers from that task. Here is what the CAC will look like: CAC = ((5 hrs X $35) + $25)/10= $20 per customer After calculating that number (CAC), we ask ourselves one question: is Average Lifetime Value (ALV) > 3 x Customer Acquisition Cost? If the answer is no, is there any way to make this strategy more efficient and cost-effective? If yes, try to refine it and measure ROI again. If the answer is yes, that’s a task with proven ROI. Once you’ve calculated the ROI of particular tasks, it’s time to use the Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule. The basic idea is that 80% of your revenue will come from 20% of your marketing tasks. You just need to identify that 20% and bet heavily on them.  It’s also crucial to keep in mind that just because something drives revenue today, doesn't mean it will six months down the line. The rule of thumb is that if you see any tasks with proven high ROI, you should double down on them today. Added benefits of the two-step process This two-step process has clear benefits beyond the numbers. Before we applied it, we were slightly disorganized, using multiple strategies to drive growth and betting that at least one would do the job.    Now our team’s mindset has transformed. We constantly come back to the bigger picture and question not only whether a task is worth our time and money, but whether it will help us achieve our goal in the quickest and most efficient way possible. Author Bio: Madhav Bhandari is a marketing manager at Hubstaff. He helps acquire customers with high ROI marketing experiments, action focused analytics, and product iterations. You can follow him on Twitter at @themadbhandari

6 Entrepreneurial Lessons From the Producer of NPR's 'How I Built This'
Leadership 7 min read

6 Entrepreneurial Lessons From the Producer of NPR's 'How I Built This'

We sat down with the NPR producer who records the “How I Built This” podcast — to find out what he's learned from world-class entrepreneurs and how he applies those lessons to his own life and career.

10 Essential Elements of a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign
Leadership 5 min read

10 Essential Elements of a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign

You’ve seen the headlines on wildly successful crowdfunding projects: the Pebble watches, the Reading Rainbows, even potato salad projects that take off and raise support beyond the creators’ wildest dreams. This success may look like a stroke of genius, a million dollar grassroots movement, or pure insane luck. But crowdfunding success doesn’t happen by accident (well, usually). Look past the headlines and quirky success stories, and you’ll see a few common threads strategically woven through successful campaigns. You’ve already got the great idea. Now build your campaign around these 10 essential crowdfunding principles and take your startup project from the drawing board to the launch pad. 1. Preparation. It may seem like projects are thrown up on Kickstarter or Indiegogo on a whim and funded in a snap, but months of planning go into successful campaigns. Pick your platform, examine similar projects to learn from past success and failure, plan out each stage of your campaign, and choose the tools you’ll use to manage the process. 2. Realistic goals. What’s the bare minimum amount of money you need to make your idea a reality? Stick to that number. It might be tempting to inflate your final figure, but don't get greedy; you'll risk setting off warning bells for potential backers. Besides, if people really love your project, you'll raise more than your fundraising goal. In fact, 87% of campaigns that hit their goal also exceed it. 3. Design. Photos and video are eye magnets, and they’re the very first thing each new visitor will see. Make the most of that first impression with an elegant page design, a professional prototype, and a polished video. Welcome backers to your page and get them excited to be part of your project. 4. Incentives. Offer tempting rewards! And make sure the value of each reward matches its contribution level. (In other words, don't make a simple T-shirt a reward for your $50 backers.) Feel free to get creative, but make sure you’re offering real value. And remember to create opportunities at many different levels, from $1 to $500 and beyond. 5. Personal connections. Your main goal is to win over the people who matter most to your brand. (You’re probably not going to convince a vegan to back your gourmet beef jerky, no matter how hard you try or how great your product is.) So don’t try to be all things to all people. Figure out who your core audience is, and focus on making genuine connections with them. Tell your story, interact with your backers, and let your personality shine through. After all, people want to support other people, not faceless companies. 6. Transparency. By nature, crowdfunding backers are interested in the “how” of projects. So indulge that curiosity by pulling back the curtain and giving them a peek at the behind-the-scenes. Show your backers exactly where each dollar goes, share status updates, and invite them to launch parties. 7. Responsiveness. Be willing to listen to feedback from your backers and add new features, tweak the product design, or offer new rewards. Respond to every email, comment, and social media mention. This is your chance to plug into your audience and tailor your products specifically to your core customer base to create the best product possible. So take advantage of the opportunity and engage with each and every piece of feedback. 8. Collaboration. Crowdsourcing and collaboration are two sides of the same coin. You’re tapping the power of collaboration to fund your project, so why not extend that power to the project itself? Collaborate with your internal team to work efficiently, and team up with freelancers for help designing your logo, building your prototype, or writing your press release. And don’t forget to let backers contribute, too: ask them to help spread the word, or poll them on things like product color schemes and fun new stretch goals. You never know whose idea will help take your project to the next level. 9. Organization. Take advantage of project management tools (may we suggest Wrike?) to make sure every idea, every step in the process, and every deadline and milestone along the way is tracked. And it prevents you from losing your mind along the way. 10. Gratitude. Thank your backers constantly. They're supporting your idea with their hard-earned dollars and investing in your success. So make sure they know just what it means to you. Nothing is worse than someone who is ungrateful for those who help them succeed. We’ve seen firsthand the power of collaboration and know exactly how much hard work it takes to make your dreams a reality. Make sure your campaign has these 10 elements, and you’re well on your way! Is there something missing from this list? Feel free to share it in the comments. Read Next: 26 Top Crowdfunding Sites by Niche Image Credits: Photo by: A Horse With No Name Photography. Some rights reserved.

Top Tools & Software for Startups
Leadership 10 min read

Top Tools & Software for Startups

Discover the software for startups you need to grow your business. These handy tools for startups will help your organization maximize productivity and efficiency.

Why (and How) a Small Business Chooses Project Management Software
Project Management 5 min read

Why (and How) a Small Business Chooses Project Management Software

Small business owners do it all: juggle responsibilities, shift roles without a hitch, and stretch every dollar to do more with less, all while keeping their heads above water and their businesses afloat. It's not surprising then that more and more small businesses are turning to project management tools to become more competitive, efficient, and profitable. What are the top PM Tool features small business owners look for, and how do they choose from the pack?  A recent report by project management technology review firm Software Advice records survey responses from hundreds of small business owners: Why Small Businesses Turn to Project Management Tools Outgrowing old methods: 46% of survey respondents monitor tasks and projects manually. Yep, almost half of small business owners are tracking everything by hand: either through email, spreadsheets, or pen and paper, and they've realized they need a more sophisticated tool. With manual methods there's always the risk of human error, and even applications like Excel lack clear visibility across multiple projects and workers. Outsourcing: Small businesses are relying more and more on remote teams, contract workers and freelancers to contribute key skills and services with limited overhead costs. They need to be able to connect with their teams and manage work that's not being done in a central office, and that means one tool that everyone can use and access, no matter where they're located. Organization: 41% of business owners say they turned to a project management system to improve efficiency and accuracy. Without a central workspace, documents are easily misplaced, communication is scattered or inconsistent, and teams resort to guesswork when it comes to responsibilities and work progress. Quality suffers and tasks take longer than necessary as teams scramble to coordinate efforts and stay on point. What Small Business Owners Want in Project Management Solutions Small business owners look for tools that help them streamline processes, use limited resources efficiently, and ensure that every project they take on is profitable. They want a quick, easy solution that will get them up and running ASAP. Here's what's at the top of their wish-list: Cloud Services: All buyers who stated a preference wanted a cloud-based application over onsite software installation. Small business owners want quick solutions they can start using in a snap. With cloud services, they can sign up on a website and get started right away, without the expense and delay of onsite configuration. And with the rise in outsourcing and reliance on remote freelancers, cloud services allow virtual teams to log in and access a central workspace from anywhere, on any platform or device, any time they’re connected to the internet. Multi-Functional: 88% of survey respondents prefer software that incorporates several features over stand-alone tools. Almost all of them admitted having trouble tracking multiple projects across a handful of applications. Organizing all projects into one system makes it much easier to track progress across projects and team members — and create accurate reports. Time-Tracking: It’s the #1 requested single feature in a project management tool. Time is money, and seeing where every minute goes helps small business owners simplify processes and improve efficiency. After all, doing more with less means a higher profit margin in project management. Time logs also help with planning, since managers can look at past projects to accurately predict how long certain tasks will take, estimate the number of billable hours, and determine whether a project will be profitable. Do you own a small business, or work as a freelancer? How do you juggle your responsibilities, manage your team, and track all your work? We want to hear your top tips in the comments section below!

Top 20 Threats to Startup Success (Infographic)
Leadership 3 min read

Top 20 Threats to Startup Success (Infographic)

You put everything into your business: your time, your talents, your money — whatever it takes to make your startup a success. But you’re all too familiar with the scary statistics: half of all new businesses fail within the first five years, and for every successful entrepreneur, there are plenty who wish things had turned out differently. If only you could ask them what they’d change if they could go back in time — or what they learned from their experiences.  Well you’re in luck: this infographic collects research by CB Insights to distill 101 startup postmortems into the 20 most common reasons new businesses fail. Get priceless advice on how to make your business a success—and what to watch out for—straight from the founders themselves.  Source: Lance Surety Bonds Set Your Business Up for Success If you’re an entrepreneur (or thinking of becoming one) check out our other startup resources, then start a free trial of Wrike to get your business running efficiently and boost your bottom line. 

13 Productivity Tools & Tips for Small Business Success
Productivity 5 min read

13 Productivity Tools & Tips for Small Business Success

When you're a small- or medium-sized business, you typically have less manpower to get all your work done. This means you need all your employees to be as productive as possible to make sure you meet all your quarterly goals. Here are some tips and tools to write into office law to help your employees make the most of every day without spending a fortune: Tips for Creating a Culture of Productivity 1. Have a mandatory meeting-free day It's all too easy for employees at companies of any size to get bogged down by a day full of meetings — which means you have no time to complete tangible work. Make it company policy to have one mandatory meeting-free day across every team, so all your employees have at least eight hours per week to really focus on what needs to get done. And make sure "No Meetings" really means NO meetings: no gatherings in the conference room, around desks, or on Skype, and no one-on-ones. 2. End meetings on the right note Productivity coach Errette Dunn suggests ending every meeting with one question: "Who will do what by when?" Asking this ensures that everyone leaves the meeting knowing exactly what to do next, so you won't have to reiterate what you just discussed at a later time.  3. Always break big goals into bite-sized pieces It has been shown by Harvard researchers Theresa Amabile and Steven Kramer that workers are more motivated by several small accomplishments than one big accomplishment. Whenever you kickoff a big project, make sure you've broken every to-do down into "small wins." Ideally, no task should take longer than one work day to complete. 4. Regularly review lessons learned To continually improve your processes and make work more efficient, make sure every team is regularly reviewing lessons learned on their projects. Share what worked, what didn't, and decide how you will implement that knowledge for future work. 5. Train your employees in the GTD methodology The acclaimed "Getting Things Done" productivity methodology created by David Allen is a great way for your employees to organize their incoming work and daily to-dos. The principles of GTD help workers prioritize what should be done today, defer what can wait until tomorrow, and maintain focus on the task at hand. 6. Keep creative juices flowing with side projects When you hire team members because they are inspired, creative, and innovative, you want them to keep that spark alive. Allow them a set amount of time for "unnecessary" creation every week. This work on creative side projects for the business will help them keep their creative juices flowing. 7. Embrace work naps A quick 15-minute snooze can be far more effective than a third cup of coffee or another candy bar. Let your workers take quick naps. If you have a spare meeting room, maybe set up a small couch and a timer, so people have a place to retreat and recharge. Boosting Productivity with Betters Tools & Setups 8. Invest in technology that makes knowledge accessible There is nothing more obstructive to productivity than not being able to access the files or information you need right when you need it. To break through the information silos and end the chain of "Can you send me the latest version of this document?" messages, invest in a work management software like Wrike, or document management software like Box or Google Drive. Better technology will help your team complete work faster, with fewer roadblocks between steps. 9. Cut out email for internal communication Email is one of those tools that easily sucks us in and eats up hours of our day, without us even realizing it. To make sure your team is getting all important work-related messages without the temptation of going down the email rabbit hole, set the standard to use a different tool to communicate internally. Rely on a communication app like Google Hangouts or Skype to send critical messages to team members. If someone tries to send an email, tell them they need to move their message to your preferred communication method. 10. Delegate repetitive tasks to the robots with automation technology Never assign a human to do a machine's job! In today's quickly-growing field of automation, you can remove a lot of your team's busy work. Apps like Zapier and IFTTT help you connect all your tools to automate work, and there are a plethora of automation software options for marketing, sales, development, and more. 11. Set up your office space for success Add color or posters to the walls to inspire creativity and focus. Pay attention to the direction the monitors in the office are facing. If employees work facing a popular walkway, it can be distracting. Make sure people who need a quiet space to get work done have access to that space. 12. Buy productivity gadgets for the office There are tons of new productivity toys to help workers focus in the way that suits them. Let them pick which gadgets will help them focus and feel happier at work: standing desks, productivity time tracking, elliptical desks, noise-canceling headphones, smart cushions to monitor posture, and more. 13. Stock the office with healthy snacks Soda and candy may seem like an easy, cheap option for keeping a pantry of snacks for the office. But high-sugar foods cause crashes and ruin productivity. Spend the few extra dollars to stock healthier snacks like vegetables, nuts, low-sugar smoothies, and complex carbs that won't send your workers on a roller coaster of sugar highs and lows. What tips & tools do you use to help your employees stay productive? Share your best productivity tips and tools for small businesses in the comments!

Anatomy of a Tech Startup Team (Infographic)
Collaboration 3 min read

Anatomy of a Tech Startup Team (Infographic)

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all blueprint for a successful tech startup team. As most founders are well aware, good hiring is a lot more complicated than simply plugging people into a cookie cutter org chart. But blindly guessing which positions you need isn't exactly a stellar hiring strategy, either. Having a general idea of the roles and responsibilities you should cover as you scale can help you build a balanced team with all the talents you need. Use our new infographic as a guide to hire key roles for your growing tech startup: Share this infographic with other tech startup founders using this embed code: 

Silicon Valley vs. Beijing: Who’s More Productive? (Work Management Roundup)
Productivity 5 min read

Silicon Valley vs. Beijing: Who’s More Productive? (Work Management Roundup)

Welcome back to the weekly Work Management Roundup where we collect and curate the week’s best reads in work and management. This week, we talk a lot about productivity. We lead off with an article on Beijing's workaholic startups and continue with discussions on busy work vs. productive work, and why we need new ways to measure the productivity of our workers. Read on for more!

VCs Foresee a Bleak Future for Startups? (Work Management Roundup)
Leadership 5 min read

VCs Foresee a Bleak Future for Startups? (Work Management Roundup)

Welcome back to the weekly Work Management Roundup, where we collect and curate the latest articles on productivity, business, and work. This week, we're looking into the future of work. We lead off with eight VCs foretelling the future of startups. Then we follow up with six trends that will affect how work will be done a few years from now. Read on!

Silicon Valley CEOs Share the Secrets to Building Successful Companies
Leadership 5 min read

Silicon Valley CEOs Share the Secrets to Building Successful Companies

We invited Eric S Yuan (CEO, Zoom) and Tony Zingale (Former CEO, Jive) to talk with our own Andrew Filev (CEO, Wrike) about building a great company and the future of work.

What Is Business Forecasting? Why It Matters
Project Management 10 min read

What Is Business Forecasting? Why It Matters

What is business forecasting? Forecasting helps organizations strategize and, when done right, can give you a competitive advantage. Read on to learn more.

Startup Launch Checklist: 22 Steps to Success (Infographic)
Leadership 3 min read

Startup Launch Checklist: 22 Steps to Success (Infographic)

  Starting a business is an exciting idea, but pretty daunting when it comes down to logistics. If you're stumped on where to start when it comes to launching your startup, check out our latest infographic for a step-by-step roadmap on how to go from concept to thriving business. Share this infographic with fellow founders with this embed code: Infographic brought to you by Wrike Read next:  30 Startup Founders Share Their Entrepreneurship Advice 2015’s Hottest Industries for Tech Startups Dos and Don’ts of the Startup Pitch: Expert Advice from 5 Famous Investors

31 Quotes About Launching a Startup (Infographic)
Leadership 3 min read

31 Quotes About Launching a Startup (Infographic)

Launching a startup is no walk in the park. Once you decide to follow your dreams, it's a long marathon to success. Luckily, you're not the first person to take on the challenge. Read these inspirational quotes from well-known founders and CEOs for actionable startup launch advice. They cover everything from finding your niche to the most dreaded topic: money matters. Want to inspire other startup founders and hopefuls? Share this infographic on your blog using our embed code: Infographic brought to you by Wrike Let us know which quotes fired you up in the comments below. And if you have other inspirational quotes that you turn to when launching a startup seems like a race you'll never win, share those too! Related Reads: 30 Startup Founders Share Their Entrepreneurship Advice Launch Your Startup in 22 Steps (Checklist + Resources) Dos and Don'ts of the Startup Pitch: Expert Advice from 5 Famous Investors 3 Ways Bootstrapping Strengthens Your Startup: Advice from GoPro

Launch Your Startup in 22 Steps (Checklist + Resources)
Leadership 10 min read

Launch Your Startup in 22 Steps (Checklist + Resources)

It’s 3 AM and you’re staring at the ceiling yet again, absorbed in fantasies of developing your dream product and launching your very own business. If your idle thoughts automatically turn to prototypes and product designs, it’s time to start thinking seriously about founding your own company. But how do you turn an exciting idea into a functional, thriving business? Follow this step-by-step checklist to launch your startup and keep it running strong. Lay the Foundation Don't just chase the money; think about what makes you happy and what you're passionate about. What kind of life do you want to have? How will your business need to fit with your other responsibilities? Figure out your optimal work style and environment, what niche you want to target, your ideal business model and number of employees, and so on. Remember that doing what you love will bring out the best in you and your company! Step 1. Identify & Research Your Market. It doesn't matter how amazing your product is if no one's willing to pay for it.Read: 10 Hot Industries for Tech Startups in 2015; How to Determine of There's a Market for Your Business Idea Step 2. Design/Develop Your MVP. Create your Minimum Viable Product and determine initial pricing.Read: The Ultimate Guide to Minimum Viable Products; How to Price Your Products Step 3. Select a Business Structure. Sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation, non-profit...? Choose wisely, because the route you take will have legal and tax implications for your business.Read: Choose Your Business Structure Step 4. Write a Business Plan. Include how your product addresses a specific need, how much money your business will need to make, your role in the company and any other members of your team, how you'll measure your success, and your exit strategy. Is your ultimate goal to launch franchises nationwide? To get acquired? To launch an IPO by a certain date?Read: 12 Steps to a Startup Business Plan (Infographic) Step 5. Pick a Name. Start thinking about your brand and how you want customers to perceive your company.Read: How to Choose the Best Name for Your Business; Free Logo Design Inspiration (eBook)  Step 6. Protect Your Intellectual Property & Assets. Register any patents, trademarks, copyrights, confidentiality agreements, and your domain name.Read: 10 Ways to Protect Your Intellectual Property Find Advice & Support No matter how brilliant you are or how inventive your product is, you can't start or run a successful business single-handedly. You'll need to make strong connections and find supporters who can help you navigate the wild startup world. Step 7. Find a Co-Founder or Business Partner. The key isn't finding someone who thinks exactly the same way you do, but someone who complements your strengths and weaknesses.Read: How to Find the Perfect Co-Founder Step 8. Find a Mentor or Supportive Community. You'll need a network of people who can support you, offer advice, and commiserate with your struggles.Read: 18 Top Networking Sites for Startup Founders (Infographic); 30 Startup Founders Share Their Entrepreneurship Advice Get Funded You have the perfect product and a genius team behind you. Now you just need the fuel to get your company off the ground. But raising such a large amount of money can be intimidating to say the least, and it can be far too easy to say yes to whatever funds anyone happens to offer you. Think very carefully about who you partner with financially and make sure it's a good fit! Step 9. Decide the Right Funding Type for You. Bootstrapping, crowdfunding, business loans, VCs, Angel investors... weigh the advantages and disadvantages of different funding types before you decide which option to pursue.Read: 7 Ways to Fund Your Startup (Infographic); How 5 Famous Startups Got Funding Step 10. Research & Identify Compatible Investors. Find out what opportunities each individual is typically interested in, so you can speak to those interests during your pitch. And remember, investors aren't just a source of capital — they're valuable business partners who can advise you on strategy and tactics.Read: Research Your Potential VCs Step 10b. Research & Identify the Best Crowdfunding Platform. Not going the investor route? Or do you also want to lean on crowdfunding for your success? Compare each platform's fees, crowdfunding model, niche audience, and visibility before choosing.Read: Definitive Guide to Crowdfunding Sites (Infographic) Step 11. Create Your Pitch Deck. Whether you're pitching Angel investors and VC firms, potential crowdfunding backers, or your parents, you'll need a compelling presentation to get people as excited about your company as you are.Read: Dos and Don'ts of the Startup Pitch: Expert Advice from 5 Famous Investors; Perfecting Your Startup Pitch Deck: 3 Essential Links Tackle Logistics The pieces of your new company are falling into place. Now you've got to make it official, and that means a lot of paperwork. Between registering with the IRS, getting your legal documents in order, and setting up your bookkeeping, there are a ton of details to cover. Follow these steps to make sure all your bases are covered. Step 12. Find Your Support Team. You'll need to find a lawyer, open a business bank account, take out insurance, and may want to hire an accountant or realtor as well. Make sure whomever you hire has experience working with entrepreneurs and understands their needs.Read: When to Hire a Bookkeeper or Accountant; The Ultimate List of Legal Resources for Startups  Step 13. Make it Official. Register your business name, get an Employer Identification Number, and acquire the necessary business permits & licenses.Read: How to Register Your Small Business in Five Steps Step 14. Become a Real Boss. Workplace safety regulations, Equality Act compliance, disability resources, work authorization for non-US citizens, and more: understand all the details of your legal obligations towards your employees.Read: US Department of Labor Employment Law Guide; US Small Business Administration Guide to Hiring Your First Employee Hire Your Team The quality of your people ultimately equals the quality of your business and your product, so take your time and find the right mix of talents and personalities. And most of all, find people who are just as passionate about your industry and customers as you are. Step 15. Build a Great Team. Don’t just stop at hiring great people — make sure the culture and perks are in place to keep them around. Whether it’s gym memberships, free lunches, or flexible hours, ask your team what they want and then find ways to recognize and support them.Read: 5 Effective Hiring Tips for Early-Stage Startups; Company Culture: Why it Matters and How to Get it Right Step 16. Find an Office. Once you outgrow your garage, you'll need an official office space for your thriving team.Read: How to Know Your Startup is Ready for an Office; How to Find the Right Office Space Market & Sell Now that you've laid the groundwork, it’s time to get the word out! With so many other products competing for your customers' attention, you'll need to find an effective marketing strategy to cut through the noise and distinguish yourself from competitors. Step 17. Establish Your Brand. What is your company about? What sets you apart from competitors, and how will you communicate that to customers to earn their loyalty? Think about personality and purpose when crafting your brand.Read: 10 Ways to Build a Brand for Your Small Business Step 18. Research & Create Detailed Customer Personas. How old are your target customers? How much money do they make? Where do they live? What do they do for fun? What are their daily habits? What media outlets command their attention, and who influences their decisions?Read: Template: How to Create a Buyer Persona and Journey Step 19. Create a Strategy. How will you engage your audience? Experiment with different ways of reaching your target customers and capturing their attention.Read: Two Weeks to a Startup: Develop Your Marketing Plan Make Success Sustainable You've built something incredible, even if it feels like it's all held together with popsicle sticks and duct tape. Now you need to help it grow and thrive. Beware of growing too large too quickly, or you'll stretch yourself and your resources too thin. But being too conservative is risky too, since you chance missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Step 20. Learn from Others' Mistakes. If you're thinking of launching a business, you're probably well aware of the scary stats surrounding business failure. One of the best ways to keep your startup growing strong is to identify the biggest threats to your business.Read: 10 Reasons Startups Fail (Infographic)  Step 21. Find Tools to Run Your Business. Startup life is chaotic, but the right tools can help you stay on top of all your work and make sure everything runs smoothly.Read: 25 Online Tools to Run Your Startup Step 22. Learn to Lead. You find yourself the head of an exciting new venture  — but that doesn't mean leadership comes naturally to you. The decisions you make and the tone you set for your teams can make or break your company, so don't disregard soft skills and leadership tips as irrelevant or low-priority.Read: 7 Deadly Sins of Bad Startup Leaders; 15 Books All Managers Should Read Are you ready to take the leap?  We've been there ourselves, so we know how exciting and challenging startup life can be. Read the Wrike story to find out how we overcame those typical startup hurdles. Happy founding! Sources: StartupNation.com 

Women in Tech Know Their Worth—It's Time Everyone Else Does Too
Leadership 10 min read

Women in Tech Know Their Worth—It's Time Everyone Else Does Too

According to Wrike's 2018 Operational Excellence Survey Report, 48% of women say any improvement suggestions they make will be ignored or never implemented.

21 Thought Leaders Tweeting About #Startups
Leadership 7 min read

21 Thought Leaders Tweeting About #Startups

Creating and developing a successful startup is not all glitz, glamor, and magazine interviews. It's a lot of hard work and long nights producing something out of nothing. Thankfully, there are a lot of people who want budding entrepreneurs to succeed — and they're all writing tips and articles full of great advice. The problem now is: how do you find the best of the best to make sure your startup is heading in the right direction? With all of the information floating around out there, there is one go-to source for aggregated advice on creating a successful startup plan: Twitter. It's impossible to find and list all the great accounts you can follow — and we're not even going to try — but we'll give you a good starting place. Here are 21 startup movers and shakers we think you need in your feed to get great advice on following your dream idea, hiring the best team, and creating a successful startup business. (If we're missing your favorite startup thought leader, add your Tweetspirations in the comments!) Our Suggested Follows for #StartupAdvice on Twitter Individuals to Follow 1. Paul Graham — Co-founder of Y Combinator. Tweets startup news, often related to YC companies, and also shares articles and advice for startups and small businesses. Posts at a human pace, AKA as often as he sees fit; some days only twice, some days more than six times. 2. Jason Calacanis — Serial entrepreneur and investor. Founder of Weblogs Inc. and Open Angel Forum, among others. Follow him for entrepreneurship advice and business news. Fun fact: he has a dedicated (and well-earned) following of Jason fans. Seriously. His tweet frequency: He will certainly not leave your feed empty. What I learned running The LAUNCH Incubator for 12 weeks http://t.co/LQVQFIe9qR — jason (@Jason) March 12, 2015 3. Dave McClure — Founding partner at 500 Startups accelerator. He retweets a lot of  successful startup news and articles about better business practices. Tweets frequently throughout the day. 4. Fred Wilson — Venture Capitalist. Mostly sharing links to good articles and interesting startup business information. Unlike most of the names on this list, he keeps his messages to a humble 1-2 tweets per day.  5. Charles Dixon — Investor, entrepreneur. The only news-centric tweeter included on this list, because Dixon tweets about startup news you should probably keep your eye on: drones, bitcoin, the growth of the tech industry, and a sprinkle of business humor to break up your too-serious Twitter feed. Shares articles throughout the day, all day, every day.  6. Sam Altman — If you're interested in startup investment, Sam Altman is your man. As president of Y Combinator, about 90% of his tweets deal with smart investing, bad investing, and companies that are doing well after recent investment. Tweet frequency: a few times per day, with days of productivity (i.e. no tweeting) in between.     how to be successful: focus, choose a good market, believe in yourself, and learn to identify unproven talent — Sam Altman (@sama) March 11, 2015 7. Eric Knopf — Co-founder of his own company, he tweets advice for the human side of people behind successful companies: how to stay organized, motivation for the days when you aren't feeling it, and, of course, some tips for making your business boom. Tweet frequency: some days he's completely silent, other days he tweets over 10 times.      8. Martin Zwilling — A veteran in the startup field, he has great advice on what it takes to start a company and succeed. Only tweets a few times a day for a very manageable (not overwhelming) feed-filler. 9. Roy Povarchik — Startup mentor and growth hacker. Tweets good advice for all businesses, but especially useful information for companies just starting out. Tweet frequency: upwards of 5 times per day. 10. Omar Mohout — Entrepreneur turned startup mentor. Tweets advice for the best mindset, basic principles for successful startups, and shares educational resources like eBooks and webinars. Tweet frequency: daily (almost hourly), and occasionally in French.   Why #Startups fail #96: The product doesn’t uniquely solve a big enough (no viable business) & frequent (no viable market) problem #GoTechEU — Omar Mohout (@omohout) March 11, 2015 11. Gordon Daugherty — Angel investor and startup mentor. Shares frequently about startup money matters and advice for growing your customer base. Tweets once a day, if at all. 12. Alex Turnbull — Startup founder and CEO at Groove. Shares incredibly helpful, insightful posts from his company's blog (mostly related to their business success), as well as quotes and products he enjoys. Full of great advice for any new entrepreneur. He's also known to pose questions he actually wants answered — a rare treat. Tweet frequency: a handful of times per week.     Businesses to Follow 13. 500 Startups — Startup accelerator program spreading startup news and trends to help you build a relevant, talked-about business. Tweet frequency: multiple times per day, almost every day. 14. Y Combinator — Popular startup incubator in the Bay Area. Their Twitter account shares startup success stories and advice articles. Tweet frequency: a few times per day, but has been known to sleep on slow news days. The 1st episode of Startup School Radio with @harris is on SiriusXM's Business Radio right now! First guest is reddit's @alexisohanian. — Y Combinator (@ycombinator) March 11, 2015 15. OPEN Forum — The Q&A site run by American Express, their Twitter account shares popular articles and Q&As from their site with tips on popular tools used to run startups, social media, customer relationships, and more. Only tweets 1-2 times per day. Nothing too overwhelming. 16. Idealab — Startup accelerator tweeting startup stories and business advice. They dish out tips on everything from sales to customer success. Tweet frequency: multiple times throughout the day. 17. The Lean Startup — Foundation of the Lean Startup movement. Tweets cool talks and articles about things every startup needs to care about, especially if they're trying to run lean. Tweet frequency: at least 5 times per day, 7 days per week. On how to say no without burning bridges, from @HarvardBiz. http://t.co/Ug4ccJ1iZm — The Lean Startup (@leanstartup) March 2, 2015 18. Upstart Business — An online business journal that shares startup news, mostly from their own site. Tweet frequency: sharing articles at all hours of the day, every day. 19. Bplans — Business blog featuring tips and tricks for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Tweet frequency: anywhere from one to "blow-up-your-feed" times per day. 20. Bootstrappers.io — Online community of business bootstrappers sharing articles on everything from getting your first customer to the best startup office locations. Tweet frequency: 2-3 times a day. 21. Entrepreneur Quotes — Motivational quotes for entrepreneurs. It's a good place to get a reality check or a kick in the right direction when you feel like the entire world is against you. Tweet frequency: 1-2 times per day. Add them to your feed! Want to add all these accounts to your Twitter feed? Subscribe to our "Startup Thought Leaders" Twitter list! Who are your favorite startup thought leaders on Twitter? Share your inspirations with us in the comments, and we'll check them out and add them to our Twitter list!

How to Walk the Tightrope Between Consistency and Growth
Leadership 10 min read

How to Walk the Tightrope Between Consistency and Growth

Moving fast, being scrappy, and innovating are keys to growth and success for most companies. Ironically though, as that success is achieved, agility and innovation are often neglected for the sake of consistency.