A report from the Duke University Fuqua School of Business has revealed some interesting data. The researchers say most potential entrepreneurs give up before taking even simple steps to vet their ideas.

According to the authors, the data of their research suggests guiding entrepreneurs early to vet their ideas is important. In fact, they say it could be just as important as helping with complex planning later in the process.

One telling statistic in the research highlights this very point. Of the people who said lack of financing derailed their business idea, only 7% had actually sought financing.

This led professor Victor Bennet, a co-author, to say “So we think there’s a perception that there are barriers that might not actually be there.”  Furthermore, entrepreneurs are not sharing their ideas with someone who is objective.

Aaron Chatterji, the other co-author, added: “A large percentage of our entrepreneurs never actually talk about their business idea to someone they don’t already know.” Suggesting, “A best practice would be talking to experts in the field who aren’t afraid to disappoint you.”

Key Findings

The data for this report comes from a survey of 30,409 Americans adults 23 years and older. In addition to demographic and professional information, they were also asked about any business ideas they had considered in the previous five years. This includes whether or not they took any steps to pursue their ideas.

The key finding is potential entrepreneurs didn’t get as far as the researchers expected. They didn’t do the simplest things to get their business off the ground, such as searching the internet to see if there is a business doing the same thing.

Those looking to start a business saw market opportunities in prior work experience (41%). For 26% their idea is directly related to their employer’s business, with another 15% going after a customer or supplier. More than a third or 34% say their idea is from an existing product they use.

Some of the other reasons include reading a media article suggesting potential market opportunity (6.6%) and partnering with someone else with an idea (9.6%).

The researchers recommend implementing policies to provide mentorship and structure for aspiring entrepreneurs. This they say can be as important as other policies such as favorable regulations and taxes.

Entrepreneurial Support System

Although some policies can help, adding yet another government entity in the entrepreneurial process may not be the answer.

Mentorships, on the other hand, can provide the answers to the problems this research highlights. With the right mentors in place, entrepreneurs can receive some of the insights from the report. This includes a need for standard step-by-step recommendations for moving from an idea to a functioning business. As well as ways to weed out ideas that don’t make good business sense.

The goal is to continue to inspire entrepreneurs so they can pursue their dream. With the right entrepreneurial support system, they will not give up so soon on their entrepreneurial journey.

Image: Depositphotos.com

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Zoho One is a platform with more than 40+ integrated business and productivity applications. And the company continues to expand the capabilities of its platform with new tools and updates.

The latest, which became available Sept. 12, 2019, include new operating system services, business workflow management and product and service innovations.

One way Zoho keeps its customets, including many small businesses, engaged and in the loop is by providing free seminars. And the latest one is going to be held in San Francisco on October 15, 2019.

The seminar will address the basics of the Zoho One platform to get you up and running in your business as well as tips, tricks and best practices.

By attending this event, you will learn the benefits of having a single platform for Intra organizational operation.

In addition to San Francisco, Zoho will be holding other seminars through November across the U.S.

Click the red button and register to attend the free seminar.

Register Now





Featured Events, Contests and Awards

Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (San Francisco, CA)Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (San Francisco, CA)
October 15, 2019, San Francisco, Calif.

Join us to learn how one complete view of your business, with apps that effortlessly integrate, can enhance your productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and help you effectively collaborate with staff, partners, and investors. Our free educational seminar will cover basics of the Zoho One platform, plus tips, tricks, and best practices to help optimize your business.


Listening to the Voice of the Customer Listening to the Voice of the Customer
October 16, 2019, Chicago, Ill.

Led by veteran product development and market research experts, this course will introduce Voice of the Customer (VOC) market research and teach you to use it to accelerate innovation in business-to-business markets. The workshop uses a lively, interactive format with numerous hands-on activities and practice exercises to build skills and will also expose you to the latest applications of these techniques in areas such as machine learning and journey mapping.
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Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Irvine, CA)Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Irvine, CA)
October 17, 2019, Irvine, Calif.

Join us to learn how one complete view of your business, with apps that effortlessly integrate, can enhance your productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and help you effectively collaborate with staff, partners, and investors. Our free educational seminar will cover basics of the Zoho One platform, plus tips, tricks, and best practices to help optimize your business.


Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (San Diego, CA)Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (San Diego, CA)
October 18, 2019, Online

Join us to learn how one complete view of your business, with apps that effortlessly integrate, can enhance your productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and help you effectively collaborate with staff, partners, and investors. Our free educational seminar will cover basics of the Zoho One platform, plus tips, tricks, and best practices to help optimize your business.


Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Miami, FL)Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Miami, FL)
October 22, 2019, Miami, Fla.

Join us to learn how one complete view of your business, with apps that effortlessly integrate, can enhance your productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and help you effectively collaborate with staff, partners, and investors. Our free educational seminar will cover basics of the Zoho One platform, plus tips, tricks, and best practices to help optimize your business.


Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Boston, MA)Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Boston, MA)
October 24, 2019, Online

Join us to learn how one complete view of your business, with apps that effortlessly integrate, can enhance your productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and help you effectively collaborate with staff, partners, and investors. Our free educational seminar will cover basics of the Zoho One platform, plus tips, tricks, and best practices to help optimize your business.


Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (New York, NY)Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (New York, NY)
October 25, 2019, New York, N.Y.

Join us to learn how one complete view of your business, with apps that effortlessly integrate, can enhance your productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and help you effectively collaborate with staff, partners, and investors. Our free educational seminar will cover basics of the Zoho One platform, plus tips, tricks, and best practices to help optimize your business.


Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Seattle, WA)Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Seattle, WA)
November 12, 2019, Online

Join us to learn how one complete view of your business, with apps that effortlessly integrate, can enhance your productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and help you effectively collaborate with staff, partners, and investors. Our free educational seminar will cover basics of the Zoho One platform, plus tips, tricks, and best practices to help optimize your business.


Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Denver, CO)Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Denver, CO)
November 14, 2019, Denver, Colo.

Join us to learn how one complete view of your business, with apps that effortlessly integrate, can enhance your productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and help you effectively collaborate with staff, partners, and investors. Our free educational seminar will cover basics of the Zoho One platform, plus tips, tricks, and best practices to help optimize your business.


Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Chicago, IL)Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Chicago, IL)
November 15, 2019, Chicago, Ill.

Join us to learn how one complete view of your business, with apps that effortlessly integrate, can enhance your productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and help you effectively collaborate with staff, partners, and investors. Our free educational seminar will cover basics of the Zoho One platform, plus tips, tricks, and best practices to help optimize your business.


Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Atlanta, GA)Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Atlanta, GA)
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Join us to learn how one complete view of your business, with apps that effortlessly integrate, can enhance your productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and help you effectively collaborate with staff, partners, and investors. Our free educational seminar will cover basics of the Zoho One platform, plus tips, tricks, and best practices to help optimize your business.


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Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Dallas, TX)Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Dallas, TX)
November 21, 2019, Dallas, Texas

Join us to learn how one complete view of your business, with apps that effortlessly integrate, can enhance your productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and help you effectively collaborate with staff, partners, and investors. Our free educational seminar will cover basics of the Zoho One platform, plus tips, tricks, and best practices to help optimize your business.


Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Phoenix, AZ)Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Phoenix, AZ)
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Join us to learn how one complete view of your business, with apps that effortlessly integrate, can enhance your productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and help you effectively collaborate with staff, partners, and investors. Our free educational seminar will cover basics of the Zoho One platform, plus tips, tricks, and best practices to help optimize your business.


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Running a business requires constantly finding new sources of inspiration. You might draw from other business experts, social media platforms or even exotic locations around the world. Whether you’re just getting started in business or have years of experience under your belt, you may be able to benefit from some of these tips from the online small business community on staying inspired and motivated.



Understand Where to Find Inspiration

Great entrepreneurs need constant inspiration in order to stay motivated to do the necessary work on a daily basis. Inspiration can sometimes be hard to come by. But this CrowdsUnite post by Alex Feldman includes three tips you can use to get inspired when you’re just starting out.

Learn About Building a Large Following from Instagram Influencers

You don’t necessarily need a huge following on social platforms like Instagram in order to make a major impact. But it doesn’t hurt. And who has massive followings that you can potentially learn from? Instagram influencers. Glean some advice from these popular accounts with the tips in this Social Media Revolver post by Ivan Kreimer.

Give Your Network a Connection Cleanup

Your professional network can be an amazing source of inspiration and motivation for your business — but only if you nurture it. If your network is full of stale contacts you haven’t connected with in years, it could be time for a cleanup. Kate Hart details what the process looks like in this post.

Start a Business That Supports Your Lifestyle

Traveling to new locations can be an amazing way to stay inspired as a business owner. And certain types of businesses lend themselves perfectly to a traveling lifestyle. If this sounds like the business life for you, check out the options in this Miss Millennia Magazine post by Jamie T. Wiseman.

Rethink Customer Engagement

The way you interact with customers on a daily basis can make a major impact on your success. If you’re having issues, it may be time to rethink customer engagement, as Tracey Ruff explores in this Userlane post. BizSugar members also shared thoughts on the post here.

Try Video Content Marketing

Keeping up a steady stream of content ideas can sometimes be challenging for B2B businesses. But these businesses can still benefit from video marketing and similar tactics. In this SmallBizDaily post, Mitt Ray offers some ideas you can draw inspiration from.

Understand the Basics of Business Ethics

Ethics are essential for building a business with sustainable growth and success. But there are some misconceptions about what building an ethical business actually means. If you don’t want your business to get off track, read this post by Martin Zwilling of Startup Professionals Musings.

Consider Productivity when Designing Your Office Space

Your office space can make a major impact on your productivity and inspiration as you work on your business. By decorating your office intentionally, you can actually improve the way you work. Ivan Widjaya shares tips for setting everything up in this Biz Epic post.

Understand How to Use Color Psychology in Your Marketing

The colors you choose for your website can make a major impact on the impression you make with customers. In this post, Are Morch discusses the role of color psychology when it comes to hotel marketing. But the ideas could be relevant for a variety of businesses. See what BizSugar members had to say about the post here.

Follow Retail and Other Trends When Shaping Your Marketing Strategy

Black Friday and Cyber Monday may still be months away. But it’s never too early for businesses to start planning. And another recent shopping holiday, Prime Day, could provide some clues for how to shape your strategy. Learn more in this Search Engine Land post by Andrew Waber.

If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to: sbtips@gmail.com.

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Executive Summary

Few tech startups have taken off as quickly as Beijing-based ByteDance, the creator of the highly popular 15-second video app, TikTok. In just two years, TikTok has emerged to rival companies like Netflix, YouTube, Snapchat, and Facebook with more than 1 billion downloads in 150 markets worldwide and 75 languages. TikTok reaches well beyond other successful Chinese apps such as Tencent’s messaging app WeChat, which is ubiquitous in China but mostly used elsewhere among Chinese communities keeping in touch with people back home. Chinese entrepreneurs such as ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming are showing that they can succeed in an openly competitive market internationally rather than only in China where the Great Firewall regulates the internet and blocks access to several U.S. social media sites. His strategy of dual versions of Tik Tok – one for China’s internet censored market and another for the rest of the world – could be a new model for other digital content companies aiming for such global reach.

Daniel Grizelj/Getty Images

Few tech startups have taken off as quickly as Beijing-based ByteDance, the creator of the highly popular 15-second video app, TikTok. In just two years, TikTok has emerged to rival companies like Netflix, YouTube, Snapchat, and Facebook with more than one billion downloads in 150 markets worldwide and 75 languages. On the app, homemade videos showcase everything from comedy to lip syncs to dog grooming tips that users create and share on their phones. The scrappy, goofy, fast-moving content has hooked young audiences around the world.

Since little translation is required, TikTok reaches well beyond other successful Chinese apps such as Tencent’s messaging app WeChat, which is ubiquitous in China but mostly used elsewhere among Chinese communities keeping in touch with people back home. Chinese entrepreneurs such as ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming are showing that they can succeed in an openly competitive market internationally rather than only in China where the Great Firewall regulates the internet and blocks access to several U.S. social media sites. His strategy of dual versions of Tik Tok – one for China’s internet censored market and another for the rest of the world – could be a new model for other digital content companies aiming for such global reach – including China-based digital startups with new ambitions to venture out beyond the home market. Their story may also hold lessons for American companies who have watched similar ventures into China meet serious constraints.

From the start, Zhang, a former Microsoft engineer and Chinese serial entrepreneur, had the goal of running a borderless company. Zhang, 36, is among a new generation of home-grown Chinese tech leaders with an international vision inspired by the early success of China’s tech pioneers of the late 1990s such as  Robin Li of Baidu, Jack Ma of Alibaba, and Pony Ma of Tencent. ByteDance has a valuation of $78 billion ─ one of China’s 86 “unicorns” in 2018. Its backers span top-notch venture capitalist firm Sequoia Capital China, Japanese tech conglomerate Softbank Group, U.S. private equity investor KKR, Chinese investment firm Hillhouse Capital and corporate venture unit SIG Asia.  As a privately financed digital content startup founded by a tech entrepreneur, ByteDance has a different relationship with the Chinese government and its grip on state-owned conglomerates. But in going global, the China-originated ByteDance could encounter heightened distrust and scrutiny especially as security concerns have enveloped Chinese telecom giant Huawei in readying the launch of its fifth generation, high-speed networks internationally.

In August 2012, five months after founding ByteDance, Zhang launched his first mobile app, Toutiao or Today’s Headlines, an AI-powered daily curated feed of news content personalized to users. In 2016, Zhang added to his product lineup by introducing a video sharing app, Douyin, for the Chinese market. He rolled out an overseas equivalent of the Douyin video app, dubbed TikTok, in 2017. That same year, ByteDance paid an estimated $900 million to acquire Musical.ly, a social video app based in Shanghai with more than 200 million users worldwide and a large following in the U.S. The deal combined TikTok’s AI‑fed streams and monetization track record with Musical.ly’s product innovation and grasp of users’ needs and tastes in the West.

After ByteDance folded the four-year-old Musical.ly into TikTok, and rebranded it to a single application under the TikTok name in August 2018, the combined app immediately gained some 30 million new users within three months. The app makes money through ads and from the sale of virtual goods such as emojis and stickers to fans.  An easy-to-use interface combining click-baity news and entertainment with powerful AI to precisely match users rather than recommend content based on their viewing habits and “likes” have fueled the app’s success.  The homegrown content has become prevalent, particularly among rural and poorer residents in China, India, and other emerging markets where access to other digital entertainment options has been limited. In China’s smaller cities and the countryside, where state-owned, stodgy media has dominated, the new ByteDance content apps are especially popular.

Zhang has also built upon China’s desire to make AI a priority in the race for global tech dominance. He describes a mission to “combine the power of AI with the growth of mobile internet to revolutionize the way people consume and receive information.”

Venture partner Connie Chan at Andreessen Horowitz in San Francisco wrote in her blog that the AI‑powered apps at ByteDance go to an extreme not common yet in the West. TikTok uses the app’s algorithms to decide which videos to show users, dictates their feed entirely, and learns their preferences the more one uses it. This is different from Facebook, Netflix, Spotify, and YouTube, which use AI to recommend posts rather than send feeds to users directly, she notes.

The company actively scouts for international content trends from an office in Los Angeles. Over the past few years, ByteDance snapped up Los Angeles–based Flipagram, a video and photo creation app set to music clips, and invested $50 million in Live.me, a livestreaming app in Los Angeles that is majority owned by Chinese mobile app developer Cheetah Mobile. Additionally, ByteDance acquired News Republic, a global mobile news aggregation service based in France, from Cheetah Mobile for $86.6 million. ByteDance attempted to buy a major stake in U.S. social news aggregator Reddit from Si Newhouse’s Advance Publications but lost that deal to Tencent, which swept in with a $300 million co‑investment in early 2019.

Facebook faces a serious global rival from China in TikTok. In 2018, TikTok ranked fourth worldwide as the top non-game app downloaded, at 663 million behind only Facebook at 711 million and its related apps WhatsApp and Messenger, SensorTower data shows. TikTok’s inroads in India and its young, mobile-savvy population is a big reason it’s soaring. About one-quarter of TikTok’s downloads come from India. TikTok added 188 million downloads in the first quarter of 2019, surpassing Facebook at 176 million, but trailing WhatsApp at 224 million and Messenger at 209 million.

In late 2018, Facebook launched its own short-format video version, Lasso, which is widely considered a knockoff of TikTok. Aimed at teens, Lasso can only be accessed through Facebook or Instagram, and so far is limited to U.S. access. Lasso was downloaded by 70,000 U.S. users within four months of its launch in November compared with nearly 40 million users for TikTok in the same time period, according to app analytics firm SensorTower.

TikTok’s rise has also brought a string of regulatory problems. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission slapped TikTok with a $5.7 million fine for failing to get parental consent before collecting names, email addresses, and personal information about children users under the age of 13.  In India, lawmakers briefly banned the app this past April from being downloaded on Apple and Android, for encouraging “cultural degradation” among youth. The ban was lifted a few weeks later when ByteDance lawyers successfully argued that its system screens offensive content and prevents nude videos to be shown, and is continually being upgraded to identify troublesome videos and develop more personalized content recommendations.

Despite regulatory and other challenges, ByteDance is building an empire of apps for a new generation and challenging the borders drawn around traditional digital content. If ByteDance can continue to fulfill its mission of becoming a borderless company with game changing technology, it may lead to the creation of other borderless companies and will influence other tech innovators from emerging markets to venture out too. Ultimately, this trend will create a fuller range of digital offerings globally for consumers and businesses.

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Executive Summary

Every leader knows they shouldn’t play favorites but there will always be team members who want to make it into your inner circle. If a direct report is singularly focused on pleasing you, it’s your job to refocus them. Here’s how. Avoid feeding their need to please. Because of your power and their fear, you may have to watch yourself more carefully than you do with other subordinates. Give the person the same amount of time and attention you do other employees. And make sure you hold them to the same standards of performance. If they spend too much time checking in and gauging your reactions, guide them to make their own decisions. Assign them to work with other leaders or project teams. This will take the pressure off the unhealthy dynamic between you and increase the chances that they collaborate better with others.

Chris Clinton/Getty Images

Every leader knows they shouldn’t play favorites — it can lead to dissatisfaction and discord on a team. There are even some surprising disadvantages for the person who is the focus of the boss’s special attention. But there will always be team members who want to make it into your inner circle, and sometimes a subordinate can be singularly focused on pleasing you and gaining your favor.

This kind of courtship usually comes from fear, and is often a misguided attempt to protect their self-image and their job status. Unfortunately, while they’re obsessing over keeping you happy and tending to nonessential tasks that they hope will reinforce their relationship with you, they may be neglecting their real work and creating friction with their peers. Here are four ways you can redirect this attention back to their performance.

Avoid feeding their need to please. Because of your power and their fear, you may have to watch yourself more carefully than you do with other subordinates. I’ve observed relationships in which pleasers were willing to eat, watch (TV and movies), or wear what the boss liked, all in an effort to create a sense of companionship. This kind of sucking up can become dangerous if the boss succumbs to affinity (or similarity) bias and gives the pleaser more attention because of their supposedly shared likes. One of my clients came to enjoy this kind of “tending” by a subordinate several levels down and it was a tough habit to break. It wasn’t until multiple members of her leadership team came to her and expressed their concerns about the subordinate’s influence that she realized that she had gotten sucked in and needed to reestablish a more impartial relationship.

Structure your interactions to balance special attention with objectivity. If you have weekly one-on-ones with your direct reports, make sure everyone gets the same amount of time (even if the pleaser requests more) and be sure you’re giving kind and simultaneously rigorous feedback to everyone. Relying on concrete scheduling and project management tools can be especially important, if you work in an office where people drop in for ad hoc discussions and the person could monopolize your time.

At another client company, a vice president and the CEO both worked on the design side of the business, and spent much of the workday together, brainstorming and collaborating. The vice president purposefully buttered up the CEO to gain special privileges and to deflect attention from the fact that she sometimes didn’t meet project deadlines or budgets. The CEO enjoyed the VP’s attention but eventually some of the subordinate’s weaknesses had real costs for the business. The CEO started setting specific dates and times for meetings rather than casually spending most of the workday with her, and also began holding her to milestones and other commitments, expressing dissatisfaction when she missed them. As he continued formalizing and distancing their relationship, she became more stressed, couldn’t deliver on her obligations, and eventually left the firm. As a result, the CEO became more available to other employees, who were able to implement projects more efficiently.

Guide them to develop their own decisions. Ingratiating employees may be overly worried that you’ll be unhappy with them or their work; the thought of disappointing you can become overwhelming for otherwise competent, experienced people. One senior leader I worked with was so concerned about failing to fulfill the CEO’s expectations that she was sometimes afraid to move forward with her own judgments and proposals. The CEO became frustrated with the subordinate’s small tentative steps and constant checking. As an interim solution, I worked with the CEO to be clearer about project requirements and with the subordinate to give the CEO sets of options that included clearly differentiated assumptions. By gauging his reactions to these differing scenarios, she was able to better understand his thought process. Over time, the subordinate developed more confidence in being able to generate proposals the CEO would accept, and the relationship became less fraught for both of them.

Assign them to work with other leaders or project teams. This will take the pressure off the unhealthy dynamic between you and increase the potential for them to collaborate better with others. In fact, research has shown that fawning on the boss can diminish self-control; pleasers may put so much energy into observing and interacting with you that they exhaust their capacity to deal with others, particularly when they’re stressed or frustrated. By explicitly directing their attention away from you, you’ll learn whether they have the capacity to behave better with their colleagues.

The owner of a company I worked with hired a family friend who viewed him as the sole power source. The friend assumed that if he kept the owner happy, he wouldn’t have to bother taking anyone else seriously. When it became clear that the subordinate was flattering and deferential to the boss but high-handed and uncooperative with teammates, the owner agreed to reassign the friend to report to the company president. The president and I developed an action plan to clarify the subordinate’s responsibilities and performance expectations. Even after reducing his scope of work, the requirements for collaboration turned out to be too much pressure, and the subordinate eventually left the company on his own.

It’s better for everyone when subordinates’ competence and performance earn them recognition and regard, rather than special status with the boss. By adopting these four approaches, you’ll have a much better chance of getting your pleasing subordinate on a more independent path that will serve you and the organization.

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