Need funding to grow your business? Check out Kabbage.

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Kabbage helps small businesses grow with fast and flexible funding. Kabbage doesn’t look at your traditional credit history, but uses performance data from online sources to determine how to fund a business loan online. The evidence that Kabbage works? It’s in the data. See how small businesses use cash advances to fund their growth – buy more inventory, sell more inventory, and bring in more revenue. See how Kabbage has grown along with the SBA.

kabbage_small%20business%20infographic

Why David will always be a Wing Man

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Just like bachelors, CEOs often choose the wrong strategies based on what consultants say.

Why David will always be a Wingman

What does a Wing Man have in common with some bad CEOs?

Three years ago in Houston, two young men, Steven and David, decided it was time to find the right girl to marry. They were very similar, these two men. Both had graduated from college, both had nice teeth, both had ambition.

Flash forward to today, David was still unsuccessful, Steven however, was happily engaged to the girl of his dreams. What made the difference?

What made the difference wasn’t that one was better looking, just got lucky, or was more determined. The difference lied in how each man made use of his time and where to focus his resources. Here is how David tried to find the right girl to marry:

  • He bought a flashy sports car hoping that would get attention and dates
  • Constantly went to all the bars hitting on every girl
  • Created one automated email message to send and respond to every girl he found attractive on online dating sites
  • Hired a fashion stylist who spent his money on expensive clothing like Gucci shoes, Zegna suits, watches, and cologne

Steven on the other hand, focused his energies to what’s below the surface. Steven did the following:

  • Joined a Toastmasters club to improve his speaking and presentation skills
  • Set a goal for himself to run at least one marathon every year
  • Volunteered his time once a month at a non-profit agency (where he met his fiancé)
  • Asked his female friends to provide him honest feedback and recommendations about his hair cut, appearance, and his personality

So what do the choices that Steven and David made have to do with decisions that CEOs have to make? Just like our bachelors, CEOs often choose the wrong strategies based on what consultants or GQ magazine says.

For example,

  • The Flashy sports car can be seen as overspending on office space
  • Hitting on every girl, well that is like offering low prices everywhere and not making a decent margin
  • Sending out an automated email message is similar to outsourcing customer service representatives to another country
  • Hiring a Fashion stylist, essentially that is being taken advantage of by advertising agencies and consultants

As far as the decisions Steven made, he..

  • joining a Toastmasters club was like attending leadership classes sponsored by his company
  • Steven setting a goal to run a marathon is like having an annual target to meet for his specific job
  • Volunteering at a non-profit, for a company that translates to Corporate social responsibility; being involved in the community
  • And finally, asking his female friends for advice, that is the company sending out an Employee engagement survey to get feedback from employees

So in conclusion, if you know someone who is looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right. Or a CEO making bad decisions. Tell him or her to join Toastmasters, go volunteer, and start setting goals for themselves! Otherwise, they might be playing the role of a wing man for a very long time.

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”– Albert Einstein

List of Shared Goods and Services Companies

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The companies below have changed the way we think about work and consumption. By maximizing our resources, the stuff we own, the skills and free time we possess, allows us to tap into the potential all around us. Every purchase becomes a potential investment, every idle hour a potential paycheck. And for us consumers, these services offer either low prices or a level of convenience beyond what a more traditional business can offer.

Transportation and Housing

Airbnb allows people to rent out their homes or rooms. The service has booked more than 5 million overnight stays in its four years of existence. Personally, I am a fan and have enjoyed using the service. Read about my experience here.

Getaround allows you to rent out your car.

Zipcar is like a car rental service, but instead of having to go to the car rental place, stand in line, and pay in 24 hour increments, with Zipcar you can rent by the hour, pick up a car nearby, and access the car with a Zipcar membership card that is sent to you. I found the service convenient when I lived in New York.

Spinlisterallows you to find the best bikes to rent online, whether from individuals or existing bike rental shops.

Ayoopa – is the online rental marketplace for your travel checklist.  Have unused backpacks, luggage, camping gear…list it and make money.  Travelling and don’t want the hassle of storage or expensive travel gear, just rent it locally.

Uber – A service that lets anyone summon an executive car via their smartphone. Cashless transactions (customers’ credit cards are charged, tips and all, behind the scenes) allows passengers to feel like their personal chauffeur has been idling around the corner.

Sidecar connects you with other drivers in your community. All you have to do is enter your pick up and drop off location and then wait for the driver to pick you up. The best part – there is no charge!

See a list of Shared Goods and Services Companies Here

ParkingPanda allows you to find parking and rent out your parking space.

Fun2Rent is a unique service that connects owners of recreation and powersports with those looking to rent. Our team provides a secure and insured platform which enables owners to safely rent out on their idle toys to qualified and insured renters. We are the first and largest peer-to-peer rental site for boats, jet skis, ATV’s, snowmobiles, motorcycles, and trailers.

Clothes & Accessories

RenttheRunway is like Netflix, but with fantastic dresses and accessories.

BagBorroworSteal allows you to rent designer handbags by the week, month, or season.

ThredUp is an online children’s consignment made fast, easy, and affordable.

Goods

Ebay let’s people sell unneeded stuff from their garages.

ToolSpinner is an online rental marketplace connecting tool renters and tool owners.

Pets

Rover is a convenient, more humane, less expensive alternative to traditional dog boarding.

Professional Services

TaskRabbit an eBay for real world labor. Get just about anything done by safe, reliable, people.

Exec allows you to get local help to help run errands for you, do virtual tasks, pick up and ship packages, etc.

Cherry is the carwash that comes to you. Park anywhere, check in online, and we’ll wash your car right where you left it.

TextBooks

StudentBookTrades  allows you to trade, Buy, and Sell College Books in 3 Easy Steps!

Creative Projects

Kickstarter Kickstarter aims to let creative people of all kinds — journalists, artists, musicians, game developers, entrepreneurs, bloggers — raise money for their projects by connecting directly with fans, who receive exclusive access and rewards in exchange for their patronage. More than just a fundraising app, Kickstarter’s a publishing platform where project creators can communicate with the people that are supporting them.

Three things I learned from being an Entrepreneur

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Taken from a speech I gave at my Toastmasters Club in May 2012

While working at an advertising agency in New York, I noticed that clients would pay big money for the agency to perform statistical modelling on their media campaigns to help determine which advertising channels were generating the best ROI. The costs for such statistical analysis ranged from $5,000 to $25,000 depending on how many hours the project required. Of course not every client or small business out there can afford to pay for such work. And that’s when the light bulb went off and I thought to myself – why not sell advertising data analysis tutorials online.

I can market them to all types of marketing professionals. Since I know how to do the analysis, I can create video tutorials using sample advertising campaign data analysis and sell them on the web. So after 5 months preparing for launch, and about $5,000 spend on startup cost, I quit my job and launched my business.

The business was not a success, but I want to tell you about three things I learned from giving entrepreneurship a shot. The first is, there are lots of companies that like to hire employees who have an entrepreneurial spirit. When an employer sees that you have launched your own business, they know that you are a candidate who is driven, can multi-task, and is self motivated. And these traits are a good thing.

Second, being an entrepreneur teaches you new skills. Specifically, skills related to marketing. Ever written a press release before? Run Google paid search ads, blog, produce a website, send an email blast? Well you will have to in order to raise awareness about your product or service.

And finally, actually launching a business, even though it resulted in failure, removed two little words in my head that would have haunted me forever. Those two words are ‘what if’.

In conclusion, companies seek candidate with an entrepreneurial mindset. Being an entrepreneur helps you develop new skills. And lastly, I think Theodore Roosevelt said it best – “It is better to dare mighty things, even though it may result in failure, than to be like those who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they know not victory nor defeat”.

Learn how to ride a horse in Houston

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I tell you what, this was a lot better than that place my parents used to take me to near the Astrodome when I was a kid. I guess going to the Houston Rodeo and seeing those cowboys buckle those Mustangs got me in the mood to find my Texan roots and take a horse riding class. (I am too afraid to ride sheep like the Mutton Busters do).  As luck would have it, there is a horse farm located about 20 minutes from Houston Downtown called Clear Round Show Jumpers where they also teach you how to ride a horse. More than 40 horses are stabled there. It was so funny to ride on my horse between the barns and see all the other horses staring at us.

So how did the lesson go you ask? It was lots of fun! Before you even get on the horse, they teach you how to prepare the horse for a ride. Properly secure them, clean their horse shoes, brush them, how to put the saddle on, and the bridle. It sounds like there is a lot of effort, but doing all this only took around 15 minutes. Finally, strap the helmet on and it’s go time!

Sitting on a tall horse is a great experience. I learned how to make the horse go, stop, and make turns. Of course, this was under the supervision of professional horse riders Adrian and Dominique. There was plenty of room to ride Topac around the farm, practice some turns, and gallop a bit. Before I knew it, the hour was up. Time flies when you are having fun. Special thanks to Adrian and Dominique from Clear Round Show Jumpers below.

A great idea for a first date in Houston

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Skip the drive to Galveston, pass on walking by the fountain at Transco Tower, and save the outdoor concert at Discovery Green for another time. If you are looking for something fun to do for a first date in Houston, I highly suggest Merlot2Masterpiece. What is it?

It is a painting class where you can bring your booze! That’s right. You, your date, and a few other strangers are going to paint a Masterpiece. It sounds much harder than it really is. Or maybe I just had a really good teacher. Nevertheless, I still can’t believe that I actually painted the piece of artwork that is sitting on my furniture. Not bad for someone who has not taken a painting class since the 7th grade!

I went to Merlot2Masterpiece which is on the North side of town, but I hear there are other places that do something similar like Pinot’s Palette in Montrose. All you do is sign up, bring your date or friend, and your drink of choice for the night and they will handle the rest! Have a good time..

Forget Expedia, had a wonderful experience using Airbnb

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It is not often I write about a service or a business, but I have not been this excited about a new brand/concept in a long time. A colleague of mine who is based in Toronto, but often travels to Houston, is no longer staying at hotels. When I went to pick him up to go out to dinner, he was staying at a very nice loft off of Post Oak near the Galleria. The next time he was in town, he was at a very cool apartment in Greenway Plaza. Both places costs less than $100 a night. The sites he uses – Airbnb.

Airbnb offers people the opportunity to list, discover, and book unique spaces around the world online or from an iPhone. Whether the available space is a castle for a night, a sailboat for a week, or an apartment for a month, Airbnb is the easiest way for people to showcase these distinctive spaces to an audience of millions. With 110,000 unique listings available in more than 13,000 cities and 181 countries, Airbnb offers the widest variety of unique spaces for everyone, at a reasonable price point around the globe.

See a list of Shared Goods and Services Companies Here

I first used Airbnb by booking a house for one night in Galveston Texas. The house was absolutely charming and our host was so kind and nice. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. My next booking will be for a weekend in Austin in a house that is near the center. Cost… less than $215 for the entire weekend! I think the only time I will be staying at hotels will be for company conventions.