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Rob Gordon
66,590 followers -
Small Business Community Organizer
Small Business Community Organizer

66,590 followers
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A Global Community of Entrepreneurs. By now I assume you have heard the news - Google+ will be shut down. When I started this with community with +Rebecca Quinn I hoped we might be able to start a "global community of entrepreneurs" - that never really happened, but at times we caught glimpses of it. Entrepreneurs and small business owners from different countries and cultures exchanging ideas - and occasionally even doing some joint projects.

Lots of wonderful information was exchanged here and I learned a great deal - but now what? I really have no idea, but we do have some time to think about it - the site won't be officially shutted for 10 months. Where should we go? What should we do? Perhaps we should brainstorm a bit. As a start, I always liked this short video by Tina Seelig - professor of entrepreneurship at Stanford. What is our "third right idea"?

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Help needed testing intake form for entrepreneur event

Hi Everyone, I am on the planning committee for "San Diego Startup Week" that will start on June 25th. It is a pretty big deal here - there are more than 200 events and they have rented out the entire civic center this year. Specifically, I am in charge of the "Idea Track' which is a set of seminars, panel discussions and workshops for early stage ventures.

In addition, I am working on two sessions, "Entrepreneur Speed Networking" and "Mentoring and Peer Mentoring" where having a decent way to match entrepreneurs working in similar areas and with complimentary skills. In other words, before these events even happen, we will have a pretty good answer the the question, "Who should I meet here".

What I have so far is a fairly simple Google form but I need help testing it. What I don't have yet is a system or technology for actually doing the matching. Current backup plan is to have human volunteer analysts do that matching, but I would like to come up with something better before the event. In the meantime I have a desperate need for 'real data" from entrepreneurs and where better than to ask than on this community?

If any of you could spare a few minutes and fill this out I would greatly appreciate it. Your business can be at any phase of development and there are "no wrong answers" here. The form is long - six sections - but most if it is checkbox lists so it should go quickly. Please enter your comments about the form here; parts you found awkward or didn't understand, parts you liked, and questions we didn't ask that you thought we should ask.

I think I have removed all "San Diego" references from this and added "city" and "country" since this is an international forum. While Google forms itself probably would not make a good permanent system I have checked the option that lets anyone who inputs data see a summary of the data entered (with the exception of your email address which is not published).

Thanks a bunch for your help with this. Any thoughts or ideas are welcome.

https://goo.gl/forms/VC0xW4EKtswF5gJ03

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Membership Platforms & Technologies.

Hi entrepreneurs - I have a research project I am wondering if you could help me with. I have long been frustrated with my options for building membership platforms and online communities and would like to learn how others are addressing this.

To start at the most basic level I have a local neighborhood group of self-employed folks - I will use this post as an excuse to post a picture from our last meeting. As you can see, the “real world” part of this group is going fairly well, however I would also like there to be a “virtual” component where people could learn more about each other and easily communicate if needed - plus a way to easily manage member information and communication. Even for a small group like this, managing member information is a real pain in the ass.

When I started this local group, I realized I wanted good contact information right off the bat. I had made an earlier attempt where I didn’t collect this information and it was a nightmare - everyone had only partial contact information, much of it on different social media platforms, and everytime I wanted to talk to someone it became a miniature research project. Now, I use Google forms to collect the basic info, and have connected that to a Google Contact Group by IFTTT. Then I manually transfer this information to a Google Groups Group which is linked to a Google Calendar. It is messy, but it basically works - when I announce the meetings most people get alerts directly on their phones, and there is a good “opt out” system.

That is really a ton of work though, and there is lots it doesn’t do. Google Groups has decent user controls, but the profiles aren’t very good and “screen names” can’t be changed. I’d like something that :brings this all together” - including a simple member directory, without being too complicated. Does such a technology exist?

Beyond my tiny neighborhood group, and have been thinking a little about what “membership” really means. I am interested in economic development and assume that at some point in the future there may be “regional collaboration networks’ - or perhaps big networks organized by industry. How will these be designed? How will they start? I have been looking a little at different “business directory” technologies that have a “claim listing” function. This would allow a developer to “pre-load” a directory without it really being “opt-in” but giving each ‘member’ the option to take editorial control of the listing / profile.

Is anyone working in this space. Even if you have a small group - as I do, I would be interested in what technologies you are using to manage it, and if you have a bigger community - or a plan to build one, I would like to know what technologies you are considering.
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Have you discovered any new cool apps?

There are so many apps now that make our life easier or help our business in some way that it is impossible to know all the good ones. Have you found any recently - either desktop or mobile - that you now just can’t live without?

I’ve found a few recently I can mention - one is called “start me” and it is basically just a chrome extension that replaces your “new tab” page and lets you quickly and easily add bookmarks and feeds to the page you see when you first start your browser ( http://start.me ). That sounds really basic - and it is, but the interface it slick and for the first time in my life I am finally getting my links organized the way I want. I am positive this app has already saved me a ton of time.

The second one I might mention is also a desktop app and it has been around for a long time but I just started using it. It is called “Calibre” and it is used to organize your ebooks and convert them back and forth to different formats ( https://calibre-ebook.com ). Not just business books of course but any kind of book and if you put them “in the cloud” ( i.e. on your Google Drive or Dropbox) there is another whole world of mobile apps to help you read and organize them. Since I started using this, I have become rather obsessed with collecting ebooks and I never realized before that there are whole communities dedicated to sharing ebooks.

What about you? Have you found any new cool apps? - or are there ones you have used for a while that you can’t live without that you would like to mention? (Feel free, to post the link here but please disclose if you are the developer or are associated with it is some way).
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Startup with Google. Years ago I was at a friends house doing some work together on the computer. I came across a big thick manual on his shelf called "Microsoft for Small Business". Paging through it, I didn't immediately find anything that seemed remotely useful to my business. "What is it?" I asked my friend. "A bunch of crap Microsoft thinks small business needs" he replied.

Yesterday, Google launched , "Startup with Google" where they say they have consolidated all their knowledge and resources on startups into one place. I haven't had time to review it yet but I thought I ask this community for opinions. Corporations don't have a great track record at telling small business and startups what to do, but what do you think? Is there anything here you find useful, or is this "a bunch of crap Google thinks startups should use"?

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What do you think about Mentoring?

Have members of this community had experience with mentoring? May I ask that you share your experience - good or bad - with mentors? I am doing some research to try to learn "best practices" with mentoring and have been finding a good deal of confusion - even misinformation on the mentoring process and nobody seems to know what works, or why.

While I think many - probably most mentors sincerely want to help others, there is sometimes an "superior, subordinate" vibe that turns me off. The approach that one person took to success can seldom be taken by another; "No man can step in the same river twice" as the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said 2,600 years ago, "for it's not the same river and he's not the same man". Suppose you got Elon Musk to give you a half hour of his time as a mentor. Would he be able to help? Probably not - that wouldn't even be near enough time to learn about your business and life situation to be able to give sound advice.

I started thinking about this when I came across this remarkable video: "Why you shouldn't trust successful people's advice" - it is a devastating, almost mathematical takedown of what I think are some of the base assumptions about mentoring - that if you get your information and emulate successful people, you too will be successful. https://goo.gl/LuCSvV

It also cleared up a mystery that has perplexed me for some time: why in the world do people ask me for business advice - I am hardly a stunning model of success. Considering the information in this video, however, it does make a certain amount of sense. When you are thinking of buying some product, do you only talk with those who have had great success with that product and love it? - of course not - what if for every person who liked the product hundreds hated it? Talking only to those who love the product would give you highly distorted information.

Still, we know that mentoring does work at least sometimes, but do we know why? It occurred to me that maybe it isn't just the mentoring helping, maybe it is something else. We already know that humans respond to the simple act of being observed. This was established in the 1940's at General Electric with the famous Hawthorne experiments - a team investigating factors related to employee performance found that no matter what they did employee performance improved.

The simple act of "observing" changed employees behavior - usually for the better. Because of this, the team doing the research had to give up their experiment concluding that "you can't study people without changing the results". This became a kind of "Heisenberg uncertainty principle" for people: you can't study - or even observe any system related to people without changing that system. There can be no neutral observer.

There is another "substance" in mentoring programs that could also be causing this success and that is simple "accountability". People are always advising entrepreneurs to get an "accountability parter" and it is also fairly well documented that this works. Could some mentoring programs be adding this element almost by accident?

I've noticed that in my community there is a great deal of competition for mentors and most people people don't get one - which is why I have always been a big believer in "peer mentoring" programs, though they seem to be few and far between. I could go on here but I would like to know your opinion, or experience. Do you have a mentor - or have you tried to get one? What has worked, and what hasn't?

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Anyone one caught "comment spamming" here will be banned from this community. I am talking about the completely off-topic advertising and scam like promotions we have been seeing in the comments here lately. We are here for intelligent business discussions, not to provide a platform for your selfish needs. Take this comment spam crap elsewhere.

+Rebecca Quinn
+Aleta Curry
+Mike Villeneuve

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for your future grandkids when they ask "what was 2017 like"?

Spot on - from @KashannKilson's Tweet: https://twitter.com/KashannKilson/status/884534454391250944?s=09
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What's going on in your community? I spent all last week in downtown San Diego volunteering for San Diego Startup Week. It was really quite a production - Multiple venues, classes and presentations from 8AM to 5PM every day, lots of parties and special events. I have a few disagreements with the startup community here - I think it is maybe a bit too "investor driven" and focused on "rapid growth" startups with almost no emphasis on self-employed or independent business. Still, I have to admit this was fun, and certainly entertaining. The pic below is from one of the parties - on a garage rooftop in downtown San Diego - now you have to admit that is pretty cool.

So my question is, what is going on in your community - wherever you might be in this big world? Are you involved or would you like to be? Are there things that you think could be done in your city or town that is not being done now. Have you ever thought about helping to organize community development activities? Any thoughts on community building for that included not just startups, but also the self-employed and small business? Always interested in hearing from smaller towns and cities, and our many members here in different countries.
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Don't buy it! I bought an undersized laptop - big mistake.
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