Thursday, March 12, 2020

From Flats to Bags, Rothy’s Innovates with Sustainable Styles

By now, you’ve probably heard of Rothy’s, the footwear startup famous for creating stylish, comfortable, washable flats out of recycled water bottles.

The brand is beloved by commuters from coast to coast, as well as celebrities, including Meghan Markle, who is often spotted wearing a pair of Rothy’s pointed flats. Even Vogue Magazine, fashion’s ultimate arbiter, declared: “not only are these among the most politically correct shoes on our beleaguered planet, they are also adorable.”

Founded in 2016, Rothy’s is one of the world’s fastest growing brands. In 2018, they sold more than 1 million pairs of shoes, generating revenue of more than $140 million and securing a $35 million investment from Goldman Sachs. Time Magazine included Rothy’s recycled shoes on its list of Best Inventions of 2019

Monday, March 2, 2020

Roger Scruton, Where We Are: The State of Britain Now (Bloomsbury, 2017).

No matter where you find yourself on the political spectrum, you can’t help but notice a certain isolationist trend sweeping across the globe. In our own country, there are tariffs, the wall, and stronger immigration controls. One might reasonably conclude that these policies can be traced, more or less, to this condition.

The United States is by no means the only nation affected. Many observers argue that reaction to the open-border policy dictated by its membership in the European Union lies behind the narrow referendum victory supporting the United Kingdom’s secession from that organization. This, of course, is an over-simplified view of the arguments supporting Brexit.

In fact, as the late Roger Scruton argues in Where We Are, the resentments arising out of the EEC’s open-border policy are merely a symptom of globalization, driven by advances in technology and the boundary-free nature of cyberspace. Cyberspace is “everywhere and nowhere,” a “world of constant information” connecting people to “networks rather than places.”  The internet, Scruton tells us, “is an unpoliced nowhere, a kind of Hobbesian state of nature in cyberspace . . . that cannot compete with the trustworthy somewhere for which all people yearn.”

For the entrepreneur, the direction of the global economy is clear: “In 2006 only one of the six most valuable companies in the Fortune 500 index was an information technology company; in 2016 only one was not such a company.” The unanswered question is whether the yearning for a homogenous “home” is an unavoidable byproduct of globalization and transformation to an information economy. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

My Valentine to the Presidents

It is February. Entrepreneurs are all about competition, so while we celebrate the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln, and enter the 2020 presidential election season in earnest, let’s have some fun and test your knowledge about our past presidents. (Answers are below)

Family Relations
1. Two pairs of father-son presidents.
2. Grandfather and grandson presidents.
3. Distant cousins.
4. Related to 11 presidents by blood or marriage (according to genealogists).

5. First American-born president
6. First president born outside of original 13 states
7. First president born west of the Mississippi
8. Presidents that were adopted
9. First president born in a hospital

Physical Attributes/Age
10. Tallest president
11. Shortest president
12. Youngest president (at time of taking office)
13. Oldest president (at time of taking office)

14. Only bachelor president (never married)
15. Three presidents married while in office
16. Three presidents whose wives died while they were in office
17. First divorced president

18. Only president to have a baby while in office
19. Most children
20. Only president with twins

21. Nine presidents who did not go to college
22. President taught to read and write by his wife
23. First president to hold a doctorate degree

Monday, February 17, 2020

Remembering Kobe, the Entrepreneur

Last month, we lost Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven others in a tragic helicopter crash in California.

We all know Bryant as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, and since his passing I have learned more about how he was perhaps an even greater father figure for his daughters. But here we want to recognize Bryant for the entrepreneurism that he diligently pursued with the same “mamba” mentality that earned him many achievements on the hardcourt.

First of all, I could spend paragraphs here analyzing how Bryant’s book, The Mamba Mentality: How I Play, can be turned into fuel for entrepreneurs. If you have not yet read it, do so. For now, given the limited lines I have available, I’ll present you with some of his philosophy.

Bryant explained once that the difference between basketball and entrepreneurship is that in entrepreneurship there is no competitor “directly in front of you;” instead, as an entrepreneur, the challenge is to be constantly creative in a way that impacts the market you are trying to dominate. “But even more so,” he said, “when you play basketball you’ve got to take time off, in order to avoid injury. In business and creativity there is no off switch. Your brain is constantly working.” I think every entrepreneur can attest that the brain is always ticking. (But the picture of Bryant shooting hoops in his pajamas with a cast on one hand makes me wonder whether he ever actually rested, on the court or otherwise!)

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Entrepreneurial Tips for 2020

With February here, we are now firmly into the year 2020. At this point, you may finally be readjusted to working a full five-day week (good for you!) and fully back in the swing of things. Even so, if your dream of launching your own business has not dissipated in the new year, we have a few high-level tips for you on how to take the leap from employee to entrepreneur. 

Develop your skillset. As an entrepreneur, you will likely need skills you might not have acquired yet. Right now, you may be excellent at your job. If you are a high school guidance counselor, for example, your skills likely include an ability to work with youths, create and implement a plan with actionable school-to-career steps, develop a guidance curriculum, coordinate with social services agencies and parents, and maintain records. So you are adept at performing a handful of tasks within specific boundaries, but you haven’t ever had to run an entire organization from top to bottom. You likely don’t have experience in forming an entity (we can help!), hiring practices, payroll, bill collection, or managing human resources. As an entrepreneur, especially as a new entrepreneur, you will likely be responsible for all of that and more.

Prepare to keep learning. Running a business will require continuous learning as technology, consumer trends, market standards, and customer or client demands change. Daunting though it may be, you don’t have to go it alone. Early and continuing success can be fueled by online, and sometimes free, business courses and seminars. 

For example: 

  • LinkedIn Learning offers a range of courses relevant to entrepreneurs and business leaders, including “Learning Data Analytics,” “Time Management Fundamentals,” “Strategic Thinking,” and “Project Management Foundations.”
  • Women Who Code has a list of ways to start learning how to code right now for free, which include iTunes U, Kids Ruby, Mozilla’s Developer Network, Google’s Code University, P2PU, and Net Tuts+.
  • Coursera offers hundreds of free courses, including Business Foundations, Business Analytics, and Excel Skills for Business, among many, many others.

Your area community also may have support groups for entrepreneurs or business-minded people. Unless you have worked long enough in a large operation and been privy to the inner-workings of building and growing a business, you will most likely have a steep learning curve to overcome. Take advantage of the tools and resources available to you to make your transition from employee to entrepreneur smoother. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Nobody’s Victim: Fighting Psychos, Stalkers, Pervs, and Trolls and the Fight for Privacy on the Internet

by Leeja Miller and Amanda McAllister

 Nobody’s Victim: Fighting Psychos, Stalkers, Pervs, and Trolls is part memoir, part call to arms by Carrie Goldberg, a victim’s rights lawyer whose Brooklyn law firm, C.A. Goldberg, has seen staggering growth since its founding in 2014. This is due largely to Goldberg’s larger-than-life personality and her fierce and compassionate work representing victims of cybercrime, a notoriously difficult area of law for victims to find any sort of recourse. Nobody’s Victim recounts some of the most grisly cases Goldberg has faced during her career, including her own, as a means to highlight the egregious shortcomings of our legal system’s ability to provide justice to victims of cybercrime. 

Through Goldberg’s tales of hard-fought battles, many of which were lost, the book highlights the feeling of empowerment her clients can find in legal representation, as well as the statutory, technological, and societal obstacles standing in the way of meaningful remedies. Those obstacles include the notorious Communications Decency Act § 230 (“CDA 230”), tort law’s inability to accommodate rapidly-changing tech and the abuse that comes with it, and schools, workplaces, and law enforcement that are woefully undertrained to deal with cyber and sexual abuse. Without well-trained institutions, adequate resources, and well-written laws to hold criminals accountable, victims are left to fend for themselves in a civil law landscape that shields tech companies from liability and provides little recourse against judgment-proof defendants. Despite the bleak picture she paints, Goldberg encourages us all to join the fight, and this book is a testament to the uphill battle yet to unfold.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year! It’s now January — that time of year when many people are fully committed to their New Year’s resolutions of eating healthy, working out and saving more. But New Year’s resolutions don’t need to be limited to our personal lives. Right now — the beginning of a new year and decade — is a great time to create meaningful New Year’s resolutions for your business as well.

This Forbes article gives some great examples of New Year’s resolutions that will set your business up for success. To summarize:

  1. Get more balance in your life. Your health — physical and mental — is important to the success of your business. Make an effort to invest in your health by delegating more and spreading the workload. 
  2. Revisit your business plan. Every business should have a business plan. If you don’t, or yours is out of date, spend some time putting one together. Consider your short-term, medium-term and long-term goals and be specific about the necessary steps to get there.
  3.  Protect yourself against cyber attackers. Cyber attacks can happen to all businesses, no matter what size. Review your current cyber security and establish safeguards to protect your business. 
  4. Find out how to make your customers even happier. Invest in your existing customers. Research shows that it is 25 times more expensive to win a new customer than it is to obtain new business from existing customers. 
  5. Prioritize productivity. How can you improve your business’s productivity? Consider updating out-of-date processes or investing in new technology.
  6. Give your business a financial health check. Take a hard look at your financials. How can your business improve? Make an effort to identify and resolve potential issues. As an example, find ways to collect on your accounts receivable faster.
  7. Be prepared to invest for the future. Make an effort to invest in your business. Failure to do so could limit future opportunities for growth. 

The start of 2020 is a great time to set New Year’s resolutions for your personal life and your business. And whatever specific resolutions you choose to set, make sure they are specific, measurable and achievable. This will help ensure you don’t give up on these resolutions in February. You want these resolutions to set you and your business up for prosperity in 2020!