10 Things Every Entrepreneur Needs to Try

funny entrepreneur

Being an entrepreneur obviously isn’t easy, which is why most people shy away from trying to be one. There are, however, tons of services and programs for you to use that will make your entrepreneurial life a lot easier. So, before you throw out the idea of becoming an entrepreneur, make sure you check out the following free services and programs:

Microsoft Biz Spark

Whether you love or hate Microsoft, as an entrepreneur, you’ll need its software. For example, I always find myself using Excel, Word and PowerPoint. Not a day goes by without me using one of those three applications.

In the beginning, you may not buy all of the Microsoft products you need as money will probably be a bit tight. Luckily for you, Microsoft gives all entrepreneurs its software for free through its BizSpark program. There are no strings attached, and they literally just hand you all the software you need for free. They even let you use their cloud program, Azure, for free for 750 hours.

The best part about BizSpark is that once you get your startup up and running, through their media relationships with sites like Mashable and Techmeme, they’ll help you get your business out to millions of people at no cost.

TechStars

One of the main reasons why entrepreneurs fail is due to their lack of experience. One way you can try to solve this problem is by attending conferences, talking with other entrepreneurs, and even reading/listening to books.

One of the easiest ways to get a head start is to join a mentorship program like TechStars, which will not only provide you with seasoned entrepreneurs to mentor you on a daily basis, but will also give you money for joining the program and help you raise venture capital.

Now, granted, there is a catch – they take a small percentage of your business. But in the end, it’s worth it if you are a first time entrepreneur.

In addition to TechStars, there are a few other programs that offer the same perks like Y Combinator and the Founder Institute.

Startup Weekend

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be an entrepreneur? One program that gives you a quick glimpse of what it’s like is Startup Weekend.

All around the world, entrepreneurs connect together to build and launch companies over a two-day weekend. You meet up with other entrepreneurs, build something, and get it out there.

By joining a Startup Weekend in your neighborhood, you’ll learn:

  1. How to pitch your business idea
  2. How to work in teams
  3. How to create a minimal viable product

During those two days, you’ll have a fun time and learn a lot about entrepreneurship.

SF Ruby Workshops

Whether you want to be a computer programmer or not, programming is something that you need to have a basic understanding of. Although it’s not an easy thing to pick up, you don’t have spend years in school to become a good programmer.

Through programs like SF Ruby Workshops, you can learn about programming for free. With some practice, you will get good over time.

So, if you are one of those entrepreneurs who are trying to figure out how to learn programming, don’t waste your time by going back to college. Instead, sign up for free programming workshops.

Angel List

The biggest reason that companies fail in the first five years of starting up is because they lack capital. In the past, in order to raise money from angel investors or venture capitalists, you would have to travel to see them in person, pitch them at their offices, and wait anxiously to hear back from them.

Although that process still takes place today, there is a new program that makes fundraising a lot easier. It’s called Angel List. On one website, you can outline what your company does, how much money you are looking to raise and see which investors are interested in giving you money.

However, before you take money from investors, you may want to get to know them first and find out how they can help you. Getting big-named investors is great, but it’s smarter to get strategic investors that can help you grow your business.

SBA Grants

If you own and operate a company within the United States, you don’t have to hit up venture capitalists or go to the bank to get money. The Small Business Administration provides grants to businessesYou just have to apply.

You’ll be surprised to see how much free money you can get by just applying for business grants. I know it takes work, and you won’t get money from all of the grants you apply for, but there is a good chance you’ll get something.

If you aren’t willing to take the time, energy, and effort to apply for free money, don’t waste your time as an entrepreneur as that’s probably one of the easier tasks you’ll need to take part in.

Founder Dating

The one thing you should never do is try to run a business by yourself. You should always have a business partner. That’s because when you are starting out, there will be way too much work for one person to do, and you won’t have enough money to hire employees.

Through Founder Dating, you can potentially find your perfect business partner. If you aren’t familiar with how it works, just think about speed dating. First, you meet a lot of people in a given hour.Then, you start to engage in detailed conversations with the matches you are potentially interested in.

If you happen to meet your ideal match within a few hours, don’t rush into partnerships. I have had multiple business partners over the years, and the one thing I learned is that you need to really know and trust someone before you seal the deal. Just think of it as a marriage that can’t be easily gotten out of.

Founders Card

Do you want the Black American Express credit card? Well, unless you spend $250,000 a year, you won’t qualify for it. And even if you do, the fees typically aren’t worth the perks.

But one card that has great perks for entrepreneurs is the Founders Card. It gives discounts on plane tickets, hotels, and other things that you’ll need when you travel. There are no hidden fees – all they are doing is combing the buying power of thousands of people so that everyone can get good deals like the big corporations do.

BarCamp

I’ve always been a big believer that networking is the key to success. One place where you can network with like-minded entrepreneurs for free is BarCamp.

Think of them as a modern version of a business networking event that has some sponsors, free food and beer, where people vote on what they are going to discuss.

The best part about BarCamp is that you don’t have to travel far distances to attend one. If there isn’t one in your city and you want to put one on, all you have to do is go to the BarCamp site and announce that you are throwing one. Because the site gets decent traffic volumes, the word will spread, and you’ll have attendees.

Help a Reporter Out

Getting your company out there in the mainstream media doesn’t have to be costly. Yes, good PR firms may charge $10,000, if not $20,000 a month, but you can always get in the mainstream media by yourself.

Through Help a Reporter Out (HARO), you’ll get a daily email with all of the stories journalists need help with. And if you think you can provide them with the insights they are looking for, all you have to do is email them. After they interview you, if they like what you have to say, they’ll include it in their magazine or newspaper.

If you haven’t tried HARO out, you should. It works well, and I can tell you that from experience because I have been using it for years. Through it, I have been mentioned in places like the Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

Conclusion

If you are a first time entrepreneur, stop stressing out about the small stuff. There are services, programs and people out there who will help you out for free. You just have to find the ones that are the right fit for you.

Now, even if you sign up for all of the services and programs I mentioned above, it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be successful. It just helps increase your odds of succeeding.

Do you know of any other programs and services that entrepreneurs should try?

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Comments

  1. Hey this is a great list of stuff — it’s almost as if you read my mind about the things I was looking for. Thanks!

  2. Founders card doesn’t have a fee? Wikipedia states that “Members are required to pay an annual fee of $495 USD and a one-time initiation fee of $65 USD.”. Good suggestions otherwise though.

  3. So many good resources here, thanks for the list Neil. If there’s one thing that entrepreneurs need more than anything else, it’s networking.

    Build up a strong network and it won’t matter what brick walls stand in your way to success.

  4. Microsoft Biz Spark, I had no idea that even existed. That is really cool of them to do. I am (procrastinating) doing my LLC and that should allow me to get there products right. I have the old word but would love an upgrade.

    Start up Weekend sounds like a fun thing to do but when could I find the time for it. Maybe every couple months would be good for an event like that.

    I know a lot of people in BarCamp. It is a really good way to network and learn.

  5. Thanks for the resources Neil!

  6. Awesome, Thanks a ton Neil,

  7. Awesome stuff! The resources you listed are invaluable. I’ve never heard of them.
    Thanks for sharing Neil!

  8. Awesome tips and advices, thanks a lot Neil!

  9. Another useful and interesting stuff here Neil, thanks for sharing it.. hope to find my success here.

  10. Interesting post Neil thanks for sharing it

  11. as i said your comparative mind is really good.

  12. actually i m new to this blog, but your posts are really good.

  13. Another useful and nice post. Keep the good work.

    What about a resources for European entrepreneurs? Some are useful but another are only for USA.

  14. Hi Neil,
    I like your post and generally the idea of networking. I know it’s great but the only problem is,
    In a country like mine, this kind of group doesn’t exist or are too small that you can’t locate them. That’s a big disadvantage…

    Another alternative though is to connect with fellow like-minded people using these social media avenues…physical meeting is good but not everyone can afford the luxury.

    In all, thanks for the post!

    • I agree. If you work extremely hard at creating a great social media network, face to face may not be as important. I understand though. Glad I could help.

  15. You could also use free openoffice.org. The applications are compatible to Excel, Word and PowerPoint.

  16. i say your comparative mind is really good. thanks very much

  17. Microsoft has been unavoidable but things are changing. There are lots of alternatives now. I think we are in the age of networking really.It’s the single most dominating trend.

  18. Hey Neil, some good resources in here. Thanks for taking the time to write it.

    To answer your question, first time / young entrepreneurs should check out the Under30CEO membership program. They provide discounts on a ton of stuff, community, press, and job a board for recruiting among other stuff. My company is doing some design work for their site, so I got the know the founders and got acquainted with their program that way.

    http://under30ceo.com/under30ceo-membership/

  19. I needed something like this cause…… you know the reason right??

    also my trial version was expiring for Microsoft Office

  20. Great list Neil. Also people should try ycombinator also.

  21. A stunning list – thank you Neil. Once again you prove you are light years ahead of other bloggers on the internet

  22. Awesome! Thanks for sharing, I wil be sharing this w/ friends and family.

  23. I had no idea about BizSpark. That’s going to save a few of my friends a couple hundred dollars. Thanks, Neil!

  24. Neil, I love your posts. I’m actually in the process of partnering with a guy on a new business, so the article and links hit my inbox at the perfect time. Thanks for reading my mind and publishing this blog post just for me!

  25. Anand Rathore :

    very informative . thanks for sharing.

  26. Thank you so much for the invaluable list … wonderful !
    I do feel a bit lucky that Excel, Word and PowerPoint came free with my Windows PC, they are indeed, invaluable tools for my business. BizSpark sounds fantastic for those who use Apple products.
    Again … many thanks !

  27. Hey the ten points were interesting and usefull.However it will carry more weigh if it gives cognisance to the nature of the third world economy.

  28. I’ve never heard of BizSpark. I’m definitely going to check that out.

  29. what just am got here is BizSpark!

  30. Neil thanks so much for the resources, as an entrepreneur 8 months into a new company I found the links and programs encouraging. Man I needed that, thanks so much! Bizspark is very cool as I did not know it existed. Ive been using open office as I only have MS Office on my old Toshiba. The new laptops we got had only trials of the new office. I did fill out the Techstars app and am looking forward to getting some help … any way I can get it. We made it through the winter which is off season for our market. Really thanks for the posts, keep it up. Its keeping me sane!

  31. I love blog posts like this Neil and it shows that you know your business. I have never seen this kind of useful information anywhere else on the net. Great list to bookmark and keep for reference all the time.

  32. Thanks Neil for sharing the things entrepreneur needs to try. Loved it and would try it too.

  33. I noticed that most of the help you can get is in the states as that is where entrepreneurship is promoted! What about India?

  34. Leon Johnson :

    Nice. Thanks for the links.

  35. I didn’t know about Microsoft Biz Spark until now, and had no idea there were so many services out there that can help in growing a business for free. I will definitely be referring to this while trying to get my business moving.

  36. excellent post. for me you have presented what even thriving businesses need. thanks

  37. Hey Neil,

    This is really ballistic, i’m from India, strangled – out of capital – mowed down by negativity, & fighting up battles in my own brain to churn out a living that i deserve.

    This gives me hope.

    Many thanks.

  38. Another great post for all entrepreneur and those striving to become. Cheers!

  39. For someone such as myself where my startup is just barely budding, this post is great! Thanks for sharing all those resources!

  40. BizSpark is definitely cool – think people are seeing the obvious office apps, but the REALLY cool pieces are the AZURE usage and the exposure to the partner network and the “millions of people”!

    Very eye catching pic – funny. They have some really funny motivational poster spoofs now.

    Thanks again for the tools – I had forgotten about HARO!

    • Definitely. BizSpark is a great tool for so many reasons. Motivational spoofs have taken on a new dimensions, I think some of them are hilarious. Thanks!

  41. Neil, I was surprised to find resources I hadn’t heard of before. I thought that the only way to get MS Office discounted for a new business is when you buy the upgrade package. Thanks for that.

    I am also going to try out HARO. I’ll report back to you how it works!
    John

  42. I never thought so much help can be found so easily for the new entrepreneur. great post Neil. many thanks!

  43. Hi Neil

    Thanks for this valuable information. I am now listening to a video about How To Write Copy That Works from microsoft link from this article. Great information I will be using for my business.

    regards

    Richard

  44. I have heard about Haro through my mentor. Great Neil in advertising this site.

    Thanks

    Richard

  45. What a great list of resources especially the part about SBA grants.
    I’ll also check out barcamp.

  46. This is absolutely amazing. We’re in launch of a new business and I can clearly see the use of TechStars, and AngelList.

    I still need to read and learn what Microsoft BizSpark actually offers and will definitely apply for the SBA grants.

  47. Neil, this is an excellent post, especially for all those novice entrepreneurs who don’t know where to get started. I particularly like the idea of trying out techstars and startup weekend. As for me, what works well is still having an entrepreneur who’s also close to you mentor you about the dos and don’ts of business. Aside from being able to save some dollars, you would also not hesitate in approaching this person about any concern that you have. Learning will also be enjoyable as you could have it as a friendly “small talk” over coffee break.

    • Good points. There are a number of mentor programs you may want to look into. Coincidentally, Techstars and startup weekend is a great way to meet these mentors. Small talk over coffee is the best!

  48. This is great information. Although I took college classes in entrepreneurship, I still had no clue where to start. Thank you.

  49. what a post!

    amazing… thanks for sharing! no doubt this is proving VERY helpful to entrepreneurs around the globe!

  50. Great list! I’ve never heard of BizSpark but it looks pretty valuable.

  51. being an entrepreneur this post opened my eyes

  52. Nishant Soni :

    Really interesting points IMHO. The most important part for other readers is, DOING IT and NOT JUST READING IT.

    Thanks for a nice post Neil.

    • Definitely! All of my advice is suggestive, it is up to the reader to go out and implement these strategies…or strategies of their own. That’s ultimately the key to success.

    • If we are able to take good suggestions and apply them to our benefit we can make the difference between failure and success. Suggestions and ideas are everywhere but you have to know which ones are good and which ones are right for you.

      • Good point. You have to ultimately make your own decisions in the end.

        • The think is that you can’t wait for others to make decisions for you. You have to be able to look for good advices and to take the best decisions for you. We can make bad decisions also, but this happens to all of us. The most important thing is not to repeat them!

  53. What a great post! Thanks for all the wonderful resources!

  54. Thanks Neil These are really wonderful tips to stay out of steers of new entrepreneur, There might very help for new comers

  55. I can’t remember who linked this to me on twitter (maybe Sugarrae) – but it’s a great blog post dude! Some awesome ideas there, even if i’m not in the states.

  56. Will have to go through those and see which ones can apply to South Africans like myself.

    Nice one!

  57. great list. some of them i already know but some are really new to me. thanx Neil

  58. aluminum extrusion :

    Searching for this for some time now – i guess luck is more advanced than search engines

  59. Great resources but how about a resource to find great people to execute resources like this.

  60. Awesome post! I love the information you just shared, I will definitely try this. Thanks for sharing.

  61. Nice list Neil! Angels List is a great. I enjoy scanning through it every Monday to see what’s going on in the city, upcoming events, etc.

    Cheers,
    Mike

  62. Tin cong nghe :

    Hi Neil, thank alot for your great post ^_^
    A small question: what’s the first resource you care about whenever you get started an online business/start-up ?

  63. Tin cong nghe :

    Thank Neil ;)

  64. i have not tried some of them on this steps would like to check it out

  65. Thank you for inspiring me every time! I am a start-up (soon to be-) and these info and resources are not only helpful, but eye opening too. I am still at learning stage, but definitely my mind is in storm right now! So exciting!!

    Thanks Neil :)

  66. Nice post! It was filled with a lot of good information and resources to help take my very lil business to the next level. :)

  67. Neil,

    Do you know of any catch in Microsoft’s Bizaware offerings? In other words I want to make sure if it safe to get in an agreement with them and just wanted to get your input on it.

    I read the entire agreements and it seemed ok.

    Thanks

  68. Hi Neil

    Thanks for sharing the free programs and services.

    The Angel List seems like an attractive resource to follow.

    I dont know if there are any business grants here in New Zealand. Something else I could pursue.

    If you do not mind me asking you some questions Neil about your entrepreneurship graduation. I mean, before you started making it big.

    Do you have any pointers when you first started and your daily schedule of engagement in the IM cyberspace world.
    – Did you work in Forums daily such as The Warrior Forum?
    – Did you work on classified ads daily?
    – Did you post articles daily on ezinearticles?

    How did you start the motivational wheels spinning with cash?

    Did you work by yourself?

    When and how did you make your first income online?

    How many hours did you work? per day, per week.

    This will determine what hours I need to put in and what quality resource of engagement I need to work on.

    Do you have an e-Book about the above?

    Hope you do not mind me asking the above questions.

    I’m really interested in your success Neil.

    Thanks again

  69. Thanks for the list Neil.So many good resources on this site.Hard work and faith is very important.

  70. This is really valuable information. I will be trying to use this tips, thanks for sharing this information.

  71. Thanks for finding the time to read the blog post. I am glad you found the content useful.

  72. Hi Neil,

    There was one suggestion I want to ask more about. You suggest that an entrepreneur should learn programming. I am not sure I entirely agree on this. My business partner and I have a perfect combination. He is techy/geeky and has actually taught me a lot. I can understand a lot about programming now as a result. But, I don’t think it’s necessary to spend hours learning and understanding what may not really interest you – and coding just doesn’t do it for me – if you can go out and find a person you can trust to be that part of your brain.

    Just wanted to know your thoughts?

    Thanks for the excellent post!
    J

    • I definitely agree with you there. I guess the point I was trying to drive at is the one you are making. It is essential to at least understand the basic principles of coding, and if you have time to learn coding. Hiring a great CTO can allow you to spend more time on other things.

      • I agree with you here Neil. You have to know at least the basics of coding because if you face a situation in which you can’t ask somebody to help you right away and you need to do something fast what are you going to do? An entrepreneur needs to know a little about everything if he wants to get out of any situation.

  73. Thanks for providing the information. This is a great list of stuff.

  74. Thanks for the hint with the foundes card! Owning this card will be really useful to me in the future :-)

  75. I never knew about Biz Spark that is really cool of Microsoft.

  76. Rokky singh :

    Hi, just wondering if these free programmes are available in the uk? Everything seems to be in dollers :)

  77. Jeremy Brown :

    Great post Neil. Enjoy reading your content. Keep up the good work!

    -Jeremy

  78. CalorieNut :

    This article is great. I’ve had an entrepreneur mentality since I was a child, and anything that helps me in that endeavor I hold near and dear to my heart. Thanks!

  79. Wow, what a good list of tools and programs to try out! Microsoft Biz Spark sounds really cool, looks like it will be the first to try out!

  80. Ahh Neil, I should be your readers from the beginning when I started my blogging journey :) Your article is so helpful for bloggers. Thanks once again.

  81. Really good list Neil!
    I didn’t knew that programs like TechStars existed, they’re awesome!

  82. Having business partner really helpful for our business

  83. well done and well written, we must have a good partner with our business

  84. Very useful information about the tools and steps to be followed to become a successful entrepreneur. I like the way you write article its very easy to understand and most important its easy to remember. Keep up the good work and thanks for the help.

  85. Laura D'Amico :

    Founder Dating sounds like a fun idea. It seems like creating business partnerships is a lot like dating in many ways. Maximizing your exposure to lots of different potential partners would likely increase the chance that you meet the right one.

  86. Thanks Neil, i’ll try all of them one by one…the advises are motivational

  87. Great article. Thanks for sharing the resources. As a budding entrepreneur, I will be sure to utilize these resources to their maximum to increase my odds of success.

  88. I never heard of any of this programs. But another thing learned from your post. I’ll inform my friends who starts being an entrepreneur about this programs that could help them. Thank you once again.

  89. Nice tips to start entrepreneurship. Thanks for info.

  90. A great compilation there Niel. Thanks for this..:D

  91. Just found this post and since I’m an entrepreneur I also know that networking is a key to success! ! Love the picture.. lol

  92. Thanks for this list. Probably would try some if not all.

  93. This is incredible info that you have put in one post. I actually didn’t know of most of these resources. Thanks a lot Neil.

  94. Houses for Sale in Chula Vista :

    Wow, this is a lot of great information! I am going to utilize some of these especially the Microsoft software! Thanks

  95. I’ve always had the entrepreneurial spirit, but my interests have always jumped around too much for me to focus on 1 thing for long enough. I’m really hoping to be able to change that

  96. It really great that there are many resources that can help starting businesses. Thanks for this great share.

  97. Ugh how the hell i cant copy moment 4 life by nicki damn this shit getting on my fuckin nerves

  98. hey neil,
    yeah you are right, these are actually the tips every entrepreneur need to try. awesome post.

    Thanks.

    Matt

  99. Some great tips! I especially like the one about trying it out for a start up weekend!

  100. I’ll inform my friends who starts being an entrepreneur about this programs that could help them. Thank you once again.

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