Guest Posts

Debunking Common Trademark Myths for Founders
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Debunking Common Trademark Myths for Founders

Something often overlooked by many startups is trademark registration. Trademarks are important to small businesses and entrepreneurs because they protect a brand’s reputation by preventing others from using brand and product names without permission. This keeps brand integrity high and customer confusion low. Myth #1: Trademarks and copyrights are the same thing                                               False. Trademarks protect things like brand names and logos while copyright typically protects things like songs, books, poems, and movies. While there are certain things that can be registered for both trademark and copyright protection, most will fall into one category or another. Myth #2: I should wait until my business grows to register my trademark Definitely ...
Anti-Dilution Provisions: Which One is Best for Founders?
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Anti-Dilution Provisions: Which One is Best for Founders?

Venture capital investors invest in startups in the hopes that later rounds of investment will increase the company’ valuation. As more investors invest, the percentage of the company that each investor owns decreases, an effect called dilution. As important as avoiding dilution is for an investor, specific provisions can impact on founder and employee ownership unfavorably. Why do investors ask for anti-dilution provisions? As long as subsequent investors invest at a higher price per share, the overall dollar value of the previous investments increases, even if their percent ownership decreases. But what if shares sold in later rounds of investment are sold at a lower price per share? In such a down round scenario, the earlier investors have a decrease in ownership and a reduc...
Spend Time on Doing the Right Things for Entrepreneurial Success
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Spend Time on Doing the Right Things for Entrepreneurial Success

Are you spending your valuable time doing the right things for entrepreneurial success? "Due to lack of internal controls, documented processes, and no reconciliation function between two disparate systems, we inadvertently spent almost $1 million of our members' fees for no reason," said Rob Roberts of San Antonio Board of Realtors.   "It took us hours to collect time and process our payroll every two weeks, and then another several hours to upload the Excel spreadsheet into QuickBooks and create all the appropriate journal entries," said Cindy Hawkins of Little Engine Homecare.   These are the stories we hear every day from local businesses that are struggling to manage operations while growing.   When I built my company in Mexico, I was hyper-focused on client acquisition an...
Look at Terms When Raising Money During the COVID-19 Pandemic
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Look at Terms When Raising Money During the COVID-19 Pandemic

For entrepreneurs raising money during the COVID-19 pandemic, lessons learned from previous recessions can provide guideposts on what to do now. As a venture capital (VC) lawyer since 2000, I see similarities from the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the collapse of the Dot.com bubble in 2002, and the 2008 recession after the collapse of Lehman Brothers. The previous financial crises occurred after a singular catastrophic event that temporarily halted most economic activity.  At the time, no one knew how society would change after 9/11 or how the banking industry would change after the fall of Lehman Brothers. Investors naturally reacted to this uncertainty by slowing down their activity. In the aftermath of the Dot.com bubble crash, VC financings in the U.S. d...
San Antonio Black Entrepreneurs, Experts Who Can Speak at Your Next Event
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San Antonio Black Entrepreneurs, Experts Who Can Speak at Your Next Event

What will it take to improve diversity at conferences? We know diversity in teams is the key to innovation and makes us smarter. This panel with Tiffany Haddish discussed ways to incorporate diversity into conferences and other public events.  We must acknowledge the systematic barriers holding back people of color from being recognized as experts. It has long been evident that we are not doing everything we can to ensure that discussion panels, keystone speakers, and conference sessions reflect the full spectrum of talent in our communities. Too many events lack racial diversity, so we're taking steps to help change that. La Juana Chambers Lawson worked diligently to assemble this curated list of Black professionals who have shared their expertise and views at events.  Whe...
Small Business Checklist for Reopening During a Pandemic
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Small Business Checklist for Reopening During a Pandemic

Luke Hayward writes for the Funding Circle, a peer-to-peer lending marketplace that allows the public to lend money directly to small- and medium-sized businesses. He contributes today’s guest post on a reopening checklist for small business owners and startups during the COVID-19 pandemic. Small business owners are no stranger to uncertainty, flexibility, and creativity. The nature of an entrepreneur is to look for ways to handle issues that arise and grow a business. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is a different sort of uncertainty. The unmatched difficulties surrounding the current pandemic left many small business owners and startup founders helpless as many had to close their doors for nearly three months.  With states reopening their businesses at various rates and with different regu...
7 Tips for Small Business Owners and Startups Enduring the Coronavirus Pandemic
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7 Tips for Small Business Owners and Startups Enduring the Coronavirus Pandemic

Luke Hayward writes for Funding Circle, a peer-to-peer lending marketplace that allows the public to lend money directly to small- and medium-sized businesses. He contributed today's guest post on seven tips for small business owners and startups during the Coronavirus pandemic. If you are a small business owner, you are understandably stressed about the potential impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Beyond the obvious health concerns, people are staying home as society tries to flatten the curve, and as a result, people are spending less. For many small businesses, this lack of consumer activity is an existential threat. Revenues will start decreasing and there is no sign of when things will return to normal. While stress and anxiety are understandable, you need to get past these feelin...
Internal Communications and How to Connect with Your Staff During the COVID-19 Pandemic
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Internal Communications and How to Connect with Your Staff During the COVID-19 Pandemic

This guest post comes from chief executive officer Harold Hardaway and chief creative officer Shannon Hernandez of Cardigan, an internal communications and employer branding consulting firm. Many companies have crisis communication plans to address public relations challenges. Few business owners, however, have defined processes for dealing with the cultural and emotional challenges that we are all currently facing arising from the necessary social distancing due to the COVID-19 outbreak. In times like these, internal communications—how you talk to your staff— is a vital part of crisis management. Many employees are having to adjust to working from home with the distractions of a spouse doing the same, all while possibly caring for relatives or children. For many in the startu...
During a Pandemic You’ll Need to Adapt Your Digital Marketing
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During a Pandemic You’ll Need to Adapt Your Digital Marketing

Marketing during the COVID-19 pandemic can definitely feel a little weird. I'm sure you've seen the social media posts that are not working. We're still seeing ones promoting events or telling customers COME SEE US (Hello? Social-distancing anyone?). The posts yelling at you to buy their product hardly acknowledge these times we're enduring. Even though we're in the middle of a pandemic, it is absolutely a great time to ramp up your social media marketing strategy, and it can work in your favor, especially as a small business or startup. Does that sound odd? Hear me out first. You need to stay informed. Stay true to facts. You probably don't want to get too political on your business page. Be sure you're sensitive to what's going on. Everybody is dealing with this. When you continue t...
Marketing Strategies to Use During a Pandemic
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Marketing Strategies to Use During a Pandemic

Conferences and trade shows have been canceled. In-person client meetings are out of the question. Even our own offices are off-limits as employees shift to working from home at the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO).  These are all critical steps needed to stop the spread of COVID-19 in its tracks. However, working from home introduces new challenges for growth leaders and owners trying to keep a business afloat, specifically: How do we build relationships with new customers online, without the events and meetings we rely on? How do we make sure our current customers continue to find us relevant when they are looking to trim costs? What tools should we be using to stay competitive in our markers? Here are three marketing strategies you can use to gr...