500B is a resource for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs focused on modern business: internet at the center, lower barriers to entry, the digital economy and entrepreneurship.
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Building 500B Blog
I am publishing this blog for two main reasons:
- To learn how other entrepreneurs have made their way by learning from their successes and failures.
- To help spread the message about entrepreneurship to others interested in it.
The world is changing. We are moving away from the model where people can go to college, get a steady job and live happily ever after. My father went to college, got a masters and then worked at one company for his whole career. This is not happening nowadays and no one should expect it. (Parents, please do not set up your children for failure.)
If people have the tools and confidence to become self-sufficient they will be happier. James Altucther says it best: If one person can make or break you, it is time to diversify your life.
Why am I writing feature articles?
In a global society, like we are in now, everything is interconnected. We have relationships with people all over the world. These are direct, for example, you work with a person living in another city, or indirect, in the form of a product that we use that is made in another country. In both situations you need to have a greater understanding of people outside of your local circle to be successful. Before, everything was local: you went to school locally, learned the local culture and could set up a local business and have success without ever having to go any further.
Today it is different. We need to learn from others: other cultures, industries, etc. We can all learn from each other and featuring these entrepreneurs enables us to do so.
Additionally, these feature articles enable entrepreneurs to tell their story. Not the PR story they tell about their company to sell more (which I support), but what it is they did to get where they are today. These features support entrepreneurship globally.
How did the blog start?
My husband and I had thought about the idea for the 500B blog on a bus ride. A colleague of mine had created an industry blog previously after co-founded a startup. At that time he had difficulty getting PR for his startup. He just wanted to give back to the community. I liked that idea: providing value to the community.
My husband and I thought, “How can we create something that focuses on business, helps us to learn and network?” The idea for 500B was born. We would create a blog and interview people in business. This would meet our goals and provide value to the community.
Setting up the blog.
I set up a blogger site, found some creative on Flickr (you can sort by free and for commercial use) and set up the site. I added a couple of articles that I had already written that focused on small businesses so it didn’t look totally empty. Then I thought about a couple of people in business that are interesting to me: Martin Varsavsky and Penelople Trunk.
Then I wrote a very short question for each person that was very specific to them. My objectives with the email were: to be short, easy to understand, professional and to avoid back and forth. Once there is back and forth, you waste time and risk loosing the person. (I have found this to be true for all emails to anyone.)
Martin’s assistant replied to my email and the question in less than 24 hours. You can check out the article here.
How to to find leads.
I am calling the features leads. They are my sales leads in a way; once they agree to the article, they are my client. I need to treat them as a client: with respect, show them in a positive light, support them and make them feel good about their exchange of personal information for publication.
Birds of a feather flock together. There are many news sites that have lists featuring companies or businesses: Inc, Business Insider, Entrepreneur.com, etc. I can go through these lists and find interesting people to interview.
A couple of things that I have learned about timing are:
- Send emails during normal business hours.
- Don’t bother people when they are obviously super busy.
I use a script in Gmail to schedule my emails. You can choose the date and time. I like to send emails to leads around 9:05am their local time Monday through Thursday. When I downloaded this script, I didn’t set my local time and ended up sending out emails at 3am. No one responded. I am sure they thought it was spam.
Having worked in a startup I know that when there is a funding or any other large announcement in the press, sales people are cold calling left and right. These entrepreneurs cannot filter through all of the recruiters, services, etc that are contacting them. They are also probably extra busy during this time and will not be able to respond the request.