How to stop drowning in e-mail. Spark Capital's Bijan Sabet doesn't blame you for tweeting when you get to inbox-zero. "It feels good getting to that magical place." Sabet offers a few tips on getting there on his blog, and his savvy followers chime in with their own. For starters: Watch how many e-mails you send out--they tend to invite responses. Delete e-mails you never want to see again. Tweet or blog while you're on vacation--it's more of a deterrent against would-be inbox cloggers than an "out-of-office" auto-responder. And, finally, never get into a serious debate from your inbox. SoundCloud founder David Noel manages 6 e-mail inboxes for his company. In the comments, he recommends answering immediately then archiving or deleting, marking with a star if you need to follow-up, and only keeping e-mails in your inbox that you intend to answer that day. Turkish VC Cem Sertoglu has started using direct mails on Twitter in lieu of short e-mails. DigiSpeaker owner Jon Smirl says in Gmail, the trick is two inboxes. Set the top one to "is:unread" and the bottom to your normal inbox and filter subscription items so that they are set to archive and bypass your inbox.
Yelp picks up $50 million. A month after turning down a half a billion dollar acquisition offer from Google, Yelp appears to be raising capital to go it alone. TechCrunch says that the review site says that Yelp "is closing" a $50 million round from Elevation Partners, the private equity firm that counts Bono as a partner. Fred Wilson parses the news and says its part of a new trend, which we've seen at Facebook, Zynga, and Twitter, of large, late-stage capital rounds that allow entrepreneurs to wait a bit longer before going public or selling the company. Meanwhile, if you want to learn more about Yelp, check out our feature story in this month's issue.
Can the Special Election Derail Health Reform? Voters in Massachusetts seem poised to elect a Republican to fill Ted Kennedy's vacant Senate seat, and, assuming they do, that would create an awkward situation for Democrats who are eager to pass health care reform as soon as possible. Politico says that the legislation would suddenly be a long shot, but Nate Silver says that the reform could be law by January 27th, when the President delivers the State of the Union Address.
Brilliant jerks and 4 other start-up myths to avoid As anyone starting a business already knows, the reality of entrepreneurship rarely matches the mystique. GigaOM points out five misconceptions that can hurt your business. Some lessons from the busted myths: think of the customer before your great idea, avoid hiring brilliant jerks, and keep your life.
Top 10 reasons entrepreneurs hate lawyers. Whether you're having issues with labor relations, trying to secure a patent, or attempting to defend your brand against infringements, you need their help. But having a lawyer on board can be a major drag and Scott Walker, founder and CEO of Walker Corporate Law Group, a firm which specializes in representing entrepreneurs, outlines the top 10 reasons why (via peHUB). The after the cost, the biggest critique seems to be poor communication, which may be strategic. Walker quotes BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen saying, "Lawyers are like phone companies. Their bread and butter is tricking you into racking up minutes." That said we have a few tips on learning to love your counsel.
Taco titan dies. It started with "a hunch that ground beef, chopped lettuce, shredded cheese and chili sauce served in the right wrap could give burgers a run for the money," the New York Times writes today. That was the vision of Glen W. Bell Jr., who in 1951 started selling hard-shell tacos out of his California hamburger stand. Eleven years later, he opened the first location in what would become his Taco Bell empire. The company announced his death this weekend. He was 86.
How to avoid cultural gaffes abroad You wouldn't dream of tapping an overseas market without knowing it's taxes, laws, and regulations. But cultural customs are just as crucial, says the Wall Street Journal. The most important thing to keep in mind? "You don't know what you don't know," says the head of Culture Coach International. To deal with Senegalese officials, Dakar Sushi owner George Ajjan had to adapt his aggressive American tone despite the fact that his request for already in French. Toronto-based AlertDriving had to account for geographic nuances in its driving instructions, like the fact that in Dubai, the center lane is used exclusively for passing.
Small business facts, by the numbers. For those of you who prefer their data in bite-size pieces, small-business research firm Focus has a handy infographic which breaks down how small-businesses fared in 2009. Not surprisingly, it isn't pretty. There were 672,200 new small businesses started in 2009. Unfortunately, there were 595,600 businesses that closed during the year, and 43,546 businesses that declared bankruptcy. The site also has an interesting map of the U.S. which illustrates exactly where businesses were failing most frequently and some charts on small-business employment numbers. (Via Digg.)
Is social media right for your business? Maybe not, according to a post by Mashable on why social media isn't for everyone. Despite the common (and expert) consensus that everyone should "join the conversation," the article says, there are some things about using social media that should give you pause. First, consider whether or not you're painting a target on your back. What are people already saying about your company, and what are you willing to do about it? "If you aren't willing to consider the former and have no power concerning the latter," the post says, "social media might not be your best bet." Also, don't create a social media account if you're more concerned with numbers than creating a platform for an open conversation, the article advises. "[Social media] has a transformative power but, like fire, not everyone is ready to wield it without getting burned."
How to sell your business. Most entrepreneurs spend years and years investing their time and passion into their company, only to one day consider selling it. According to the New York Times, there are three questions you should ask yourself before you consider selling: Can your business be sold? Are you ready to sell? And, what's your business worth? Once you have your answers, make sure your books are in order and that potential buyers are qualified to take the reigns. When the time comes to negotiate the terms of the sale, set realistic expectations so you can avoid any unwanted financial surprises.
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