Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
The right time to start a family. Serial entrepreneur and Mahalo CEO Jason Calacanis has put together an honest and intimate take on what it's like to be an entrepreneur with a young child. "It is fairly clear to me as a life-long entrepreneur that something chemical changes in your brain after you welcome your child into the world," he writes. "You simply don't look at your startup as the most important thing in life." With that said, Calacanis says that the accompanying early morning wake-ups have forced him to be more efficient in his waking hours. But for first-time entrepreneurs, the story may be different. "1. kids + no resources + first startup = #fail," he writes. "2. kids + resources/support + second or third startup = totally fine/you'll be inspired. Anything in between and you're probably going to be very, very tired, and have a spouse that is not happy." Meg Hirshberg, wife of Stonyfield Farm CEO Gary Hirshberg, lays out another view on children and entrepreneurial companies in this great Balancing Acts column from earlier this year.
Hashing in. So-called "domainers" have gobbled up thousands of marijuana-related Web URLs recently with the hopes of turning a profit after legalization. The New York Times surveyed both individuals and media companies that have flocked to the new space just as California's landmark Proposition 19 hits the ballot next week. One such domainer, Kevin Faler of California, has personally registered more than 1,000 names and says their value will "fly off the charts once Prop 19 passes." While buying domain names has been a profitable endeavor in the past, the Times notes, whether or not these new investments will pay off remains to be seen. Still, newcomers continue to bet big that legalization is imminent. "There is tremendous investment opportunity there," said one investor, Shane Cultra. "Before long, you will be able to buy and sell marijuana on the Internet." Just one example of why the marijuana industry is one of the best industries for starting a business right now.
57 lessons for start-ups. Serial entrepreneur Jason Goldberg, has outlined 57 lessons he's learned from starting three businesses. Some tips are practical: No. 23: "Use a tool like Yammer to share internally what you're working on." Some are inspirational: No. 45: "Smile. Laugh. Wear funny socks." The overriding theme of the tips, however, is that the best judges of a product are your customers, hence, lesson No. 7: "Ship it. You'll never know how good your product is until real people touch it and give you feedback." Goldberg also recommends working from home for as long as possible, suggests running four times a week, warns against drinking on planes ("unless you are on a flight of longer than eight hours"), and encourages spending every dollar like it's your last. The last point on this extensive list? No. 57: "Never give up."
Mint sets spending data free. Now you can see how your spending habits stack up against other consumers in your city. The online personal finance assistant Mint released spending data today from its 4 million users--anonymously, of cours,--to the public. The tool, called Mint Data, is still in Beta and serves as a real-time economic index of sorts, notes ReadWriteWeb. It can be used in nearly 300 cities to find out the average tab at a restaurant, or what kind of membership deals other people are getting at your gym. In New York City, for example, the average spend at Starbucks is $5.38--just slightly higher than that at coffee shops overall. "When we first crossed the million-user mark, we looked at the stories the anonymous, aggregated customer data could tell about the economy," said Mint founder Aaron Patzer. "Now, we have enough users in enough cities across America to give a distinct, anonymous look at the country's economy down to the city level. What do we spend on restaurants? Which stores are a particular town's favorites? How has the downturn affected things like coffee or bars? People may use the information they find to help them make better money decisions."
Street meat from brands you trust? Some restaurant chains are now experiencing a different kind of foot traffic, according to today's Wall Street Journal. While the food truck trend has been around for a few years now, the article reports on the rise of recognizable restaurant chains using food trucks and vans to catch customers on-the-go. "A small but growing number of chains‚ - such as Cousins Submarines Inc., Tasti D-Lite LLC and Toppers Pizza Inc.‚ - are following in the tire tracks of those local food-truck businesses popping up on city streets around the U.S.," the article notes. In cities like New York, though, vendor trucks are a hot commodity. Waiting lists for a license can have hopeful vendors waiting for at least 10 years. And even though the trucks may not be a great source for profits, it's a terrific marketing tool to draw attention to the brand. Despite earning only two percent of revenue from his truck, one Tasti D-lite van owner described it as his "roving billboard." If hawking churros from the back of a van is your dream job, check out this guide on how to open a food truck.
JASON DEL REY was a senior reporter covering technology, branding, and company culture for Inc. magazine. Before joining Inc., his work appeared in Newsday, The (Newark) Star-Ledger, and the Staten Island Advance, and on ESPN.com. He lives in New Jersey. @DelRey