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It's the Business Model, Stupid

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Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:

How to give your start-up the best chance of succeeding. Forget market research and a business plan. Instead, you need a business model combined with an intense focus on testing your hypotheses before investing any considerable amount of money into a business, Business Model Generation author Alex Osterwalder proposes in this awesome slidedeck on Steve Blank's blog. Yes, the deck contains 102 slides, but the straightforward explanations make it totally worth it.

Business travel gets awkward. Say you're in line for airport security with some colleagues. Do you go for the full-body image detector, which has been criticized as a "virtual strip search," showing all the body's contours, or for a pat-down? Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic has been railing on the issue for weeks (he suggests men opt for the pat-down and wear a kilt), and a software engineer in San Diego spurred an online sensation with his individual protest to the scan and pat-down (and subsequent ejection from the airport). Now the chairman of the Business Travel Association is chiming in. "Almost to a person, travel managers are concerned that TSA is going too far and without proper procedures and sufficient oversight," Kevin Mitchell told the Washington Post. "Travel managers are hearing from their travelers about this virtually on a daily basis."

In defense of stress. Over the course of starting his business, tech entrepreneur Neil Patel has had his share of stressful moments, including losing a million dollars of borrowed money before he was 21. But rather than complain about all that stress, Patel says it was actually helpful in becoming a successful entrepreneur. As he explains, "In order to take yourself to the next level, you must begin to feel uncomfortable." So what's his advice for dealing with stress? "Man up. I hate to be harsh, but your entrepreneurial journey is never going to be perfect."

How to market on YouTube. Lesson number one: you don't need a viral video. The Wall Street Journal reports that several companies have gotten a sales boost just by commenting on videos that are relevant to their businesses. Take Shelley Davis of Kinky-Curly Hair Products. After she began commenting on video blogs concerning African-American women and their hair, word about her product spread, and soon, 5,100 videos popped up showing women using Davis' products. What's more, she saw a 40 percent sales increase. The story does warn business owners against spamming discussion boards, though. Instead, experts suggest commenting only on existing discussions, answering product related questions and offering relevant (and not overtly promotional) advice when needed.

From V.C. to D.C. Are entrepreneurs wired for politics? Last Tuesday's elections sent 33 small business owners and entrepreneurs to the nation's Capitol, according to an article in The New York Times. The Times found that all 33 are Republicans and just two are women. In addition, "At least nine invest in, sell, or rent real estate...One man built his enterprise into a large company before selling it to a private equity fund." Some are even serial entrepreneurs. Jeff Denham, from California, operates a plastics company and almond ranch and has previously owned a salad-bagging company.

Tech will set us free. Despite resounding fears among most businesses of a double-dip recession, the technology sector remains characteristically optimistic that the economy will recover, according to a recent survey. The poll, conducted by consulting firm Grant Thornton and reported by Business News Daily, shows that 46 percent of tech firms were more likely to add staff as opposed to 37 percent among all American firms. Of the 516 senior financial executives polled, 51 percent expect to keep employee numbers steady, though more than 60 percent of tech executives predict the economy will recover by the end of 2011. While tech leaders did express concern about the double-dip recession, the industry should still continue its steady expansion through next year, according Cal Hackerman, managing partner at Grant Thornton. "As business continues to generate significant profits this provides the funding for investments in new and improved technology which in turn is fueling the optimism expressed by technology industry executives," he said.

Beatles music, finally, comes to iTunes. The best-selling band of all time has ended its longtime holdout against digital rights, the New York Times reports. The Fab Four and their record company, EMI, have struck a deal with Apple to sell Beatles downloads on iTunes. There are 13 remastered studio albums now available in the iTunes Store, starting with Please, Please Me (1963). In its usual cryptic fashion, Apple teased the announcement on its website yesterday, telling users "tomorrow is just another day. That you'll never forget." It's certainly a milestone for Apple and its intrepid CEO Steve Jobs, who has courted the Beatles unsuccessfully for years. But the music industry is yawning. "Anybody that hasn't managed to come up with a digitized version of the Beatles' song by now never liked the Beatles," says John Perry Barlow, a former lyricist for the Grateful Dead.

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Last updated: Nov 16, 2010




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