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You Say You Want a Revolution?

How is starting a business like sparking an uprising? Plus, the perils of unlimited vacation time, and the rest of the day's news for entrepreneurs.
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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.

The start-ups' guide to revolutions. Perhaps inspiring an uprising isn't so different from starting a business. Come up with an idea (or a product) that inspires change or improves lives, and you're on your way—to either, really. However, sustaining said revolution or business can be trickier. Inspired by the sweep of revolutions in the Middle East, Mashable provided a guide yesterday on how to sustain your revolution after its initial swell. Yes, the piece is focused on social movements, but it's not much of a stretch to reapply tips such as building on success, adapting your vision, or redefining leadership to your business.

The endless summer. What would happen if you let your employees take unlimited vacation? Katie Morrell, over at OPEN Forum, makes a solid case for employers granting their workers carte blanch with their time. Ben Kirshner, founder of Elite SEM and purveyor of unlimited vacation time, tells OPEN "I understand that things come up in the middle of the day that are outside of your work duties. If you need to get a haircut or your suit dry-cleaned or watch your child's soccer game, you should do it. Life is too short." But Kirshner has one rule: abuse it and lose it. Check out this terrific infographic that shows mandatory paid time off around the world and find out why the United States didn't even make the cut.

Outlook: optimistic. A new survey from Citibank shows that small businesses are coming out of the economic slump with a big sense of optimism. Seventy-eight percent said they will expand this year, and more than half of surveyed business owners say business conditions this year are "steady as a rock." What's more, 76 percent of business owners say they'd do it all again—start their business, even knowing all the challenges they would face.

Six fundraising tips. So you have an amazing idea, a solid business plan and a co-founder, or two. Check! Now you need the funds to actually get your business off the ground. This could be the tricky part. Tom Szaky, wrote a piece in The New York Times highlighting the challenges his company, TerraCycle, faced when looking for outside investors. "Institutional investors tend to be more demanding and less flexible," he notes. "They have their own investors to satisfy, are impatient for results, and have low tolerance for any deviation from the original plan." Through trial and error he pinpoints six lessons he's learned through the process. One of he's most important tips is to "build your terms assuming the worst will happen—in the time it takes you to establish your company, it just might."

How to master "the pivot." No company is perfect when it launches; new challenges and feedback help push the company forward. But sometimes, progress requires a relatively dramatic and intentional shift in direction—a "pivot," if you will. However, recognizing it's time for a reassessment or new direction can be difficult, especially for young entrepreneurs. In a column for The Huffington Post, entrepreneur Cathy Belk shares why, how, and when a company needs to pivot and refocus its energies. "The ability to make well-informed pivots is necessary to discover where your technology offers the most value," says Rick Arlow, chief science officer at LifeServe Innovations, a medical device start-up based in Ohio.

Trying to make sense of the daily deal craze? While the number of daily deal sites has proliferated, this grid by Online MBA pits the four biggies—LivingSocial, Groupon, Facebook, Google—along such key metrics as membership base, retailer's cut and mobile apps available. 

Deals, Deals, Deals... and More Deals

Managing over iPhone. A startup called Gigwalk launches today with the aim of creating a mobile community of workers willing to do basic tasks ranging in pay from $3 and $90. Here's the deal: Companies post the job they want done, directions, and how much they will pay. Using the location data from iPhones, Gigwalk (and the job poster) manages the job and confirm that the "Gigwalkers" completed the task. Examples of jobs include verifying street names or reporting red light cameras. The service is available in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and other major U.S. Cities, with plans to expand beyond. The company, which is based in Mountain View, California, reportedly received $1.7 million in seed funding.

When's best to start-up? If you get to pick the time of year for launching your company, why not go with the established market conditions to decide when to press "go." YC Reject compiled a small set of data—just the dates a dozen successful tech companies launched—to look for a trend. Voila: one emerged. Four of the companies were founded in September. They include eBay, Google, Mint, and YouTube. Another tip: stay away from both winter and summer holidays for start-up dates.

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Last updated: May 4, 2011

CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN | Staff Writer | Senior Writer

Christine Lagorio-Chafkin is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is a senior writer at Inc.




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