entrepreneurshipTop of Mind

Commentary & Insights on Entrepreneurship The Top of Mind blog brings an array of editorial views to current events shaping the world of entrepreneurship. Engage, exchange, and expand your own view of the world!

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Startups: How to Build Something People Will Buy

"No business plan survives first contact with customers," Steve Blank says. What? Isn't the point of planning that you maximize the likelihood of success in the marketplace? Well yes, but perhaps not the kind of planning you might be thinking about. A business plan conceived on paper, powered by a great idea or invention, enhanced by research on the size of the market and a customer profile, has great potential. But it also has a crucial flaw.

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Posted by: Wendy Torrance
on March 14, 2014
Why A Startup Is Not A Big Company

Once you've heard the insight--that startups are different from big companies--it seems so obvious. Yet too often entrepreneurs, and those that teach them, approach the building of new companies with the same goals, staff structures and assumptions that motivate the management of large companies. Startup founders build teams to focus on engineering, and on the process of creating a product and bringing it to market.

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Posted by: Wendy Torrance
on January 22, 2014
The 5 Best Mistakes We Made in 2013 (and How We're Learning From Them)

With 1 Million Cups, as with any startup, our tendency is to put our best foot forward. We spend a lot of time talking about all of the great successes that we've had over the past year--and there have been many. But one of the things that makes our program special is that sense of having a safe space to share what you haven't done well and what you're struggling with on a day-to-day basis.

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Posted by: Nate Olson
on January 15, 2014
'Sales is Like Oxygen,' and So is Education

During my years at the Kauffman Foundation I have seen firsthand the effect that education can have on the development of entrepreneurs and their companies. The entrepreneurs with whom I have worked have taken the lessons they have learned and applied them to great effect in their endeavors as founders. These entrepreneurs benefited from opportunities to learn critical skills, and from gaining an understanding of crucial decisions or junctures that often can derail entrepreneurial businesses.

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Posted by: Wendy Torrance
on November 04, 2013
1MC: Building the Most Dynamic, Diverse Startup Community

Last week marked an important milestone in the development of the 1 Million Cups program. For the last year, each city's weekly 1 Million Cups event has been run by our community organizers, a team of volunteer entrepreneurs. That's right people,VOLUNTEERS! Our community organizers are some of the most talented, creative, genuine, and collaborative entrepreneurs on the planet. In addition to being the thought leaders in grassroots entrepreneurship in their communities, they hold down day jobs working with or running startups. With all that brainpower at our disposal, we knew we had to get all of our community organizers together in Kansas City to plan for the future of 1 Million Cups as it continues to grow.

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Posted by: Nate Olson
on October 23, 2013
Workforce Development Redefined

When I say the phrase “workforce development” chances are a certain image is conjured in your mind. Maybe you think of tradesmen positions, like carpenters, electricians, plumbers and masons. Maybe you think vocational training programs offered by community colleges. Regardless of what your mind has been trained to conclude based on that phrase, workforce development has never been more important than it is today. But it’s not enough—on its own or simply as it is.

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Posted by: Thom Ruhe
on March 18, 2013
Aiming High

In the entrepreneurship and economic development realms, the word “high-growth” is tossed about loosely, often used to define that rare, illusive, overnight success of a startup. But a recent study by Kauffman has proved that high-growth firms aren’t as hard-pressed to find as we thought … so long as you’re looking in the right places.

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Posted by: Thom Ruhe
on February 18, 2013
Border Wars

The first Top of Mind issue for 2013 has gone online and in it, I talk about three topics with the potential to impact (or continue to impact) entrepreneurship in a big way. I want to elaborate on one that has struck a chord with me. It’s an unproductive method of economic development called “border wars.”

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Posted by: Thom Ruhe
on January 16, 2013
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Twitter Updates

  • RT @atsoukalidis: Very interesting: "A Quick Guide to Smart #Entrepreneurship Policymaking" via @eshiporg http://t.co/whgzIq8Slv
  • What are some best practices for hiring team members? http://t.co/VX7O0rjTtH via @eMedCommunity
  • .@IceHouseEP gives teen entrepreneurial mindset & new perspective on future goals | new #TopOfMind ft @PrentissEarl03 http://t.co/74zxKCbWjx
  • "I Have No Idea What Your Company Does!" Five Steps To Clearly Explain Your Startup Idea http://t.co/pQzsxPO3yL by @DianaKander via @Forbes
  • SKETCHBOOK - @Alicia_Robb discusses challenges women entrepreneurs face funding their ventures http://t.co/5E6d2D7IgD via @KauffmanFDN