Monday, November 20, 2017
Home Education

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todays trend.in world tech

(Reuters) – Renaissance Learning, an education technology start-up, said on Wednesday that Google Inc’s investment fund had bought a minority stake in the company, valuing it at $1 billion.

Renaissance, owned by British private equity firm Permira, provides cloud-based education software, including reading and assessment tools that the company says are used by nearly 20 million students and teachers.

Google Capital was formed in 2013 to invest in technology start-ups. Its investments include SurveyMonkey, an online survey company, and Lending Club, a service that matches people seeking loans with people willing to make them.

The Renaissance investment is Google’s first in education.

New York Times said on Wednesday Google’s investment was $40 million.

(Reporting by Sayantani Ghosh in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

todays trend.in

Their strategy was revealed in a massive rock-paper-scissors tournament at Zhejiang University in China, documented on the Arxiv server.

Scientists recruited 360 students and divided them into groups of six. Each competitor played 300 rounds of rock-paper-scissors against other members of their group.

As an incentive, the winners were paid – in proportion to their number of victories.

To play smart, classical game theory suggests players should completely randomise their choices – to remain unpredictable and not be anticipated by opponents.

This pattern – where both players select rock, paper or scissors with equal probability in each round – is known as the Nash equilibrium.

The strategy is named after game theory pioneer John Forbes Nash Jr, subject of the 2001 Hollywood film A Beautiful Mind.

How to win at rock-paper-scissors

John Forbes Nash Jr and Russell CroweGame theory pioneer John Forbes Nash Jr was played by Russell Crowe in the film A Beautiful Mind

And indeed – in the Chinese tournament players in all groups chose each action about a third of the time, exactly as expected if their choices were random.

However, on closer inspection, the organisers noticed a surprising pattern of behaviour.

When players won a round, they tended to repeat their winning rock, paper or scissors more often than would be expected at random (one in three).

Hidden psychology

Losers, on the other hand, tended to switch to a different action. And they did so in order of the name of the game – moving from rock, to paper, to scissors.

After losing with a rock, for example, a player was more likely to play paper in the next round than the “one in three” rule would predict.

Rock paper scissors

What are your odds of winning rock-paper-scissors? Simple – one in three. At least, that’s what chance predicts.

But people do not play randomly – they follow hidden patterns that you can predict to win more games than you should, a study has revealed.

Winners tend to stick with their winning action, while losers tend to switch to the next action in the sequence “rock-paper-scissors”.

Anticipating these moves could give you a winning edge, say scientists.

This “win-stay lose-shift” strategy is known in game theory as a conditional response – and it may be hard-wired into the human brain, the researchers say.

Anticipating this pattern – and thereby trumping your opponent – “may offer higher pay-offs to individual players” they write.

“The game of rock-paper-scissors exhibits collective cyclic motions which cannot be understood by the Nash equilibrium concept.

“Whether conditional response is a basic decision-making mechanism of the human brain or just a consequence of more fundamental neural mechanisms is a challenging question for future studies.”

Though it is only a simple game, rock-paper-scissors is seen as a useful model for studying competitive behaviour in humans – in financial trading for example.

A previous experiment found that players unconsciously mimic the actions of their opponents – a surprising result because advantage is usually gained by acting differently.

The Chinese scientists now plan to investigate the underlying psychology behind the seemingly irrational choices players make when competing.

In the meantime, anyone curious to test if their “winning strategy” really works need look no further than the UK championship.

todaytrend.in business

Despite all the information out there about effective networking, business owners continue to commit blunders in their efforts to get face-to-face with potential clients.

Entrepreneurs can be guilty of thinking of themselves first and the people they can potentially serve second. As the saying goes, “It’s not who you know but who wants to know you” that really counts.

Here are three serious mistakes to avoid:

1. Not making eye contact. The first common networking sin is constantly looking over the other person’s shoulder when you are having a conversation. This silently communicates to the person you are talking to that they are unimportant. Instead, focus intently. When you feel it’s time to move around the room and mingle with others, simply excuse yourself.

2. Forgetting the name of the person you have just met. This sets you up for embarrassment when someone else you know comes over and joins you, expecting to be introduced to the person with whom you are speaking.

Make it a point to remember the names of people that you meet. If you miss or forget them, excuse yourself and ask them to repeat it.

Motivational speaker and author Dale Carnegie was right when he said, “The sweetest, most important sound in any language is to that person the sound of his or her own name.” When you remember and use the name of the person you have met in your conversation with them, you will go a long way in building an effective relationship.

3. Showing up late or leaving early. This third and final deadly sin of networking gives the impression of someone who does not know how to plan their time.

People who do this always seem to be in a hurry and come across as pushy and only interested in talking about themselves — shoving one of their business cards into your hand before rushing off to meet somebody else.

My recommendation here is to schedule accordingly and spend quality time at the networking event in which you are investing your reputation and time.

The 3 Deadly Sins of Networking

todays trend.in world

“Never leave that til tomorrow which you can do today,” said Benjamin Franklin.

Pretty good advice, especially considering it comes from a guy who was an absolute whiz at productivity (Franklin was somehow an author, printer, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman,and diplomat).

Recognizing the wisdom in the aphorism, however, won’t stop most of us from putting off the “no-more-delaying-ever” regiment until tomorrow. (Which isn’t always so terrible: We’re not robots, after all, and leaving a project unfinished so we can hit the beach every once and awhile keeps us human.)

But for some of us, procrastination isn’t an occasional kind of thing. Instead, it locks us in a vise grip and comes to define the way we approach everything. If you’re like me, you know the exhausting ritual well: voluntarily delay a necessary task until the panic about meeting a deadline finally outweighs inaction. Not only can it send you into an unhealthy and crippling shame-spiral, it’s also one giant productivity killer.

Why are some of us more susceptible than others? Like most personality traits, a recent studypublished in Psychological Science finds, it has a lot to do with our genes.

Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder surveyed 181 pairs of identical twins and 166 pairs of fraternal twins about their work habits. Compared to fraternal twin pairs, identical twins reported stronger behavioral similarities regarding their ability to set and meet goals as well as their tendency to act impulsively. Based on this, the researchers concluded that procrastination is, at least in part, heritable and has a strong genetic overlap with impulsivity.

Impulsivity probably had an evolutionary advantage, Daniel Gustavson, the study’s lead author, says. For our ancestors – struggling to survive in a dangerous world, fast and decisive decision making was more important than long-term planning. Procrastination either evolved at the same time as impulsivity, or “evolved as a byproduct of it,” he says (when we’re impulsive, we become distracted from — and thereby put off — long-term goals). Unfortunately, circa now, where both goal management and the ability to delay gratification is rewarded, these two intertwined genetic traits hurt rather than harm.

But before you start blaming your penchant for leaving everything to the last minute on mom and dad, remember: most of our personality traits are, at least in part, heritable. The last thing the Gustavson wants is for people to read about his study and conclude: Welp, guess that means I’ll never change. “When people see big genetic influences on a trait, they often think they can’t do anything about it,” he says. “And that’s not true. Just because something is heritable doesn’t mean it can’t be changed.”

Tim Pychyl, a psychology professor at Carleton University in Ontario, Canada, and the author ofSolving the Procrastination Puzzle, agrees.

The way he sees it, our limbic system (the ancient, reptilian part of our brain which just wants to feel good now) is in constant battle with the prefrontal cortex (a section that developed later in our evolution, responsible for executive functions and impulse control). Inevitably, the limbic system sometimes wins out. “It’s human nature to procrastinate,” he says. “You have to realize that you’ll screw up sometimes but you can change if you really want to.”

For all of us wrestling with genes that scream, “delay, delay, delay,” Pychyl shares a few strategies to help the prefrontal cortex emerge victorious.

Understand the true definition of procrastination.

This is super important. There are many forms of delay that are beneficial – life, of course, is a constant succession of tradeoffs. Often, you need to hold off on a project because something more pressing has come up. That’s not called procrastination, though. That’s called making an informed decision.

Procrastination on the other hand, says Pychyl, is never positive. “Anyone who thinks it has an upside is messing with the definition.”

Some of us may develop a warped, protective relationship with our tendency to procrastinate (see tip No. 2), but while there are many reasons why we do it, “none of them are healthy,” Pychyl says. “There’s no virtue in it.”

Stop making excuses.

This is closely related to Pychyl’s previous point. Procrastination is a voluntary delay of a beneficial intended act, and therefore causes uncomfortable dissonance, which we attempt to ease with a string of excuses.

The most common? I work better under pressure. “That’s nonsense!” Pychyl says.
“Everyone makes more mistakes under pressure – that’s been shown again and again. What you’re really saying is ‘the only thing that can motivate me to work is a huge amount of time pressure’…and there’s certain pathos in that.”

While procrastination can cause individuals to hyper focus, it’s simply because their backs are against the wall. The same amount of attention to detail – flow, as Pychyl calls it – is possible even when you aren’t under a time crunch. Learning how to voluntarily achieve a flow state requires time and effort but it’s the secret to productivity. Procrastinators, he says, need to realize that it is possible to concentrate without the motivation of deadline-induced panic. It just takes practice.

Minimize distractions and set strict deadlines.

If you have every distraction available at the push of a button, you’re more likely to check Facebook, check your emails, and suddenly three hours have gone by. Distractions, of course, decrease productivity for everyone, but for the chronic procrastinator, they’re real time-suckers. It’s better to eliminate as many of them as possible (be that blocking Facebook, deleting Solitaire off your desktop, whatever you have to do).

In addition, set a strict schedule for yourself. “Autonomy is good for non-procrastinators, put procrastinators need short, concrete deadlines,” Pychyl says. For managers dealing with procrastinating employees, Pychyl recommends having them articulate their goals in concrete terms. Specific details — rather than a vague “I’m working on X project – helps hold procrastinators accountable. “Have them make implementation intentions rather than goal intentions,” he recommends.

Don’t let your inner 6-year-old dictate your actions.

“I don’t know where we learn this, but somehow we internalize the notion that our motivational state has to match the task at hand,” says Pychyl. “We don’t feel like doing something, and we think that’s a reason!”

He calls this logic 6-year-old thinking. In reality, “For many of important tasks, if not most of them, getting started has nothing to do with how we feel.”

Still, we often dismiss the notion of getting started today with the perpetually hopeful “I’ll feel more like it tomorrow.” We almost never do, though, and so the task gets pushed off again. Why, then, do we persist in maintaining the delusion that a repellent task will be magically rendered less aversive in a mere 24 hours?

We tend to predict our future feelings based on present feelings, Pychyl explains. (Think about shopping for groceries on an empty stomach versus after you’ve just eaten a huge meal – most likely, your cart will be more crowded, even though rationally you know the week ahead requires the same amount of food). “When you decide to procrastinate, you relieve some stress which makes you feel good. So when you predict how you’re going to feel tomorrow, you base your prediction on your current mood.”

In addition, brain scans have shown that we tend to think about our future self as we would think about a stranger (known as temporal discounting), which explains why we often overestimate our ability/desire to accomplish an unappealing but necessary task three weeks from now.

The biggest myth that procrastinators need to dissolve if they want to break the delay cycle? “I’ll do it tomorrow,” says Pychyl. “Once you realize that this is an avoidant coping strategy, you’re on your way.”

todaystrend.in success

Want to Become the Most Interesting Person Around? Start With These 7 Steps.

To be sure, I’m not referring to the silver fox from the Dos Equis beer commercials, who once ran a marathon just because it was on his way, whose organ donor card lists his beard and who speaks fluent French — in Russian.

The bar doesn’t have to be that high.

In a noisy world where personal branding is a professional imperative and where we constantly compete with equally qualified rivals for clients, jobs, promotions, assignments or funding, not to mention admiration and affection, being just a little more interesting and memorable can be the deciding factor in our favor.

The following list of seven rules should yield some promising results for those who want to up their game with some new skills and behaviors:

1. Master conversational skills. The ability to converse is a key competency for successful client pitches, board room presentations, management meetings and the myriad hallway conversations that influence major business decisions. Skillful small talk and more substantive conversations can make anyone more interesting, provided one has something interesting to say. To get better at it, widen your interests and learn about anything from current events to local issues. Keeping conversations balanced by showing sincere interest in others is critical. A report in Psychological Science cites a study that shows that people who engage in deeper, more substantive conversation are happier than those who keep interactions superficial. Happy people are definitely more interesting than miserable ones.

2. Learn to make a solid business case. Occasionally we get lucky. We ask for something — resources, money, time, support — and we get it. But for the most part, the higher the stakes, the more scrutiny our requests are under. Entrepreneurs, managers and executives who cannot make a solid business case, linking needs to strategic goals, detailing risks, opportunities and projected ROI, based on research and analysis, are discounted by the decision-makers who can green-light a project. By clearly showing value, telling a compelling business story and answering tough questions from stakeholders, we become valued players in a serious game.

3. Cultivate a reputation of expertise. Experts are in demand. Turn on any television channel and you can watch a parade of authorities in various domains give their perspective on healthcare, airline security, the economy and climate change, to name a few. Particularly in times of uncertainty, we corner the experts to get answers and find out what can be done to either avoid loss of some sort or make gains. If you’re more of a generalist, find ways to go deep into a subject matter that can benefit others, and share that information where needed. A key is to make specialized information accessible and easy to understand. Otherwise, you’ll notice eyes glazing over and confusion replacing curiosity.

4. Resolve conflict and dispute between others. In a recent executive coaching survey, CEOs mentioned “conflict-management skills” as their top priority. Being able to help others resolve disputes and conflicting agendas is not just an asset in the C-suite, where leaders have to manage the expectations of a multitude of stakeholders. Even among friends, those who can keep a cool head and balance reason and emotion when arguments threaten to spiral into conflict and hostility, have the respect and admiration of their peers.

5. Build relationships and connect with people. Whether we are individual contributors, startup entrepreneurs or corporate leaders, we need the help of others to accomplish our goals. Being an interesting person helps in building and managing relationships, but the reverse is also true. If we actively engage others, by, for example, inviting someone to lunch, involving a co-worker in a project, asking for a favor, offering support, or sincerely inquiring how someone is doing, we not only become visible, we become relevant. That’s the foundation of mutually gratifying relationships. Make it a goal to communicate authentically with others and become more interesting to them in the process.

6. Engage in active listening. Aside from the fact that engaged listening makes us better informed about people and issues, giving someone our full and undivided attention can have a profound effect on their perception of us. Listening attentively is a “giving” rather than a “taking.” Contrast this with the person who primarily keeps the focus on themselves and the difference becomes crystal clear. When we’re listened to, we matter. Those who do most of the talking believe they matter. We become more interesting when we listen to others.

7. Live life and share experiences. “Life is best lived inside, behind a desk,” said no one, ever. Our experiences and what we choose to share are what make others take an interest in us. People often live vicariously through the adventures of their more socially active peers. It doesn’t have to be running with the bulls in Barcelona — we easily become a little more interesting when we discuss experiences of enjoying a meal at an exotic new restaurant, learning a challenging skill like waterskiing or attending opening night at the museum.

Standing out in a positive way has wide-ranging benefits. These rules are merely a starting point as we manage ourselves to become the most interesting person in the world.

todaystrend.in

When you live in the most powerful country in the world, the stakes for not knowing every bit about it become low.

The reason is simple. If you’re a country like France or Italy desperately trying to attract business and investment, you have to be able to know what your country is best at to make your pitch at a moment’s notice.

The U.S. faces no such pressure.

But on the off chance you’ve taken this privilege and run with it, we’ve put together nine basic facts about the American economy that you may not know, but really probably should.

The 9 Basics secret Of American Commerce Reveled…

1) The largest destination for U.S. goods exports is Canada.

The second largest is Mexico. China is third.

2) We import the most stuff from China.

Maybe you did know that. But Canada is second.

us imports

Census

 

3) Canada is our largest overall trading partner.

We’re just really lucky to have them (and of course vice-versa).

us trade

Census

 

4) America also gets the greatest percentage of its crude oil from Canada.

Again, they are indispensable. We only get about a third from OPEC members.

oil imports by country

EIA

 

5) Our most expensive import is crude, far and away.

We spent close to $300 billion on barrels of crude. The runner-up includes other household gadgets and other industrial machinery. Returned and reimported items (No. 7) are goods that might be defective, or ones on which the importer defaulted or cancelled.

census imports

Census

 

6) America’s most valuable export in real dollars is…oil products.

America’s refining sector is still going strong.

us exports

Census

 

7) America’s greatest comparative advantage is in airplanes, materials, and food.

The above chart doesn’t mean that much, since we actually have a net deficit in most of those categories. Here’s where we really excel – where the world relies on us more than we rely on it. All the definitions are here »

exports imports balance

BEA

 

8) America is a service economy.

Here’s our balance of services. We are tops in “other private services” which is practically anything you can think of: finance, insurance, telecom, education, etc. We have a billion-dollar surplus in services against the rest of the world.

bea services

BEA

 

9) America’s second-largest exported “service” is basically patents.

The U.S. Trade Office calls it licensing and royalties.

us services

The Mystery Of How The Egyptians Made The Pyramids Solved by Researchers!!!!

The ancient Egyptians who built the pyramids may have been able to move massive stone blocks across the desert by wetting the sand in front of a contraption built to pull the heavy objects, according to a new study.

Physicists at the University of Amsterdam investigated the forces needed to pull weighty objects on a giant sled over desert sand, and discovered that dampening the sand in front of the primitive device reduces friction on the sled, making it easier to operate.

The findings help answer one of the most enduring historical mysteries: how the Egyptians were able to accomplish the seemingly impossible task of constructing the famous pyramids.

To make their discovery, the researchers picked up on clues from the ancient Egyptians themselves. A wall painting discovered in the ancient tomb of Djehutihotep, which dates back to about 1900 B.C., depicts 172 men hauling an immense statue using ropes attached to a sledge. In the drawing, a person can be seen standing on the front of the sledge, pouring water over the sand, said study lead author Daniel Bonn, a physics professor at the University of Amsterdam. [Photos: Amazing Discoveries at Egypt’s Giza Pyramids]

pulling sledge over sand

Daniel Bonn/University of Amsterdam

A large pile of sand accumulates in front of the sled when it is pulled over dry sand (left). On the wet sand (right) this does not happen.

 

“Egyptologists thought it was a purely ceremonial act,” Bonn told Live Science. “The question was: Why did they do it?”

Bonn and his colleagues constructed miniature sleds and experimented with pulling heavy objects through trays of sand.

When the researchers dragged the sleds over dry sand, they noticed clumps would build up in front of the contraptions, requiring more force to pull them across.

Adding water to the sand, however, increased its stiffness, and the sleds were able to glide more easily across the surface. This is because droplets of water create bridges between the grains of sand, which helps them stick together, the scientists said. It is also the same reason why using wet sand to build a sandcastle is easier than using dry sand, Bonn said.

But, there is a delicate balance, the researchers found.

“If you use dry sand, it won’t work as well, but if the sand is too wet, it won’t work either,” Bonn said. “There’s an optimum stiffness.”

The amount of water necessary depends on the type of sand, he added, but typically the optimal amount falls between 2 percent and 5 percent of the volume of sand.

“It turns out that wetting Egyptian desert sand can reduce the friction by quite a bit, which implies you need only half of the people to pull a sledge on wet sand, compared to dry sand,” Bonn said.

The study, published April 29 in the journal Physical Review Letters, may explain how the ancient Egyptians constructed the pyramids, but the research also has modern-day applications, the scientists said. The findings could help researchers understand the behavior of other granular materials, such as asphalt, concrete or coal, which could lead to more efficient ways to transport these resources.

 

Read more: http://www.livescience.com/45285-how-egyptians-moved-pyramid-stones.html#ixzz30eGr8czp

todaystrend.in story


As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children an untruth. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. However, that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. In addition, Teddy could be unpleasant.

It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X’s and then putting a big “F” at the top of his papers.

At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child’s past records and she put Teddy’s off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.

Teddy’s first grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners… he is a joy to be around..”

His second grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.”

His third grade teacher wrote, “His mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best, but his father doesn’t show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren’t taken.”

Teddy’s fourth grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends and he sometimes sleeps in class.”

By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy’s. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper That he got from a grocery bag Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of perfume.. But she stifled the children’s laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, “Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to.” After the children left, she cried for at least an hour.

On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children. Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her “teacher’s pets..”

A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling* her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in life.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he had ever had in his whole life.

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer…. The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.

The story does not end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he had met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit at the wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom.

Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. Moreover, she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.

They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson’s ear, “Thank you Mrs. Thompson for* believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference.”

Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, “Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn’t know how to teach until I met you.”

(For you that don’t know, Teddy Stoddard is the Dr. at Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines that has the Stoddard Cancer Wing.)

Warm someone’s heart today. . . pass this along. I love this story so very much, I cry every time I read it. Just try to make a difference in someone’s life today? tomorrow? Just “do it”.

Random acts of kindness, I think they call it?

“Believe in Angels, then return the favor.” . A touching story…

todaystrend.in entrepreneur

With an executive staffing venture about to open, a business loan from the in-laws gnawing at her conscience and a new baby to care for, Michelle Fish was already feeling the pressure. But what really pushed her over the edge was an unexpected communiqué from the IRS demanding immediate payment of a “huge sum” owed from a prior business in which she was a partner.Poof! Her seed money was gone. “All the spreadsheets, all the forecasting, all the preplanning took a back seat once that bill came,” recalls Fish, hearkening back to the 2003 launch of her Charlotte, N.C.-based firm, Integra Staffing.

Jeremy Ostermiller didn’t need a letter to know that he had to get his Denver-based media-tech startup, Altitude Digital, into the black fast or watch his future take a dispiriting U-turn. “I knew it had to be profitable,” he says. “I had put my last $500 into it, and I definitely didn’t want to move back in with my parents.”

A lightning-fast rise to profitability by their respective startups spared Fish and Ostermiller from going belly up. Neither has looked back since. Now a decade old, enjoying seven-figure annual revenues and flush with Fortune 500 corporate clients, Integra Staffing is the third-largest female-owned business in Charlotte, according to Fish. Meanwhile, 4-year-old Altitude Digital, which matches online content publishers with advertisers using an eBay-like bidding platform, is on target to generate $20 million in revenue this year.

Chances are, neither venture would be where it is today if not for the strategically sound groundwork laid by its founder prior to and right after launch. Trying to start a business and make it profitable in a matter of weeks isn’t for the squeamish. Nor is it always advisable. But it can be done. In fact, we’ve condensed the process into 10 intense, highly focused days. Call it our DIY accelerator to launching a business.

Read on to learn how Fish, Ostermiller and a handful of others did it fast–and, more important, did it right.

Day 1

Draw up a business plan

When launching College Hunks Hauling Junk in 2004, the first move for friends Nick Friedman and Omar Soliman was to dust off the business plan they’d written in college a couple of years prior. “Ultimately, it was a really valuable guide for us,” Friedman says. In fact, it helped turn their $80,000 initial investment ($30,000 of which was their own money) into a powerhouse with some 500 employees and 47 U.S. franchises.

Whether written on the back of a napkin or a highly detailed 25-page document, a business plan is critical for startups seeking the fast route to profitability, asserts Ken Yancey, CEO of SCORE, a small-business mentoring organization that offers free, generic business-plan templates on its website.

Day 2

Study the market

Market research is vital to a startup looking to hit the ground running, according to Yancey. You want to create a snapshot of the competitive landscape you’re entering: how your products or services compare to what’s available, who your target customers are and what government regulations and licensing requirements to expect. The SBA’s SizeUp tool provides access to meaningful demographic data, mapping potential customers, competitors and suppliers, as well as identifying possible advertising avenues.

When he was preparing to launch National Storm Shelters in 2010, company president Jeff Turner conducted market research at trade shows and held discussions with potential customers and competitors. This confirmed what his instincts told him: that he had a winning product. The Smyrna, Tenn.-based company, which designs, manufactures and installs above- and below-ground safe rooms and storm shelters, was profitable virtually since day one and now generates about $1.5 million in annual sales.

As valuable as prelaunch research and planning can be, beware of paralysis by over-analysis, especially when you lack the luxury of time, cautions Fish from Integra Staffing. “Defining your sandbox is important. But don’t over-think or over-plan, and don’t put a lot of stock in sales forecasts.”

You’re bound to have questions about strategy and practicalities leading up to launch. To get answers without ringing up an expensive consulting tab, enlist someone with the acumen and willingness to provide advice, coaching and skills to augment those you lack. A former boss provided free advice to Ostermiller initially, then became a paid advisor once Altitude Digital could afford the expense.

Day 3

Build out your brand

A brand identity, including a name and a professional-looking logo, can bring instant legitimacy, even before launch. For DIYers, online tools like LogoMaker offer libraries of icons, color combinations and other elements to help develop a logo fast–no design expertise required. Services such as Logoworks are available if you want the work done for you quickly and inexpensively. Once you have your logo nailed down, take your file to a quick-turnaround print service for letterhead, business cards and marketing collateral such as posters, mailers and sales sheets.

In most cases, startups need some kind of web presence to solidify their brand identity (see “The quick-start startup” on page 20). Don’t forget to stake out a position on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn. You may not use social media right now, but you want to plant your flag ASAP.

Day 4

Incorporate the business

The nature of the startup dictates the extent to which it should rely on an attorney to incorporate, trademark ideas/products, formalize partnership agreements, etc. While it’s best to let an attorney tackle any complex legal matters, Friedman of College Hunks Hauling Junk suggests considering some of the numerous online tools available to help you handle simple undertakings yourself. “Our first bill from an attorney to set up an LLC was $1,500. Little did we know we could have done that ourselves for $300 online,” he says.

Day 5

Set up a lean machine

With the clock ticking toward launch, Ostermiller needed help. He found it on Craigslist, taking on two unpaid interns (both recent college grads) whom he immediately put to work–one on sales and one on operations–with the promise to hire them full time after 90 days if things went well.

With no office yet, Ostermiller’s interns worked from coffee shops while he did so from his kitchen table. Likewise, Friedman’s parents’ basement served as the first office for College Hunks Hauling Junk. For Fish and Integra Staffing, a modest office, spartanly furnished with used furniture, sufficed. From the outset, she says, the goal was to “minimize the monthly burn.”

Another tip: Beware the glowing promises of efficiency and speed from shiny new technology and software. “Unless technology is part of your core competency, you need to be careful how much you invest in technology early on, because it can become very expensive very quickly,” Friedman says. “You really need to fine-tune your model before investing a lot in technology solutions.”

Day 6

Start selling

Bringing in profits means making sales. Ostermiller and his interns chased leads even before his company launched officially. Fish’s sales efforts began with tireless networking. “I didn’t have any money then, so I got my ass out of the chair and into the community,” she says. “Any event in town with more than 25 people, I was there. Breakfast, lunch or dinner–it didn’t matter.”

To lay the marketing and sales groundwork for his startup, Friedman let people in his personal network know about his new venture. “We had a support network, a group of cheerleaders who were really inspired to help us with our idea before we launched.”

Day 7

Work the media

To generate buzz and sales, make media relations a priority. As Turner and Friedman discovered, media outreach by a business owner can pay quick and substantial dividends. “I called different TV stations the first day we went to market to tell them about [National Storm Shelters] and ended up on the 5 o’clock news,” Turner says. “That was huge!”

Similarly, right around the time of its launch, College Hunks got a major boost from an article that landed in The Washington Post thanks to Friedman placing a call to a reporter there. “We shot high, and it got us on the front page of the Metro section,” he says. “Our phone rang off the hook from that article.”

Day 8

Fake it to make it

Success is often a self-fulfilling prophecy. However modest your beginnings, however short your track record, think big and act like you belong. “We were scraping by, but we walked, talked and acted like a bigger company,” Friedman says.

College Hunks launched with an 800 number, a memorable logo and a website that provided e-mail addresses for a range of company departments (pr@…, marketing@…, HR@…), all of which funneled back to Friedman and his partner. “It made us look like we were an established business,” Friedman says. “Having that image not only gave us confidence, it established a level of credibility and confidence in the consumer’s mind. I think that’s what got us those large corporate accounts early on.”

Fish took a different tack. She says she invested in a receptionist prior to launch, primarily to impart a sense of professionalism to callers.

Day 9

Work in and on your business

For startup entrepreneurs, the fast route to profitability often means working in and on the business concurrently–at least in the first days and weeks. It’s a constant battle for time between hustling up new business and taking care of new customers with outstanding service. “We were at the dump at 5 a.m., doing all the physical stuff, while also doing all the customer-facing stuff whenever we could,” Friedman says.

When the day-to-day workload from the business becomes too heavy–a good sign, because it means you have customers–it’s time to move tasks such as strategic planning, hiring and marketing programs to the back burner. Focus on generating cash flow first, Friedman suggests.

Day 10

Throw a party

With the foundation for your business set, invite your network of contacts, vendors, friends, family, customers and prospects to a grand-opening celebration to generate buzz and goodwill within your community. Doing so solidifies your image, telling people you’re open for business and you mean it.

At the party, take a breath, sip some champagne, make a speech thanking everyone who’s helped and seek feedback from your guests. In short order, you’ve created your first focus group, one that will likely provide you with a laundry list of tweaks, ideas and improvements that you can start on tomorrow.

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