Author Archives: Lucy Robinson

A startup – what is it?

When asked this question, one would probably associate the term with a young high tech venture. But is it correct? We have recently started using the word “startup” quite often and maybe just too often. Are all young companies really startups?

Let us start with a definition of a startup to bring some theoretical point of view. explains it as: 1. the act or an instance of setting in operation or motion, 2. a fledgling business enterprise. The deal could be done though, it turns out that it still may cause some problems to determine whether an entity is a startup or not, since there are no certain and constant rules which could help define a startup. Why? Because the profits, revenues, numbers of employees vary between many types of companies.

How about factors indicating graduation from the “startup position”? Some may argue that being a startup even after 5 years since foundation is possible. However, 3 years old startup seem to be “mature” enough to claim that it has transformed into a fully developed company. Other circumstances, such as entering other large company, opening more new offices (startups usually gather around one man office), employing more than 80 people and having more than 5 members of the board, founders starting to sell shares personally, and finally, revenues exceeding $20 million – may direct us to the change in the status of a startup to a “startup graduate”. It might mean that simply becoming highly profitable means leaving a startup position and “maturing”, but as it often happens, some do not really want to mature too quickly.

One thing is crucial in understanding the notion of a startup: not all small businesses, like opening a tiny local shop or a franchise, are startups. What makes a business a startup is its ability to develop without geographical constraints. Such business is created to grow and develop fast. Yet another thing we need to know about startups is the fact that they are not necessarily tech companies as it is commonly believed. Startups use the advantages of new technologies and this is probably their best and fastest way to achieve success and stop being a startup.

Startup founders believe that it is not the amount of time their businesses have been existing which indicates the status, it is the aspect of innovation and feeling of having an impact by what they are doing. Influencing the future world, fresh, new and appealing are the characteristics of startups, which make them attractive and so “cool”.

The fact that the acquisition of a startup by a big company means leaving “startup-dom” is also arguable for some founders. Surely, the process of acquisition and its conditions can be different in all cases, but the fact of going public or becoming a professional businessman in an expensive suit become very clear indicators that your startup may have stopped being a startup.

To sum it up, what makes your startup a real startup? Revenues below $20 million, less than 80 employees and you not freaking out about purchasing a new wardrobe of expensive suits and still having a total control over your fledging company.

What are Small and Midsize enterprises (SME)?

These days we can observe an extremely wide range of businesses, from a one-person tiny firm to large international companies. The definition of a small or a midsize company is different in many countries, but in general, it depends on the number of employees, revenues and assets. For example in the USA, SMEs are not defined, in the European Union the definition says that a small company is the one with the number of employees lower than 50 and the midsize enterprise has no more than 250 employees.

Such businesses frequently have to cope with some financial problems, since for them it is more difficult to gain the needed capital. Although they are innovative and promising in their ideas, SMEs’ starts are usually more likely to end up with failure because of the lack of funds. Hence, the governments and various national organizations take action to help SMEs by special programs involving business education and by opening the wider access to loans.

Are such enterprises significant for the economic growth or these are only large companies which bring considerable profit?

Whereas even more than a half of SMEs have trouble with raising capital by receiving bank loans, and thus, are forced to survive on the personal funds or family loans, they are the creators of 80% of new jobs in emerging economies. At the same time, for such businesses the door to growth and development is often closed. It is a sad fact which should be taken into consideration by the governments.

Not only emerging economies benefit from SMEs. How is it in Canada?

Surprisingly, SMEs created 77% of new jobs in Canada between 2002 and 2012. The importance of these firms is huge – SMEs not only create new work places but also generate tax revenues. The problem is that these companies often struggle to survive and sometimes do not comply with tax reporting laws. Canada decided to solve the problems by teaching SME owners how to make their business develop. Apart from this, there are special audit programs to improve tax compliance.

SMEs in the United States

In the United States there is no certain characteristics which identifies SMEs. Here the division is different: small businesses and self-employed individuals are in one group and the second group consists of midsize and large companies. Being classified as a small business means no more than $10 million of assets and to be considered a large business you must have assets of more than $10 million.

What are the types of angel investors?

Angel investors constitute a great opportunity for start up businesses. They provide necessary funding for the companies in their early stage of development. In general, as there are different types of entrepreneurs, there are also different types of angel investors. In consequence, also the expectations and views on certain things can be incompatible. Although it may seem somewhat paltry, it is actually very important to find the right type of investor, so as to avoid unnecessary disagreements and conflicts. Thus, the aim of our article is to inform what types of angel investors we can choose between.

There are 8 main categories:

  1. Typical Angels – experienced individual businessmen who have gathered their capital throughout their whole business career. Their own rich experience is as significant for your company as their wealth. They tend to invest despite high risk and choose various industries. They can become precious advisors for the young companies in which they invest.
  2. Entrepreneurial Angels – these are successful businessmen who run their own businesses and have a steady cash flow which allows them to invest despite of the high risk. They not only provide a great amount of capital for startups, but they also become assistants for the beginning entrepreneurs. They are usually not interested in managing a company.
  3. Analysis Angels – they often want to receive a board position and implement the same policy they worked according to in their own successful companies. They usually do not take an active management role, unless the situation of their invested company is worsening.
  4. Corporate Angels – the group of business executives from huge corporations who have been downsized, replaced or retired early. Generally, what they look for in investing is mainly financial benefit, but apart from this they can also see their personal interest in the investment, which is for example, getting job at the company.
  5. Trend Angels – they are less experienced than typical angels and they eagerly invest in new technologies. They aim at bringing modern technology to the market and are not afraid of the potential risk. Some of them do not want to be actively engaged in their invested companies, since they want to avoid the whole every day process of operating a business.
  6. Professional Angels – the group of employed professionals such as doctors, lawyers etc. who invest in the familiar fields. They can offer their invested companies professional help. They usually provide the initial capital, rarely make next investments.
  7. Enthusiast Angel – the older type of investors (at the age of 65 and more) who treat investing as a hobby. They usually make many small investments in different companies. They do not want to engage in managing companies.

Numbers Angels

The financial reward is of their main interest in investing. This type of angel prefers investing in the times of the market’s prosperity and stability. Numbers Angels usually do not want to be actively engaged in their invested businesses which they treat rather as a next position in their portfolio.

Things you should know about opening your own startup

A decision about opening a new company should be well thought, that is quite obvious for us. But is it also obvious that we really need to learn from our mistakes if we want to achieve success? The fact is that we learn best from our own failures. However, making mistakes is not everything, the key is to be able to notice, fix and then avoid them in the future.

Building a successful company is a complex process which is based on our previous experiences. Therefore, doing something wrong is not a problem, the problem is if you keep doing the same mistakes and you are not making use of your “lessons”. In the article below, you can find some advice that you may find useful when you think about opening a startup.

  1. Learn before you earn – you must be realistic about your skills, experience and knowledge.
  2. You will need to cooperate with lawyers if you want to avoid costly mistakes.
  3. Prepare a good financial model – it is a great way to organize your idea and anticipate potential scenarios. You need to plan ahead if you do not want to find yourself in big chaos.
  4. Put a lot of effort to find good investors.
  5. Realize what your weak sides are and look for such people to work with who would be able to fill these gaps.
  6. Listen to customers, partners, suppliers and employees. Not to the hype and… your skeptical family and friends foreseeing the worst scenarios.
  7. If you want to sell something, first ask yourself:
    – Why would someone buy something like this?,
    – Why would he buy this from me?,
    – Why would he buy this now?
  8. You need experience. No matter how much time you devote for reading books, articles etc. about entrepreneurship, you will not be successful without your own real experience.
  9. Be prepared for bad moments. It is normal that companies sometimes must go through darker periods. Do not give up, learn from each experience and avoid harmful comparisons.
  10. Your decisions can be wrong, but you must make them if you want to make steps forward. Not making any decisions because you are not sure, have not enough information or you are afraid, does not help you develop. You just need to know how to correct the wrong direction.
  11. Be aware that you can lose. If you lose, analyze the whole situation and draw conclusions.
  12. Take care of your best workers. If you do not want your company’s backbone to fall apart, you must take a good care of it. Without your most precious employees you may find your company in a big trouble.
  13. Take care of your health. Working late, a diet based mainly on fast food, travelling too much, too less physical movement and too much stress will bring results sooner or later. We still tend to ignore the influence of such a lifestyle on our future.

Try to learn from the other’s mistakes as much as it is possible. You will definitely make your own too, but it is always better to avoid at least some of them.

You can be a successful manager!

Being a good manager means being a good leader. Workers need a good manager to be successful and satisfied with their job – managers need good workers for the same reason. And here is the question: how to make the workers-manager cooperation effective? The article below helps solve this significant issue.

Bad managers have a negative influence on workers and their results, what is more, they are frequently the reason why workers decide to quit their jobs. Good managers know how to act so as to make people motivated and willing to work for the whole company’s success.

There are certain behaviors which will just disqualify you as a manager and there are skills which will lead you straight to success. It is of course hard to generalize here, since different situation, different people and circumstances demand various strategies. However, there are a few skills which are essential for all good managers. So, how to make people want to follow you?

  • Create effective interpersonal relationships

It is crucial to get on well with other staff members. Trust and respect are the basics. Then, also good communication, cooperation and attentiveness are necessary. People who look down on the others, take them for granted and generate mainly conflicts will never be good managers. Their role is to be an example and to lead workers so that they could work as much efficiently as possible without stress and pressure. Nobody feels comfortable in the atmosphere of intrigues, conflicts and suspicions.

  • Take care of good communication

Effective communication is very important. You should be able to listen to people, and be open to receive feedback (when it is negative, you should be open for necessary changes).

  • Create a positive team spirit

It is normal that a company’s success depends on the work of its team. Without good cooperation between workers it is very hard to make any progress. Good managers are the team builders. Show workers their smallest corporate success and progress to keep them motivated and willing to cooperate.

  • Know a lot about the financial side of the business

A good manager should set goals and document the effects. For workers, seeing their achievements in numbers and money is a huge motivator.

  • Realize that positive morale of workers depends mainly on you

As it was mentioned, bad managers can make workers quit. Creating a friendly environment is necessary to make people happy every morning when they are going to work.

  • Avoid saying one thing and doing the other

If you are not consequent, just talk too much about something, and then you do not do it – you are not real (and serious) in the eyes of people. Know what you expect and expect it also from yourself.

  • Care about the development of employees

We sometimes forget that our job should, apart from success and money, enable us to develop. Many workers quit jobs, because they feel “stuck”. Good managers help workers develop by education, trainings or on–the–job learning. Personal development and career of employees should be one of the priorities.

There are much more desirable behaviors for managers. Those listed above are the crucial ones and you may want to start with them to see that it really works. Being a leader is not easy. You must be really flexible and patient, but the satisfaction from your excellent results can be even more rewarding than salary.

Get Your Credit Score for Free, No Trials or Credit Card Required

The U.S, Government requires the 3 major credit reporting agencies to provide a free copy of your credit report to you every 12 months, but this does not show you your actual credit score just the details and accounts on your credit report. You can access your free annual report from all 3 major credit reporting agencies at

Financial experts recommend checking your credit score on a regular basis, not just once every 12 months, so that you can track any changes in your credit report or credit score more frequently and maintain the best possible credit score for your situation and circumstances and prevent any fraud or identity theft. We list 5 services below that will give you a free view of your credit score without any trials or credit card details required.

The services listed below are updated at varying intervals through the year, and many include credit report data recovered from your accounts such as negative entries, account balances, and any credit inquiries made about you. Some of the services even provide email alerts and daily credit monitoring services for free. We recommend Credit Check Total for 3 FICO scores. These scores are used by lenders.

The services below are supported by ads so they do not require a trial membership, credit card information, or the need to remember to cancel a subscription so you are not charged each month. All 3 of the major credit reporting agencies are currently covered, and this includes Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You should expect to provide your social security number and other personal information in order to access your score though, this data is required to prove your identity. Your inquiries will not affect your credit score because you are the one initiating the inquiry.

Credit Karma

A visit to Credit Karma will reveal not juts one but two different credit scores, one based on your credit report from Equifax and one based on your TransUnion credit report. These scores are updated on a weekly basis and they can range from 300 up to 850. Credit Karma also allows you to opt in to their free daily credit monitoring program that is based on your data from TransUnion. You do not need to sign up for a free trial or provide any credit card information, this service is fully supported by ads. You can expect to see ads for credit cards that may be available to you based on your credit scores and report details. For more information about Credit Karma please read this: 2017 Credit Karma Review – Is it really free? What are pros and cons?

Credit Sesame

In the past Credit Sesame used credit report data and scores based on Experian data but now the service usually uses your TransUnion credit report details instead. You can view your free credit score, which is updated on a monthly basis, and even opt in for a free daily credit monitoring program. The scores provided range from 300 to 850 and the service is free because the site and apps are ad supported. You will never need to enter credit card details or sign up for a free trial.

Lending Tree

Lending Tree is another service that offers you free access to a credit score, with no credit card or trial needed, and this score is based on your credit report from TransUnion. Your score is updated on a monthly basis and can be anywhere from 300 to 850. Since Lending Tree is a mortgage broker expect to see ads for mortgage services, and a home purchase is one of the top reasons that consumers check their credit score in the first place.

This website and service provides a free credit score that is based on your credit report from Equifax, and your score is updated every 6 months. You can also get a completely free copy of your credit report from Equifax twice a year as well, with full credit report and account details. You will not need to enter any credit card information or sign up for a free trial with This service also has a credit score scale that ranges from 300 up to 850, and it is also supported by ads. Quizzle is associated with Quicken Loans, both are under the same umbrella, so don’t be surprised if you are offered a mortgage quote when you log in each time. provides a free credit score that is based on your credit report from Experian, and this score updates once every month. Your score will be between 300 and 850, and this service is completely free because it is supported by ads. A variety of credit cards may be offered after you log in. No trial or credit card is necessary to use this service.

Important Considerations

It is important to note that the scores offered by the services listed above are not FICO scores, because the cost for a Fair Issac score is expensive and would not be covered by advertising revenue. The credit scores shown by the services above are still extremely useful though because they allow you to track any changes and monitor credit history trends. The free credit monitoring programs offered can also help you detect or even prevent fraudulent activity, and receive email notifications whenever a new account is added to any of your credit reports.

One Time FICO Score at a Discounted Rate

If you really want to see your FICO score but you don’t want to sign up for a new credit card you will need to sign up for a myfico trial and enter your credit card information. ScoreWatch at offers a month of access for $19.99, and you will get a free credit report from Equifax as well as your FICO credit score from this reporting agency. You will be charged the same rate every month unless you call 1-888-577-5978 to cancel the service.

Staying on top of your credit core can help you maintain a good score, prevent fraudulent activity, and save you money by giving you access to lower interest rates. The services listed above can be very beneficial if you want to know what your credit score is or what steps you can take to improve this number.