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Mar

27

2015

10 LinkedIn Groups Every Entrepreneur Should Follow

groups

There are at least three problems with this list. First, “entrepreneurship” is an extremely broad subject. Second, opinions are ubiquitous. Third, LinkedIn groups aren’t exactly scarce. Trying to highlight the best ones is somewhat of a fool’s errand, but you may be pleasantly surprised by what you find! With that in mind, here are ten recommendations to get you started…

Groups You Probably Already Know (And Should Know)

The first two are two popular LinkedIn groups you’ve likely already seen. If you’re not a member yet, become one. The sheer number of members pretty much guarantees you’ll get a stream of useful ideas.

1) DM (Digital Marketing)

With nearly 700,000 members, DM (which stands for Digital Marketing) is one of the most popular digital entrepreneur groups and an outstanding way for digital marketers and entrepreneurs to connect with their peers or share ideas about growing their business via the internet.

2) Social Media Marketing

With roughly 1 million members, this group is by far the largest of its kind. “Intended for interactive advertising and marketing professionals who are actively engaged in social media and community-oriented websites around the world.” Membership in this group is useful for the same reason as DM.

Groups From Professional Journals You Should Know:

3) Entrepreneur Magazine

From the guys and gals who own the URL www.entrepreneur.com and run the magazine focused on everything entrepreneur comes a group of 40,000+ focused on the same. If you don’t subscribe to their $1/issue publication, request to join the group (members only) and get your digital fill of “entrepreneurialism, small business management, and business opportunities.”

4) Harvard Business Review

This is an open group of roughly 1 million members. The HBR publication itself comes out 10 times per year and focuses on topics such as business strategy, finance, operations, marketing, management, and leadership. HBR is a frequent stop for some of business’s top thinkers including Peter Drucker, Theodore Levitt, and a long list of their contemporaries.

Terms like “globalization,” “marketing myopia,” and the “glass ceiling” have appeared first in HBR according to Wikipedia. This is definitely one of the groups you should keep HBR in your cross-check and with no barrier to entry, there’s no reason not to.

My Personal Recommendations:

5) Sales / Marketing Executives (CSO/CMO)

This is a great group for Sales & Marketing Executives. But here’s the catch (and this is part of what makes it a valuable addition to your groups): it is “100% Discussions.” In other words, “no blogs, articles or promotions.” The group’s self-description goes as follows: “we are not a group where people share interesting articles or blogs – we are a Peer2Peer discussions forum that uses a Q&A format.”

There are two principal posting rules: “(1) All new discussion posts must be in the form of a question to drive discussion/idea exchange with other members [and] (2) [posts must be] hyperlink-free – all new discussion posts cannot include links to anything.” This group is for members only, and with more than 200,000 on the distro and an active contributor base, it is obvious that there is a lot of value in genuine peer-to-peer discussion.

6) Friends of the Mises Institute

This is a personal favorite. Ever wonder why economics based on mathematical models doesn’t make any sense? That’s because you’re supposed to be studying human action, something that can’t exactly be modeled mathematically.

Austrian economics focuses on this basic fact (human subjectivity) and never deviates. The reason for economic progress according to Austrian economic analysis … that’s right my friends, the entrepreneur. A solid grounding in Austrian economics will help every entrepreneur better understand the world of finance, economics, and business.

Extra Credit: Want to understand prices? Look up Carl Menger and the Subjective Theory of Value. It stands to this day, and in my estimation, always will.

Groups About Financing:

Trying to start a business without capital is difficult and entirely time-consuming. Trying to start a business with capital is a lot simpler – especially if you’ve got a great idea and a solid team.

With that in mind, every entrepreneur should understand the financial world, and in particular, some of the most common sources of modern-day investment capital (venture capital funds, angel investors, crowdfunding, and of course…friends and family). I couldn’t find a good friends and family group to share with everyone so we’re sticking with groups that cover the other three:

7) Angel Investor

Angel investors typically invest in 10 companies hoping that one or two will actually make it big enough to sell within five years with a large enough profit to make losses on the other eight or nine irrelevant. Getting funding, however, is more difficult than you might think because there are a lot of people with ideas out there competing for it.

Here’s the group description: “[our] goal is to share deal flow (potential opportunities) feedback, due diligence work, and pool funds to make larger seed fund investments in high-growth business start-ups in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity. We seek 30x return over 5 years & an exit strategy.” With roughly 40,000 members, this is a great group to learn tips on getting financing. Curious how start-ups typically work? A good way to start is by attending a kickstarter event.

8) CrowdFunding & CrowdSourcing for Entrepreneurs & Investors 

With more than 30,000 members this is the largest discussion group on its topic in the LinkedIn network. It is a great group for entrepreneurs trying to stay up to date on crowdfunding news and resources (think Indiegogo) and for main street investors to put small sums of money in projects they love.

9) Finance Plus

Finance Plus is a larger group that provides a steady stream of “news from private equity, venture capital and mergers & acquisitions” without the need of a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification to join. This is a great way to incorporate larger CFO perspectives into your business playbook.

A Group For Inspiration:

10) TED Talks Discussion Group

This is a group of 10,000 or so members that, like the rest of us, enjoy TED Talks. Discussion centers around “the thought-provoking talks offered by TED.com.” Be forewarned though, “this is not a debate group, but rather a collection of courteous individuals that aspire to learn more about their world.” Entrepreneurship has a lot to do with being inspired and TED Talks is the perfect fit. If you happen to live in the Omaha, Nebraska area you can meet up with other members of the group!  

Good luck to all of our fellow entrepreneurs out there. If you have a business idea and want to connect with me or my company – we’re interested! If not, perhaps we’ll see you in one of our LinkedIn streams. Cheers!

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Jan

30

2015

10 Excel Tricks Every Marketer Should Know

excel

Excel is a useful tool for a number of marketing tasks.  The two most important uses that I have for Excel on a weekly basis is first, as a research tool while writing (e.g. to get original statistics for a blog), and perhaps more obvious and more common, for data analysis and reporting.  

With that in mind, here are ten tricks to help you get more proficient at Excel.

1) How to Summarize Data with a Pivot Table

What is a pivot table? A “Pivot Table” is a spreadsheet functionality that allows you to arrange and categorize tabular data.  

Why are pivot tables important? Data is useful only if you can summarize and extrapolate meaningful trends from it.  Pivot Tables help you do exactly that.  

How do I create a pivot table? Watch the video. Minute 1:05.

2) How to Create a Histogram Using the “=FREQUENCY” Function

What is a histogram? A histogram is a graphical representation (chart) of distribution data.  A frequency distribution displays the number of data points that fall within specified ranges in a sample.

Why are histograms important? Histograms are a convenient way to organize data into similar groups (e.g all grades from 90-100 are an “A” while those from 80-89 are a “B”).  The range between “90” and “100” is known as a “bin.”  Although school grades are less relevant for day-to-day marketing, histograms are commonly used in finance. Since finance affects every single business, understanding how to read, create, and manipulate data in the form of a histogram is critical for business owners and marketers.

How do I create a histogram using the “=FREQUENCY” function? Watch the video. Minute 2:41

3) Understanding Regression Analysis and the Meaning of R2

What is regression analysis? Regression analysis is a statistical process that compares the relationship between different variables in a sample. Excel does all of the hard work for you. The important thing is to understand the meaning behind the numbers that Excel outputs.  

Why is regression analysis important? Two words: correlation and causation.  It is important to know how much of an impact A is having on B (causation) or if A and B are trending along similar paths without having a direct impact on one another (correlation).  R2 is the number you need to understand.

Understanding R2?  R2 is known as the coefficient of determination.  It describes how well the data fits your chosen model.  When you plot your data on a chart, add a trendline (common trendline models are linear and exponential), and then display the R2 value, you will see a number between 0 and 1.  Think of this like a percentage.  R2 = 0.99 is a 99% fit to the model you picked (pretty darn close).  R2 = 0.10 is a 10% fit (not very close).

How do I add R2 to my chart? Watch the video. Minute 6:02.

4) How to Use the VLOOKUP Function

What is VLOOKUP?  VLOOKUP is a built-in Excel function that allows you to search your table for a certain value and then outputs its associated value automatically.  

Why is VLOOKUP important? Searching a large database manually would take forever, and depending on the size of the table, could be impossible to do without serious errors.  If you want to search a database efficiently and accurately then you need to understand VLOOKUP.

Did you know? VLOOKUP stands for vertical look-up – as in looking vertically down a column of data cells. Conversely, HLOOKUP stands for horizontal look-up – as in across a horizontal row.  

How do I use VLOOKUP? Watch the video. Minute 8:10.

5) How to Program a Macro

What is a Macro? A macro is a program that records and automatically executes a series of commands (actions) with a single execution instruction (e.g. the click of a button).

Why are Macros important? They make long manual processes simple by automating them.

How do I create a Macro? Watch the video. Minute 10:16.

6) Conditional Formatting

Conditional formatting is useful to identify trends or points of interest in a data set.  Watch the video for a few examples of conditional formatting. Minute 11:46.

7-10) Four Keyboard Shortcuts That Are Good to Know

“CMD + 1” : Shortcut into the “Format Cells” Window

“CMD + K” : Insert a hyperlink

“F11” : Creates a chart in a new sheet from the selected data

“CMD + SHIFT + T” : Sums the column of data and puts the total in the next cell (automatically executes the =SUM() function).

Extra Credit:  How to Import Data From a Database

You can either download an ODBC driver for the type of database you want to access, or subscribe to a cloud-based service that incorporates the necessary connectivity into their product offering. You will need to determine which database you want to access and download the correct driver for your particular operating system. I will discuss this more in a future blog post.

What is an ODBC Driver? ODBC driver stands for Open Database Connectivity driver. Long answer short: it is required software to access database information. You need different ODBC drivers to access different databases (e.g. Google, Hubspot, Salesforce.com).  

I hope you enjoyed this short primer on Excel. As mentioned above, these tricks can come in handy for marketers in all industries. If there are any functions that you’d like me to cover in the future, contact me @JustinPavoni. Want to learn more marketing skills that will help you climb the career ladder? Download our starter guide to becoming a CMO.

how to make a graph in excel


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