Get Your Entrepreneur On

handshake in business

If you equate security with having a single employer, you’re wrong. As entrepreneur Chris Guillebeau says: “Think about what security really is. Are you really better off entrusting your well-being and livelihood to someone else?”

Instead, it’s time to think of yourself as an entrepreneur. Whether you start your own small business, develop a portfolio of freelance clients or decide to remain in industry as a W2 employee, you need to think of yourself as the single CEO and chief stakeholder in You, Inc.

The days of company loyalty are long gone, and any hard work you do as an employee can be erased in a second when your organization decides to change its bottom line. However, if you think like an entrepreneur instead of a company man, you’ll be ready to roll with the changes of the modern economy and always end up on top.

Here’s what to do:

1. Identify and package your core strengths

Successful entrepreneurs know that they are a brand, and the answer to “what do you do?” should be more than “I’m an assistant quality control manager at Company X.” If you haven’t already started branding yourself as a person, not a job title, it’s time to get started.

First, figure out your core strengths: are you a marketing genius, a programming guru, or a leader of men? Then figure out how to package them in a simple, effective, memorable way. Forget elevator speeches; you need a sentence short and pithy enough to fit on a Facebook page or Twitter profile.

Take Andy Baio. His tagline is “I make web stuff.” Then, on the next line, he lays out his projects: Waxy, XOXO, Playfic, Kickstarter. In a handful of characters, we know everything about Andy Baio’s brand without knowing a single one of his job titles.

2. Always work towards the next job and the next client

This advice combines the two aphorisms “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” and “always have an exit strategy.” It’s all very well and good to want a promotion within your company, but that’s less of a good idea when your company merges, outsources or goes bankrupt.
This means that throughout your career, you always need to be thinking about the next job and the next client. The day-to-day job is only half of an entrepreneur’s work; the other half is finding new opportunities.

Ask yourself: Where do you want to be in the next year? What would happen if your job disappeared tomorrow? Then use the answers to these two questions to start looking for the next opportunity.

Use the example of Adam Hasler, recently profiled in Fast Company. He alternated between self-employment and traditional jobs, always looking for the next way to use the skills he was teaching himself, like programming and interactive media. He never waited for a promotion – he found his next job and his next client on his own.

3. Don’t wait to start

Some employees are nervous about starting personal branding websites or publicly promoting their brand and skills. After all, won’t that make some human resources manager think they’re looking for a new job?

The truth is that if you don’t have a personal branding website, tagline and action plan, you’re already behind. Look at Nick Gholkar, who already has a professional website, a clear statement of career goals and a list of advice to other golfers and scuba divers – and Nick Gholkar’s only a junior in college. How old are you? When are you going to start taking your career seriously?

The other fact is that, these days, you’re always looking for a new job. (See point 2, above.) Waiting to get your personal brand online now might leave you unprepared in the future, when you meet an interesting contact at a party and have no portfolio of work or branded website to email him afterwards.

We don’t have a choice, anymore. If we want to be successful in the new economy, we have to think like CEOs and spend part of every day getting our entrepreneur on.

  

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App of the Week: Star Command

Developer: Star Command LLC.

Compatible with: iPhone 3GS and up (optimized for iPhone 5), iPod touch 3rd gen and up, iPad

Requires: iOS 4.3 or later

Price: $2.99

Available here

Captain’s Log Stardate 90946.8

After years in development following a successful Kickstarter campaign, “Star Command” is now available for the app store, and provides a universe spanning strategy title, that offers the chance to chart the unknown and boldly go where no game has gone before.

Well…ok that’s an exaggeration.

In fact, “Star Command” has a lot in common with the PC indie hit “FTL,” right down to the Kickstarter origins, as both games task you with the same objective of traversing different galaxies and defeating some of the toughest scum in the galaxy through ship to ship battles, and onboard scuffles, all as captain of your very own space ship.

While the games may share a similar product description, where “Star Command” differs, and ultimately shines, is in the number of little things.

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For instance, the graphics are exceptional. Whereas “FTL” was all about minimalism, “Star Command” looks similar to old PC games like “XCOM” or “Syndicate” and gets the most out of its perspective thanks to a bright and detailed style. The cutscenes are also straight out of a Lucasarts adventure game, and really drive home the humor, danger, and even frights of the game based on the current situation.

As for the gameplay, there is a lot of it. After you’ve customized your captain, you are now responsible for hiring a crew, and assigning them to three different job classes, as well as building and customizing your ships weapons and systems, which are all acquired by using tokens that are earned along the way. Once everything is eventually in place, the game mostly revolves around combat, for which you are responsible for the command of every single aspect of the ship. When it’s time to fire the plasma beams, that’s up to you. When a team needs to be organized to fend off a boarding party, that’s up to you. And when all hell is breaking loose and no hope seems to be available, it’s again down to you.

That last one is important, as things can get out of control very easily. This is not an easy game by any means, as “Star Command” requires your complete concentration, and the ability to multitask like a machine, if you are ever going to have a chance of surviving. Your survival is the key too, as once the captain goes down, the game is over.

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Don’t let the doom and gloom keep you away though, as even at its most frustrating “Star Command” is an ambitious and extremely entertaining title that does a great job at promoting an atmosphere where anything can happen at any turn. Exploring the universe truly feels like you’re doing just that, since the variety of enemies and scenarios present at each location rarely, if ever, repeats, making each new adventure feel like some lost episode of “Star Trek.”

In fact it’s probably no coincidence that this game is coming out so close to the new “Star Trek” movie, as if you are a fan of that series, or of anything sci-fi, this app is a beam down from the heavens. It’s a complex, yet accessible and rewarding, adventure that requires several levels of active and passive strategies. Every effort proves worth it though, as it all contributes to a title that lets you experience what it’s like to be at the helm of your own sci-fi ship.

“Star Command” is the perfect type of strategy game for your phone, and with any luck will be the start of a franchise that will live long and prosper. For now though, this game proudly serves as my app of the week.

  

App of the Week: Organ Trail – Director’s Cut

Developer:
The Men Who Wear Many Hats LLC

Compatible with:
iPhone
iPad
iPod Touch

Android Systems

Requires:
iOS 3.1.3 or later

Android 2.1

Price:
$2.99

Available here (for iOS) and here (for Android)

“You have Died of Dysentery”

Nothing was worse than seeing this message pop up on the Apple screen at the library we used to play “The Oregon Trail” at in grade school. Maybe the first couple of people to fall to it got away without too much ridicule, but as soon as one of us discovered what dysentery was, we became unstoppable forces of mocking nature. There were many ways to die on the “Oregon Trail”, but the only one you truly feared was the dreaded dysentery. It’s not like it was ever your fault either. If there was a “wash your hands after using the bathroom” button, we would have used it.

If you can’t relate to what I’m talking about then I truly pity you, because you missed out on one of the greatest gaming experiences of all time. What made “The Oregon Trail” so great was the many gameplay options and features, and how even playing the game right wasn’t a guarantee for survival. Even better, the vaguely historical setting meant that it was a game you could play at school, and at the aforementioned libraries. It’s one of those games where you can tell right away if someone grew up with it or not, because if they did, all it takes is a mere screenshot to bring a grin to their face, and set them off on a bombastic recollection of nostalgic memories.

Well if you did, in fact, never get to share that experience, then developer The Men Who Wear Many Hats has your back, thanks to some funding by Kickstarter. Because they are bringing back the old school gameplay of “The Oregon Trail” but infusing it with the harsh reality of the zombie apocalypse. Now truthfully, I’m getting a little tired of the zombie genre, but every now and then something will pop up that resurrects the style much in the same manner as the decaying dead that populate those titles.

“The Organ Trail” (huh…clever) is one of those instances. From the menus, to the basic gameplay, to the perfectly recreated graphics and sounds, “The Organ Trail” shamelessly apes “The Oregon Trail” with admirable accuracy. The basic goal is the same. You and yours traverse the country in search of a better home, while battling the dangers of the untamed world. But rather than just throw a couple of undead sprites your way and port “The Oregon Trail,” the developers have completely re-imagined the experience of that classic as it stands in this new world, and along the way have managed to perfectly recreate the experience of the original, while still making sure that anyone who grew up on the original game enjoys the near flawless ratio of nostalgia to the joy of a fresh game experience.

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The Future of Watches, Brought to You by the Future In Free Market

In a prior article on the Instagram Camera, I said that the potential legions of fans that the prototype would draw should probably take to Kickstarter.com, in a mob like fashion, to make that invention a reality. I meant that somewhat jokingly. Well, in just a short time fund raising on that very site, tech developer Eric Migicovsky, along with his “dream team”, and their invention The Pebble Watch have pretty much guaranteed that no one will be making jokes about Kickstarter ever again.

The Pebble watch, which raised an almost unfathomable $2.5 million in just three days on Kickstarter, is a smart watch that works with iPhone and Android devices. It’s essentially an evolution of the inPulse smart watch, also designed by Eric Migicovsky and Co., which worked with Blackberry devices. The Pebble takes certain apps and functions of your smart phone, like controlling your music playlists or providing a heads up when you receive a text message or phone call, and transfers them to the face of the watch. It has an e-ink display, is waterproof, scratchproof, keeps its’ charge for seven days, and even functions with an app developer program.

I’ve got to confess. As nice as all of that sounded, I wasn’t  particularly impressed with the device at first. Or at least I didn’t understand how a “smart watch” could garner so much interest and cash in such a short time. But to truly appreciate the Pebble’s uses, you have to see the video that accompanies the product on Kickstarter.

 

No this isn’t a world changing device. That would be the smartphone. Instead this is a rare device that realizes that if you can’t beat the smartphone, you could do worse for yourself than to become its’ best friend. The Pebble is practically designed for joggers and bicyclists, as it allows you to do things like view your distance traveled, control your music, and manage incoming messages and calls without ever once having to break your motion. Even for pedestrians or drivers, the Pebble’s benefits of being able to access some of the most practical apps of your phone, without having to reach for it, actually brings your phone back  to being a convenience and not a burden. Not to mention this finally makes the modern watch more than just jewelry, and also brings us one step closer to the sci-fi staple all purpose “wrist computer” (think Fallout’s Pip Boy device).

But really, the Pebble itself isn’t the story here. That belongs to Kickstarter. The idea of a program that could essentially allow consumers to choose the products they really want, without designers having to wade through the machine of corporate funding or personal loans for a project, was merely a vague notion whose successes have been treated as exceptions and novelty stories. But the Pebble has managed to raise over $10 million so far through Kickstarter  (10,169% of  its original goal), which is such an absurd figure that the developers are now pleading with people to stop contributing money as they have too much of it and can no longer meet demand.

Whatever success the Pebble watch has from here on out will be tied directly to Kickstarter. As word of the sites potential spreads, only time will tell if its’ bazaar of ideas will change certain foundations of commerce. But considering many people will be telling that time on their new Pebble watches, my guess is it’s got a pretty good shot.

  

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