10 Rookie Mistakes Startups Make When Building Web Traffic

1. Relying on search engine submission services

2. Not having a blog (or equally bad, an off-topic blog)

3. Not using catchy headlines or images

4. Not participating on other established sites

5. Not seeking publicity

6. Not communicating with your email list

7. Not advertising

8. Not paying attention to local listings

9. Not analyzing your traffic to see what works and what doesn’t

10. Not writing a marketing plan for your website.

Read on for how to fix these common mistakes business owners make in their rush to boost website traffic.

This Company Flew Single New Yorkers to San Francisco for a Love Connection

“There’s a running joke that there are more single men in San Francisco and more single women in New York City,” says Lauren Kay, a co-founder and CEO of matchmaking startup Dating Ring. ”So we thought it would be fun if some of them met each other.”

The stunt—their business model doesn’t actually fly out singles on the regular—attracted a ton of attention and investment. Kay spoke to OPEN Forum about the Dating Ring and what it’s really like to be a woman entrepreneur raising funds.

What was it like to fundraise with Y Combinator and afterward?

It was really hard! Demo day with YC is insane—there are hundreds of investors on the floor. It felt like this weird speed dating event where you ask people for money. I was super uncomfortable.

After demo day, I was determined to land additional investment to grow Dating Ring, so I’d go on up to seven meetings per day with angel investors and VCs. Some of them were awesome. After 15 minutes, one investor offered us money because he believed in our vision right off the bat. But other investors would ask me out on dates or openly ask when men would be brought into the company. I had no idea the sexism in Silicon Valley was so bad.

What advice can you offer other female founders to get through it?

Look for investors who aren’t known to be sexist. Talk to other founders that you trust and only take meetings with VCs who have a track record of respecting women. Don’t put up with anything, and leave meetings if you’re uncomfortable.

How Apple Watch Can Shake Up Your Business

Always a game changer, Apple’s latest announcement was an opportunity for the brand to not only unveil the newest iteration of the iPhone, but to officially throw its hat in the smartwatch ring. Apple Watch, expected to drop in 2015, will have a major impact on fitness tracking, the watch industry and small-business marketing:

…If you’re doing any sort of email marketing, email subject lines are going to be more important than ever. With room for about four to five words on the screen, you need to make sure you use those first words the best way you know how—or risk losing users, quick.

Read on for how Apple’s two other major announcements—Apple Pay and iPhone 6 and 6 Plus—will change your business.

What will the sharing economy—think Airbnb, Lyft, Uber and other companies that make it peer-to-peer sharing easy—look like in five years? OPEN Forum asked the experts, and they gave us their best guesses. 

Read more on OPEN Forum’s “Sharing Economy 2.0: Sharing a Peek at the Next Generation

Airbnb photo from Flickr user: Jay Galvin

In this week’s Top Two Tips, David Kidder, co-founder of Bionic, and Skin Authority founder and CEO Celeste Hilling, join us. They tell us why solving your customer’s problems will pay off for your small business and why you should always have a Plan B when it comes to cash flow.

The Startup Mistakes That Can Kill Your Business

Hiring too quickly is one of the biggest mistakes business owners make when trying to build their companies. Deepti Sharma Kapur, who started online food ordering service FoodtoEat in 2012, explains how her rush to build her team hurt her business:

"[I made the mistake of] hiring people who didn’t understand the company or the vision but were just looking for jobs. Now I’m mostly relying on references and talking to people in the industry. And the first question I ask is, ‘What do you know about the industry and our company?’"

Read on for 8 more common mistakes that can derail a business in its early days.

8 Common Traits All Great Leaders Have

1. Accepting. Self-actualized leaders accept themselves, as well as their employees, colleagues, vendors and customers, as they are rather than hoping for something different. 

2. Humble. Great leaders don’t need to announce their many attributes: it shows in their work, and the amount of respect they receive from everyone around them.

3. Willing to seek assistance. Self-aware leaders have no problem reaching out to their customers and clients or membership bases and asking questions that reveal their lack of knowledge or skills in certain areas.

Read on for five more attributes great leaders possess.

Everything You Need to Know About Online Copyright

Internet content isn’t all free, and not everything is yours for the taking just because you found it online. Get the legal facts about some common copyright myths:

Myth No. 1: It’s on the Internet, so anyone can use it.

Actually… This one is unwaveringly and unequivocally false,” writes OPEN Forum contributor Erika Napoletano. “Just because you find an image or blog post or article or video and you like it, you may not have permission to share it.”

Myth No. 2: There wasn’t a copyright notice on it, so it’s not copyrighted.

Actually… “By U.S. copyright law, copyright is granted to a content creator the moment an idea is fixed into any tangible form,” says Kandis Koustenis, an intellectual property attorney with Cloudigy Law.

Read on for three more commonly heard copyright myths and the truth behind them.

Why This College Course May Be More Valuable Than MBAs

If you’re only focusing on the numbers, it may be time to expand your thinking. Understanding psychology’s role in your business can give you a definite edge.

“Industrial and organizational psychology, or I-O psychology, applies psychological theories to an organization,” says Sandra Powers, a human resources manager at By studying I-O psychology, you may be able to help improve employee behavior and attitudes through training programs, management systems and employee feedback.

Read more on how I-O psychology can improve your business on OPEN Forum.

The Most Productive Times to Hold a Meeting

It’s definitely not Monday, according to business owners and experts who spoke to OPEN Forum.

Tuesday mornings. It lets people get over their case of the Mondays, while still having enough time to plot out the week.

Read more on the best (and worst) times to have a meeting on OPEN Forum.