LESSONS I LEARNED TODAY 4/30/09
Today I decided to take this blog in a new direction, as mentioned in the last post. I hope this will allow me to better emphasize points made in the daily articles and discussions posted on the Applied Entrepreneurship site on the LinkedIn network.
This is the first post in the new series. Please let me know what you think of it. If there are ways to improve the value to entrepreneurs, I’m all ears.
For this first run, what I have done is to review the ten or so articles posted today, as well as some of the relevant discussions, and summarized a few of the key “take-away” points I noticed. There are certainly many more points in each article, but sometimes less is more. At the end, I’ll add some of my own thoughts.
Papa John’s waives fees to spur expansion by Alex Davis for Courier Journal
Papa John’s International said yesterday that it will waive royalty fees for a year for franchisees who open new restaurants in the coming months.
Papa John’s is the nation’s third-largest pizza chain with more than 3,400 restaurants worldwide.
“We see the current economy as an opportunity for growth,” Jude Thompson, the company’s new president and chief operating officer, said in a statement.
“During a recession, you can hunker down or you can use the opportunity to expand and grow,” said Sullins, who owns 60 Papa John’s locations. “Most of us see light at the end of the tunnel, and at some point we’re going to be coming out of this.”
Nouveau CEOs by Christina Couch for Virginia Business
These young, Web-savvy entrepreneurs are creating their own corner offices.
Cameron Johnson represents a new breed of business executives. Armed with youthful passion and technological know-how rather than experience and education, these nouveau CEOs are creating their own corner offices.
In the world of young CEOs, some entrepreneurs rely on the anonymity, universal accessibility and low overhead costs of the Web.
Sometimes no experience actually gives you a leg up on the competition because you have not conformed your thinking to that business model.
Franchisee growth urged in recession
Find Hidden Opportunities in the Senior Market by Elizabeth Wilson for WomenEntrepreneur.com
Managing Risk and Change by Nina Kaufman for WomenEntrepreneur.comfor WomenEntrepreneur.com
Be sure your business has a strong legal foundation
Fortitude Trumps Failure by Jennifer Wang
Keep things simple.
Success was a matter of sheer determination.
“I think a lot of people, especially in small business and entrepreneurial [ventures], give up too easily. You get to the hard part, and sometimes you just have to chew through it.”
‘Being a Solopreneur Suits Me’ by Janet Holloway for WomenEntrepreneur.com
46 Links on Local Online Marketing: Techniques to Promote Your Local Business by Peg Corwin for SCORE Chicago blog
Peg Corwin is the Marketing Chair at SCORE Chicago. She has listed an incredible assortment of links related to the above opic.
“Build your company based on character” “…Line up everything you do, short and long-term, to follow that same character.” Consider how every decision affects the business plan and, more important, the employees who drive the company. “That sounds like a sappy thing to say, but character goes a long way. You have to make your word count.”
The best business model in the world is also the simplest: make stuff that’s insanely great.
That kind of stuff doesn’t need a hard sell, a new market, or a convoluted product range. It just needs to be.
The converse is also — and perhaps more importantly — true.
The real problem with business model innovation is that it dilutes the incentives to make good stuff in the first place. It lets boardrooms hide from the profound challenge of making insanely great stuff in the first place.
What I Think
Use the KISS method; keep it simple, stupid. Sometimes all the education about business can be counterproductive, if it leads to following the wrong path. I have often found, in coming onto a board of directors, or in leading one when a new member comes on board, that this often a critical point of innovation. This is due the lack of knowledge about how things are done, and questioning why things “are” or “are not.” Quite often, questions arise for new people, which simply didn’t occur to those who have been around for a while. If properly channeled, this can be a great thing. In fact, it can become a strategy for innovation.
The entrepreneur must have a real passion for the business and sometimes that passion and determination can beat the odds.
An even better plan, however, is to come up with something really great, and really needed by the customer. Too many entrepreneurs work themselves to death trying to convince customers they need something the entrepreneurs wants to sell them. A better plan is to find out what the customer really needs, and then doing a “knock their socks off” job of creating the solution.
Make sure you start your business with a firm foundation, in terms of the legal structure, proper agreements, quality personnel, thoroughly “crunched” numbers, etc. Test it before starting it.
Don’t take your market segment for granted. In this economy, the previous rules and margins may no longer work. Take your market apart to look for smaller segments within the market, and try to tailor your marketing to those separate segments. To the extent possible, however, do what you can to gain the broadest possible market by employing universal design concepts.
Don’t forget character. Trust goes a long way to distinguish one business from another, just as it distinguishes one entrepreneur from another.
The third largest pizza company in the United States sees “light at the end of the tunnel” and thinks the recession is a good time for growth. We all hope they are right. It is willing to fund it by discounting and otherwise rewarding entrepreneurs who are willing to roll the dice with them by buying into the franchise.
Before she opened her business, she developed her plans and tested herself by responding to a friend’s work complaints.
Duncan knew she was ready to go out on her own, but first she asked a SCORE counselor to look over her financials and business and marketing plans. The SCORE rep congratulated her on having done her homework so well–then recruited her as a SCORE counselor.
Fierce determination to succeed.
“I’ve had to work hard. People may think they know ‘hard.’ I’m telling you, starting and growing this business has been hard. For example, I’m Southern and we’re taught not to bother people. So it took a lot for me to strike up conversations and network with people I don’t know.”
“It’s an exciting world out there. You just need to believe you can accomplish whatever you’re willing to work hard for.”
Think “universal design”–a rapidly growing concept with the design community [meaning design that’s useful to everyone]. Not only will entrepreneurs make and sell better products in the senior market; they will also be more successful to a broader range of consumers.
Try to segment a particular piece of the senior or baby boomer market.
The recent downturn in the economy indicates that many baby boomers will not be retiring as soon as they thought.
Businesses that rely on retiree travel and leisure, for example, may want to come up with a new strategy to accommodate work schedules for older adults.
Questions to ask:
What need is to be met with the introduction of the product?
How will those needs change over the life of the product?
How significant are functionality issues related to familiarity with technology/physical ability, etc.?
What language is appropriate and what messages resonate with this target audience?
How might the target audience define themselves (e.g., do they think they are “older women” or do they define themselves as “boomers” or “seniors”)?
How congruent are your views of this audience vs. how they self-identify?
If you enjoyed my impression of these articles, why don’t you read them for yourself and see what you and I missed or hit? Join the Applied Entrepreneurship group on LinkedIn. Membership is free and I try to post about ten articles a day there. We have some great discussions going and if you are an entrepreneur, we hope you will join us.