Lessons I Learned Today 6/17/09 – Don’t Forget About You

This is a digest and recap of highlights, quotes, and comments from articles and discussions posted on this date on the Applied Entrepreneurship, LinkedIn group site.

 

*Unleashing Your Entrepreneurial Spirit by Brian Kurth

Merely conquering your fears is not nearly enough to ensure success in starting your own business. You might have all the desire and motivation in the world, but there are still many steps that need to be taken, and many questions that need to be answered. So once the desire outweighs the fear…then what?

1. Start Researching

2. Raise Money

3. Get to Work

 

*Am I Ready? Tough questions to ask yourself before starting your own business. by Susan Martin

1. Personal questions:

  • Am I a self starter?
  • Do I enjoy challenges?
  • Am I a creative problem solver?
  • What are my strengths and weaknesses?
  • What interests, talents, and skills do I have that will assist me in running my new business?
  • What skills do I need to learn or brush up on to run my business effectively?
  • Will I be doing work that is meaningful and really interests and excites me?

2. Business questions:

  • Do I really have a money making idea?
  • Who is my competition?
  • What do I offer that the competition doesn’t — what makes my services or product unique?
  • Who are my ideal target customers?
  • Do I have effective marketing and sales plans?
  • Have I established business goals?
  • Will I need capital to startup my business?
  • Have I written a business plan?
  • What are the things that my business will require that I cannot do myself?
  • What type of managerial and leadership skills do I possess?
  • What financial risks are involved?
  • Do I really have a money making idea?

 

*7 Financial Strategies for Transitioning from Salaried to Solo by Nina Ham

Everyone has to decide for themselves what level of sacrifice and risk they’re willing to undertake in order to enjoy the satisfactions of working independently. Knowing some strategies for managing the risk will allow you to make a well-informed decision.

Of the seven strategies included below, the first two suggest ways to gradually transition from salaried to solo, instead of diving off the edge. The second two are ways to stretch the dollar; and the final three are ideas for getting started without stopping.

1. Continue to draw a (reduced) salary.

2. Develop another income stream.

3. Reduce expenses.

4. Borrow.

5. Identify your niche.

6. Create your marketing plan.

7. Manage fear!

 

 

*When Planning Your Business, Don’t Forget About You! by Joseph Lizio

There is one thing that almost all new business owners miss – and that is their personal situation. They miss it because they get so engrossed in planning the business side. Further, most business plan templates or software just do not cover this issue.

To be a successful entrepreneur, a business owners needs to have the least amount of disruptions (non-business disruptions) possible as well as have the ability to take advance of all opportunities that come their way.

This requires a very solid personal foundation. An entrepreneur must first be mentally ready to put in long hours, make hard decisions and choices and be willing to do what it takes to succeed (take risks). They must also be willing to make personal sacrifices for the business knowing that these scarifies will pay off in the long-term. And, lastly (and most importantly) they must be financially prepared.

This can mean:

  • 1) Having your personal finances in place so you are not reliant on the business to cover your living expenses.
  • 2) Reducing personal obligations to the lowest level possible.
  • 3) Lowering living expenses to the most basic of needs.
  • 4) Improving credit scores.
  • By making yourself the as lean as possible – reducing personal distractions and putting yourself into a position to jump at every opportunity – will go a long way towards your business success.

 

*The Seven Roller Coaster Stages of a Start Up by Rob Spiegel

Here’s a quick sketch of the emotional ride of a business start-up.

1. Planning dreams.

2. Raising cash

3. Early spending and a promising beginning.

4. Slow pay and more spending.

5. A growing cash crunch.

6. The desperate search for more cash.

7. Breaking into new markets and fiscal discipline.

If your business doesn’t die during stage six, you may actually learn how to run a business. You tweak your product or service, experiment with marketing, gain some confidence with new customers. You count every paper clip and use both sides of copy paper. You learn how to small capital sources from two towns away and discover how to push the right buttons with bankers.

 

*Start-up Marketing Strategies by corecubed

TIP #1: Write down what your product or service does for the customer.

TIP #2: Make room in your budget for a modest marketing plan.

TIP #3: Hit them with everything you’ve got.

TIP #4: Learn the art of networking.

TIP #5: Measure what is successful.

 

*Five Ways to Find the Perfect Business Idea by Joseph Lizio

Each perfect business is defined by the business owners. Keeping this in mind, let’s start on my five concepts of finding the perfect business:

Number One – Understanding your customer

Number Two – Passion

Number Three – Understand Your Competition

Number Four – Cash Flow

Number Five – You

Regardless of the level of your desire for your business – a lifestyle mom and pop operation or a multi-national conglomerate – if you develop a business idea with these five concepts in mind – your idea will be the perfect business idea for you.

 

*How to Become a Fearless Small Business Owner In Uncertain Times by Robin Fisher-Roffer

STEP 1: Go Fishing for the Real You. Focus on what you do better than anyone else and put that out there to your customers and prospects.

STEP 2: Use Your Differences as a Lure. Use the strengths of what makes you different to make a difference with your customers.

STEP 3: Find a Few Fish like You. Deepen customer relationships to ensure your security and your company’s future.

STEP 4: Swim in Their Ocean Your Way. Look for what resonates with you and don’t buy into what doesn’t feel right.

STEP 5: Put Yourself Out on the Line. Give to others instead and watch what you receive in return.

STEP 6: Evolve by Casting a Wide Net. Use your place outside the circle to always be relevant to your customers and industry. It’s about staying true to the essence of who you are, and then recasting your image to feel brand new.

STEP 7: Reel in Your Unique Power. Use your unique power to make them believe that you are indispensable and that is exactly what you will be!

 

*Business Start-Up Checklist by Janet Attard

Choose a business based on your skills and interests

Research the business idea

–       What will you sell

–       Is it legal

–       Who will buy it and how often

–       Are you willing to do what it takes to sell the product

–       What will it cost to produce, advertise, sell & deliver

–       With what laws will you have to comply

–       Can you make a profit

–       How long will it take to make a profit  

 

*Break-Even Analysis by Tim Berry

The Break-even Analysis lets you determine what you need to sell, monthly or annually, to cover your costs of doing business–your break-even point.

The Break-even Analysis depends on three key assumptions:

1. Average per-unit sales price (per-unit revenue):

2. Average per-unit cost

3. Monthly fixed costs

The break-even analysis depends on assumptions made for average per-unit revenue, average per-unit cost, and fixed costs. These are rarely exact.

 

What I Think

I think it might be hard to convince you I didn’t pick the articles posted on this date because of the theme of each article. The truth is, these were picked randomly, as I crawled the Web like the proverbial spider, looking for my daily dose of articles on various aspects of entrepreneurship.

While I’m sure there are a variety of common threads to be found in these articles, the one most obvious to me is how they fit together as a mini seminar or threshold test for the new entrepreneur. Starting with Brian Kurth’s article, Unleashing Your Entrepreneurial Spirit, many seasoned entrepreneurs will recognize a natural progression from employee to employer.

First comes the burning desire to do “something” which eventually outweighs the fear of change and, in turn, eventually changes the shape of the comfort z0ne envelope. This, fortunately, is where we lose most entrepreneurs wannabees. Without that overriding courage to face dramatic change, very few entrepreneurs would find success. Better to stay an employee if you don’t possess this attribute.

Next come the soul searching questions posed by Susan Martin in her article, Am I Ready? Tough questions to ask yourself before starting your own business. Many entrepreneurs have the courage to get past step one, but are not honest enough with themselves, or are so unsophisticated and naïve about being an entrepreneur, that they skip this vital second stage.

Even though there may not be any perfect answer to each of the questions raised by Martin, the odds certainly change, depending upon how many of them can be answered with an appropriate response. For every negative answer, the entrepreneur is likely to be one step further away from success, and although there are no guarantees in life or business, for every positive answer, the entrepreneur should be that much closer to having what it takes to be successful.

Stage three of the novice entrepreneur’s journey becomes clearer with the help of Nina Ham’s article, 7 Financial Strategies for Transitioning from Salaried to Solo. No matter how easily one can fly through the first two stages, the rubber starts to hit the road when it comes to thinking about quitting your day job to pursue the dream of becoming a full time entrepreneur.

Ham’s article suggests several strategies to allow the employee to ease into becoming the employer with minimal strain. The difference in going to work every day with insurance benefits, a salary or existing customer base and infrastructure, vs. having to hope you will some day be able to create this from the profits of your new start-up venture, is exactly what causes many entrepreneurs to fold their tent early in the process, never to return.

Finally, Joseph Lizio’s article, When Planning Your Business, Don’t Forget About You, teaches us the same lesson an athletic trainer would teach an athlete getting ready to run a marathon or participate in any other grueling athletic endeavor. “Get yourself ready” is the message. Cut back on your expenses, save your resources, eliminate or minimize distractions,  clarify your vision of the best route to the goal, prepare yourself to recognize barriers and traps as early as possible, and still have the perseverance to overcome them all. Pack light, and travel lean and smart. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Find a guide/mentor. Keep your bearings and your goals in sight. Be ready to adjust course, and be watchful for all sorts of predators at every stage of your journey to the finish line.

The other articles posted on this date run you through later stages on the roller coaster of entrepreneurship, but it is the foundation built from these first four stages, upon which everything else follows. A relatively small percentage of all prospective entrepreneurs will make it through these first few stages. Those who do, by necessity, may have learned that they must be true to themselves before they can provide the value and balance necessary to be good to their dream business.

 

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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.

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Posted in Applied Entrepreneurship, entrepreneur, Financing a business, Growing a business, Innovation, Perseverance, Personal happiness, Planning for a business, Starting a business, Thinking about a new business

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