Posts filed under ‘entrepreneur’

I will

I was once told … ‘You will barely graduate high school.’
So I graduated with honours.

I was once told … ‘You aren’t the university type.’
I got accepted to the top engineering school in Canada with scholarship, though didn’t go.

I was once told…’ I can’t believe you made it to your final year with such poor writing skills’
My fourth year in-depth research paper was the top in the class.

I was once told …’You will never live abroad’
I went to Australia, for one year.

I was once told … ‘You will fail’
I did.   And it was awesome.

Recently, I was told …. ‘Your business idea is good, but YOU can’t possibly do it’
I will.

October 4, 2010 at 2:27 am 3 comments

My comments regarding Neil Patel’s post Harsh Realities of Starting a Business:

Neil Patel suggests these top 7 harsh realities in starting a business.  I agree with some, but there are more important harsh realities that, although small, can eat you up inside and make you fear that the there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

His ‘Harsh Realities’:
1. Starting a business is like a roller coaster. He says there isn’t a ton of glamour in creating a company; instead it’s like a roller coaster.  You’d have to be a complete moron to think that starting out on your own is ‘glamorous’. This is a HUGE harsh reality, and fact.  There is no guaranteed level of comfort in the 1st year of business. Instead there is hope, but not too far from that there also lies failure.

2. Owning a business isn’t easier than working at a 9 to 5 job. He says that this is what most entrepreneurs believe, but it is very inaccurate. He explains that instead of having one boss you have many and that when you work at a 9 to 5 job all you have to do is work from 9 to 5. Hmm, well I know many entrepreneurs that choose their own clients, hence don’t have ‘bosses’ because they work with/for people they WANT to work with, and also hold regular work hours.

3. Consumers have to believe you are solving a problem. He says it doesn’t matter if you think you are solving a problem, all that matters is that your target customer thinks you are solving a problem. Is this not lying then if you really aren’t solving a problem?  Not only do you have to make life easier for your customers (hence the solving a problem) you actually HAVE TO SOLVE their problem(s).  If your marketing cries out a solution, then you must follow through with it.  Or else it will come back to bite you in the a**!

4. You have to make money. OK, ummm ….duh!  Unless of course starting a ‘business’ to you means donating your time/money/resources, then making money isn’t important.

5. You have to give a lot to get a little. He says in today’s world you have to give a lot. Whether it is free information or samples of your product, you have to do something to build trust from your customers. If they don’t trust you, they won’t spend money with you.  I agree with this, but at the same time, this is not new (I.e. …in today’s world).  Building trust and creating long lasting relationships is inevitable in business.  Your most loyal customers are the ones that trust you the most. David Maister speaks wonders on the issue of trustworthiness.

6. Coolness is inversely correlated to success. Here he compares Exxon Mobil to Facebook and Twitter in terms of coolness.  These are two completely different industries. You don’t have to be ‘cool’ to supply one of the most important resources, oil.  All you have to do is extract it and sell it.  When you are talking online terms, coolness IS important.  Answer me this; which brands are considered ‘cool’: Amazon, Twitter, Facebook Zappos, Piperlime?   Answer: all of them.  Now, answer me this, which brands are considered necessary: Exxon Mobil, Toronto Hydro, Twitter.  The 1st two. Twitter we can live without, but it is still cool.

7. Time is worth more than money. He says if you take your time and release your company when you think it’s perfect, you’ll be in for a big surprise. You will never be able to please everyone and you will always run into things that you never thought about. I can go on and on here, but really this all depends on your industry. Whether or not you’re selling a product or service, you MUST test it, research it, and understand it, before you make the launch.  You don’t want to bring a dysfunctional product to the mass market. It will instantly tarnish your brand.  Find a happy/safe medium between public launch, beta testing, and behind-closed-door testing.

My biggest and most obvious conclusion is that, yes entrepreneurship can be difficult, and it is not glamorous, but more specifically if you are going into business for yourself doing something you love to do, then it is NOT WORK. It is your passion.  David Foster said to the Editor of Success magazine, “If you aren’t working on Saturday or Sunday, then you don’t like what you do”.  In David Foster’s eyes, Neil Patel doesn’t like his job.

December 2, 2009 at 4:06 pm 1 comment

Why Small Businesses Fail?

I asked this question this morning on Twitter and the replies were fantastic.  Here they are:

1. @TanyaGeisler: I think Gerber (E-myth) explains it best…most business owners are working IN their business not ON their business.

2. @jeffparks: Doing the work to understand if the community values their ideas / products / services as much as they do.

3. @Cg6Inc:  You need to fail to succeed

4.  @skanwar:  They take their core competency for granted.

5.  @nav_een:  They don’t have a solid business plan/model (but that applies to any business type)

6.  @davegray: Lack of customers

7.  @markeelliott: The biggest reason start-ups fail is lack of revenue from poor sales planning and execution.

8.  @ethnicomm: They don’t have any idea on how to take it from an idea to something that generates cash flow.

9.  @AlexIkonn: Lack of support and not feeling connected to a community.

10. @AKthe5th: of knowledge in the sales process. just because you do something well, doesnt mean you know how to sell that to clients!

11.  @TraderZed:  Super Mario Bros. fail? Because they don’t give the Princess any attention, therefore, she’s constantly snatched by Bowser.

12.  @tukutela:   too high expectations from the founders

13.@THE_REFINERY:  Owners go into business thinking things will be different for them, and realize how much work it really is.  Also, entrepreneurs need to have a lot of faith in themselves when others are skeptical – takes a lot of confidence.

14. @todd_herman:  poor positioning in the marketplace and marketing

15. @jamiekalynuik:  people focus more on creativity than strategy.

Here are some other great articles about why Small Businesses fail:
– According to the Small Business Administration, two-thirds of new businesses survive for at least two years, and only 44 percent survive at least four years

– Avoiding Business Failure

– Get a Mentor to help You Build a Successful Small Business

November 10, 2009 at 7:56 pm Leave a comment

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

Shoot the messenger

Yah right!  In a society where the average person sees over 3,000 messages per day, it’s no wonder people are tuning out the crap and focusing on the relevant information.  Marketers are wasting millions on mass messaging this way.  So, how to avoid this pitfall on only a small business budget?  Speak to your customers personally. You must win individual customer share, not total market share.

To do this, you must understand your customer’s value: who generates the most revenues and profits? Why do these customers purchase from you?  Are they loyal to you and only you?  Gaining a better understanding of their attitudes, preferences and motivation that drives them to BUY BUY BUY can help you improve your relationships and, ultimately keep them as customers for the long run.

You need to find out as much as possible about your customers in terms of the following:

–          Purchase patterns

–          Product and service preferences

–          Response History

–          Overall trends

Once you tally up this data, you will then be able to segment, profile, and model your customers.  Result:  a database of rich information that will allow you to customize your marketing strategies.

Believe me, regardless of your industry, personalized marketing programs work.  Now you need to figure out what works for you so that your customers aren’t shooting the messenger…YOU!

Here’s a nifty marketing blog to follow:  Marketing Plan Queen.

July 14, 2009 at 1:47 pm Leave a comment

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

hand-shake

I call it, Care, Relate, Manage.

Let’s Daydream here:

So you confidently left a networking session and made two new contacts and potential prospects. (Refer to my last post Networking to Get Work). You go home, email those people and develop a relationship. Then, within a couple months, they’re your customers.

Wake up. Now ask yourself:

How are you going to manage and maintain all these new relationships?  You need to consistently follow and track leads.  This process should be inexpensive and time saving.

How can you use CRM effectively?  Oddly enough the same relationship management tools still apply at this stage of the relationship as they do while networking, only you’re way more involved and have more data to track.

Having a CRM system to track leads that come in through networking events, your site or your on line marketing activities is fundamental  if you’re looking to convert those leads into customers or members.  But for companies on a tight budget, especially small business and start-ups, there are only few alternatives to the expensive package.

Here is the reality:

There are many software packages out there that are cheap or free and easy to use.  Here are 4 CRM tools to help you better manage your database.

1. FreeCRM
2. ZohoCRM
3. CiviCRM
4. Salesforce.com Free CRM

Remember: free versions have their limitations. Don’t expect to have access to all available CRM tools and applications with these free packages.

March 24, 2009 at 3:08 pm Leave a comment

Network to Get Work

Business networking is a form of marketing as you, the owner, are the face and overall representative of your business. Wherever you go and whatever you do is a pat of your business image. For this reason it is important that you develop proper networking skills to help you maintain a positive image and to get more work.

Networking can be understood as a four-act process.
Act 1. You must be able to approach someone and engage them in conversation. Whether this is done online or in person creating dialogue is easy. Just don’t go at it without a plan. Have an idea of what you want to get out of the conversation. Is it to learn more about what that person does, how they can help you, or how you can help them?

Act 2. This is referred to as the net-chat step. Net-chat is the technique of collecting and giving information, finding out as much as you can about the other person in the shortest amount of time.

Act 3. This is where you disengage from the conversation. This step is ultimately important as you need to leave a positive impression. What is your closing line? What is your hook? What is your call to action?

Act 4. Follow-up. Too few entrepreneurs actually follow up within the 24 hour timeframe. The longer you go without following up increases your chance of your new contact(s) forgetting who you are and what you talked about. Send a quick email or a phone call and say how you enjoyed the conversation, what you liked most about their interests, and to keep in touch.

Many times the new people you meet wont be of any direct business importance to you. Don’t disregard that fact that they are potentially a great referral service. They may suggest your business products or services to someone else.

Remember:
– Be Focused
– Be a listener
– Be sincere
– Be mobile
– Be a joiner
– Be sensitive to cultural and physical differences

You can also see this post and other small business related posts at blog.bizlaunch.ca

March 22, 2009 at 12:28 am Leave a comment

Small Business Report Card


A business report card is a document compiled by the business managers or experts to assess the company performance of strategic activities. Completing a report will allow a business to measure their progress over time and continuously improve their results and their business. The managers will also learn how to compare their company to high-growth companies, what to start and stop doing, what activities the business needs to continue doing, and any specific actions required to attain the strategic goals.

Balanced measures of firm performance are based on:
1. Financial perspectives – How the company looks to investors
• Cash flow
• Sales growth
• Market share
• ROE
2. Customer perspective – How the company looks to customers
• Time
• Quality
• Cost
• Performance
3. Internal and Operational perspective
• Business processes
• Market leadership competencies
4. Innovation and learning perspective
• Ability to innovate
• Launch new products
• Value for customers
• Penetration of new and emerging markets

Completing a report card is not necessary, but will help you understand your company’s growth potential. You can hire professionals to get this service done, FreshBooks, or you can do it yourself. Depending on your budget and time constraints, it still pays to outsource this function. Remember, the report card is completed to help assist managers and advisor’s in the decision process and is not necessarily a pure indication of the company’s position in the market place.

June 10, 2008 at 1:31 pm Leave a comment

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