Passion Required To Start and Grow a Business

PASSION−A key attribute to overcome adversity and build a business. Every attribute and skill can be learned except passion. I would not recommend that anyone start a business unless they have a passion to do so. Passion is the wild card in overcoming many obstacles facing fledgling companies. To name a few: inexperience, knowledge shortfalls, lack of resources, unproven company concept, no customers yet, etc. Enough?

Your passion for your new baby can overcome and ameliorate some of these obstacles. Your potential customers, employees, suppliers, money sources, etc., are much more inclined to help you if they witness your passion. Passion is generated internally. No one can teach it to you. It will also help you rebound from the setbacks that are sure to come, help you rationalize the ridiculous amount of hours you will work, and the sacrifices incurred in your private life.

Many who have already been in their businesses for some time start to lose their passion. Their challenge is to restore it. This can take many forms. They need to remember why they originally started the venture. I find that a three-day weekend once a month works wonders for my juices as well as daily workouts that take place at many weird hours. Look for what works for you.

2 New YouTube Videos to Help Small Business

On September 13, I was invited to speak to the Entrepreneurial class of Professor Danny Warshay at Brown University. Professor Warshay taped the session, and I have edited out two segments to make my YouTube debut on offering practical tips to Small Business that are within the ability of all entrepreneurs. Here is the description of the two segments:

1.    Overcoming Fear of Failure to Just Ask for Bold Things and How to Get Them

I believe everyone should periodically get out of their comfort zone to grow and reach their full potential. I talk about recognizing the fear of failure that holds most people back from asking for bold requests and how to overcome it without spending any money or seeing a therapist. (10:56)

2.    The Importance of Selling and Customers to Success

The selling function is critical to the success of any venture. I believe everyone in a small business should be involved in selling the merits of the company, its products, and services. It is an acquired skill that should get the entrepreneurial manager’s full attention. The other key aspect of his/her attention should be acquiring and retaining customers. Without satisfied customers, there is no sustainable business. (5:42)

 

This talk is not a detailed tutorial. It tries to give you a better perspective of both areas and the right mindset to accelerate your success and avoid failure.

Hope you enjoy them.

Click here to see them at www.bootstrapping101.com

 

 

15 Attitude Attributes for Entrepreneurial Success

Knowledge, skill, talent, and to some extent, resources are important success components for Small Businesses.

However, many competitors have equal or more of these components than you. The key to overcome competition and attain absolute success is mental, which is reflected in one’s attitude and is totally controlled by the individual and requires no cash. This holds true in most human endeavors besides business like sports, the arts, politics, etc.

How many times have we seen the underdog team or player win over the more talented opponent? The difference is attitude.

Here are 15 Attitude Attributes to keep in mind in pursuing Entrepreneurial success.

1. Have a passion for your business.

Work should be fun. Your passion will help you overcome difficult moments and persuade people to work for you and want to do business with you. Passion can’t be taught. When it wanes, as it surely will in difficult times, take some quiet time, whether it be an hour or a week and think of all the reasons you started the business and why you like being your own boss. That should recharge your passion.

2. Set the example from Day One that you and your company are  trustworthy.

People have confidence in trustworthy individuals and want to work for them in a culture of integrity. Ditto for customers.

3. Be flexible except with core values.

It is a given that your plans and strategies must change as time goes on. This flexibility for rapid change is an inherent advantage of small over large business. However, no matter the pressure for immediate profits, do not compromise on core values.

4. Never let up on Quality.

Quality is essential for Repeat Sales.

5. Don’t let fear of failure hold you back.

Failure is an opportunity to learn. Venture Capitalists would rather invest money, all things being equal, with an individual who tried and failed founding a company than someone who never tried.

6. Make timely decisions.

It’s okay to use your intuition. Planning and thought are good. But procrastination will make you miss opportunities.

7. The major company asset is you.

Take care of yourself. Maintain your energy level. Your health is more valuable than the most expensive machinery or computer software for the company.

8. Keep your ego under control.

Don’t take newfound profits and spend them on expensive toys to impress others. Build a war chest for unexpected needs or opportunities.

9. Believe.

You need to believe in yourself, your company, and that you will be successful. This confidence is contagious with your employees, customers, stakeholders, suppliers, and everyone you deal with.

10.Maintain balance.

It doesn’t have to be your family or your company. Play or work, etc.  This will enhance your mental outlook, which is what we’re talking about.

11.Encourage and accept criticism graciously. Admit your mistakes.

You need to constantly work on convincing your employees that it’s okay even necessary to state their honest opinions even it if conflicts with the boss. Just stating it once or putting it in a mission statement won’t cut it for most people.

12.Create an environment where innovation can flourish.

This means hearing out new ideas and suggestions no matter how crazy they sound.

13.Maintain a strong work ethic.

Your employees will follow your lead. It will also help you beat your competition by outworking them . . .particularly when your product or service is very similar.

14.Rebound quickly from setbacks.

There surely will be plenty of ups and downs as you build the business. Learn from the setbacks and move on. You can’t change the past.

15.Periodically get out of your comfort zone to pursue something important.

Many times you will feel uncomfortable in implementing a needed change in technology, people, mission, competing, etc. For the company and you to grow personally, you sometimes have to step out of your comfort zone.

Many of a company’s or leader’s shortcomings can be overcome or mitigated with the good attitudes described above. All can be learned except passion which comes from within. Periodically take time out from your hectic schedule and reflect on these attributes, and you may draw inspiration from them that can translate into favorable action.

RISK: IDENTIFY, PRIORITIZE, AND MANAGE IT (Part 3)

(Third in a 3 part installment)

A Google alert steered me to an article called “Beating the Odds When You Launch a New Venture” that had just come out in the May issue of Harvard Business Review, authored by Clark G. Gilbert and Matthew J. Eyring. It was one of the best pieces Iʼve ever read about entrepreneurs, their attitudes, and management of risk. They said that entrepreneurs arenʼt cowboys—theyʼre methodical managers of risk.

I thought their concepts applied equally to small and big business. I contacted one of the authors, Clark Gilbert, to discuss his ideas and decided I wanted to share his thoughts with my small business friends. The result is my interview (below) with Clark.

My comments follow his answers and are primarily addressed to small business owners.

Clark Gilbert (gilbert@deseretdigital.com) is the president and CEO of Deseret Digital Media and was formerly a professor at Harvard Business School.

10.BR: What advice can you give a resource challenged new Entrepreneur on where to get advice or the process of going about resolving the ventureʼs risks that he has correctly identified?

CG: Learn from others. Get a group of people around you who are willing to tell you where you are wrong. Do not reinvest until you have learned and adjusted to the market.

BR: You can learn from others by utilizing mentors, a board of advisors, or the free advice of organizations like SCORE, SBDC, and incubators whose missions are to help small businesses start and grow.

11.BR: Why arenʼt experiments good for confirming that your initial ideas are correct as well as to redirect a venture?

CG: Too many people run a test to “prove” they are right, rather than to adjust and learn. The power of experiments is to learn. Thatʼs why I keep coming back to the theme of scarce capital. It forces you to adjust and prevents you from perpetuating a pattern that is not working.

BR: We ran our tests to determine whether we were right or wrong, and the result dictated our next moves regardless of prior beliefs.

12.BR: Do you find managers reluctant to shut down their venture when the evidence shows it wonʼt succeed?

CG: Hope springs eternal for good entrepreneurs. That is a good thing, but it needs to be tempered with forcing mechanisms that help you adapt. You might hold on for pride/ego, because of financial commitments you have made, or from sheer cognitive blindness. Thatʼs why structured experiments and staged capital can be such powerful forcing mechanisms. They enable you to step-back and adjust.

BR: Many managers get a false sense of their products worthiness because they fall in love with their idea instead of in like. They rely too heavily on opinions of family, friends, or employees, who usually are overly supportive and reluctant to express negativity, even if itʼs called for. Often their ego interferes with their objectivity. Better to change course and admit you were wrong, than fail.

13.BR: Could you compare a New Ventures Development between a large company and a bootstrapping entrepreneur, based on their financial resources?

CG: Two things probably stand out. First many large company settings donʼt really treat resources as scarce, and the venture managers receive more resources on average. Second, the resources are not the venture managers, but the corporations so some individuals in large companies donʼt treat the resources with the same sensitivity.

BR: There truly is a difference when itʼs your money or someone elseʼs. The bootstrappers with their money at stake are more dedicated to taking less risks and managing those that they do to reduce or eliminate them.

14.BR: Is it safe to say that from reading your article that you believe that risks do not produce the intended rewards?

CG: Risks in themselves do not produce rewards, risk reduction does. Those who are better at this skill are better at generating returns.

BR: This should put to rest, the publicʼs perception that good entrepreneurs love and seek risk.

BR: Some additional thoughts on risk:

Risk is not absolute. Two people in identical circumstances can have dramatically opposing risks. The one with the experience in running a company with industry knowledge, with a good and experienced team, and a strong rolodex is facing minor risks compared to the person with little industry knowledge, experience, and relationships whose risk may be too much. The former is an insider and the latter an outsider. Risk is a little like beauty—it varies in the eyes of the beholder. The insider sees more beauty than the outsider. No matter which camp you fall into, your assessments and managing of risk must be analyzed and prioritized in light of your assets. Sometimes the best decision one can make is deciding to abort the venture because the deal killer risk canʼt be successfully managed.

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