27 Jul

So You Want To Be an Entrepreneur

 

 

 

Becoming an Entrepreneur is easy.  You decide you are good at something or have something people want…you start a business and they come to buy what you have or do.  It is that simple.

Not exactly as that reality probably happens to about 1 in several million. 

Becoming an Entrepreneur, or owning your own business takes more than that.   While certainly the steps above are a part of it, more must be done.   Before we even begin to get into LLC or INC, bank loans or self-funded, we need to look at the who, what, when, were and how.  While initially this part is an over view, in time it will become very detailed.

 WHO – most likely the who in this endeavor is you.  It could include a partner or a family member.  Regardless you are the one doing the planning and dreaming.  This part falls on you.  Who is going to do the following:

Assess your processes, manage your processes

Identify customer opportunities, acquire customers

Improve your processes, lead your business

Provide customer service and customer care.

 WHAT – what will you produce or provide.  Is it something you invented, something you are good at?  Will you purchase another business or a franchise.

WHEN – When will you do this?  In 6-months, a year, 5 years.  Most people like schedules.  They make them accountable and help accomplish things.  Determining when is as important as everything else.

WHERE – Where will you do this?  Will you do it here in you currently live, someplace you want to move too?  Will you need a shop, a store or can you do it from your home. 

WHY – Why are you doing this?  Is this a hobby and you like it (not exactly a good idea by the way), are you unemployed with no job prospects?  Do you want to change the world or change someone’s life.  Why becomes a part of your mission and vision.

HOW – How will you do this.  How will you provide your product and service’s.  Will it be direct to the customer in person, on the Internet, a combination? 

Many people become entrepreneurs with little planning and little thought.  They wake up one morning and have an “aha! Moment.  “I will do this, get rich and have complete independence. “  They don’t think about the financial investment, the time investment, the commitment, sacrifice and doing without.  Many wrongly think they can go to their local bank and poof, a Small Business Administration loan is theirs.   They know how to do what they do very well…what they don’t know how to do is run a business.

Sometimes they take a class at the local Business Development Center sponsored by a local educational system.  Sometimes they engage with former business owners for advice and mentoring.  Sometimes they read a book.  Sometimes they think they can do it all by themselves.

Consider this simple fact, According to the Small Business administration 95% of all new businesses fail in their first 5 years.  Of those that last longer than 5 years, half of those will fail.  The why is simple…the Entrepreneur does not do the things I mentioned above.  Further, when they struggle they don’t ask for help out of embarrassment, ego or a combination of the two.

Does this mean you should give up on your dream of being an Entrepreneur or Business Owner?  If you are already thinking yes then that should probably be your answer.  If you are thinking you need to learn and do more then you are most likely someone who has a chance to be successful.

I’ll share more in the future about being an Entrepreneur.  However, in parting this time I want to share something I saw on the Internet on a well-known social media site (and if you don’t like social media or the Internet you want to rethink that if you want to be a business owner).  The saying was this, and I think it describes well the motivation and commitment an Entrepreneur must have:

 

I do it because I can

I can because I want to

I want to because you said I couldn’t.

20 Jul

Ambiguity is not a Company Value

 

 

Ambiguity, according to many dictionaries, can be defined as “any concept, idea, statement or claim whose meaning, intention or interpretation cannot be definitively resolved “, another word for ambiguity is vague.  Vagueness and lack of clarity in communication, mission and vision is nothing less than a productivity and performance killer.  In short, ambiguity does nothing more than destroy profitability while protecting ineffective leaders.

Ambiguous leaders are often leaders lacking in fortitude of conviction.  That is a polite way of saying ambiguous leaders demonstrate cowardly tendencies.   One of the greatest challenges I see in leaders and ambiguity is the tools the organization gives them to work with.  Look at business contracts, how many times are they ambiguous.  The product SHOULD be delivered, not MUST be delivered.  The product WILL CONTAIN NO LESS THAN…  The list goes on.  This lack of clear instruction confuses leaders.  The weak ones stay confused.  The good ones ask for clarity.

Microsoft is a well  known company that many would consider successful.  Ff you look at their education competencies, they address dealing with ambiguity this way:   Dealing with Ambiguity: Can effectively cope with change; can shift gears comfortably; can decide and act without having the total picture; can comfortably handle risk and uncertainty.  Not only is the definition ambiguous but it also doesn’t address how to deal with or correct ambiguity in any way.

I read an excuse for business ambiguity from Dan Erwin, a Blogger about a lot of things.  He wrote “On many, many occasions, managers and leaders are caught in multiple, conflicting constraints.  Rather than maximize the achievement of any one goal in particular, the leader winds up in a catch 22.  He’s caught in numerous conflicting situations, but has no real control over the final outcome.”

I see that as an excuse.  An excuse created by ineffective leadership above, conflicting unclear messages and most importantly a lack of clarity about the organizations mission and priorities.  The employees are probably equally if not more confused.  Performance and profitability may seem high but reality is they are nowhere near potential.

Overcoming ambiguity in the workplace can be as simple as these 5 steps:

 

Step 1

Give clear and concise instructions to your employees. “Take care of this” is not clear.   You may think you are leaving the task up to the discretion of whoever you gave it to.  If your message has always been this ambiguous how do you think the matter will be handled?

Step 2

Make definitive decisions. “Perhaps we could” is another phrase that says little and gives the speaker a classic “out”.  Perhaps we could is not a yes.  If the “could” fails then the person uttering the phrase would not be blamed.  The poor soul who did the “could” is in the hot seat.

Step 3

Encourage self-confidence in employees or managers who display ambiguous tendencies.  Ambiguity can most definitely come from low confidence people.  Developing their confidence through good leadership and mentoring can help them become more confident and by definition more decisive.

Step 4

Train your employees to think on their feet.  Well educated, and properly empowered, employees make good decisions.  Not only that, their decisions are in the best interest of the business because you made them believe in the business and their role in it.

Step 5

Set clear company-wide goals and publicize them.   “Sometime in the future we are going to be”  is a common part of many mission and vision statements.  A more definitive statement, one that also creates a sense of urgency and action is that “By the end of this calendar year we will be…”  Don’t create loopholes through ambiguity.  Create success and ownership through clarity and decisiveness.

 Of course none of that is going to occur if leadership is weak, uncertain or engaged in activities best described as “covering their behinds.”  So while you, the leader, are developing these traits in your company, or team, or business unit, someone also has to be doing the same, FROM THE TOP DOWN.

Eliminating ambiguity takes a high level commitment from the business.  Obtaining that, in a strong statement of commitment, is the real first step.

 

13 Jul

Our Problem Solving Method Was Really Nothing More Than Putting a Band-Aid on a Bigger Cut.

Problem-solving.  It is a part of what we do and sometimes we spend way to much time doing it.  What if there was a way to reduce the time you spend solving problems?

Problems will always be a part of your business.  Even if you have a strong problem prevention program you will still realize problems.  Often times, because of time, limiting beliefs or preconceived opinions, we solve the problem with the wrong solution and thereby create a whole new set of problems.

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06 Jul

Which One is Best for Your Business

So many to choose from and all claim they are experts and professionals.  They are value added, innovative, results-focused and business partners.  Not an uncommon thing to hear as more and more businesses see the need to utilize outside experts, Consultants or Coaches will help improve an organization’s performance, productivity and ultimately profitability. 

Let us be honest, there are a lot of people out there that call themselves Consultants and Coaches.  Some actually are.  Many others are seeking part-time work between jobs or believe that their most recent certificate of training or college degree actually qualifies them to be one.   In my over 30 years of executive management experience, I have seen many individuals claim to be consultants or coaches in areas they have no real hands on experience in or even legitimate expertise gained through the workplace.   You need to know how to chose the right one for you.

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