Tag Archives: running a business

How Fortune Might Come to You

Amidst the debate over whether cursive writing should be taught in schools, Luca Barcellona has spent three years per classic script to become a master at the age-old art of calligraphy. Having begun college in the pre-digital age, by the time he graduated computers had taken over. Repulsed by them he essentially rebelled. Yet having become an artist, he is embracing technology by giving it a distinctly analog, human touch.

How Fortune Might Come to You

Reading Signor Barcellona’s story, I was struck by the idea that despite the boom in social media, touch screens, and synthesized voices, technology still has a cold touch. The study of history has probably never been more popular. Nostalgia products, most notably soda pop, candy, and snacks, are in great demand. There is opportunity in blending technology with the tactile and crafted. The Internet gave us Web 1.0, social media Web 2.0. Will this be the idea behind Web 3.0?

Like what you're reading? Sign up for my blog updates and never miss a post. I'll send you a FREE gift as a thank you. Click here to subscribe.

Question: How can technology be humanized?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below

16 Skills You Need to be an Entrepreneur

Last week I blogged on how to overcome the fear of failure. Step one is to get a list of the skills you need to be successful.

16 Skills You Need to be an Entrepreneur

Here is my list:

  1. Persistence. No one said it better than Teddy Roosevelt – “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” While you need not be an expert in most of the others, at this skill you must excel.
  2. Honest. Also required. Do you always speak truthfully? Do you feel compelled to fudge when your ego is at stake? Can you assess matters without pretense? Will you listen to biting criticism and act on it when it is true?
  3. Balance between obstinacy and patience. Patience is a virtue except when action is needed. Can you focus your persistence on the right one at the right time? Good advisors will help.
  4. Problem solver. Whatever you think your business is or will be, almost for sure it will turn out differently. Its success will hinge on whether when you encounter problems you take them as challenges to overcome or insurmountable walls.
  5. Goal setter. When the going gets tough perhaps the only thing that will see you through is irresistible goals.
  6. Plan and Implement Tasks. Step by step you reach your goals by completing the necessary tasks. You need to create a plan and navigate through the inevitable changes.
  7. Time management. As an entrepreneur, you will always have more to do than time to do things. You will be able to take more action toward being successful if you manage your time well.
  8. Delegator. Successful entrepreneurs know what they do well and surround themselves with people who do the other things better than they do. Can you give up the authority that is necessary for a coworker to meet a responsibility?
  9. Manager. Each person you deal with is unique so you will need as many management styles as you have people to manage.
  10. Understand numbers. You do not need to be an accountant, but you have to understand what your financial people tell you and develop an awareness for when what they say does not make sense. Also, you need to be able to speak coherently to suppliers, employees, investors, and bankers.
  11. Know your product/service inside out. Michael Hyatt calls this Wow. Be an expert in the service you offer. Have a product quality second to none and be able to explain why.
  12. Compelling storyteller. Previously called being effective at sales and marketing, the advent of social media requires that you have a narrative that motivates clients, customers, employees, and investors. Do you write and speak well? Are you adept at presenting ideas in multiple ways so as to engage the greatest number of people?
  13. Skillful using social media. No matter how captivating your story, if no one hears it your business will go nowhere. Social media is the tool to spread the word. While it has a low cost of entry, it can have long learning curve.
  14. Can you talk to just one more person? When you do not know the answer to a question will you seek out people until you really understand an issue? Will you speak with one more prospect if that is what it takes to meet your goal?
  15. Good communicator. Related to being a good manager, lasting relationships are built on a foundation of solid communication.
  16. Negotiator. Roger Dawson says everything you want in life is owned or controlled by someone else. Negotiation is the means to get what you need.

When I started my first business I was competent in about a quarter of these. Classes, working with others, listening to recorded programs, and other means dramatically increased and improved my skills.

Question – What other skills do you think are essential to entrepreneurial success?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below

5 Steps to Overcoming Fear of Failure

Fear of failure is one of the most common reasons that people do not start businesses. But is this fear justified?

5 Steps to Overcoming Fear if Failure

My first business lasted only three months, long enough for me to learn how difficult it would be to make money designing and printing t-shirts with slogans. Four years after starting my second business, a real estate company, I was in deep trouble. It was a day-by-day struggle to keep the doors open. But three years later the situation was completely reversed. My business lasted for 20 years until I sold it when I joined the navy.

Business consulting firm Fundera indicates 50% of small businesses fail in the first five years. Less often cited is the countervailing data that 35% of businesses are still around after 10 years. In other words, if you make it past the first five years, you have a 70% chance that you will still be in business five years later. Much better odds.

The Big Picture blogger Barry Ritholtz notes there is a difference between a voluntary closure and a failure. While the Census indicates over 90% of businesses fail, Dun & Bradstreet notes that only 10% of business closures are due to bankruptcy. While this does not mean that the other 80% do not have financial challenges, it does indicate that the business owners were able to work out a solution on their own terms.

A glance at the most common reasons for failure shows most relate to inexperience or insufficient or bad financing arrangements. Note that the second issue is often caused by not understanding the true requirements of a venture. As well, lenders want to see a track record.

Like what you're reading? Sign up for my blog updates and never miss a post. I'll send you a FREE gift as a thank you. Click here to subscribe.

How do you overcome fear of failure? See it for what it is: an intuitive sense that you lack the knowledge and experience to succeed. How do you overcome it? Here are the steps:

  1. Get a list of the skills you need to run a business. I will be posting one next week.
  2. Inventory your skills. Be honest. If you are not sure whether you have a particular skill talk with people who do and assess yourself in comparison to them.
  3. Identify gaps. For example, if you do not know about bookkeeping where can you get this knowledge? How about the free videos online that will teach you to use QuickBooks.
  4. You do not need to be an expert in everything. Keep in mind proficiency is the goal. In many cases, you can buy the expertise you need, especially in administrative matters.
  5. Think of yourself as an entrepreneur rather than being wedded to a specific idea. In this way, the failure of a particular business becomes just a step leading to your eventual triumph.

Viewed this way, your surest road to success is to get started.

There is no better way to learn entrepreneurship than doing it. Make your first venture small, part-time, requiring little or no start-up capital. If it takes off, wonderful. If not, you have gained a lot of knowledge at a low cost.

As an entrepreneur, whenever I make a mistake I compare the loss to the cost of the Wharton Business School. Currently, at $93,000 annually, think about how much experience you can buy yourself before you would have spent the equivalent of the two-year program.

Question – What holds you back from starting a business?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below ↓

Why Stupid is the New Smart

“Smart is dumb and dumb is smart.” One of Roger Dawson’s five key principles of negotiating, this idea is broadly applicable to entrepreneurs.

Why Stupid is the New Smart

Ever notice the height measurements posted on underpasses? Did you think to yourself, “who would be so stupid as to try to drive a truck that was too tall under one of them?” Me too. But it happens. Evidently one time a truck got jammed so badly it could not back out.

The Highway Patrol, fire department, and state troopers all converged on the scene. A crowd gathered as the experts tried one scheme after another to extract the truck using its own power. Nothing worked. Finally, they concluded that the trailer would have to be dismantled. That was until they overheard the young daughter of an onlooker ask her daddy, “why don’t they let the air out of it tires?”

Like what you're reading? Sign up for my blog updates and never miss a post. I'll send you a FREE gift as a thank you. Click here to subscribe.

Problem solving, which is the essence of entrepreneurship, is a skill that can be impeded by the belief that you are an expert. A smart person may overlook the obvious or be overwhelmed by the urge to demonstrate his intelligence rather than solve the problem. He may too quickly discard potential solutions or balk at getting started because the challenge seems too great. In all of these cases, ignorance may be bliss because it is a surer road to success.

Michael Hyatt, citing Steven Pressfield, urges you to stay stupid. Indeed, having faith in your ultimate success is far more powerful and important than colossal intelligence and profound insights.

Question – What challenges have you overcome where persistence was more important than intellect?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below ↓

The Truth About Military Versus Civilian Life

Have you ever sought to communicate with someone who did not speak your language? If you sensed that there was little common ground did it make relating even harder? Something similar is impeding the effectiveness of people helping veterans transition to private life.

The Truth About Military vs. Civilian Life

A couple of weeks ago I spent the day with a friend who runs a program providing financial assistance to veterans. She admitted having trouble relating to her clients’ transition challenges. Never having served, her knowledge of the military came from movies and television, inaccurate at best. Likewise, when I speak with veterans I find some of their impressions of civilian life mistaken.

To create mutual understanding here are some key points to ponder:

  1. During World War II, approximately 9% of Americans served in the military and perhaps a similar percentage of civilians worked in support roles. Currently, active duty and reserve personnel make up about 1% of our population. Though about 8% of Americans are veterans, almost half are at least 65 years old. These statistics mean that seventy years ago around 75% of Americans had direct military experience or were closely related to someone who did. Today, The New York Times estimates only a third do.
  2. While being in the military requires discipline, life is very structured. Someone with moderate self-discipline will be successful. In general, civilians are less disciplined yet succeeding as a civilian requires greater self-discipline since it lacks the structure of military life.
  3. The military ritualizes paying respect. Typically, as long as customs are observed, a service member is acting courteously. In civilian life few if any such traditions exist any longer. With co-workers coming from such diverse backgrounds, it can be easy to inadvertently offend someone.
  4. The military does an excellent job of training civilians to be warriors. But it has neither the time nor the resources to train warriors to be civilians again. Though some skills learned in the military have value in civilian life, e.g. using computers and teamwork, much of warfare requires specialized expertise that does not easily translate. Whereas having been a flyer in World War II and Korea virtually guaranteed the option of being a commercial pilot, such is not the case today.

With the basis for mutual understanding decreasing as fewer Americans are or personally know veterans, their desire to help is hampered. Though stories of bold operations, such as the one in which Osama Bin Laden was killed, capture the public’s imagination, they shed no light on the experiences of rank and file service members.

If you are seeking to assist veterans, you need to speak to as many service members and veterans as possible to gain insight into our lives. We who have served need to help you by objectively relating our experiences of military life. Is this a Mars and Venice divide? Perhaps not, but maybe it is an Earth and Moon one.

Question – What areas of misunderstanding between service members and civilians have you found?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below

Get More Ideas Like These for Firing Up Your Life and a FREE Bonus!

Use:

  • The wisdom of Scripture
  • Battle-tested ideas from the military
  • Profitable business concepts

to design a better life for you and your family!

Plus, you'll get a FREE bonus, my 49 Day Challenge to Refine Your Character!