4 Big Challenges of Entrepreneurship

As an entrepreneur, especially if you are just starting out, you will face four big challenges. There is no doubt that you will end up struggling but a true entrepreneur will find a way to balance it all and humbly pull ahead. Always remember that every business started with a small idea and grew into what it is today, Shakers.

Here are the four of the many challenges that you may face as an entrepreneur.

    • Time. Many people start a business while continuing to work full-time. This will cut back on the amount of time that you have to devote to your business, though it allows you to still maintain your burn rate. Know you can change your burn rate by eliminating or decreasing rent, launching your business before supporting a spouse or child, or not going to so many damn happy hours. Use Freshbooks for time management.
    • Support. Many people do not have support from their friends and loved ones. They might not want you to quit your full-time job to focus on a business that might not succeed. They might not understand when you end up working long hours trying to get your business going. Know your support system, and surround yourself with support if you don’t already have a comfortable amount.
    • Organization. It’s impossible to manage all the tasks required of a business in 2015. You’re expected to have an online presence, yet somehow keep track of which large client didn’t reply to your email. Plus, recalling useful websites you were referred to and what time your client is meeting you next Thursday are just as high a priority. Instead, make getting organized and utilizing free online resources a priority (we recommend

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Do I Have What It Takes to Be an Entrepreneur?

Looking into a viable business opportunity, many young potential entrepreneurs have the same question in mind. And, you’re probably thinking, do I have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur? Is this a good time to quit my job and invest all my time into this exciting proposition that I have chanced upon. Before you get into the in-depth details about how good the business is, maybe you need to do some soul-searching and explore your personality. Read ahead to find out about the important traits of successful startup owners.

To begin with, entrepreneurs are passionate about what they do. They’ll are truly committed to making their enterprise work and when you meet them, they come across as dynamic, energetic people. Above all, you yourself need to completely believe in the product or services you intend to produce and sell. In addition, you’re going to face situations and people who most likely will shoot down every idea you have. It’s going to be a tough road. And, you’re going to have to struggle all the way and for every aspect of your startup. Whether it is garnering the finances you’ll need, looking for suppliers for raw materials, or convincing marketers and buyers, to name a scarce few.

But, the bottom line is that true entrepreneurs are persistent and determined. They don’t let the answer, “No!” get them down. There will be days when people actually laugh at you for the concept you have. And, there will be friends and family members telling you not to quit the security of your job to plunge into a venture that may or may not eventually succeed.

Then there is the competition you’re going to have to deal with. As

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From Irritation to Innovation

Elizabeth Holmes hates needles. To her, the idea of being poked by a needle and withdrawing blood is more than just unpleasant. When she knows that she has to give blood, she becomes consumed and overcome with the thought until it’s finally over.

So it should be a surprise that at age 19 she founded Theranos, a ground-breaking blood diagnostics company that 11 years later is worth more than $9 billion. The company has patented its secret technology of performing 200 different blood tests (soon growing to over 1,000 different tests) without using a syringe. They use a few drops of blood drawn using a finger stick to minimize discomfort, and collected in a “nanotainer”; a container the size of an electric fuse. Her board is stocked with powerful blue chip members including former cabinet secretaries, former U.S. senators and former military brass. Theranos’ innovative technology is poised to transform health care technology at no more than half the cost of similar tests using current technology.

Holmes leveraged a process that irritated her to innovate a new method of getting it done.

Productive Dissatisfaction

Tony Fadell was building a vacation home in for his family. One of the seemingly mundane decisions was selecting thermostats, but he wasn’t satisfied with his choices. So he developed the Nest Learning Thermostat, a digital and WiFi enabled device that conserves energy by learning it’s owners habits. He also designed the Nest Protect which uses new technology to detect smoke and carbon monoxide.

Fadell’s real goal is to use technology to redesign and control all technology in the home. He was successful in raising startup capital as a result of his Apple pedigree, and extensive connections in Silicon Valley. He previously led the team that created the iPod,

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Growth Strategy in Action

The move of economic power to the East is also taking place in the beer industry. The Chinese market has already become the world’s biggest, with volumes nearly twice those of the USA, and is set to overtake the latter as the world’s largest market by value by 2020. An average annual consumption of 34 litres per capita; well below the 100 litres in some European countries, and an increasing disposable income within and beyond urban centres, offer the potential of a growing client base and an upgrade to premium beers

China’s market is very competitive. A wave of consolidation has reduced the number of breweries from 800 in the mid-1990s (when having their own local brewery was a matter of prestige for local party officials) to today’s 300 foreign and domestic brands. As a result, the top five breweries – China Resources Enterprise (whose popular Snow beer is a joint-venture with multinational SABMiller), Tsingtao Brewery, Belgium-headquartered Anheuser-Busch InBev (which makes Budweiser), Beijing Yanjing Brewery and Danish Carlsberg – increased their share of total volume from 55% in 2008 to 70%. The resulting cut-throat competition has slimmed down operating margins across the board to less than 10% in some cases.

In such growing but competitive market, generating profitable growth becomes an imperative. It often implies going on the offensive, it being looking for new markets, inventing new products, teaming up with adversaries, innovating or investing to connect with customers while closely managing the cost base. Faced with normalising growth, one of China’s top five beer makers, Tsingtao Brewery Co. Ltd (pronounced ‘Ching Dow’) is trying to move beyond its traditional low-cost provider play, and presents a good example of a profitable growth strategy:

Looking for new markets. For Tsingtao, this means moving in the

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Corporate Strategy And Marketing

‘Strategy’ is a buzz word within the business world which has been thrown around in every corporate circle, business function, yearly kick-off conference and staff meeting for absolute years, but does everyone truly understand what it really is and how to maximise its potential?

What Is Strategy?

Strategy, within a business context, is commonly confused with strategic planning. Strategy is about the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of intended goals and objectives to reach, whereas strategic planning is about the ‘how’ to achieve them through tactics, campaigns and actions.

Strategy is all about the choices we make in utilising our resources within a competitive environment and relative to our customers, which give our organisation the distinct advantage at a point in time. Therefore, strategy is identifying the next ‘big thing’ before others do, and gaining a competitive edge in it to be able to take full advantage.

How Is Strategy Changing?

Business strategy is rapidly changing with the ever emerging trends and shifting developments within the modern, very connected world. In the past, the business concept and plan was set in stone and only changed yearly (if that). However, this is not flexible enough any more and will result in a poorly performing, stagnate organisation, lacking in innovation. This is why most of the top performing companies in years past, such as Kodak, are now nowhere to be seen today. Businesses must treat strategy as a living, evolving entity, ensuring that emerging trends, opportunities, threats and new information are all taken into account and integrated into it accordingly.

Every industry today alters and evolves so rapidly that an organisation which fails to update and adapt their strategic objectives and plan regularly will soon discover that the goal posts it set for itself twelve months

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How to Build Winning Teams

There comes a time in every would be leaders life when they realize that they have the will to lead, and the ability to take risk but they also know that feeling like a leader does not make you one without a team. The focus begins to shift to bringing a group of like-minded individuals with different skill sets together to focus and bring life to a goal guided by a vision. The question becomes, how do I build the team that I need to accomplish this goal? Rather honestly, it takes time and your job is not to bark orders at them but to learn about their individual desires, needs, and wants. In addition, you will want to learn their level of commitment to the organizations goals that may have been created ahead of time. Let us look at what defines a winning team as opposed to what I call a “mosh pit”.

A mosh pit is categorized by its lack of focus on anything other than brute force that is not guided. The mosh pit is capable of doing the work but it takes an immense amount of energy to keep them motivated and on track to accomplishing the goal that they have agreed to. Their biggest problem is that they want to “one-up” the others in the team. If the force they exert as a team works, they as a whole feel they have as though they have succeeded. If someone falls, they will be trampled, and those left standing will gain the favor and rewards from “one-upping” the perceived weaker members. Their focus is ensuring that they look good regardless of how the organization looks. This is a recipe for wasted resources and individual efforts because the outcome is an unorganized mess and

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How to Communicate With Your Team

You have heard the old adage that “together everyone achieves more” but this is often not true. Some competent people cannot work together because communication prevents this. This observation came to me when I realized that timing, motivation, and even personal goals affect the quality of the team. I had to think of a model that would empower leaders and their team members in explaining and understanding the purpose of the team so that the outcome was more likely to be realized. After working with teams for years, I came up with a T.E.A.M communication process that strengthened the team building and planning process.

Thought, Emotion, Alignment, and Motion are the keys to having a smart team. Robert Kiyosaki speaks often of smart teams beating average teams and with this process – you will create a smart team. With this new model, a leader can empower their team dramatically by following these steps because they work. This process creates strength in the team and addresses the diversity of skill necessary for success. In addition, the appropriate group size that is necessary to succeed will be determined using a decision-making tool. In addition, with this new process, your communication will have clarity in purpose that is sure to set the tone and direction of your organizations project, large or small.

Thought

Thought deals with the goal of the team. What was the reason this team was formed? Napoleon Hill from Think and Grow Rich, and The Law of Success would call it a ‘definite chief aim’. The goal is an outcome and the thought stage deals with addressing this outcome with the other leadership in your group. Goals can be created using our S.M.A.R.T.I. model as an option; you can find specifics in my How to

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The 2 Most Important Questions for Entrepreneurs

If you are a true entrepreneur (meaning that you have a vision for your business that is beyond just the day-to-day work that you do), then you want that business to move forward. You need to plan. You need to strategize.

But before you get to all that left-brained, nitty gritty stuff, you need to be asking yourself these two very important questions.

  1. How is that going to happen?
  2. What gets in the way?

For example, say you want to launch a program that starts January 4. You ask, “How is that going to happen?” Your answer might be, “I need to enroll 6 people.”

Question #1 gets repeated… So, how is *that* going to happen?

And your answer to that might be, “I need to enroll 2 people by November 15, 2 people by November 30, and 2 people by December 16.”

Question #1 gets repeated again… So, how is *that* going to happen?

Your answer: “I need to call Sally and Bob as they are hot prospects.”

And you realize you don’t want to call Sally and Bob. You feel uncomfortable. You start making up stories about how you’ll annoy them and that you really aren’t “into” sales. You find other things to do… that have nothing to do with launching your program.

When you get down to the nitty-gritty action plans and you start feeling resistance or fear, you ask question #2. “What gets in the way?”

That’s when things get interesting.

Whatever your fears or resistance is, you need to pay attention to that, feel it, and break it up.

Let me explain… Years ago, I sprained my ankle and tore a tendon. My ankle swelled up like a balloon. When I went

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Entrepreneurship: Idea Vs Execution

All great businesses are created from great ideas. The idea is the foundation of any business. Ideas evolve in our heads because of interests, being our own or someone else’s, from problems faced personally or observed, or simply out of basic necessity. Just from completing the tasks that are necessary for us as a human race to survive in this day and age, at some point there will be a great idea that comes into your mind. With this great idea, the decision to act on it, and execute this idea into a business is on the individual.

There is a saying that the graveyard is the richest place in world, because so many people have had the next great idea for a business, but never acted on it. Coming up with an idea is the easy part of starting a business. It is the execution of turning this idea into a functioning, successful business that is so difficult to accomplish. You could have the greatest idea in the world, but if this idea is not executed in a certain manner, the greatest idea in world may not materialize into anything but an idea. This why the execution of building a business is so difficult and important when it comes to building a successful company.

It does not come down to taking an idea and turning it into a business. The execution of how this is done is the most important aspect to starting a business. The execution of starting a new business is the most difficult part, this is why, as the saying goes, the graveyard is the richest place in world.

The most successful companies in world, companies like Apple, General Electric, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, and so on, were all born out of

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Why Innovations Fail

We all had experienced this. The boss had an exciting great idea and rallied the team to push for a big bang launch. Big marketing budget was given to deliver the product launch event. Huge cross functional task force formed with mandate to “make it happen”. Regular steering committee meetings with top managements conducted to ensure commitment right from the top. But, it failed, miserably. Like fireworks in the sky. Beautiful launches but you can see no traces of it the next morning. The market adoption failed.

What happened? Why did it fail? From my own painful experiences, there are three key reasons that cause great ideas to fail.

1. Solving the wrong problem: What is the “Jobs-to-be-done?”

We fell in love with our own idea too fast. We think we had got the next “Big Idea” that will change the world and focused all our resources to deliver the idea. We fail to spend enough time defining the “Jobs-to-be-done” (JTBD).

“Jobs-to-be-done” is an approach advocated by Harvard Business School Professor, Clay Christensen in his book, “The Innovator’s Solution.” The key is to focus on the “problem” and not the “product.” Like what Harvard Business School’s Theodore Leviit said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”

Before we gather the team to launch a product, we need to ensure that we are getting the problem statement right. What is the problem that we are trying to solve? What is the “Jobs-to-be-done” from the customer’s point of view? In a large organization where we have sales department that is in-charged of fronting customers, marketing department that drives marketing promotions and campaigns and product team that is responsible for product roadmap, who is the driver to define the “JTBD?”

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Financial Services Innovation: Something Is Missing!

One bank that has led the innovation agenda is Barclays.

In fact in the last few months Barclays announced the introduction of biometric finger scanning, as well as video banking. These innovations should improve both the customer experience and overall security measures… so are win-win for Barclays and its customers alike.

Video banking in particular seemed to take a few people by surprise. However, it makes perfect sense, and is likely to become commonplace across the industry over the next few years. In this respect, Barclays is leading the industry, and should be congratulated.

The Challenging part!

The challenge, as all financial services companies know, isn’t injecting a bit of innovation here or sprinkling a bit of magic dust here.

Everyone struggles with embedding innovation into complex multichannel environments, constrained by organisational silos, competing executive priorities and balanced against a ‘must do’ regulatory programme portfolio.

Providing a consistently good customer experience across multiple customer channels is hard now. In the future, it will can only really become harder!

One bank customer review really jumped out. A Business Banking customer, told us about his difficulty in getting in touch with his bank.

In his review, the customer started his customer journey via a broken web contact form, then went to Twitter, where after approximately 20 messages, a member of the business banking team, with no apparent knowledge of the Twitter conversation picked-up the phone. The customer labels this experience as ‘the general mess of their communications.’

Not so long ago, the use of twitter for many financial services organisation was in itself seen as a big innovative step. Engaging customers through multiple channels is great! But in this case the customer experience was clearly disjointed, and via Twitter Pete received

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The Strategic Planning Process: 10 Essential Steps for Success

“Strategy is the direction and scope of an organization over the long-term which achieves advantage for the organization through its configuration of resources within a challenging environment, to meet the needs of markets and to fulfill stakeholder expectations” – Johnson and Scholes

To move the needle, you’ve got to have a plan. A strategic plan at its best helps an organization or small business determine where they excel and where they can differentiate – and as a result, understand where to spend their time and resources.

Entering into the strategic planning process can seem daunting, but if it is done and managed well it can be surprisingly straightforward. In addition, it serves as the road map for all business decisions ahead.

As a strategic planning facilitator, I always recommend 10 key steps. Here they are in brief:

    1. Determine who needs to be in the room – The strategic planning process usually occurs over a two- to three-day time period. Typically senior management is in the room. You may also want to consider key contributors to invite for certain segments of the discussion where their input would be helpful.

    1. Identify a facilitator – Choosing an outside facilitator (or someone internally who is not a part of the working group) is key so that the working team can be freed up to contribute without having to deal with meeting logistics.

    1. Define terms – Prepare a glossary of terms for strategic planning elements like: Strategy, Business Model, Vision, Mission, Culture, Tactics, etc. It is surprising how these terms are often defined differently for different people. Get everyone on the same page.

    1. Assess the environment – Before launching into what you want in the future, determine what the present

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The Strategy For Your Strategy

Competitive advantage is derived from recognizing and responding to developments in your marketplace faster and more accurately than your competitors. Strategy experts in Fortune 500 companies know that the strategy setting process must reflect the conditions of the marketplace in which one operates, as well as your company’s influence within it. Minnows have different options than sharks or whales and the minnows’ strategies must reflect that reality.

Claire Love, Martin Reeves and Philipp Tillmanns of Boston Consulting Group say that to effectively plan to succeed, the business needs a strategy for making a strategy. The trio have identified four categories of strategy setting: Classical, Adaptive, Shaping and Visionary.

Small businesses and Solopreneur consultants would use one of the first two. Think of Sony and IBM as two companies that had Visionary ideas that Shaped the global marketplace and influenced the habits of a billion consumers.

Classical is the strategy setting style recommended when operating in an industry and business environment that while predictable, is nevertheless beyond the businesses’ ability to control or significantly influence. Strategy planners analyze the current business situation and use that information to set reasonable business goals and identify the most favorable competitive market position that can be expected by leveraging available resources and advantages: client list, experience, expertise, relationships, reputation, plus identify and assess barriers to entry.

Classical strategy planners then refine and strengthen competitive positioning through standard techniques such as the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) matrix and project the likely results elicited by the new strategy forward into successive quarters. Goals and the strategies developed to achieve them might be followed for maximum three years, or until changes in the business environment or within the business itself encourage the planners to set new goals and strategies.

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Team Strengthening Tips for Phenomenal Performance

Managing people in an organization big or small is a challenging task for a leader. Whether the firm is a start-up or a big organization on expansion mode, building a strong team or strengthening the existing one is demanding. However, it can be rewarding if the right team mix is achieved.

A leader has to act as a coach and guide at the same time, and handle issues related to performance, motivation, ego, and office politics. The leader is expected to listen, resolve concerns and share their personal leadership experiences in an attempt to boost their employee’s morale and improve productivity.

To strengthen an already existing team the first step is to study the nature of employees in the company. A typical team would involve:

Group 1: people who are solid performers and are highly productive.
Group 2: people who reach the expectation level and perform their job in an efficient way.
Group 3: people who perform the job as per the expectation level but take a longer time than actually required. They are ‘just employees’ and lack ownership towards the company.
Group 4: people who are problem-raisers, non-performers and are inefficient. They might create confusion, have a negative impact on work culture and deliver poor results.

A leader cannot lower his expectation level to match poor performance of inefficient employees. Every effort needs to be made to ensure high performance and synchronization of organizational and personal goals of team members.

A set of Golden Rules can be followed as a part of an organizational policy to effectively build a high-performing team. It includes the following:

1. Explore well when Hiring: This is the first step – before team formation. Set a clear definition of what the various group of team players

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Are You Making This Mistake When Leading Your Team Through Change?

You may have seen the clip; it was all over the news-and not just the sports news. In a November 2014 football game between Utah and Oregon, Utah wide receiver Kaelin Clay runs the ball for what appears to be an easy touchdown. Just one problem: he tosses the ball away before crossing the end zone, and starts to celebrate. At that point, Oregon player Joe Walker picks up the ball and runs it all the way down the field for an Oregon touchdown, and eventual win.

Clay’s mistake? Declaring victory too early.

If you did see that clip (which I’ve graciously linked below, because I care), you may have thought, “What an idiot! How could he make a mistake like that?”

And yet I see leaders do it all the time, particularly when trying to lead their teams through change.

Look, change can be tough. I get it. I’ve been there. During the 15 years when I was producing my TV show, I led my team through dozens of changes-some small, some huge. And my experience and subsequent research has convinced me that the biggest mistake leaders make when leading their teams through change is the same mistake Kaelin Clay made: declaring victory too early.

Declaring victory too early.

I’ve talked about this before, but change, at its most basic, is a three step process:

  1. The part before the change (the way things are now)
  2. The change itself (the messy part)
  3. The part after the change (the new, improved future)

The problem is that many leaders declare victory immediately after step 2. This is understandable. Step 2, for most organizations, is the hardest part (that’s why I call it “the messy part”). It’s the part that’s full of fear and uncertainty.

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