Tag - business

Secrets of Leadership : 9 Traits of Effective Leaders

Traits of effective leaders. I can bet this has crossed your mind on several occasions. It won’t be surprising you stay up late asking what makes business leaders so effective?

 

Steve Jobs’ effective leadership took Apple to where it is. Elon Musk took SpaceX and Tesla to its heights. Likewise, Mark Zuckerberg took Facebook global and Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos made it huge.

 

“When you were made a leader, you weren’t given a crown; you were given the responsibility to bring out the best in others”. – Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric.

 

Thence looking at these successful entrepreneurs something about them jumps right at you. You realize they have the traits of effective leaders. You look at yourself and wonder if you have those traits as well.

 

Also it’s no secret that a business or an organization needs an effective leader to succeed. However, don’t beat yourself up thinking you don’t have these traits. You do. The traits are buried within, you only need to look deep within to bring them to the surface.

 

Traits of Effective Leaders

I can tell you for free that if you have the following traits be rest assured you have what it takes to effectively lead your minions.

 

  • Motivational and Self-motivated

This leader influences you and gives you a strong reason to act or accomplish something. Likewise, they are motivated to do or achieve something due to their own enthusiasm and interest, without pressure from others.

 

Traits of effective leaders

 

  • Empathy

This is the ability to understand and share what another is feeling. The capacity to place oneself in another’s position. In addition they are personable, have high emotional intelligence and very compassionate.

 

  • Visionary

An effective leader has unique and original ideas about the future. With imagination he makes wise plans for the future. Also, empowers others.

 

  • Self-reflection

Equally important is self-reflection. This trait allows you to have serious thoughts about your character and actions. It gives you the ability to combine instinct (intuition) with facts. And such leaders are willing to learn.

 

  • Dauntless

An effective leader is fearless and determined. Confident, poise, courageous and stares down the naysayers. He hangs in there even when others around him say it can’t be done.

 

  • Adaptability

Being able to adjust to new conditions no matter the circumstances. Effective business leaders know how to drive through failure and make it work.

 

  • Excellent Communication Skills

The traits of an effective leader entail the ability to write and speak in clear and simple terms without compounding issues in time of crisis.

 

Traits of effective leaders

  • Creativity

The use of imagination or original ideas to create something new that adds value. It could be in terms of product, services or the standard of operating the organization.

 

  • Ethics

This trait entails the moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour most especially in a business environment. How do you comport yourself as a leader? Are you worthy of emulation? Or do you let everyone in your fold run wild?

 

There are different styles of leadership. No two leaders are the same, but the traits of an effective leader are the same across board. These traits aren’t necessarily inborn but they can be developed. Growing these traits takes you closer to being an effective business leader.

 

Additionally it takes an effective business leader among other things to make a business succeed.

Fear Of Failure: Symptoms, Causes And How To Overcome it

Virtually everyone in or starting a new business has the fear of failure.

As an entrepreneur or freelancer you’ll have questions such as can I finance this business, is my idea crappy, can I grow this business? And the one we all have – “will this business fail?”.

I can tell you for free I also have the fear of failure.

A freelance company commissioned me to write the website content for another company that’s just developing its website.

In excitement I went through the company’s whitepaper and other documents to have an understanding of the company. Whilst doing this fear grips me.

Crippling fear that I couldn’t put pen to paper. Thinking hope I won’t mess this up, hope I won’t under deliver and every other negative thoughts you can imagine.

I read and reread every single document I was sent for the job. Even went on LinkedIn to read up on the CEO and other key staff. Seeing their achievements scared me more and I almost turned down the job. Thence wondering what could I possibly write to impress these Masters and Doctorate holders in physics and other fields.

I remember my favorite quote and decide to take the risk.

The only thing stopping you is you. – Unknown.

Fear of failure

And that’s when it occurred to me that I actually have the fear of failure to deal with before I can do the gig.

You are probably thinking “no I don’t have the fear of failure”. Well below are signs to help you determine if you actually do or not.

Signs of fear of failure

  • Concentrating on mundane tasks

If you find yourself concentrating on unimportant tasks – procrastinating, rather than working on your project at hand, you are experiencing fear of failure.

  • Lowering your goals

If you set a goal to hit the sky then turn around to say you want to hit the roof top that’s a symptom of fear of failure. You are scared you can’t hit the sky as you first thought.

  • Lowering expectations.

Lowering your / people’s expectations of you. When there’s fear you downplay your expectations of the result you can achieve. Likewise you sell yourself short to people. Because you fear you will underperform or deliver on the job.

  • Over planning and researching

Do you over plan or over research before you take on a project? That’s a sign of fear right there. It makes you keep planning, thinking you are missing something out. When you actually aren’t.

Causes of fear of failure

  • Previous failures

Past failures can cause you to freeze in fear whenever there’s a job to be done. Because it’ll keep recurring in your mind if you don’t get past it.

  • Scared of criticism

Not everyone takes criticism well especially when it comes from loved ones. But if your reaction to criticism is extreme that’s fear rearing its ugly head.

  • Being unsure of yourself

When you constantly doubt yourself it might just be fear trying to talk you into giving up.

  • Perfectionism

If you are like me you are probably a perfectionist. When I’m contracted to do a job I go overboard to ensure I give my best. Even when the job is done and dusted I keep hanging on to it thinking it’s not yet perfect and there’s something I ought to do to make it perfect. This is a clear sign of fear of failure.

How to overcome fear of failure in business

  • Forget past failures.

Learn the lessons from your experience, forget the failure and look ahead.

  • Imagine success.

Write down your goals, better still have a vision board.

Fear of failure

If you can dream it you can achieve it . – Zig Ziglar.

  • Dwell on your wins

Create a “Win folder” on your phone, computer or where you can easily find it. Either small or big wins. And whenever fear grips you just go through this file and get uplifted.

  • Have SMART goals.

Set small goals to achieve big goals. Having a big goal is scary on its own so break it down into bits. For example rather than setting a goal to sell millions in a year break it down to sell a couple of thousands in a day.

  • Believe in yourself.

Be positive. Use mantras if you have to.

  • Keep learning.

Never stop learning. Only the dead stops learning. There’s always something new to learn.

  • Face your worst case scenario

Fear makes you think the worst will happen so ask yourself what’s the worst thing that can happen if you fail. Then face that scenario. You will realize it’s not that bad.

  • Experiment

Always see a new project first as an experiment. Simulate situations that can arise while doing that project and proffer solutions. This prepares you ahead for the real deal.

It’s normal to feel fear when you are about to embark on a project but don’t let it talk you out of doing what you have to do.

Funny thing is when I finished the job I spoke of earlier the only complaint is I overpromised on their services. I promised their readers more than they are willing to deliver. Asides that they were cool with every other thing. Let’s just say I was over excited on their behalf.

So if you can set aside your fear and go ahead, you will discover fear is just a tool to help you do better than your average.

The best line to tow with your fear of failure is to see it as your ally and not a bad thing. And if you do fail eventually – know this – failure isn’t a bad thing, it’s what you do after the failure that counts.

What’s been your experience with failure? Do share in the comments.

How To Create A Positive Mental Attitude: 14 Ways

Have you ever imagined what would have happened if Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg didn’t have a positive mental attitude? We won’t have Apple and Facebook as we know it.

As an entrepreneur or business person it’s very essential to possess a positive mental attitude. Because you will need it to pull through the tough times.

People will wear you out with their negative opinions. Also there’s a tiny voice in your head that will repeatedly tell you it won’t work. Hence the saying a man’s own enemy is himself.

Positive mental attitude

It’s going to be a battle between you and your mind. How do you win a struggle you didn’t prepare for? A positive mental attitude is your weapon to win this tug of war.

This is why you need to create a positive mental attitude.

As a student I had the idea to open shop selling haircare and beauty products.

Though I was already selling on a smaller scale. But I never opened shop. I chickened out because I mentally beat myself out of it.

I can’t remember if I shared the idea with my friend but over time she opened shop and was successful.

Likewise there were other opportunities that came my way which I talked myself out of. Thence costing me so much.

Eventually I realized the negative thoughts were denying me of openings and I had to overcome it.

To deal with the negativity I had to read books, articles, listen to some recordings and recite affirmations. During my struggle I came across some helpful tips which I’ll share with you.

Positive mental attitude

How To Create A Positive Mental Attitude

  • Before anything you need to believe in yourself. Write down all the negative thoughts you have and trash it.
  • Picture yourself as a success. If you can see it you can achieve it.
  • Speak positively about everything in your life for at least 24hours. About your job, business, health, future etc. Screenshot as many positive affirmation memes you can find and look at them at intervals.
  • Repeat step above at least twice a week.
  • Feed your mind with positive thoughts. It will knock off the negative thoughts. Counter any negative attitude with positive attitude.
  • Move with positive minded people. Weed off the naysayers.
  • Consciously avoid arguing with naysayers wherever you find yourself.
  • Rid your mind off obstacles you have built over the years.
  • Be thankful for everything you have going.
  • Find your own path. Don’t copy others
  • Exercise alot.Positive mental attitude
  • Relax. Take time off and just chill.
  • Be a giver. Bless people and be good to them.
  • Choose to be happy. Always consciously choose to be happy when the gloom sets in. Happiness is a decision only you can make for yourself.
  • And if you are a person of faith like myself pray and read the good book.

Conclusion

In addition years of negative thinking will not disappear in a day but if you keep at these tips be rest assured you will create a positive mental attitude.

It won’t just help you as an entrepreneur but all facets of life as you know it. Being you a product of your thoughts you need to change your mindset of you and your business.

If this article speaks to you or you have other tips that can help do drop a comment. 

Business idea is not a business opportunity

A Business Idea Is Not A Business Opportunity: The Difference

A business idea is not a business opportunity. Have you heard this before and thought well it can’t be true?

As a business owner or aspiring business owner repeat this to yourself for emphasis:

A business idea is not a business opportunity.

There are differences as you will see in a minute.

But first

What Is A Business Idea?

Every successful business starts with a powerful business idea. When establishing a business the first step is having an idea. Which anyone can come up with. So not just any idea but a promising one.

The characteristics of a promising business idea are:

  • Innovative – Has it been done before or are you improving on what’s been done?
  • Unique – What’s the USP (Unique Selling Point)? How’s it different from the competition’s? Does the value differentiate yours from your competition’s?
  • Problem solving – What problem does it help the customer solve? What does the client benefit?
  • Profitable – Will it earn money? Will it cover the costs and more? It has to be profitable on the long-term.

Business idea is not a business opportunity

  • Market – Is there a market for it? Are you creating a market? Will your created market willingly accept and adapt the idea? A promising business idea must offer a product or service that would be accepted by a large market.

Business Opportunity

The opportunity to make income as a business owner. It’s an existing and well packaged business investment that allows the buyer to profit from a business idea.

Elements of a business opportunity

  • A need.
  • The means to fulfill the need.
  • A method to apply the means to fulfill the need.
  • A method to benefit.

A business idea is not a business opportunity except it has been proven to make profit. Because an idea is just an idea till there’s return on investment (ROI). Then it evolves into an opportunity.

Though business ideas are innovative no one will continue to sponsor a money losing venture.

A business idea is not a business opportunity till it’s able to answer the following questions:

  • Will the product or service add significant value (benefits) to the end user?
  • How many people will buy the product/ service?
  • Will the business be profitable? Is there an apparatus in place to ensure the business breaks even and also makes profit within 12 months – 36 months?Business idea is not a business opportunity

 

  • Do you have the money to start and operate this business? Because the capital invested must be realistic and affordable for you.
  • Does it have the potential for residual income?
  • Does it have a low level of liability risk and high level of returns?
  • Will the business idea fit into the four basic capital factors: human capital (the staff you employ, skills and abilities you acquired during your career); sociological capital (your networks and support groups); psychological capital (your attitudes, values, opinions and beliefs); and financial capital.
  • Are you ready and willing to drive the business to success? You must be very enthusiastic.
  • Will it improve with time?
In Conclusion

Reading through this you have seen a business idea is not a business opportunity. Rather a business idea evolves into an opportunity.

So how does a business idea evolve into an opportunity? Through conducting market research on your idea, feasibility study, writing a business plan and working with a business team to ensure its success.

Do share your thoughts in the comments. 

Entrepreneur Personal Experience

5 Lessons From Entrepreneur Personal Experience

As writers most of what we write are researched to know more about situations different people face and proffer solutions. How do you think we manage to sound so wise and accomplished? (just Kidding). In this article I will get more personal; I will share lessons from my entrepreneur personal experience so far this year.

One would expect that after I had written articles like 9 Tips To Help Entrepreneurs Achieve New Year Resolutions, 7 New Year’s Resolutions Entrepreneurs Need, Challenges Entrepreneurs Face In Our Clime and 21 Attributes of Every Successful Entrepreneur where I addressed issues like Focus, Delegation, Healthy Living, Lack of Support and A Think Tank Team that I would be the last person writing this. Well as humans our most prized possessions are the experiences (good or bad) we have had in life.

2016 is 25 days gone and I have been through all sorts of situations. I had some entrepreneur personal experience which I will share with you; probably one or two things will resonate with you.

EMOTIONAL IMBALANCE

A number of things have happened this year that has taken me from a high to a low and back to a high; it has been a roller-coaster and I can say if it was not properly managed it would have derailed me. What really helped was I had a good friend and mentor that kept me grounded and made sure I had my head in the game no matter what happened. Just as I wrote in Challenges Entrepreneurs Face In Our Clime on Lack of Support and A Think Tank Team surround yourself with exceptional people; they will always come through for you.

HEALTHY LIVING

I got caught up in the hustle and bustle neglecting my health. Due to trying to do so many things myself I neglected my exercises and ate a lot of junk. Each day I kept saying to myself I will exercise tomorrow and tomorrow just kept piling up with the junk I was eating. Well guess what? I had to pay the price and despite the determination I could not get anything done. As I write this piece I am presently lying on my bed (I cannot even sit at a table) and feel nauseated to the brim with the junk food.

DO IT YOURSELF (DIY)

I have also learnt in my entrepreneur personal experience that to get the best result you need to do things yourself when you cannot afford to pay an expert. This will save you a lot of time and resources in the long run. I did hire a young man to care for my growing fish farm (yes I am also a fish farmer) thinking it would give me time to do the other things I had mapped out for the year. I felt I could teach him the nitty gritty but overtime it cost me more because I had to redo a lot of the things he did and constantly be on ground to supervise yet I had to pay him; that was a total waste of time and money. I eventually had to terminate his appointment; now managing the fish farm myself till it can break even to pay for the services of an experienced hand.

DELEGATION

Another entrepreneur personal experience lesson I learnt is knowing when not to take on too much; simply knowing when to delegate. As much as we say whatever is worth doing well is worth doing yourself; as an entrepreneur it is important to delegate tasks to very capable hands as soon as the business starts growing to ensure you do not lose focus and have enough time for more important tasks that needs your attention such as innovation.

STRIKING A BALANCE

In everything you do ensure you know when to strike a balance in terms of know when to do things yourself and know when to delegate. It helps to know what is more important for you to achieve. Outlining your goals in order of importance helps to maintain focus. If I had followed my outlined goals one after the other judiciously I would not have attempted to do many things at a time.

It is one thing to administer drugs it is another thing to use them. Is it just me or do you notice how doctors do not like medication? So it did not really come as a surprise to me when I sat back to analyze the year and I noticed these lapses.

These are lessons I have learnt this year in my entrepreneur personal experience. Please feel free to share yours with our readers in the comments section. It will help someone.

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Ticking off After You Achieve New Year Resolutions

9 Tips To Help Entrepreneurs Achieve New Year Resolutions

So we have written our New Year resolutions on every surface we can find from our Androids to our Tablets to Laptops and PCs. But the question is will our writing it everywhere alone be enough to help us achieve new year resolutions as entrepreneurs?

Find below the 9 Tips we recommend to help entrepreneurs achieve New Year resolutions.

Over the years we have made resolutions at the start of every year but by the end of the year we are not even half away through our list. We carry them over into the next year thereby making it harder to achieve the resolutions for that New Year.

Listed below are simple things that we could do to spur us on to achieve New Year resolutions.

DETERMINATION

I define determination as the quality of trying to do something even in the face of difficulty. It simply means making up your mind to do something and seeing it through to a conclusive end. It is an essential quality needed in life to succeed in every endeavor. As entrepreneurs our dosage of this should be more than regular. Due to the fact that we face more challenges and make more decisions than the average Joe.

Determination would help us stay on track to achieve New Year resolutions even when situations surrounding us make it impossible.

FOCUS

This is the ability to concentrate on something till it is done or achieved. It is not just enough to write down your new year resolutions you need to focus on each one till they are all achieved. When you focus on one and get it done then you move on to the next one. It is a little similar to determination but determination could be misplaced if the right thing is not being focused on.

MAKE REALISTIC RESOLUTIONS

A lot of resolutions are not achieved because they are not realistic. Setting realistic goals would go a long way in helping to achieve New Year resolutions. Imagine how possible it is for a small time entrepreneur to aim at taking on a contract to build roads and he is not qualified to take a loan in the bank. Just how possible is that?

As an entrepreneur know the strengths of your company, ask what next and surpass that next stage not by jumping stages all in the name of being determined.

OUTLINE YOUR RESOLUTIONS

When you finally decide on where you want your business to be by the end of the year (goal) you break them down into fragments. Like gaining “X” amount of customers, sell “X” amount of goods, service “X” amount of clients, re-target “X” amount of existing customers.

You keep it simple by listing these things. If it is selling “X” amount of goods more than usual; how do you aim to do that? Then list your marketing strategy, affiliate or referral strategy, advert and awareness strategy to increase your band publicity which in turn increases your existing number of clients etc. The traditional “one thing at a time” will take you to your destination faster.

PLAN AHEAD

Create a system that works. Even if you or any of your staff are absent the plan would be a guideline for whoever is on ground to run the show. Ensure you have a Standard Operating Procedure document in place. We have all heard the saying if you fail to plan then you plan to fail but it is so true. Making resolutions without a proper plan in place to achieve them is not a good way to get to the finish line a winner.

No proper planning means you would daily swing like a pendulum to whatever hits you but having a plan assures you that if anything happens it is only going to be a temporary distraction. Your plan would swing back into action with determination and focus thereby achieving New Year resolutions.

MONITOR EVERY PROGRESS MADE

It is very essential to monitor every teeny weeny bit of the process to be aware of every progress made. Not just for your gratification but for that of your staff too. It serves as a psychological boost to know that progress is being made thereby increasing your morale and that of your staff. It makes them know they are in a good place and their efforts are yielding results.

Slow signs of progress or none at all should not turn you into a nightmare rather keep going with the plan and sooner or later you will have that eureka moment. Ensure all heads of department and supervisors are in the loop. Hold meetings as at when do to ensure everyone is on the same page but not longer than necessary. No point wasting precious time.

REWARD YOURSELF AND OTHERS

To make it through your list of resolutions successfully every progress made either by you or your staff should be rewarded. This gives everyone that “feel good” feeling, builds team work and makes your staff feel like family. It also creates a healthy competition among your staff to do better because everyone would want to enjoy the freebies. It could range from sending them to a spa to them having dinner with their loved ones on your tab. Whatever you do just reward honest achievers.

TALK ABOUT IT

Asides writing your resolutions everywhere; on your sticky notes, diaries, androids, tablets, blackberries, laptops and PCs talk about it too. Not just with your staff but with family and friends. Also with your Board of Directors. This is to ensure there is someone to hold you accountable over time and to also encourage you. They go each step of the way with you. They know just when you are getting overwhelmed and they can pull you back up.

KEEP TRYING

Most things are not achieved on the first attempt you just have to keep trying and you will achieve your New Year resolutions after you make it a habit to do the things listed in this article. Bad habits take longer to break so give yourself some time but ensure each day you practice one good habit and each month you practice a new good habit. By the end of the year you probably would tick 80-100% of your resolutions as done and delivered.

Do you feel I have left out a helpful tip to achieve New Year resolutions or you have yours that works for you please feel free to drop them as comments.

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New year's resolutions

7 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS ENTREPRENEURS NEED

Have you made your new year’s resolutions? What is your New Year resolution?

Every success pursuing entrepreneur needs these 7 new year’s resolutions.

It is that time of the year when resolutions and plans are made but as a successful entrepreneur the plans and resolutions should have been made in the previous year. The resolutions help to put our goals into perspective thereby making them achievable thus contributing largely to our long term success.

FINANCIAL PREPARATION

This is an important aspect of your new year’s resolutions due to cash-flow being the business lifeblood.  In the previous year the annual financial reports, tax returns, audits etc. should have been prepared and the necessary meetings held. This is to start the New Year with a picture of where the company is presently at and where it needs to be financially. This is to help know the profit and loss statement of the previous year, if there are debts owed the company and if the company also owes, expenses and if there is a need to apply for loan to carry out some projects. This is to better manage the cash-flow of the business.

REASON

It is imperative to revisit your reason for being an entrepreneur so as not to lose focus or get carried away. Either your reason is enjoying what you do, for profit or to provide solution and value to the society. Whatever reason you have to leave the nine to five grind should be revisited as part of your New Year’s resolutions to help keep you on track.

EDUCATION

This cannot be over emphasized. We should only stop learning when we are dead. There are so many new things to learn in the business world of today such as new accounting skills, marketing skills, tech skills, leadership and management skills etc. These knowledge can be acquired via reading books, attending seminars, classes or watching videos.

INNOVATION

We are at a point whereby businesses would fade off if they refuse to innovate. As an entrepreneur it is crucial for survival to inject new ideas into your business as part of your new year’s resolutions. It could be in form of doing things in new ways such as customer service, dropping products and services that are not performing or develop new products and services. Something that would add to the value your business is already providing your customers.

HEALTHY LIVING

A lot of entrepreneurs get caught up with the hustling and bustling and neglect their health. Part of an entrepreneur’s new year’s resolutions should be to go for checkup regularly to avoid being caught unawares by one health condition or the other. No need waiting for that moment you land in a hospital to realize that you can only be on ground in your business if you are of good health.

RESTRUCTURING

This is the time to restructure the organization. From the past business year appraisals should have been done to know the strengths and weaknesses of individual employee. Reshuffling should be done to ensure people are where their talents are used maximally. Also if there are staff that incur debt for the organization this is the time to address their issue; either they are reassigned to new duties, retrained or their contract terminated.

GO ONLINE; GO MOBILE

This is 2016 why would your business not be mobile? The trend for businesses this year would be to go mobile. You could start by getting a creative website; this would enable old and new customers alike to have access to information on your products and services also buy-buttons can be added to your websites or call-to-action buttons that bring about conversion on your website. Do not forget to make your website mobile friendly; a lot of people use their mobile devices to surf the web.

2016 is just some few days old but a lot can be done in a few days. If you feel we have omitted any important new year’s resolutions entrepreneurs need to make their journey successful feel free to drop them in the comments section.

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Challenges Entrepreneurs Face

Challenges Entrepreneurs Face In Our Clime

Are you prepared to beat the challenges entrepreneurs have to deal with in our clime? Do you have the grit to succeed despite all odds?

A lot of people feel entrepreneurship is a walk in the park but on the contrary you need to be prepared for the inevitable. Every niche of business has it pitfalls but ample preparation increases your chance of survival. This entails knowing beforehand that there are challenges entrepreneurs deal with and having a plan to conquer every challenge while being flexible to change plans as the situation arises.

This article is not meant to scare you from living your dream as an entrepreneur rather it is meant to prepare you. As an aspiring entrepreneur if you have the characteristics needed to be a successful entrepreneur you will definitely overcome the challenges entrepreneurs in this clime share in common.

Different challenges are synonymous with different climes but listed below are some of the most common challenges faced by entrepreneurs in our clime:

  • CASH FLOW

This is one of the most common challenges entrepreneurs in every niche deal with. How liquid is your business? Is there readily available finance for your business? Are your friends and family willing to support with cash and necessary resources? Do you have willing investors ready to commit their resources to your business? If you can successfully answer these questions then you are already a step ahead. It is advisable to have a cash reserve before the business kicks off because things do not always go as planned in business. You can raise funds by working part time and solicit funds from people that share as much enthusiasm for your business as you do. Cut unnecessary costs by doing as much of the work you can yourself, employ freelancers when starting out so you do not pay salaries for long and when the bucks start rolling in do not go on a spending spree rather reinvest in your business because it takes months to years for a business to balance out expenses such as operating costs, salaries and miscellaneous expenses. A lot of businesses have packed up due to not adequately preparing for this.

  • CHOOSING THE RIGHT BUSINESS

How viable is your business? Apart from doing something that you love ensure you are providing something that people will buy into. It is one thing to provide goods or services it is another thing for them to be purchased. If they are not purchased that is time, effort and resources gone down the drain. The right business is a business that you have passion for, that delivers quality and also adds value to your consumers.

  • REGISTERING A BUSINESS NAME OR COMPANY

This is the next hurdle to cross after knowing the right business to engage in and ensuring there is steady cash flow. The amount of time it takes to do this can put you off and the number of people that fall into scam traps all in the name of trying to fast track the process involved is increasing by the day. Imagine going to CAC (Corporate Affairs Commission) to do the registration and you are told to go make payment at the bank before coming back for the forms. Some people buy forms from people outside the building who sell at double the price without guarantee on the authenticity.

  • FINDING AND RETAINING CUSTOMERS

As a new comer in any industry it requires time to find customers and retain them. The industry is already saturated with all sorts of promises to customers and customers have committed themselves to certain offers most especially since people love to do business with who they know. Attracting these customers and getting them to do repeat business is one of the common challenges entrepreneurs face due to the offers they have been enjoying in terms of prices, customer service, commissions, quality of products and services. It is imperative to look at what the competition is already doing and do something they are not to attract customers. Distinguish your business by adding value.

  • INNOVATION

This is one of the challenges entrepreneurs need to deal with but do not take cognizance of. They get caught up in the daily operation of the business instead of continuously thinking of new ways to do things or new unique business ideas that can set them apart from the rest. It is best to entrust the daily operation to a manager and do the thinking the business requires to get to the next stage or level as you are the one with the blueprint for the business.

  • LACK OF SUPPORT AND A THINK TANK TEAM

It is a common challenge in our clime for people to write you off as soon as you make your intention of setting up a business known. They start telling you how unqualified you are and stories of failures they know. This was my major challenge for years; the people I had high hopes in never supported me either with kind words or financially until I finally decided to start despite all odds. Now I advice people to only seek advise from entrepreneurs because the people that say it is not possible are most likely not entrepreneurs. They are afraid to leave the security a 9 to 5 provides. It is also rare to find a group of people you can brainstorm with except you are surrounded by exceptional people so be watchful the kind of people you attract. Ensure you attract people of like minds.

  • CORRUPTION, POLITICAL INFLUENCE, GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS AND POLICIES

These are very common challenges entrepreneurs have to deal with  in our clime due to the unstable economic situation and a select few dictating market conditions. We have seen businesses pack up as soon as the government changes baton due to either the new policies not favoring them or them not being in the good books of the new boss. I once got a job along with some people in a Parastatal but lost it because a new boss was sworn in; you can do the math as regards how many businesses that were cut off also. Corruption is a pain in the ass of businesses these days because it allows some unqualified businesses rob the qualified ones thereby reducing their chances of survival. If politics will have a say in your business ensure you have a wide network range; be neutral and play nicely with all the sides. Directly or indirectly this allows you to continue in business no matter the side in power.

  • TAXES AND LEGAL ISSUES

Most new businesses do not see the need for having a lawyer because they feel it is one more expense they cannot afford not realizing it is even costlier not to have one on your payroll. Also it is important to have a financial expert that can advise as regards taxes to avoid being over taxed. The tax adviser is to ensure you pay what is commiserate with your business’s income and personal income thereby increasing your profits over time.

  • SENTIMENTS AND SELF DOUBT

A lot of potentials have been thwarted due to sentiments. It is either a friend or family member saying you cannot do it or it is you looking at the present economic situation and writing yourself off. The best time to start is now. Once you start the rest of the journey becomes so much easier. Someone succeeds does not automatically translate to your success and someone fails also does not mean you will fail. It all depends on how far you are willing to go.

  • TRUSTWORTHY BUSINESS PARTNERS AND INTEGRITY

Due to the race for profits a lot of entrepreneurs end up partnering with unscrupulous entities. Do not be in a haste to make profit; slow progress is progress so ensure you check out the track record of whoever you decide to partner with. Can you take them for their words? Will they run the business if you are not there as they would if you were on ground? You are the face of the business not your partners so their actions bounces off on you thereby making your integrity questionable. If your customers have need to question your integrity it will reflect in their patronage.

  • LOYAL EMPLOYEES

It is a challenge these days to have loyal employees; everyone wants to be where the grass is greener. Not to blame anyone but a little loyalty goes a long way. To get your employees loyalty you need to know it cannot be bought, treat them like family and make each one know that their contribution is appreciated that way they do not sell you out to your competitors. Ensure your employees are team players, pay them what is commiserate to their input and make sure you reward outstanding performance. I once worked at a company where the management kept promising the sales reps commissions but they never got it, overtime a lot of the sales reps left and became competitors taking along the customers they brought. Therefore be slow to hire and quick to fire.

  • DIFFICULTY PROCURING LOANS

In our clime the banks make it very difficult for small and medium businesses to procure loans. Asides the high interest rates they have a list of requirements which most likely a business just starting out will not meet. Imagine asking a small business owner for a landed property that has a C of O (Certificate of Occupancy) which is very expensive to procure as collateral. Asides their requests the bureaucracy wears you out. In our clime we do not have angel investors unlike the developed countries and the few that decide to support your business financially are only out for the kill neither does the government support businesses with loans. If you are borrowing read and digest the terms and conditions; if you do not understand get someone who does to avoid being cheated out of your business.

These are the most common challenges entrepreneurs have to deal with in this clime to succeed. Do you feel I have left any out or have you any personal experience feel free to drop them in the comments.

 

SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEUR

21 Attributes of Every Successful Entrepreneur

Do you want to be a Successful Entrepreneur?

If your answer is “YES” I salute you.

An entrepreneur is not your everyday business man that just buys and sells rather an entrepreneur is someone that is a risk taker, innovative and determined. He comes up with business ideas as never seen or done and thinks of innovative ideas to refurbish an existing business. Check Wikipedia’s definition of an entrepreneur or as defined by Investopedia.

The end game is not to be an entrepreneur but a successful entrepreneur and for this you must be ready to bear a lot of risks, perform a lot of roles and accept a lot of negative feedback because a lot of people will not encourage you when you pitch your ideas to them. They are not denying you a chance they just need you to grab their attention with what you do.

Therefore to succeed as an entrepreneur there are certain attributes you need to possess and develop. Every aspiring successful entrepreneur should have these in common with the established ones:

  • Passion.

Do what you love most. This point cannot be over emphasized; it is quite important because when push comes to shove it is your passion for what you do that will ensure you hang in there to the very end.

  • The “Can-do Spirit”.

No matter what happens you need to keep saying to yourself “I can do it too” because things will happen to discourage and distract you; dissatisfied customers, no cash flow, low sales, no sales period, resignation of key staff etc. The continuity of your business depends on if you keep moving ahead despite all odds.

  • Innovation (Creative Thinking).

You need to have a constant flow of ideas. Always ask “What next? Why this? What if?” It is the innovation that drives you and eventually makes you a successful entrepreneur.

  • Focus.

No matter what is going on you must be able to focus on achieving results. It is essential to focus on one thing at a time to achieve the best results and save time before moving on to something else.

  • Ability to Delegate.

Delegation is not just about dishing out work and projects to someone else but you need to possess the ability to delegate assignments to the person with the best ability to achieve the best results else you will waste time redoing what the incompetent person did.

  • Risk Taking.

As an entrepreneur you need to take calculated risks, be able to identify when to take risks, when not to, what risks to take and not take. Taking the wrong risks can harm your business like wise taking it at the wrong time. Apply the Best/Worst Case Analysis by Dr. Ben Carson in his book Take the Risk. It entails asking 4 questions before you take any risk.

  1. What is the best that can happen if I take this risk?
  2. What is the worst that can happen if I take this risk?
  3. What is the best that can happen if I do not take this risk?
  4. What is the worst that can happen if I do not take this risk?

Answering these questions will help you decide if or not to take any risk.

  • Confidence.

Your level of confidence in yourself and what you do should be at an all-time high. People see your business through your eyes. If you do not see where your business is going no one will.

  • Goals.

The road-map of any successful entrepreneur. Set goals for yourself and the business, write them down, break them down and focus on achieving them one at a time.

  • Ability to Plan.

This cannot be overemphasized. As an entrepreneur planning everything is of the essence. Plans and Goals work hand in hand. To achieve your goals you need to plan accordingly because if you fail to plan you plan to fail.

  • Never Afraid to Fail.

Failure is what pushes every entrepreneur to succeed. Never give up after you experience any failure because failures are part of the process to succeed. Failure opens your eyes to what will not work which eventually leads you to what will work. Ask Thomas Edison.

  • Add Value.

In any niche you find yourself endeavor not to think of get-rich quick schemes rather think of how to add value; solve problems. This ensures people keep coming back for what you offer.

  • Work Smart and Work Hard.

As an entrepreneur you need smart work (Scheduling and Focus) and hard work (Persistence against all odds).

  • Expertise.

Become an expert in whatever you do and people will seek you out. This generates repeat business for you thereby making you a successful entrepreneur.

  • Invest in Yourself.

As an entrepreneur understand that education is never ending. Keep reading, attending courses, seminars and ask questions. This increases your know-how thereby making you add value.

  • Trust.

Build people’s trust for you and your business by being consistent and maintain a great reputation.

  • Adaptability.

Whether you decide to Pivot or Persevere you must be flexible and be able to adapt to the needed changes for your business to grow.

  • Competitive.

You should have the competitive drive to succeed as an entrepreneur because you will have competition in whatever niche you find yourself. Even if your business is so unique others will join you in that niche to compete with you. At every given time take into account what your competition is doing that makes them tick likewise know their mistakes and failures so you do not repeat same.

  • Time management.

This is a key factor in being a successful entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur you find yourself wearing many hats (performing many roles). You need to have the ability to effectively manage time by doing the most important things first.

  • Discipline.

Successful entrepreneurs are a product of the training they gave their minds. They know where their business is going and they go all out to take it there. A mind that has not been trained to succeed cannot succeed. A disciplined mind does not throw in the towel after a setback neither does it entertain negativity.

  • Determination.

The will to succeed even when discouraged. As an entrepreneur you will face so many challenges beyond your control; unfavorable government policies, economic downturn, competitors that play dirty etc. it is your will to succeed that will keep you going.

  • Giving.

Do not just take, take and take also give. Give your time, money, advice and whatever you can to the community and smaller businesses alike.

If you feel you do not naturally possess most of these attributes do not fret because you can always learn them. Learning only stops when we die.

If there is an important attribute a successful entrepreneur should possess that I left out do feel free to comment. I respond to all comments and learn as well.

Saving A Dying Business

How to Save a Dying Business

We have identified what signs to look out for to know if a business is dying but why wait till the business plunges when we can be observant in the daily operation of the business. Even when you see the signs that you have a dying business on your lap it is still not enough reason to pack up shop rather it is a wake up call to ensure all your efforts and resources does not go to waste.

You can still make that dying business a success. Here are some proven tested ways to turn around a dying business before it hits rock bottom.

  • Identify exactly where the business is presently and what it needs. Does it need a face lift or total overhauling? This is when you decide to either Pivot (it could be to change the direction of the business, your marketing strategy, customer care strategy, your customer base, your products and services or your business model. It entails your team identifying what exactly needs to be changed and what it should be changed to for results) or Persevere (continue as you have been doing knowing fully well you are on the right track). I recommend “Lean Startup” by Eric Ries for better understanding.
  • Re-brand your products and services to re-position your business and overhaul the impressions customers have formed about your business.
  • Focus by narrowing down your products and services. Carve out your niche to help streamline your resources and ensure you get one thing right at a time.
  • Revisit your Customer Care practice. You will be surprised at what something as little as Customer Care can do to your dying business.
  • In this period the 20% of your customers that bring in 80% of your business (check Pareto Principle for that) should not be left in the dark as to what is happening. Be open to them, they just might know who or what your dying business needs for that turnaround.
  • Before you come up with a new Business or Marketing Plan seek and re-evaluate your customer’s view on what needs they expect your business to meet because overtime your customers’ tastes will change and you need to change with it if you still want to remain in business.
  • Cut off the bad debts customers, the ones that do not pay on time and the high maintenance cost customers.
  • Ruthlessly cut down costs and unnecessary expenses the business may have incurred over time. Close down the branches that are not generating income.
  • Set up a team to investigate your marketing strategy; change it if the need arises (most likely you will need to).
  • Read and Research everything you can find on your niche of business.
  • Qualification and Management: Are the people in your management team qualified for the job or did they get it on a man know man basis? If not it is high-time you overhauled them and employ qualified hands.
  • Bring in a tried and trusted Consultant to give you a third party view on what needs to be done. This is essential since they will not attach sentiments and immediately see what is wrong with the business.
  • Get a good legal representative if you do not already have one to advise you on every step you intend to take so as not to incur costs by being sued.
  • Motivate your employees; their morale and self confidence could drastically be affected as soon as they start noticing the decline in business. Motivating them will bring back the can-do spirit they once had. At all cost ensure you keep the high performance managers and employees.
  • Communication is key. Make sure you run an open house especially to key players in your business.
  • Lastly if you have done your best and still could not revive the dying business sell it off to more capable hands and try a new idea with the proceeds you make from the sales. The idea is to never give up as an entrepreneur. The big names you hear today made a lot of failures before they made the successful business you know about.