Woopidoo article

Being an entrepreneur is about more than just starting a business or two, it is about having attitude and the drive to succeed in business. All successful Entrepreneurs have a similar way of thinking and posses several key personal qualities that make them so successful in business. Successful entrepreneurs like the ambitious Richard Branson have an inner drive to succeed and grow their business, rather than having a Harvard Business degree or technical knowledge in a particular field.

All successful entrepreneurs have the following qualities:

Inner Drive to Succeed
Entrepreneurs are driven to succeed and expand their business. They see the bigger picture and are often very ambitious. Entrepreneurs set massive goals for themselves and stay committed to achieving them regardless of the obstacles that get in the way.

Strong Belief in themselves
Successful entrepreneurs have a healthy opinion of themselves and often have a strong and assertive personality. They are focused and determined to achieve their goals and believe completely in their ability to achieve them. Their self optimism can often been seen by others as flamboyance or arrogance but entrepreneurs are just too focused to spend too much time thinking about un-constructive criticism.

Search for New Ideas and Innovation
All entrepreneurs have a passionate desire to do things better and to improve their products or service. They are constantly looking for ways to improve. They’re creative, innovative and resourceful.

Openness to Change
If something is not working for them they simply change. Entrepreneurs know the importance of keeping on top of their industry and the only way to being number one is to evolve and change with the times. They’re up to date with the latest technology or service techniques and are always ready to change if they see a new opportunity arise.

Competitive by Nature
Successful entrepreneurs thrive on competition. The only way to reach their goals and live up to their self imposed high standards is to compete with other successful businesses.

Highly Motivated and Energetic
Entrepreneurs are always on the move, full of energy and highly motivated. They are driven to succeed and have an abundance of self motivation. The high standards and ambition of many entrepreneurs demand that they have to be motivated!

Accepting of Constructive Criticism and Rejection
Innovative entrepreneurs are often at the forefront of their industry so they hear the words “it can’t be done” quite a bit. They readjust their path if the criticism is constructive and useful to their overall plan, otherwise they will simply disregard the comments as pessimism. Also, the best entrepreneurs know that rejection and obstacles are a part of any leading business and they deal with them appropriately.

True entrepreneurs are resourceful, passionate and driven to succeed and improve. They’re pioneers and are comfortable fighting on the frontline The great ones are ready to be laughed at and criticized in the beginning because they can see their path ahead and are too busy working towards their dream.

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“If you’re a startup, the fastest way to get the cash registers ringing is a little-used method that involves forming “host-beneficiary” relationships with established businesses that cater to a target audience similar to yours. Then you promote yourself to their database with a special offer presented as a gift from the older business.

The beauty of this arrangement is that the startup (the beneficiary) can instantly reach large numbers of highly qualified prospects with the tacit endorsement of the established business (the host). The host is willing to participate because it’s a way to reward loyal customers without incurring any costs. The rookie gains new customers, while the veteran gains goodwill.

One startup that successfully used this technique was a high-end women’s clothing boutique. The store arranged to give a free silk kimono to every female customer of a local BMW dealership who brought in a letter sent by the dealership offering the gown as a gift for their past patronage. The kimono had to be picked up at the boutique.

More than 600 women responded, picking up $100 kimonos that cost the store just $16 apiece. Those 600 women spent an average of $400 on other merchandise during their initial visit. Do the math, and you’ll see that the startup spent $9,600 to generate some $240,000 in sales–and, not incidentally, to begin building its own clientele.”

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by Chris Consorte

Your target market is buying online. If you’re not there, then you’re probably flushing revenue down the drain.

Just the other day I was speaking to one of my clients, who has run a traditional brick-and-mortar operation for over 15 years. His small business is one that you would not expect to be cashing-in on e-commerce — although he certainly is — in that he sells industrial plumbing supplies.

As we got to talking, we chatted about his marketing initiatives — specifically his Internet strategy — and I was pleasantly surprised to hear his e-commerce business was steadily becoming more than just “a website presence.” In fact, he was acquiring new clients, building new relationships, and selling direct to the point where his e-business was becoming a significant part of his whole business. Who knew selling toilet accessories to contractors online could be so successful?

Actually, I did. You see, at first my client was skeptical of having a Web presence at all — and thought that e-commerce was a something that would not apply to his operation, especially since there was some investment required to get things rolling. It was only after some convincing that I was able to persuade him that his hard-earned dollars would be well spent on a solid e-commerce and Internet marketing strategy.

Fast-forward one month later — his 600-plus product e-commerce site was launched and marketing commenced. At the end of the first week, I figured I’d touch-base with the client to see how things were going. “I’m getting several prospect phone calls and e-mails daily — and I’ve already received a few online orders?? he said. My initial feeling was one of relief — given I had the been the catalyst for having him make the investment — but when I thought about it for a second, it made perfect sense.

After all, 2005 was a true milestone for e-commerce business. Total Internet spending for the year reached $143.2 billion — up 22% over the $117.2 billion spent online in 2004, according to comScore Networks. “Cyber Mondays,” the Monday following the Thanksgiving holiday, are quickly becoming a part of our American holiday shopping routine — similar to “Black Friday?? for traditional retailers.

I suppose it’d be easy for me to simply say, “Your target market IS buying online.” But it’s even easier to cite the low operational costs, the ability to do business in an automated fashion 24/7, the exposure to a national, even an international, prospect-base and the fact that your competition is probably already doing business (or at least strategizing about it) online.

Both consumers and businesses are embracing the power of the Web, finding what they need through search engines like Google and Yahoo!, and buying through Amazon, e-Bay and Buy.com. If you think that just because these are huge, well-known companies that your business can’t capitalize on the same strategies these businesses have, you need to think again.

While no company, in my opinion, has it all figured out in terms of e-commerce (no, not even Google), the same basic principles apply no matter what size the business. However, to quote a particularly good NY Lotto ad slogan from the 80s, first “You gotta be in it to win it.?? Like anything else, procrastination and fear of the unknown often stops small-business owners from even getting started in uncharted territories like e-commerce and all things tech.

Being February already, it’s a little late for New Year’s resolutions; however, I can’t help but create my short-list of to-dos for any small-business owner thinking of implementing an e-commerce strategy in 2006. Here they are:

1. Do your homework (and I mean now) on your three closest competitors, and see what they’re doing online.
2. Look back on 2005 and think of at least three things that completely bombed including how much time and money spent, and how those resources could have been spent in growing your online business.
3. Again, looking back on 2005, think of at least three things that were complete successes (thereby bringing revenue or opportunity back to your organization) and think how sticking to this core-strategy for your online business could have made an even bigger impact.

The Web is here to stay, and it offers your business a very effective way to find and keep customers. So even if you’re not sure of the opportunity, you have to take a shot, like my plumbing supplies client did. If you don’t, you could be letting future profits go down the drain.

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By Jay Maharjan on September 24, 2007

As an entrepreneur, publicity can be the key to taking your venture to the next level. I think there’s no such thing as bad publicity, especially if you are a budding start-up. In the digital age, when the buzz can spread like California wildfire, any sort of publicity can create much needed press, traffic to your website, or get the brand recognition.

Traditional PR campaigns still apply in principle, but the medium has changed drastically. Recently, my consulting firm prepared a press release for Montecito Fine Arts College of Design, a distinguished Design College in Los Angeles. Within a week, the story got picked by Forbes.com, Investor’s Business Daily, Yahoo.com among many other high traffic news portals. If your story appears on Forbes.com, by brand association alone, you will get huge return on your few hundred dollar investment.

What makes a good topic for Business Wire?

a. Launch of a company – along with the highlights of the services or/and the products that your company offer
b. News of key executives, directors, or advisors joining your company
c. News of special milestones – e.g. 10 year anniversary events, opening of new offices, acquiring a FORTUNE 500 client, merger & acquisition news
d. Special recognitions – e.g. start up company of the month, Innovation Awards.
e. News of strategic partnerships – Always exploit the opportunity to tie in with the partners with higher brand identity.
f. News of channel, sales partnerships, Value-added Resellers (VARs) – Always make channel partners, VARs feel important and part of your family

It is always good to send press releases as often as possible. The worst that can happen is that your story will not get picked. But, the upside is huge – can very well give your company that much needed boost!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The formative years of a startup company are like an aspiring sports rookie about to go pro. All of their potential is still ahead of them, and they have the chance to be the greatest of all time.
Yet in a short period of time, they are either going to be known as “One of the Greats” or just another 3rd string bench warmer that never made a name for themselves.

So how do you keep your startup on an all-star track without veering into mediocrity?

You keep swinging for the fences.

The beauty of a startup is the amount of potential and energy that it launches with. Over time, that potential may either be realized or it slows down as the enthusiasm wanes. The challenge is to maintain that potential energy as you grow your company, and to not let go of the aggressive attitude that you had when you launched.

Maintain Trajectory

One of a startup’s strongest assets is its’ potential to do something great. When you read about popular companies like YouTube being sold for $1.6 billion in less than two years of operation, it’s not because they are making such huge financial returns (they weren’t even profitable). It’s because they have the potential to be so valuable in the marketplace.
Once that potential wears off, the startup loses its luster very quickly.

Your challenge is to maintain that trajectory of growth and potential opportunity. Whatever your key metrics, whether they are your sales numbers or visitors to your Web site, you cannot let their growth slip.

Every day, week, month, quarter and year needs to show exceptional growth in order to maintain that momentum. As soon as you get complacent about growth, you’ve already lost.
One way to help maintain consistent growth is to boil down your growth targets into much smaller increments. For example, instead of just concentrating on quarterly sales numbers, you could concentrate on surpassing daily or weekly sales targets, and attack them vigorously.
Obviously those little victories add up to the larger victory at the end of a month or quarter. More importantly, they allow you to keep a very real handle on your day-to-day trajectory, which makes them much easier to manage and adjust.

Keep it Fresh

Startups get the benefit of a fresh team to work with. Since the company has never existed before, everyone is there for the first time and they are filled with enthusiasm and promise.
Over time though, the long days and nights tend to drain people. When the team gets worn out, the whole company loses steam. It’s time to get some fresh legs in the game.
This doesn’t necessarily mean replacing the people within the team, it may simply mean reallocating them to new projects or letting them rest in some maintenance of existing projects.

There tends to be two camps of employees – those that like to create from chaos, and those that like the maintain order from chaos. Both are invaluable, and need to be allocated accordingly.

By putting your creators of chaos on new projects, you keep their minds fresh and the juices flowing. By putting your managers on existing projects, you keep them from getting burnt out on the chaos of the unknown. It keeps everyone fresh and in-turn keeps the startup growing.

Keep Lofty Goals

Over time your goals will likely change. Initially the goal may be simply to bring in enough cash so that you can pay yourself and the people around you. Over time, though, your goals should increase substantially.

Constantly chasing goals is what keeps a startup at the top of its game. Companies start to gather mold when they hit their initial goals or milestones and don’t get recharged for bigger goals. This often happens right after your first product launch or a big sale.

Everything leading up to that moment kept your team intensely focused and kept the drive alive. Once that moment happened though, people assumed that the job was pretty much done and they could focus on that achievement.

While it’s important to recognize your achievements, it’s even more important to immediately reset your goals for even bigger targets to maintain your momentum.

After that big sale or product launch, gather your team together and set much larger goals to rally around. Use the momentum of your achievements to get your team confident about achieving your next goal even faster.

Swing for the Fences

Maintaining a successful startup on a rocket ship growth plan isn’t a single sprint, it’s a marathon of well-calculated milestones.

As soon as you stop trying to make the big plays and push the company as far as you go, you lose the momentum you once had, and by way of that, you lose your potential.
If you’re not going to swing big, you’re not going to win big.

( excerpts from Wil Schroter’s blog – gobignetwork.com)

By Raj Dash on September 17, 2007

With the number of tools available on the Internet, it’s quite possible that entrepreneurs can build a successful business online – even a media empire. However, if you expect to expand, you will need to delegate tasks at some point. You simply can’t do everything yourself and also expect to grow.

That means you need to hire people and inevitably deal with “normal” work situations. Forget about traditional leadership. I’ve only ever had a very few bosses who were good leaders, but they taught me something because they were forward-thinking. Here’s some of their wisdom, distilled by my perspectives and my experience in the workforce.

Never blame. At least, don’t blame an employee in front of another. If you have to reprimand, do it in private. This sets a bad tone, and you lose respect with all employees, as such things will get around like bad gossip.

Don’t create adversarial situations. Don’t pit employees against each other or ask them to snitch. Healthy competition is fine. Back-stabbing is like a smile, but only in that it carries a long way through the company morale, and not in a good way.

Understand the work. Be a constant learner. Have at least a fundamental understanding of the work you’re expecting your employees to do. It makes it easier on everyone when the try to tell you why something can’t be done, or that it will cost more.

Don’t put square pegs in round holes. Basically, assign the right work to the right people, to allow them to work optimally. Don’t be like those companies that shall remain nameless that give you a job you can’t do and beat down your spirit. You wouldn’t want that and neither would your employees.

Lead by example. If the company approaches a problem that covers new ground, don’t expect your employees to know how to solve it. If you know how, give them a crash course and let them take it from there. And by leading, I don’t mean leading employees like a puppy.

Brainstorm. If they still have trouble solving a new problem, brainstorm with them. Proper brainstorming requires that at least the moderator of the meeting does some legwork beforehand. Record all ideas without censorship, or you might miss the best solution, which might be unfamiliar and thus seem odd.

Ask, don’t tell. Communicate well and clearly. In a startup company with a positive environment and healthy competitive spirit, most people want to be asked, want to be challenged. Offer up the day’s or week’s “assignments” and let people pick. That is, if you’re not such a big company yet that you need to structure everyone’s roles. Don’t count anyone out. You might be suprised about who’s capable of what. Challenges also weed out the lazybones.

Be decisive. Have a strategy ready. If business problems crop up and employees are aware of them, they’ll be thinking abou their bills, their mortgages, etc., not yours. (Possibly unless you’re giving them incentives.) So be the decision-maker, indicate what needs to be done, then ask for volunteers or assign tasks if necessary.)

Consider profit-sharing. Bonuses go a long way towards employee loyalty, passion and creativity. Sure, there’ll still be stragglers, but a creative bonus “matrix” weeds them out. If your company is young, there’s only so far you can go with bonuses, so also consider profit-sharing/ private shares. Talk to a good accountant about the best way to implement these incentives.

Be sympathetic. Or at least courteous. It’s only human to not always be in top form, even with incentives. Talk to your employees, understand them and give them some leeway when possible. Have some redunancy in job descriptions, right from the beginning, to allow someone to temporarily take up the slack.

Be firm. Being sympathetic is all well and good, but you do have a business to run. Be firm when it’s necessary.

By Jay Maharjan on September 16, 2007

Starting a business is a major commitment that will consume 24/7 of your life with no end in sight. It is always good to know what you are getting into before you take the plunge. From my experience writing business plans for large and small companies alike for the last 8 years, there are basically two reasons why you need a business plan – the first reason is to re-assure yourself that this wild dream that you have in your mind is actually attainable. And, the second reason is to convince a lender or a venture capitalist. More than likely, you are writing for the second reason. Whatever your reason may be, as the legendary management guru Peter Drucker would bluntly put – always ask yourself what your business is, who your customers are, and what the customer considers value.

In my opinion, here is a list of pointers that will save you headaches later.

a. Be clear about what you are selling.
b. Come up with Mission, Vision, and Objective statements for your venture.
c. Be honest with your Strengths and Weaknesses.
d. Conduct a thorough research on your vertical market.
e. Make sure there is a real opportunity.
f. Make sure your product or service addresses pain point (s).
g. Conduct a thorough research on your competitors.
h. Make sure your product or service addresses pain point (s) better than your competitors.
i. Be realistic with the revenue projections.
j. Surround yourself with people smarter than you. Do not be afraid to ask for help.
k.Seize the opportunity to scale up – quick.

More to follow on this topic. I can be reached at jaym@theoc360.com

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