Can You Predict If You’ll Become a Successful Entrepreneur.
Today’s blog has been brewing in my mind for a long time, five years to be exact ever since I launched my own business start-up consulting firm.
I speak to hundreds of entrepreneurs and start-ups every week, as well as many want to be business owners who are trapped in unrewarding day jobs or unemployed and want to stop looking for work.
I can always spot the person that is passionate and totally committed to start a business. I can also spot the people that won’t. It has nothing to do with the completeness of their business, how many potential clients they have chatted with to get first hand research, not their ability to generate investment funding, or the amount of professional experience they possess.
It’s something more basic and primal, it’s the heart of what leads some to achieve greatness while so many others quit.
The people that I meet and consult with that I know are going to be successful at starting and growing a business all share one common trait and that is, they just WANT it more. I don’t have any real way of defining it, but I do know “IT” when I see it.
Want to know if you possess the “IT” needed to plan, launch and grow a successful business. Do you see any of the following qualities in yourself?
* They don’t put off their business planning when life’s schedule demands become untenable.
* They wake up at 3am because they remember something they had to work on.
* They push themselves beyond their physical, mental and emotional limits.
* They are never afraid to ask “WHY” and “WHAT IF?”
* They aren’t afraid to do the research and planning up-front but they don’t let themselves suffer from the paralysis of analysis as they prefer to test on the fly.
* They align themselves with all the right people and distance themselves from anyone that tells them not to pursue their dreams.
* They hate excuses, won’t tolerate excuses from themselves or others.
* They are naturally curious, love solving problems, enjoy puzzles, riddles.
* The business they are pursuing is a passion.
Well, that’s my short list of qualities that all successful entrepreneurs share and how I know someone that will start a business and be successful at it. I’m sure you can think of a lot more characteristics of world-class entrepreneurs. what are they?
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach
You CAN Unstick Your Business, Through Business Transformation.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the many people that I encounter in my consulting work as a business coach.
If you believe what people say, then lots of folks are feeling “stuck” these days. They may not use the exact word, but man, do they sure feel “stuck” (trapped, unfulfilled, stagnant, unmotivated…) This feeling of general inertia and immobility is a recurring theme, whether we’re talking about people that feel unfulfilled at work, others who wish they could change industries, or the dreamers who want so passionately to leave the relative “security” (i.e. paycheck) of full-time employment to pursue their dream of starting a business. And there are the business owners who I consult with that have witnessed their company’s sales flat line the past few years and can’t escape the dead man’s zone of doing “business as usual.”
This topic of unsticking yourself is near and dear to my heart. I launched The Chazin Group in 2009 after deciding that 20 years in Corporate America was enough time wasted. I risked everything to go out on my own, to help as many people as I could unstick themselves. For some people I consult with, that means finding their dream job. For others, my work involves helping them realize their dream of starting their own business.
If you’re like the many folks who are feeling “stuck” these days, well cheer up! In my experience, there are many things that we can do to get us unstuck. However, be warned that unsticking yourself isn’t for the faint of heart. It demands a lot, from having the courage to initiate self-reflection and introspection by asking yourself often painful questions that demand brutal honesty. You MUST possess a willingness to embrace risk-taking, AND have a passion for lifelong learning. Oh yeah, you should also be the kind of person that loves moving along the roads less traveled, ESPECIALLY you business owners looking to achieve business transformation in these challenging times. Do you have what it takes to complete this heavy lifting? Great! Let’s get going!
* Ask yourself where your passions and strengths collide. Where they overlap, you have identified a very short list of potential ideal career options that you can and MUST pursue.
* What do you want your LEGACY to be? What do you want to leave behind when all is said and done. What do you want to be remembered for? Write these down, because you are going to hold yourself accountable to the list and set goals around achieving the highest priority items you define.
* Stop doing the same things over and over again expecting a different outcome. Einstein called this act “insanity” and he was right. I am always amazed at people who choose to do “More of the same” when it comes to the things that aren’t working in their lives. Activity for activity sake is a tremendous resource drain and ultimately self-defeating.
* Set regular times each day, week, and month to revisit your personal and professional goals. The goals we set often need to be re-calibrated based on our natural tendency to change our values, beliefs, and needs.
* Start writing your own blog. This is a great way to rekindle your passion is to start writing on subjects that you’re passionate about and possess a wealth of knowledge about and experience in. In fact, this is an important first step you can take to begin building your own reputational brand as a subject matter expert. Along these lines, start writing articles to submit to the media for possible publication, maybe even write a book you can self-publish. It’s what I did when I first went out on my own back in 2009 when I authored the book: “Bulletproof Your Career in Turbulent Times.”
* Make the commitment to pursue one new venture each week. Learn a new software package. Take a class to learn a new language. Start playing a new instrument. Do a jigsaw puzzle. It’s the act of udnertaking the unknown on a regular basis that has the potential to get you accustomed to venturing outside of your comfort zone.
* Attend one new group meeting every month that is entirely UNRELATED to your current field (business/industry)
* Hire a professional to help you unstick yourself (career coach, business coach, life coach, therapist, guru, accountant…they all count!)
* Embrace the art of visualization. When you are preparing to undertake a new activity it helps to take time out in a quiet place to visualize all of the steps necessary to complete the task. Clearing your mind of all interfering noise and thoughts to best focus on the task at hand is a tremendously self-empowering strategy. It’s a technique that world-class athletes, artists, and performers all utilize to achieve great performances. You can (and should) too!
* Revisit the assumptions you’ve made about what you can and cannot accomplish. All the negative things we say to ourselves about ourselves add up over time so that we immobilize ourselves with self doubt. It’s such a prevalent behavior of the human condition, that psychologists have a name for it. It’s called “Head trash.” What’s yours, and how are you going to overcome that?
* Approach the challenges that you face not as business people but as artists, performers, musicians do…utilizing creative problem solving strategies. Need help getting started? Check out INSEAD, business school to the world for inspiration!
* Read Jim Collins book “Good to Great!” In it, Collins makes the point that in today’s rapidly changing global environment, being good is no longer GOOD ENOUGH. According to Collins, good is the ENEMY of Great! Truer words have never been spoken. If we accept that we are performing at a high enough level, we never push ourselves to risk achieving the supposedly unachievable. The value to be gained by failing at a great pursuit is a lofty goal indeed.
So, there you have it. A list of immediately actionable strategies you can begin implementing tomorrow to unstick yourself and achieve all your wildest personal and professional goals.
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach
How to Advertise Your Business the Right Way.
When I’m coaching my small business clients and they tell me they want to advertise, the first question I ask them is “Why?”
They need to get their company name out to their target audience and they’re at the point where they know they have to pay to reach their target segments through business advertising after pursuing other FREE marketing vehicles such: as PR, social media, public speaking venues, blogs, email, etc.
Since that makes sense to me, the next few questions I ask them are: where do they plan on advertising, when are they going to advertise, and how much are they willing to spend. That’s typically the point where they tell me: “That’s why we hired you.”
So, the first key to understanding what advertising is and isn’t we need a working definition. Advertising is the collective set of all your structured and composed NON-PERSONAL communications of information, almost ALWAYS paid for and usually persuasive in nature, about products (goods, services, and ideas) by identified sponsors through various media. This means you are paying to influence your existing customers and mostly highly qualified prospects using multiple media (print, broadcast, outdoor, online.)
Next, it helps to understand exactly what advertising can and CAN’T help you to achieve. Advertising is used to help your business:
* Identify products and differentiate from competitors.
* Communicate info about the product.
* To induce consumers to try your stuff.
* To stimulate the distribution of a product
* Increase product use.
* Build value, brand preference & loyalty.
* Lower overall cost of sales.
start by building an ad campaign. The 3 main areas of an advertising plan:
1) What do we want to accomplish? Our objectives or goals.
2) How will we reach those goals? What will we do, and what will it cost, to achieve our objectives.
3) How do we measure results? How do we determine whether we have accomplished our objectives?
Beyond the big three categories common to most advertising plans, the exact nature and details can very significantly depending on the purpose of the plan.
For a comprehensive explanation for how to develop an AD CAMPAIGN, click here.
The key to developing a powerful ad campaign is to define your goals, which are tied directly to your business objectives. Also it helps immensely that you first develop a comprehensive ideal customer profile of your ideal customer, including which media they use, when they engage that media. The goal is to be as efficient as possible in placing your messaging where your ideal customers are when they are most receptive to receiving and considering your messages. If your target are professionals ages 25-34 living in major Metropolitan areas with disposable income who enjoy participating in recreational sports, socializing in bars who are college educated…then you would partner with Zogg Sports. If you need to reach small business owners that run their business in a local community, you would pursue Minor League baseball advertising.
You use advertising to promote all of the following:
* Public Service Announcements: Ad serving public interest
* Goods: Tangible stuff
* Services: A bundle of benefits
* Ideas: Economic, political, religious, etc.
* Products: the particular good or service a company sells
Your advertising plan falls squarely within your marketing plan. Following is a template guideline for a fictitious marketing plan to show you how you would lay your plan out.
Target Market: Upscale households with incomes between $65,000 and $500,000 with an emphasis on female decision makers between the ages of 30 and 55
Positioning Statement: The best looking and sounding modular stereo system
Offering to customers: Add one lower-priced model and two higher priced models
Pricing Strategy: Price 10% above our closest competitor (be specific here)
Distribution: Internet gift stores i.e. red envelope, Brookstone, high end catalogs i.e. Sharper Image
Sales Strategy: Expand by 10% for this product line, hire a national account manager
Service Strategy: Available through all major box chains
Promotional Strategy: Develop a new campaign that focuses on the positioning, emphasize higher price and designer look
Marketing Research: Conduct customer audit and identify new market opportunities
Any other component of your marketing plan: Anything else not covered in a prior section of your marketing plan.
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach
Why Your Small Business Marketing Keeps Failing.
…and what you can do to fix it, immediately.
Marketing is the collective set of all activities that you can run, in order to accomplish THREE very specific goals:
1. Build your brand;
2. Find new customers; and
3. Keep selling to existing customers
Most businesses (heck ALL organizations, for that matter) tell what they do and how they do it. Their messaging is so UNINSPIRING (yawn!) that it completely fails to tell a story of WHY you do what you do, why you’re special and how you’re better than everyone else.
Once you begin telling stories about WHY you and your organization do what you do, then you’ll be more likely to connect with your customers and prospects in a more compelling manner.
If a tree falls in the forest…
Most small businesses never ask themselves “Where are our best customers when they are most likely to be receptive to our marketing messages?”
This consideration of where to place your marketing dollars so they have maximum impact is referred to as your media placement strategy, and it demands that you have an absolutely complete and clear view of who your ideal customer is and learn as much as you can about them. The average American is bombarded with between 7,000 and 9,000 messages a day. Are they really listening to you when you try to speak to them? At Time Warner Cable, I introduced the company to elevator advertising through the service provider Captivate, ran regional advertising in a number of local area Minor League baseball teams and translated our website into Spanish because those were the MOST effective ways to reach small business owners in the New York Metro area.
Do you develop your marketing in conjunction with your sales efforts, and include your product development folks in your marketing strategy?
Another great failure of nearly all businesses that retain my services is the unwillingness to develop their marketing with their sales efforts and product development. You need to have a clear plan of what products and services you want to promote aggressively, those that are so established in their sales life cycles they require little support, and those you want/need to retire (sunset) through an end-of-life market exit strategy.
Can you calculate an ROI on every dollar of marketing you spend? You should have a campaign code on all print advertisements you run, and for every call to action a special 800-number if you ask people to call in response to your marketing. Tools like PhoneKey.com (thanks Mark at Roos) allow your customer service reps to be able to identify the source of all inbound calls that you receive in response to your campaigns.
Every Event is a 3-staged Process.
Each event you commit to is a marketing campaign in and of itself! Every event, trade show, conference, or client road show MUST be conducted as its own stand-alone 3-phased campaign. Every event is actually comprised of a pre-event, the event itself, and the post-event. Each of these 3 stages has a collective set of actions required for the ENTIRE event to be a success. Define measurable goals for each program, and conduct the event start to finish so you achieve a return on the event’s total cost commitment whether it’s obtaining newly qualified leads, engaging existing customers, promoting the launch of a new product or service, etc.
Invest in your marketing like you REALLY care about it.
Many organizations I speak to invest no more than 1-2% of their annual sales in their marketing budget. That’s a pathetically low level of marketing commitment, since marketing is the sum total of all programs and campaigns required to support sales. World-class organizations like Disney, Startbucks, Zappos invest between 5-15% of their budgeted annual sales on marketing. Now THAT is an investment!
When you develop your annual marketing plan you need to first talk strategy with your sales people to know what challenges they face, and their sales goals for the year then build out your marketing to support those key objectives.
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach
Entrepreneurs and start-ups need business intelligence to grow in turbulent times.
Business Intelligence (BI) plays a central role in enabling entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses to grow into thriving, profitable organizations.
For any organization to thrive, it requires the type of business intelligence that it can use to make strategic business decisions with confidence. That’s what Business Intelligence delivers. BI technology gives organizations the ability to track, understand, and manage its information. BI is taking on an increasingly strategic role as more organizations are looking for ways to tap into the valuable data stored in their operational systems.
Real-time information on market trends, information on vendors, consumer trends, customer purchase behavior, import/export considerations, shipping/delivery cycles, new product development sales by region…all fuel a small business’s ability to make the right kinds of decisions at the right time, especially with respect to allocating scarce resources.
But what exactly is business intelligence and how can you implement it within your organization?
According to Webopedia, the term Business Intelligence (BI) represents the tools and systems that play a key role in the strategic planning process of the corporation. These systems allow a company to gather, store, access and analyze corporate data to aid in decision-making. Generally these systems will illustrate business intelligence in the areas of customer profiling, customer support, market research, market segmentation, product profitability, statistical analysis, and inventory and distribution analysis to name a few.
According to Wikipedia, BI is a set of theories, methodologies, processes, architectures, and technologies that transform raw data into meaningful and useful information for business purposes. BI can handle large amounts of information to help identify and develop new opportunities. Making use of new opportunities and implementing an effective strategy can provide a competitive market advantage and long-term stability. [source]
BI technologies provide historical, current and predictive views of business operations. Common functions of business intelligence technologies are reporting, online analytical processing, analytics, data mining, process mining, complex event processing, business performance management, benchmarking, text mining, predictive analytics and prescriptive analytics.
Though the term business intelligence is sometimes a synonym for competitive intelligence (because they both support decision making), BI uses technologies, processes, and applications to analyze mostly internal, structured data and business processes while competitive intelligence gathers, analyzes and disseminates information with a topical focus on company competitors.
To build a BI infrastructure, start with your customer as the central cornerstone. Design a CRM/contact management system that allows you to capture all sorts of relevant prospect information. As you move a prospect through the lead qualification process, you will gather all sorts of information on them. At the point that you convert a qualified lead to a first time customer, you can obtain even more information on that new client.
As you migrate your client up your lifetime value ladder, keep integrating other components across you business into the CRM, from email systems to your blog, your website contact lead generation forms, your social media accounts, your client past purchase information, and then the systems, processes, and software that are embedded into your operations, from your customer care/call center, your phone support, Video and web conferencing…all the times you “TOUCH” a client can and must be captured to build a thoroughly complete picture of your clients, ESPECIALLY your most profitable clients who contribute most of your business (the 80/20 rule “Pareto principle.”)
Every time you can gather a little more information on your potential customers, and for every sale you make, you are increasing the amount of data that your business can leverage to perform even better, by improving your operations. For many companies, the challenge isn’t obtaining the data but rather in weeding through it all to find information it can use. While all of this is happening in your back office, on the front end you and your staff will need a dashboard view your key customer information so you can make actionable decisions in response to events as they happen, with greater confidence.
Most of the data that companies collect is useless! Why? Because they don’t have the resources to make sense of it all. Worse yet, their information is captured/stored in many different tools and is never brought together, so the organization can’t capture a complete picture of a situation and thus cannot make informed decisions. That leads to failure. With the proliferation in IT technology and Internet advances, BI isn’t just for huge corporations anymore.
In years past, incorporating Business Intelligence (BI) software was an act done only by big companies because it cost so much money to buy and deploy; not to mention, you would also have to hire programmers and developers to take care of scripting, mapping, and other high-level tasks in order to get value from the software. But now, there are many BI options out there for small and medium-sized business owners to implement and begin analysis of the data resulting from day-to-day operations. Most of them are free or low-cost, and are as simply to operate as a drag-and-drop function.
Great BI Tools for Entrepreneurs, Start-ups, and Small Businesses.
Tableau Desktop: allows users to visualize data through its interactive dashboards created from dragging, dropping, and connecting selected data points. By being able to look at this information graphically, you can easily spot trends. It can be run on a laptop, and has an engine powerful enough to analyze even large amounts of data, negating the need to sample.
PivotLink: specializes in cloud computing, allowing users to analyze data that’s been transported from on-premises to the cloud for storage and processing. Many analysts firms project more companies will begin to utilize the cloud, so this is a definite vendor to take a look at.
Yurbi: offers real-time access to data. For instance, rather than manually scheduling the next step in the process after data comes in, the system automatically knows to kick off the next step, allowing for a seamless integration of all of your data. With no hold-ups, you get access to, and are able to analyze your data faster.
Square: many small business owners are familiar with Square, allowing staff to swipe and process credit card payments on a phone or tablet device. Square also has built in analytics capabilities so you can instantly measure hour-by-hour sales, and know which of your products are best-sellers.
The bottom line for all productive BI tools is, they must deliver business owners real-time data access at their fingertips.
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach
All Successful Entrepreneurs Share the Same Characteristics.
Since I teach Entrepreneurship, have given lectures to thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs and coach hundreds of entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses, I have developed a fairly keen sense of who will (and WON’T) succeed at planning and launching a successful business.
I have developed a list of the traits that ALL successful entrepreneurs possess when it comes to planning, launching and then growing a viable (SUCCESSFUL) business. The qualities all successful serial entrepreneurs possess are:
1. Dogged Determination:
Successful entrepreneurs do not let failures slow them down. They keep going, and going, and going…like the Energizer bunny! They keep plugging along as they say to themselves: “I think I can, I think I can…” until they actually “DO!”
The people who ultimately succeed in launching their business are not afraid to fail. In fact, they overcome a fear of failure by planning meticulously while believing that if they are destimed to fail they will strive to fail GREATLY and learn from their mistakes so they are more likely to succeed in their next entrepreneurial pursuit…and the one after that, and the one after that…
3. Dare to Change The World:
These rebels, these radical thinkers are never happy with the STATUS QUO. They just aren’t happy with the world the way it is, and they want to change things for the better.
4. Love Setting/Meeting Deadlines:
These people hold themselves accountable for accomplishing tasks they face within the time frame they set for themselves. They don’t accept excuses from themselves, and they certainly don’t tolerate excuses from others.
5. Are Really Committed to Leaving Their Day Job:
For these people that are currently working in a day job while they plan their new business, they set dates for themselves that they will leave that job. It is their own personal EXIT STRATEGY from the daily grind of working for others, which leads to the next quality entrepreneurs all possess.
6. Hate Working for Others:
These are the people that have a burning, insatiable appetite to be their own bosses . They do not plan on working for others their entire careers, and are moving aggressively to create opportunities to go into business for themselves, by acquiring an existing business, buying a franchise, or launching their own business.
7. Pay Meticulous Attention to Detail:
These entrepreneurs have conducted exhaustive research by developing a customer development framework model, and they also have developed a comprehensive business plan with prototypes of the minimum product they will sell services they will offer.
8. Ask LOTS of Questions:
They’re naturally curious people always asking others to explain things they don’t understand. they’re naturally curious and tend to ask “Why” and “What If” a LOT!
9. Keep Their Eyes on the Future:
You can spot these folks a MILE away. They’re the ones who spot trends before others, they can connect seemingly unrelated events, facts, or issues into a BIG picture. They have a sixth sense to spot up and coming industries or the next hugely popular trend. They are also constantly focused on the “around the corner” and planning for what comes next. They naturally practice contingency planning by having fall back options, whether it’s pursuing other vendors/suppliers, defining more than one ideal target segment, having other products in development or are ready to deliver additional services. They are hardly ever unprepared for any unexpected event.
10. Embrace Their Weaknesses:
These folks are honest in their self-appraisals, they know what their strengths are and they play to their skills, while simultaneously aligning themselves with others whose own skills compliment theirs.
11. Thrive in Chaos: They inherently know how to roll with the punches, and deal with unforeseen circumstances. They do well in undefined roles, and know how to navigate through uncharted waters with very little structure and even less supervision. They are not afraid to set a course and go at it alone. The unknown does not affect them; in fact they seem to embrace the challenge of succeeding when chaos surrounds them.
12. Lifelong Learners: The most successful entrepreneurs are constantly looking to learn from every opportunity as a way to improve their products and services, offer better customer care, deliver greater value to investors/shareholders. They see their personal mission in life as seeking new opportunities to learn and they greedily consume as much knowledge as they can not for profit necessarily but for knowledge sake.
13. Problem-Solvers and Puzzle Doers: Funny thing about people that thrive as entrepreneurs is, they love facing problems and finding solutions. They don’t see the challenge as a burden, but rather a way to beat conventional thinking by taking approaches the rest of us just don’t see. they are obsessive about finding answers where none seem to exist. As children, they loved making models, doing crossword puzzles, and jigsaw puzzles, math problems, Rubik cubes, sudoku…anything that gave them an intellectual workout.
What do you think? Do YOU possess these characteristics? Are there any I missed that you would have added?
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach