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Successful Entrepreneurs Possess Common Traits

 
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!”
 
2. Risk-Takers:
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
 

Your Business Neeeds a Succession Plan

 
Have you created a succession plan to ensure your future business continuity and survival?
 
Does your business have a succession plan in place, in case your leader is unable to lead? What happens if your current President/CEO, owner leaves or is unable to lead your business? Do you have a succession plan (a formal written document) that defines a specific course of action, should your CEO leave, become incapacitated, retire or pass away?
 
With the increased complexity of running a business due to constant technological advances, rapidly evolving industry trends and technologies, and the global nature of business competition, you need to have a plan in place to guide you in transitioning your leadership, whether its a single owner/CEO, partners, or an entire management team.
 
Do you have a succession plan in place already? If so, when was the last time you revisited it, to ensure that it’s still relevant and accurately reflects your current business situation? If not, you are playing a dangerous game of Russian roulette by hoping you don’t need one.
 
If something happened to your leader, you won’t have the time required to develop a succession plan to guide you through identifying the ideal candidates from outside your organization through recruiting, then interviewing and hiring your new leader. the time it takes to develop a plan on the fly will likely prevent you from successfully navigating through the crisis and your business will likely suffer tremendously if not fold outright due to the lack of continuity in leadership.
 
So, what’s a succession plan, you ask?
 
Having a succession plan will enable you to identify employees who are capable of taking over upper and senior management positions. Most succession plans begin by creating a list of qualified candidates and narrowing the list down, until the right person (people) has been chosen. According to Marshall Goldsmith, a well-developed succession plan should emphasize/include the following four elements/considerations:
 
1.Change the name of the process from Succession Planning to Succession Development: Plans do not develop anyone — only development experiences develop people. We see many companies put more effort and attention into the planning process than they do into the development process. Succession planning processes should develop individuals you identify as possessing the requisite background, experience, values and desire to take over.
 
2. Measures your desired outcomes, not the process: This change of emphasis is important for several reasons. First, executives pay attention to what gets measured and what gets rewarded. If leadership development is not enough of a priority for the company to establish goals and track progress against those goals, it will be difficult to make any succession planning process work. Second, the act of engaging with senior executives to establish these goals will build support for succession planning and ownership for leadership development. Third, these results will help guide future efforts and mid-course corrections.
 
The metrics a company could establish for Succession Development might include goals like the percent of executive level vacancies that are actually filled with an internal promotion vs. an external hire, or the percent of promotions that actually come from the high-potential pool. Too often, we find companies measure only the percent of managers that had completed succession plans in place.
 
3. Keep it simple: We sometimes find companies adding excessively complex assessment criteria to the succession planning process in an effort to improve the quality of the assessment. Some of these criteria are challenging even for behavioral scientists to assess, much less the average line manager. Since the planning process is only a precursor to focus the development, it doesn’t need to be perfect. More sophisticated assessments can be built into the development process and administered by a competent coach.
 
4. Stay realistic: While development plans and succession charts aren’t promises, they are often communicated as such and can lead to frustration if they aren’t realistic. The bottom line is, don’t jerk around high performing leaders with unrealistic development expectations. Only extend the promise of succession IF there is a realistic chance that they will be chosen.
 
Here’s to your success in starting a new business in 2013. May it be the start of an entirely new path for you!
 
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach
 

Are Your Business Operations Ruining Your Business?

 
Are Your Business Operations Ruining Your Business?
 
Are your internal company systems, software, processes, and tools creating barriers to acquiring, serving, and keeping your customers? Before your answer “NO WAY” consider the following:
 
Any organization that says its operations and overall business performance are fine should take heed. As a business owner, you may think you’re just fine but…your employees are the ones who likely cannot respond to your customer’s needs and cannot serve your top customers the way they (and you) want them to because of your existing outdated policies, procedures, systems, and/or lack of logical, effective and clearly defined standards.
 
How can you tell if you have problems that MUST be addressed? Consider the many examples of dysfunctional 20th Century dinosaurs like: Sears, Bank of America, A&P, the Post Office, JC Penny, the Gap, Dell, etc. Can you think of any others?
 
problem-solution
 
Some questions you can and SHOULD ask:
 
• Do you have a contact management system that provides complete customer purchase history that your customer care representatives can view?
 
• Have you entered any seasonal/promotional campaign discounts into your point-of-sales system so those discounts are applied to a customer’s purchase?
 
• How easy is it for your clients to return products they purchased from you?
 
• How hard is it for your clients to reach someone in your company when and how they prefer?
 
• What is it really like buying from my business? Why not hire someone to MYSTERY SHOP your business and provide you with their feedback?
 
• How frequently do your employees experience phone, email or Internet service outages?
 
• Do you update your client’s contact information on a regular basis?
 
• How (in)frequently have you surveyed your top customers to see how you’re doing in serving them?
 
What if your business is in EXTREME distress and requires turnaround expertise. Implement more serious control measures to fix your business.
 
So, if your processes need an overhaul where can you start? ASK YOUR EMPLOYEES!
 
After all, your employees are the ones that serve your clients, answer your phones, and rely on your systems. They should know exactly what needs to be done to improve your operations and achieve greater efficiencies in your processes.
 
Here’s to your success running your business in 2013.
 
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach
 

Work ON (Not) IN Your Small Business

  Grow your business by focusing on your strategic planning.
 
With all the many demands placed on you in running the day to day operations of your small business it can be extremely easy to get side tracked by managing the different tasks just to run the business. Instead of investing all of your invaluable time and effort working IN your business, it’s critical that you take a STRATEGIC approach to work ON your strategic planning and growing your business.
 
But how do you stop managing the details of your business and instead focus all your efforts on your business strategic planning to grow your company, you ask?
 
Following are a few very easy to implement strategies you can begin doing TODAY to get out of your business management so you can get INTO the planning to grow your business:
 
1. Outsource Non-core Functions: Outsource all of your administrative functions to an outside third party, also referred to as a “virtual assistant.” Any task you perform that cannot be directly attributed to generating sales, finding new clients, or obtaining referrals is a WASTE of your time and effort. Hire a vendor to manage your various administrative functions from billing/invoicing to your email programs, managing your social media accounts, running your emails, updating your prospect and client contact details.
 
2. Develop your Operations Plan: Create a detailed operations plan defining your business processes, policies, procedures, risk management, business continuity and other day to day operations SO THAT you can delegate these Operations tasks to employees, outside consultants, vendors, etc.
 
3. Empower Your Employees: I am constantly amazed at how few business owners I coach are willing to delegate tasks to their people. They believe their people are not qualified (a very dangerous sign!) or they simply do not know how to give up control of tasks they have done themselves. But your people are closest to your clients, prospects, operations and tasks. By empowering them you create a number of positive outcomes such as:
 
a. Employee satisfaction which leads to greater retention
b. Employee productivity gains – so you can get the full return on your people investment
c. New ideas to reduce your costs, increase your revenues, serve your clients, find new business, obtain referrals
d. New product/service offerings
e. Free up YOUR time to invest in the planning ON your future business growth
 
4. Plan for Growth: Develop a strategic networking plan so you can identify the events that all your top clients attend so you can plan a program for maximizing your networking investment.
 
5. Create Client Referral and Loyalty Programs: 50% of all new business comes from your existing clients. 35% of your new business is generated by new clients referred to you by existing clients. Only 15% of your new business comes from advertising. Thus, 85% of ALL your business comes from existing clients. How are you personally working on developing one time clients to repeat purchasers, from repeat purchasers to raving fans and how are you maintaining those Raving Fan relationships.
 
Here’s to your success in starting a new business in 2013. May it be the start of an entirely new path for you!
 
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach
 

Plan a New Business While You're Working

 
How to Plan Your New Business While You’re Working.
 
We are living in the age of the entrepreneur! More and more professionals that have become disenfranchised working in Corporate America and are between jobs or considering a career transition have been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. Many people I know personally and others I coach are working feverishly RIGHT NOW to plan their new business.
 
If you are one of these budding entrepreneurs, how can YOU go about the arduous and intense process? How do you plan a new business while you’re fully committed to your day job? It’s certainly not easy, but there are steps you can take to increase the likelihood that you will successfully transition from employee to business owner. You CAN plan a new business while you’re working. Here’s how…
 
Time management is the key: Learn how to develop a plan of action and move forward aggressively with a focus of completing all your tasks and diligently stick to assigned deadlines. Set aside a predetermined amount of time EVERY DAY to dedicate to your business. Try VERY not to let anything interfere with your daily business start-up planning. If you can’t honor the time you committed to your new business planning on a given day, you MUST make up that lost time the following day or two.
 
Build a working prototype: You need to develop a bare minimum product/service offering that you can create a concept for and pitch to people in your social and professional networks to gauge their receptiveness to your offering. People have to feel it, hold it, touch it, smell it, try it on. If it’s a service they have to test it.
 
Build an ideal customer profile: Define your ideal customer in as much detail as possible. Don’t skimp on the details. How old is she, where does she live, is she married, what is the highest level of education she achieved, is she married, what’s her job, where does she work, how long has she worked there, does she have children, does she belong to a wine of the month club, belong to a gym, shop online? The extent to which you can define your ideal customer in as much detail as possible will go a long way towards being able to develop products and services tailored to her specific needs and challenges.
 
After you develop a product/service prototype and ideal customer profile start thinking about the people you know that match the profile and asking them if they would use your product/pay for your service.
 
Start saving. Since most of the funds required to start your business will come from you plus your closest friends and family, start thinking about the few people that you might ask for assistance.
 
Let the sleep deprivation begin: There is no way around it! You are going to have to get accustomed to making due with LESS SLEEP! Entrepreneurs work more, sleep less, and find themselves waking up at all hours because they are so deep in the planning aspects of their business.
 
Build a robust contact database: Begin building a list of relevant, useful contacts in your social and professional network. Be sure to include experts in Web development, social media, business coaching, administrative services, e-mail marketing, contact management systems, sales support platforms, financial management, accounting, intellectual property, customer care, etc.
 
Build your compelling brand online: Update all of your social media profiles, begin developing an editorial calendar for the blog you will write as a way to build your reputational brand as a subject matter expert.
 
Research, research, research: Learn as much as you possibly can about the industry you are going to enter. Follow the most popular bloggers, subscribe to their e-newsletters, research all the trade associations that serve the industry. You MUST become knowledgeable about all the latest trends and developments affecting your industry. Who are the new players, struggling competitors, rising star key executives, latest technologies.
 
Acquire business ownership skills: Begin acquiring a working knowledge in all of the key areas required to run your business including: accounting, financial planning, marketing, sales, human resources, and operations for starters.
 
Interview your fellow entrepreneurs: Start speaking with as many entrepreneurs and start-ups as you know to learn as much as you can about their lessons learned, get advice from as many people as possible on what to do, what not do to, best tips, advice, resources.
 
Become a “subject matter expert”: start building your reputation (brand) as an expert in your field. You can accomplish this the following ways:
 
* Get Published: write articles in any number of areas in your field and submit them to influential publications. Begin having dialogs with those noted media experts in your field, build relationships with them using your social media.
 
* Identify Your Unique Selling Proposition: what significant experience, skills, and expertise have you already acquired that you can begin to craft compelling messaging around for your own brand as unique, memorable, and invaluable.
 
* Define Your Features & Benefits: Again, what are your value propositions with respect to past work experience, technical expertise, relevant experience, professional affiliations and memberships, skills, accreditations and certifications.
 
* Identify Your Success Stories: create a list of the 4-5 major accomplishments you are most proud of and best capture the essence of your value proposition.
 
* Begin Promoting Yourself: Create a strategic plan of networking opportunities in your industry and start practicing your own brand story-telling when yo meet new people at these events.
 
* Monitor & Defend Your Brand: I tell all my clients to do a Google, Bing, and Yahoo search on your name once a month, and check your personal brand online through such services as Klout.
 
Enlist Your Loved Ones: very serious conversation with your spouse/significant other to discuss their emotional support you are going to need from them, the financial impact you’ll both experience, your time frame to launch the business and thus a tentative date that you will LEAVE your day job.
 
Start exercising: The stress and wear and tear your body takes when you start planning a new business is tremendous, so you need to start getting into shape so you have the energy that will be required to work those extra hours and deal with the toll that the stress will place on you.
 
Find Your Future Business Partners: Think about the partners you may be able to align yourself with. People whose skill sets compliment yours but also share your values and moral compass/ethics BUT are also the OPPOSITE of you from a personality standpoint. you want people whose experience, beliefs and temperament are a compliment to yours, NOT who match yours.
 
Set Your Exit Date: As you develop a calendar and time frame to launch and this begin thinking about an exit strategy to leave your day job you have to match that schedule with your personal and family calendar to ensure they are in as much synergy/alignment as possible.
 
Here’s to your success in starting a new business in 2013. May it be the start of an entirely new path for you!
 
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach
 

Strategic networking for business success

 
So, You Met at a Networking Event? Now What?
 
In my role as an executive coach and business consultant, I’m ALWAYS amazed how little advance planning most business owners and professionals invest in their professional networking. They receive an email from a MeetUp or LinkedIn group, or a professional trade association, Chamber of Commerce, or Merchant Association they belong to. If their schedule permits, they sign up to attend. In a previous post that I wrote about business networking, there were some great comments posted by others saying many people hate networking or simply don’t know how to network. The mistake most people make when they network is, they equate networking with selling. It’s not! Networking is all about making relationships and seeing if there is a way that you can help people to overcome their challenges.
 
As far as how to approach networking from a strategic standpoint, I advise my clients to treat any networking event the same way as you’d treat a marketing event. Approach each event you attend like it is a three-stage process. Here’s how…
 
STEP 1: The PRE Event:
 
The first step is the pre event. Find out who is going to attend, are there any speakers you want to hear or topics being covered that you are looking to learn more about. Next, as part of the PRE event reach out to the attendees, exhibitors, panelists, and speakers that are participating, in order to make an initial introduction. Do research on them to personalize your correspondence. Invite them to join you on your social media outlets. Next, promote the fact that you are attending the upcoming event by emailing folks you know who might like to attend, and let your social media contacts also know you’re going.
 
STEP 2: The EVENT Itself:
 
Then the second stage is the actual event. Seek out the people you contacted when you signed up, and make introductions. Spend time talking about THEM…not YOU. Why are they attending, what do they want to get out of the event, what are their key challenges. You should have as a general rule a strategic plan that you’ll talk to each person for about 10 minutes. If you feel that you can
hep them the goal of such a conversation is to schedule a follow meeting.
 
A long time ago I learned about an approach to networking which is simply BRILLIANT. Think of your approach to networking success as the “5-2-1” rule. In your introductions, what you say in the first five seconds you are talking MUST be so engaging and compelling that they respond: “Wow, tell me more!” During the critical next few (TWO) minutes you should expand on your introduction. After that two minute introduction, you let them talk about themselves and their challenges. The next step should be to set up a (ONE hour) meeting at a later date. That is the “5-2-1” rule, and it’s a great guideline for providing structure to any conversation you might have at a networking event.
 
STEP 3: The POST Event:
 
So, you leave the event. You spoke to a few great prospects, obtained their business cards, and maybe even scanned each others’ quick response code on your business cards. Now what?
 
Go to your social media and give a shout out to the particularly interesting (attractive) leads you met. Send them an email where you remind them what you talked about. Show you’ve done more research on their challenges, and invite them for coffee/tea (your treat!) to chat further. Send invitations where appropriate and always take the position: “HOW CAN I HELP THEM?”
 
Here’s to your success in starting a new business in 2013. May it be the start of an entirely new path for you!
 
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach