Archive for February, 2016

The Six Must Have Elements of a Great Entrepreneur

The Six Must Have Elements of a Great Entrepreneur

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As an entrepreneur you have to have a million and one skills, abilities, knowledge and experience, it is really feasible to think you as one person can do it all?

Making the move from the constraints of “a job” and your terrible boss, to choosing when, where, with whom you work seems like paradise; but like my mum always told me, “if it seems too good to be true, then it usually is.”  Being an entrepreneur is by no way an easy choice, nor is it for everyone, but to give yourself any change of success you must have six key elements.

1 – Time management – Even working 18 hours a day, seven days a week, will not ensure your success if you are getting distracted with this, that and the other, each and every day.  Especially as most entrepreneurs start working from home, you have to be disciplined with your times and your activities.

2 – Self development – Starting a business everyone is short of cash, prioritizing where you spend is hugely important, but knowing your personal strengths and areas that need work, is vitally important.  Finding a suitable mentor who has successfully walked the path you want to walk can save a huge amount of headaches, anxiety and wasteful spending.  Be teachable and a sponge, learn along the way.

3 – Team player – This may seem strange as most entrepreneurs are sole traders or small business, but as mentioned before one person cannot be master of all, you need to build a business network and find like minded and supportive people.   Exchanging information, ideas and calling on mutual strengths is very cost effective and productive.

4 – Your business – Get your idea/message/client group clear in your head and stick to it, one size does not fit all.  Finding your niche, is your gold mine, get focused and build your road map to your destination.  Know where you want to be, in how much time and work your route out.  Stick to SMART goals (Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time bound).

5 – Be professional – Never, get friends, family or acquaintances to do major elements for you in your business as favors.  It may seem a great idea at the time and save you some money,  but it will cost you dearly in the long run.  They are not motivated by your business, they are not accountable if they are doing you a favor and many relationships have been broken and lost this way.

6 – Be accountable – Again, you may think I am in my business, I am the boss, I do not need to answer to anyone.  Nobody builds a business alone,  you may not have a board of directors to answer to, but you should use your mentor to keep you on track, be creative and help you stick to deadlines, if not your business will not survive very long.

Entrepreneurs are the cornerstone of our very mixed societies these days, there are more support systems and organizations in place than ever before, but none of them will ensure your success, you are the only one that can do that.

Personally I do not know any entrepreneur that has not taken some knocks, losses and known defeat, what makes them keep coming back for more?  Their dream, their desire to make a difference, financial freedom for themselves and their family, the prospect of what is possible, all are great reasons, but the reasons of others do not make you get out of bed in the morning, only your dreams and your reasons can do that.

No Such Thing as Coincidence

One of the things that I have been taught over the years as a  speaker, is to collect stories and quotes that mean something to me, so quite often I can transpose them into one of my presentations to demonstrate a point. It is still spooky for me when a real life story unfolds in front of me.

The other day in a city centre mall in  Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, I was having a coffee with a friend of mine, a very lively, vivacious. (40 something) New Yorker, when an older, very elegant American lady came up to our table very politely, apologizing for interrupting us and asked if Julie remembered her from a year ago in Houston.   Julie, is a compulsive chatterbox and speaks to numerous people every day, let alone every week, and month, and a year ago!  Julie, dazzled the lady with one of her warm open eyed smiles, that I knew from experience meant – she had not got a clue who this woman was.  So, we asked her to join us for coffee, which she did.  Gently Julie asked her questions about being in Riyadh and how they had met.

Angela Morton had been in Houston to collect the ashes of her  husband Jim, they had been married 47 years, when he suddenly died of a stroke. She had wanted to do this journey alone to collect him, but when she got to the street of the undertakers, she could not walk any further.  So, she went into a Starbucks, just to collect herself before continuing on.  Apparently it had been quite busy, she got her coffee, but could not see anywhere to sit, Julie had jumped up and offered her a chair, then went and found another one, so they sat and chatted for about 30mins.  Angela never said where she was going, or what she was doing there, Julie had just happily chatted to her about everyday things.  That was the first “normal” conversation she had had since Jim had died, people had treated her gently and kindly, but not just as Angela.

After the coffee, they had both said goodbye and went their own way.  Angela collected    Jim, took him home and celebrated his life with their family and friends. Her son Jimmy like his father was a military man and was based in the US base in Riyadh.  She had come over to visit him and his wife, they had brought her shopping and when she had seen Julie she had wanted to come and speak to her.  Now we both noticed a tall, man with his petite blond wife standing just a little way away in front of a shop. We beckoned for them to join us, once they were seated with us, Angela finished her story of their meeting.

On that day she had wanted to pick Jim up alone, because she had decided not to take him home, but to take him with her then she could join him, she did not want to tell any of her family, but she just could not see that she had any life without Jim, they had been sweethearts from school and he was her life. In just one conversation with Julie, as her own person, somebody was interested in her and what she had to say, Angela realized that she could be a person herself.  To say now that we were all in tears would be an understatement.

Jimmy said that Angela had not said anything to anyone until several months later, but by then she had joined some local women’s groups and even a dancing class.  Nobody  close to her could have had that conversation and they were all so grateful to Julie.  They never imagined that there would be another chance meeting, but there we were, in a café, thousands of miles from Houston with such an amazing story unfolding.

After big hugs, kisses and thank yous, Jimmy, Dina (his wife) and Angela left us, Julie and I had to have another coffee (as there was nothing stronger!)  to get our heads around everything that had just happened.  Wow what an amazing friend to have, thank goodness this one New Yorker loves talking to people and the reason Julie was there, she was calming her nerves waiting to go and meet John an ex-military man who she was getting married to. So, after a coffee and a chat two new,  happy lives started that day.

The Rocky Road of Entrepreneurship

If only you could have been with me at 9.30 am on the 22nd September, 2005, in sunny  Rojales, on the Costa Blanca, in  Spain.  In an enormous glass fronted, sleek notary office, which had a huge walnut desk that you could see your refection in, was placed across the top wall, two oversized, black leather, swivel chairs strategically positioned by each corner of the desk.  A white cardboard file was placed on the table, with many pieces of crisp official looking paper, blue stamps in all of the top right hand corners, and a place for two signatures at the bottom of every sheet.   Lifting the heavy designer pen, my fingers were shaking, that day was to change all of our lives.

Walking out of that elite office, knees a little wobbly and excitement bubbling in my belly, here I was an entrepreneur.    I soon learnt that as an entrepreneur   you need a million skills across a wide spectrum of work fields, no wonder as an entrepreneur you feel like you are on a perpetual hamster wheel, or treading water, just to stay in the same place.   The ever constant demands on your time needs super -man or woman, to be with you.

Every hour of every day, being bombarded with, offers, experts and must have services, even trying to pick people to trust is like passing a psychology degree in human behavior.  Within a month, the bank balance was rapidly decreasing and client list 0, amazingly all these people with wonderful offers, experts and must have services stop answering your emails or returning your calls.  A hard bumpy ground with many pot holes seems to be stretching into the horizon.

The fire of excitement you feel of not having to have a boss, getting up and working when and where you want seems to dim as the invoices, bills and mortgage payments still drop onto the door mat with unnerving frequency. There never seems to be enough time or money; there even seems to be less of both than when you were employed.  This dream of doing what you wanted and making your passion into a real business gets more of a struggle every day.  You knew that choosing to be an entrepreneur was not an easy choice, but neither did you think is was going to be so hard.

There are many people making a lot of money out there, there are some “miracles” that bring money rolling in as by magic, but on the whole, there are not.  Somewhere in the sign up spiel in very small print the message that over 95% of entrepreneurs, fail ; but of course you are not going to be one of them.

I too listened to “friends” you need a website, I know somebody, you need Google Ads, somebody else knows somebody,   local advertising, one knows just the person….. and on it goes.  Throwing money into a bottomless pit, and losing several friendships along the way.  Even up-line sponsors, bullying you into making purchases for their needs and not anything to do with yours, though they do not package it that way!

By the end of each 18 hour  day, 7 day week,  you are exhausted, your mind in a whiz listening to so much conflicting information, your health and very often your close relationships in tatters.   You are not alone, there are millions of us out there.  Most successful entrepreneur has had more than one business attempt before being successful.   Of course there are small successes along the way, but all in all, the big one can be elusive.

“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”                Bill Gates

There are millions of course and thousands of mentors, coaches, trainers etc, but anyone considering entrepreneurship or already in it but needing to step it up to actually making the extra 000s  there are some golden rules.  By far the most important, is get a mentor:  not just your up line/sponsor in a network marketing company, one that has your interest and goals as their first consideration.  Make it a person who has been where you are, succeeded where you want to succeed.  When starting out you many see this as an unnecessary expense, but overall it will save you, time, money and a lot of heartache.   Entrepreneur magazine did a survey over five years and found that 68% of entrepreneurs who had mentors, succeeded. That is a huge bonus.

If you do not start with a one-to-one session, join their communities, read their books, listen to their CDs and casts, get on their mailing lists and an enormous amount of information is send out as freebies.  Keep yourself accountable for every stage of your progress.  If they have workshops/trainings or presentations, make it part of your development plan to get there.

Working as an entrepreneur can be very lonely, being isolated and lead to a lot of time being wasted as we get side tracked onto all sorts of things, so time management is your second huge must, doing each part of your business on a regular basis in  required.  To get your brand out there, you have to be in regular contact with others.  Nobody builds a business alone, treading the boards, networking and finding likeminded people, means it is much easier to keep your dream alive; mixing with naysayers and negative people makes you task even harder.  Like trying to climb Everest with an elephant on your back.

Developing yourself is just as important as developing you idea/passion into a business, there maybe a thousand underwater basket weavers out there, but what makes people want to work with, buy from and support one in particular,  the person you are and how you do business.   “Make yourself into the person others want to do business with, then success will follow.” Patricia Fripp

Your passion is not enough to sustain you through the rocky road of entrepreneurship   alone, getting others around you to help you is a sure step to success.

Ripples in a Pond

Ripples in a Pond                    father

I received an email from a seminar participant last week, and it got me thinking about how much our own behavior affects those around us – sometimes without us ever knowing. Quoting part of the email:

“For a very long time I have been struggling with how to talk to my son, who is now 8 years old.  Despite being a great kid, he has a very negative self-image and is an unforgiving perfectionist.   In the past my reaction to some of his behavior has been very negative and deconstructive and usually leads to outbursts and very negative self-talk. During the class I had an ‘Aha’ that my negative reaction to his behavior was helping create a bigger problem.

“Upon coming home from your training, I immediately told my wife what I had learned. The next morning I committed myself to use the, ‘Stop, you are better than that / Next time…’ approach with my son. As instances would arise, I could see that my change helped keep the situation calm and we had no outbursts the entire weekend. I felt the change was doing something, but I wasn’t sure if the kids even noticed.

“It was not until today that I figured out how much of an impact the change is having on my kids. My wife called me to let me know that she was walking by the bedroom where my 2 sons were playing and she heard the 8 year old say, ‘You are better than that.’ Knowing the changes I was trying to make, my wife immediately went into the room and asked what the boys were talking about. My 8 year old piped up and told my wife, ‘Daddy has changed. When we used to get in trouble he would get mad at us and now he tells us, we are better than that. I really like that.'”

How many times have we said things or reacted out of habit, without giving thought to the words we use or the reactions we are causing? Like ripples in a pond when you drop a stone in the water, our words and actions spread out, far and wide. Perhaps it is time to do a little, “Stop it. I’m better than that,” on ourselves…

The Mind of a Survivor

The mind of a survivor

When times get tough, some people fold and some are made even stronger. Did you ever wonder why some people seem to be able to handle life better than others? Everyone likes to think that they have what it takes to survive adversity and tough times, but when the chips are down, some folks definitely do better than others.

The real survivors in life (not the participants in the recent glut of “reality” survivor TV shows that only seem to bring out the worst in human behavior) have developed personalities that allow them more options. They also have a strong and clear intention to survive, and to do it in good shape. When problems or setbacks occur, they don’t waste time complaining and they don’t dwell on the past or what they’ve lost. Instead, their energies are focused on getting things to turn out well.

Survivors believe that, no matter what happens to them, they are the ones who are in charge of their destinies. They don’t get mad at the world for not treating them better, but they do have an extensive menu of behaviors they can choose from, depending on the situation. In other words, survivors are option thinkers, instead of black and white, either/or thinkers.

They also have a wonderful ability to laugh at adversity because they know that even if they lose everything else, they will still have themselves. People with survivor personalities can walk confidently into the unknown because they expect to find a way to make things work out.

So, if you want to be a true survivor, try focusing your attention less on just safety and security, more on developing positive beliefs and expectations, then see what kind of survivor you are!