Building Brand for Entrepreneurs

The entrepreneur is intimately tied to the business in almost every aspect and most importantly, by reputation. This reputation conveys qualities to potential customers, partners, investors and employees that influence their desire to engage with the business. Before committing large sums of scarce cash to creative agencies, take a few simple steps to establish the foundation for your brand. Later, when you can afford to engage them, you will give them a solid base to work from and increase the value of their work.

First, clarify who you are by developing your brand personality. This begins with your own unique personality. There is some aspect of your personality that attracts people to you. If you’re not sure, ask your friends and family. Even if the trait seems a little quirky and not corporate-like, emphasize it because it is already working for you. Along with your personality is a unique benefit that other people say they get from you. Perhaps you are a great problem-solver, a good listener, or an outstanding dealmaker. Make sure that this personality trait and unique value are evident in everything you do.

Second, clarify your purpose and direction by developing a set of guiding principles and goals. Guiding principles are the core set of value statements that guide your behavior in decision-making and in working with others. They also help others to understand how they can expect to experience working with you and your business. Clear, measurable goals help to keep you on track and they let other people in on where you are going. Together, the goals set the compass point and the principles or values help to guide your decisions and actions.

Third, communicate your intentions by sharing your knowledge and expertise. Helping others to solve problems or advance their own initiatives is a powerful way to build your reputation and your brand. Take advantage of all of the electronic tools available including blog articles, videos, social media feeds, eBooks, and seminars and even printed books. Don’t give up after just a few weeks because you didn’t see your business growth explode magically. Building a brand can take a long time. A reputation for delivering highly valued products and services comes after many people have experienced them and then told others the good news.

Over Confidence and Entrepreneurs

The capacity of our mind is bounded. We tend to focus on very narrow slices of information and ignore massive amounts. We imagine that reality is simple, that we can reasonably forecast the future, and we become overconfident as result. In short, we fail to appreciate how much we do not know — how much uncertainty we should have. Further, we tend look for evidence supporting what we already believe; consequently, we become more overconfident. We fail to appreciate that our beliefs just might be false, that we are fallible.

Unfortunately, we don’t seem to learn very well from experience. We regularly need to remind entrepreneurs not to ignore the role of chance and randomness in events. Our mind is constantly trying to make sense of things – and it has a great liability to do so, even when there is nothing to be made sense of (except randomness). And, as you read these words, their truth will seem obvious – because you cannot imagine fully not knowing what you know now. In hindsight, everything is obvious, including this point. Since everything becomes clear to us and we forget what we did not know, the cycle feeds itself and we become even more overconfident.

However, if we can recognize that we are surrounded in time by massive uncertainties, then we are least on the right path. Acknowledging that we are fallible and tend become overconfident is itself incompatible with overconfidence. We should keep in mind that we are not as clever as we had imagined we were back when we were less clever. We should use the tools that we have at our disposal (e. g. statistics, experimentation, our capacity to reason in a rigorous way), and avoid making decisions based on un-grounded intuition and overconfident beliefs.

Effectively Manage Remote Employees

  • Don’t be afraid to give honest feedback. When you communicate primarily via email and phone, it sometimes seems easier to let some things slide. But just because you don’t see these employees in person doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t let them know what’s important to you and what’s expected. Be straightforward and honest if the work they do is not up to your standards. Give them the opportunity to make it right.
  • Mind your manners. Working remotely tends to depersonalize interactions. If your only interaction is via email, it can be easy to forget you’re dealing with a living, thinking, feeling human being. As your mother used to say, remember your manners. Say “please” and “thank you.” If your employee or colleague does a great job, say so. Be effusive in your praise if it’s warranted. A little respect goes a long way.
  • Be flexible. Again, when your employee or colleague is only an avatar on a screen, it’s easy to start treating him or her as a virtual servant on whom you can impose ridiculous demands. Just because you’re working through the weekend or you have insomnia and are working at 2 a.m. doesn’t mean you can expect your employee to be doing the same. Having virtual employees does not equate to 24/7 access to them. Think long and hard before you elevate projects to urgent status, because it you do this on a regular basis, you become the boy who cried wolf and “urgent” will lose its meaning.
  • Quantify and qualify your expectations. This means you don’t assume anything, especially that your virtual employee or colleague understands how important a project is unless you make it clear in writing. Write out a checklist and email or message progress reports back and forth with a clear timeline and ultimate goals.
  • Use the phone and/or video chat. While email and messaging are convenient and don’t require the two parties to be available and focused at the same time, it can depersonalize your interactions. Make use of Skype or Facetime to brainstorm, go over agendas, get feedback on the spot without waiting for an email that may or may not answer your questions.
  • Keep in touch. There’s nothing worse than getting a frantic email, text or phone call the night before an important deadline to tell you the deadline won’t be met. A check-in once a week either via phone, text or email can help you see where your employees are struggling, if they’ve hit a snag or roadblock, if they don’t understand the project. Go back to your expectation checklist and see where your employees are each week on projects so you won’t be blindsided come deadline.

Competition Shapes a Business

  • Organization design
    When the external environment is unstable, an entrepreneur will need to design an organic business structure to stay competitive. This is needed to meet the sudden changes that could arise in its environment. Organic structures usually operate using cross functional teams which may dissolve and reform to meet the challenges posed by the external environment. On the other hand, entrepreneurs in stable environments, will benefit more from highly standardized processes.
  • Moreover, markets that require highly specialized knowledge can gain a more competitive edge by being decentralized. This is because it is impossible for one person to possess the amount of knowledge required by the market place. For example, doctors operate in decentralized environments.
  • Size of business
    There are instances when the market demands a large size. For example a business that designs airplanes will need to be large to absorb the total costs to design the planes. On the other hand, there are businesses that do not do so well if they appear to be too large. For example, with professional services, consumers like the feeling of smallness because it indicates that the business is able to give them the personal attention they desire at an affordable price. The challenge for a professional service business is scaling while maintaining the personal touch consumers have come to love.

Being an Entrepreneur

To begin with you should write down your concept as to what you economically want to do as precisely as you can in only one paragraph. But in doing this you have to watch out for the various traps that exist in developing a concept. They are; 1) it won’t work, 2) you can’t make any money on it, 3) there is no market for it, and 4) there can be unpredictable customer behaviour. But also remember this; that the customer has to pay at least 5 times the direct cost of a product.

Now there are three types of Business entries that you should consider. They are; 1) starting from scratch whereby you should be prepared to take 5 to 8 years to start a business, 2) buying an existing business whereby the risks are less by saving time (1 year) for the business to be operational, buying cheaper assets, and by assuming cheaper financing, and/or 3) in buying a franchise whereby the risk would only be about 30%. Also you could be an Entrepreneur within a company as well.

The ideal business actually should have; 1) no investment, 2) an identifiable market, 3) a low cost supply, 4) minimum government regulations, 5) good price-cost ratio, 6) frequent buyers, 7) favourable tax treatment, 8) a good distributing system, 9) news value, 10) technical fashion obsolescence, 11) perishability and, 12) weather proofness

Three types of business plans should be written once your concept of a business starts to materialize. They are; 1) The Feasibility Plan, 2) The Operational Plan and, 3) The Financial Plan. Financing for the business could be accomplished by; 1) cash from customers, 2) sub-contracting, 3) your own money, 4) borrowing (from as few as possible) or 5) by leasing.

The Management team, if you decide to assemble one, should include; 1) the creator, 2) the driving force, 3) the marketer (the marketing strategy should be to find the competitive edge either in quality, price, or service) and, 4) a financial expert. Then you should give each of them part of the rock and teach them to listen to others.

Small Business Multi Tasking

It would also be a fair guess that almost all of the managers of these small businesses must engage in multi tasking every day. In this author’s view there are only two types of multi-tasking: enjoyable or horrible. One will most likely either love it or hate it. Multi tasking is stressful either way, but it is very stressful for those who hate it.

Those who hate it are most likely to be persons who have difficulty concentrating and staying focused.

A simple test is this: do you enjoy and handle reasonably well such activities as watching TV and reading something light at the same time? Do you handle conversations fairly well while doing some other task at the same time? Can you follow two lines of thought at the same time without getting a headache? If so, there is no reason you cannot handle multi tasking and learn to enjoy it with a minimum of stress. That is the goal: achieving a minimum of stress and a maximum amount of satisfaction from multi tasking.

If your answer to the questions was no, then multi tasking needs to be approached slowly and carefully, knowing that it will cause you fits if you try to rush. It often also means hiring another person to assist you, or outsourcing some of the more vexing tasks such as accounting, billing or personnel management.

Napoleon Bonaparte, it is said, would dictate letters 12 at a time, using 12 secretaries. He would move from one secretary to the next, remembering where he had left off with each letter and continuing the dictation accurately as he made the rounds. That is a classic example of multi tasking! We should all be so gifted! Today’s world of small business management presents much less dramatic challenges but no less real.

We find ourselves trying to sort mail while answering a demand phone call. We try to finish something on the computer while jotting down important things to remember. Most frequently we find ourselves of necessity stopping a task half-finished because something more important, such as speaking with a distressed employee or demanding customer, has come up. Then we must return to the first task and hope to pick up the train of thought. The most common casualty of this inevitable stop and go work pace is filing. It is so easy to pile up things that need to be filed. The piles grow almost as if by magic.

Organization is the starting point for those wishing to take the pain out of multi tasking. And filing is the foundation for being organized. Never let a day go by without finishing the filing. The reason? Because filing is the secret to being able to find things. Spending time looking for information, letters, bills, receipts and messages is probably the number one cause of frustration. And therein lies the second key to taking out the pain of multi tasking: Turn frustration into satisfaction. This makes a joy out of what otherwise becomes a budding nightmare. Good order begins with finding things. Finding things begins with putting them where they belong. Putting them where they belong means attention to filing, every day, perhaps every few hours. Then, when it is time retrieve information there it is! Now the task has a chance to become satisfying.

Few, if any small business managers will be faced with the complexities of the magnitude that surrounded Napoleon. The manager’s work is simply not dramatic or earth shaking most of the time. In fact, it is so ordinary that the lack of challenge itself can become a road to burnout. The secret is always the same: get the tasks to be satisfying or they will get you to be bored and bitter. If this approach means taking more time, then so be it. Better work longer and get the job done right than to hurry and work in a constant state of uproar, frustration, disorganization and low-grade chaos.

The road to patience runs right through managing a small business. It starts with reflecting on the best strategies in your own case for handling multi tasking. No matter what the approach, there are fundamentals that help. These include an organized approach to filing, to laying out the day’s tasks and schedule with some sense of priority, keeping track of what needs to be done tomorrow, careful attention to messages, routine and clear notes in the date book and accurate posting of deadlines. These fundamentals are what turn frustration into satisfaction.

Finally: take frequent short breaks. The manager who only takes breaks when there is time to take a break will not last. There is never enough time to take a break because the work of managing is never finished. That is where the third secret comes into the picture. If the first secret to enjoying all of this is good order built on good filing then the second is turning frustration into satisfaction and the third is

Translation: schedule your breaks if you want them to happen.

Thinking Of Selling Your Long Term Care Business?

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There are numerous home business ideas. In fact, these concepts have influenced probable entrepreneurs to uncover the features of working from one’s house. That is why a number of people have opted beyond employment. These self-employed individuals earn money nevertheless have the opportunity to pay additional time making use of their spouse and children. For many, the outcomes were very encouraging. While you may just be working at home, it is possible to bolster the inspiration of the enterprise and offer for the family simultaneously.

One of your most crucial components of home organizing as a work-at-home mom ought to be to establish your small business hours. Establishing specific functioning moments all through each day has numerous features. 1St, you will likely be a lot more consistent utilizing you perform the job. After you have gotten familiar with starting and stopping at a particular time each working day you’ll perform additional efficiently.

It’s a good idea to set office hours. Until an excellent work pattern is established, it’s a wise decision to kick the TV into the next room too. Some people tend to disconnect their house telephones or send calls to voice mail while working at home. If necessary, set-up an office building phone line account and treat it as a workplace number. Many well-intentioned people forget that having friends who home based doesn’t mean their friends do not have office hours like all others. A business person who worked in an office would only be contacted during times of emergency. A business individual that runs their own online work from home business must be treated much the same way.

Conclusion

It is why a home-based job, is desired by so many people all over the world. Liberty is guaranteed initially. Financial freedom can also be assured alternatively when you get emerge a unique form of home-based business. In order to work from home very worthwhile, you ought to select your parts of interest and list them out to identify the most effective suitable options. There are plenty of ways to start earning through web sites.

Small Business Technology

Web Site

This is a low cost and efficient means to give you 24/7 customer support, sales and communication, not just in your geographic area, but around the world. Your Web site can even be a tool of internal communication for your employees. The big hype of making tons of money “over the Internet” is exaggerated, but your Web site can be an excellent communications and advertising tool — which leads to indirect profits — and even a direct money making tool if developed properly. A good website explains your product or service and introducing perspective customers to your business. Remember to focus on the customer when designing your website, not yourself. Focus on benefits and advantages that you offer.

Email

Neater and cheaper than faxing, faster then FEDEX or the Post Office. Email is the premier tool for communications. For example, one of my client companies had telephone bills that reached into the thousands of dollars per month; after implementing a simple email system their phone bill was $68.00. They actually communicate more frequently, but email has cut down on expensive faxing costs. The danger of email comes from junk mail, viruses and bad email etiquette.

Junk mail can be dealt with by using simple filters. For example, Microsoft Outlook comes with built in junk mail filters which work quite well. Leverage the systems you have before running out and spending money. Email etiquette is really up to your corporate culture. Some companies have no problem with employees CC’ing every one in the business and others regulate against it. Just figure out what works for you and then let people in your business know what you prefer. Email opens the doors to great advantages but equally dangerous threats. That is why you must, absolutely have the next item on this list.

Anti-Virus Software

Viruses will attack your computer systems. The only question is will you fight back. Protect your data! In the 21st century information is more valuable than cash! An Anti-Virus program will alert you to a possible virus infection, and be able to get rid of the virus before significant damage occurs. Most modern anti-virus software programs will also protect you from other types of malware, including spyware, bots, and other such internet dangers. Any anti-virus software from a reputable vendor will suffice. Be sure to turn on automatic updates as new viruses are created every day. Also, make sure to schedule a full virus scan every week; I schedule them for non-working hours.

Local Area Network (If You Have More Than 1 PC)

Increase productivity and communication within your company by networking all the computers in your office. With a network you only need one printer for multiple users, or one Internet connection. Collaboration and communication within your office is vital, and if you always have to get up and share disks or memory sticks with others, you’re wasting a portion of your day just walking from desk to desk. Even a small network of two or three computers requires maintaining. In order to decide whether your support provider is a good choice, you should assess their familiarity with the different types of computer network:

Peer-to-Peer Network

In this type of network, no single machine is more important than any other machine. Each person decides which files will be shared with the network by setting permissions on a folder-by-folder basis, and each user may limit others in the workgroup from accessing portions of his or her hard drive. While a peer-to-peer network can get the job done, especially in a small business, the main drawback is the volume of passwords and privileges that reside on each machine. In addition, having users access information off another user’s hard drive could slow down processing speeds. This type of network is only recommended for small, low traffic offices.

Server-based Network

A server-based network contains one or more computers that have a central management role in the network. Servers can control file storage, e-mail, printer access, Internet access, security management and backups. There are software packages available that allow you to set up a server-based network, such as Windows Server, LINUX or UNIX. Ideally, a server should be a dedicated machine that is not used by any employee for any other purpose. For example, a server generally maintains a security database outlining who belongs to the network and what privileges each user has. Users can then access data from any networked machine, based on their individual passwords. Servers can also allow you to centralize your data, simplifying access and backup. Another server option is an “applications server,” which runs all the company software. This option can save money on software licensing by limiting the number of people who can use a single program at any given moment.

One question to consider when using a server-based network is how fast you can access any backups of the server if the system crashes and you need to restore data.

Back-Up System

If your business catches fire, if your hard disk crashes, if your computer is stolen — where will your data be? Across the border? In 10 feet of water? Back it up, store it off-site and sleep soundly. A recent customer recently lost over 10,000 files (email, contracts, original artwork, etc.) none of which was backed up. We were hired to try to recover the missing information. Do you know what a headache it was to manually get back SOME of those lost files? Some businesses never recover all of their data and subsequently, go out of business.

Office Productivity Software

The most common software applications in all businesses are a word processor, spread sheet, desktop publishing, and presentation software. These basic business programs will enable you to create, edit and manage information, publish your own brochures, make your own newsletter, and make exciting presentations. There are numerous productivity suites on the market, including some excellent online editions, such as Google Apps, that are free.

Other must have products/services include:

Desktop Faxing: If you must fax, at least stay at your desk, instead of walking to a fax machine. And don’t print paper from your PC just to fax it. Fax right from your PC, it saves time and a few trees. A desktop faxing software installs a working fax machine as a printer on your computer so you never have to leave your desk.

Accounting Software: Save time, reduce mistakes and see instantly what your money is doing. Some accountants will give you a discount if you provide your financial information in computerized format. In selecting an accounting software, be sure to work closely with your accountant, your computer consultant and even your business bankers.

Contact Management: You used to rely on just a Rolodex but now you can track thousands of clients, potential customers, partners and associates with software. Also you can keep a record of every communication with clients to minimize mistakes.

Computer Hardware

None of this software does any good if you don’t have a good computer system. If your computer is old and not working efficiently then upgrade it or just buy a new one. An old computer that runs slower than your workers is more costly than upgrading or purchasing a new machine. Employees will always complain that they need a faster computer. Here is a simple test to determine if they genuinely need a new machine: Who waits for who? Does the worker wait for the computer, or does the computer wait for the worker? If the worker waits for the computer then (and only then) is it time to upgrade.

Technical Support

Where are you going to turn if you need technology help or advice? This is the million dollar question for many small businesses. In some cases, you might know someone that “knows computers.” While this can help in a pinch, your best bet is to rely on computer industry professionals. They can be more expensive than the kid next door but a reputable technology professional can save you much grief and aggravation in the future. Remember, your computer tech will have access to your precious business data so make sure it is someone professional that you can trust.

Hopefully, this article has given you an understanding of what technology investments your business will need. Remember, you don’t need to buy all of them immediately, but eventually you will need to invest some of your hard earned money into computer systems that will make your life, and your business, better.

Business Management Styles

Most businesses are managing to

  • Remove the pain,
  • “Live within the budget” (and the budget was determined either by “the economy”, “the market”, or “who walks through the door.”
  • Pay this month’s bills

This is the “scarcity” side of management. We assume that there isn’t enough to go around, so we are constantly trying to make do.

For the most part most of us have always believed that the harder we work the better things will be. However, let’s look at what happens when we accomplish those three things we were managing above.

  • Remove the pain – would result in “painless.” Certainly desirable, we would be OK if we removed the pain, right?
  • Live within the budget – Let’s see in this case the budget was determined by someone else, or something else, the economy, the market, or who walked through the door. We aren’t exactly in control here are we? What would happen, however, if we hit “this budget”? We’d be, sort of OK, but not sure.
  • Pay this month’s bill-that certainly would be OK, but it doesn’t generate anything more than the budget. We’re still, just OK.

Are you getting the point here? When we manage this way, at best we will be OK, so-so, average…maybe, when we achieved our goals. Nothing spectacular happening here.

What happens when we manage to find the opportunities, the multipliers, or from a place of abundance? Instead of managing to avoid the pain, or to live within what is dealt to us, we start looking for the opportunities that will multiply the number of customers walking through the door, the number of them we sell, multiply the dollars spent by our average customer, finding customers that can and will spend more, finding ways that will encourage customers to spend more. I’ve seen companies jump 10 times in a week when changing to this perspective….no kidding!

Let’s step back a little from this and review.

  • We can manage on the scarcity side, and the results will always be OK, average, acceptable.
  • Or we can manage from abundance, always looking for ways to leap forward, grow a business and finding the multipliers in everything we manage.

Most business owners manage their business from the scarcity side.. How do I pay this month’s bills? Cutting something to have cash, or to hit the budget, but the bottom line result is that you cut something that would have generated more cash than it cost you. That almost always puts you into a downward spiral.

But if we are going to manage for incredible results and huge growth, we have to manage from both sides. We’ll remove the pain alright, but we always have to look to find the opportunities…where we should be investing that will create the greatest opportunity.

The business that operates from scarcity, cuts a cost without regard for what multiplier it impacted usually put the company into a downward spiral. Where if we manage to find the multiplier we’ll find where a $1 spent would generate $100 or $1,000. We’ll probably also find $1 generating only $5 somewhere. That’s an opportunity too…we’ll move the money from the 5 times multiplier to the 100 to 1,000 multiplier and watch our business leap forward.

Working From Home Dynamics

For starters, advances in call routing technology have made it possible for companies to hire home based employees to handle their order and sales calls. This work at home business solution lets companies save on traditional call center costs and avoid turnover. This work at home business opportunity usually pays by the minute (a welcome change from paying idle employees at their cubicles.) This work at home business usually requires a quiet area free of distractions to accept incoming calls. The pay is better for sales jobs than order taking and grows steadily over time with commissions and incentives. Some companies currently hiring include workathomeagent.com and liveops.com.

Another work at home job is EBays online auctions. With more than 1 million people working full time or part time as EBay sellers, it makes for an exceptional source of income. Work at home enthusiasts can sell both their used items or products in bulk and flip it for a profit, like CDs, DVDs, genuine watches, purses, and more. This work at home business solution comes with plenty of tutorials and guide books to get started, including a Dummies book for Powersellers.

Another rung on the work from home online ladder is freelance writing. Every day, thousands of webpreneurs post classifieds and search for people to write their content. By registering via Elance.com and paying a $75 fee for a three months membership (with the option to renew), work at home enthusiasts can bid on projects and grow their portfolios. Although building a clientele takes time, each project can be a potential mortgage payer. They range from $50 for 10 simple articles to $500-$750 for e-books. Freelance writing has tremendous room for growth and many established writers find themselves outsourcing in this bona fide work at home business opportunity.

All in all, freelance writing, EBay, and home based call centers have been excellent secondary sources of income for many work at home job seeking individuals.