- SHIFT YOUR THINKING. This is the key to success. You must shift your thinking. For me, I always start out with remembering that I “GET” to be an entrepreneur, to work for myself, to set my own hours, to get things done when I choose to get them done. I’m at my desk right now because I made that choice and that decision. When you shift your thinking and focus on your WHY and the fact that you have the POWER to control your thoughts, you can easily turn it around.
- USE A TIMER. For those of you who know me, you know I work with a timer – in my case, either the one on my I-phone or my famously branded egg timers, LOL! So, once I make the decision that, whether or not it’s a holiday, work will get done – I immediately make a list of priorities – I make a decision on how much time I will dedicate to that list – and I make a decision on when I will get to my desk. I’m an early morning person – so I came right in off the porch and got to work. I will remain focused and crank out the work until the timer goes off. Then, that’s it. I’m done. And I celebrate my decision and my accomplishments – turn off the computer – close the office door and move on into the day.
- PLAN SOME FUN. This is another key to success. If you don’t have anything specific planned, then it’s just too easy to go back into work mode – and then the resentment can build and, before you know it, the day is over. Another holiday come and gone! Stop that! Take charge. Plan some fun – for me, today is all about exercise, fresh air and friends. My bike is out and ready. I’ve got my meal planned for the BBQ later – and I will also return to the chair on the porch to finish reading my book (“How to Deliver a TED Talk” by Jeremy Donovan)
- GET AWAY FROM THE OFFICE. For those of you who have a home office, this can be a challenge. So, it is critical that you follow the steps listed above, and physically remove yourself from the area of your home office. I’m thinking a drive and a walk on the beach are in order today, too. In that way, I physically am removed from the ease of slipping back into my home office and getting just a few more things done. NOPE. Not for this gal today – and it should be the same for you.
I can only imagine what it would be like to be stuck as an entity that cannot progress in my desired activity of choice. How delusional and miserable it would be to try so hard just to remain in the same position year after year. Truthfully many persons struggle with the realization that their life has become nothing more than a revolving door with no way out. This is not the way life is supposed to be. Now I ask again, Entrepreneurship or workforce?, YOU CHOOSE! I want to take a split second to identify two keywords before we get started. The first word is Entrepreneurship which can mean a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk. Second I will define the word job. A “Job” is a PIECE of work, especially a specific task done as part of the routine of one’s occupation or for an agreed price. A job may be defined as anything a person is expected or obliged to do. Simply put nothing more than a duty; A responsibility.
Unbeknownst to me, I began a decade long journey gaining knowledge towards my quest to freedom. Despite how cheated, and hurt I felt once enough pieces of the puzzle were in place to begin my work as an entrepreneur, I had to always remember not everyone will clearly discover complete FREEDOM. For over 10 years I worked job after job, just to get by. Quickly I found out that unless you are passionate about a “job” you are stuck! Completely Stagnant! I can remember attempting to juggle a full-time job, and assume the responsibility of a full-time student. This was all done for the pursuit of happiness, and still no happy movie ending. I was moving nowhere, and going there fast. One thing is for certain, By beginning this journey I at least avoided the possibility of becoming one of the persons who never discovers FREEDOM. I gave myself a chance to become a self-leader.
The time I spent working jobs allowed me to understand that I will never be allowed to progress to the level I deserve as long as all my efforts only build value for someone Else’s administration. I learned that a ” Job” is valuable only if a person is satisfied with their return off investment of time. As an entrepreneur, One is required to be a leader in order to be successful. As an entrepreneur, developing my skills allows me to create value. A job forces value to be produced at my expense. Being an Entrepreneur allows one to invest in their own value, as well as integrate strong professional practices to elevate their business as well.
You cannot be innovative unless you are curious about life, about what happens around you. Resolve to start looking at your experiences differently. Constantly questions things that happen to you. Why did it happen that like that? What would need to be done if I wanted a different outcome? What would that outcome be? How could that outcome be achieved?
Open up your eyes and your mind and start being curious.
Be Open to New Ideas
Being open to new ideas means putting yourself in situations where you can receive stimulation. You may not be seeking inspiration or a solution to problems but make sure you are regularly mixing with other business owners. Get into networking groups; seek out people who can give you fresh insights even if they are not within your sector or industry; read magazines and journals which are unrelated to your business.
Be Just Plain Weird!
Innovation rarely happens if you act within accepted norms. Deciding that something can’t be done because it has never been done will not win you any prizes. Being innovative means being prepared to act against accepted or conventional wisdom; being prepared to challenge the unchallengeable is the way innovators succeed. In a nutshell … go against the crowd and be weird
Innovative ideas can strike at any time of the day or night or in any place. Don’t assume that ideas will pop up when you are sitting at your desk. As we saw in the previous point y their very nature innovative ideas are weird so expect them to surface in weird places! To capture them before they fall into the recesses of your mind always carry a notebook, Dictaphone, or PDA.
However outlandish the idea may seem write it down and resolve to look at it when you are in your most innovative frame of mind!
Being innovative means being persistent. Whilst you may find a solution to your problem immediately but it very rarely happens that way. Solutions are out there, it just how long you are prepared to wait for them to appear.
Be Willing to Share
Whilst an innovative idea can strike and you can immediately take action invariably it takes someone else to fill in the missing pieces. Don’t stumble around in the dark; find someone you can trust, someone who has the qualifications necessary to help move your idea forward.
I recently attended in our community a weekly trade fair where I viewed a number of retirees sitting at tents and behind tables selling their wares to consumers – through conversations I learned that several were doing this in an attempt to maintain at least a subsistence level of monthly income to help pay their rent, costs of prescription drugs and other basic monthly costs.
Doing some research on this recently, I learned that standard Canadian pensions (CPP and OAS) at the rough maximum a married couple can expect to receive if both people worked their lives through, nets them collectively about $22,000 per year. Now, if you were born in 1958 or later, you also don’t collect OAS until you are 67 – not 65 any longer. This contributes to the need for many of the elderly to work to later years in life in order to survive retirement financially – as the average retired middle-class couple owning their own home, require statistically, approximately $40,000 per year to live comfortably. Supporting this, a recent Bank of Montreal survey shows 59% of respondents stating that they will have to supplement their pension incomes through continuing to work after retirement.
It is difficult for many in low to mid levelled salaried positions without company pensions to expect to be comfortable in retirement unless they initiate some significant entrepreneurial action or personal savings program of their own years before retirement is reached – in fact, I wonder why we call it retirement any longer at all – it’s become just a shifting for most to other jobs. So this is my raising of the awareness part of this article – Take Action!
Build things you can sell online, become a sales affiliate for some direct selling organization, try consulting in some capacity, start an online business of some sort (YouTube content creator, shopping portal, online publishing or editing, freelance writing, website creation, etc.). There are any number of things a person can do to build that additional nest-egg one will need as one leaves the primary work-force – and your best energy years for this are now!
There are many “on the side” opportunities one can take to build a second income stream prior to retirement. The key is to do it – If you don’t try or fear to try, you will potentially be looking at some very bleak retirement years ahead. Don’t let that happen to you.
Basically, a traditional entrepreneur is in the risky business of undertaking some sort of enterprise, typically for one and only purpose of financial gain. It doesn’t matter if the business is suffocating the economy with Chinese plastic disposable toys that pollute Chinese rivers, fill our landfills and poison our children. It doesn’t matter if it is tobacco, alcohol, coal mining, guns, propaganda, violent video games, or cute apps to get babies addicted to electronic devices. It doesn’t matter if the gadget self-destructs after one use. As long as it is cheap, cost-effective, and it sells, it is a traditional entrepreneur’s goldmine. As well as traditional investor’s dream come true. An entrepreneur is typically seen as a business leader and an innovator starting new businesses for profit. The financial gain and the maximum return on investment is be-all and end-all of entrepreneurship. Increasing value for the shareholder and chasing hockey-stick growth are the two benchmarks for judging success of a company. This is in part driven by our capitalist society – an economic system based on private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit.
Companies that exist for the sole purpose of contributing to society in a positive way and making a positive difference in the world are typically not organized for financial gain and achieve a non-profit status. These companies typically struggle financially because their primary source of funding are philanthropic donations, which means these organizations need to operate on a very lean budget and spend a huge portion of their resources on continuous fundraising, which is not a very efficient way of doing business. Non-profits are often critiqued for being ineffective, because they are so focused on spending the least amount of money, while putting together impressive marketing materials and throwing lavish parties for their wealthy donors, instead of making the largest impact towards their mission. The progress towards their mission is completely decoupled from the amount of funds they have coming in, which once again takes the focus away from the mission.
So how do we solve the problem of irresponsible entrepreneurs and inefficient non-profits? This where the impact entrepreneurship and impact investing come in. Impact entrepreneurs are building businesses that make a difference in the world. Specifically, they make a POSITIVE difference, while generating a profit at the same time. Being ethical and transparent, living according to your integrity and personal values, and pursuing your passion is what impact entrepreneurship is about. Making a living while making a world a better place is hard, but it is possible. You might not get the same financial reward (or your might). You might have to wait many years before you see a reward (or maybe you don’t have to wait). It is not easy, but many people prefer this investment model because they feel good doing it.
What is Impact Investment? Impact investment is different from traditional investment which pretty much only looks at the numbers on the bottom line. In traditional investment model there are only two questions: What are the risks? What are the potential financial rewards? The risks need to be minimized, the financial gain maximized. How that is accomplished doesn’t matter. Unless you are an impact investor. For impact investors How the money is being used, Who is managing the money, Where in the world’s economy the money is going, What is the positive difference the money is making in the world are the critical questions that have to be fully, intentionally, and systematically explored and answered before the investment can be made. Lastly and most importantly, the impact needs to be measured. Otherwise, how do you really know if you are making an impact?
Over the last decade more and more people are getting on board with impact entrepreneurship and impact investing, because it is the right and the moral thing to do. I feel hopeful about the future of our planet. Isn’t it time you reviewed your stock or mutual fund portfolio to see where you are investing your money?
Of course, hitting the ball far and straight will improve your game, save a little time and make you a more ‘successful’ golfer. As you navigate the course, you must constantly adjust your play and your club selection for each fairway, hazard and green. Conditions require a serious of adjustments at every step, including left and right turns to achieve the optimal way forward. Consider a sailboat crossing a bay on a windy day. The boat captain can see the destination three miles away, but a steady headwind blows and water currents shift at various points along the route. If the sailor attempted to steer directly at the target, the forces of wind and currents will push the boat backwards or in different directions, which would slow his progress substantially.
The key to reaching the dock on the distant shore is to make a series of left and right maneuvers, or tacking, to take advantage of the wind and currents for speedy forward progress. Each left and right turn seems to take the boat away from the destination. By carefully considering the target and the winds and currents, the sailor will reach his destination in the most efficient way. This is the reality of life for entrepreneurs navigating the uncertainty of starting up a new venture, launching a new product or entering a new market.
Having a clear and well thought out objective, plans and contingencies is crucial to the successful execution of any new business. Sticking rigidly to that plan as new conditions arise is like turning your boat directly into the headwinds and attempting to push through it. It may be possible to do so, but that usually requires more capital and resources than a startup business can muster. The key is to monitor conditions as you execute your plan and be prepared to make adjustments, or tacking maneuvers, along the way. Initial assumptions built into the plan about market conditions, customer behavior, and investments required for product development, competitors and new technologies will all face a different reality as time goes by.
Entrepreneurs must remain nimble in their approach to executing their plan. Focus on the overall goal and destination for the business and monitor changes in all the key factors that will inhibit, or perhaps even accelerate, progress. Re-calibrate plans and next steps and make many left and right turns while focusing on the ultimate destination. Don’t give up when conditions change. Instead, simply find a way around new obstacles. Sometimes this requires different tools, skills and resources. If you have equipped your business golf bag correctly and spent some time at the range practicing, you will be able to reach into the bag for that rescue club just when you need it.
Entrepreneurship is far beyond the mere working for money. It is making your money work for you. To rise up the food chain in today’s world and stay up there for real, you must pay the price. A financial price. Your must have heard capital as being a factor of production with profit as its reward. What are you ready to give for that entrepreneurial dream of yours? You sure have good plan; a well drafted formal proposal for a financially feasible business that will rake in millions of dollars in no distant time. But you do not have the start-up funds your business plans would require. Here’s how to help you, my friend.
You can start saving. Yeah. Save money for that entrepreneurial project. Savings does a lot as regards seeking a start-up financial capital for your business. An entrepreneur’s personal savings is the first reliable source of capital an entrepreneur could lean on. Saving entails a lot, in case you don’t know. First there’s the issue of self-deprivation. You have to deprive yourself from spending money on a lot of things. Cut your expenses. Tailor your tastes. Deny yourself from extravagant and wasteful spending. It entails you start living on a budget.
To save for that dream, you have to settle for things below top of the range for a period of time, depending on how much capital you are looking out. It’s just like settling for a Blackberry 10 device instead of going for the latest iPhone 6. You will need the extra cash, you know. You can do it. Be determined to.
Saving is a financial sacrifice that is worth undertaking. Do it for that entrepreneurial dream of yours. Don’t start banking your yet hope on help coming from God-knows-where. What lies in your ability to do, lies in your ability not to do. So, if you can’t save, you can save!
Focusing on too many things
Entrepreneurs have the special powers of constantly attempting to be superheroes. They tend to think that they can offer their 2 cents of knowledge to every department working towards their dream. This leads into focusing on to too many things. This habit often results in them being unable to offer their 100% to almost any of the tasks they put their hands in. An entrepreneur must understand that they must focus on departments in which they specialize, for the rest they can simply recruit and oversee. Focusing on too many things can also lead to entrepreneurial depression.
Chasing money and random opportunities
At times, entrepreneurs start pursuing money and in the process forget the purpose of creating their startup. There is no quicker way to drown your enterprise than start chasing too many things. Entrepreneurs have a habit of being on the lookout to make money and also seek random opportunities but in the process they tend to forget about the task at hand. The sign of a good entrepreneur is their habit of being unshakable and focused.
Taking your competition for granted
Consider this as a cardinal sin. Many entrepreneurs once they taste success tend to develop a habit of taking their competition for granted. We have witnessed far too many organizations collapse because they allowed their competitors to sneak in from the backdoor and take their position. This habit gets developed slowly but is surely disastrous. Even if you are the only one in your product category, never take your competition for granted.
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.
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.