Can the Determination That Drives Great Athletes Be Taught to Entrepreneurs?

Is the determination that drives great athletes similar to the determination that drives successful entrepreneurs… and can core values like determination be taught? There is no doubt that great athletes are born with natural abilities but I’m not talking about natural ability or even the skills learned from good coaching. I’m talking about core values like their unbounded determination to win, that differentiates a great athlete and separates great athletes from merely good athletes. Values like determination, risk taking, and the ability to overcome obstacles that move great athletes ahead of the competition. Many athletes develop skills and become good at their game but lack the drive needed to make them great… just as in business, where there are good managers who seem to lack the drive that could turn them into successful entrepreneurs. An athlete’s desire to win can be seen in the determination they bring to their game. In most of the motivational sports stories we hear it’s hard to tell where the athletes skills end and their determination to win begins. To understand how an entrepreneur might apply these same values we need to separate the athlete’s technical skills and natural ability from the core values that drive him.

We’ve all heard stories about athletes who overcome great obstacles to achieve their goal. Unfortunately, when you hear these stories you only hear about a small part of the athletes life. That is the reason these stories often leave you feeling that something is missing… sports stories tend to be “cliff hangers” that don’t tell you what happened to the athlete later in life. You hear how the athlete accomplishes their immediate goal but you’re left to wonder what will become of his life once he moves beyond the sports arena. The implied ending in most sports stories is that the athlete will go on to achieve other great things in life but we know that is not always the case. Because the story is limited to his success on the court, you can’t tell whether his success was due solely to his athletic skills or to the determination that drove him. To gain insight into the role values like determination played we have to see what happens to his life after his athletes skills fade. Will his determination to succeed bring him new accomplishments in other areas? We know that some athletes go on to find great second careers in business while others, sadly, never find further success in life and some even fall to crime once their athletic careers end. What are the core values that continue to drive some athletes forward and enables them to succeed later in life? These are the values we want entrepreneurs to learn.

And while we are missing the end of most sports stories, we may also be missing the beginning. Where did the athlete learn the values that brought his success? Like all of his teammates he may have started learning skills in youth sports and may have had the benefit of dedicated coaches in school. But what gave him that “fire in the belly” that others didn’t have? Why is that determination there for one person but not for another? Are these the same values that drive some people to escape poor environments and overcome their circumstances while others succumb to their environment? Somewhere in the athletes life he chose to follow a path to success and learned the values he would need to achieve greatness. We hear about an athletes determination but rarely hear the part of the story that tells us where he learned the core values that drive him. If we can see how he learned values like determination, we might learn how to teach these values to others. To gain useful insight we need to understand where the athlete learned the values that drove his success and then examine how he was able to apply those same values over and over to bring about serial success both in and out of sports. Perhaps that would also explain why most entrepreneurs become serial entrepreneurs.

I recently did the research for the biography of Dr. George Tinsley. His sports story is tremendous and his desire to win is clear in everything he achieved on the basketball court while setting records as an NCAA champion. His life story is equally tremendous. After his sports career, he was able to overcome many obstacles to also achieve greatness as a businessman and serial entrepreneur. Because the pattern of his serial success were so apparent his biography quickly started to take on new meaning as I was able to examine the values that became the drivers throughout his life. His story became far more than his sports accomplishments. It was about the values that helped him achieve success both on and off the court. It became clear he would have found a path to success with or without sports. By looking at his entire life it was possible to see that the values that led to his success in sports had also led to his success in business as a serial entrepreneur.

What I found by looking beyond his basketball career was that the values that brought his athletic success were the same values that led to his entrepreneurial success and which had been his guides to achieve every goal he set in life. He had learned those core values as a child growing up in the inner city, even before he graduated from elementary school. His adoptive mother, while poor and physically challenged had told him never to let anyone or anything stand in his way, that he could achieve whatever he set his mind to. She taught him that he was responsible for his own actions and what happened in his life. This didn’t mean not to accept help from others but not to be dependent on others for his success. She taught him to set goals and not to make excuses for failing. She taught him that, if he was determined enough, he could find a way to overcome any obstacle. George Tinsley’s life is proof that these values can be taught and his life is an example of what can happen when one applies entrepreneurial values like determination, hard work, and overcoming obstacles no matter what the challenges are in their life. His story has a beginning and an ending that, when followed, will give others a path to success. He learned to apply these values over and over no matter what his goal was.

When someone hears George Tinsley’s story they are not tempted to say he succeeded because of his natural abilities as an athlete. His sports story only explains one part of his life. Only the constant application of the entrepreneurial values over and over throughout life can explain his serial success. George Tinsley speaks with many student groups about entrepreneurism and the “Obstacles to Opportunities” they will face in life and teaches them how they can succeed. They may come to hear an NCAA champion speak but they learn by hearing his full life story.

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Considering A Dance Company Business in Uganda?

When growing up in Uganda, a person who chose a career in Music, Dance and Drama(MDD) was often ridiculed by being called “Musilu Dala Dala!” [very very stupid].

Now imagine it is the future:

Saturday night on WBS TV. The hottest dance show; “Strictly come dancing: Uganda Chapter” is on. Ugandan musician Jose Chameleon is dancing the flamenco with Monela, an agile companion from “G-force” dance group.

The judges are Stephen Rwangyezi of Ndere Troupe, Roger Masaba, formerly of Footsteps dance company and Sharon O Nalukenge of The Obsessions and Big Brother Africa: Amplified fame. Jose gets 6-6-7 from the judges. Fellow musician Bobi Wine together with Natasha of Kombat dancers win, BUT only because 86 year old ballroom maestro Christopher Kato had declined to participate in this year’s show.

In case you are wondering what I am talking about, Strictly come dancing is a popular BBC show in the UK in which various celebrities get to dance with a professional dancer partner over the season of the show. Judges and the TV audience get to vote who stays until the ultimate winning couple is declared.

And what does Strictly come dancing have to do with investing in the dance and entertainment sector in Uganda, the aim of this article?

Well, I am interested in the future and I can tell you that as long as music(and therefore dance) continues to be the dominant form of entertainment in Uganda then I will not be surprised if this is where the trend is going, you are probably thinking; “not so “Musilu Dala Dala” then hmm?”

Which means that it is a sector worth looking at, however, a person seeking to invest in a dance group should know as a start without me going into further details that for a dance group to survive, they will have to diversify their sources of income or in Ugandan speak, find “side deals” just like say America’s best dance crew champions, the Jabbawockeez who now feature in videos and on TV shows.

First the CONS (of course):

1. Finding a good Choreographer

This is the driving force and inspiration of the group. The choreographer thus needs to be at his/best for the company to compete favorably. The difference after all between a good and poor group lies with the choreographer’s skills.

Sadly there are not many good dance choreographers and trainers in Uganda. There is a huge gap in to be filled in this sector. The likes of 86 year old ball room maestro Christopher Kato are in the evening of their careers, yet there seems to be no ready replacements.

Once you find a good choreographer there is of course a risk that he will be “poached” by a rival, I would therefore recommend that you consider “locking” him/her in through offering equity shares in the company, say 10%. This will hopefully ensure stability for the company.

2. Good corporate governance and investment in soft skills.

A dance group like any regular company should seriously consider aspects of corporate governance like a board of directors/trustees with regular reporting including financial reporting. Other aspects should include well developed policies and human resources skills development. Unfortunately this costs additional money which a dance group often lacks. Boards of directors need allowances and training companies like say Peak Performance are not necessarily cheap.

How many dance groups for example get basic soft skills training like conflict management, motivation, handling stress et al?

In neighbouring Kenya for example, one of the most prominent groups; Sarakasi is set up as a trust with a board of trustees steering it. I would recommend a similar concept for the Ugandan dance sector investor. Whilst you may not start the size of Sarakasi, the concept of subjecting your decisions to independent persons who provide strategic direction is most likely going to result in success.

If you of course cannot afford a board, how about a mentor? Stephen Rwangyezi the man behind Ndere Troupe which is most likely the most prominent dance group in Uganda has been in the sector for over 20 years and will most likely be happy to mentor a dance group. Regardless of whether you are performing contemporary or traditional dance, you could benefit from this experience.

3. Professional ethics and conduct

It is difficult enough for a typical company to prevent work place romance considering most people spend the better part of their lives at work, it is even more difficult maintaining professional ethics in a dance company, considering that a lot of dance movements are pretty intimate by nature and so this is a difficult. I nevertheless expect that with good corporate governance highlighted in point 2 above, there may for example be a policy on personal relationships (wife, lover or illicit affair at work (In Ugandan speak; a lover/illicit affair is a “side dish” while a wife/girlfriend would be referred to as the “main dish”). Judging by Ugandan press reports (or indeed international news) it is not uncommon for dancers to be involved say with principals, choreographers and the like which has lead to the demise of what would otherwise be a successful group.

Whilst romance in itself is not necessarily a bad thing(who am I to act for Cupid?) there should be policies. In many corporate companies for example there are restrictions on work place romances or say spouses working in the same department. Princeton University for example has policies limiting conflict of interest arising from work place relationships(for example you cannot appraise your wife/girlfriend/lover). A dance company should be no different, it is a work place. An alternative for the dance group which is small in size (Usually 5-8 members) could be that there is a strict ban on the choreographer who is strictly speaking a teacher from having a personal relationship with the dancers, who are strictly speaking students. There would after all be a breach of fiduciary trust and it disadvantages the other dancers who may feel favouritism in respect of the Choreographer’s wife/girlfriend/lover.

4. Recruitment of quality dancers and performers

It is difficult enough dealing with the social stigma in Uganda surrounding becoming a dancer (remember the alternative MDD phrase?), how does the investor and/or choreographer recruit the quality all round team that will deliver and keep the group chemistry at a high?

There are many options to find dancers. Luckily Uganda is endowed with many people who love dancing. Auditions can be held say once a month (depending on turnover and the nature of the next project). Other options may include use of social media like Facebook or “guerrilla” scouting (Luring a dancer from another group to join the company).

One alternative option for many Ugandan dance groups is to incorporate corporate social responsibility with “talent spotting”. It is not uncommon for dancers to be say orphans and/or poor. This is a concept that has been embraced by Crane Performers

5. Start up capital, profitability and return on capital

So what do the numbers of this sector look like?

In my model, I advocate that the dance group has two different “departments/units” the “traditional” and the “contemporary” one. The reason for this is quite important.

This is a “weekend” based business meaning most activities will take place over weekends and the key risk is therefore that revenue is not regular. The problem is however more acute for the dance group because to keep being good, the dancers need to rehearse regularly and therefore the company needs to provide meals and transport allowances. The company therefore may have to incur venue hire and labour costs regardless of whether there are performances or not. Having two units ensures more regular performances owing to the demand for both traditional and contemporary types of dance in Uganda.

a) Traditional. This unit does traditional Ugandan dances.

Why? To the outside world(in case you have forgotten it) we are African and any visitor (say that Mzungu) is interested in knowing about Ugandan culture. They are not so keen to know that you can dance as well as Sean Paul or that you got street dance moves that put UK Street Dance Group Diversity to shame. Embassies in Uganda may provide a grant for the dance group to perform traditional dance or may even sponsor an educational project that is steeped in promoting African culture compared to that focusing on contemporary dance. There are of course exceptions like say Tabu flow, a hip hop group or say Tofo Tofo A Mozambique group whose Southern African dance moves (predominantly Kwaito and Pantsula) were featured in Beyonce’s video for “Run the world(girls)”. The grant income may not be limited to embassies. The ministry of Culture or even National Theatre most likely has a budget for promotion of culture and so do several international organizations like UNESCO et al.

b) Contemporary. This unit does contemporary dances for example; Hip Hop, Dance Hall, Ballroom, Salsa et al.

Why? Ugandans are not necessarily that keen on “traditional” dances and Hip Hop is for example considered to be “hip” especially among the younger Ugandans. Ugandans likewise love Dance hall and with the continued growth of the music industry, a contemporary unit to say provide back up dancers is critical [say for music videos which I expect to be the trend in the future].

The full financial analysis is located on my website (Link at the bottom of this page) but from that analysis this type of company has a loss of over Shs 10m! It is therefore imperative to consider the importance of the other income.

The total other income from my analysis(on the website) is Shs 12,960,000 per year. This will therefore reduce the projected loss of Shs 10m and therefore the company would then have a profit of Shs. 2,151,000

Return on capital

On the basis of the profitability analysis above, the return on capital therefore is 6.257 years being:

Total start up capital: 13,457,910/ Net profit = Shs 2,151,000

AND NOW THE PROS

1. Opportunity to command significant fees from diverse activities.

Dance companies are not your conventional business venture thus incomes and profitability are not fixed per say. But the key pointer is the ability for the company to be able to perform in diverse roles of the industry like acting, drama and video appearances. A dance group like anything in the entertainment sector (or generally) follows that principle that if you are good, you can command fees way in excess of the market rate.

2. Grant income/sponsorship and international festivals

I have mentioned previously the opportunity that lies in having a “traditional” unit which is often viewed as a means of enhancing Ugandan culture. Assuming say you recruited talented dancers from disadvantaged backgrounds, then there is a high chance you can apply for a grant from embassies or other bodies that support the arts and culture.

There is therefore an opportunity if not for grant income/donations, then for exposure to the international stage which can result in income in excess of the local market rates. African dance troupes are not uncommon in many international festivals.

SUMMARISING AND THE FINAL WORD

The basics you must get right before investing.

  • Group cohesion. It is important to start off with good start up capital to give you that initial push but what’s more important to note is that the key resource is not money but the individuals who consist of the group. Thus how you motivate them and keep team chemistry is important.
  • Performances/Marketing. In this business, performances (“gigs”) sell the company brand. What people see and like is what they demand! Thus good stage performances, outstanding costumes and designs are important to make a mark to the people who need these services. Marketing is likewise critical and so having say a Face book page with contacts, latest events, pictures and information should help.
  • Other opportunities. The other opportunities for dance groups are as diverse as members can capitalize on individual talents to break even and expand their list of clientèle. Like I said, the “side deals” are endless. If you get these right, then there is a good possibility the return on capital will improve and of course getting on “Strictly come dancing” will cement your other income.

Final Word:

I do hope the numbers or projected losses have not necessarily put you off investing. They should give you a goal and target to work towards. You should note that with very little capital start a dance group say together with friends, not getting paid and practising in a garage/friend’s house. As long as you have the passion to dance, you will succeed and go on to Run the world(girls)! so come on;

Go out and break a leg (not literally I hope).

Top Eleven 2011 Trends for Entrepreneurs

As we launch into the new year, here are the top 11 trends that entrepreneurs need to be aware of, think about, and for which we should all prepare:

1. Economy will still Struggle: This is the biggest question on everyone’s mind. If experts in public relations and marketing were coaching me to write this blog to be popular, they would tell me to speak positively about the economic trends for 2011. But I just don’t see it on a macroeconomic level, and I refuse to sugarcoat things for the sake of writing a popular blog post. I know of some entrepreneurs who are thriving and some who are struggling or who have already shut their doors. But most are treading water. And this will be the same news come the end of 2011. I’m saying it, even though you probably wanted to hear something differently.

In his post Yet More Evidence of Hunkering Down Among Small Business, Jeff Cornwall expresses concern that if entrepreneurs aren’t positioning their enterprises to expand, a full economic recovery seems distant at best. But there are plenty of strong niches and unique opportunities that will continue to thrive at the hands of adept entrepreneurs.

2. Working Capital will be King: Yes, the saying usually says that cash is king. But tough economic times have taught many entrepreneurs that their working capital is sacred, primarily because it is the key to immediate and short-term cash. Those who make it more efficient (see Working Capital – Less is Often More) will out-perform their competitors. Those who protect it from being used on capital expenditures, excessive owner compensation, and other outflows not helpful to generating immediate and near-term gross profit, will find the empowerment it brings to succeed regardless of almost any external or economic pressure.

3. Results-Driven Marketing will be one of the biggest Difference-Makers of the Year: What happened to measuring marketing performance? Many entrepreneurs are so infatuated with marketing that they have become soft in measuring the results it generates. Some have justified spending more in marketing as a strategy to overcome the recession, and most of them are out of business now, having bled their working capital dry without a tool to measure if it was actually paying off. Marketing metrics will come back into fashion, and cost per lead and cost per customer acquisition will be numbers that successful businesses drive as low as effectively possible. John Donal Leavy has a lot more to say on this topic here: Outcome-Based Marketing in 2011.

4. Capital Expenditures will be up: Most businesses have held off on necessary capital expenditures in 2010 for two reasons. First, they were concerned they would not get the expanded Section 179 tax deduction for 100% of their purchases, and, second, they were concerned about over-spending in a tough economy. With the Section 179 deduction increase extended through 2011 and a still-shaky economy, most entrepreneurs are deferring that pent-up demand to 2011. Don’t be fooled by it, because capital expenditures will likely drop again in 2012. You can read more about this in an article I wrote for American Express OPEN Forum-Five Finance Trends Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know.

5. Going Green will no longer be a trend-it will be an Expectation: A little ahead of this trend, in my opinion, the folks at Willoughby Design wrote: Going Green is not a Temporary Craze-It’s an Expectation. If you haven’t accepted this fact, your competitors will gain more traction and sustainability than you. Period.

6. Fixed Fee and Flat Rate will win more business: Whatever it is you sell, have a fixed price for it. If your customers feels, in any way, that their cost for your product or services is variable, it will decrease your chances of getting the business. Figure out how to price your products and services and deliver what your customers need. The argument that every customers’ needs are different is becoming obsolete, and so are those who base their entire business model on it. Here is just one example from an attorney who wrote about how Customers Love Flat Fee Billing Based on Defined Deliverables.

7. Mobile, Cloud, and Social Technology will continue to converge: As these three technologies mature, they will continue to converge and become the future of how we think about and use technology. You can read just one of many opinions on this here: Convergence of Mobile, Cloud, and Social.

8. Entrepreneurial Borrowing will move further away from Traditional Sources: It will get harder and less attractive to get traditional loans from banks. Increasing an Entrepreneur’s opportunities to adequately fund his or her business is a topic of heated debate, but few seem to really get it. You can read more about these challenges at altconsulting.org, and you can also expect more innovation in getting entrepreneurs access to the funds they need in 2011.

9. Compliance Enforcement will Increase: The IRS has $300 million more to spend in enforcement programs in 2011, and many state and local tax and other compliance agencies are spending more in enforcement as well. Plan for it, and then you’ll be ready when it comes. It’s becoming more likely that it will.

10. Social Security Temporary Tax Cut is a sign of things to come: One provision of the Tax Relief Act of 2010 left me scratching my head. Everyone knows the social security system is underfunded and will be bankrupt in a few decades unless the program is overhauled. So why did Congress reduce the amount paid into the fund by two percentage points, or up to $2,136 per worker? It just doesn’t make sense, unless the long-term plan is to wipe-out the cap, currently set at $106,800, altogether, to match the same way the medicare tax is currently treated.

11. Hiring will focus on value-add, regardless of position or responsibility: Most studies and surveys say that hiring will be stagnant among entrepreneurial companies in 2011. But those who do hire will focus on the value each new employee and position will bring to the company. They will be Improving Your Business Hiring Practices and only hire when an employee is the only way to advance towards their goals and objectives.

Hopefully these trends and tips will help all of us turn 2011 into a year of prosperity and growth. To see the report card of my 2010 predictions, visit Report Card for Top 10 2010 Trend for Entrepreneurs.

Developing Self-Discipline For Starting Your Own Business

The American Dream

More than 50% of all Americans dream of starting their own business some day, but only 3% ever do, in their entire lifetimes. In our free market economy, where it is extremely easy to start and build your own business, and where there have never been more opportunities in all of human history than exist today, why is it that so few people follow their dreams into entrepreneurship and business building?

I have studied the subject of entrepreneurship, business and management for many years. I have started and built several successful multi-million dollar companies from scratch. I have read literally hundreds of books and thousands of articles over the years, and taken a masters degree in business and administration on the subject. I have worked with many thousands of entrepreneurs and business people in large and small organizations all over the country and all over the world. I have trained many tens of thousands of entrepreneurs, managers and executives on subjects ranging from sales and marketing through to strategic planning and finance.

Even today, with all of this experience, I really don’t consider myself to be an expert. However, I am a little bit more knowledgeable than the average person and I have some very definite ideas on what you can do to start and build a successful business.

You May Not Get Rich

First of all, why would you want to start a business in the first place? Most people think that the reason for starting your own business is so that you can make a lot of money and retire rich. This is a great idea but it is not the real reason that people take the risks of entrepreneurship.

The number one reason, ahead of all the others, is for the personal freedom offered by owning your own business. There is a little joke that says that when you start your own business, you only have to work half days; and you get to decide whichever 12 hour period you prefer.

In my work with entrepreneurs over the years, I have found that, although they do not necessarily become rich, they do become happier, more self-confident and more self-reliant. Very few entrepreneurs would ever go back to a salaried job. Even though they don’t make an enormous amount of money, they love the freedom so much that they could not imagine turning their destiny over to anyone else.

You Can Do It Too

Someone once said that you can only be a successful author if you cannot not write. You can only be a successful entrepreneur under the same conditions. You can only be successful starting and building your own business if you cannot not do it. The starting point of success as an independent business person is a burning desire for independence, freedom and opportunity. It is the desire to be your own boss and not be controlled or dictated to by anyone else.

But let’s go back to the first question. Why is it that so few people actually start their own businesses? And the primary reasons are fear and ignorance. Fear and ignorance are and always have been the greatest enemies of human success.

Don’t Be Ignorant

Fear blows even the slightest risks out of proportion and paralyzes the person, holding him or her back from ever taking that giant leap of faith into the uncertainty of entrepreneurial business activity. And fear thrives on ignorance. The less you know about anything important or risky, the greater is your level of fear and the lower is your likelihood that you will ever take any action at all.

The good news is that when you begin to chip away at your ignorance, your levels of fear and hesitancy decline at the same rate. When you become thoroughly knowledgeable about what it is that you want to do, you will find yourself with far more confidence and courage than you have fear and doubt. And from that point on, you can begin to make some real progress.

Three Types of Businesses

More than one million men and women start their own businesses every year in America. More people are starting more businesses, selling more products and services today, than at any other time in human history. Remember, there are three types of businesses that you can form. They are corporations, a sole proprietorship and a partnership. Only corporations are registered and the registration is running at over 850,000 per year. The number of sole proprietorships are in the hundreds of thousands. Nobody really knows., You can start one by simply deciding to, this very minute as you listen to this tape, without even registering it, The number of partnerships is also in the hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions every year.

Because so many hundreds of thousands of men and women are starting various business organizations each year, this means that you can as well. Maybe one or two of these people are smarter or better than you, but you can be sure that hundreds of thousands of them have far more problems and obstacles in their lives than you could ever dream of. In other words, there is no reason whatsoever for you to be afraid of starting your own business.

The key is to make your business a low-risk operation at the beginning with a high possibility for success later on. And these are what you will learn here.

You are the President

By the way, you are already the president of your own company, whether you know it or not. You are the president of an entrepreneurial company with only one employee, yourself. Your company has only one product to sell on the marketplace, your personal services. So, you are the head of your own personal services corporation. And if you name your company after yourself, you don’t even have to register it to protect the name. You can go out and print business cards with your name, John Jones Enterprises or John Jones and Associates, and your title, “John Jones – President” with your home and address phone number. The next time you are out with someone and they ask you what you do, you can tell them that you are the president of your own company. When they say that they thought you worked for such and such a company, you can reply by saying that, “Yes, I do work there. They are my best clients right now.”

As the President of your own company, you decide how much you earn. Maybe not in the short term, but over the long term, by the things that you do, or fail to do, you determine your own income. If you want to earn more money, go to the nearest mirror and negotiate with your “boss.” Your raise will become effective when you do.

Two Categories of Business Owners

You have heard it said that most businesses fail in the first two years. But this is not entirely accurate. If you divide businesses into two categories, those started by people with extensive knowledge and experience and those started by people with no knowledge or experience at all, you get two totally different failure rates.

Businesses started by people who have done what I will tell you about in this session have a success rate in excess of 90%. Businesses started by inexperienced people who have not done their homework have a failure rate of more than 90%. And even if your business fails initially, it is only by failing in business that you eventually learn to succeed greatly. As Phil Knight of Nike once said, “You only have to succeed the last time.”

On the David Susskind show many years ago, they interviewed four young entrepreneurs, each of whom was a self-made millionaire by the age of 30. David asked them to calculate how many different business start-ups they had been involved in before they found the business that enabled them to make more than a million dollars. The average was 17 businesses per person! But they had not been failing while their businesses had been failing. They had been becoming smarter and smarter as time passed until finally they were so knowledgeable and experienced that the very next business opportunity put them over the top. And this can happen to you as well.

Special Disciplines

To start and build your own successful business you need special disciplines; disciplines that are practiced by all successful entrepreneurs and self-made business millionaires. You can either learn and practice these disciplines early in your entrepreneurial career or you can learn and practice them later. Sooner or later you must become knowledgeable and skilled in each of these seven areas if you are going to build a successful enterprise. And the longer it takes you to master these seven areas, the longer it will take and the more it will cost, before you eventually achieve your financial and business goals.

The first discipline is the discipline of market analysis. This is where most entrepreneurs fail. They start off with a great idea, and often don’t want to tell anybody about it; for fear that someone will steal their idea. So they go off half-cocked into the marketplace with a product or service that has not been thought through properly and they are amazed when it fails.

The fact is that people are far too busy to steal your idea. 99 out of 100 new business ideas fail anyway. People who are operating their own businesses are far, far too busy to have even a minute of time to “steal” your idea, whatever it is.

Ask People’s Opinion

In fact, if you have an idea for a product or service in a particular industry, you should go to someone who is already in that industry and ask for their opinion. If you are really smart, you will get in touch with as many people in that industry as possible and lay out your idea to them in full and ask for their candid comments.

What you are looking for is “negative thinking.” A negative thinker is someone who will point out the holes and flaws in your plan. If you cannot patch the holes or fix the flaws in your plan for a new business, that is probably a pretty good indicator that your business is not going to succeed.

Beware of “Positive Thinkers”

The most dangerous people you can talk to are “positive thinkers.” These are people who will tell you that your business idea is wonderful and that you should “go for it!” They will tell you that this is a great time to start a business and that you will be a great success. Often these are your friends and relatives. But don’t get carried away. The only advice that is of any value to you is advice from people who are thoroughly knowledgeable and experienced in the area that you wish to start a business. Anyone else may be well-meaning but their advice is not worth much.

If you had a sore stomach, you wouldn’t ask your coworker if you should have surgery or whether or not he thinks that you have cancer. This is not the right person to talk to. For something as important as this, you need a specialist.

The discipline of market analysis requires that you thoroughly examine every detail of your market segment before you commit your time and money to offering your product or service there.

The Law of Three

Every new business starts with an idea to serve customers with a product or service that is faster, newer or better in some way. In fact there is a Law of Three that applies to a new business start up. Whatever you are offering, it must be better by a factor of three than anything else currently being offered to the same customers.

It must be a little faster, a little cheaper and a little bit more effective. It must have at least three benefits that competing products do not offer. If it has only one or two, you will probably fail in the long run.

Market analysis means that you find out if there is a real market for your product or service. How big is the market? Where is the market concentrated? Is the market concentrated sufficiently so that you can reach it effectively with advertising and sales? Who are your competitors in the marketplace? Why are your prospective customers buying from your competitors today?

Give People a Reason to Buy

And here’s the most important question: “Why should someone switch from their existing supplier of a similar product or service and buy from you?” The failure to ask and accurately answer this question has been the downfall of many small businesses. You have no idea how hard it is to get a customer to switch from a known supplier to an unknown supplier.

When I started one of my businesses, I thought that people would buy from me because it was me! I thought that because I was so positive, enthusiastic and convinced in the value and quality of my product, that customers would find my enthusiasm contagious and would buy it and use it in high quantities. What I found was that customers were not interested in switching at all. I had to call on customers over and over again before I could even get them to test my new product.

Eventually, I had to give my product away free, and give guarantees before people would even test it. Once I had given away free products with absolute guarantees of satisfaction, and people tested and used my product, I finally began to sell it. And I began to sell it just in time to avoid going broke completely.

What inducements will you have to give to your prospective customers to get them to switch from what they are doing to buy from you? How will you be able to describe your product or service in such a way that customers will be willing to give up the “devil they know,” for the devil they don’t?

Plan, Plan, Plan

The second discipline that you must become very good at is the discipline of planning. What this means, at the bare minimum, is that you must take the time to prepare a complete business plan before you start operations. Most entrepreneurs fail to do this, for a variety of reasons. And this is the reason that most entrepreneurs go broke.

The purpose of a business plan is not to acts as a road map or as a precise guide to the future. The purpose of creating a business plan is that the preparation of the plan forces you to think through every single critical issue that you will deal with in the future.

The very best and smartest business people are those who have already given a lot of thought to the various things that could happen and to the various things they might have to do, should those things happen. The least successful business people are those who have given no thought at all.

When you prepare a business plan, you are forced to sit down and carefully analyze and justify every single penny in it, first of all to yourself and then second of all to anyone from whom you are trying to raise money.

Three Parts to a Business Plan

A business plan consists of three main parts. The first part is the top line. This is the quantity of your product that you intend to sell on a monthly basis, projected forward 12to 18 months. Your ability to accurately project your sales is a key measure of your intelligence and your business ability. Once you have conservatively estimated your likely sales, you should cut that number in half to get the number that will turn out to be closer to reality once you begin business activities.

Remember the great rule of entrepreneurship is that everything costs twice as much and takes three times as long. I have shared this idea with thousands of entrepreneurs who have then told me that they were going to violate this principle and prove that it was too conservative. They came back shattered, like survivors of a battle, with their tails between their legs, finally admitting that the two times, three times rule was extremely realistic.

The middle line of your business plan includes every single expense that you can possibly imagine incurring in order to achieve your top line. You must deduct the total costs of the goods or services you plan to sell. You must deduct expenses like rent, telephone, utilities, printing, stationery, stamps, photo copiers, fax and Federal Express, staff costs, furniture costs and every other single detailed cost that you can imagine. These are called the “Costs of doing business.”

Once you have added up all the costs, you then take the total and add another 20% as a fudge factor to get a more realistic estimate of your final costs. Your ability to budget and project your sales and your costs accurately is the true measure of your business acumen. Leave nothing to chance. Go over every detail again and again.

When I prepare business statements, I will go through and estimate every number. I will then do a complete assessment, with documents, research, estimates, and actual proposals to justify every number in the business plan.

For example, if a person says to you, how did you estimate these costs for postage? You should be able to say that you estimated a certain number of letters of a certain weight going out on a daily basis over a one month, two month, three month and 12 month period to come up with an average postage cost of the amount that is in your business plan. Don’t ever let yourself be caught flat footed.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is the amount of profit or loss that you expect to experience on a monthly basis. You then accumulate this amount along the bottom of the page so that you know how far ahead or behind you are on a monthly basis according to your projections.

You should probably expect to lose money for the first three, six or nine months. The minimum rule is that you should have six months of operating expenses set aside before you launch your new enterprise. You should assume that you will not make a single sale for six months. This may be conservative, but it is much better than the alternative of finding yourself broke and wiped out because you did not plan well enough.

The Discipline of Money

The third discipline you need for starting your own business is that of money. As I just mentioned, you need six full months of operating costs, in the bank, before you go into business. If you are thinking of starting a second income business, you can usually start with a small capital investment and use “sweat equity” instead of actual financial capital. Many people have become extremely successful in life starting from a low base and growing based on cash flow and profits from selling a product or service.

There are an enormous number of successful multi-level marketing businesses nationwide and throughout the world. If you start a multilevel marketing business, your first consideration should be an extremely low up-front cash investment in inventory and sales materials. After that, all your expenditure should be for products that you have already sold at a mark-up from the price at which you are buying them.

Many multi-level marketing companies allow you to start up as an independent wholesale distributor for as little as sixty dollars. In a case like this, you invest your time and your energy rather than your cash, and you keep your full time job while you are getting your feet solidly under you.

If you need money to start your own business, you should be aware that 99% of all start-up money is called “love money.” This is money that people give you because they love you, or money that you provide yourself by taking out a second mortgage on your home, selling everything that you have that you don’t need, and even borrowing cash against your credit cards.

Don’t Count On Banks

Banks simply do not lend money to new business start-ups. The failure rate is too high. Banks are not in the business of taking risks. Banks are in the business of making good, solid loans that they know will be paid back on a timely basis. Banks then make the margin between what they can borrow the money for and what they can lend it to you at.

Banks typically require three times, four times or five times collateralization to lend you any money at all. This means that no matter who you are or what your background, a bank will want proof that you have five dollars in liquid assets that they can seize and sell for every dollar you want to borrow from them. They will look at your business plan and listen attentively to your business ideas. But they won’t lend you any money.

Be an Outstanding Salesperson

The fourth discipline you require is the discipline of selling. You must be an absolutely outstanding salesperson for your product or service before you open your doors or you should not bother opening your doors at all.

The fact is that all successful businesses are started and built by someone who has a remarkable capacity to sell the product in a competitive market. The biggest mistake you can ever make is to think that someone else is going to do your selling for you.

The second biggest mistake you can make is to think that advertising or direct mail is going to sell your product or service for you. The only way that you are going to sell your product or service is by going out and getting face-to-face with critical, skeptical, cautious customers who can buy it if you can convince them of its value. Don’t waste a cent on advertising when you start up. That is one of the fastest ways to go broke sooner rather than later.

Listen to every audio program on selling that you can get a hold of. Read the books on selling written by people in your same industry. Attend sales training seminars and courses and then see as many customers as you can, all day, every day until you begin to bring in sales in excess of your costs of operation. The discipline of selling is the heartbeat of your business and the way you deal with this discipline will determine your success or failure.

The discipline of managing is something that you learn as your business begins to grow. There are thousands of books and hundreds of university degrees on management, including entrepreneurial management. Your ability to plan, organize, staff, delegate, supervise, measure and report is absolutely essential to being a good manager. Fortunately, you can learn these skills by study and practice. And always remember, your weakest important skill in management will set the limit on your success in your business. Whenever you are having problems of any kind, resolve to learn what you need to learn to become very competent in that area.

e Secrets of Power Negotiating

The sixth discipline is the discipline of negotiating. There is perhaps no better program to teach you negotiating than Roger Dawson’s The Secrets of Power Negotiating.

You learn how to negotiate by first of all studying the process of negotiating, and then second, practicing negotiating at every opportunity. You negotiate for better prices for your products and services when you are buying. You negotiate for higher prices and earlier payments for your products and services when you are selling. You negotiate for extended payment terms from your suppliers. You negotiate for better loan terms and interest rates from your bankers.

With regard to money and negotiating, the rule is that you preserve cash at all costs. You never buy when you can lease and never lease when you can rent. You never rent when you can borrow and you never get anything new if you can get it second hand. Negotiating for and protecting your sources of cash flow is the most important thing that you can do for a small business. If you run out of cash, you’re dead. Cash is to a small business as blood and oxygen is to the brain. You must fight, scramble, negotiate and do everything possible to assure that you always have cash reserves.

It has been said that every new business start-up is a race against time. It is a race to find a way to generate cash in excess of your costs before your cash runs out altogether. You stay in business to the degree to which you bring in enough money to pay for your mistakes until you are finally generating excess cash.

Become Resilient

The final discipline is the discipline of resilience. It is the ability to bounce back from the inevitable setbacks and disappointments that you will experience virtually every single day in starting and building your own business.

One of the marks of the superior entrepreneur is that he or she is always looking into the future and considering the worst possible thing that could happen in every area of the business. This is the mark of the superior leader as well.

I call this “Crisis Anticipation.” There are many books and articles on it. What it means is that you are constantly scanning the horizon and asking yourself, “What is the worst possible thing that could happen?” In your sales; with your staff; with your cash; and with your business? And then you think through and decide what you would do if that were to occur.

And finally, once you have determined the worst possible outcome and decided what you would do, you focus all of your energies on making sure that the worst possible thing does not happen, under any circumstances. You become resilient to the degree to which you have thought through what might happen and prepared yourself against any eventuality

Sometimes, a small setback can seem almost overwhelming if you’ve allowed yourself to get tired and run down. You become resilient to the degree to which you get lots of rest when you are starting and building your own business. As Vince Lombardi once said, “Fatigue doth make cowards of us all.”

You develop resilience by resolving to persist in the face of any difficulties, no matter what happens. Be clear about your goals but be flexible about the means of attaining those goals. If one thing doesn’t work, try something else. Be willing to be flexible and adaptable in the face of a changing market.

Remember, as they say in the military, no plans survives first contact with the enemy. No business plan survives first contact with the marketplace. Be willing to chop, change and try something else. Just make a decision in advance, that no matter what happens, you will keep on keeping on.

You have within you, right now, the ability to start and build a successful business. Millions of people have done it in the past, and millions more people will do it in the future. These people are not smarter or better than you are. They have simply learned what they needed to learn and then practiced it, over and over until it became second nature. And so can you. And when you learn how to start and build a successful business within our economic system, your future will be unlimited.

Pond Construction – Liners Vs Concrete

Many people are still searching the internet for information on how to build a waterfall or koi pond. Unfortunately, there is very little information regarding professional construction. There are thousands of websites involved in marketing pond products to uninformed and unsuspecting customers.

The majority of these sites promote and advocate the use of rubber pond liners. Why? Because they sell them. Rubber liners are profitable, primarily because of the add-on products related to the pond liner industry. For example, when you construct your pond using a pond liner, you have no choice but to buy all of the related accessories such as a biofilter, special skimmers and drains, and the large variety of energy-sucking, inefficient, short-lived sump pumps.

Rarely do pond liner dealers or installers tell you the whole truth about the unpredictability of liners and sump pumps. Rarely do they acknowledge the truth about the vulnerability of liners after they are installed – whether it be attacks by rats, mice, ground squirrels, gophers, chipmunks or the sharp claws of animals that can puncture the liner in their attempt to get out of the pond after accidentally or purposely entering it. Animals burrow under the liner through the easy access of the loose rocks piled around the pond and waterfall. Against the coolness of the liner, they build their nests and raise their families that can then chew holes in the liner.

Over the past twenty years I have replaced countless leaky waterfalls and ponds constructed using rubber liners with concrete and rebar construction. In thirty years of building over 2,000 waterfalls and ponds, I have never had one crack or leak.

Liner advocates tell you their liner has a thirty to forty year warranty, but fail to mention it is against factory defects only. They don’t mention the other issues like rodents, heavy rocks stretching and ripping the liner, and damage from children with sharp sticks or garden utensils. I’ve seen it all!

Many water garden contractors will misrepresent the liner as the best construction material by saying concrete is expensive and it cracks. Yes, that is true, if you don’t build it properly using 3500 psi concrete and rebar 8 to 10 inches on center. Plus, they say the alkali poisons the water. That is true only if you don’t seal the concrete with a sealer after it is poured. Concrete construction costs 20-25% more than a liner, but it lasts for decades. You only have to replace one liner for the concrete pond to cost considerably less in the long run. In the past five years there have been scores of lawsuits against pond liner contractors and their clients win every time.

Payday Lender SWOT Analysis

In this article, we will discuss the development of a SWOT analysis, its development, and how it can be used to acquire financing from a bank or investor. Payday Lenders generally are able to remain profitable and cash flow positive in any economic climate due to the fact that they are able to render a lending and loan service that is in constant demand among the general public. One of the best aspects of this business is that they are able to generate highly gross margins from their lending services. A well written SWOT analysis will feature a strengths section, a weaknesses section, and opportunities discussion, and a threats discussion.

Most importantly and first, you are going to want to focus heavily on the strengths that are associated with your Payday Lender. Foremost, you should again reiterate the high gross margins generated from your Payday Lender capital lending services while also showcasing the generally low costs associated with operating this type of business. Another important mention should be the relatively low cost overhead associated with operating this type of business as they are typically located in high trafficked areas among low income people.

Also within the strengths section of the SWOT analysis, you should focus on your abilities to operate this business on a day to day basis, your experience as an entrepreneur, and how you intend to bring the operations of your Payday Lender to profitability very quickly through its lending operations.

The next section of the SWOT analysis focuses significantly on the weaknesses that are associated with this type of business. Foremost, you should heavily discuss the fact that there are many other types of businesses that operate in a similar capacity to your Payday Lender. You may also want to discuss the relatively high start up costs that are associated with an Payday Lender. Also, you are going to want to discuss the default rates that are associated with operating this business on a regular basis. Here, you should also focus on how you intend to mitigate losses as it pertains to payday lending.

Next, you are going to want to focus significantly on the opportunities that your business will have to expand during its first five years of operation. This may include developing new locations, hiring additional personnel, and engaging in a broad based marketing campaign that will ensure that your Payday Lender business is able to rapidly expand and repay its debts on a timely basis. You may also want to discuss how you intend to obtain additional capital in order to expand your lending operations.

Finally, you are going to want to effectively showcase to your SBA loan banker or investor the threats that will be faced by your Payday Lender. We strongly recommend that you emphasize a number of these issues as it will be to the benefit of your investor or banker to see how you intend to mitigate these risks as time progresses.

As always, we strong recommend that you work closely with a number of professionals including CPAs, attorneys, SBA loan consultants, conventional loan consultants, and other professionals that will ensure that you have produced a SWOT analysis and business plan that is appropriate for both a bank and a potential investor. It is imperative that you have a clear understanding of the complex nature of raising capital for your venture and by having a number of professionals in place – you will be in an outstanding position to receive the capital you need in order to start your Payday Lender.

The 16th Century Entrepreneur Who Created the Concept of the Taxi

The 16th century was a time of amazing transformation in Europe. The Dark Ages were gone, the Black Plague had run it course and Middle Age fears and superstitions were slowly disappearing. The printing press had been invented and it was completely revamping the way people communicated. Columbus had discovered the America’s and the great age of exploration was in full swing. Medical advances, the Reformation, the creation of the great Italian banking houses and the Dutch trading companies had completely changed the way people thought, worked and worshipped.

And yet, there was one area in which there had been virtually no advance since the time of Christ: transportation. Horse or mule, horse drawn carts and boat were the methods of travel utilized to convey people, goods and foodstuffs. Travel was slow. It was uncomfortable. And, it was often very dangerous. Brigands and pirates faced little in the way of organized policing. A bandit pretty much had a field day during the period.

Of all the difficulties a traveler faced, the most frustrating by far was speed: or the lack thereof. As the great Florentine, Venetian and Genoan merchant banks financed warfare, fleets, crops, expeditions and colonization, they had to continually factor a risk premium into their risk/reward computations before settling on the interest to be charged on each loan. The slowness of receiving news of progress, success or failure on the status of an investment vehicle was agonizing to all parties participating in an enterprise. Did the fleet sink, or is it close to home with a valuable cargo? Has the battle been engaged, and who won? Was a new land discovered, and what did it offer in minerals or trade goods as materials for profit?

Knowledge is power, and speed provides the edge that makes this power so important. If I know today, what my enemy or rival will not know for several days, I have a decided advantage on strategizing to my advantage and profit. In the 16th century an industrious Belgian family developed the first international service to address the ages old problem of slow communication.

The Tassis family had obtained the rights to handle a rudimentary postal service in several Duchies in what is now Belgium. The service promised a decent living for the Tassis family by the standards of the time. However, they wanted to do more, expand and create a service that could become the international standard.

The Tassis family divided the work responsibilities between family members and had them disperse throughout Europe. The key to their success was a cohesive, standardized system of fleet horses, experienced, responsible riders, a network of terminals to change horse, rider and re-route mail and packages, and scheduled delivery times. Spain, France, Italy and Germany were little more than a polyglot of feudal city states during this time. There was no central government to handle a service like mail delivery that we consider routine today. The opportunity for a private company to organize and manage an international operation of this import and scale was a wonder.

The Tassis’ received contracts to handle the delivery of mail throughout most of continental Europe. From Naples to the Danube, and Gibraltar to Copenhagen, the family built a delivery network that managers at DHL, UPS, or FedEx would admire and recognize today. A treaty, legal contract or purchase order that took five weeks to reach Genoa from Madrid, could now be delivered in seven to 10 days. As the loads increased the price was lowered and this only accelerated the use of the service.

The family became rich, powerful and across Europe became members of the aristocracy. The name Tassis in the German language is spelled “taxis”.

Today, everywhere in the world, people call for a taxicab when they need to transport themselves for a fare. The taxi service created by the Tassis’ was an important part of the development of the Renaissance.

The Tassis are responsible for one of the most elemental and important service enhancements in history. The ability to accelerate the movement of important commercial, legal and governmental communications enabled decisions to be made more quickly and on a grander scale. The entrepreneurial innovation that the Tassis family introduced enriched their family, business, government and, most importantly, the working class that benefited so much from the rapid expansion of capital and trade. Even today, we can still learn from the historical record that the ability to offer a novel new benefit pays off in so many ways.

How Entrepreneurs Can Use an MWDBE Certification to Enter New Markets

The benefit of being and MWDBE is that various state and other governmental authorities mandate that MWDBE certified firms must receive a certain percentage, usually between 25%-40% of any prime contract that is funded by the government. For example, in New York State MWDBE Construction Management firms usually get 35% on average for some very large and lucrative public works construction projects. But as in all markets, where there is a big demand or, this case opportunity, there is also much more supply, that is, competitors.

But what if a firm looked at smaller niche markets. Markets where, while there is still opportunity, ie. government funding jobs and contracts, but a very limited range of qualified competitors. My experience concentrates on the AEC market, that is Architecture, Engineering and Construction. But there are many other markets that MWDBE firms can enter, both with the AEC industry and others as well, think education, health care, housing.

If a entrepreneur who is qualified for an MWDBE certification were to do some good research, she/he could probably find small niche markets within which millions of dollars is being spent by the government, a portion of that money is probably mandated to go to an MWDBE. Naturally, this would be somewhat limited to the person’s chosen profession, but even ambulance service contracts, in certain states, are mandated to be apportioned to MWDBE firms.

This represents a safety net available for these firms or start ups, so as to facilitate the entry into new markets. Once established in the market, then a firm can decide if it wants to expand away from the state mandated revenue pool, and become primes themselves.

The legislation behind the MWDBE regulations was put there for a purpose, to help a certain sector of the population build businesses that did government work. A smart entrepreneur could find a very lucrative business in a haystack, if they’re smart enough.

Social Entrepreneurship: Indian Women Shine In Social Ventures

Social entrepreneurship is a vast field of work that deals with identifying a social problem and then giving it an entrepreneurial solution. On doing this, the main goal of a social entrepreneur is to bring positive changes in the society.

Women have always been associated with social entrepreneurship in some form. The work of Florence Nightingale practically gave birth to the concept of nursing as we know in the modern world, and can be cited as one of the best examples of women’s contribution to social entrepreneurship.

The Rise of Women Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship is now a booming sector. Everywhere, women are leaving fat paychecks to jump on the entrepreneur bandwagon for their personal satisfaction. Some do it just to hone their passion while others do it to bring about a social change. The latter are known as social entrepreneurs. They use their intelligence to merge business with social welfare.

The statistics and surveys speak volumes about the relationship of women and social entrepreneurship in today’s world. In the United States alone, 38 percent of all the companies are owned by women, thus contributing annual sales of about $ 3.6 trillion to the economy.

Similar figures show up in the Europe and Asian corporate sectors, blurring the concept of gender discrimination to a large extent. Many women have even made it to impressive power lists compiled by the likes of Forbes and Fortune magazine.

But if you think that they’re doing well only in clichéd “feminine” sectors like cosmetics and fashion designing, then you’re in for surprise. Some of the crème de la crème positions of multinational banks, soft drink companies and stock-broking organizations are occupied by women. And they do not just talk profits.

Many of the top contributors of NGOs and other non-profit organizations are female entrepreneurs. Even these NGOs are run by socially-driven women who invest their contributions in various causes.

Indian Women In Social Ventures

India is fast growing in this aspect and being one of the most populated countries in the world, the demand and scope of social entrepreneurship is greater here than anywhere else.

Our country has no dearth of inspiring initiatives and shining examples set by women social entrepreneurs. Here are some examples of Indian women who have initiated social ventures.

Ela Bhatt founded the grassroot development initiative, SEWA, which worked for the simultaneous social and economic empowerment of women at the grassroots level. She is also the leader of the International Labour Cooperative Women’s Microfinance movement.

Shilpi Kapoor’s initiative, Breakbarrier Technologies, aims to make technology solutions accessible to the differently abled

Neelam Chhibber’s Industree Crafts, works for the emancipation of local artisans by connecting them to viable markets.

Revathi Roy started ForShe, a taxi service run entirely by women.

Vijaya Patsala founded Under The Mango Tree, an organization that promotes beekeeping among women farmers, and with the goal of making women more financially independent and self-sustained.

Women have always been passionate about the society around them. This is evident by their active participation in NGOs and other non-profit organizations. But with their growing confidence and exposure to the world around them, they are now taking their passion to a higher and broader level by running large-scale, successful social ventures.

How To Define Entrepreneurial Spirit

The entrepreneurial spirit is often difficult to define let alone examine in detail because of its perception as a highly creative and dynamic entity and it is with this caveat that this article is written.

Whilst the entrepreneurial spirit can be applied to a wide range of disciplines and professionals it is perhaps most closely associated with the world of business and incorrectly used to describe many successful business people, when in fact very few individuals can truly demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit.

Historical Context of the meaning of entrepreneur

The word itself is French in origin and if interpreted in its literal context means “between jobs”. It is interesting that a word that has come to project the very pinnacle of success should have such mundane roots as a means of describing being unemployed.

This article examines a number of concepts that appear intrinsic to what constitutes entrepreneurial spirit

1. Uniqueness

In a highly developed global business community where new ideas and business models are increasingly in short supply the importance of uniqueness cannot be under estimated and those exhibiting an entrepreneurial spirit are often associated with concepts that encapsulate originality and ingenuity. Take for example, Steve Jobs bringing the Apple IPOD to the market,

2. Creativity

Creativity is heavily connected to uniqueness but the two are not identical. Individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit are experienced at harnessing the creative process to help them produce a unique product /service or advantage. So where as uniqueness describes the end outcome, creativity describes the process of how one achieves it. For this reason those with an entrepreneurial spirit are often creative individuals who are ready, willing and able to actively adopt new techniques to get ahead even at the expense of being ridiculed by others.

3. Risk Taking

In a western society that is so often risk averse, those with entrepreneurial spirit embrace risk taking and it is impossible for such a concept not to be associated with entrepreneurs and the often high risk potential involved in following a new cutting edge approach. It must be observed however that risk is not the same as recklessness and those demonstrating an entrepreneurial spirit are likely to be adept at assessing the risks involved in any undertaking.

4. Business Savy

As highlighted previously those with entrepreneurial spirit should not be considered as reckless mavericks indeed quite the opposite, good entrepreneurs are motivated by profit and are skilled at identifying a lucrative niche in the market that can be exploited for profit. Take for example, Steve Jobs at Apple Computers who has successfully navigated a profitable course in the computing and software industry despite the market being dominated by Microsoft and IBM for a number of decades. In addition he was the first to spot the potential of utilising the computing industry to open a new market to the music fraternity , with the introduction of the IPOD, the market leader in its business stream. Such actions requires great skill and confidence and demonstrate a clear entrepreneurial spirit.

5. Developing Potential

Identifying, Investing in and nurturing potential are also essential to the ideals attached associated with entrepreneurial spirit because of the need to find differing solutions to a business problem.

Established businesses often fail to discover breakthroughs because they stick to a rigid investment formula that has worked for them in the past rather than finding new ways of moving forward.

6. Adaptability

The entrepreneurial spirit is always adaptable and ready to overcome barriers presented by business problems and is usually quicker at resolving those issues than mainstream business thinkers.

7. Ultimately Destructive

Entrepreneurial spirit is ultimately destructive to its own business in the medium term unless those engaged in utilizing the concept recognize when it is time to handover to mainstream management focussed individuals who can maintain and develop the organisation. This is because true entrepreneurial spirit is obsessed with constant creativity and change which is unsettling to employees without good management and a clear direction. Many of those demonstrating entrepreneurial spirit rarely stay long term in any enterprise they undertake, take Richard Branson for example who after launching numerous businesses under the “Virgin” brand has subsequently sold on many of these to third parties at a huge profit to himself.

Summary

In conclusion whilst there are certainly key characteristics which encapsulate the entrepreneurial spirit it would be foolish to pretend that any one individual has all those traits and even more foolish to believe that such a concept can be comprehensively defined. It is also short sighted to believe that those with entrepreneurial spirit are only evident in the business community, indeed many different disciplines and vocations have historical and existing individuals contained within them that could be essentially described as entrepreneurs.

Well Known individuals exhibiting the entrepreneurial spirit : Richard Branson, Clive Sinclair, Freddy Laker, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Anita Roddick.

Words often used to describe individuals with entrepreneurial spirit : Mavericks, Tycoons, pathological liars, risk takers, self made business people, successful, charismatic.