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Who should be on Your Entrepreneurial Team?

9 Jul

Entrepreneurs believe they have to do everything themselves.  It is true in they need to oversee the entire project and make sure it is going the direction they want it to go.  However, you’re going to need people to help you take care of the areas of your business that you can’t.  Legal and Accounting are the first to come to mind.  Other areas that I include on my Entrepreneurial Team are:

  • Logo/Artwork
  • Website Administrator
  • Reality Check Network

Logo/Artwork is self-explanatory.  I am a slightly below poor artist, so I pay a professional to help me out.  It doesn’t have to be an expensive professional designer.  I have known Entrepreneurs’ who used someone from fiver.com or an art student at a local college.  I have been lucky to have some good artist’s in my family and friends to help me out.

I run my own website through Dot-easy.  It is fairly simple to do, but I have a couple of real Website designers/operators in my network.  It is great to have someone to help me out when I get in over my head.  Again, it doesn’t have to be expensive.  I have done some writing for them in exchange for them helping me.

Reality Check Network is the most valuable team member I have.  This is a group of Entrepreneurs who have been successful with their own businesses.  I have connected with them through chance meetings, Chamber events, LinkedIn, Facebook, WordPress, and Twitter.  These people know what it takes to be successful.  I run ideas by them to see what they think.  Don’t do this step if you’re not ready for BRUTAL HONESTY.  They know what works and aren’t shy about saying so.  They provide a Reality Check to try to keep me from making a big mistake.

These are the members of my Entrepreneurial Team.  Who are the members of Your Team?  I would love to know your thoughts about who should be on the team.  Please leave your comments below, on Twitter, or e-mail.

Being an Entrepreneur means managing yourself

6 Jul

When people ask what I do and I reply, “an Entrepreneur,” they invariably reply with “must be nice to be your own boss.”  It is true.  It is great to be my own boss.  It is also the worst thing because I have to manage myself to get everything done.  I constantly have to prioritize my tasks to make sure things moving along so I can get paid.

I am sure my daily schedule of tasks is not very different from yours.  There is a wide variety of personal, business, and family tasks that must be done each day to keep things on track.   A lot of people use fancy electronic planner systems or complicated (to me) Name Brand Planner systems.  I just use a blank one month per page calendar printed from MS Word and two note pads (one paper and one on my smartphone).

  1. The month calendar gets meetings, bill due dates, family appointments, etc. put on it as a reminder of what is up coming.
  2. Each evening I take the paper note pad and make a list of everything I need to accomplish the next day.  I refer to my monthly calendar to see if I need to be working on a project or have meetings or appointments.
  3. I use the note pad on my smartphone to jot down notes on the go.  I then transfer them to my paper list.  This way I only have to keep one calendar and one to do list updated each day.

This simple and easy system allows me to plan and concentrate on the most important tasks and keeps the lesser ones from falling through the cracks.

In all the years I have used this system, I have never had an assignment sneak up on me.  I may have procrastinated in doing the assignment, but I knew it was coming.  The bonus is I don’t have to remember to sync any device to another one and if I misplace my smartphone I have not lost everything.

This is the same system I learned in college 23 years ago.  As the story goes, if it isn’t broke, don’t try to fix it.  I used to carry a spiral note pad in my shirt pocket (yes, I was/am a nerd), but have modernized some using the smartphone, albeit only in the last year.

I encourage you to comment on this.  I am always looking for a better system; I just haven’t found it yet.

As always, please remember to follow me on Twitter and visit my website.

Why a Fast NO is better than a Maybe

28 Jun

In the business world, we have to sell product.  It doesn’t matter what the product is.  If you’re not selling it, you’re not making money.  When a potential client says “I want to hear more about it” after the initial product pitch, I have to keep myself from cringing.  I didn’t get an immediate sell; so now I am looking for a “Fast No.”  The “Maybe” answer just keeps me from moving on to the next potential “yes” client.  What I need is the “Fast No.”

At this point, I follow these 3 steps:

  1.  I ask the potential client, “What is your biggest concern about the product?”
  2. If the client responds with a direct concern, I answer it and ask for the sale again.
  3. If the client beats around the bush, I immediately let them off the hook with an “I understand the timing isn’t right for you.  How about I call you in a few weeks?”

By following these steps, I have a sale or I have a “Fast No.”  Either way I move on to the next potential client.  Since I let them off the hook, they are more at ease and will take my call when I DO call back in a few weeks.  This process keeps me from squandering time waiting for a sale that might not happen.

Some salespeople will recoil in utter disbelief that I let a potential client off the hook.  I know it is just a smart business move for the following reasons:

  1. Most of us hate high pressure sales tactics.  This is definitely low pressure.
  2. It keeps the business relationship friendly.
  3. The potential client will more likely refer you others because you weren’t high pressure.
  4. Most importantly, I can move on.  The more people who hear my pitch—the more sales I get.

That is why a “Fast No” is better than a “Maybe.”

 

Please feel free comments and questions.  Please, check out my website at fields685.com.

So you want to be an Entrepreneur

18 Jun

So you want to be an Entrepreneur.  Great, now what do you do?  According to many articles you must be prepared to fail.  Six out of seven Entrepreneurs fail, one third will fail, and so on.  Still want to be an Entrepreneur?    Then let me share some cold hard facts with you about being an Entrepreneur.

Treat it like the real business that it IS!  Decide up front is this a hobby or an income replacing business.

Everyone (and I do mean everyone; spouse, family, best friend, colleagues, etc.) will think you are crazy.  They will shoot holes in your ideas and try to drag you down.  Admittedly, some of their concerns will be valid.  You will have to sift the good concerns from the bad ones.

Believing being an Entrepreneur is a get rich quick scenario.  Being an Entrepreneur means you are in it for the long haul.  Very rarely does it happen overnight.  Also if you prefer a 9-5 lifestyle, you might want to think again about being an Entrepreneur. There will be a lot of long, sleepless nights ahead.

You can’t do everything yourself.  You will need professional help in certain areas.  Accounting, Taxes, writing the business plan, and Legal are usually the first ones that come to mind.  Remember, professional doesn’t have to mean expensive.  You can get professional help with lots of things at www.fiverr.com.   Don’t be shy about using your local Chamber of Commerce or the local SCORE office of the SBA to get help.

You will need a network of people with varied backgrounds.  These people will be able to give you valuable insight about your idea or a process.  Remember though, GIVE more than you take.  Help others whenever you can.  It will repay you in the long run.

Financing will not come via an Angel Investor (probably).  Be prepared to work on a shoestring budget or finance it yourself.  The Angel Investor will come after you start being successful.

Finally, have fun with it.  Will it be a stressful, overwhelming, hair on fire, or pulling out your hair proposition?  Yep, but that is the fun part of being an Entrepreneur.  If you can live with these cold hard facts, welcome to the wonderful world of Entrepreneurship.

I welcome any comments or suggestions on this article.