Monthly Archive for May, 2013

Seeking the essence of entrepreneurship

Ever wonder what makes an entrepreneur decide when to take a risk? Examples of entrepreneurial risk-taking range from the calculated to the fool-hardy.

You’ll never hear me minimize doing due diligence on your entrepreneurial dream. Indeed, an entrepreneur’s hunch without some foundation is like a belt without belt loops. Still, there will come a time when an entrepreneur must take action without all the answers.

And in the not knowing, but going forward anyway, we find the quark of entrepreneurship and the paradoxical twin emotions, apprehension and exhilaration.

These emotions presage possibility: Might be good, might not be; might be successful, might be a train wreck. And contemplating either possibility produces the headrush entrepreneurs get the moment they risk what they know for what they might learn.

The best way to manage these emotions is a two-step process. First, believe in your own ability to take the next step. This confidence comes from gaining knowledge and experience, plus the perspectives of others – like a mentor – who have already been where you want to go.

If you’re having difficulty finding this confidence perhaps your subconscious is sending a message that you have more work to do before you take that next step. But if your credentials and preparation are reasonable and you’re still lacking confidence, perhaps it’s time to risk what you know for what you might learn. And that leads us to the second step, which is about faith.

Faith is defined as a belief in something unseen. You must have faith in yourself to handle future plans. You must have faith that your plans will be flexible enough to deal with the unknown. And you must also have faith in one more thing which may surprise you – serendipity.

My friend, Jim Ballard, author of “Mind Like Water,” says serendipity is “a meaningful coincidence.” Jim thinks the more we expect serendipity the more of it we will find. I think business serendipity is good fortune that happens when you show up in the marketplace with your plan, preparation and faith – every day.

Always research the risk you’re taking, believe in yourself and what you’re creating, and have faith that something good will come from your commitment. But when you take the next risk, be prepared for the possibility that what you get for your efforts might not be what you expect, and for the possibility that this is a good thing.

Expect serendipity whenever you risk what you know for what you might learn.

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Be sure to check out Jim Ballard’s page linked below. Jim Ballard is a management consultant, leadership trainer, motivational speaker, and consulting partner with the Ken Blanchard Companies, and author of What’s the Rush? He founded Maudala Press, a direct-mail educational publishing firm, and wrote a series of children’s books and books for teachers on humanistic education.

Click here to see Jim Ballard’s latest interviews and books

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

Are you prepared for a business interruption?

It’s doubtful that American small businesses have ever been impacted by as many potential business interruption events as we’ve seen in the past 20 years: beginning with the Oklahoma City bombing, the events of 9-11, and now the Boston bombings; hurricanes like Katrina and Sandy; tornados like those that wiped out Joplin, MO, and Hackleberg, AL, and many floods.

Recently we asked our online audience if they were financially prepared for an interruption with this question: “Could your business handle the financial impact of a business interruption?” Almost one-fifth said they, “… have cash and business interruption insurance if we need it,” and a little more than one-third reported they had “…cash and credit if we need it.” The other half admitted, “We would be hurting if it lasted more than a few days.”

There are three kinds of interruption preparation to focus on: operational, financial and digital. Here are examples of how to manage all three:

Operational
What would you do if your building became unavailable to you or your customers?

  1. Use laptops that allow key employees to work and connect remotely, both internally and with customers. And make sure they have high-speed Internet connections at home.
  2. Identify and become proficient with cloud-based applications that serve as an alternative for any installed programs that may be lost.

Financial
A significant part of the working capital of most small businesses is from cash flow. What would happen if your cash flow was interrupted?

  1. Purchase a “business interruption” rider on your property and casualty policy to pay you cash upon the acceptance of a claim. Read the fine print; all policies are not created equal.
  2. Maintain a close working relationship with your banker so you won’t have to introduce yourself to the person you might ask for a disaster loan.

Digital
Small businesses are increasingly using digital assets more and physical assets less. Are you prepared to protect your data as diligently as you do your building, equipment and inventory?

  1. Assign one person to be in charge of keeping all computers enabled with a proven firewall and anti-malware program, and keep them current.
  2. Regularly copy critical data from your hard drives and store it offsite. Better yet, backup your date with one of the cloud-based backup and recovery firms. Search for “online data backup.”

Business interruption – it’s a matter of when, not if.

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

SBA Poll: What does your economy look like?

The Question:
In preparing for business over the summer, what does your economy look like?

38% - We’re seeing an improving economy for the next few months.

50% - We expecting our economy to maintain the current level this summer.

3% - We’re forecasting a sales decline from recent business conditions.

9% - Our business has been down and we don’t see improvement soon.

My Comments:
As you can see, less than four of ten of the respondents to our poll last week are expecting the economy to pick up over the summer. The rest, 62%, think business through the summer will be no better or worse than the recent past.

It’s almost four years since the technical end of the Great Recession and the U.S. Main Street economy is still limping along. When considering the awesome entrepreneurial energy that is pent up in America today, one has to wonder what could cause this. In an upcoming Feature Article I’ll answer this question and challenge those who can solve the problem. Stay tuned.

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

Video-The truth about small business retirement plans

In this week’s video I list the top 3 reasons why small business owners don’t fund a retirement plan.

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

Put your ribbon out front and lead your troops

Someone once told me that you can’t be an effective leader without first knowing how to follow. In his book, Moses: CEO, my friend, Robert Dilenschneider says, “Leading and following are opposite sides of the same coin.” What an interesting paradoxical metaphor: Opposites indeed, but one can’t exist without the other. Being a leader takes more than just wanting to lead. In the marketplace, you can only be a leader if you can get others to follow you.

No matter the size of a small business, there will always be more things to do than people to do them; everyone must wear several hats. You can’t drive people to wear extra hats, but you can lead them to do it. This means that leadership is an especially essential characteristic for a small business owner to have.

Napoleon once said, “A soldier will fight long and hard for a piece of colored ribbon.” But only a leader who understands the heart of a follower can convince the soldier that the ribbon is worth fighting for.

If you want to be a successful small business owner, make sure you know and understand both sides of the leadership “coin”. Then line up your troops, put your ribbon out in front and lead them into battle.

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

Video-Small Business and the Gun Control Debate

In this week’s video I talk about what small business and the gun control debate have in common.

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!




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