Category Archives: Start-up

10 Traits of the Entrepreneurial Mindset

Do you have an entrepreneurial mindset? Entrepreneurs are some of the coolest entrepreneurial mindsetpeople on the planet. Entrepreneurship, on the other hand, can be a difficult journey. It takes a certain type of person to become a successful entrepreneur.

After over 20 years of partnering with small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs, we have observed many of the common traits shared by the entrepreneurial mindsets of the clients we serve. We have outlined the top ten traits of the entrepreneurial mindset below for you to determine if you have what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur.

10 Traits of the Entrepreneurial Mindset

  1. Unique – Entrepreneurs have a different perspective of looking at the world around them. They tend to march to the beat of their own drummer. For this reason, many entrepreneurs may feel alone and like most people don’t get them. Successful entrepreneurs make sure they seek out like-minded individuals who will celebrate their uniqueness.
  2. Creative – Entrepreneurs are highly imaginative and often get inspired by even the most minute things. Often, entrepreneurial pursuits are an artistic expression of the ideas flooding one’s thoughts. Entrepreneurship serves as a creative outlet for these overflowing thoughts.
  3. Innovative – Due to their massive creativity, entrepreneurs are responsible for many of the ground-breaking concepts that have emerged throughout time. They are pioneers of their craft often discovering new ways to tackle everyday problems.
  4. Bold – Entrepreneurs are some of the bravest people you will ever encounter. Their courageousness emboldens them to face challenges head on despite the negative noise of naysayers.
  5. Visionary – Entrepreneurs are big-picture thinkers. They can see beyond what’s readily visible by most people. Entrepreneurs dream constantly, day and night. If you have an entrepreneurial mindset, you may be regularly accused of always having your head in the clouds.
  6. Curious – Entrepreneurs possess a natural interest in everything around them. They question societal norms and the traditional way of doing things. This curiosity often leads to a new understanding of complex concepts, patterns and much more.
  7. Flexible – The most successful entrepreneurs understand that they have to be willing to change at a moment’s notice. The world is constantly evolving all around us, especially in terms of technological advances. Entrepreneurs must be willing to adapt to sudden shifts in their industry, political climate or even in themselves as they learn and grow as a business owner.
  8. Resilient – Entrepreneurs must be able to bounce back from failures quickly. Fail fast and often is a reoccurring them in the successful entrepreneurial mindset. Successful entrepreneurs not only face obstacles head-on, but overcome them through perseverance.
  9. Servant Leader – The number one reason most businesses are started is because an entrepreneur had a vision to serve or help others to address a particular problem or concern. Successful entrepreneurs are natural leaders who inspire and motivate through their service.
  10. Coachable – The most successful entrepreneurs don’t waste time trying to reinvent the wheel. They recruit partners, consultants and coaches who can help them become better decision-makers and direct their time on mission-critical, income-producing activities. These entrepreneurs understand how important it is to be open to different perspectives, best practices and industry trends to sustain and grow their businesses.

Do you have what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur? Tell us in the comments below if you agree with these top ten traits of the entrepreneurial mindset or if there are other characteristics that should be included. Should you have found value in this post, please do share it with your networks to help others learn if they have an entrepreneurial mindset too.

Advertisements

Make the Best Use of Your Startup Investment

Aspiring entrepreneurs often ask our consulting firm how to make the best use of their startup investment. During the startup phase while budgets are tight and there are many unknowns, your best use of available funding will always be wherever you will receive the highest return on your investment (ROI). You have to ask yourself which strategy(ies) will yield the most bang for your buck and lead you to generating revenue the fastest.

I recommend completing a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis before you spend a dime of your startup investment.startup investment A cost-benefit analysis is a systematic, quantitative approach that helps you to weigh the pros and cons (benefits vs. costs) of a particular transaction. In your case, I would create a chart with at least 3 columns.

How to Evaluate the Best Use of Your Startup Investment

  1. The first column of each row will indicate the action being evaluated. You would list your options – website, SEO, packaging/branding
  2. The second column lists the costs of the action as close to the actual dollar amount as is possible to achieve. Request quotes from vendors or perform a little research if you aren’t sure of exact costs. Make sure to consider resources available for successful implementation of the intended action as there are costs associated with this as well.
  3. The third column should identify the expected results or outcomes (the benefits) of implementing the action. Again, it is important to be as concise and specific here as possible. Focus on how much revenue will be generated (or even costs reduced if that’s a factor) as a result of taking this action. Create a sum total of all benefits associated with any action taken.

Now, review your completed chart and determine which solution will be a) cost the least to implement yet b) generate the most benefits in terms of revenue earned. Since every business model is a little different, without knowing more about your specific situation, performing a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis is my best recommendation to determine the best use of any startup investment. If you want additional assistance with this process, I highly recommend requesting an Emergency Biz Boom Session via Skype to really tackle this decision head-on.

How did you decide how to make the best use of your startup investment? Did you have a plan? Let us know in the comments below and if you found value in this post, please share it with your networks.

How to Succeed in Multi-Level Marketing

Many of my clients get their first taste of business ownership in multi-level marketing companies. Unfortunately, this type of business model often gets a bad rap because so many aspiring entrepreneurs have absolutely no idea how to succeed in multi-level marketing and fail miserably. You can absolutely succeed in a multi-level marketing (MLM) business and do so pretty quickly as long as you have the 4 P’s of Profit in place, which I often discuss in my training programs for aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Succeed in Multi-Level Marketing with the 4 P’s of Profit

  1. Passion – This is the number one reason why multi-level marketers fail. You sign upsucceed in multi-level marketing because you see the glitz and the glam of the promised wealthy lifestyle rather than actually being passionate about the products and services you offer. You have to have passion to start any business, multi-level marketing included. The bottom line is entrepreneurship is difficult and especially in the very beginning while you’re building your business. There is no magic bullet that will make you rich quick but there are proven steps that you can implement to help you succeed in multi-level marketing faster. Make sure that whatever venture you are embarking on is driven by your passion for the products and services you offer or no amount of education nor processes will help you succeed.
  2. Purpose – You have to have a why, whether this is a personal mission or a business mission. Your passion is the what you do but your purpose is the why you do it. What do you hope to accomplish as a result of your hard work. What is the end game? What is your vision? What impact do you want to have? Starting a business without a clear purpose in mind, even an already set-up business such as multi-level marketing, will leave you drowning in mindless activity. It’s like getting in a car without knowing where you want to go. If you don’t have a clue where you’re going, how can you plan for gas, driving time, budget needed, rest stops, etc.? You will succeed in multi-level marketing if you have a purpose to focus you.
  3. Partners – These are the people who will support you and your business. This is everyone including your upline, downline, immediate family and best friends (who by the way are not always your customers), business consultants and coaches like myself, accountants, attorneys and other service providers. This also includes your customers who not only buy your products and services but also clue you in on their needs and interests so you can serve them better. You cannot succeed in multi-level marketing without a solid team around you.
  4. Processes – These are the tried and true, proven best practices, automated tools and duplicable activities that you strategically and intentionally implement to build and sustain your business. The more efficient your operations, the easier and faster you will earn money. I also sometimes refer to this P as “Productivity” because with adequate processes in place, you will be more productive.

Incorporate the 4 P’s of Profit into your marketing plan and you absolutely will be successful in multi-level marketing. For more information about how to succeed in multi-level marketing businesses, check out my book, Why YOU SUCK at Network Marketing. You will find out how to avoid many of the pitfalls most multi-level marketers make that keep them broke and broken.

Have you found success in network marketing? If so, tell us how you did it in the comments below and, if you found this post helpful, please share it to your networks.

3 Must-Do Activities to Increase Sales

People start businesses for any number of reasons.  Some of these include to get moreThree Must-Do Activities to Increase Salesfreedom, to build a legacy, to give back to their community, to fix a looming social concern, or simply for the love of what they do.  Another reason is often to achieve financial security but, surprisingly, this is often the least of their motivations.

While most aspiring entrepreneurs do relate success with monetary gain, making money is rarely on the top of the list of reasons why businesses get started.  In fact, money is often an afterthought.  This is evident in the manner in which the average aspiring entrepreneur develops his or her business model.  Think about your own start-up journey.  If you are like most entrepreneurs, in the beginning you probably undervalued yourself, your products, or your services.  You most likely charged too little and underestimated the true cost of doing business.   Not thinking about the money from the start is a big mistake that often leaves struggling entrepreneurs to join the four out of five businesses that fail within the first 5 years of operation.

How do you avoid becoming a statistic?  The answer is to focus on increasing your sales.  The bottom line is that you need money to survive.  Businesses get money by making sales.  There are two primary ways to make more money using sales.  The first is to increase your margin.  Margin is the amount of profit left over after costs per each sale you make. You can do this by either cutting costs or raising prices.  An effective strategy combines both of these methods to arrive at a cost-effective, competitive sales prices that reflects your true value.

The second way to make more money using sales is to increase the volume of sales.  To increase sales, small business owners must reconsider your marketing conversations that you are having with your customers.  This will be the focus of the three activities you must do to increase sales.

3 Must-Do Activities to Increase Sales

  1. Tap into your passion.  Your sales conversion rate is heavily reliant on the amount of passion you have when speaking about your product or service offering.  Passion lets prospective customers know that you believe in your offer and helps fuel the emotional connection you make during sales conversations.  Think about why you love your products and services.  Why are they important to you?  How have they changed your life for the better?  Connect with your “why” so you can speak authentically about your offer.  People don’t buy products and services.  They buy you.  Passion helps them to see who you are.
  2. Create stories.  Storytelling is so important to increase sales.  Stories demonstrate value to prospects by showing them exactly how your offers will help them.  Prospective customers can actually “see” themselves in your stories as you tell them.  To develop stories, you must actually use your products or services, or collect user stories from your existing customer base.  The stories you tell should be true, relevant, and specifically showcase how your offerings have helped solve a problem by either decreasing pain or increasing pleasure.  Coupled with passion, stories are a powerful method to increase sales because stories reach and resonate with every type of learner, be they audio, visual, or kinesthetic.  Stories clearly tell prospects “what” they will be getting.
  3. Develop relationships. We have covered your “why” and the “what” so far. Increase sales by developing relationships. This activity covers the “who” to increase sales.  People buy from those that they know and trust.  You can only establish knowledge and build trust through relationships.  You must become a network marketer.  Network marketing is the art of communicating value through relationships.  When most people think about network marketing, they think about multilevel marketing companies like Mary Kay or Paycation.  In fact, every business owner is a network marketer.  In my book, Why YOU SUCK at Network Marketing, I explain the importance of establishing relationships with your dream customer.  Real relationships involve two-way communication in which you and the customer authentically exchange value.  People don’t like to be sold to but they do love to buy.  Establishing authentic relationships transforms your sales conversations into valuable shared resources.  From this perspective, prospective customers will be thankful for the useful information you provide whenever you share your offers.

RSVP to Jump$tart Your Professional Speaker Media Kit

Your business will only survive if it makes money.  To make more money, you will need to increase sales.  You can increase your sales by tapping into your passion, creating relevant user stories, and developing authentic relationships with your dream customers. If you’re still not sure exactly how to do do this, feel free to request a free strategy session.

How do you increase sales?  I would love to hear your thoughts so please comment below. If you found value in this article, make sure to share it with your network.

Hire Your Kids

For small business owners with kids, the most often forgotten deduction is sleeping in the Hire Your Kidsnext room: your children. Sure, you deduct them as a dependent, but if that’s the only tax savings you’re getting, you’re missing out.

Here’s the thing. As a business owner, you can legally hire your kids and avoid paying many of the taxes that go along with having an employee.  If you have ever been to my office during summer break or attended a weekend event at which I was a vendor, you would have met my now thirteen-year-old son.  He assists in my office with filing, shredding and other administrative tasks and he helps man my vendor booth at events, especially if I’m scheduled to speak.

Hiring your kids is great!  Things like income tax withholding are not required for the underage children of the business owner unless you are a corporation. Sole proprietors and LLCs do not have to deal with payroll, even though technically your child is an employee. You also don’t have to cover them on your worker’s compensation insurance.

Even better, when you hire your kids, you don’t have to pay income tax on the money they earn. To a point, anyway – the threshold is high enough where this usually isn’t a problem.

All that said, though, there are a few rules you have to follow.

Work, not Just Chores When You Hire Your Kids

You have to be careful that your kids are actually working in the business. Things like raking leaves and doing dishes won’t qualify – unless your business is a lawn service or a restaurant, that is. Instead, have them do tasks you would normally either do yourself or hire outside help to handle.

Depending on the ages of your kids, such tasks might include:

  • Internet research
  • Video editing
  • Site updates
  • Basic graphic design
  • Addressing envelopes
  • Simple bookkeeping

You will also need to be able to show proof of hours worked, and that the pay was reasonable. In other words, you can’t pay your child $50 an hour for a job that – if anyone else were to do it – would normally pay $10 an hour. Set up a timesheet, and make sure he or she fills it out and turns it in every pay period, so you can have it on file.

Paying Your Kids

Each pay period, you’ll pay your children just as you would any other employee or contractor. As we already said, there’s no payroll tax or other deductions to worry about, so they get paid everything they earned. Even better, your business can claim the expense.

What about income tax? Your kids (and everyone else, for that matter) can earn up to $5,950 tax free. That’s the standard deduction, and it applies whether you pay your child or a total stranger, so it just makes sense to keep that money in the family if you can.

Not only that, but since you’re the parent, you still get to claim your kids as dependents. So your kids earn money tax free (which is a great way to start teaching them about budgeting, etc.), your business claims the expense without worrying about payroll taxes, and you claim the deduction. It’s a perfect system for getting work done while at the same time saving a substantial amount of money on taxes every year.

Hiring your kids is one of the best decisions you can make as a bootstrapping entrepreneur.  You not only save money but you are also giving your kids a valuable lesson about business ownership.  Guess what my son wants to be when he grows up?  You guess it!  An entrepreneur!

If you found this post valuable, by all means, please do comment and share.  Did you hire your kids to work in your business?

3 Simple Strategies for Quick Start-up Success

If you are like most aspiring entrepreneurs, you often feel stressed and overwhelmed by the entire business Quick Start-up Success Strategiesstart-up process. You have a great idea, a big dream, you want to see realized but it’s just taking so long to get there. You want to see your amazing vision come to life now, and right now, because everybody needs your products and services today as in yesterday.

The urgency you feel is not uncommon.  In fact, these are the exact feelings most of our small business clients have experienced during the initial start-up phase of their own business development.  Just like you, they wanted to know how to manage their time effectively to achieve quick start-up success.

After over 15 years’ of partnering with small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs, we have observed 3 common traits that are shared by every one of our clients who has experienced quick start-up success.

Strategies for Quick Start-up Success

  1. Retrain.  Aspiring entrepreneurs are usually pulled in many different directions.  You often still have several responsibilities and obligations to meet outside of establishing your business start-up.  Parents, friends, spouses, kids, and even your church rarely understand your new priorities.  You will need to educate them that you no longer have the time and resources to be available as you may once have had.  Quick start-up success requires you to retrain those around you to respect the time you now have to redirect to your business.  You may need to have several hard conversations with loved ones to relay this message and you most likely will need to remind them often.  The faster you can set boundaries, the faster you will realize start-up success.
  2. Recruit. One way to gain the respect and support you need from those around you is to include them in your plans.  You will need all the help you can get.  As a bootstrapping entrepreneur, you are probably doing a lot by yourself and have very little capital to hire help.  Ask your loved ones to pitch in on business activities.  Small kids can hand out flyers.  Teens can file paperwork, do internet research, and make phone calls on your behalf.  College students can assist with website development, marketing, and even operations.  Spouses and friends can be put to work as your sales force.  In order to remain competitive and prosper, you will need to hire help for your growing business as soon as possible.  Recruiting from your pool of loved ones is surefire way to achieve quick start-up success.
  3. Recharge.  As I said earlier, you are probably doing a lot on your own.  You are being pulled in many different directions.  You still have commitments and responsibilities outside of your start-up company and you probably have a lot of new, innovative, and amazing ideas running through your mind all the time.  This level of activity takes a lot of stamina and can take down even the most gifted athletes among us.  What you need is good old-fashioned rest and relaxation.  Take the time to take a purposeful pause. A little bit of rest goes a long way.  Rediscover the proverbial “me” time by doing something you love and enjoy for at least thirty minutes every day.  You can meditate, take a bath, read a good book, or even take a nap!  I personally try to take at least 3 unscheduled naps every week and it does wonders for my clarity and creativity.  Recharging is really necessary to keep your sanity while building your start-up success.

Are you feeling stuck, overwhelmed or out of balance in your business?  Building Bridges Consulting transforms dreamers into successful entrepreneurs by partnering with you to bridge the gap between where you are now and where you need to be to build a successful, sustainable, and profitable business model.  If you are seeking to realize your small business success dream and make money faster than you could on your own, book your FREE strategy session and get started on the right path to quick start-up success today.

We’d also love to hear your thoughts and comments on this article.  Please let us know in the comments below if you have used these or any other strategies to achieve quick start-up success.

 

Archived Comments

  1. Hi Coach Niquenya!
    It is really true that you must ‘Retrain’ family and friends to keep moving forward in your business. Also like the idea that you can involve everyone in your success.
    Thank you :)

  2. Well, I was less stressed when I started cause I didnt know how much I need to know. There are so many moving parts to a business & social media marketing.

  3. These are great strategies. I especially like “Recharge.” I didn’t do this when I first started my business. I’d work long hours and hardly took a break. Not a good idea! We have to take the time to recharge. It makes us stronger and happier which will have an impact on our business. ;)

  4. I like them all, it is important for people to understand what you are doing and why. I know I was asked and still asked why don’t I get a job.

    Even after being in business for 10 years I need to learn how to recruit and recharge better. so that thanks for the reminder.

  5. It is so true that there is strength in building a community around you and having support so you don’t feel like you are doing it all alone. Those who want to remain independent and work as an entrepreneur, would learn much from your three “R’s” so they don’t feel they are going it alone. Feeling overwhelmed and stopping yourself because of that, is often a reason people give up before they even get started. Thanks for the tips on living your personal and business life in more balance.

  6. Retraining those around you is so important. I know folks tended to think that since I was home I was free to run around, or pick something up, or be there to just chat when they wanted to. It was hard for them to process that I was working. These are great tips. Thank you for the post!

  7. Very valuable tips on how to have quick start success! Nice share and good information that will help even the overwhelmed marketer :) Great share!

  8. I wish I had this great article at my disposal when we decided to open our private counseling practice. I struggled with retraining and recharging! I am close to a place where things are slowing down and I am getting more of a handle on entrepreneurship. Under 2 years in I am still in the infancy phase and struggle more with recharging because I feel I need to maximize every second. I plan to reach out for a consultation. Thank you!

  9. I think most entrepreneurs suffer from overload or overwhelm. Like you say in your blog Coach Niquenya we are being pulled in all directions and it’s tough to stay focused. I particularly like your recharge tips and maybe it’s a cue to implement some into my own very busy life. I think that good old fashioned rest and relaxation is calling me and so your blog is very timely. Your tips are worthy of an extra splash of bubble bath tonight! :)

  10. Kudos! Addressing the overwhelm in business is HUGE. It hinders growth, that is for sure. It’s hard as a new biz owner to discern what they need, do, etc… or not. It can get pretty crazy. I like your term, “purposeful pause.” Great article, Missy! :)

Top Challenges Small Business Owners Face Today

Recently I reached out to the small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs who participate in my mentoring and mastermind groups to provide me with their thoughts on what they felt were the biggest challenges small business owners face today.  Their answers were not surprising.  I have summarized those challenges and some ways business owners can address them.

Financing Daily Operations

In terms of financing, managing daily operating expenses can be a consistent challenge.  The need for operating cash affects a company’s ability to market effectively and reach its target audience.  Without adequate capital on hand, product development can also come to a standstill.  Businesses today have great difficulty securing loans and other investments that would have helped keep operations afloat.  Cash flow can also be affected by slow or non-paying clients.

With the economy and traditional lending still remaining sketchy, it may be time to look atalternative financing options. Some of these include taking advantage of leasing opportunities as opposed to purchasing, taking loans on future accounts receivables, and applying for other types of asset lending programs.

I think most entrepreneurs have had the unfortunate experience of dealing with a non-paying client.  Accounts receivables that are grossly past due are not only frustrating but also create a huge gorge in daily operating cash.  The business owner tries to be understanding and sends out a number of gentle reminders to no avail.  In this situation, the business owner has little or no choice but to turn the account over to either a collection agency or an attorney who can send a collection letter on your behalf.  The latter may be the better option because people often respond with more urgency when the debt collection is sent on attorney letterhead under the threat of legal action.

Getting and Retaining Clients

You have launched your business, developed great products and services, and wait for the money to come rolling in, but the phone never rings.  Getting and retaining clients is a typical pain spot for small business owners.  Some ways to ensure a steady stream of clients include:

1. Using your existing client base for referrals. Ask your current clients for the contact information of individuals who could also benefit from your services.
2. Offering a customer loyalty and rewards system.  Implement this to keep current customers happy by incentivizing referrals and repeat purchases.  Give customers discounts, free merchandise or other items to keep them coming back.
3. Get online!  If you are in business today, you have to have a website.  Your customers turn to the internet as their number one source for information.  If you are not there, then your business will get overlooked.  You should also be actively engaging customers using social media.
4. Focus on building relationships. Your products and services are not about you.  They are about servicing the needs of your customer.  With this in mind, take the focus off of sales and put it on customer satisfaction by building great relationships.  Strengthen customer relations through newtorking events, blogs and other communication methods.
5. Analyze marketing performance.  What metrics are you using to determine if your marketing efforts are working? Use web analytics, surveys, focus groups and other market research to stay on the pulse of your target customer.  Performance measures will reveal which marketing mediums are working versus those that are not.  Put more efforts into those methods that have the highest returns on investment.

Keeping Up with Technology

Business owners in today’s world rely very heavily on technology to get things done.  These important tools provide automation of business processes to increase productivity and efficiency.  Unfortunately, it seems that no sooner than a technological solution is implemented, it is already considered outdated.  There are so many options for hardware and software solutions.  Additionally, there are new technologies to learn about including cloud computing and mobile technology.  How does the small business owner with limited resources, and possibly limited technical acumen, keep up with the rapidly changing world of office automation?

This is one area where it truly pays to outsource.  Hiring an expert consultant who can help you to analyze what systems should be automated in order to increase efficiency and productivity can save thousands of dollars and a lot of time in the long run. Aside from marketing efforts, investing in technology is one of the smartest and most important moves for the small business owner.

 

What are your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur in today’s economy?  How are you addressing these obstacles?  We would love to hear from you.  Please share in the comments below.