Finding The Keys to Entrepreneurial Success

This morning in Akron, I had the pleasure to hear a presentation by Larry Farrell the Guru of Entrepreneurship. He has a long list of accolades but the one that caught my attention is that he has one of the top 10 bestselling books in China this year: Getting Entrepreneurial.

His talk really hit home for me. As someone who started a service business in 1998 after 17 years of a very steady corporate paycheck, I felt like he “knew” me.

Larry offered many insights. My favorite: he suggests entrepreneurs make something or provide a service that is needed. Basically — do your marketing homework!!

You also need to make sure you’re in a position where if your business takes a hit, your whole life won’t be affected by it. You need to ensure that you have money saved as backup, you have been using the best credit card to build credit so your score is high, all these things that you need to think about. It’s a harsh reality that about 50% of small businesses don’t make it past five years so you want to give yourself every chance of becoming an entrepreneur.

The key to a really successful new business is one that focuses on services or products that the world really NEEDS and WANTS. Not just what you can make, not one that is easy to manage, (although those are necessary too) — but a business that launches products & introduces services to solve a problem. Obviously the business itself needs to be run effectively using something like Profits OKR software to keep a track of your goals and the progress you’re making towards them, but if you don’t have a good product you won’t get off the ground.

It’s all about focusing on the market. It is also vital that you learn to budget too. Some businesses simply ignore the obvious benefits of using a comparison site like Utility Bidder in order to avoid paying excessively for their utilities. This ignorance will never bode well for a hopeful entrepreneur.

It’s kind of a “duh” moment, isn’t it? But you’d be so surprised at how little attention is given to the fundamentals of entrepreneurship in the schools — elementary, high school, university level, even MBA programs. It’s only been the last 5 or 10 years the subject has even been on the radar screen. That’s something that Junior Achievement is working to change.

Currently, you have to wait until college age before you can begin learning what it takes to become an entrepreneur, for example on the Prairie View GRADUATE PROGRAMS IN BUSINESS. But Larry works closely with Junior Achievement and is in the midst of developing a new high school circurriculum. Currently Junior Achievement trains millions and millions of children and young people in three core principles needed for future success: 1) financial literacy 2) workforce readiness 3) entrepreneurship.

Interesting facts that he shared about the need for entrepreurship training:

  • Young people today will have 9 different jobs during their career before they are 40.
  • Of the top companies, 84% don’t last 100 years.
  • Every 50 years, 70% of the Fortune 500 companies turnover on the list.
  • Having 25-50 employees is an optimum size. (Not too bureaucratic!)
  • It’s not “that hard” to be global. Even small start-ups should consider it!
  • It’s not about management: planning, leading, organizing, controlling. Successful companies must think like entrepreneurs — focus your passion on your idea, get really good at it and make sure the market wants it.

Even the large corporations are looking for entrepreneurship minded individuals, even more so than the traditional managerial minded individuals.

So, what are you doing to become more entrepreneurial? What are you doing to help the young people of today to be more entrepreneurial in their future careers?

Of interest to the new product entrepreneur: The link below goes to my company’s webpage. You can get an hour of extremely helpful information on audio CD about how to create a successful new product launch:

Bring your New Product to Market: Audio CD

If you decide to buy it, put the words “I’m an Entrepreneur” in the special shipping instructions of PayPal and I’ll send you a 25% rebate.

Launch Strategy for Marketing Your Book

Are you writing and marketing your book?

Those who haven’t written a book often think that the writing is the hard part. Those who have written a book know that the work just begins when the book is finally published. 

Authors: take heed of the launch strategy of Tammy Lenski. Tammy really understands the power of connectedness and community in developing an on line media program.

She contacted a variety of professionals who would be helpful to her target market and asked for donation of services as prizes to book buyers in exchange for posting profiles of the professionals.  What a great way to build the buzz for an online book launch virtual party for her new mediation book.

Each profile also has cross links to the other professional’s profiles and their respective websites:

 If you’re considering creating an online book launch virtual party to increase community and sales of your book, don’t miss Tammy’s example!

Build it… and they will buy? NOT.

Derrick Daye of the Branding Strategy Insider really hits the nail on the head in his post Of Brand Marketing and New Business Ventures . So often a new business has a manufacturing focus (what can we make) as opposed to a marketing focus (what do people want/need). Is it any wonder that the business struggles or fails?

For a business to be successful, it has to solve a problem for its customers.

It’s not enough to create something.

Subscribe via Bloglines, Subscribe via Feedster, Join MyBlogLog Community

Technorati Tags: Marketing, Branding, New Products, Market Positioning

Faster Communication? A new Tool to Review Marketing Projects

Of all the stages of a marketing program, the final reviewing phases can be some of the most frustrating, due to communication challenges.

This past week I was working with a company outside of Boston on a direct mail program we are executing for their marketing plan. Postcard series, mailing lists & sell sheets. This week had had many emails back and forth and a 70-minute conference phone call involving 5-6 people in 4 different states.

This same week I was working with a different client from St. Louis, finalizing their website and brochure with the sales people and president, then providing direction to the copywriter and the web designer. Everyone is in a different office, a different location, with different working styles.

Two great clients. Two communication challenges.

Perhaps you can relate.

If you’ve ever tried to get lots of input, relay good direction to the creative group and then deliver a quality marketing project on a deadline, you can relate to these communication challenges. It might be a virtual company, it may be everyone is traveling, it might be the snow belt weather… whatever the challenge, the day of gathering around a conference table with the client and the creatives is long gone. No one has time.

So, you can see why I was interested when I hear about a new website called Review Basics. It’s an online way for everyone to review a project on their own time and keep all the input straight. Content, photo, image, document.

Right out of the gate, I liked the idea of it. Tim S. said he was a reader of my blog and called me at work to ask me to try Review Basics and write a review about it on this blog. I told him I would, but needed to wait until Saturday morning when I had time. Last Saturday was very busy, so I’m doing it this Saturday.

Overall impressions of Review Basics:

  • Explanations are easy. It is intuitive. I like the emoticons, balloons for text and the ability to print a hard copy of my marked up changes for proofing afterwards.
  • Definitely a product that provides a solution to a challenging problem.
  • I also like how once submitted, no more changes for that version. That is where you can get so messed up when there is ONE more thing so you have so many versions flying around… one person is changing version 5, where someone else is still back on version 3.
  • Thumbs up.

What I like:

  • Quick tutorial, very easy.
  • Very easy to figure out how to use it.
  • Like the ability to move the balloons around with comments.
  • Like the emoticons and arrows to express feelings & specifics.
  • Easy to use. Worked like the tutorial.
  • Seems like both Mac people and PC people would like using it.

What I didn’t like:

  • Music in the overview video is annoying, so I turned off my speakers.
  • I thought there would be narrator explaining how it works. I didn’t expect to be “entertained”
  • The movie runs without a control, (flash?) so I can’t go back and review something, I have to play the whole movie over again (not.)
  • When it was time to submit all changes, I got an error message. AND the message was code to the programmer… not a message to a reviewer about what I did wrong.
  • It’s still in beta, so they’ll fix the bug… but they probably should have fixed the bug before they called me yesterday (again) to ask about checking it out. If there are error messages, there is NO WAY I’m going to ask a client to figure out how to use it. Clients are too valuable to have them experimenting with program that might not work.
    • When I tried to just close, (instead of “submit changes”) I got a different error, but still no hint on what I did wrong.

I recognize it’s still in Beta. But would I use it? Someday, you bet. But not yet.

But only after all the bugs are worked out! I can’t risk a client relationship when something is still in Beta and not quite there. I’m just surprised that Tim called me twice to get my review when it wasn’t working right…

Suggestion for the Review Basics programmers: If I did something wrong, give me an error message that I can act on. If it’s something wrong on the programming, have the error message say that it’s not my fault and have it automatically save so I don’t lose all my changes (time is money in my business!)

SIDE NOTE: Ever try Reviewing with the Microsoft Word toolbar? I hate it. It’s that red thing… when you first open the page, you get that “red-pen-teacher-hates-you” feeling (and I was a good student!) that sets up a negative vibe before you even read what the review might be meaning. Or worse, you do it to a creative & crush their creative juices like a mosquito! You get two or 3 people working on it, it gets extremely confusing what is in or out, which version, who said what. To top it off Word Reviewing is not intuitive. Takes longer to work with the program than it does to review and revise the project. And it only works in word (obviously). Most of my reviewing with clients is done via PDF and beta web sites, Not a good tool. Review Basics has it ALL over Microsoft Word in that way!

Do any readers out there know of another site that does something like this? I’d like to do some comparisons. Thanks!

Technorati Tags:, Marketing Project Review, Marketing, , Business, Review Basics

Marketing your New Product: Research First. Promotion Second.

Marketing a new product can be a difficult process, especially the first few times. Knowing what steps to take and what order to take them in makes for a much more successful project introduction.

One mistake I often see is first time entrepreneurs who begin the marketing process while they are still in product development phase.

It’s important to have a marketing focus during the product development phase, but the focus should be on the market research, customer benefits, pricing and competitive analysis part of marketing… Not the promotional part of marketing.

Jumping into promotion too soon, to try to get customers and get cash flow quickly, will actually cost you MUCH more in the long run.

It not only costs more, it takes more time and is more difficult because of all the additional changes. It create reworks, which costs more. It confuses the writers, graphic designers and potentially, the very customers you’re trying to reach.

Remember: Research first. Promotion later.

Anyone who has ever created a product will probably recommend NOT trying to do research yourself, unless you really can’t afford to have a professional do it or you have a background in research. You are just to close to the project to be objective.

However, I realize that developing products can be extremely expensive, particularly to first time entrepreneurs. So, if you really want to do inexpensive market research yourself, try these sites:

  • Online interviews: Survey monkey - Do it yourself surveys
  • Demographics: Government census - Working with 2002 data, but still helpful
  • More demographics: Reference USA - Use this for free, if you have a library card
  • Competitive Info for manufacturers: Thomas Register - Easy to sort by location and product.

In addition, as a service to entrepreneurs who are working on a new product introduction, I have developed an inexpensive audio CD filled with helpful tips, tools and techniques called Bring Your New Product to Market. It was recorded at Staples as part of a business workshop series and is 55 minutes of good advice to help with a new product introduction, including a long section on research.

Technorati Tags:Market Research, New Product, Marketing,

Click to subscribe to the Branding and Marketing Blog