Category: Startups

Overcoming Startup Obstacles: Building Your Business One Step at a Time

by Lauren Dixon

Starting a business can be a daunting task.  In addition to financing and staffing, there are many challenges in bringing a great idea to fruition.  How can you create a solid foundation for your new business without incurring too much risk?  The short answer is–you can’t!  Any new business effort will involve taking chances–big or small– on your part.  The challenge is to minimize risk while maximizing your potential for success.  Here are three tips for overcoming startup obstacles:

1) Set goals, achieve them, and move on. If you would like to bring in two customers in two months, then set that goal and achieve it.  If you you’re not able to achieve your goal, you know that perhaps that this is not a realistic goal, or there are outside market forces preventing you from doing so.  Evaluate what these market forces might be, and be ready to adapt and change or move on.

2) Hire people smarter than you. Your time at work will be easier and more pleasant if you are surrounded by smart people.  Talented employees will help your business to grow, and create a great place to work.  Customers value knowledgeable employees– the smarter your new hires are, the better off your business will be in the end.

3) Motivate and excite your employees to come to work every day. Developing a positive and productive atmosphere will inspire your employees and in turn attract clients to your company.  I am sure you have encountered an unpleasant employee or customer representative.  Just as positive experiences are unforgettable, so are negative ones.  Be sure your business environment brings out the best in your employees from the moment you open.

Leadership and Entrepreneurship

by Judy Seil
I have met many entrepreneurs during my years in the private and public sector of banking and finance.  From these experiences, I’ve learned that the most critical skill necessary to becoming a successful entrepreneur is being an effective leader.  It is easy to have the big idea, but to take the product to market, you need to surround yourself with people smarter than you and be a supportive leader at the same time.

From my experience, there are several critical steps required when going from idea to market.  Notice all of these steps require you to be a leader and learn from the expertise of others.  The critical steps are:

  • Find the financing
  • Find key personnel
  • Remember it is not about you, it is about forming a team
  • Reward your team.  In the beginning cash may be tight, but there are other ways to reward your team, including stock options, gift certificates, time off with pay, or a simple “thank you!”
  • Listen and learn from your employees
  • Listen and learn from yours supporters, including your banker, accountant, and attorney.
  • Listen and learn from your customers; they are your greatest source of constructive criticism.

Notice, three of these steps include listening! Entrepreneurs who don’t listen will never be effective leaders.

Theodore Roosevelt said it best: “The best executive is the one who has sense to pick men (or women) to do what he (or she) wants done and use self restraint from meddling with them while they do it.”

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

by Kristin Boyd

We all know the saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.”  For many entrepreneurs, this can be very difficult, given that many times the financial well being of yourself (maybe even your family, too!) are at stake.  Remember to treat these low points as lessons to learn from, and try not to get discouraged!  You’re not alone, and it doesn’t mean that you can’t make it.  Make sure to share your lessons learned with others, like this entrepreneur did.  I’d like to thank one of our followers for sharing this article about 15 CEO’s Who Failed at First.

I’m sure you’ll be surprised by some of the names on the list!  If you’re looking for some women who failed at first, check out this list, which includes some women too!

Awards and Competitions for Entrepreneurs

by Yvonne DiVita

A good business blog to be aware of is Small Business Trends. Anita Campbell is the editor and producer and has a group of business writers who

winning

Work to win

 share outstanding content for small business owners and entrepreneurs. I read this blog regularly by subscribing to its RSS feed. You should, too.

As of July 24th, the Small Biz Trends blog had a great list of contests and competitions for entrepreneurs which is worth sharing here. the post is written by Laura Leites, managing editor of Small Biz Technology.

I can recommend The Stevie Awards for Women In Business. I was a finalist five years ago. This is a great way to get noticed and to meet other women who are blazing trails, just like you are. DEADLINE to enter is August 31st. You must request an entry form.

Another interesting one is Leading Moms in Business. If you’re a Mom or you know a Mom who is a new business owner, this is a good competition to look at. 2009 winners are here.

Sponsored by Sam’s Club, the Dream Big Small Business Award is “designed to honor and recognize those businesses that have created more jobs. 2010 is over, but 2011 starts Tuesday, September 21st, which isn’t far off.

These are only a few of the opportunities out there. Click over to the post at Small Business Trends and look at the others. And, good luck!

Are You Asking the Right Questions???

Sometimes entrepreneurs struggle with finding the right answers to their questions. A really big question is, “Do I have a good enough idea?” Sometimes the “good enough” answer is, “Maybe.” That’s because your idea needs to be founded in reality. In other words, most ideas are good ones. Some are fabulous, some are unique, some are not. In the end, good or bad, if the idea can’t pass muster, it’s not going to be a success.

happy first birthday

surviving your first year in business

So, what questions should you be asking? I was reading Forbes.com and came across this great article on “The 20 Most Important Questions in Business” which seemed worth sharing. So let’s see if I can find the three most relevant to entrepreneurs. I encourage you to visit the site and read the whole article, however.

One: Does your product address a viable market? This one is tricky because it’s easy to say, “My product is for women everywhere.” Wow, that’s great! But, a bit broad. What women? Moms, daughters, gen ys, singles, married women… try to narrow your focus down to a specific group and let the product overflow into the larger area of focus. Once you’ve established a smaller niche, that niche will help market you to the larger whole.

Two: How much will you charge? Oh yes! That’s a biggee!!! We often think that in a down economy, less is more. But, you must establish a market price for your products or services. If you choose to be the low-cost provider, do it openly and expressly. Don’t undervalue your products and services out of fear. Check and recheck your market to understand exactly what they expect in the way of price and value. Once YOU understand the value you’re providing, you’ll be better able to set a market price. It may be the lowest, and it may not. But, it will be the best price for you.

Three: Do you have the budget for your new business? Forbes call this “surviving the early years” and I can tell you from personal experience that it’s tough! Even with an SBA loan, those early years are expensive. In the beginning, you probably won’t know what you should spend on and what you shouldn’t. For instance, do you need outside office space? That can be expensive. Do you need hired help? Another expense. Do you need inventory? Where will you house it? How will you manage shipping? All of these questions involve cash and budget. And, not to mention… how will you market yourself? Marketing is important and no, it’s not free.

Explore the answers to these questions, and visit Forbes.com for the rest of their 20 business questions. I guarantee the answers you come up with will go far to enabling you to have a successful beginning, on which you can build a truly successful business.

As Einstein once said, “Never stop questioning.” While he was talking about how the universe works, his advice plays well in the world of entrepreneurship, also.