Becoming and Entrepreneur – First Steps

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Becoming and Entreprenuer

Becoming an Entrepreneur

Becoming an entrepreneur is a perilous voyage, and the first motions in that direction are critical to arriving at your goal intact. The hardest step of any journey is often the first one.

I have spent the vast majority of my life traveling that road. Frequently I question the choices that lead to this course. Maybe there was a simpler, nicer, cleaner route through life. Might there be the possibility of joy and fulfillment down a route I passed by?

Questioned yes, but regretted never. It is a life not everyone is suited for, but most people can do it.

Being an entrepreneur - A warning

Being an entrepreneur, is not an easy journey. To succeed it takes dedication, commitment and a high tolerance for failure. Never should this direction be chosen on a whim. That hard step, turning the course of your entire life to a singular goal, is terrifying for most people. The serial entrepreneurs I know have never felt that fear. I am not sure if we choose to ignore it or lack the intelligence to understand the overwhelming odds and risks we face.  I don't remember any other choice. Opportunities present themselves if you know how to see them, and either you take them through, you half ass it (guaranteeing failure), or you skip it entirely.

My beginning has the air of legend, at least within my family. I was too young for me to trust my memory of the events, so I will tell it as has been reported to me.

My first ever 'business', a sign of the future course of my life, happened when I was in daycare. I had learned to make origami items, and other children were eager to obtain them, so I started selling them to the other kids for a quarter. Rapidly, the demand outpaced my ability to supply them, so I made the logical conclusion that I could pay some of the other youngsters to make them for less than I sold them to the others. I went so far as to create a catalog (pretty sure it was rendered with crayon). Evidently the overseers, frowned on me charging others for the items, and they talked my parents into helping end my fledgling operation. Undeterred, I pivoted to charging the kids to teach them how to do origami.

My next significant adventure in entrepreneurial pursuits, occurred only a few years after the first. I was at church camp that my grandparents ran. Following each camp group (roughly every week) they would have a end of term party, with balloons etc. Grandma paid my brother and I a few bucks to do clean up after the parties. As it turns out one of the items that was banned at camp, was water balloons. So, rather than popping them we untied and pocketed each of the balloons during cleanup. We'd fill the balloons and sell them to campers. As it turned out, contraband is lucrative. I used that knowledge to start a string of ventures during elementary and middle school. I bought candy in bulk and resold it by the individual piece. Occasionally some new fad would catch on and I'd repeat the process with that toy or item. Yo-Yo's, fireballs, even toothpicks soaked in cinnamon oil. At an early age I learned the value of the supply and demand curve, and developed a fairly keen sense of where the market was heading, and picking out opportunities early.

I am using my origin story to illustrate a few important lessons I learned early on.

  1. I never made a large bet, each attempt had minimal downside, and a low initial overhead. I was able to enter each market with a limited outlay, and my profit potential was high, but limited as well.
  2. I was always responding to an existing, unmet, market demand. Never did I rush in with an idea or product that was not already demonstrating a strong draw.
  3. I always knew my market and customers, never tried selling to someone outside of my peers and sphere of influence.
  4. Never, was I afraid of failing, not once did I put in place a fallback. If something disrupted the market, I adjusted to that new environment.

In very simple terms a successful entrepreneur needs to:

  1. Minimize risk
  2. Identify and respond to the market
  3. Know your customer
  4. Plan only for success but be willing and able to adapt

What should be your first steps as an entrepreneur? You should learn to identify problems that have not been solved. In my examples it was pent up demand with no outlet. Since then I have also learned that the problem can be summed up as friction in any market. Something that slows down transactions from happening at the speed of thought.

You rarely need to invent something new, often the best approach is improving an existing product. Knowing what defines an improvement means understanding the customers and the pain they have with the existing offering. To be successful, you only need to get this right, once, if it is the right opportunity. Everything else you need to learn can be developed on the fly. Chasing the wrong thing never works out, so developing the ability to identifying opportunity is a critical skill.

With my podcast coming back, the first episode of the new series will focus on the dissecting the success of the iPod and iPhone. That story is illustrative of how one brilliant entrepreneur was able to tweak an existing product and turn it into something revolutionary, and I think gives a great place to focus attention as you start your own journey as an entrepreneur.

Life Lessons of a Successful Entrepreneur

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Successful Entrepreneur

Thinking Like a Successful Entrepreneur

Murray Smith joins me on another Success U podcast, and shares with us some of the life lessons this very successful entrepreneur has found the hard way. These lessons are hard learned, and often painful and expensive to experience.

One of the simplest to understand is that by thinking positively, positive things begin to happen, though many entrepreneurs struggle with this their whole careers. It takes a subconscious shift and restructuring of your thought patterns to succeed in this simple act. As an entrepreneur things fail, problems arise, and disasters occur. Spending time and thought dwelling on the negative aspects will not get you closer to solving the problem, and in fact will make you less likely to notice the solution, even if it is staring you in the face. It is your subconscious mind that will hear the conversation in a crowded room, with the answers to your problems and it is the subcopnscious that will work to make complex connections, but only if you train yourself, and it starts by always looking for the positive out of anything. But Murray goes into great depth about this in his book The Answer.

Find a Mentor Entrepreneur

Having someone you trust, that has been down the long road of being an entrepreneur, is more valuable than you think. Not only can this person be a great resource in helping you avoid mistakes, and connecting you to the right people, they also help keep you motivated, and on the path, if for no other reason than you can see their success.

Surround Yourself with Positive Thinkers

I like to surround myself with people who challenge me, and who look for solutions not problems. If all they can see is sorrow, trouble and heartache, then how will they help me find the solution? I look for people who like to build up, not tear down. The best place to find people like that is in other entrepreneurs.

Additional Entrepreneur resources

Here are some of the direct links that Murray has referenced during the many podcasts we recorded with him; The free PDF’s downloads (see below), links to the business growth makeover contest with millions in prizes, and Get the Answer site that references more about Murray and the business growth system he built called Attract more Clients. This system is the summation of 30 years of his life’s work and everything he learned about growing business put together in a simple, user friendly format.

- http://gettheanswer.com

- http://www.businessgrowthmakeover.com

- http://accessmainstreet.com

- The Test your EQ button on the Mainstreet website has the following Free PDF Downloads for all Success U listeners:

  • Unique Selling Proposition Examples from many industries
  • Client Profile – Match what you want with what your clients want
  • 3 Ways to make money in business
  • Map the Gap – Helping business owners map the distance from where they are to where they want to be
  • How to think like a Business Millionaire – Vision, Focus and Action

The Answer: Grow Any Business, Achieve Financial Freedom, and Live an Extraordinary Life

Remember to be a successful Entrepreneur it helps to think like one.

Marketing Tip – Knowing Your Ideal Clients… Where are They?

Play

Another top Marketing Tip

In this Success U podcast we discuss another very important marketing tip, or more specifically part of the marketing process that Murray Smith decided to share with us. One of the biggest mistakes many of us entrepreneurs and online marketers make is misunderstanding our clients. We don't know who they are, where  they are and most importantly their actual value to us as a customer.

So what is the Marketing Tip?

Listen to the podcast... seriously 😉 This discussion flows around making sure you know the value your ideal client actual represents to you in hard dollars. With this bit of knowledge you can determine your budget for acquiring new customers. You better know your distribution channels, according to Murray there are only 7 of them in the world, and 23 strategies to get new customers. Far more detail is available at Access Main Street.

What, Why and How, this is the meat of the knowledge you must determine with your clients. So the marketing tip is really learning how to find this information.

Another Marketing Tip - Collaboration

Collaboration with seeming competitors is a great way to increase your client pool. We like to partner with other businesses. It is a strong part of our marketing for Innovocus. Find businesses that parallel your own, partners who strengthen your offering, and sell their services or products and encourage them to sell yours.

Quite Marketing to Fear

Hope, collaboration and working with each other is the future of all small business. In a rising tide all boats are floated. Try to build up not tear down. You can not stand alone especially in a global marketplace. main street cannot compete with Wall Street if we compete head on. It is only by joining forces, working together that we can compete.

Here are some of the direct links that Murray has referenced during the many podcasts we recorded with him; The free PDF’s downloads (see below), links to the business growth makeover contest with millions in prizes, and Get the Answer site that references more about Murray and the business growth system he built called Attract more Clients. This system is the summation of 30 years of his life’s work and everything he learned about growing business put together in a simple, user friendly format.

- http://gettheanswer.com

- http://www.businessgrowthmakeover.com

- http://accessmainstreet.com

- The Test your EQ button on the Mainstreet website has the following Free PDF Downloads for all Success U listeners:

  • Unique Selling Proposition Examples from many industries
  • Client Profile – Match what you want with what your clients want
  • 3 Ways to make money in business
  • Map the Gap – Helping business owners map the distance from where they are to where they want to be
  • How to think like a Business Millionaire – Vision, Focus and Action


 

The Answer: Grow Any Business, Achieve Financial Freedom, and Live an Extraordinary Life

Additional Marketing tips and resources

ADVANCE DIRECT MARKETING: Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Do-It-Yourself Secrets for Creating a Profitable Website or Blog

55 Twitter Tips - How to Maximize the Benefits of Using Twitter!

Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Day

25 tips For Marketing Your Blog

Online Marketing Blog Tips

Unique Positioning

Know Your Faults

I hate to be put into a box. Being categorized, labeled and predefined , not my thing. Which is precisely what every personality profile I have ever taken says.

I thrive on change, and solving problems. I love to look at products and try to make them better, to look at a process and make it more efficient or a challenge and find the solution.

Innovator, Inventor, these are words I like to self ascribe. And most people would agree. Nothing wrong with that, right?

So am I Mr. Wonderful, perfect? NO, in-fact I am far from it.

It is easy for most people to find their strengths. We tend to gravitate towards situations and roles they are best used.  Very few of us search out our failings.

And here is the clincher, to be successful it is possibly more important to know your faults.

Why? For me, knowing that I have trouble staying with a project long term, allowed me to seek out business partners who have this ability as a strength. And knowing that I trust people, has made me use the opinion of those people who I know are great at reading others.

So it allows you to build your team with those that compliment you.

We tend to surround ourselves with people like us. Most of my close friends are too similar to me. It’s why we are friends. It is also why we aren’t business partners.

Great seemingly obvious life lesson, find a weakness, and strengthen it.

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