bookmark_borderFacing Fears as an Entrepreneur

Fear is such a huge issue in people going out on their own. I have heard from the CEO of a real-estate based network marketing company that even though he has people packing out company seminars, that maybe 2-5% of people will actually go out and apply the knowledge by putting offers on real estate. He is convinced that the rest are paralyzed by fear.

Here are some of the techniques I have used as I learned them from the successful people I know:

Think about what you do want. When you find yourself spinning the wheels in your mind over and again about your worst case scenario, turn it around and focus on what you DO want. Visualize yourself getting what you do want. See the new house. See yourself talking to the interested person as they become a part of your business. You get what you focus on.

Change the voice. When you hear yourself telling you that you’re not good enough – you’re going to fail. Just change the voice from yours to that of Mickey Mouse or Jim Cary or something that would hold little weight with you anyway! Who cares if Mickey Mouse thinks you’re not good enough?

Voice them to a trusted friend or associate. Hopefully you have been able to find some level of support in your enterprise. Ideally, you have a significant other that supports you. If not, then you should have some kind of support network from your team, upline, or corporate that you can talk to. Some people may tell you that it is silly you could even believe that you’re not good enough. For me, my wife has been a constant source of support. However, don’t go looking for support to all those people who doubted you and told you it was crazy to go out on your own.

Have a personal development library. I draw tremendous support from my library. It is not just filled with how to resources, but also stories of others who conquered their fears. I couldn’t begin to list the many sources I have, but if you email me I can recommend something based on your own description of your circumstances.

Go ahead and do it. Sometimes just making the smallest step will help get you going enough that the fear of not doing something can go away. An example would be neglecting to write an article such as this one out of fear of failure. Just starting it can create enough momentum to see it through.

bookmark_borderEntrepreneurial Difference

Think about your own childhood and youth. Did you sell lemonade in the front yard? Rake leaves or shovel snow for a few extra bucks from neighbors? A lot of us did.

Unfortunately, the drive and ambition associated with those youthful undertakings are often not developed or encouraged by our school systems, parents, and society as a whole.

For generations, people were raised to think that success required doing well in school, going to college, and pursuing a career with intentions of making a long-term commitment to a company. We see this in the older ranks of the baby boomer generation and our parents. Did your parents work for an employer for 20-plus years, whether they were happy and fulfilled or not?

Work often overshadowed any urge to go the independent route, since society often frowned at mavericks who followed their own path. Compound that negative stigma from a by-gone era with the fact that the 40-hour per week commitment to one’s employer left little time to even turn a hobby into a part-time business or to express the entrepreneurial creativity in other ways. People just went to work.

Now don’t get me wrong, many people pursued the entrepreneur’s route in earlier generations, but not to the extent they are today. This trend is, in part, due to the fact that times have changed and companies no longer employ people from college to retirement nor do employees feel the loyalty to stay. It is not frowned upon to leave an employer after a year or two, as it was in the past. The trend can also be attributed to a growing desire to feel self fulfilled and enjoy life (including work), even though as a society we work many more hours per year than our European counterparts who recognize the importance of “holiday” or vacations (and even siestas).

For these two reasons, there is an epidemic of people starting businesses in their 40s, 50s and 60s. Women start 424 new enterprises every day. Nearly half (46%) of new female business owners fled corporate America for the freedom to set their own hours according to the Center for Women’s Business Research. In addition, 65% of women who have started businesses in the past decade honed their skills from being managers in big corporations.

Now you may ask, what are these attributes that distinguish entrepreneurs from other people? While this is not scientific, it is based on years of interaction and observation with business people.

Entrepreneurs are courageous. As Julia Cameron expresses it in her book, The Artist’s Way, “Leap and the net will appear.” That’s what entrepreneurs do. They trust and take calculated risks to start the business and then every day after that. This was my mantra when I was leaving my former employer after 17 years.

Entrepreneurs are passionate. They believe in what they are doing and pursue their vision with gusto. They immerse themselves fully into the project or idea.

Entrepreneurs are tenacious. A study of 1,165 self-made female millionaires over a three-year span shows “their defining characteristic to be perseverance,” according to Thomas J. Stanley, author of the book Millionaire Woman Next Door: The Many Journeys of Successful American Businesswomen. He concedes that women are more goal-oriented and have had to work harder than men. Anyone who makes cold calls and adheres to a good follow-up program knows it takes tenacity and perseverance.

Entrepreneurs are visionary. The true entrepreneur sees a big picture…a goal at the end of the rainbow and then devises a plan to get there. They are proactive about conveying their vision and enrolling others in it.

Entrepreneurs are creative. The very nature of taking an idea and turning it into something of value requires creativity. Whether your idea is the development of a product, launch of a service business, or even the creation of an event or program for a non-profit, creativity is the root of all entrepreneurial efforts starting with the vision itself… all the way through the implementation.

So, are you an entrepreneur? If you’ve ever had a dream or an idea that you wanted to pursue with passion and are willing to take the action to make it real, I’d say you’re off to the right start. Maybe you’re an entrepreneur at heart and just never pursued your dream because you’re scared? I encourage you to move toward your passion rather than let your fear rule you. I did when I quit my commercial real estate job after 17 years and I haven’t looked back. In addition to the universe, there are people to support you such as your family, friends and coaches. If you have all of the other qualities, and only fear is holding you back, go for it. Remember, what’s the worst that can happen? Believe in yourself and others will too.

bookmark_borderBefore Getting A Franchise

Get The Support of Your Family:

The success of your franchise is also the acceptance of your immediate family in supporting your effort. It is this simple. Take for instance, if you buy a franchise which is part of a book-store chain and your family does not even visit it once. Will you have the determination to see it through? If you need to take a short vacation, will your family member help to run the franchise in your place?

Know Your Strengths & Expertise:

A franchise should not just be a means for you to start your first business. It is preferable that you have a recognized skill or interest in the franchise before parting with the franchise initial capital. Maybe take a personality test to determine if you have the tenacity to follow through with the franchise.

Unique Proposition Of The Franchise:

The franchise should be protected by a patent or intellectual property law. This will create a significant barriers to entry.

Market Research:

A franchise can be a huge success in a particular geographical region but has less acceptance in another country. Thus it is crucial that you inspect the relevance of the market research that has been conducted by the franchise company especially in the area of when the market research was conducted and the demographics of the sample set.

Franchise Competition:

Do not get a franchise that does not seem to have a recognized competitor or an industry that can be classified – unless you are interested in being a master franchiser or have a first-mover advantage. The market may be slow to accept your franchise and you may find it hard to re-coup your initial investment within the agreed contractual period.

Legal Assistance:

It definitely pays to get a legal expert to read the franchise contract fine-print. You do not want to be accused of violating some of the franchise terms of agreement and pay an unnecessary penalty.

Get New Contacts:

Do not just depend on the contact database that may be provided by the franchise owner. You should also try to generate new contacts as the franchise contact database may also be used by new franchisees.

bookmark_borderKeys to Entrepreneurial Success

  1. Focus, focus, focus, focus, focus. The word “focus” simply cannot be said enough. When launching and growing a venture, tons of opportunities and obstacles arise. Entrepreneurs that succeed are typically the ones that see the forest from the trees. They remain focused on the prize. They consider new opportunities, but also note that pursuing them often takes them away from accomplishing what they set out to do.
  2. Hire smart. Companies succeed based on the people that comprise them. Virtually all people in a small, growing entrepreneurial company make key decisions and take actions that can significantly impact the success of the venture. As such, the people that are hired must be hired with care. They must be intelligent, responsible, and equally importantly, have the enthusiasm to succeed and the ability to work in a fast-paced, rapidly changing entrepreneurial environment.
  3. Communicate. So, you’ve followed the first two lessons. You have set company goals and remain focused on achieving them. You have hired great people. Now, it is important to effectively communicate. The laser-sharp focus and goals must be communicated to the great team. Management must share information, instill company values and vision, discuss each employee’s performance with them, and make employees feel that they are the company and that the company is them.
  4. Win. Entrepreneurship, like basketball or football, is a game. There are winners and losers. There are narrow victories and landslides. There are Davids and Goliaths. Competition should be hard work, but it should also be fun. The company should be instilled with competitive spirit and be committed to winning. Winning may take many forms, such as hitting sales goals or turning a profit by a set date. Regardless of how winning is defined, it should be clearly articulated and everyone in the company should have a competitive, winner spirit instilled within them.

The above four lessons can help entrepreneurial ventures edge out their competition and enjoy the financial and emotional success that such ventures are capable of generating.

bookmark_borderEssential Elements of Operating a Successful Business

Find a need!

Is there a market niche for your particular product or service? Does the world, or even your community, need what you have to offer? Only by sampling and testing will you be able to determine this with any degree of certainty, but we will be covering this as we go along in greater detail. The most important aspect would be to determine a Unique Selling Proposition for your product or service. Too many business owners are just trying to be me-too companies. You cannot be just like the next guy and expect to prosper in this volatile economy.

One of the most important things I learned from my Dad was, there are really only two things to consider, and next to them everything else is minor. Those two things are: (1) What do you really want? And just as, and perhaps even more important, (2) Are you willing to do whatever it takes to achieve it?

What do you really, really want from this endeavor? What is your ultimate goal? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to achieve this goal? Instead of looking for a business based on how much money you can earn up-front, select a business based on your love for that endeavor. The most successful and fulfilled people are individuals who are following a dream or vision of their own. They are not just out trying to make a buck.

What opportunities can you act upon? Woolworth saw a need for small inexpensive items and opened the chain of stores that grossed billions. Wrigley started giving gum away as a bonus, and seized the chance to expand worldwide.

You must create a uniqueness to your product or service. What can you offer that no one else can offer? Is it a better warranty, improved customer service, more technical support, faster shipping, or lower price? Think of something that will set you apart from your competitors and describe in detail exactly what it is.

Be good at what you do.

Are you as good as, or better than, the next guy when it comes to producing/marketing your product or service? This element requires an honest self-assessment. “What are my abilities?” To determine your abilities you must take an honest inventory of yourself. Examine every possibility and be sure to include strengths and weaknesses. Will your strong points be able to let you overcome your deficits?

Have true passion for the business.

If there is one element you absolutely cannot do without, it is passion. Passion is an irresistible attitudinal energy that generates power. Do you have a passion for working with your particular product or service? Notice, I didn’t say “do you like what you want to do?” There are too many competitors out there who are ready, willing and able to “eat your lunch” when it comes to competing with you. They may have found the same niche that you have found. They may like what they do as much as you do. But what separates the winners from the losers is passion.

What are you really passionate about? If your answer is, “I’m passionate about making a lot of money.” That is not the right answer. Making a lot of money is consequence of engaging in a successful activity where you remain motivated long enough to be successful. The key to creating passion is to find and do what it is that you truly love. Passion is the laser-like focusing of our creative life force. We do not create passion. (Don’t confuse passion with being a workaholic. Workaholism devours while passion amplifies.)

bookmark_borderHistory of Enterprise Car Rentals

Jack Taylor was the of Executive leasing, which turned into Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Before starting Enterprise Rent-A-Car with the help and additional money of his friends dad, Jack was a Navy fighter Pilot flying in WWII a Hellcat. Enterprise is known for its great young and aggressive workforce, mostly recruited from College. It is an MBA grinder job where you must prove yourself to be promoted and the History of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, proves they promote from within, as a matter of fact its current CEO and CFO both started out washing cars. Many great people as history will reveal started out washing cars. I can name quite a few on our own team. Jack started out in St Louis and then moved on to other major cities to develop a great Nationwide company now worth over 5 billion in assets and guess what? It is a private company not public. Here is a previous post of a few days ago as part of this post; Enterprise Rent-A-Car

I believe this to be a great company, not only because it is one of our customers, but because they do try hardest. I am a little offended by the article in Nov. 2001 of Forbes, which had a little fault with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. One needs to learn reality of highly motivated companies and not condemn or even hint at possible condemnation of what they do not understand before putting finger to keyboard. Enterprise Rent-A-Car is great and they deserve their success. GE would have done the same thing, so would Microsoft, the US Marines and anyone of our franchisees or anyone on our team including me. (I own the company; http://www.CarWashGuys.com ). You do not get to be one to the top 10 Private companies in the World by being a pansy ass. Their current CEO and CFO both started at the bottom of the company and worked up to those positions. And guess what they started out by; washing cars. I tell you there is no better company in the auto business to be associated with. Trying harder may sound good, but winning because you try hardest is the best. Vince Lombarde says;

“Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing. There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game, and that’s first place. It is and always has been an American zeal to be first in everything we do, and to win, and to win, and to win. It is a reality of life that men are competitive and the most competitive games draw the most competitive men. That’s why they are there – – to compete. To know the rules and objectives when they get in the game. The objective is to win fairly, squarely, by the rules – – but to win. I believe in God, and I believe in human decency. But I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour – – his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear – – is that moment when he has to work his heart out in a good cause and he’s exhausted on the field of battle – – victorious.”

The people who make up Enterprise are great from the car washers to the President of the company who at one time or another were the same. I truly believe in the power of the team at Enterprise Rent A Car. One of Jack Taylor’s great quotes to his team was;

“YOUR BEST CUSTOMERS, ARE YOUR COMPETITION’S BEST PROSPECTS.”

Today Enterprise Rent A Car has 300,000 cars, it was taken from $100,000 in start-up dollars to that 5 Billion in assets. 3,000 locations, Now in UK, Canada and many other countries, but did you also know that Enterprise rent-a-car also ownes many other operations non-auto? They had Mexican Restaurant Chain, Coffee Shops, Peanut Butter product line, Fruit Drink Mix line, Macadamia Nuts, Micro-brewery in Hawaii. This is a great company with great people and it has proven that great customer service and fair pricing and pure hustle is a winning combo. Talk about basics, The History of Enterprise Rent-A-Car proves it works, no one can deny it now, there were competitors who tried harder, but who is winning today? Next time you think about Entrepreneurial greats be sure to add Enterprise Rent-A-Cars, Jack Taylor to your list. Think on it.

bookmark_borderAbout Entrepreneurial Vision

Entrepreneurs must have a vision of where they want their company to be in the future. In addition, the entrepreneur must be able to communicate this vision in an exciting manner to employees and investors, so that they share the vision and are motivated to help achieve it.

Unlike a business plan, a vision doesn’t provide a specific roadmap for a business. Rather, a vision paints a picture of what the organization strives to become in the future. A leader with a strong vision motivates the team to achieve this picture, regardless of the action plan that will be employed.

Vision provides motivation to both the leader and employees. It gives employees something that they can believe in and rally around. While it doesn’t tell the employees what to do to achieve it, having vision instilled in them helps positively mold their decision-making when problems must be solved that don’t have clear answers.

A strong vision combined with a strong business plan is critical to the success of a growing venture. The vision motivates everyone to achieve success, while the plan guides them to where they need to go. In addition, the plan is significant in that it documents the vision. By “cementing” the vision on paper, the team gains more confidence that the vision will not be easily changed and that the organization is truly committed to achieving it.

bookmark_borderWork Ethic of Entrepreneurial Start-ups

What level of commitment is necessary to take a new high-tech product from seed to weed? What does it is absolutely required in terms of dedication in order to start in your garage and build a prototype to launch into the market? I believe it takes a massive amount of perseverance and it is not something to take lightly. I believe it takes a 6 month to one year every waking hour time frame with all the personal character, stick-to-it-ness and inner will you can muster.

Many entrepreneurs say that they can make the sacrifice for 6 plus months to get the real freedom they need. Of course in the same breath they say they need a minimum of $4,000 per month just to survive. Others say they will do what ever it takes for as long as it takes if they have to sleep on a cot for ten years eating Top Ramen and Macaroni and Cheese. If this is where you stand, then I say “Good” because if you do not win the games leading up to the championship you are not invited to play. And it will take everything you have, every step of the way.

And to that point; It is not that one should not make family time, as the pre-determined choice to have offspring comes with obligations and responsibility. My thoughts are rather that sometimes the entrepreneurial start-up star might have to work a Saturday and take off two nights during the week to make up for it. I believe that cumulative violations of family obligations are similar to sleep deprivation, which can have a long term and dire effect if not dealt with in moderation. I only wish Tookey Williams parents had cared as much as the entrepreneurial parent does.

bookmark_borderRaising Entrepreneurs

While entrepreneurship was never common in my family, many young entrepreneurs had experiences early on in life that lead them towards an entrepreneurial path. In general, there are two possible ways young people feel compelled towards entrepreneurship: inspiration and avoidance. Both can act as powerful catalysts for taking action.

In the case of inspired action, the young entrepreneur most likely grew up in an environment where individuality, responsibility, and financial literacy were encouraged. Even if the parent made little money to support his or her child, the underlying message often centered around taking initiative and following one’s own path.

On the other hand, in the instances where avoidance is the primary motivator, the child usually wants to avoid becoming like their primary caregiver, who was most likely a negative influence. Friends of mind who have exhibited this type of motivation often have a very strong drive to succeed, yet, in part, base their motivation on what they don’t want to become – and must overcome even greater adversity in life.

In order to facilitate the spirit of entrepreneurship in your family, there are many steps you can take. While these steps are particularly geared towards entrepreneurship, they apply toward creating any harmonious relationship between parent and child:

-Teach your child in creative, ‘outside-the-box’ ways. In a recent article with 19 year-old CEO Cameron Johnson, he told a story about how his parents gave him stocks – literally, shares in a company – in his stockings for Christmas. There are many ways you can teach your child about financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and individuality.

-Make self-awareness and wealth consciousness the highest priorities. This entails a significant amount of soul-searching. And while many adults are adverse to the concept of change, often letting go of fear and facing your demons can be the most inspirational model for your child. I have a friend who, after years of living in a fear-based reality, she learned to let go and allow herself to forgive and love others. She has never enjoyed better relationships with her children.

-If your kid acts up, stand in your truth. Don’t beat around the bush or overreact. Of course, you want to be sensitive to your child’s feelings and come from a place of authentic compassion. But when it comes down to it, tell it like it is – they’ll appreciate it in the end.

-Give your child ample opportunity to discover independence for him or herself. It’s critically important that your child learns the process of creating one’s own experience of reality from a first-hand perspective. Sometimes this requires being more firm or lenient than one would like. Yet remember that you grew through making mistakes, and so will your child.

If you see your child exhibiting entrepreneurial behaviors, make sure you show your support throughout his or her growth process. And if your kid is struggling to find motivation, don’t worry – as long as you follow the guidelines above, you will instill the characteristics of greatness and, in due time, inspire the leader within.

bookmark_borderHeroic Entrepreneur

I recently rented the movie, Seabiscuit, which started my thinking about this whole notion of heroism. What I found heroic in the movie was not that both Seabiscuit and his jockey. Red Pollard, came back from adversity to win the Santa Anita race. What was most heroic is that neither of them let adversity stop them in the pursuit of their passion. They knew they were born to do what they were doing, and despite physical setbacks, found the courage to pursue their passion anyway. In the pursuit of this passion, the paths that their lives took had a profound impact on all they came into contact with, most especially with Seabiscuit’s owner, Charles Howard, and trainer, Tom Smith. Howard and Smith got in touch with their owns gifts as a result of their contact with Pollard and Seabiscuit, and racing history was changed forever.

Where would we be today in the world without these people who discovered their brilliance, changed the world in some way by following their passion, and have become famous because they followed their dreams: Albert Einstein, Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Debbie Fields, Stephen Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Julia Roberts, and Mark Victor Hanson, to name a few?

There are others who aren’t yet famous yet are heroic every day because they have discovered their brilliance and their gifts and share those with the world. My virtual assistant, Jean Hanson, who, after years in retail and helping her husband run a cleaning business, now loves to step into the lives and businesses of her clients and is thrilled with her ability to help them achieve their goals. It’s due to Jean’s love of helping me achieve my business dreams that I’m able publish a weekly email newsletter and inspire my readers to take action to live better lives and create better businesses.

My brother started his firefighting career at the tender age of 15, now continues to serve as the youngest-elected chief of the local volunteer fire department, fire marshall for the city in which he lives, and Assistant. Emergency Management Coordinator for his local tri-county region. When the space shuttle Columbia exploded mid-air on February 1, 2003, and debris rained down on East Texas, he organized and managed an incredible volunteer effort to retrieve shuttle debris and remains of the astronauts, 5 of whom were recovered through his team’s search efforts. How would NASA’s ability to thoroughly examine the debris and research the cause of the explosion have changed if my brother hadn’t been there spearheading the rescue, following his passion of firefighting, and leading with his gifts to organize and delegate large numbers of people in times of crisis?

Each of us has a unique gift that we bring to the world, and I truly believe that we all are here to fulfill a purpose that ties in with our gifts. The impact that your gift will have on the lives of others can be incredibly amazing, so you definitely owe it to yourself, at a minimum, to discover that gift.

As a business owner, perhaps you’ve discovered your brilliance and are able to pursue that daily in the operation of your business. If you’re like most business owners, however, you often lose sight of why you started your business and get bogged down in doing those day-to-day things that drive you nuts but are necessary evils for keeping your business afloat, yet prevent you from living your brilliance. If that’s the case, grab a sheet of paper and make two columns: Things I Love and Everything Else. In your Things I Love column, write down only those activities you love to do in your business.

For me, it’s pretty simple: writing, speaking, coaching, and marketing. All the other things that need to happen in my business, from bookkeeping to website maintenance to fulfilling marketing plans to database updates go into the Everything Else column, where I’m delegating (or have a plan to delegate) these tasks to those professionals, like my VA Jean, who are great at these things and love to do them. This, in turn, enables me to free up my time to do what I do best, and share my gifts with the world.

Exercise your courage muscles today, get in touch with your brilliance, and become a hero in your own right in your business and your life. The world is waiting to experience your brilliance….