“Patience, persistence and perspiration make an
unbeatable combination for success.”
I got this write-up from Dave Lavinsky. It was emailed to me. I think it would be wise to share it with you but let me ask you for a favor which is, like biztalksblogs on facebook. I will really appreciate. He said: when my kids were younger, I recall one night when we were eating dinner. My kids were saying “I want this” and “I want that.”
And then I said something that I immediately realized I should never tell my kids, or any entrepreneur for that matter.
What I said was this: “you know, money doesn’t grow on trees.”
Now, you may not think saying this is so bad. So, let me explain.
The reason why I said this was to show my kids the value of money. And that we have to work to make money to spend on the things we want.
But here’s the negative: saying this paints the wrong picture. It paints the picture that we can’t always get what we want. Which is the exact opposite of the attitude I want my kids, and all entrepreneurs, to have.
What my kids and all entrepreneurs MUST be thinking is YES, I CAN get whatever I want. Yes, it won’t just come to me, but with hard work and ingenuity, I can and I will get what I want.
Fortunately, right after I said that to my kids, I caught myself.
One of the reasons I caught myself was from the interview I did a while back with Ken Lodi, the author of “The Bamboo Principle.”
In the interview, Ken explained that timber bamboo shoots grow very little for four years while their extensive root system is growing and taking hold. But once the roots are firmly in place, the bamboo can grow a shocking 80 feet in just six weeks.
This story made me realize that money does in fact grow on trees. The key is to work on the tree’s roots. To build such a strong foundation that generating money becomes easy.
Every great company has a strong foundation. They create a brand name, sales systems, delivery systems, etc. And then, they can generate cash and profits each and every day.
So, focus on building an extremely strong foundation. Think through your business model. Learn the best practices for the key business disciplines – marketing, HR, finance, sales, etc. And then, put your thinking into a strategic plan.
Talking about strategic plan, it is your road-map to success. It is the tool that turns your ideas into reality. For example, the great marketing idea in your head isn’t going to become reality unless it’s documented in your plan and a team member(s) knows to execute on it. Likewise, your new products and services won’t be built or fulfilled unless they are documented and your team knows what to do. Get your ideas in your strategic plan and then you build the tree from which money does grow.
So, never let anyone tell you that “money doesn’t grow on trees” or that you can’t have everything you want. Because money does grow on firmly rooted trees and you CAN achieve and get everything you want out of life if you resolve to do so. They key is to build your plan — your foundation — and then grow systematically from there. Don’t forget to like biztalksblogs on facebook. Don’t forget, I will be tearing,”Act of Negotiation” . It will be in series, so do not miss it.
- What Is a Strategic Plan and Why Does Your Business Need One? (thealternativeboard.com)
- Invest in Your Success: Strategic Planning for Small Business (smallbiztrends.com)
Common Marketing Mistakes can kill your business, do you doubt it? Well lets see!
- Using only secondary research. Relying on the published work of others doesn’t give you the full picture. It can be a great place to start, of course, but the information you get from secondary research can be outdated. You can miss out on other factors relevant to your business.
- Using only web resources. When you use common search engines to gather information, you get only data that are available to everyone and it may not be fully accurate. To perform deeper searches while staying within your budget, use the resources at your local library, college campus or small-business center.
- Surveying only the people you know. Small-business owners sometimes interview only family members and close colleagues when conducting research, but friends and family are often not the best survey subjects. To get the most useful and accurate information, you need to talk to real customers about their needs, wants and expectations.
More Mistakes and solution : Trying to Serve Everyone
The blessing and the curse of many entrepreneurs is that they’re good-hearted, and really want to make world a better place.
The blessing part is easy to figure out… but the curse? By trying to help everyone with their product or service… They often end up helping no one.
Having too broad of a target market is probably the single most common marketing mistake people make. In order to stand out in the crowd, you need to be really specific with which sub-segment of the population you’re targeting. The narrower your niche, the better.
Now you’re probably thinking… “Ahh, but what about all these other prospective customers I’ll be giving up on?” I get that.
You have to think about it the other way: get excited about how well you’re going to be able to serve the specific customers you’re going after. By focusing on a specific group, you’ll be able to serve them much better and have a more profound impact on their life.
Let’s go concrete with this. When you’re describing your ideal customer, you should be able to get highly descriptive of that person, both on a demographic and psychographic level.
For example, “Men between the age of 25 and 40” is a lousy target market. Instead, it should be something like “Professional men between 25 and 40 who live in major cities, are passionate about the outdoors, who struggle to find time for their hobbies, and are afraid that their best years are passing them by”. Now we’re talking. This is a target you can really help… and make a lot of money in the process.
Solution: Write down the main characteristics of your ideal customer. Describe their frustrations, fears, and aspirations. Get as deep and as personal as you can. You want to able to put yourself in their skin and feel what they feel, think what they think.
- Market Research Basics (biztalksblogs.wordpress.com)
- Reaching Your Target Audience (enterpriseresilienceblog.typepad.com)
- Marketing Ideas for Small Retailers (displaybay.com.au)
- 3 Most Common Marketing Mistakes Young Entrepreneurs Make (and How to Fix Them) (under30ceo.com)
Creating a Plan B?
While it’s not fun to think about what could go wrong, it helps to have a Plan B. As you consider the possibilities, here are some items to keep in mind:
- What can you cut? Look at your budget. While you don’t necessarily need to trim the fat right now, it’s a good idea to consider what you can do if you need to start pinching pennies later. Identify the first items that need to be cut from your budget, so you know what has to go when you run into trouble.
- How big is your emergency fund? Consider your emergency fund. Is it large enough to support you as you try to make your business venture work, or as you look for a new job? Can your emergency fund help you meet your deductible payments in the event of a medical catastrophe?
- What skills do you have? Complete a skills inventory. Look at your skills and knowledge, and think about how you can apply it to different career settings. In many cases, it makes sense to look at how your skills would translate to a different career field. Don’t assume that you have to keep doing the same thing over and over again.
- How divorced is your income? Don’t forget about your income diversity. Consider developing other sources of revenue so that you aren’t in complete trouble if one revenue stream is significantly reduced.
You need to know that you have options to fall back on if something goes wrong. It makes sense to think about what’s next, and whether you have the resources to meet it.
More on Troubles
“Don’t aim for success if you want it;
just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.
~ David Frost
The Purpose of Financial Projections
When it comes to financial projections, there are two types of entrepreneurs: first, the “visionary entrepreneur” who considers financial projections silly, so she makes up numbers that look good to investors; second, the “intense entrepreneur” who develops an 10,000 cell spreadsheet that includes the number of licenses of Microsoft Office that he needs to buy in year five.
If you are the first type of entrepreneur, you run the risk that the investor won’t trust you with his or her money. This type of entrepreneur often alienates investors because of his cavalier attitude. If you are the second type of entrepreneur, you run the risk that the investor will think that you actually believe your projections.
When it comes to financial projections, however, there is only one type of investor: people who don’t believe your financial projections, whatever they are.
So what’s the right balance of vision versus detail? The point of financial projections is to tell a story with numbers-a story about opportunity, resource requirements, market forces, growth, milestone achievements, and profits. Your job is to create a numerical framework that complements and reinforces the vision you’ve painted with words.
The investor isn’t interested in the precision of the numbers, but he or she is interested in what the numbers say about the economics of your business, and what they say about your understanding of your business. The goal is to tell a credible, as well as exciting, story about what your business could become.
To be credible, your numbers have to make sense on the first review. If you are suggesting that your company will grow faster or be more profitable than any company in history, you will lose credibility. Your numbers must survive simple questioning:
- Do the capital requirements shown in your projections match the funding you are asking for?
- Do you know how many customers you have to land to generate the revenues you are projecting?
- Do you know how long it takes and how much it costs to acquire a customer?
- Do you know what resources will be required to support customers?
- Do you know how much you will have to spend to stay ahead of the competition with your product or service offering?
Why Have a 5-Year Financial Model?
The reason to develop a financial model of your business for five years going forward is to make explicit the driving factors behind your revenues and expenses as you pass through several stages of product development, market penetration, and organization growth. As they say, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.
Most important, you need to show investors how you will grow your company from the bottom up-sale by sale, employee by employee-rather than building a model from the top down. No one believes that a model built on getting “only one percent of the target market” is a credible plan.
You won’t be presenting your operating plan to investors in your first few meetings, but you’d better understand how you are going to run the business once you raise capital. A well thought-out operating plan will reflect your ability to allocate resources-people and money-to the highest priority objectives.
Building from the Bottom Up
The problem with financial accounting, however, is that it forces you to present your numbers using big company functional categories, such as sales, marketing, engineering, general, and administrative. But startup companies really operate as projects, with most projects running across functions.
You need to run your company as a startup, but present your financials using the standard framework of accounting. That means that the details of your operating plan will reside in a model built around the activities required to achieve your critical milestones.
That way, when an investor drills into why you are planning to spend money the way you are, you can frame your answer in terms of business priorities and deliverable milestones, rather than saying something like, “Most companies spend 25% on sales.”
Still, building your operating plan from the bottom up based on projects you need to execute is challenging. We all over-estimate how much we can accomplish in a month. Make sure your projections are tempered by real world experience. You want to over-deliver during those early years, not under-deliver. You don’t want to have to ask for more money before you’ve proven what you promised to prove.
Two Final Tips
First, don’t call your projections “conservative.” We refer to this as Entrepreneur Lie #1. Investors want to see a bold plan that is well thought-out and realistic, if everything goes reasonably well. They don’t want to see a delusional plan. Your job is to show that you have tapped a team with the experience and insight to justify your bold optimism.
Second, model your company on other real world successes. You don’t have to make up your business model. You should be able to model your financial projections on companies that have been successful before. Use the S-1 IPO filings of companies with business models similar to yours to get an idea of what is realistic. If your projections are wildly different than other highly successful companies, then your assumptions are probably off.
Your operating plan and your longer-term projections will evolve. You should be constantly engaged in testing your assumptions and adjusting your actions as you learn. The trick is making sure you are always using your precious resources-people and money-most effectively, for the highest return, rather than letting inertia perpetuate activities and expenditures that are not productive.
It’s obvious, but it’s true: The number one cause of failure is running out of money. And the number one cause of running out of money is the failure to grow revenues faster than you are growing expenses.
As much as your investors may tell you, “We back teams,” they expect you to make money. If you deliver on your numbers, you will become rich and successful. If you fall short, you won’t. So as much fun as it is to paint an exciting vision, at the end of each month, you will be measured on your ability to deliver what you promised.