“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)
1. Professional Costs
Whether you’re setting up an LLC, a corporation or otherwise, you’re going to have to pay a fee just to move past the phase of conceptualizing your start-up by making it into a real, registered business. Countries differ on costs and registration procedures, but this is often the first check you’re going to stroke as you get your business off the ground. For Nigerian, yours is N10,000.
Your professional costs will expand and skyrocket from there: You’re going to need to shell out expenses for copyrights and patents. And, you’re definitely going to need an accountant and a lawyer at some point, and we all know how affordable those services are.
Another one of the initial startup expenses not to discount as you financially plan for your startup is the cost of designing, developing and hosting a website. A lot of people naively think that they can accomplish most of these technological feats themselves, and they can dream on. Designing, developing (and most importantly) efficiently hosting an e-commerce site to house your startup is no easy task.
Unless you have a fully-functioning, professional IT staff on board when you initiate your startup (which I’m guessing you don’t), you’re going to have to look into a qualified hosting company that can provide your site with the resources it needs to successfully get off the ground. This will likely include talk of servers, hardware, software, Web security, maintenance and further IT consulting.
And, don’t forget other tech costs like high-speed Internet access, printers, payroll software, cell phones, beepers and robots. Okay, just kidding about that last one.
It’s likely that you’re not going to forget about the fact that you’re going to be shelling out some money for advertising and promotion to effectively get your new business off the ground. But hear me out. There’s a chance you might not be factoring in quite enough funds in this department.
Sure, you know you’re going to want to place ads locally and nationally (who knows, maybe globally), and you’re probably going to be looking into paying for online advertising and SEO costs. However, common marketing expenses are often forgotten, like the fact that you’re going to be printing stationery, posters and other marketing materials. And don’t forget the cost of admittance to trade shows and industry events to get your name out there (as well as chamber of commerce membership fees and the expenses involved in joining industry associations). So I advice your to see a marketing consultancy firm or see a professional.
Public relations isn’t cheap, but investing in PR can take your business far, fast.
4. Administrative Costs
Little things add up, so take everything into account when budgeting for your startup expenses — right down to the purchase of paper clips and staples. Never mind the bigger expenses like desks, office chairs, filing cabinets, etc. Also, remember that administrative costs go far beyond office supplies to include licenses and permits, parking, utilities, rent and more.
Plus, if you want to really look professional, you’re going to need to invest in the proper packaging materials for your business (and don’t forget shipping and postage), which brings us to the next startup cost factor not to be forgotten.
5. Cost of Sales
It seems counterproductive to think of your startup’s first few sales as costing your business money; but that’s how it is when you’re just starting out. Raw materials are going to factor into the cost of your sales, and you’re going to have to beef up your product inventory in order to actually even make those sales.
If your startup is going big, then you’ll have to factor in warehousing and shipping insurance as well.
Don’t Freak Out
Take a deep breath and stop biting your nails. Now roll your shoulders a little and relax.
The above mentioned startup expenses shouldn’t freak you out and discourage you from accomplishing your startup dreams. But you should take note of them as you budget for the future of your business.
Every company’s startup expenses and costs may differ, but chances are you’ll be spending some time and money getting some of these facets of your nascent business in order. And if you do so mindfully — your startup will grow into a full-fledged, successful company. Like our face book page on https://www.facebook.com/Biztalksblogs
“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities
brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.”
~ Charles R. Swindoll
I wish I could just say that if you do X, Y & Z, you’ll magically raise millions of dollars for your venture. But unfortunately, that’s not how raising capital works.
One key reason for this is that most sources of money, like banks and institutional equity investors (defined as institutions like venture capital firms, private equity firms and corporations that invest), are essentially professional risk managers. That is, they successfully invest or lend money by managing the risk that the money will be repaid or not.
So, your job as the entrepreneur seeking capital is to reduce your investor or lender’s risk.
For example, let’s say that two entrepreneurs want to open a new restaurant.
Which is the riskier investment?
Entrepreneur A has put together a business plan for the new restaurant.
Entrepreneur B has also put together a business plan for the restaurant…and he has also put together the menu, secured a deal for leasing space, received a detailed contract with a design/build firm, signed an employment agreement with the head chef, etc.
Clearly investing in Entrepreneur B is less risky, because Entrepreneur B has already has already accomplished some of his “risk mitigating milestones.”
Establishing Your Risk Mitigating Milestones
A “risk mitigating milestone” is an event that when completed, makes your company more likely to succeed. For example, for a restaurant, some of the “risk mitigating milestones” would include:
Finding the location
Getting the permits and licenses
Building out the restaurant
Hiring and training the staff
Opening the restaurant
Reaching $20,000 in monthly sales
Reaching $50,000 in monthly sales
As you can see, each time the restaurant achieves a milestone, the risk to the investor or lender decreases significantly. There are fewer things that can go wrong. And by the time the business reaches its last milestone, it has virtually no risk of failure.
To give you another example, for a new software company the risk mitigating milestones might be:
Designing a prototype
Getting successful beta testing results
Getting the product to a point where it is market-ready
Getting customers to purchase the product
Securing distribution partnerships
Reaching monthly revenue milestones
The key point when it comes to raising money is this: you generally do NOT raise ALL the money you need for your venture upfront. You merely raise enough money to achieve your initial milestones. Then, you raise more money later to accomplish more milestones.
Yes, you are always raising money to get your company to the next level. Even Fortune 100 companies do this – they raise money by issuing more stock in order to launch new initiatives. It’s an ongoing process-not something you do just once.
Creating Your Milestone Chart & Funding Requirements
The key is to first create your detailed risk mitigating milestone chart. Not only is this helpful for funding, but it will serve as a great “To Do” list for you and make sure you continue to achieve goals each day, week and month that progress your business.
Shoot for listing approximately six big milestones to achieve in the next year, five milestones to achieve next year, and so on for up to 5 years (so include two milestones to achieve in year 5). And alongside the milestones, include the time (expected completion date) and the amount of funding you will need to attain them.
Example: Launch billboard marketing campaign over 6 months, spending $18,000
After you create your milestone chart, you need to prioritize. Determine the milestones that youabsolutely must accomplish with the initial funding. Ideally, these milestones will get you to point where you are generating revenues. This is because the ability to generate revenues significantly reduces the risk of your venture; as it proves to lenders and investors that customers want what you are offering.
By setting up your milestones, you will figure out what you can accomplish for less money. And the fact is, the less money you need to raise, the easier it generally is to raise it (mainly because the easiest to raise money sources offer lower dollar amounts).
The other good news is that if you raise less money now, you will give up less equity and incur less debt, which will eventually lead to more dollars in your pocket.
Finally, when you eventually raise more money later (in a future funding round), because you have already achieved numerous milestones, you will raise it easier and secure better terms (e.g., higher valuation, lower interest rate, etc.).
It might surprise you what you can accomplish with less money! So write up your list of risk mitigating milestones and determine which must be done now and which can wait for later, focusing first on what is most likely to generate revenues.