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Archive for the ‘Entrepreneurship’ Category

“The future belongs to the common man with uncommon determination.”

Baba Amte

When I was in junior high school, I joined the local Junior Achievement chapter. My “company” made Christmas tree skirts which we later sold to our parents.

The lesson I learned from this:

cheap material + even cheaper labor + parental connections = profit

Find your unique gift; create a product or service that fills a need, than sell it to your network. How did I get that from felt skirts? Our product weren’t poorly constructed Christmas accessory; they were handcrafted symbols of ourselves that our target audience would pay a premium for.

What is your product?

What makes it (or you) unique?

Who is your audience?

Why do they want your product?

Who is your competitor?

What are they doing better (or worse) than you?

What is your cost of sale? In other words, what does each sale (income) cost you to produce (expense)

How will you market your product to your audience?

What will that cost?

Where do you want to be, in terms of production, in 1 year-2 years-5 years?

What will it take to accomplish this?

Your business plan should answer all of these questions, and more. Some people (e.g. me) prefer a deep strategic plan over a conventional business plan. In a strategic plan, you create your company culture as you create your plan for success.

A strategic plan typically includes a company’s mission, vision and value statements, and an expectation about how you’ll conduct business. If you plan to have partners, this step is vital

Successful people:

are passionate.

Your passion is the reason you get up in the morning, work late at night or borrow money from your family to finance start-up costs.  Without passion, you’ll quit at the first sign of trouble or when a better offer comes along. Are you following your passion?

solve problems.

If you can solve other people’s problems, they’ll throw money at you. Easy, right?

Find a job no one else wants and do it. Find the knowledge few know and learn it.

To sell yourself and your product or service, define what value you bring to the table.

Are you faster?

Cheaper?

Better?

Any 2 of the 3 will do.  If you’re faster than your competition, you don’t have to be cheaper, but your quality has to be at least as good as theirs.  Your customer will pay a premium for speed, but won’t accept inferiority at any price.

produce.

Do you have a business plan (see above)? Are you working it every day?  Do you account for your results?

Does your plan focus on the problem you’re solving for the customer and/or the unique value that you’re adding to the transaction?

Who are your customers? How do they find you?

Every sale results from you talking to your customers or would-be customers.  Talk to them everyday.

Don’t waste time with mediocre people, thoughts or actions. Just take daily steps toward your goal

By the way, I still have the Christmas tree skirt. Now an antique family heirloom, it’s value has no doubt increased accordingly.

If you’re ready to stop treating yourself like an employee, and instead develop the skills and leadership of a CEO, signup for the online version of The Business of your Business: Formula, Financials, Function and Freedom.

This article originally ran in the Las Chapter of the Women’s Council of REALTORS newsletter.

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Create wealth, entrepreneur, start-upI’m featured on the One Million Entrepreneurs website. Check out my profile and, while you’re there, add your own story.

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Reduce taxes, Incorporate, Women's Council of Realtors

 

“This is too difficult for a mathematician. It takes a philosopher.”

That’s Albert Einstein talking about out tax code.

Formally, federal tax law is a particular chapter (Title 26) of the United States Code. The federal tax law contains 11 subtitles, which among them comprise 9,833 sections.


The number of words in the tax code? No one knows. Seriously, no one knows. The lower bound seems to be 16,000 pages, and even that’s not definite. A conservative 250 words per page, and that’s 4 million words. Even counting the number of sections is exhausting. They go from 1 to 9873, and counting, but plenty of numbers are missing.


Politicians may tout the virtues of our “progressive” tax system, but it doesn’t really favor the poor over the rich.
Nor does it favor the rich over the poor, not when 40% of federal tax receipts come from 1% of the population. Fairly or otherwise, the tax system favors the diligent over the unprepared. (As most things in life, so maybe the system is fair.)

Specifically, the system favors independent businesspeople over salaried workers.

You can do what almost everyone can but few bother to: play the IRS’ game. Only make sure you’re on the winning team.  Read my recent article in the Women’s Council of REALTORS e-newsletter.

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macgyver-problem

Your customer doesn’t care what title is on your business card, what school you went to or what your grade point average was.  He wants one thing:

His problem solved.

It sounds so simple, yet most companies can’t do it.

So often, we tell customers what we think they should want instead of listening to them.

How to succeed in 3 easy steps:

1) Understand exactly what your customer’s problem is:

Mr. & Mrs. Smith want to buy a restored 1965 blue Mustang convertible for  $35,000.

2) Honestly assess if you can solve it:

Tom Dealer has connections with rare auto dealers across the nation and can find the best vintage cars at the lowest prices.

3) Determine if you’re willing to – and if you can do it quickly, cheaply, and/or with the best service:

The Smiths and Tom Dealer seem compatible. But if Tom doesn’t act, the Smiths will find someone who can.

This is a variation of finding the job no one wants and excelling at it.

Anyone can say she’s going to solve the problem.
Be different: actually do it.

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When talking (or writing) about business, whether it is starting a new business or improving your existing one, we have to deal with the F word: Failure.

No one likes to fail; yet everyone will do it at least once or twice. Mistakes happen and miscalculations occur- that’s okay. Yes, you heard me. It’s okay to be wrong. In fact, mistakes can lead us to our greatest triumphs.

Study the lives of succesful people and you will find them littered with failures. Thomas Edison said “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” And if you’ve ever made a mistake you know all about the perspiration *lol*

While making mistakes is never fun they can be a sign of future triumph; all you have to do is use the errors to learn. The bigger the error, the greater the growth.

When something goes wrong our first instinct is to cover it up or deflect the blame. I recommend you do the opposite; embrace the problem.

First thing: Solve the problem. Doing this quickly and efficiently, while maintaining a sense of humor, will impress both your clients and your peers. Trust me, In this day and age, admitting to your own limitations is refreshing and unique.

Next: Play detective and determine how the mistake was made. Look at everything that lead to the event and determine what you could have done, said, read, etc. to prevent the problem. Then, change the system; take the class; train the staff; or do whatever it is to make sure this error never happens again.

Finally: Shake it off and move on. You’re not allowed to wallow in guilt. If you were acting with good intentions, with no intent to hurt or mislead anyone: if you have solved the problem; and if you have examined the circumstances which lead to the issue and taken steps to avoid the problem in the future than you are officially absolved of guilt. Betty says “Let it go.”

Does this seem simple to you? If it’s so easy, why aren’t more people taking chances?

This is what Teddy Roosevelt had to say about risk taking:

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

You must take risks (and fail) to get the rewards you deserve. No one is going to hand life to you; you must go out and live it!

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But for now I’m taking the lazy route and pointing you to my new post at TheKincaidTeam.com.

Who are you?

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“If you can’t do great things, do small things in a great way. Don’t wait for great opportunities. Seize common, everyday ones and make them great.”
Napoleon Hill

My version is a little different. Find the job that no one else wants and do it. Find the need that’s not being served and serve it. Find the knowledge few know and learn it.

This is how you create value. Mediocre people, thoughts and actions are everywhere. Don’t compete with that crowd. Create your own marketplace.

Here’s to a productive & prosperous New Year!

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