Entrepreneur Archives - Page 7 of 8 - Dr. Ivan Misner®

Social Capital Taught in College?

UniversityOfLaVerne

About a year ago, I posted a blog called:  “Networking, a Soft Science? Only to College Professors!”  OK, I’ll admit it–I was on a rant about how we don’t teach networking in colleges or universities.  But in my defense, there were many, many, people who identified with this frustration according to the numerous comments posted on that blog.

Today, I’m here to tell you that there may actually be a change on the horizon.  Yes, a university dean who believes that social capital is a relevant topic in business.  “Not possible,” you say?  Well, that’s what I thought, too, until I met Ibrahim Helou, the new dean of the School of Business & Public Management at the University of LaVerne.

Ibrahim "Abe" Helou

Ibrahim “Abe” Helou

As crazy as this may sound, he actually believes that emotional intelligence and social capital are relevant topics to cover in business school.  To make this even more amazing, Helou’s background is in accounting and finance. Wow, I don’t know what to say. This just shakes up my whole world view about academia.

According to Helou, business should focus on issues relating to long-term organizational sustainability.  He says that the “three pillars” of organizational sustainability are: people, planet and prosperity.

The “people” part includes long-term employment, social capital and empowerment.  The planet involves social and ethical responsibility and prosperity is about the long-term financial success of the organization.

Did you notice that “long-term” is a recurring theme here?  I did.  He believes that there has been an overemphasis on short-term profits to address monthly or quarterly revenue reporting in corporations.  This short-term view has helped lead us into some of the current financial issues we are experiencing today.

Well, Dr. Helou, I’m impressed, especially with your interest in social capital and emotional intelligence.  Now all you need to do is convince the faculty.  Let me know how that works out for you.  🙂

The Culture of Entrepreneurism

I just attended the BNI International Conference in Southern California.  There were almost 1,000 people from 40 countries around the world at the event.  It looked like a meeting at the United Nations with people from different countries and different accents all meeting for several days.  It was amazing to watch business people from various cultures working together to network and build each other’s businesses despite their differences.

It was appropriate that Brian Tracy was a keynote speaker at this event because he and I spoke about the subject of cultural differences and doing business a few years ago.  We had lunch in San Diego and I asked him if he changed his material when he did seminars in other countries.  He said that he didn’t.  He said that entrepreneurs want to do things more efficiently or more effectively.  If you can show them how to achieve either of those, the cultural issues are not as big a factor as many might believe.

This made me start to think about why structured networking programs work so well and in so many countries.  It occurred to me that there is a “culture of entrepreneurism” that in many ways transcends other cultural issues.  The core of this process is the importance of trust.  When people get to know and trust each other, that factor supersedes many cultural factors. 

Different people, different places; different countries, different cultures; different races, different religions, we all want to do business with people we trust.  While there may be many other things to divide us and separate us, we all speak the language of referrals.

Capture Your Success Stories

Many of us are taught as children that we should refrain from bragging about our successes. But there’s a caveat to those rules that our parents usually didn’t teach us: The rules apply to our individual, personal lives–not our businesses.

Success stories about businesses and entrepreneurs are vital for those of us dedicated to learning all we can in order to make our own enterprises as successful as possible.  What’s more, having your own success stories heard could bring you opportunities to network your business far beyond the playing field of the typical networking arena.

Here are four approaches to capturing your success stories:

1.  Ask for written testimonials: Get satisfied customers or colleagues to write letters on their own letterhead to spotlight their positive experience with you and your business.

2.  Write down two success stories: Highlight your successes to help your network understand who best represents your preferred client.  These stories should clearly emphasize what you do better than anyone else.

3.  Write a personal introduction: Provide your network with material they can use when talking about you and your business with people who fit your preferred client profile.  You don’t want your sales force making stuff up about you, right?  This simplifies their task and ensures accuracy.

4.  Toot your own horn: Tell people about the good things your business does.  This isn’t about crowing over your amazing golf handicap or complimenting your own fine taste in silk ties.  It’s about spotlighting your business’s strengths, as well as its legitimate good works in the community.

Love

Do What You Love And You’ll Love What You Do

As an adjunct university professor for almost 20 years, I would often have students say to me, “What kind of business or profession should I consider going into right now?”  I would respond by asking them, “What do you like to do?  What do you really enjoy?” They’d respond by saying something like . . . “No, no, you don’t understand, I’m asking what I should do?” And I’d reply back by saying . . . “No, you don’t understand, what do you love to do?  What are you really interested in?”

They’d look back at me, obviously perplexed, and stutter out something about trying to figure out what a good profession to go into would be or what kind of business they should start. I would proceed to explain to them that you can’t achieve sustained success over time without doing something you love.  Therefore, they should think about what they really enjoy doing and look for opportunities in those areas.  

According to the NFIB (the National Federation of Independent Business), it’s estimated that 60 percent of all businesses started in the late ’90s “were based on hobbies or personal interests.” More and more you see people turning their dreams into their livelihood.

I saw a great example of this in action when I attended a fundraiser for Azusa Pacific University over the weekend.  During the evening, the program highlighted a graduate from the physics department. His name is Steven Moser. He graduated in 2001 from the university. After graduation, he worked at NASA’s JPL in Pasadena.  While Moser was working at JPL, a close family member died in a tragic accident. Moser and his wife (who also had a very successful career) evaluated their lives and decided to make a major change. They chose to pursue a hobby they had had for some time, making all-natural body care products and turning it into a full-time business. This would enable them to work from home, spend time with the family and do what they really love.

Steven’s company is called Anti-Body. It not only offers all-natural body-care products, but it also promotes global fair trade. It sources all its raw materials directly from workers in developing countries, creating sustainability for those that might be exploited in most markets.

This is a great example of doing what you love and loving what you do. Moser changed the course of his life to do what he loves.  His business seems to be thriving, and he definitely loves what he is doing.

I understand that loving what you do is no guarantee that you’ll be successful. However, I am equally confident that if you’re not happy at what you’re doing, you can never achieve any sustainable success over time. So if you’re thinking about starting your own business, do what I used to tell my children when they couldn’t figure out what ice cream they wanted to eat. Stick your tongue out. Wave it around. What does it feel like? Pick something you really want. You’ll be happier (and I’m not talking just about ice cream).

I Refuse to Participate in a Recession–Now More Than Ever!

I’ve written a few articles about refusing to participate in a recession and I recently had someone e-mail me saying, “Don’t bother telling me . . . tell my customers. They are not as willing to accept a platitude as you feel I am.” (Ouch, I guess he didn’t like my thoughts on this matter.)

Well sir, I’m afraid we’ll just have to agree . . . to disagree. You see, I don’t think it’s a platitude, I think it’s an attitude!

Today’s news is full of economic soap operas. In the United States, Congress, the White House and the pundits have all debated about the bailout of yet another pillar of corporate America. European nations and others around the globe are struggling with recessionary pressures. Voices everywhere seem to be spouting economic doom and gloom.

Now, please, lean in close and listen carefully. I’m going to ask you to do something very difficult, yet very important: Ignore all those doom-and-gloom voices.

It’s not that I want to deny reality. Nor am I even judging whether all those important voices are right or wrong.

What I am saying is, all those voices are sending you useless information. Not only are they urging you to be afraid . . . very afraid . . . they are completely ignoring the solutions on which you need to focus. Nothing like freezing a good entrepreneur in his or her tracks with old-fashioned fear.

When Franklin Roosevelt wisely said during America’s depression that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself . . . he left something out. When you are in business, at any time in any nation, the other thing you have to fear is: inaction. Not very poetic, I know, but it’s true.

Let others worry about the macro-economic picture. You have a micro-economy in which you are a vital and central player. Does the government or an economist know the ins and outs of your business better than you? Have you received any calls lately offering to bail you out with taxpayer money if your business slides to the brink of ruin? I’m guessing the answer is “no” to both questions.

You already know this in your gut: No bailout is coming your way . . . unless you do it yourself. No rescue plan is being prepared for your business . . . unless you do it yourself. And no solutions to your problems will be developed . . . unless you do it yourself.

The more you focus on fear, the more afraid you will become. The more you focus on obstacles, the larger they will loom. And the more you focus on today’s global economic doom-and-gloom headlines, the less time, energy and faith you’ll have to focus on building the prosperous, successful, well-networked business you really want.

If you tell yourself, “I can’t succeed in this economic downturn,” you’ll very likely prove yourself correct. But if, instead, you focus on specific solutions to the particular issues, challenges and opportunities of your business, your niche market, your current and prospective customers . . . you are very likely to enjoy more success than all the naysayers put together would have predicted.

What the bigwigs on Wall Street, Pennsylvania Avenue, the London Financial district or the European Central Bank don’t seem to understand is, out here in the real world of entrepreneurial small business, by sticking together and helping one another, we can face down the doom and gloom. We can build our businesses despite the headlines, and we can show others around the world the economic power of persistent, skillful and focused networking.

Join me and the many other successful businesspeople. Become someone who sees opportunities when others see problems, become someone who seeks growth when others expect collapse, and be someone who sees success when others see failure.

I refuse to participate in a recession, now more than ever!

I Refuse to Participate in a Recession (Part 2)

Recessions come and go. Statistically, we have one every six years or so. This recession is a serious one. I get that. I also believe that the people who look for opportunities when times are tough will not only survive, they will thrive. I’ve been in business long enough to see it over and over again.

Given the recent developments with the U.S. economy, I thought I would refer my readership to a blog that I wrote back in April of this year, along with a link it to a telebridge recording that was recently done by a friend of mine, John Assaraf, CEO of OneCoach and author of “The Answer.”

Be a “thriver” not just a “survivor” in this recession.

Read my article from April: I Refuse to Participate in a Recession (Part 1)

Then, listen to John’s free telebridge recording: Thriving in a Recession–“What To Do Now.” The first two-thirds of this free call is all about staying focused on success while everyone else is panicking about the economy.

When you are all done, join us in “refusing to participate in the recession!”

Networking ROI

Have you ever wondered how effective networking really is for different types of businesses? I have. Consequently, I am assisting a university project that will establish the best approach to networking for companies of different sizes and types. The results will be published here when completed, and we need your participation!

By asking networkers across the globe about their businesses, marketing and networking strategies, and which types of approaches work best for them, we will discover some “best practice” marketing mixes for both small and large businesses. So be part of the process and take a few minutes (really, it’s just a few minutes) to complete this survey.

Take the Networking Survey Here.

Feel free to share this link with others! The survey will wrap up in October.

Thanks! If you take the survey, share with me what you liked and what you thought was missing.

Empty Your Purse Into Your Head

Most entrepreneurs pay lip service to education! OK, maybe not you . . . you’re actually taking the time to read an article on business. I’m talking about the average entrepreneur.

Ask a number of businesspeople if they’d be willing to attend a seminar on building their business, and three-quarters of those in the room will raise their hand and say yes! Tell them that it is four weeks from tomorrow at 7 p.m., and only a handful will actually sign up!

It used to surprise me when I heard that 50 percent of all businesses fail in their first three years. Now that I’ve been in business for several decades and have seen many entrepreneurs come and go, I’m somewhat surprised that 50 percent actually make it past three years!

Maybe I’m being a little harsh . . . but not much. One thing I’ve learned is that most successful entrepreneurs embrace a “culture of learning” in order to excel. Personal and professional self-development is a journey–not a destination. It’s always a work in progress. Often, businesspeople get so caught up working “in” their business that they forget to spend time working “on” their business. Part of working “on” a business is one’s professional development.

Benjamin Franklin once said; “If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the highest return.”

With that in mind, here’s an action item for you this week. Look at your financials (or checkbook, or credit-card statements) for the past year. What have you spent for any type of ongoing business education? If you aren’t “emptying some of your purse into your head,” take a few minutes to think about what you want to learn to help you build your business–and sign up for something this week! Don’t put it off any longer.

If you want to earn more, you need to learn more! Oh, and reading this blog from time to time won’t hurt, either.

‘Notworking’ is Sometimes Good

It’s not called “net-sit” or “net-eat,” it’s called NetWORK! Effective networking is all about learning how to work your network effectively and appropriately.

I also believe that there are times to “notwork.” As a matter of fact, I’m fairly confident that when I’m 70 years old, I won’t say, “Gee, I wish I spent more time at the office.”

BigBearDeckDay

I believe that we entrepreneurs, business professionals and salespeople need to make sure to take time to . . . notwork. I do my best “notworking” at my lodge in Big Bear Lake, California. I’m writing this blog from my deck, pictured here during the day (above) and again at night (below).

BigBearDeckNight

Each year we have a family tradition that each family member gets to pick two things that we all do together during the time we are up here. We type it up and, as each item is completed, the family member puts his or her initials next to his or her item, and we post it on the refrigerator (we have nine years posted there so far). Last night my daughter chose S’mores around the campfire. Today, my son chose a “mental health day” (in the Misner family this means nobody in and nobody out–we hang around the house, watch TV, read, play games and mostly veg).

Success is many things to many people. To me, it’s having the time to spend in a place I love with the people I love. That is true success.

Sometimes, “notworking” is a very good thing.

Where Does Your Business Come From?

Where does your business come from? In a survey of roughly 4,000 people at the BNI.com website, roughly 73 percent of the respondents said that they get most of their business from networking and referral activities. Only 12 percent get most of their business from advertising and less than 10 percent get most of their business from cold calling!

What I find amazing about this is that most colleges still focus on courses on advertising, and most big companies still train their new salespeople how to cold call! Despite that, most entrepreneurs and salespeople (according to this survey) don’t get the majority of their business from these two methods.

Where do you get most of your business from? Comment here on this blog and take the survey (and others) at this LINK.

Entrepreneur in Space

I had the pleasure of witnessing the unveiling of WhiteKnightTwo at the Mojave Spaceport in California this week (yes, I said “spaceport,” not airport). The WhiteKnightTwo is Virgin Galactic’s carrier aircraft, which will ferry SpaceShipTwo and thousands of private astronauts, science packages and payloads into suborbital space within the next few years. The rollout represents a major milestone in Virgin Galactic’s quest to launch the world’s first private space program for people, payloads and science.

Sir Richard Branson is the Founder of Virgin Galactic, and the WhiteKnightTwo was christened “Eve” in honor of his mother. I’ve had a couple of opportunities to meet Sir Richard, and I’ve been impressed with his natural charisma and people skills. I talked about my first meeting with him on Necker Island in my blog post, The Butterfly Effect of Networking.

As a result of spending a week on his island in the Caribbean, I was invited to attend the rollout of the new Mothership for Virgin Galactic. It was an amazing experience. The invitees were flown from LAX to the Mojave desert via a Virgin America charter, appropriately named, My Other Ride is a Spacesalg_richard_bransonhip. There, we were brought into a hanger operated by Burt Rutan, founder of Scaled Composites and designer of the WhiteKnightTwo.

Inside the hanger, Virgin Galactic CEO Will Whitehorn and other company representatives spoke about the progress of the program, with the Virgin Galactic logo on a white canvas in the background (seen in the photo on the right).

After the presentation, they did a 10 second-launch countdown and the canvas dropped to reveal the WhiteKnightTwo (shown in the photo below), which had been brought into position outside the hanger doors after everyone was seated. It was a dramatic and impressive thing to witness firsthand.

Later, Sir Richard and Rutan took questions from the audience. During this portion of the event they spoke about the fact that testing for the WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo will take roughly 18 months to three years. When that is complete, they hope to be ready to start conducting private, suborbital flights with paying passengers. Within the next 10 to 15 years, it is their vision to have more than a dozen spaceports conducting regular launches for suborbital flights for the public on a continuous basis (entrepreneurism in space!).

Later that night, I had an opportunity to attend a private party in Bel Air for people who attened the rollout and other guests. There, I had a chance to talk directly with Rutan. This was an amazing conversation, because he shared with me incredible plans for the future of space entrepreneurism.

He told me that he believes the cost for private space travel can be cut to a fraction of the current price tag once the program is fully in place. In addition, he said that eventually Virgin Galactic wants to have a space hotel, with spaceships shuttling guests from earth into outer space. I told him I thought that was a bold long-term vision. He looked me in the eyes and said, “That’s just our mid-term vision.” I was taken aback by that and asked what his long-term vision is for private space travel. He said: “private space trips from the earth to the moon and back.” Now that’s what I call vision!

SpaceShipOne now resides in the Smithsonian Institute’s Air and Space Museum. I believe it’s there for a good reason. Branson, Rutan, and the teams at Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites are making history by doing what very few countries in the world have ever done. They are putting together a program to send thousands of private citizens into space and return them safely. Frankly, I think they’re going to be successful and they are going to achieve it at a fraction of the cost it takes governments to send people into space.

Who knows, maybe the space hotel will happen in my lifetime. If so, I’m looking forward to the first business networking meetings at the Virgin Galactic Earth-Space Hotel. From there, the whole idea that “business is out of this world” takes on a whole new meaning.

What are your thoughts about entrepreneurism in space? Feel free to share them here.

‘Million Dollar Challenge’ for Entrepreneurs

If you have a great business or a great idea that you want to take to the next level, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to apply for yourBusinessChannel’s Million Dollar Challenge contest. The contest is the result of yourBusinessChannel’s upcoming, online TV series “The Million Dollar Team,” which features entrepreneurial advice and instruction from a team of business experts–which would cost more than a million dollars if they were hired in the real world.

Ahead of the show’s launch, its producers are calling for businesses to fill 25 “hot seats” to get direct input into their businesses from the Million Dollar Team.

I’ve been asked to sit on the team of experts alongside experienced and talented businesspeople such as Kevin Roberts (global CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi), Penny Power (Founder of Ecademy.com), Tom Smith (acclaimed social media expert from Universal McCann), David Meerman Scott (viral marketing guru whose online campaigns have sold more than $1 billion in products and services worldwide) and many others. These people are world-class experts in their field and, between all of us, we have helped thousands of businesses to prosper.

The Million Dollar Challenge is open to businesses of any size and stage, anywhere in the world. The key requirement is that they be businesses with real substance or promise that need an injection of leading-edge advice to grow to the next level, fast. I think this is a chance-of-a-lifetime opportunity. If you have a business with real potential, applying to receive free, extra-close attention from a “million dollar” team of world-class experts is a no-brainer.

Take a look here to find out more about the contest and to apply.

I have found yourBusinessChannel to be a tremendous resource for entrepreneurs and businesspeople everywhere. You can keep your eye out for more of the site’s great shows by clicking here.

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