Entrepreneur Archives - Page 5 of 9 - Dr. Ivan Misner®

Michael Gerber’s Key to Business Growth: “Working on It”

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZInadxrKQ0[/tube]

In this video, my friend, The E-Myth author Michael Gerber, talks about his new website — www.WorkingOnIt.com — which is devoted to helping entrepreneurs grow business and achieve success.

I wanted to spread the news about this great educational resource because I am a firm believer in Michael’s strategies and philosophies for business growth.  I built my networking organization around some of the key philosophies that Michael wrote about in The E-Myth and I know that is a large part of why my business has grown globally into what it is today.

So, after you watch this short video clip, be sure to check out Michael’s new website and then, if you have a minute, please come back and leave a comment to let me know what you think.

PLEASE NOTE:  Although Michael’s new website, www.WorkingOnIt.com, makes mention of BNI and addresses “BNI friends,” the website and the educational information and offers it contains are open to absolutely everyone–including BusinessNetworking.com blog readers and the general public as a whole.

Recognizing ‘Innovativity’

This is the final guest blog in the three-part series featuring Frank DeRaffele’s article, “Creativity vs. ‘Innovativity.'” To read the beginning and the middle of the article, please CLICK HERE for Part 1 and CLICK HERE for Part 2.

“Creativity vs. ‘Innovativity'” by Frank J. DeRaffele Jr. ( . . . Continued)

Recognizing ‘Innovativity’

Innovation in our businesses is extremely important. New ideas help us to run our businesses more efficiently, market more effectively, sell with greater success, satisfy customers at higher levels and lead us to greater overall results–if we have a method to put them in place and the discipline to follow through with them.  Innovation gives us competitive advantage in many cases.  We just need to make sure we are not being deceived; we need to understand how to recognize the difference between Innovation and its evil twin, Creativity.

Quick steps to recognize  ‘Innovativity’ over Creativity in a great new idea:

1. Know what your current problem is and what you want as the end result in solving that problem.

2. Confirm that your new idea will help solve that problem DIRECTLY.  Don’t justify that it is a distant cause and effect relationship (e.g., “If I bring in a new target market they will buy more and I will increase my average dollar transaction.” — This simply justifies a non-direct creative idea).

3. It can be executed simply.  The best solutions usually are not complex.  Many times, the most complex problems have simple solutions.  As a Small Business Entrepreneur (SBE), it is rare that you have a complex problem.  It may be inconvenient, bad timing, a pain, or unexpected, but rarely so complex that it takes a complex solution.  Most very effective innovations are simple solutions.

My last words of advice on this topic: Don’t stop being creative!  Always be creative, just know how to use your creativity in the most effective and profitable manner.  Make your creativity spark your innovations so you may continue to build a very profitable and sustaining business.

This wraps up the final part of Frank’s article, “Creativity vs. ‘Innovativity'” and I hope you have all found it to be as enjoyable and beneficial as I found it to be.  Any comments you leave about the article, I’ll be sure to pass on to Frank so please don’t be shy–tell us what you think!

The ‘Profitability Ninja’ & The ‘Samurai of Innovation’

Last week I posted the first part of a series of guest blogs sharing the article “Creativity vs. ‘Innovativity'” by Frank DeRaffele.  Below is the continuation of where the article left off last week.

“Creativity vs. ‘Innovativity'” by Frank J. DeRaffele Jr. ( . . . Continued — CLICK here to read Part 1)

So how do we save ourselves from this Ninja?  Enter the Samurai of Innovation. This Innovative Samurai (dressed in white, by the way) cuts through the creativity and reveals Innovative Thought, Innovative Ideas, Innovative Profitability.

Innovation is the good twin of creativity.  Innovation is creativity with focused and applied business value.  It knows how to see, analyze, evaluate, measure, and decide if this creative thought is able to become Business Innovation or if it will stay as Creative Waste.

As creativity is both a strength and a weakness to us as small business entrepreneurs, we must learn and develop the skill of how to take our creative thoughts and see if they can become innovative bottom line value.

A creative thought may be a wonderful idea but it has no direct relation to a solution.  Not that it is not of value, because it may have great value, but it may not be of value NOW.  When it is not of direct value, we open the gate for our Profitability Ninja to enter.  The question is, how do we define value? In its most simple form, we can answer this question by asking — Does this creative idea relate directly to a current problem that we have and will it help us solve the problem in the way we would like?

For example, let’s say you own a retail store.  You measure your success by the number of transactions you do on a daily basis and by the dollar volume of each transaction.  Currently you are very happy with the number of transactions but you would like to increase your average dollar per transaction.  Most customers that purchase from you spend an average of $55.00 (USD) per transaction.  You would really like to get that number up to $65.00 (USD) per transaction.  This means we need to look at up-selling, cross-selling, and the packaging of products.  As you start to think about this, you come across an idea of a great new way to do a direct mail piece to a new target market.  You know that if this new direct mail piece works, you will attract a new client base to your store.  This new client base is exciting because you haven’t focused on new target markets for quite a while and by expanding into . . . WAIT A MINUTE! What does this have to do with increasing your average dollar per transaction?!  The answer is . . . NOTHING.

What just happened here?  Yes, it was the Profitability Ninja. He snuck in and started you thinking down a new path.  He got you to come up with a great new idea and while getting excited about that idea, he made you forget that your real problem is Average $/Transaction . . . NOT Number of Transactions.  Do you see what I mean?  This new idea may not be a bad idea–in fact, it may be a good idea . . . however, it is not helping to solve the current problem at hand.  By not keeping your focus on Direct Resolutions to your problem, your profits will go into the red.

Come back next week to read the final installment of Franks article, “Creativity vs. ‘Innovativity,” and learn how to recognize ‘innovativity’ to maximize benefits from creativity and help your business soar. As always, if you have a comment to share, I’d love to read it so please leave your thoughts in the comment section.

Creativity vs. ‘Innovativity’

My friend Frank DeRaffele Jr., whom is also one of the co-authors of my upcoming book Business Networking and Sex, shared with me a great article he recently wrote called “Creativity vs. ‘Innovativity'” and I’d like to share it with all of you who read this blog.

Frank makes some very interesting points about the importance of balancing creativity and innovation in regard to small business and I think small business owners and entrepreneurs everywhere will benefit from reading this article.  Since the article is quite lengthy, I’m going to divide it into a few different guest blogs so, if you like what you read in the remainder of this blog entry, be sure to stay tuned for the follow up guest blogs featuring Frank’s article.

“Creativity vs. ‘Innovativity'” by Frank J. DeRaffele Jr.

As Small Business Entrepreneurs (SBEs), one of our greatest strengths is our creativity.  Coming up with new ideas . . . ALL THE TIME.  However, one of our greatest weaknesses is our creativity.  Coming up with new ideas . . . ALL THE TIME.  For most of us, we have too many ideas, too often.  Oh, the paradox!  We tend to like the new idea, the new concept, the new Ah-ha!  The problem with this creativity and these great ideas is that we tend to be great out of the gate but lose power on the follow through.  I am not saying that we should not be creative.  I am not saying that creativity is a bad thing.  I AM saying that creativity can be a time stealer, distraction, justification, and crutch.

Ninja vs. Samurai

Most of us SBEs love the freedom that we have to come up with new ideas and then implement them as quickly or as slowly as we like.  We love the fact that if and when we get bored with this new idea or we feel it is not panning out as we hoped, we can just drop it and move on.  After all, we have no one to answer to.  “I can do what I want, when I want to, and no one can tell me otherwise” we think to ourselves.  This is true.  Very true.  In fact, TOO TRUE.  This freedom we have ends up becoming our Profitability Ninja.  This Ninja disguises himself as strength and confidence, happiness and joy.  Yet, behind his mask is the true assassin.  The Ninja who will kill our profits.  He begins to steal our profits and we don’t notice it.  We may not notice it for weeks, months, or years.  We mostly don’t notice it because either he is too close to us or we just refuse to see him.

This Ninja steals by keeping us focused on new projects that really haven’t been well thought out.  Investing time, energy, man hours, relationships, and money, with little to no return.  This is when the Dark Ninja turns into the Red Ninja.  We are metaphorically bleeding.  We are now going from profitability to loss (Black Ink to Red Ink).

So how do we save ourselves from this Ninja?  Enter the Samurai of Innovation . . .

Come back next week to read more of Frank’s article and learn about the “Samurai of Innovation.” In the meantime, if you have any comments to share about this first article installment, please feel free to share them here.

Sick of Politics and Power Trips?—You Might Be an Entrepreneur

BNIBusinessIndex.com has released its worldwide business survey findings for the first quarter of 2011.  Almost 1,500 business people participated in the survey—people from every populated continent around the world—and the results (see graph on the right)  indicate that, overall, the global economic state is improving.  69.4% of the respondents for the first quarter of 2011 feel that business is growing or growing substantially (compared to this time last year).  This number has increased since the prior BNI Business Index Survey which was conducted during the last quarter of 2010—respondents to this same question at that time weighed in at 67.8%.

Furthermore, half of all business people who took the survey (see the pie chart below) for the first quarter of 2011 (50.2%) said that they would, or possibly would, be hiring people over the next few months.  The retail sector (not shown here) responded with a strong 61.2% to this same question.  This is definitely good news for the global economy and certainly a move in the right direction for the recovery.

What was most interesting in this survey however, were the hundreds of comments offered up by business people and entrepreneurs around the world.

I’ve broken these comments down into six primary categories:

  1. Government Regulation
  2. Changing Target Markets
  3. The Credit Crunch
  4. The Yo-Yo Effect
  5. Natural Disasters
  6. Creative Responses

Government Regulation
Frustration relating to government regulation was adamantly expressed by many respondents and this topic was commented on by more people than almost any other.  A particular comment from one of the survey respondents summed up the frustration best.  This business owner said, “I’m tired of politics and power trips!”

This type of frustration was mirrored by many individuals who complained forcefully about “tax increases killing business . . . serious government intervention . . . the loss of tax credits . . .  mismanagement of government programs . . . and serious regulation.” It’s significant to note that these complaints were not limited to simply one or two parts of the world; on the contrary, these comments were echoed by entrepreneurs based on virtually every continent.  Business owners everywhere unanimously expressed great frustration with taxes and government intervention.

Changing Target Markets
The need to change one’s focus in the marketplace is another theme that cropped up in the recent survey responses.  As one respondent put it, “I’ve changed my target market to one that has both a greater need and a willingness to do something differently.”

Another entrepreneur said, “(Although) business is growing, the comfort zone of (keeping) a client has been lost.  There is a feel of uncertainty for business in the next quarter. The style with which the world does business is changing fast.”

This respondent went on to describe how some businesses are tweaking their target market in order to add on new “market segments” for additional revenue streams.

The Credit Crunch
Many observations were made about the credit crunch.  One was a complaint that seriously resonated with me.  The respondent stated, “I have great credit but Amex has still dropped my credit line by more than 50% in the last two years!!! It’s hard to run a business without a proper credit line.”

Another business owner said, “(There are) still not enough cash reserves or (enough financing) from banks” to support the business.  One individual put this a little differently, stating: “This is just another (line) in the chorus of ‘it is really hard to get loans.’ We tried to get a business loan and got rejected despite great credit because of our lack of a track record. We are only three years in business and were not considered a good risk. Instead, we are taking out a personal loan and will be lending the money back to the business ourselves. Strange but true.”

The Yo-Yo Effect
Many entrepreneurs spoke of the Yo-Yo like market place—business starts looking up and then things slow down.  Things start to go up again, only to fall back down the following month.

One person said their “billable hours more than doubled late last year” only to see them drop during the first quarter.  They went on to say that things are moving upwards again.

Another respondent said, “The adjustments and contractions are still occurring and it has naturally forced many of us to change and adapt. We’re not out of the woods yet.”

Natural Disasters
The long series of natural disasters have been a big issue mentioned by many entrepreneurs.  In North America, one person lamented, “My area has been getting pounded with snow, more snow, sleet, and freezing rain which has certainly had an impact on store traffic.”

A survey participant from New Zealand said, “Business here is incredibly tough, particularly since the earthquake – everyone is traumatised and there is a ripple effect through to all corners of the country. However, we are a resilient bunch, and there is an amazing ‘can do’ culture here- so we will overcome this tragedy.”

Many people from Australia wrote about the flooding in Queensland and challenges created because of weather in the country that has dramatically impacted their business.   One respondent stated that the natural disasters in the country have made “people much more reluctant to spend money on services that they perceive aren’t absolutely necessary.”

Creative Responses
Despite the obvious anxiety that exists, many entrepreneurs were hopeful.  People said: “There is greater optimism out there, it is noticeable with clients and prospects . . . since I’ve spent much more time networking I’ve felt the results more than double.” One person said, “I am on track to match last year’s revenue in the first quarter of this year!!!”

Another individual stated, “Consumers are willing to start spending more . . .” He went on to say that he has really focused on building a stronger referral-based business.  He said, “What was good enough three years ago is not good enough today.  This recession has motivated me to get better.”

The following statement from one particular respondent sums up the situation well: “I believe that it is important to not get caught up in what you are being fed. That doesn’t mean hiding your head in the sand, but not getting caught in the hype. Things are always changing, so stop and think how you can be a part of it. Reinvent yourself if you can, or think outside the box. Refusing to participate in the recession and looking to where you can grow are important strategies. If you don’t get caught in the negative (aspects) of change, sometimes you can see opportunity.”

Despite some of the written responses expressing negative perceptions of the economy, the survey results are promising.  With 69% of the respondents saying that business is better today than a year ago, things definitely appear to be moving in the right direction.   Now, if only the government and the environment would cooperate!

What are your thoughts about the results of this survey???

Also – take the 2nd Quarter 2011 BNI Business Index Survey Here.

___________________________________________

Disclaimer:  The views expressed here are based on survey results from BNIBusinessIndex.com.  The data, information, opinions, and comments documented here are not necessarily the views of BNI, its franchisees, members, or this author.

Business Networking “Coaching” Videos

One thing most businesspeople and entrepreneurs have in common is that they’re usually very busy and tend to have little time to spare. Their busy schedules often create challenges when it comes to making time to educate themselves on building valuable business skills such as networking.

This is why Entrepreneur.com has created the Coaches Corner, a highly convenient educational resource offering extremely brief educational videos on topics like networking, social media, marketing, starting out, managing employees, funding, and business planning.

The majority of the videos are under three minutes long and packed with helpful tips from experts whom Entrepreneur.com refers to as “some of the brightest minds in the biz.”

I’m honored to say that they’ve asked me to participate in this project and I’ve recorded a number of powerful educational videos on networking including:

Check out these videos for quick, instantly usable tips on networking and feel free to share the links with all those in your network!

Let me know what you think here on my blog.

The New India

I’ve been in India for the past several days conducting seminars on business networking and, I have to say, I’ve been very impressed by the business community here. The businesspeople I’ve met are passionate about learning and they are hungry for information and knowledge.  I have found the audiences here to be extraordinarily respectful and almost sponge-like in their interest in absorbing new ideas.

Although it is still a developing nation, it is obvious that the infrastructure of India is growing quickly.  There are construction projects going on virtually everywhere and the development of transportation systems seems to be a high priority.

India has quite an interesting blend of history, tradition, and modern society, along with a serious quest for improving people’s lives.  I don’t think the West fully recognizes the transformation that is taking place here.  Although the middle or entrepreneurial class in India is only about 20% of the population, this percentage represents over 200 million people!

The fact is, education is crucial to achieving growth and success; India’s business community truly understands this and it is inspiring to see how they wholeheartedly embrace a culture of learning.  With their interest in education and training, and their focus on creating infrastructure, I believe that India is likely to be the financial powerhouse of Asia within the next decade.

Businesspeople around the world would benefit tremendously by following India’s example in regard to the value the people of this country place on education.  It has been an amazing opportunity to be able to experience the culture of India and the graciousness and generosity of the people here.  I am deeply grateful to all those I have met during this trip and judging from the way these people embrace knowledge and exude the Givers Gain® philosophy, I have full confidence that India will soon achieve tremendous growth and worldwide recognition.

Making Connections to Start Your Own Business

I recently got asked a really great question on Ask Entrepreneur: Where do I get connected with people who can help me open a business?

Though there is evidence that business is currently on the rise and the economy is moving in a positive direction, the recent downturn in the economy prompted many people who found themselves unemployed to tap into their entrepreneurial spirit and consider starting their own business.

This begs the question above–are there efficient ways to get in touch with people who can help you start your own business?

The answer is yes, and here are my three recommendations:

1) Go through your contacts and talk to people you personally know who have started a business. Set an appointment.  Let them know what you are doing and ask if they’d give you an hour of mentoring.  If possible, meet with them in person.  Show up with specific questions written out in advance.  Send them the questions prior to the meeting so they have a good understanding of what kind of information you’re looking for.  When you meet, focus on those questions, write down the answers, and stick to the time frame you promised.  If the conversation goes well, ask if you can meet with them in the future.  Follow this process with two or three people who have opened a business successfully.  I guarantee you will find this to be very valuable.

2) Find a business coach who has experience with start-up businesses. Hire them to coach you through the process.

3) Read, read, read!  There are a lot of books out there on opening a business. I have personally reviewed many of the books published by Entrepreneur Press on starting a business and they are excellent.  Go to EntrepreneurPress.com to see some of them.

I strongly encourage anyone genuinely interested in starting their own business to pursue the endeavor. I have owned my own business for almost thirty years (that’s a picture of me at top right, when I first started my company, BNI, and was running it from my house and garage with only one other employee in the mid ’80s) and it continues to be an amazing and fulfilling journey. I don’t think I would ever go back to working for someone else.

Business is Looking Up for 2011

My company has recently created a “business index” to gauge the economic state of business based on global survey results of retailers, service companies, and manufacturing companies all around the world.

The statistics gathered from the survey results are intended to keep small business owners, entrepreneurs, and companies, as well as the general public, educated and informed as to the changing state of the global business economy and the current business trends that become apparent over time.

The January, 2011 BNI Business Index Report (based on the 4th Quarter of 2010) represents the first report published by BNIBusinessIndex.com.

Over 5,000 businesses from every populated continent in the world participated in this survey. According to our findings for the 4th Quarter of 2010, 67.8% of all businesses surveyed stated that business was growing or growing substantially compared to the same time the previous year.  Only 7.9% stated that business was declining or declining substantially.  Just over 24% of the respondents felt that business was flat during the last quarter of 2010 compared to the same time period one year earlier.

This appears to be very good news for the recession weary business community.  For more details on these and other findings, go to www.BNIBusinessIndex.com.

Take a moment to share with me how business is doing for you.  Do these findings track with your experience?  Let me know here.

50 Best Blogs for Young Entrepreneurs

I am excited to announce that this blog was listed as #26 in the list of “50 Best Blogs for Young Entrepreneurs”!

Here’s what they said:

“Networking Entrepreneur: Even if you think you’re a pro at networking, check this blog for new tips and strategies as your business grows. Recommended Posts: Make No Assumptions and Clueless When It Comes To Conversing? Four Tips

The list, published by OEDb (Online Education Database), was created as a resource for young entrepreneurs who are looking to learn some basic business principles and discover how to communicate and collaborate in the real world before finding success.  Divided into categories (“Tools & Resources,” “Inspiration & Testimonials,” “Tips & Education,” “Industry News,” and Insights “From Young Entrepreneurs”), the list presents the top blogs that will help you communicate, collaborate, master the science of SEO and social media marketing, shake hands like a professional, and more.

Young entrepreneur or not, this list contains a cornucopia of excellent links that will provide you with an endless amount of useful information.

I’m honored to be included in this list of the “50 Best Blogs for Young Entrepreneurs” and I encourage all of my blog readers to check out the list and explore the great (and FREE)  information that’s out there to help contribute to your success!

Being Right But Doing It All Wrong!

The business I’m in involves a lot of coaching and guiding of franchisees to teach them how to coach and guide entrepreneurs, salespeople, and professionals to generate referrals for themselves and others.  Sometimes this feels a little like ‘herding cats’; entrepreneurs hate being told what to do and it takes a real skill set to move them in a direction that involves a lot of hard work but will help them achieve the results they want.

One of the biggest challenges I have in this process is not with the actual entrepreneur or salesperson but with the individual I’m coaching to be able to guide the entrepreneur or salesperson. These people have gone through many hours of training, tend to have a fair amount of field experience, and have support manuals that exceed a thousand pages of documentation to assist in the process.   They are true expertsI’ve discovered, however, that sometimes expertise can actually be a problem. Just because your expertise may arm you with the knowledge to recognize the solution to a problem or challenge, it doesn’t mean other people are going to automatically ‘believe’ you know the solution and/or want you to actually tell them the solution.  I know that sounds counter intuitive; however, if you’ve ever raised a child, you know that this is often times absolutely true!

So, let’s say you’re an expert.  You know you’re an expert.  You know that you can help someone else.  You also know that this “someone else” is a grownup who runs their own business or is an independent sales rep who chose their particular career for good reason . . . they like the freedom of being independent.  How do you move these people in the right direction?

I had a person who worked for my company who once went into one of my locations and was appalled by how badly things were being run by the members of the group.  She let them know in no uncertain terms what they were doing wrong and how they needed to turn it around. Her assessment of the situation and the solutions she proposed were spot on but her presentation of them was all wrong. She was so blunt with the group’s members that she received a very negative reaction from them and ended up leaving the place an even bigger mess than it was when she first walked in.  When I met with her to talk about how she might have done things differently, she grew furious with me for not supporting her since she was right and the members of the group were wrong.  I wasn’t arguing that she was right–she was.  The problem I had was how she handled the situation–in that area, she was completely wrong. I tried to explain this to her by sharing one of my favorite sayings relating to the dilemma:  “Don’t burn down the barn to roast the pig.” In other words, don’t make things worse than you found them when you were trying to fix them in the first place.

She could never really wrap her head around the concept that people may not welcome her advice with enthusiasm and agree with her stance on an issue when she was clearly right.  She didn’t work for me for much longer (make of that what you will) and, eventually, we got an expert to work with that group who ‘listened’ to their issues,  Built relationships with the group members, and then coached them into achieving the greatness they had within them.  It’s important to note that this process took time and patience.

There are two things I try to teach people in this situation.

First, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” If you want people to listen to you when you are coaching them or re-directing them, they have to know that you care about them and want them to succeed.  If they don’t know this down to their core – they will not listen to your advice.  Ever.

Second, is a saying given to me by mother on a paper weight when I was about 16 years old and I was running an uphill battle for a student council race.  My mother gave me this paper weight (which is still on my desk in my home to this date).  The paper weight says: Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way.” When she gave me that, she explained that I had to learn how to work “with” people – not “through” people.  She said that even if I did know the answer to a problem – it did no good if no one else believed me.  That advice helped me win the election and it has helped me many times throughout my life.  I have to admit that I don’t always use it as well as I can – however, when I do use it, things almost always go more smoothly.

The bottom line is this: being right doesn’t help much if no one is willing to follow you.

What are your thoughts on this issue?  Maybe you can share a story . . . but, remember to keep it positive.  Let’s focus on positive outcomes more than just horror stories.

How’s Business?

I’m taking a survey on how business is today compared to a year ago.Blog2010

If you have a few minutes, please answer these three short questions.  I’ll publish the results next month here on my blog.

Take the Survey Here

Use this link to pass on to other people so they may take the survey:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BNIBusinessIndexDecember2010

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