Entrepreneur Archives - Page 6 of 9 - Dr. Ivan Misner®

Global Entrepreneurship Week

More than 1,300 U.S. organizations in all 50 states -– including top universities, nonprofit organizations, successful entrepreneurs, government agencies and corporate sponsors -– are collaborating to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) 2010, Nov. 15 to 21. Globally, there are expected to be more than 20,000 partners.

The week will bring together aspiring and inspiring entrepreneurs in more than 100 countries around the world, helping them embrace originality, imagination and ingenuity through local, national and global activities. Co-founded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the world’s largest foundation dedicated to entrepreneurship, and Enterprise UK, a business-led, government-backed campaign in the United Kingdom, Global Entrepreneurship Week helps current and would-be entrepreneurs gain knowledge, skills and networks to inspire and enable them to grow sustainable enterprises.

“Global Entrepreneurship Week has become a worldwide celebration of entrepreneurship, with an expected 10 million people participating this year, thanks to these partners,” said Carl Schramm, president and chief executive officer of the Kauffman Foundation. “The organizations participating in GEW are responsible for transforming lives by sparking entrepreneurship among people of all ages and from all walks of life.”

Global Entrepreneurship Week events are diverse and creative, including virtual and face-to-face activities, large-scale competitions and intimate networking gatherings. A list of activities can be found on the interactive activities calendar on this website –- www.gewusa.org/event-central — where visitors can search by keyword or location.

Every U.S. state is participating in Global Entrepreneurship Week in some way. The most active states are: California (106 partners); Michigan (100 partners); Pennsylvania (63 partners); Massachusetts (53 partners); New York (53 partners); Texas (52 partners); Florida (46 partners); Tennessee (46 partners); Missouri (44 partners); Ohio (43 partners).

Two prime examples of partner-driven events are:

Movers and Changers, a nationwide business plan competition run by mtvU and NYSE Euronext to uncover creative capitalists who will launch profitable and sustainable ventures that also provide something positive to a community, the country or the world. Finalists will give their business pitches to a panel of judges, with $25,000 in startup funds awarded to the top idea.

  • The 7th Annual Creativity World Forum, run by Oklahoma Creative Frontiers, brings together entrepreneurs, knowledge workers and policymakers from around the globe to listen to inspiring speakers, exchange ideas and experiences, and, of course, network. This year will feature an extraordinary lineup of more than 65 speakers and presenters, including some of the world’s most respected thinkers on creativity.

Organizations supporting Global Entrepreneurship Week/USA include DECA, JA Worldwide, The Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), National 4-H Council, National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization SM (CEO) and National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE).

For more information on plans for the week throughout the United States, visit www.gewusa.org. To view a complete list of participating countries and organizations, or to learn more about what is happening around the world during the week, visit www.unleashingideas.org. Click here to view a video on Global Entrepreneurship Week 2010.

Successful Businesses Need an Edge

It’s no secret that the economy goes through cycles. Each time it takes a downturn, unfortunately, salespeople, business owners and professional service providers feel the fallout.

Data released by various sources, including the SBA and American Entrepreneurs Association, reveal that more than 50 percent of all businesses close their doors within their first seven years. During a recession, the rate of business failure rises more dramatically. Not included in the statistic cited above are the departments, plants or whole divisions closed by large corporations when times are tough. In today’s ever-changing business environment, if you want to be successful, you need to have an edge over your competition.

Most businesses rely on advertising in one or more ways to try to get an edge. However, if you offer the same products or services through the same means to the same targets as your competitors, it’s difficult to achieve an edge. This means you need to be very creative in order to be competitive in today’s marketplace. Creativity in marketing your business has become a basic tenet for today’s successful company or professional practice. Here’s a great story of how one business exemplified creativity at its finest in order to gain an edge:

Three store owners shared adjacent storefronts in the same building.  Times were tough. In hopes of picking up sales, the store owner at one end of the building put a sign over his front entrance that said, “YEAR-END CLEARANCE!!!”  At the other end of the building, a second owner responded with his own sign: “ANNUAL CLOSE-OUT.”

The store owner in the middle knew that he had to act fast or he’d lose a lot of business. After careful consideration, he hung a larger sign over his front door that read, “MAIN ENTRANCE.”

The moral of this story: You can’t control the economy. You can’t control your competition. But you can control your response to the economy. And you can control your response to your competition.

If you have a great example of how you’ve used creativity to get an edge over your competition, I invite you to share it in the comment section. Your story could be just the encouragement other business owners need to get their imaginations in gear!

Think You Don’t Need a Network?–Think Again . . .

As a small-business professional or entrepreneur, how do you:

  • Get advice and help when problems arise
  • Gather the information you need for making important business decisions
  • Identify your markets and locate potential clients?

Unfortunately, most people get help in times of need from individuals or businesses they don’t know well. Instead of anticipating and planning for needs and emergencies, they are forced to react to every situation. They search the internet or ask friends and associates to help solve problems or recommend solutions, even though these people may not have the necessary expertise, and the sources they recommend may have little relevance to or experience with the business operation that is in need.

As a small-business owner, you don’t have the built-in resources to employ a management team to plan ahead, proactively problem solve, obtain and maintain ready access to vital resources–information, personnel, funding–and make informed decisions quickly in an emergency.  What you need is the functional equivalent of a management team and that is exactly what a network is for!

Your network is a systematically and strategically selected group of people on whom you can call as the need arises. It is a diverse, balanced and powerful system of sources–people from all facets of the business world–that will provide referrals, information and support in key areas of your business or profession, over both the short and the long term.

So, if you know someone who doesn’t want to put in the time and effort to establish a network because he thinks his business is just fine without one, do him a huge favor and explain why he needs to think again.

Entrepreneur Magazine’s Winning Strategies for Business Conference

Entrepreneur magazine’s Winning Strategies for Business Conference is being held in Long Beach, Calif., on Oct. 5. If it’s possible for you to attend, I highly recommend that you go. This event offers serious educational value, plenty of opportunities to network and, best of all, registration is FREE!

I’ll be giving the keynote presentation, “Networking Like a Pro,” during the morning session and I’ll be talking about how to create, maintain and serve a wide network and enjoy great business and personal rewards as a result.

If you can make it out to the conference, I’d love to have the opportunity to meet you, so please take a moment to introduce yourself during one of the networking sessions or after my presentation.

The focus of the Winning Strategies for Business Conference is to show you everything you need to know about how to go further and achieve more by teaching you proven tactics that will impact virtually every aspect of your business. Bruce Kimbrell of Disney Institute will be giving the afternoon keynote presentation, “Disney’s Approach to People Management,” and there will be a handful of other dynamic speakers presenting on topics such as SEO, social networking and PR, fundraising, launching a new business, brand building, driving sales and more.

There will also be a one-of-a-kind opportunity for you to pitch your business to Entrepreneur‘s editors for a chance to have your business featured in either Entrepreneur magazine or on Entrepreneur.com

(Now that is a great opportunity!)

Hope to see you at the event! CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR FREE or to get more information on Winning Strategies for Business.

Safari Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs can be very creative in their enterprises. Camp Jabulani in the Kapama Game Reserve just outside Kruger National Park in South Africa is a great example of this. I had an opportunity to spend five days there last week and was truly amazed.

Jabulani has six luxury suites with massive wooden sliding doors and floor-to-ceiling screened-in windows that make up the walls of the suite (photo to the left). These walls are covered at night by canvas. During the day, you have the feeling you are in a luxury tent. At night you have total privacy but can hear the roar of lions and the calls of other wild animals just outside the safety of the enclosed compound.

Guests get their very own personal ranger in open safari vehicles as they head out in search of the Big 5 (elephant, lion, rhino, water buffalo and leopard) as well as many, many other species of wildlife. The photos below of a lion and an elephant were taken by me while in the vehicle.

Each guest’s itinerary is tailored to suit him or her. Never is a schedule dictated. The favorite phrases from the camp staff are: “Whatever you want” and “Whenever you want.”

Camp Jabulani offers the only night safari on elephant back in the world (photo to right)!  In addition, guests are treated to a visit to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre founded by the owner of Camp Jabulani, Lente Roode. The centre is one of the leading private research and breeding facilities for endangered species in South Africa.  It has served in rescuing many threatened elephants in South Africa and Zimbabwe, as well as caring for African vultures, cheetahs, antelope, wild dogs and many other animals.  It also has an extensive and well-known breeding program for cheetahs.

To the left is a photo of my wife and me meeting one of the more subdued cheetahs at the centre.

What Roode has done in this enterprise is truly remarkable. She has taken a business–the Jabulani Camp, within a private reserve that she and her son own, Kapama Reserve–and established a nonprofit center for the treatment and care of injured and endangered animals. She has turned her passion into a thriving business as well as a remarkable charitable cause to save the animals of South Africa. Ventures like this are truly a great example of entrepreneurism. She and her staff have found a way to build an entrepreneurial enterprise while giving back to the country by helping to maintain a healthy bio-diversity and the cultural heritage of a nation.

For more information on Camp Jabulani, go to www.campjabulani.com/

My Philosophy About Competition

My philosophy about competition is best summed up by Henry Ford, who once said, “The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time.”

In my business organization, BNI, members or directors often express concern about other competitive networking groups that are forming and bad-mouthing our company or attacking our program in some way. I tell my team that if they feel like someone is biting at our backsides, it’s because we’re out in front. Success in business is about constantly improving your product or service and making it better all the time. The process is a journey, not a destination. However, if you are constantly working to improve the system, improve the product, improve the culture and improve the team, you will also improve your position in the marketplace.

Almost 10 years ago I had a particularly aggressive competitor publicly state that he was going to bury our organization. Since then we’ve grown by almost 400 percent. I haven’t heard about his company in years. I’m not sure whether it’s still in business. Ford got it right. Keep making your business better, and you’ll have no need to fear your competitors–your business will be the one competitors fear the most.

Entrepreneur Magazine’s Growth 2.0 Conference

Entrepreneur magazine’s Growth 2.0 Conference is being held in Miami Beach, Fla., on January 26. If it’s geographically possible for you to attend, I strongly encourage you to go.  The event is bursting with educational value, opportunities to network and–get ready for this —registration is FREE!

If you can make it out to the conference, I’d love to have the opportunity to meet you. So please take a moment to introduce yourself during one of the conference’s networking sessions or after my presentation.  I’ll be giving a presentation on Networking Like a Pro, which will explain how to create, maintain and serve a wide network and enjoy great business and personal rewards as a result.

The Growth 2.0 Conference will focus on showing you how to take advantage of the epic economic opportunities that we all have in front of us and how this economy that we’re in right now can work for your business.

There will also be presentations given by some of today’s top business authors and visionaries, including Jay Conrad Levinson, and there will be a one-of-a-kind opportunity for you to pitch your business to Entrepreneur’s editors for a chance to have your business featured in either Entrepreneur magazine or on Entrepreneur.com (Now that is a great opportunity!).

Hope to see you at the event!

CLICK HERE to register for free or to get more information on Growth 2.0.

To watch a video of highlights from the last Growth 2.0 Conference in 2008, click here.

International Networking Week 2010 Video

I am pleased to announce that the new video for International Networking Week, 2010, is now available on YouTube.  The video was sponsored by Entrepreneur Press and the Referral Institute.  Mark your calendar now.  International Networking Week is the week of Feb. 1 through 5, 2010.  For additional information go to www.InternationalNetworkingWeek.com.

This is the fourth year for International Networking Week.  It is now recognized by many countries around the world, with thousands of events being held during the week.  Take a look at the video and let me know what you’ll be doing to recognize this week.

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo

I had the privilege of attending the rollout of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo yesterday.  The spaceship rides under the center portion of the mother ship, called the WhiteKnightTwo (which I wrote about last year).

The rollout had many special guests, including California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (pictured at podium–last photo at bottom), Sir Richard Branson (pictured in second to last photo) and Burt Rutan (the designer of the spacecraft, pictured with me, here) .

The plane will carry the spaceship and its six passengers and pilots up to an altitude of roughly 50,000 feet before releasing it prior to the spacecraft’s rocket motor kicking in and taking it the rest of the way into suborbital flight (about 60 miles above Earth).  From there, passengers will be able to experience weightlessness as well as see the curvature of the Earth.

During Rutan’s presentation, he said that when he was working on the X Prize project to show that private commercial flights into outer space were possible, he spoke to several airlines to see if they would like to joint venture on the concept. None of them was interested.

He then shared with the audience that just prior to the launch of the WhiteKnightOne for the X Prize competition, he received a phone call from Sir Richard of Virgin Atlantic, who asked if Rutan were interested in working with him to help launch the Virgin Galactic spaceships as a commercial venture.  Rutan thought that Virgin was a great company to partner with because it has a history of flying passengers with a founder who is willing to tackle large projects that involve a high risk but can include a big payoff.  He said Branson has been the perfect partner throughout the process, giving him guidance and a substantial amount of freedom.

Entrepreneurship is alive and well in the U.S. and the world! I was impressed by the designers and engineers I met.  The whole experience was concrete evidence that an entrepreneurial spirit can take the groundwork laid down by governments for space exploration and turn it into a viable commercial venture.  Branson said he hopes that by the year 2020, space flight will be affordable to many people around the world.  I, for one, would not bet against him.

I predict that before 2020, Virgin Galactic will have created more astronauts than all countries combined have done to this date.

Business Networking Predictions for 2010

2009 is almost over (and many are glad about that!), and it’s time to look ahead. I have before me my crystal ball.  I am looking into the future, and this is what I see for 2010:

  1. First, the economy IS going to improve.  OK, this isn’t a”networking” issue, but it IS important.  Have faith.  Look for opportunities.  Focus on what you do best.  You will have a better year next year, but you need to focus on solutions and get out of the quagmire of problems.
  2. Online social networks will continue to grow in prominence.  OK, I didn’t need the crystal ball for that one.  However, consider this . . . digital schmoozing may continue to grow, but so will the frustration over how to convert that technology into viable business opportunities.  This is an emerging field, and much of it will be established over the next few years.
  3. Companies, small and large, need to create a social media strategy.   What’s your plan?  Oh . . . you don’t have one? Big mistake in 2010.  You need to start working on one now.  Don’t know where to start?  Do a little research.  There are some really good experts out there who can help you in this area.  I’ve been working with Social Media Expert Mirna Bard this year, and she has really helped my organization create a strong, cutting-edge social media strategy that we are now pursuing globally
  4. Victims of downsizing will become active in networking groups (both face-to-face and online).  Many people have been laid off.  My experience in running BNI, the world’s largest networking organization, is that within a few months of an increase in unemployment rates, there is almost always an influx of new members into networking organizations.  I am confident that there will be such an influx in 2010.
  5. We will begin to see more of an integration between face-to-face and online networking opportunities.  Online networks will do things to promote face-to-face opportunities, and face-to-face networks will begin to integrate online networking more effectively into their programs.
  6. We will see the slow death of the “one-way” website.  More and more, companies will create websites that operate in two directions.  They will not only provide information to their customers but will also seek feedback from their customers.  Blogs, interactive newsletters, social network sites, consumer feedback groups . . . all of these will continue to grow in importance for companies.
  7. Face-to-face networks will continue to grow, IF they stay true to a fundamental mission of helping people grow their businesses.  Nothing beats networking in person (see my blog on this subject from earlier this year).
  8. Companies that succeed in 2010 will remain agile and will focus on relationships. Technology is a tool.  Relationships are king when it comes to networking.  Companies who are creative in using tools to enhance the relationship building process will be the leaders in a company networking program.

Well, there it is.  Those are my predictions for 2010.  What do you think of these ideas AND what, if anything, would you add to these business networking predictions?

Don’t Try to Be All Things to All People

I received an e-mail today from someone in my organization who said that entrepreneurs and business professionals really need help in management, sales, accounting, taxes and many other issues.  So far, so good–I couldn’t agree more!

Then he suggested that our organization would be so much better if we provided that kind of training. Whoa–stop!  Here’s where we part ways.  You see, I’ve heard that many times over the years.  It tends to come from groups that are struggling, and they’re looking for something to provide all the answers to a myriad of problems.  This sounds really good and I understand where the frustration is coming from–unfortunately, it just doesn’t work.

Many years ago as a business consultant, I saw a lot of my clients bounce around from one product or service to another.  They were chasing projects down rabbit trails because someone said they should be doing this element or that element of the business.  They didn’t specialize.  They tried to be all things to all people.  They ended up being good at nothing at all.

When it comes to being a truly great organization, I believe that a  jack-of-all-trades is a master of none.   Instead, I believe that you should focus on your organization’s core competencies.   Do what you are good at, and do it better than anyone else.

There are many, many companies that are MUCH better at teaching business people about management, sales, taxes, etc.  My networking organization is not an expert in taxes or business management.  Organizations such as iLearningGlobal provide more content from more experts than we ever could.  We shouldn’t even try to be “the” expert in these areas.  In fact, we are not and never will be the leading organization on sales training.  Organizations such as Brian Tracy University are much better in this field than we are.  If we try to do that–we change our core business model and lose our focus.

Don’t try to be all things to all people.  Do what you are best at and do it better than anyone else in the world.  My company, BNI, is myopic.  We do one thing and, based on results (thousands of groups in dozens of countries), we do it better than anyone else.  We help people build their business through a structured referral networking program.  We are the biggest and the best at what we do, and we don’t try to be the best at other things.

Great companies know what business they are in, and they focus on improving that business every day.

The Secret to Balance

Do you have balance in your life?  Personal and professional balance in our lives seems to be the ever-elusive dream for many of us.  Trying to balance home, work, health, spirituality and free time seems almost impossible.  It is something that businesspeople have told me for years.

Well, I am pleased to tell you that I believe I’ve found the answer to creating balance in your life.   Are you ready?  Write this down. Here it is:  Forget about balance, you’ll never have it!

I can hear you now . . . “What?!  No balance?!? That can’t be!  It’s just not right!” But wait . . . there IS good news.  Although I don’t think balance is possible, I do believe you can create harmony in your life.  This differentiation is more than just semantics.  It is a critical approach to looking at life that can free you up to see the world in a different way.

“Balance” assumes that we spend an equal amount of time in all or most areas of our life.  It is like the image of the scales (see the picture at right) where everything is completely in balance and equal.  It assumes that we must spend a certain portion of each week devoted in some equal measure to every item important in our life.

Well, the problem with that is that almost no one can really achieve that.  Especially entrepreneurs, professionals and salespeople.  We tend to live such hectic, busy lives that it is incredibly difficult to fit it all in.  Women often tell me that this issue is an even bigger problem for them.

So what do we do about this?  For me, it’s about creating harmony.  Just look at the image representing harmony  in this blog (see the yin yang symbol at right).  Even the image is lopsided when you look at one aspect at a time.  But it is the whole that feels complete.  This is a way to look at the issue that has personally worked for me.  Sometimes I work crazy, long hours for several days in a row.  Or I may be on the road traveling for business for many days at a time.  On the other hand, I am a husband and a father.  I need and want to be there for my family as well as have time for myself.  Long ago I figured out that daily balance is almost impossible.  But I found I could create harmony using a few core principles.

First, three simple words make a big difference to me: “Be here now.” Wherever you are, be there.  If you are at work, don’t think about the time you did not spend with the family the night before or what you should be doing with you significant other right now.  When you are at home, don’t think about the work you have to do at the office.  Wherever you are, be there . . . fully and completely.

Second, make sure to set aside time to do all the things that are truly important in your life. Yeah, I know everyone says that, but here’s my twist:  Be creative about how you manage this. For example, when I wrote my first book I didn’t want to be holed up in my office writing in the evening and not be available to my family.  I found a creative way to find that time that was in harmony with my family time.  A few evenings a month, I’d stay up with the family, put everyone to bed and then go into my office and start writing at 11 p.m. and work almost all night on my manuscript.  I’d catch a few hours of sleep and get into the office a little late to start my day.  I’m a late-night person and this worked for me.  It may not work for you.  However, my point is to be creative and inventive in finding ways YOU can accomplish what you need to do, yet still allow yourself to spend time doing the other things in your life that bring you harmony.  Nothing pleased me more than when I showed my children the book when it was published and they said to me . . . “When did you write that?!” They had no idea I was up late working several times a month.  That was harmony to me!

Third, find ways to integrate various elements of your life. For many years, I have spent weeks at a time up at my lake home in the mountains.  Each year, I spend a week or two working from the lake house remotely.  Now I bring up my staff and management team for short retreat/workdays.  It is a great way to combine my work life into a leisure environment.   Then, the last week or so, I take off COMPLETELY and spend time with my family.  By integrating my two worlds, I create a sense of harmony.

Last, remember this: when you are 70 years old, you are not going to wish you spent more time at the office. You don’t need to be a workaholic to be successful.

Focus on creating harmony in your life.  Be creative.  Don’t try to do the things I do or that someone else does.  Find ideas that work for you and the life you live.  Make the time to do the things that are important to you and be innovative.  Harmony is created where harmony is sought.  OK, that’s a bit “new age” sounding . . . but it is true.

I’m very interested to hear what you think of this approach and/or what do you do to create balance in your life.  Leave a comment and let me, and others reading this blog, know what has worked for you.

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