LostJobStartBusiness

This blog helps people who have lost their job to start a business. It contains hints, tips, templates, and ebooks on how to start a business in the current economic situation.



10 March 2010 2 Comments

Creating Jobs and Saving the Economy

It’s all about creating jobs right now. That’s what’s needed. The best way to create sustainable jobs is to encourage start-ups. New businesses for a new economic era. Old school thinking doesn’t work. The Silicon Valley ethos needs to permeate through the economic fabric of any country that is serious about economic recovery. Creativity and innovation need to be allowed to breathe.

On an international front being lazy and  relying on US multinationals to hold up an economy doesn’t make the grade anymore. All countries including the US need to re-calibrate their economic structure to enable new businesses to create jobs. Whichever governments get this right, will lead their respective countries back to a new era of economic growth. Whichever governments ignore the needs of entrepreneurs, will dig a deeper hold into the depths of depression.

This is a great time to start-up. Costs have come down and the talent pool available to work in new businesses has never been better. Today you can start a business at a fraction of the cost that you could even 4 or 5 years ago. For instance, the amount of free software available now that enables you to develop things that a few years ago would cost hundreds of thousands and in some cases millions of dollars really puts the ball in the entrepreneurs court.

I urge people to make the leap. To use their skills not only for themselves but by doing that they are also creating a domino effect that will benefit society as a whole.

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1 March 2010 1 Comment

Leadership and Entrepreneurship Go Hand In Hand

In his book Tribes, Seth Godin (haven’t read his latest “Linchpin” yet) laid out the relationship between leadership and entrepreneurship. This is particularly true when it comes to marketing in the digital age. I believe that leadership has transcended it’s traditional role and moved on to become the number one marketing skill that an entrepreneur can have.

Understanding leadership is really important for new entrepreneurs. In a previous post I have included an interview by Yanky Fachler with Dr. Edward De Bono.  I think it worked quite well. For this post, I will do something similar on the topic of Leadership.  Here is an Interview conducted by entrepreneurship evangelist and expert Yanky Fachler with Stewart D. Friedman. It highlights some key leadership issues that all entrepreneurs should consider. It originally appeared in Business Plus magazine and I have kindly been given permission to republish it here by the author. Enjoy.

Interview with Stewart D. Friedman conducted by Yanky Fachler.

Leadership and management professor Stewart D Friedman is the founder/director of Wharton’s Leadership Program. Friedman developed his Total Leadership ideas during a two-year spell as a senior executive at Ford, where he ran a 50-person, $25 million Leadership Development Centre. In his new book, Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life, Friedman helps us identify our core values, and express ways in which we feel out of sync with those values. The programme is based on what Friedman calls four-way wins: our life at work, our life at home, our life in the community, and our personal development. Friedman emphasises three core aspects of leadership. Authenticity – being real – arises when leaders behave in ways that are consistent with their core values. Integrity – being whole – arises when the different aspects of life fit together coherently and consistently. Creativity – being innovative – arises when leaders question traditional assumptions.

BusinessPlus columnist Yanky Fachler interviewed Friedman in London’s Heathrow Airport recently. Despite having just stepped off a transatlantic flight, Friedman was passionate about his Total Leadership baby.

YF: All leadership philosophies claim that they help leaders stay ahead of the competition in the rapidly evolving business environment of the 21st century. How does Total Leadership differ from other leadership concepts?

SF: What distinguishes the Total Leadership approach is that it’s a combination of two different streams: growing leadership talent, and integrating the different parts of life. We need to see leadership and life as pieces of the same puzzle. Total leadership is similar to traditional leadership models in its focus on concepts and tools for increasing performance. Where it differs is on the emphasis on the whole process.

YF: Traditionally, the different domains of a business leader’s life are seen as being in conflict. What convinced you that these conflicting domains can become allies in producing better business performance?

SF: When we think of a balance, we have a visual image of scales, now tipping one way, now tipping another. The term work/life balance implies an inherent conflict between two mutually destructive forces. Balance, by definition, implies a trade off, a sacrifice that has to be made. But it is also possible to find harmony if you look for it. The goal of Total Leadership is to leverage synergies across those domains of life that are traditionally seen as conflicting, and to synchronise them to produce results that matter. I know that pursuing the opportunities for 4 way win is possible, because I’ve coached thousands of people through this. People can achieve more than they currently believe. It’s not magic. It’s not a panacea. It’s a method that requires commitment, effort and investment.

YF: Is business leadership limited to top executives, or can it take place at all levels?

SF: Leadership means creating sustainable change, which certainly does not mean only top executives. Leadership must exist in every person, whether at the top, middle or bottom of any group. Leadership is not confined to work, but extends to one’s personal life, community involvement and family life. I’ve discovered that leadership is a subject that cannot be taught – but it can be learned. Many executives are not leaders, and many leaders are not executives. The more leaders there are in an organisation, the greater the capacity for sustainable change.

YF: What about owner-managers of small-medium businesses? Is there anything in your programme for them?

Absolutely. Total Leadership is ideal for SMEs because it can be tailored to fit everyone’s world. You build trust, a sense of community. The most frequent feedback we get from participants in our programmes is “I feel closer to the people I work with now.” This works equally for someone running a small enterprise as for someone running a major corporation. Through Total leadership, you get to know people at a deeper level. You help them – and yourself. In fact, this can often work better in smaller companies because it’s easier to be more flexible.

YF: You say that the discipline of Total Leadership de-emphasizes face time and focuses instead on initiating innovation both within and across life domains. Could you explain?

SF: We have more means at our disposal to connect to people who matter most to us than we had 10 years ago. New media are transforming virtually every aspect of human action. We struggle to find the best means of determining when, where, and how to meet the demands of stakeholders in all domains of our lives. How do we manage these technologies? How do we define the boundaries? How do we capture the power of these digital communication tools – without a sense of being overwhelmed by the data? The solution lies in the way we manage this process. What percentage of my time should I be with the people most important to me? In other words, where do I need more face time, and where do I need less?

YF: You refer to leaders losing authenticity by behaving in ways that are not consistent with their core values. Can you give an example?

SF: Each of us creates our own story. We all ask the same question: what impact do I intend to have on the world? Look what happened during the US presidential campaign. Each candidate identified three or four critical incidents that represented their story. Here’s the story of Obama. Here’s where he came from. Here’s what he has done. Here’s his vision. If you stay true to your story, you remain authentic. If you stray – and I believe that McCain lost ground because he strayed from his story – you lose authenticity. The sad thing about McCain is that he pandered to constituencies that were not part of his authentic story, and he paid the price.

YF: You claim that integrity – being whole – arises when the different aspects of life fit together coherently and consistently. How do leaders achieve this?

SF: Very few people manage to achieve this coherence fully, to ensure that who they are in one part of their life is completely congruent with all other parts. The first step to enhancing the sense of integrity is to identify who are the most important people in your life. What do they expect of you? How do these expectations impact on one another? How does our performance as a father affect our performance as a citizen, as a friend? We advise participants to conduct reality check conversations with these significant others. Using the 4 way win, we help people grasp the realpolitik of their most important relationships. By dialoguing in this way, most people discover that what others expect of them is less than was expected. This allows them to reallocate time and effort to other areas that are more useful.

YF: Like Bookbuzz, the company I co-founded that facilitates executives discussing an assigned book as a launch pad for fresh thinking, your programme suggests shared reading and discussion. Why?

SF: As part of creating coaching networks, we encourage participants to form their own club where they can discuss a book, an idea, or a specific issue. In my workshops, I also assign people into randomly selected groups of three who meet periodically and coach one another through the exercises in my book. Joining a club with co-workers helps people forge closer friendships with them. These discussion groups are the secret sauce, the magic, that bring out the best that peer-to-peer coaching has to offer. By sharing their stories, participants can mutually enrich, expand and support their thinking.

YF: Finally, I am intrigued about the transition you made from being a highly respected leadership professor to becoming a senior executive at Ford. What was that like?

SF:  In a word: challenging! Obviously, I had never managed anything of such a scale before, and at first I felt quite at sea. Hierarchical relationships took on a totally different quality. It took months to unravel the complexity of the job, but I was lucky to benefit from terrific mentoring and support from the guy who hired me. Actually, the reverse transition was even more mind-blowing than the original move. At Ford, I had been involved in very significant and powerful decision. Suddenly, I was back in the very different atmosphere of academia. It was culture shock all over again.

As you can see, the interview above highlights some very insightful points that relate to leadership within the context of entrepreneurship.

Leadership is a necessary skill to be a successful entrepreneur; Master of Public Administration degrees teach leadership traits to prepare individuals for a career in entrepreneurship or management.

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25 February 2010 1 Comment

Marketing – What Does it Mean For Start-ups?

Marketing in the context of a new business is often misunderstood. In many cases, it’s relegated to a number under the header “sales and marketing” in an excel spreadsheet.  This is sad, real sad. Relegating marketing to an after-thought puts a new start up at a distinct disadvantage.  This is particularly true in today’s economic situation.

The number one reason for this, is a complete misunderstanding of marketing. This is not the entrepreneur’s fault. They just haven’t been shown the light yet. You see, most start-up entrepreneurs are from technical backgrounds. They have no exposure to marketing. Most have never taken a marketing degree online course, meaning they know little on the subject. Therefore, they assume that all they need to do in order to market their start-up is run advertisements  in newspapers, on local TV, on radio and use Google AdWords (if they have heard of it).

This just doesn’t hack it for a start-up. It’s like a space shuttle being launched into space. A new business has to generate a lot of force to leave the atmosphere. It needs an extra kick than an established business. However, most start-up entrepreneurs take their marketing ques from established businesses. As a result, they miss the target.

The secret behind start-up marketing is really simple. It’s about getting people to tell their friends about you. In turn, they will tell their friends and the cycle continues. In order for this to happen there has to be a spark. It’s the first job of the entrepreneur to create that spark.

Creating this spark involves creating a product that gets people talking. The second step is to help people megaphone your start-up.  It’s about using word of mouth as a tangible marketing strategy.  It’s about turning your customers into salespeople who work for free.

For this to work you need a perfect storm of idea, vision and execution.  This is what entrepreneurs should work towards. Invest in making this happen instead of advertising.

Investors are looking for sustainable businesses. If your turnover depends on advertising spend then what happens when this is turned off?

By focusing on creating word of mouth generators for their start-up, entrepreneurs are taking the ideal approach to start-up marketing. Hopefully, more entrepreneurs will focus on this instead of apply clichéd marketing techniques.

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23 February 2010 0 Comments

Thinking and Creativity the True Driving Forces Behind Entrepreneurship

Thinking is important because it’s how we produce creative ideas. Creative ideas are the fuel that drives entrepreneurship. However, for most people the concept of thinking seems alien. Most people in western cultures have never been taught how to think. In fact, the opposite is the case. Much of the western education establishment revolves around retention and regurgitation. This educational philosophy is anti-entrepreneurial.

Going through an education system that undervalues creativity and spending your working life within the operational system of a large business is not ideal preparation for starting a new innovative business. However, if you can keep an open mind and focus on creativity you can make some serious leaps forward.

This is also a key tenant of enjoying the freedom of starting your own business. Here is a very interesting interview by entrepreneurship advocate Yanky Fachler with Dr. Edward De Bono. It originally appeared in Business Plus magazine and I have kindly been allowed to republish it on this blog.

Interview by Yanky Fachler with Dr. Edward De Bono.

Edward de Bono is a medical doctor with professorships at DCU, the University of Malta, and the University of Central England. In his 82 books (which have been translated into 41 languages,) de Bono expounds his deliberate thinking methods – applications that emphasise thinking as a deliberate act rather than a reactive one. He coined the term ‘lateral thinking’, and is the founder of CoRT, the Cognitive Research Trust, which produces and promotes material based on his ideas. de Bono works with governments, corporations, organisations and individuals, and was appointed EU ambassador for thinking for the Year of Creativity in 2009. During a visit to Dublin in early March 2009, Dr de Bono gave an interview to BusinessPlus columnist Yanky Fachler.

YF: You claim that Western thinking focuses more on “what is” than “what can be.” How does this work in a business context?

EDB: Our ability to think is our most important and most neglected human skill. Neither the early philosophers, whose thinking was based on analysis, judgment and knowledge; nor the church-run schools and universities that developed logic solely as a tool to prove the heretics wrong – were interested in developing perceptual thinking. Thinking is based on what is happening in the human brain. We need to focus more on teaching tools that empower people to have more creative ideas. My ideas have particular resonance in the business community because business is motivated to say “How do we do better?” Where business has a special role is in provocatively pushing boundaries beyond “what is” and coming up with unconventional solutions based on “what can be.”

YF: Your methods are part of curriculum of some schools in over 20 countries. Why are they not mainstream in every school in every country?

EDB: In today’s highly competitive world, it’s not enough for schools and universities to produce people who can solve problems and make decisions. It is concepts and initiatives that are going to give competitive advantage. In any organization, real change and real innovation is doomed to failure unless someone at the top is prepared to personally champion change. In Venezuela, every school-aged child must do two hours of thinking per week throughout his or her primary education. Why? Because the Minister of the Development of Intelligence is a former professor who admired my methods. In China, thinking courses are being introduced to thousands of schools on a pilot basis. Eventually, hundreds of thousands of schools in China will be teaching my methods. I’m afraid that the west has become complacent, while the east has more energy for change. I predict that Europe will turn into a vast tourist attraction for visitors from China who will queue up to see what happens when you refuse to embrace fundamental changes in the way we teach thinking.

YF: So what should the west do?

EDB: One of the problems with our democracies is that parliaments don’t attract enough professionals such as architects, engineers and scientists. These people rarely enter politics because if they are not elected the next time, they cannot go back to their job. As a result, our parliaments are filled with lawyers, teachers, trade unionists and journalists. These people, who can always resume their old job, are very good at talking but have no practice in constructive thinking. Nothing will change attitudes in the west until thinking out-foxes talking.

YF: Robert J Steinberg in Handbook of Creativity attacks your focus on developing and understanding creativity, saying that it is at the expense of testing the validity of your ideas about creativity. How do you respond?

EDB: It amuses me that Steinberg and his ilk get so hot and bothered about all this. In my experience, people who are obsessed with testing rarely develop any original, operational tools of their own. My ideas on creative thinking have been empirically proven all over the world. In countries where these ideas have been introduced, genuine change and improvement have taken place.

YF: Several recent business books focus on irrational behaviour. You claim that more mistakes are made by people jumping to the wrong conclusion than by behaving irrationally. Are these books barking up the wrong tree?

EDB: We jump to wrong conclusions because of our inability or unwillingness to venture beyond the normal way of looking at things. This is the main cause of the kind of blocked thinking that leads to mistakes. My issue with many of the people who write about irrational behaviour is that their examples are so often based on hindsight. When something doesn’t turn out the way we expected, we call it irrational. But if the idea works, we call it genius.

YF: You have said that language can be a barrier to human progress because it allows dangerous myths to become enshrined. What is your view on storytelling and fables as popular management tools?

EDB: Language is the summary of history – which is why we get stuck when we want to describe something that doesn’t already have a word for it. Traditionally, we have associated creativity almost exclusively with artistic creativity, and only rarely with creative thinking. It’s the same with design. We associate it with graphic design, but not with putting things together so that they work. There is a difference between dangerous myths and useful stories and fables. When stories and fables are used to illustrate ideas, they can become excellent management learning tools.

YF: Many people are exhorting us to out-think the current recession crisis. As the world’s expert on lateral thinking, what is your take on this?

EDB: I am not convinced that the recession is as straightforward as many people assume. If you ask me, 50% of the recession is due to media hype. 30% is genuine. And the remaining 20% is game play. Major employers that have delayed shedding jobs because they were afraid of what this would do to their share price, suddenly have a legitimate excuse to get rid of thousands of employees. The wisdom of the ages is now accessible at the touch of a button. Knowledge acquisition is now a given. This is a time to generate new ideas by teaching people how to improve their thinking skills. Information is not enough.

YF: Dr. de Bono, I’m sure you have encountered the comment that de Bono is passé, he’s yesterday’s man. How do you respond to this?

EDB: There will always be naysayers, begrudgers and belittlers. People whose judgment I respect support my work. I don’t waste my energy thinking about people who attack me without fully understanding my concepts. I believe that I have shown that if you can see things differently, you can make a big difference. No one can seriously argue with the practical research and results of my work. And it’s hard to escape the conclusion that jealousy and vested interests lie partly behind such comments.

YF: Finally, what message do you want to deliver to the readers of BusinessPlus?

EDB: The inadequacy of our thinking is the biggest barrier we face today. It’s bigger than climate change, it’s bigger than our economic woes. Business must avoid the temptation to slip into reactive mode. Business must proactively focus on thinking up new solutions that fit more successfully with the psychology of customers. Let me give an example. Seventy per cent of plane crashes are caused because of the inability to get instant extra lift. So I suggested to Boeing engineers that they should build planes that land upside down, because this will give downward trust. From this impossible, provocative idea came the idea of a normal plane with two small wings upside down. When a plane needs extra lift in an emergency, you retract the small wings or flap them up. Boeing is now looking into this idea. All businesses should be asking provocative questions and seeking unlikely solutions. Thinking is our ultimate resource. If we want to raise the ability and potential of the workforce, we need to teach people how to think.

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15 February 2010 12 Comments

Are You an Entrepreneur?

Working for someone is easy. You show up every morning and do what is expected of you. You get a paycheck at the end of the month for your efforts. That’s it. There are benefits, you have the resources of your organization behind you. The ground work has been done already, all you need to do is slot into the system, keep your head down, and work away.

Your social group will be impressed with your job title. You will fit in just nicely to conversations with new people you meet that center around where you work. Fantastic.

For most people this is really attractive. Security and stability is their priorities. Regular income is what floats their boat. That’s fine, everybody is entitled to be happy in their lives. However, for some people the above is a vision of hell. These people are the dreamers. Their brains are constantly thinking up new ideas. They are not afraid to let their imagination sweep them off their feet. They love the thrill of not knowing where the next paycheck will come from. They rather be broke right now with the chance of making millions in future than having a reasonably respectable salary. They don’t need to impress others by talking about the multinational that they work for. The are just up for the challenge.

Are you one of these people? Are you an entrepreneur?

To make a comparison, working for somebody else is like living in a modern city. You have roads, running water, communications and electricity. Not to mention buildings, fast food, public transport, police and many other things that we all take for granted.

On the other hand, entrepreneurs are the trailblazers who founded the city. They built the first shelter, organized the first road, set up the local political system etc. Everyone who lives in the modern city owes it to the original founder. Everyone who works for a large business owes it to the original entrepreneur.

It’s all well and good saying that you have the entrepreneurial spirit. Are you prepared to learn the skills needed to be a trailblazer? You got to be able to hunt for yourself, find water, build improvised shelter, navigate without sat nav. As you can see, it’s a different skill set than modern living. Likewise entrepreneurship requires a different skill set than working in a large organization. You must be prepared to adapt both your workstyle and your lifestyle when you become an entrepreneur.

Here are some questions that if you answer yes to them all you can safely say that entrepreneurship is the path for you.

Are you prepared to live below the poverty line until your business takes off?
Are you willing to fail ten times to succeed once?
Are you willing for your friends to criticize you and your business?
Are you willing to argue your case with your spouse during the difficult start-up period?
Can you cope with 4 hours sleep a night?
Are you prepared for people to reject you and you business?

I’m sure there are many more questions. Please add any other questions that people should ask themselves before embarking on their entrepreneurial journey in the comments.

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10 February 2010 0 Comments

An Easy Way to Build Your Own Website

Okay, so you want a website for your start-up. It’s expensive to hire a professional web developer. Perhaps a little too expensive for a bootstrapping start-up. Don’t worry, there is an easy way for you to build a website that will look professional, be search engine optimized, and be more than adequate for your business during the start-up phase. When the money starts rolling in, then think about hiring a web developer. Hey, you might even be so happy with the site that you have created that you will never have to hire a web developer (sorry web developers).

I have built many websites using Dreamweaver, only html and css, freeware and WordPress. I have found WordPress to be the best for an entrepreneur who has no web development experience. It’s easy to use. I would compare it to using Facebook. If you can use Facebook, then you can use WordPress. There are lots of free templates that you can use. All you got to do is supply the content. For a typical new start-up I see no reason not to use WordPress to develop a website. You will save thousands of dollars on web development fees. As we know, this can make a huge difference to a new business.

I have put together a quick tutorial on how to use WordPress. Please check it out. I hope it helps.

How to Build Your Own Website – WordPress Auto Install

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4 February 2010 2 Comments

How to Construct Financial Projections for Entrepreneurs

Here is a slidecast on how to build financial projections. It’s a good starting point that lays out some useful tips that can be applied to most business plans. It helps entrepreneurs from a non financial background to get a firm understanding of their financial structure. The purpose is to help entrepreneurs construct a basic financial model around their initial idea that they can use as an initial reference point during the start-up process.

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25 January 2010 2 Comments

Interview With Jeff Frutkin founder SmarterLeap.com and IdeaArchitectsOnline.com

The idea is probably the most important part of entrepreneurship. It’s akin to the big bang at the start of the universe. It’s the foundation on which to build a business. How many times have you said to yourself “if only I thought of that”? Idea management from creation to communication to action has moved to center stage. Particularly, in the current economic situation where innovation is required to create jobs and help the global economy recover.

Jeff Frutkin understands the importance of ideas and has taken action to help entrepreneurs along the path to success. He has set up IdeaArchitectsOnline.com and SmarterLeap.com to facilitate idea sharing among the entrepreneurial community. I had the chance to talk with Jeff about his websites.

Q: Why is the idea central to the success of a new business?

A great idea will immediately give you a competitive advantage in a growing market, making it significantly easier to build a long-term business.  When successfully executed, a great business idea will produce stunning results!

We believe that the best business ideas represent solutions to problems that make things better, easier, faster, or more efficient for the everyday consumer. And, the bigger the nagging, aching customer need, the better – where the gap of dissatisfaction is so huge that the customer will do almost anything to obtain the solution!!

Q: Recently, a large number of highly skilled people have lost their job. Do you see entrepreneurship as a viable move for them?

Absolutely.  In fact, many people that recently lost their job are flocking to entrepreneurship as a viable alternative to regular employment. For many of these new-found entrepreneurs, starting a business was always a far-off dream, but with the perfect storm of a layoff and a weak job market, they’ve have decided to take the plunge.

There are many advantages to entrepreneurship including:

• Being your own boss.  You make the decisions and choose who to do business with.  You also decide your hours, compensation and time off.

• Entrepreneurship offers a greater possibility of achieving significant financial rewards than working for others, especially in a down economy.

• Entrepreneurship provides the ability to “wear many hats” and to be involved in the total operation of the business.

Q: A lot of people look at franchising when they are initially thinking about starting up a business. Is there another option that they should investigate before they spend tens of thousands of dollars on a franchise?

We recommend visiting the website www.SmarterLeap.com before spending thousands of dollars on a franchise.  SmarterLeap.com provides aspiring entrepreneurs with original business ideas that have the potential to become multi-million dollar companies.

SmarterLeap taps into a network of really smart and creative people (we call them Idea Architects) to generate ideas that have yet to be imagined in the world of business. Our proprietary process screens each idea for things like revenue potential, level of investment and uniqueness, among other criteria.

If a SmarterLeap member finds a business idea that matches their vision and talents, they are free to run with it and develop it as far as they wish without any obligation.

In addition to providing an extensive database of novel start-up ideas, SmarterLeap also offers business planning services. These services are designed to give you a clear road map for launching a SmarterLeap idea, and to help you get funding from friends, family and angel investors, if needed.

Q: Specifically, what are the services available on SmarterLeap.com?

Our core service is providing entrepreneurs with new-to-the-world business ideas that have the potential to be successful businesses with relatively low start-up costs.  The ideas range from original web 2.0 sites and unique service businesses to new product innovations and compelling retail concepts.

The cost to join SmarterLeap.com is only $9. For this small fee, you get:

Unlimited access to search SmarterLeap’s idea bank, with in-depth descriptions of each innovative concept
30+ new business ideas are added to the site monthly
Free reign to begin building your business using an original SmarterLeap concept
Eligible to utilize Premium Member services

If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, and you don’t have a viable business idea, SmarterLeap is the perfect resource for you.

SmarterLeap will also provide members with a comprehensive business plan for a SmarterLeap business idea. Along with the standard business planning elements, we include a specific go-to-market strategy, a detailed project plan for launch and identification of the right vendors for your business.  This document serves as a blueprint to launch a SmarterLeap business concept.

Q: IdeaArchitectsOnline.com is another fantastic site where people can channel their creativity and submit business ideas that are then reviewed, and if approved, can be used by entrepreneurs with the resources to build a business based on the original idea. How did you come up with the concept for it?

I’d been looking for a unique idea for a business for the last several years. I came across dozens of websites that claimed to have “new business ideas”, however, these sites simply published existing small businesses or reported on ideas that were started by other entrepreneurs. Further, many of the ideas were recycled from site to site and offered limited revenue potential and competitive advantage, especially to an entrepreneur looking for an invaluable idea to call his own.

I founded IdeaArchitectsOnline.com to bridge the gap in the marketplace.  Our goal is to generate thousands of innovative ideas to give aspiring entrepreneurs inspiration for new businesses.

Q: If someone has an Idea for a new business and would like to use IdeaArchitectsOnline.com. What are the steps that they need follow?

IdeaArchitectsOnline.com
believes in keeping the process simple, fun and rewarding for people to share their compelling business ideas. In a nutshell, here’s how it works:

1. Using your creativity and intellect, dream up original business ideas.

2. Go to our Submit an Idea page and enter your business idea.

3. If the Review Team approves your idea, we will compensate you for it.

You can track the status and compensation for each submitted idea by logging in to your account profile.

Q: How do you see the role of entrepreneurs in helping the economy get back on track?

Most experts believe that entrepreneurs and business owners are playing a critical role in helping turn around the national and global economy.  Entrepreneurs create employment, pay taxes, and often offer new products and services which stimulate the economy.  Entrepreneurs also tend to take risks where big companies won’t, which can lead to substantial job creation in the future.

Thanks very much Jeff. I’m sure the readers of this blog can benefit from the services on both SmarterLeap.com and IdeaArchitectsOnline.com.

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21 January 2010 2 Comments

Becoming Part-Time is an Opportunity

In almost every industry we are seeing two things happen. 1) people are losing their job and 2) people are being asked to go from full-time employment to part-time employment. In the case of number 2) this can present an ideal opportunity for people to make the transition from employee to entrepreneur.

For example, in the UK more than one million people are forced to work part-time. For many wannabe entrepreneurs this presents a fantastic opportunity.

There are a number of issues people have to face when leaving employment and entering the world of entrepreneurship. The first is the cultural transition. This is often the hardest. Entrepreneurship is a completely different game. The typical employee mentality just doesn’t work. As an Entrepreneur you are on 24/7. You eat, drink and breathe your business. But the main thing is that you actually enjoy it. It’s fun.

As an entrepreneur, you have to be a million times more assertive. You can’t hide behind a large organization. Another issue is the “right first time” mentality that stifles creativity in established organizations. You need to ditch that as an entrepreneur, and work using a more experimental approach. Okay, I’ll admit it, a more “trial and error approach” (based on your best guess, of course).

The second issue is lack of resources. Bootstrapping is a skill. By working part time you are still receiving an income while you are getting your business off the ground. It also gives you time to get to grips with running a business on a small budget.

You can make the transition from employee to entrepreneur gradually. You won’t suffer the initial shock that many people who enter the entrepreneurial world straight from employment feel.

Working part time will help you with time management. You will be forced to fit your new business activities into the time outside your part-time job.  Also, the income from your part-time work gives you a certain amount of space to focus on the medium to long term of your new business. Without the part-time job you may be in a situation to make “short term gain” decisions that may be detrimental in the medium to long term.

In summary, it’s a bit like going off drugs. Changing from an employee to entrepreneur can be quite difficult. By working part-time you don’t have to leave the world of employment cold turkey style. You can gradually make the transition into your new business as revenues begin to increase.

Ultimately, being told by your boss that you will have to work part-time could be the biggest opportunity of your working life.

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15 January 2010 1 Comment

Entrepreneurs and Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett loves reading annual reports. He looks at a company’s business model in detail. He applies a simple and straight forward approach. In many ways, Buffett acts like a super business angel. His methods have been proven right in the long term. Entrepreneurs can learn a lot from Buffett’s investment strategy. The difference is, that instead of reading reports and doing research on the company, entrepreneurs are at the forge and are writing the annual reports by their actions.

There are many distractions that all too many times lead entrepreneurs down the path of failure. It’s important to have one eye on the money engine at all times. The trap of “high-tech escapism” is very easy to fall into.

Having a clear understanding of what fundamentally makes a good company is invaluable for entrepreneurs. It’s the framework on which you hang your core business strategy. It’s the compass point that will get you to your destination. Once you have this established in relation to your business everything must focus towards it.

Ultimately, three common sense questions sum this up.

1) How much will the business make?

2) How much will it cost to run the business?

3) Will your income stream and cost structure be sustainable into the future?

As an entrepreneur your goals and ambitions set the criteria for your business. How much do you want to make? How hard do you want to work?

Now what you are looking for is a convergence of what makes sense for you to start a business and what a potential investor is looking for.If your criteria meets their criteria then you have a real chance of making a deal. However, if you don’t focus on the money engine from day one it’s very unlikely that your start-up will be positioned for investment to scale.

A vast majority of investors are looking for historical data that indicates future potential. You must get this traction. The higher up the traction ladder you are the better chance you have of getting investment.

There is plenty of information on Warren Buffett’s investment strategy. Try and build a business that Warren would invest in and I’m sure you won’t have any problem finding others who will believe in you.

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