10 Strategies Every Start Up Should Know

“Baby you can drive my car…”

As the Head Koi of a start up, it seems I’m constantly having a conversation with myself. If you are a founder or business owner, you catch my drift. You’re always talking about what’s going on or not going on in your business. Although I’m a big Marvin Gaye fan and love soul music, I recognize the need for positive focus. Watching your thoughts swim through your mind can be like a Mexican hat dance. Are you conscious about your thought process? Well you should be.

Recognize the importance of test driving your ideas. Talk to colleagues. This will stop you from falling down the proverbial rabbit hole. Otherwise, you will just get lost during the day and wind up hanging loose with the Cheshire Cat.

“Because every cat has nine lives…”

Want to make your start-up or business more successful?

Here’s a list of 10 strategies to run your start up with more pizazz.

1) Don’t Let Mistakes Discourage You.
Let’s establish a classic start up ground rule: You are going to make many mistakes in your business life. Don’t let challenges and obstacles paralyze you. Gaining effectiveness takes time and methodology. Even the so called experts make mistakes. The key is break to open ground. Run for the gold by flying on the back of audaciousness. Don’t second guess yourself. Remember Edith Piaf’s classic, Regret nothing.

Gather information and collect great tactics by studying horizontally. Cross discipline planning will open your mind and change your strategic approach. Then, when you are ready, you will be comfortable with your decisions. Playing 21 like at a casino is a recipe in lunacy, unless you have a head for counting the numbers. Now you’re ready for step two.

2) Be Assertive.
No point in waiting for Godot. This chap just never shows up. I know. I once waited for someone for 6 months. What a bloody waist of time. Once I got going again, I worked like gangbusters. Brought on board other loonies. We worked like mad and laughed like hyenas. My wife says I am a hyena.

Some pundits say, you should also be conservative with your business. Broad-minded yes. Calculating, definitely. But cautious? Forget conservatism. By the time you make your strategy, the train will have already left the station and you’ll be stuck with a ticket to Palookaville. Having said that make sure your business strategy is on stable ground. Calculated risks win the derby.

3) Never Dis The Competition.
As one colleague says, “What goes around, comes a round”. What’s the point? Generating bad news is bad politics. Leave the snake pit to the reptiles. You can however, differentiate yourself. Why not try a few pages out of No Brainers: The Handbook To Content Marketing. Start a blog or a Facebook page. Give your fans and would be brand ambassadors a reason to cheer you on. In the words of an old Coca-Cola jingle, “It’s a small world after all”.

“Because the world loves silly love songs…”

4) Heed Your Brand.
Jeff Bezos once stipulated that “Brand is what people say when you are not in the room“. That’s deep. Now go to the next level. Show procrastination to the dust bin. Relegate constantly thinking about the future to the basement. We’ve all met business people who say, “I’ll get back to you on this“. Or better still, “Let’s do lunch sometime“. What they’re really saying is, I’m not interested.

We advocate decisiveness. If you are not decisive then other business people are not going to take you seriously. Being the leader of your company necessitates taking the bull by horns. It shows genuine authority without aggressive tendencies.

5) Get a hearing aid.
What I am advocating is to listen. Most people simply don’t consider the ideas of others. Nobody has a monopoly on wisdom or good ideas. Every notice how certain business people just like talking about themselves? Of course, you have. At a party, they are the party bore. Put a martini in their hands and they can warble for hours. In business, they are worse because they own the show.

You owe it to yourself to listen to others. It’s worthwhile to the success of your venture. Think Carlos Ghosn when he took over Nissan. Sure he had to make some tough decisions, but he listened to everyone and I mean everyone on the shop floor. Not only did he get a buy in from his employees, he built a group synergy where everyone on the team excelled.

Remember: People need to feel valued. One of the ways you can really make others feel appreciated is by lending them your ear and responding accordingly. If you don’t listen, you’re guaranteed to generate dissent. When the ship goes down, it’s too late to say, I’m sorry that I was tone deaf.

6) Implement Revolution No.9
Are you familiar with this Beatles masterpiece? It’s on the White Album. It’s a mix of recorded tape loops woven together under the influence of a plant favored by shamans. It’s possibly the most experimental pop song of all time. Many musicians have been influenced by the Beatles insatiable curiosity to try new things. Do the same thing in your business. I’m not recommending to get as high as a kite as they did before a studio session. I am recommending to stop being complacent. First, it’s dull as scratching sand paper on glass. Secondly, the competition will be only too glad you did nothing. Senseless routines are for deadbeats. Genius requires the bold stroke. Think of the way Alan Ginsberg wrote poetry. Your customers will love your innovative way to keep things fresh.

7) Overcoming Rejection.
Being in business is similar to playing baseball. Nobody has a 1.000 batting average. That includes all star greats like Reggie Jackson. Rejection happens. It’s part of life. Deal with it. Think of this as sculpting your name into the history books. Perhaps if you’ve never been rejected, you’re not trying hard enough to succeed.

8) Hire Only The Best.
In the corporate world and its never ending politics, they say they hire only the best. Sometimes they do. However, many times they only hire people who are competent. Never hire out of desperation. Remember, since this is your business, you not only get to make the coffee but also to select the talent and energy to drive your business to the moon should you wish to go there. That’s what Richard Branson did. Not a bad recipe to follow. Your team will respect your leadership style because its positive and you are on fire to take the whole team to the same destination.

9) Manners Matter.
Be Polite. Never be rude. In today’s world, there are people who just let their hair down once too often. Being polite is not about style. It’s substance. Show the authentic you. Best of all, everyone enjoys positive energy.

“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen…”

10) Be Descartes.
I think, therefore I am.” We can still learn a few things from this wise Cartesian. Keep abreast of your industry. That means reading. Yeah, I know, everyone has only so many hours in the day. You know what? The day just got longer. That’s right. Reprogram how you spend your time on and off the field. Why do you think a business tycoon invented PMP? To let us better manage our projects.

Lastly, remember that a business is not a machine. It is an organization of the people by the people. Empower your people. Show you care about them as real human beings. Ask about their families, companions, kids… Attitudinal shifts start at home.

Now go out there. Live long and prosper.

Article Title: 10 Strategies Every Start Up Should Know
Photographs: ES

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, enchantment, and craftsmanship. He is also the head Koi at CAREO, a career management consultancy under the WCW Group brand.

For further inspiration
Visit CAREO: Building One Success Story At A Time

16 Compelling Practices For An Entrepreneur

“Because you’ve been reading too much Voltaire…”

This morning I chaired a seminar on entrepreneurship. When you’re addressing potential entrepreneurs, the best way to grab someone’s attention is to share the passion to switch on a creative vision.

Then it hit me like a ton of lego. Focus on leadership, innovation, how not to write a business plan, and how to construct something sustainable, i.e. Built To Last aka James Collins and Jerry Porras. Preparing also gave me time to pause and think back on my own entrepreneurial ventures, where we’ve been as a team and where we are headed into the future. Value creation is a never ending issue, but it can only work when you have sound leadership at the helm.

Here are some of lessons I have learned matching people with opportunities:

“When you’re ready to go the whole hog…”

Leadership begins at home
Target who you admire. They can come from any walk of life not necessarily business. What inspires you most about him or her? Character is so important. One reason organizations fail is often a lack of a charismatic personality, who can empower and embolden his or her team to positive action. Such personalities stand out like diamonds in the window of Cartier. Think Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Steve Jobs or Mother Teresa.

The Written Word
Like any project, you will need a roadmap. Write down your vision. What do you see in 3 years? In 5 years? Ask yourself, will these milestones get me closer to my vision? What decisions must I make now if I plan to launch in 6 months?

Listen To The Music
Listening to your clients is obvious. When we first started, we only helped people apply to the top business schools. Quickly, our clients demanded more. Before we could say cha-cha, we evolved into a career management consultancy offering personal branding, social engagement, and feasible work-life balance platforms to bring more meaning into their professional lives. The marketplace is a great instructor.

However, to stand out from the pack, you will need to do more than just listen and deliver. You need to be innovative and creative. Forget fear. That’s soooo yesterday. What’s the worst thing that can happen? You fail. Bingo! If can live with this, which most entrepreneurs do, then you’re ready for anything.

“Don’t jump without a parachute…”

The People’s Struggle
In today’s universe keeping up is just for starters. If you think technology has revolutionized your life now, it’s only going to get faster. Go with the flow and learn to swim in the Aegean like a dolphin. Leveraging innovation is necessary whatever your trade.

The Price Is Right
I’m not referring to that American TV show. The true price of leadership is not a number. It’s about dynamics. Believe in and deliver value. Clients can spot the difference at a glance. When you deliver true value, your target audience won’t care about the price. They will focus on a meaningful exchange.

Getting the A Team
Only bring on board people with a gang busters mentality. Fire power coupled to strong leadership gives you dominant position. Think of that basic management chestnut: 1+1=3. It’s called synergy. Clearly, this is essential for any start-up, but it also applies to larger organizations. There are times when you must let people go. Sometimes it’s for economic reasons and at other times individual goals don’t mesh with corporate goals. These are tough decisions, particularly if you have a heart. This precise issue came up this morning.

So, how do you let people go? With grace and dignity. Think of the greater good of the group. Low blows and nastiness are not the way forward. I know we don’t live in an ideal world, but you are responsible for your actions and behavior. To stand out as a noble leader, act like one in word and deed. Burning your house down is not a solution.

Someone Done Me Wrong
Unless you work for the mafia, learn the art of forgiveness. Grudges and vendettas are not sensible business practices and are unsustainable. I won’t even go into discussing the karma you will attract to yourself.

In God We Trust All Others Pay Cash
I once read this over a bar counter. What I am suggesting is do not extend credit unless the enterprise has the capacity to absorb this. For young entrepreneurs especially, make it clear that payment is due up front before work commences. When everything is clear from the outset, you won’t risk what strikes down many new businesses: cash flow issues.

“Because some things are worth fighting for…

Work-Life Balance
People talk incessantly about this issue because it is a subject that does not go away. Balance is subjective. Some people live to work. Others work to live. Confucius once stated, “Find a job you love, and never work a day in your life“. Pithy don’t you think? The key here is passion. Make “work” fun. As an entrepreneur, you have this privilege. Use it and share the wealth.

Do Unto Others
You don’t need to read the scriptures to get this. If you want respect, then show respect to everyone you come into contact with. Forget the Godfather approach to business practices. One form of respect is to value your team. The words thank you and great job exist in every language. I’m not talking about senseless flattery. I talking about recognition. People don’t work just for the money. They want to feel useful, i.e. valued.

Multitasking is one thing. Focus is another. Be coherent when planning and implementing strategy. Set milestones. They are essentials in any venture. Benchmark your progress. Unhappy with the results. Change your tactics and adapt. Flexibility is key.

The Oscar Wilde Syndrome
Forget the lavish waistcoats. However, appearance always matters. Look sharp. Be smart. You will feel better. Best of all, you don’t have to go home and change before going out to dinner at a chic venue.

Don’t Build A Cage
You have the freedom to make your work space suitable to the organization you want to build. As long as the work gets done, introduce spaces for people to create, snooze, meditate, and if you can, do sports. Great companies have already done this. You can too, if you put your mind to it. Getting a life is also about making your organization breathe with the times in which we all live.

Act With Grace
Grace is something we should all be thankful for. Embrace grace and your team will act as a support network for each member.

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
Prioritize your work or you will burn out. There’s always more to be done. This comes with the terrain. It isn’t just a question of leadership. It’s about pragmatism.

Avoid The Comparison Conundrum
There will always be someone younger, older, smarter, creative or more beautiful than you. Be comfortable within your own skin. Never live someone else’s life. Just to thy own self be true. Now, sit back and enjoy the journey because entrepreneurship is gonna be one hell of a ride.

Article Title: 16 Compelling Practices For An Entrepreneur
Photographs: curated by ES

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, enchantment, and craftsmanship. He is also the head Koi at CAREO, a career management consultancy under the WCW Group brand.

For further inspiration
Visit CAREO: Building One Success Story At A Time

10 Keys To Successful New Ventures

“Because running new ventures requires careful planning…”

Insight is key to running new ventures. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs are caught off guard. The thrill of new ventures becomes a heady tonic. In his book “The E-Myth Revisited”, Michael Gerber makes a strong pitch for solid business planning. Nobody gets rich quick. It is hard and laborious work. New ventures must be proactive and run a tight ship. There are no short-cuts.

Remaining Diligent
Entrepreneurs are usually well-versed with their products or services. Operational management however, is equally as important to new Ventures. This means paying close attention to administrative tasks such as sales, marketing, finance, and accounting.

Honest consideration should be given to bringing in a partner. No man is an island. New ventures need a solid and trained team. There is no shame in asking for guidance. Start with a sounding board before you get into the mechanics of building a road map.

Drafting a business plan should clearly be the next step. Knowledge of PMP, SWOT matrix and “What If” scenarios will prepare you to avoid pitfalls and tackle unforeseen challenges. Give serious consideration to plotting a business model as a prelude to any business planning. Make sure you incorporate a short-term and mid-term business plan.

Although new ventures are not for everyone, they can be terribly exciting. You will need foresight. Building a coherent strategy implies understanding the rules of execution. Don’t forget to have alternative plans with an exit strategy. Things do not always go according to plan.

Remember, calculated risks are still risks. Be consistent. Exploiting opportunities in a fast moving market requires you to be quick on your toes.

“To every thing there is a season under heaven…”

To overcome growing pains, hire a formidable administrative team. Maintain a positive cash flow. Telltale signs of weak organizations can be traced to inept leadership. Listed below are potential hazards for new ventures:

1) Poor Customer Service
There is no excuse for poor customer service. Every client demands the best.

2) No Unique Value Proposition
Companies need to define and articulate their value proposition. Create a platform for sustainable and competitive advantage.

3) Operational Deficiencies
Poor internal communications is a dead end policy formula. Staff must be well coordinated and work together. That’s why its called teamwork. Inculcate a culture of transparency and openness.

4) Unethical practices
Eschew all short-term selfish objectives. Top executives should promote social norms and principles as moral agents. Productivity incentives should be implemented to boost results and employee morale. People must be given a reason to work hard. Otherwise, they will not be committed.

5) Creativity
An absence of innovation and employee empowerment will hurt progress and stifle new ideas. Kill creativity and you might as well close up shop. They should buttress your strategic vision.

If you have a weak sales force, perhaps your compensation plan is unattractive. Nobody needs a high employee turnover rate. This is like managing a sinking ship. Only hire competent people. Forget bias or nepotism. Keep your organizational structure as flat as possible. By doing so, decisions can be taken quickly and plans made actionable.

6) Channel Strategy
Some new ventures just stress their products. This is insufficient. Even if your product is great, you need strong channel partners. Forget corporate politics. Playing games with people is always detrimental, and leads to dissatisfaction internally and externally.

7) Misrepresentation of brand
Do what you say you will do. Products & services must deliver on what you claim.

8) Financial Control
Make sure you calculate a percentage of profit for reinvestment. You can not grow without future capital.

9) Sound Marketing
All new ventures need a solid marketing plan. Brand strategy should incorporate the social media, engage the client, and stand for something. Never be complacent. Control your new ventures by making them human. Empowerment and respect cost nothing. Disrespect and low moral are game changers, but not the way you think. They back fire and blow up in your face.

10) Operational Intelligence
The purpose of risk management is to identify potential problems before they occur. To do so entails early and in-depth risk analysis through the collaboration and involvement of all parties involved in running the your new ventures.

Brainstorming is crucial. Participatory leadership understands the value of new ideas and welcomes them no matter their source. Risk management should comprise: Identifying, outlining and analyzing potential risks; A course of action to handle identified risks, as well as the implementation of risk control when and where necessary.

Business leadership should be unafraid of flexibility. Adjust your strategy when necessary. Keep in place a set of checks and balances – especially with regards to internal financial controls. Trust but verification ought to be the organization’s mantra.

When All Is Said And Done
New ventures with inept leadership usually fail in the first or second year, but even established companies can stumble badly when they outgrow the capabilities of the founding team. According to The Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, five years after new establishments were founded (1995, 2000 and 2005 respectively), 50%, 49% and 47% were still in operation.

To be a successful and sustaining entrepreneur requires vision, strategy, execution and constant diligence. Sacrifice is part of the game. You must have the courage to live your business. A new generation of young entrepreneurs think the road is smooth and a fast track to easy wealth. Easy is an illusion. Success hinges on hard work, diligence, and the ability to harness opportunity when it is identified. Great managers are as important as a great team.

The good news is that well-run new ventures thrive no matter what, but learn from their mistakes – making certain they don’t repeat them.

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Article Title: 10 Keys To Successful New Ventures
Photographs: curated by ES

About The Author
James D. Roumeliotis is an entrepreneur and expert on luxury brand management based in Montreal, Canada.

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How To Become An Audacious Entrepreneur

“Entrepreneurs do not always wear suits…”

When we are unafraid of risk, entrepreneurship appears as the ideal career path. However, think how you learned to swim. Did you scream, Geronimo leaping in? If so, you are ready to be an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship was never for the feeble, but its exciting and generates a potent adrenaline kick.

Can anyone be an entrepreneur? The answer is yes. If you’re unafraid of challenges, entrepreneurship is the best way forward. Guess what? If you’ve formed your own band, you are an entrepreneur!

As kids, we weren’t bothered by risks. We loved challenges. We did not posit multiple scenarios, cost benefit analyses, build spread sheets, or push our standing with social networks. We just “went for it”. This is the essence of entrepreneurship. All it demands demands is the right mindset. Whether or not you pursue a path to entrepreneurship consider the fact that even corporate management looks for people, who can act like an entrepreneur within their organization.

“Because some paths require you assume responsibility for your decisions…”

Let’s examine two career scenarios.

Before we hit the milestone of “30”, we have many experiences. Some of these episodes go on to shape the rest of our lives. Nobody can forecast what will happen. However, they can condition our mentality to be handicapped. If we are fortunate, an entrepreneurial mindset will foster our audaciousness to act with precision. It is similar to effective career planning. A strategic roadmap is the perfect business plan. It will let you discover your true nature and identity.

The Age Of Reason
When we reach the age of reason, we discover our true purpose and responsibility. However, every time we have a setback, a form of negative conditioning kicks in and we slow down. We become gun shy and do not want to be criticized. We can even become afraid because we want to fit in. People often confuse standing out with being an exhibitionist.

Take the case of your average university student at the undergrad level. Many seek what they think is a land of job security. They are open-minded and joyous. In the freshness of their youth, they find employment, and even earn a decent income. This person will undoubtedly please their senior managers and get a promotion. Afterward, our dear friend will gently touch the glass ceiling.

Now what? What does he or she expect?

If you are not an innovator or risk taker, the easy path suggests staying put. Keep your nose down, and do what you do. Then our friend hits forty. It happens to everyone. Trust me on this. The person is gently removed from the organisation. He or she is finished. Psychologically the impact can be devastating. Your sense of identity and self-worth is shattered. Did this person do something wrong?

No. He or she just followed a path of security to the dead end of mediocrity.

The Case For Audaciousness
Now look at another case. There is a woman who is audacious, almost a rebel in character. She knows to succeed she must push, and push she does. No glass ceiling for her. Staying put means being thrown to the wolves. She seeks to innovate, change perceptions, introduce new techniques, and take nothing for granted. Her profile is engaging, but for an employer does she have promise?

The answer is yes. She is a live wire. She is worth pushing forward and senior management do just that. Perhaps she will do an MBA or even become an entrepreneur. She has something everyone needs: chutzpah.

The Meaning Of Success
Success is not just about financial liquidity. It is claiming responsibility for your self. Whether or not you become an entrepreneur, you must act like one. By doing so, we express our true nature and gain satisfaction.

“What’s a nice girl like you, doing in a place like this…”

As an entrepreneur, you will have the power to unleash a real sense of purpose. You will bubble with inner radiance because work will no longer be just a “job”. In fact, it will no longer be work at all. It will be a pleasure of self-expression. Your mission is accomplished when you begin to mentor others. Leaving an indelible mark on your community is worth waking up to every morning.

Remember, great men and women weren’t born great. In hindsight, it often appears this way. Gandhi wasn’t born the “visionary” he became. He used the soil of experience to harness his potential, and then shared his expertise in the field. So can you. Want to make a difference? Don’t just look up at the sky. Be an entrepreneur. Now is the time to spread your wings and fly. Once you do, you will see beauty in your Self and in all things.

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Article Title: How To Become An Audacious Entrepreneur
Photographs curated by ES

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, enchantment, and craftsmanship. He is also the head Koi at CAREO, a career management consultancy under the WCW Group brand.

For further inspiration
Visit CAREO: Life In The Fast Lane