A few weeks ago I attended an awards function for entrepreneurs and was highly impressed with what they had achieved without any support from the sponsors of the event. The entrepreneurs were being acknowledged for their innovation and excellence despite not receiving funding, technology or initial encouragement from various public and private institutions.
These entrepreneurs had pulled themselves up by their own boot straps. They had done it by themselves. Only after they had achieved success did private and public institutions rush in to celebrate the achievement. Yes, it’s a long and lonely road as an entrepreneur. Continue reading “What makes an entrepreneur?”
When I was a schoolboy growing up in Kalk Bay, Cape Town, during the months of August and September the big Cape storms would create great swells with waves crashing against the harbour wall, churning up the water.
In those days Kalk Bay was a real fishing harbour packed with boats. Anything that could float and get a licence to be moored in the harbour would go out catching tons of fish in False Bay.
A fashion model in Sri Lanka came up with an idea for a new business when she was selling hair care products to salons and garments from the boot of her blue station wagon. Although she was a successful model her father wanted her to do something in business. Her idea was to come up with a fashionable brand that could cater for both local and international visitors. Now her fashion house is one of the largest and the only publicly listed such company in Sri Lanka.
It all started with a promising new business idea. Some business advisers like owngrading the value of an idea mainly because they are interested in selling their business training and consulting time. But the creativity, the most valuable part, the core element is the idea that comes at the right time. As the fashion house owner who built a business from scratch says, an entrepreneur finds a gap in the market even in a sector that is highly saturated and does something which may never have been seen or done before, or does something differently – something that is correct for that time and for the future. Continue reading “Where do you look for your new business idea that you can turn into gold?”
I was talking to a successful entrepreneur the other day and asked him what he valued most in entrepreneurial business leaders. His answer surprised me. All the business consultants, advisers and the coterie of small business gurus believe that they can read the mind of the entrepreneur but when you actually sit face-to-face with entrepreneurs, you know, the things they value of different to what you hear. Continue reading “One thing an entrepreneur values most”
How do self-made billionaires get started? What makes them different from others? What can we learn from them?
An article from strategy + business titled “What self-made billionaires do best” tells the story of Lynda Rae Resnick who sold the masses on pomegranate fruit by packaging it as an antioxidant-rich juice drink. She came up with other new ideas but the pomegranate is most interesting. In 2002, Linda positioned the pomegranates in the health and wellness trend taking place in the United States. She figured out that a person would need to eat more than two pomegranates a day to get a significant benefit. Juice was a more efficient delivery mechanism so she designed a bottle shaped like two stacked pomegranates and after five years the product reached more than $160 million in annual sales.
The authors of the report say that in all the stories of self-made billionaires that they have researched there are common elements such as awareness, empathy, imagination and knowledge. Often what happens is that the entrepreneur works in a specific field long enough to have an awareness of critical trends. They see an underexploited customer need and experience “deep empathy for those customers”. The entrepreneur then applies their imagination and knowledge to convert the empathy into a business idea with broad potential.
Lynda Resnick is an example of this mix of experience and insight. “Being a great marketer is synonymous with being a great friend. In other words, you have to listen.” She watches television, reads popular magazines and stays plugged into popular culture to see what people are watching. “You have to pay attention. For God’s sake, you have to pay attention.”
For the person who is reading this who has never started something of their own it might be difficult to grasp. What you have to do is change your attitude and mindset so that you can tap into opportunities that others don’t see. Sometimes the breakthrough idea is staring you right in the face but you just don’t see it. Your opportunity is more likely to come from your prior experience, your present situation and your observation and listening skills more than anything else.
The article from strategy + business says entrepreneurs or what they call “producers” as opposed to “performers” (which you find in most organisations) look at risk differently. They say that most people measure risk in absolute terms such as “Will this business succeed or fail?” Producers or entrepreneurs view risk in relative terms: “Which option presents the greatest opportunity?” If the opportunity is right, as the authors say, the entrepreneurial producer will look for ways to mitigate risk. Entrepreneurs tend to transfer risk to others through vehicles such as insurance, getting customers to pay upfront and even changing their business model.
Are you looking for opportunities, have you found a promising business idea? If so, then you probably need help. Get a copy of “Breakthrough Ideas”, a resource that will help you open your eyes to viable business opportunities and guide you in turning them into reality.
A Malaysian social entrepreneur went for a holiday at a remote coastal village and discovered that the local people were in need of homes. So he began to put a concept together of building modular homes that could involve volunteers assisting communities to build homes. But everywhere he went he could not find architects or civil engineers who could help him realise his vision.
A student who spent a year in China studying the impact of farming on culture has come up with a simple and inexpensive way to create an indoor air filter.
Thomas Talhelm put together a filter, a fan and a Velcro strap to hold them together, reports Bloomberg’s Business week, to form a DIY air filter. All these components can be bought for less than $35 on China’s leading e-commerce site. Continue reading “Simple ideas like this can be diamonds”
When you are just starting out from scratch it seems that the only helping hand you will get is the one hanging from your arm. This is the time when you need assistance most – to help you get off the ground, to show you the way, to receive mentorship, practical, hands-on experience in the particular field that you want to enter.
But in this very early stage of development the mentors and champions of entrepreneurs, the big names with the big advice won’t touch your business with a barge pole. Mr Big is only looking for entrepreneurs who have already been in their business full-time for more than a year and are turning over more than R250,000 a year.
I was listening to an entrepreneur the other day who was in the process of coming up with new ideas for a clothing product. Would-be entrepreneurs get caught up in fantasies that their product or service is going to be converted into a dream profitable business. She spoke about what pattern design she would use, the fabulous textiles she will require and the modern designs that would knock the socks off potential customers. But when she started thinking through a plan she realised that estimating demand for her product would be crucial. Suddenly, she became gripped with fear as she realised that she could end up with a garage full of unsold smart casual wear. Continue reading “A start-up owner’s nightmare – a garage full of unsold product”
One thing that isn’t spoken about a lot in entrepreneur circles is getting up after your falls. An entrepreneur and Shark Tank investor Barbara Corcoran told Associated Press recently that she had learnt that the most important trait you need as an entrepreneur is when you take a hit to not feel sorry for yourself.