How do you pick yourself up after failing in your startup?

(Copyright © 2014 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)
(Copyright © 2014 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)

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.

Barbara at age 65 should know. Her career included being the founder of a New York real estate brokerage. Now she is reinventing herself as an author and TV personality after selling her company. She says that the best entrepreneurs when they take a hit bounce back and say, “hit me again.” Continue reading “How do you pick yourself up after failing in your startup?”

How do you make your small business more productive?

English: Product icon for MindView mind mappin...
English: Product icon for MindView mind mapping software. A productivity tool for MatchWare A/S (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In this economy with high labour costs, low productivity and increased competition it’s worthwhile to look at your productivity in your start-up or small business.

The place to start is with yourself. As the title track to a Uriah Keep rock song went “Take a look at yourself”. As the driver and main performer in your small business you need to make sure that you are as productive as you could be. All it might mean is getting a full night’s rest, eating food that keeps you focused and alert and working in an environment where your temperature is controlled to the correct level. You may also want to watch noise. Some people like to crank up the music but others like a quiet environment where they are at their best. Continue reading “How do you make your small business more productive?”

Stay open to possibility

NYC - Eataly NY: La Mozzarella di Eataly
Cheese making. NYC – Eataly NY: La Mozzarella di Eataly (Photo credit: wallyg)

We may walk down the same path every day but never see something new. Then one day we are on the path and suddenly something leaps out at us that we’ve never noticed before. It could be a special flower growing along the walkway, a sapling that has been slowly growing out of the earth and has suddenly shot up to waist level or a bird nesting in a tree.

This analogy about a well-trodden path and being observant is very much how we go about our day-to-day life not noticing new things, change or trends. Unless we keep our eyes open often we don’t see things even though they are staring us right in the face. Continue reading “Stay open to possibility”

Looking for opportunities? Finding them on a farm in Africa

ZOO Bratislava - African Lion (Panthera leo kr...
African Lion (Panthera leo krugeri) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All four of us went into the lion cage. My daughter was enthralled by the amazing experience of stroking a lion cub just over three months old. Even at this age the lion cubs – there were three of them in the cage – make a sort of grunting, growly sound. When any of us got around the back of them, they would immediately growl because this would make them sense danger.

After playing with the lions in the cage in the hot Free State sun, we went on a game drive to view the adult lions many of which are white lions which have been bred on this farm for other game farms. The adult lions are different. They may come to the electrified fence and view you with curiosity. Then suddenly they will come towards you even though there is a fence in between and roar while opening their jaws wide. These lions are kept in a huge fenced area on a hillside.

Continue reading “Looking for opportunities? Finding them on a farm in Africa”

Poor cell phone service providers bad for business

English: Cell phone tower cleverly disguised t...
Is there any connection? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This morning my cell phone internet connection went down. I called MTN, a giant network carrier, but could not get hold of anyone despite three calls.

My first call to their 808 number was 3 minutes and forty one seconds with no one answering. The second call I placed lasted 8 minutes and forty one seconds. I could not wait any longer because I had to attend a meeting. I made a third call but was cut off by the company. I therefore had to spend about 13 minutes on hold without anyone answering. Eventually after five hours the connection came back … without a word from MTN. Continue reading “Poor cell phone service providers bad for business”

Turbo charge your innovation in 2012

Hard work, dedication and perseverance are essential qualities for achieving your business goals. In this economy more is required – continuous innovation. Prepare your business for 2012 by considering where you will need to innovate to anticipate and capitalize on changes in your market niche.

Innovation, coming up with new ideas, methods and approaches, has been essential for business and personal growth in 2011, a challenging year for many. Change, whether self initiated or through external circumstances, requires new responses often unshackled from past thinking. Just look back at 2011 and consider the social, political and economic events and upheavals that have often speeded change at unprecedented rates.

For business people change requires the ability to spot and seize the opportunity in the midst of what often seems like never-ending chaos. Change requires the need for new ideas, fresh ways of thinking, often radical shifts in perspectives and innovation.

Courage to create

Most importantly, change requires courage. Rollo May, a renowned therapist, in his book “The Courage to Create” says: “Whereas moral courage is the righting of wrongs, creative courage, in contrast, is the discovering of new forms, new symbols, new patterns on which a new society can be built … In our day, technology and engineering, diplomacy, business, and certainly teaching, all of these professions and scores of others are in the midst of radical change and require courageous persons to appreciate and direct this change.”

This year has offered insights into various techniques to spur new ways of thinking, generate ideas and encourage innovation. Blog posts have covered idea generation tools such as freewriting, closely looked at business models and provided promotional ideas in a challenging economy. Other posts have explored the discipline required to create and form new works of art, businesses and even charities and see them to completion as well as case studies of innovators who have succeeded by using ideation techniques and processes.  

Outstanding results

All through the difficult economic circumstances we have held the new that obstacles and challenges can be surmounted through generating new ideas and spurring innovation. We have assisted small businesses using idea generation processes to achieve outstanding results. We have also witnessed the more successful companies innovating their technology, reformulating products, improving their service offerings, incorporating more sustainable business practices and reaching out to customers in new ways. These companies know that their success and in some cases survival depends on innovation.

Polar opposite of creativity

Yet for many business people creativity and innovation don’t sit well in an environment that has become mechanized on a massive scale. “Mechanization requires uniformity, predictability, and orderliness,” according to May. This is the polar opposite of creativity, which often requires human processes and even unconscious thinking for breakthroughs. New ideas and approaches are a hard sell to the assembly line until of course demand for poor or unsustainable products spirals into a trickle.

That’s why our approach is to work with business people who run their own businesses and who often need to respond rapidly to changing circumstances or face going out of business. Small businesses don’t have deep pockets that can keep them toiling in the wrong direction (sometimes for years); they need to move quickly, come up with smart solutions that retain, build and delight their customers. Staying ahead of their competition, fighting for smaller market niches, requires continuous innovation.

As the end of the year approaches, it is time to relax, reflect and recharge. 2012 will soon bring its unique set of challenges. For those fascinated by new ideas that “pop up” from the unconscious in response to the need to find innovative solutions to changing business circumstances, ways to excite customers or to simply raise their game, we will try to keep you inspired with innovative ideas in 2012.