Does starting a business make you an entrepreneur?

Limonadedmg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The other day I saw this article that add the following headline “Starting a business doesn’t make you an entrepreneur: study”. The piece made this claim as a summary to a study by two Swedish academics from an industrial economics research institute but quite frankly got the whole thing wrong.

What these two Swedish academics were really saying was that when the rate of self-employment in the country is high, the rate of billionaire entrepreneurs is lower. When they compared for correlation between the presence of billionaire entrepreneurs and the rate of self-employment in a country, they came to a surprising conclusion: countries with many successful entrepreneurs had lower rates of self-employment.
Continue reading “Does starting a business make you an entrepreneur?”

Are you staying opportunity focused in this economy?

Credit: Creative Commons

In this economy every source of income counts. But where do you begin to discover hidden or new sources of income?

You may wonder about the term “multiple streams of income”. What is it? A buzzword from some self-help business guru that helps him or her sell their books and other products. It’s really a term to entice people into believing that it so easy to make money that you merely need to turn open a tap and money will pour into your banking account. This does not happen in the real world. You need to work long and hard for any sort of income.

In every business or new venture knowing where additional sources of income will come from is important. The simplest example is a product business that adds after-market service to their offering. This provides two sources of income: product sales and service. Continue reading “Are you staying opportunity focused in this economy?”

A young African innovator who turned an idea into a viable product

StawiTurning an idea into a viable product is often scoffed at by those who say it’s just for dreamers. And you’re sneered at if you learn or read how to go about becoming an entrepreneur because “you may as well give up before you start”.

Eric Muthomi, 26 years old, came up with an idea to process bananas from smallholder farmers in rural Kenya and process them into banana flour. He started his business Stawi Foods and Fruits after studying law and completing short courses in enterprise management. Continue reading “A young African innovator who turned an idea into a viable product”

This entrepreneur didn’t need an incubator to hatch a motorised surfboard business

English: Mavericks Surf Contest 2010. Français...
English: Mavericks Surf Contest 2010. Français : Édition 2010 du concours de surf de Mavericks. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chris Preston, an Australian surfer who damaged his shoulder a few years ago, has come up with a motorised surfboard for injured surfers would like to surf again.

Preston and his co-director, his wife Natalie, are launching Power Boards which will sell about 20 boards a month. Board prices, depending on board length, range between $4,200 and $4,700.

This is a great start-up story of an entrepreneur who spotted an opportunity and is motivated enough to make a go of his idea. It interesting that his idea came out of his surfing experience.

A surfing experience also led Anna Jerstrom, a Swede, to an idea for the Calavera range of bikinis designed to stay on no matter how rough the surf while on a surfing camp in Costa Rica. Continue reading “This entrepreneur didn’t need an incubator to hatch a motorised surfboard business”

Where do you find the best business advice?

Sand dunes in the Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia. Older dunes are reddish and larger, newer dunes are yellow-brown.
Sand dunes in the Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia. Credit: Yathin S Krishnappa

A few months back I was advising an entrepreneur was eager to market his service to other small business people but his ideas to sell his Internet offering sucked. Rather than tell him so and risk hurting his feelings, I suggested that we would go speak to some prospects to find out what selling methods worked best with them.

A small business owner who had been running his deli business for a few years told the entrepreneur that the only marketing he would respond to would be direct contact. The entrepreneur needed to call him and let him know what he could do to help grow his business. Continue reading “Where do you find the best business advice?”

Turn your passion into profit but look before you leap

Dried fish biltong (bokoms) being sold on the side of the road at Velddrift on the Cape West Coast.

With this economy every bit of extra cash counts.

Many aspiring entrepreneurs are turning their hobbies, favourite pastimes, and passions into profitable businesses. They are making a living doing what they love. And because they love what they do, they work harder at it.

Experts say eight out of ten small business start-ups result from hobbies or long-term interests. Continue reading “Turn your passion into profit but look before you leap”

Negotiation — it’s not all bare-knuckles and dirty tricks

Red in tooth and claw

Top negotiators keep their best methods tucked inside their wallets. They may dish out occasional pearls of wisdom with an *ahem* delectable price tag at conferences and seminars. But most of us have to learn in the trenches like everyone else.

What does a small business, entrepreneur or startup need to know about negotiation?

Negotiation is a give-and-take process between two or more parties who want to reach an agreement or resolve a conflict.

This sounds like a dry dictionary definition. But we need a place to start. What an agreement implies is that it should be acceptable to both parties. And if it isn’t? Well, either party has the veto or right to say no to a proposal or decision. Continue reading “Negotiation — it’s not all bare-knuckles and dirty tricks”

What does 2012 hold for your business?

At the beginning of the year it is customary to look at trends. In this post we briefly examine a trend that businesses need to follow or they will fall behind.

Will things get worse? How will I keep my business afloat? Where can I find opportunities to grow?

In the midst of economic uncertainty at the start of the New Year questions like these may cause anxiety but they are essential to avoid stagnation and decline. Looking at trends in your business and market is one way to orientate yourself and your business to the pathways that lead to growth and to avoid those that are heading smack into a solid wall.

Trend spotting can be valuable for any business. It goes without saying that whether you are part of a large corporation, a business proprietor or entrepreneur, a solid understanding and knowledge of economic trends is vital for adjusting and even capitalising on the expected economic conditions whether fair or foul.

Watch customer buying trends

Industry or market trends that directly affect your business are just as important. Buying trends and preferences, whether you are in business-to-business or consumer markets, are vital and need to be closely watched. To be on top of the labyrinth of your customer’s mind, you need to spend at least a few hours a week studying their needs and desires.

Trends for the smaller entrepreneurial business this year that need looking at include the continuing growth of business on the Internet, cloud computing, the ever-growing cell phone market, the need to reduce costs and find more effective ways to market products and services using traditional and on-line methods, particularly social media — all of which means creating greater customer value.

Terminal decline?

Magazines provide a case in point. As traditional media, magazines need to play catch up with using social media as part of their reader retention and acquisition strategies. The integration of social media with traditional offline media products such as magazines certainly looks set to grow. For those magazines that ignore this trend or are too slow to adapt, the consequences could be fatal. A woman’s magazine recently closed with the publisher saying that they took too long to integrate with social media and come out with a user-friendly digital edition. These digital editions or many of them are so cumbersome that it is hardly worth the effort trying the view them online. I subscribed to a newspaper digital edition and did not renew my subscription. Fortunately, it was only for three months.

But the malaise with magazines is deeper. In a highly competitive media space magazine content is just not cutting it with readers (circulation figures are drastically down) — not for all magazines but most of them. They just have not done enough reader research. They haven’t used creativity processes to find solutions to keep readers and deepen their reader experience. This is what comes from myopic thinking, looking at what the industry is doing and not examining other industries for break-out ideas.

Quickly grasp this

One trend that continues to grow and which is of great interest to us at is innovation. Riding out the economic storm, leading companies and entrepreneurial businesses have quickly grasped the importance of innovation — from new technologies, product development and marketing to consumer insights and business models.

Small businesses have innovated by reducing the costs of doing business, being more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly, finding ways to attract good employees, and effectively marketing their products and services offline and online. Sadly, given the number of business failures, it’s clear that too few small businesses are innovative. But for those that continue to grow despite the current economic malaise, continuous innovation is core to their success. Among these innovators are those business owners who are quick to use the methods and techniques for new idea generation and creative strategic approaches that we have covered in past updates on

Keep innovation constant

It’s not just the big ideas that are important for innovation. Take, for example, the following analogy from the cricket world. If we look at the double-century cricket score of Jacques Kallis, South Africa’s greatest modern-day batsman, we see that in the match between South Africa and Sri Lanka at Newlands, he scored 224 from 325 balls. In that score only 31 balls were 4s and one was a 6 (325 balls, 31 x 4 1 x 6). It was the constant batting of smaller scores that allowed him to reach his record score.

Innovation needs to be a constant part of our business lives. A steady, constant flow of ideas is necessary if we want to be successful. Yes, sure the big idea can be earth-shattering, game-changing or make a large impact to our business or in the marketplace. But the big ideas are often few and far in between. We need to innovative every day even if it is sometimes in small ways. These have an accumulative effect.

The choice is yours if you want to stand still in such an economy. To stop growing, to hesitate and wait for change to happen to your business, means that you are prepared to put everything at risk. New ideas meet change head on and spur growth. If you want to embrace change, to not stop growing, then use innovation to keep your business from stagnating or even running into terminal decline and eventual closure.

What stokes your fire?


Shoal of fish
© Chesney Bradshaw 2011

What stokes your fire?

At Christmas day lunch in a seaside restaurant, a pink piece of paper tumbled out from a cracker:

“Why was the chicken at the North Pole?”

The answer: “It was lost.”

A chilly prospect for the chicken but perhaps a familiar sensation for those who lost their way in 2010’s economic blizzard.

At a time when predictions for the New Year overflow in newspapers and magazines as well as on blogs, FaceBook, Twitter and websites, it’s perhaps pertinent to reflect on people who seem to predict their own futures regardless of inner and outer circumstances.

Consider some entrepreneurs I came across shortly before the end of 2010:

? One has started an eatery in a side road with big plans for the future

? Another who deals in maritime collectables can’t wait to trade in the New Year

? Yet another is starting a micro brewery with an excellent tasting product

? One young entrepreneur is kick-starting an online health foods business for athletes

? A microcomputer retail owner is repositioning his business for increased growth

? A guitarist has just released his fourth CD and is growing his following

What do these entrepreneurs have in common? What stokes their fire?

They have all come up with their own ideas to produce business concepts that support their passion. These innovators possess a razor sharp understanding of their product and customer needs. Another thing, they tackle what they are doing with such enthusiasm that they don’t seem to have time to dwell on the economy. They are also hardly likely to be pouring over the list of dire predictions for 2011 or any year for that matter.

This is not to say that predictions are unimportant. They point to possible areas of change. Give warnings. Signpost opportunities.

These entrepreneurs are busy implementing their ideas in 2011. Each one has come out of a hobby or interest, a passion driving them to turn what they love doing into a way to support their lifestyle and incomes. How did they stumble on these ideas? How long did it take them to realise their dreams? What fire kept burning inside them to make a go of what they imagined and eventually realised?

Phil Cousineau in “Stoking the Creative fires: 9 ways to rekindle passion and imagination” challenges, “What will it take to stoke your fire?” He covers stages of the creative journey: inspiration, perspiration and realisation. “Unreal work,” he says, “burns you out, real work renews you.”

What will light your fire this year? What will keep stoking your fire? How long will your fire burn?

One of the best-kept secrets is to find your ideas, your innovation, in a state of relaxation. Forcing ideas in a mad scramble blocks your creative pathways. “An environment of playfulness and humour is highly conducive to creativity,” says Michael Michalko, a leading creativity expert and author of “Cracking Creativity: The secrets of creative genius”.

How do you find your real work? It almost always requires inner work, knowing who you are and what you want. Your search can include keeping a journal for thoughts and ideas, going back into your past when you felt passionate about something and exploring various sources of information such as television, radio, newspapers, magazines, books and blogs to spark ideas. You can also use ideas and techniques on this blog or the websites listed on the right hand column of this page. Innovators need not originate completely new ideas but can SCAMPER (substitute, combine, adapt, magnify, modify, put to other uses, eliminate, rearrange, reverse) existing products, services, concepts and ideas to create new products and services.

The entrepreneurial spirit, whether in the form of the independent businessperson or the innovator working with passion in a company, needs nurturing. It is the source for solutions to today’s challenges and points the way to new possibilities for our environment, living, working, playing.

Entrepreneurs and innovators in whatever field possess the fire to innovate whether searching to start something of their own from scratch or re-imagining and re-inventing what they do at work. Whether they run a family business, “kitchen table” business or a part of a corporation as a manager, entrepreneurs have a passion to produce ideas and turn them into innovative products and services that ultimately help people live better quality lives.

Hotwire your inner circuitry with creative fire in 2011 and forecast your own future.

Copyright 2011 Bell & Cray Business Research™. This material used with special permission from Bell & Cray Business Consulting™. Bell & Cray Business Consulting™ is a division of Bell & Cray™. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be duplicated or re-disseminated without permission.

Copyright 2011 Bell & Cray Business Research™. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be duplicated or re-disseminated without permission.

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