Entrepreneurship – It’s Not for the Faint-of-Heart 23

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Are you thinking of taking the next step and starting your own business? Have you always dreamed of being the one that makes all the decisions – the one that calls all the shots? Are you tired of working for someone else? Before you take the plunge and jump into the deep end of the pool have you done the market research – put a business plan together – and really thought it through? Have you thought about the impact it will have on your family and your personal life?

Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. It’s certainly not for the faint-of-heart. Not everyone is prepared to put in the hard work and sacrifice and do what they need to do to be successful. Without question I think I have the greatest job in the world. I get to travel around the country talking to people about how to talk to people; and about how to get the best out of themselves and others. I truly love what I do. I can’t see me doing anything else. But I’ve paid a price to get here. I left a well-paying job that afforded my family an above average lifestyle. My wife and son wanted for nothing. I went from high six figures to $18,000. in my first year.

If you are contemplating getting into business for yourself you might be interested in my answers to a series of questions I was asked recently by a former student of mine – who was thinking about starting his own small business. I hope my answers provide you with some valuable insight into what I think it takes to be a successful business person. Of course, success is totally subjective. It all depends on how you define success. It all depends on why you’ve decided to get into business for yourself in the first place.

What made you decide to get into business for yourself? Timing – it really boiled down to timing. I knew I wanted to make a career change. I was beginning to feel stuck and unfulfilled. For me – it’s never been about how much money I made. Now don’t get me wrong – money is important – but if it’s your only reason for getting into business for yourself – then you’re going to be disappointed – especially in your first few years. I had an opportunity to get involved in a new venture as a contract trainer and consultant so I took a leap of faith and jumped in. For me – the fun part of being a general manager was working with others – helping them become better managers and supervisors. So this was a great fit for me. I got to travel around the country delivering customer service workshops. At the same time  I was doing that I started teaching entrepreneurship, skills for success and professional selling at a local business college.

What are some of the challenges you faced in starting your own small business? I faced – and continue to face some of the same challenges everyone else faces day-to-day. The added pressure for any self-employed person is realizing that if you aren’t selling a product or delivering a service then you aren’t getting paid. And if you aren’t making money it’s tough to keep a roof over your head, food on the table and the creditors away from your front door. Self-employed persons don’t have the luxury of a steady pay-cheque coming in. That puts a great deal of strain on your personal life. Everyone must give up something to get something. Before you take the leap of faith and get into business for yourself you need to decide what you and your family are willing to give up so you can live your dream. Everybody needs to be on board. You need to be committed to doing whatever you need to do to be successful. If you and or your family aren’t willing to pay the price – then it’s best you stay where you are.

Any lessons learned that you can pass on to anyone wanting to start their own business? You need to be able to stand up in front of a group of people and have them “buy” into what ever you are saying or selling. You need to be really passionate about what you are doing. You need to be prepared to work 80 hours a week for very little money. You need to be willing to continue to improve and hone your craft. And you need a thick skin to be able to take rejection. Look at everything as a positive by taking something away from each negative so that you can build upon it and do better the next time. Network like crazy. You are the “Brand” – somebody knows somebody who knows somebody who has a need for your product or service. Have a budget and stick to it. Don’t spend money you haven’t generated yet. Find your nesh. Become an expert in something not a generalist in everything. What do you know or what product are you selling that someone else will pay you money to learn or have?

Food for thought: The two major reasons businesses fail are (1) Lack of management skills – and (2) Lack of financing. Most businesses fail within the first three years of start-up. (When I say most I mean over 90% fail) How much income will your business need to generate to sustain you, your family and your business? We have a tendency to over-estimate revenue so divide your sales projections by half and run it by those numbers. You need to live and die by the numbers. Make business decisions – keep your emotions out of it. Always think worse case scenario. That will help keep you grounded. If I haven’t talked you out of getting into business for yourself after reading this article – then maybe – just maybe you have what it takes. That maybe – just maybe – you’ll make it to year five.

One last thing: I’ve been fortunate. I’ve been self-employed now for 14 years. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint-of-heart – but it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. And in spite of all the pitfalls, missteps and personal sacrifices I made along the way – I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.  But that’s me – it may not be you – and that’s OK. – Cheers 🙂

Copyright (c) 2013. Brian Smith – Author, Communications Expert and Management Consultant specializes in soft-skills training and leadership development. Brian can be reached at briansmithpld@gmail.com – To find out more visit http://briansmithpld.com

Confessions of a Reformed Control Freak – Part II 1

This is the second part of a two-part posting taken from excerpts of my soon-to-be-published book, “Confessions of a Reformed Control Freak – The Top Ten Sins Most Managers Make & How to Avoid Them”. I wrote this book with the hope that first-time managers would gain some valuable insights into what it takes to be an effective manager managing in the 21st. Century. Daniel Goleman, in his ground breaking book, “Working with Emotional Intelligence” said it best:training and e“We are being judged by a new yardstick: Not just how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also by how well we handle ourselves and each other“. You aren’t born knowing how to manage people effectively. We all start out making certain assumptions based on our own perceptions of what a manager should be. But our perceptions can be wrong. I hope you are able to learn from my sins. And trust me – in my 40 + year career as an award winning entrepreneur and general manager for one of Canada’s best run and most profitable companies I’ve made my fair share.

Confession Six: “Park your ego at the door, it’s not about being right”. If you need to prove that you’re always right, and they’re wrong – then you need to pick a different career. You and I both know that there is more then one way to accomplish the same thing. The more you allow other people to be involved in the process the more likely they will “buy-in” to the end result. Remember – Together – Everyone – Accomplishes – More.

Confession Seven: “You can’t control everything all of the time”. You must give up control to get control. (Delegate, delegate, delegate) You can’t control everything all of the time because it’s bigger then you are. Your role as a manager is to give your people the tools they’ll need to be successful and then get out of their way and let them do it. You need to trust your people that they can do the job that you’ve hired them to do. Resist the urge to micro-manage.

Confession Eight: “You can’t demand respect. Respect is reciprocal”. If you study Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” theory you’ll discover that one of the basic needs all humans have – is the need to be acknowledged – the need to be recognized. By treating people respectfully, you are saying you value them as a person. Remember, you get what you give. If you show respect – you’ll get respect in return. But, you have to give it first if you ever expect to get it back.

Confession Nine: “People hear what they see, not what you say”. Your people play follow-their-leader. You must lead by setting the right example. You communicate 97% of the time, not by what you say, but by how you go about it. People believe the non-verbal communication as being more accurate. Your thoughts and actions must appear as one – they must be congruent. Do and say what you mean.

Confession Ten: “There aren’t any negatives – everything is positive”. How you react to any given situation is a choice that only you get to make 100% of the time. Your attitude isn’t just something – it’s everything! Your staff will take their direction from you. You must react in a way that is going to get you what you want. A positive attitude is contagious.

About The Author: Brian Smith, professional speaker, corporate trainer and management consultant is considered by many to be a leading authority on soft-skills training and leadership development. To find out more about Brian and what he can do for you and your organization visit http://www.pldynamics.com. To receive a free poster of “Confessions of a Reformed Control Freak – The Top Ten Sins Most Managers Make & How to Avoid Them” send an email to bsmith@pldynamics.com – be sure to put “Poster” in the subject line. Remember – Training doesn’t have to be expensive to be good – it just has to be the right kind of training.