Entrepreneurship: How To Develop Your ‘Great Idea’

Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that. – Norman Vincent Peale 

Volumes of start-up entrepreneurs claim to have wonderful ideas that will serve as a catalyst to attaining riches. Often once internally convinced of their own great idea they march into the offices of bank managers, venture capitalists, or angel investors and ‘blurt out’ their earth-shaking idea with a staggering amount of confidence only to regularly hear loud and repetitive echoes of that unpalatable word ‘NO’ .

Totally devastated and mesmerised by the behaviour of investors, self-pity often sets in and the prospective investors are blamed for their lack of vision and understanding. Holding oneself accountable and doing honest self-reflection often only comes with a great deal of experience and wisdom therefore inexperienced entrepreneurs often falter at the first serious hurdle that they face and go back to a day job blaming others for their failure.

There is one or more critical elements that a significant proportion of start-up entrepreneurs overlook when evaluating their own idea/s:

Within the grand scheme of things it really does not matter if you think you have a great idea that will transform into a ‘money maker’ in reality it only matters if the market believes your idea is great and am willing to pay for it. An untested idea can never be great an idea has to be actualised and proven to be great or not.

Wise investors are more interested in investing in you as opposed to investing in ‘your great idea’ because the idea will only have traction and sustainability if the person that conceived it is willing to overcome any and every obstacle in his/or her way and move towards success with urgency and a sense of unwavering commitment.

Carefully considering the above it is a smart move to create a ‘minimum viable product’ , to test your product in the marketplace and to adjust according to the findings of your research until you have moulded your ‘great idea’ into and actualised ‘great product’.

Do not attempt to entice investors armed with only a ‘great idea’ instead announce a market tested product with a proven demand when you pitch. Speak to industry experts, hear what entrepreneurial peers have to say about your products or services, create focus groups and have a number of consumers test your product. Carefully listen to the cues prompting improvements within their feedback and adjust where and if appropriate.

Engaging consumers, peers, friends and family with a minimum viable product is taking great strides towards not only refining and improving your product or service but also at the same time assists in formulating your sales and marketing strategy.

The attempt to take an untested product or service to a marketplace where the ‘lukewarm’ are often gulped up can cause a great deal of pain to the start-up entrepreneur and can be a very costly exercise. It can be both emotionally and financially draining to such an extent that the entrepreneur gives up on his or her dream relatively quickly.

To what degree you factor in the testing of your product considering both your start-up budget and project timeline can have a great amount of positive impact on your success.

As a business coach I have never underestimated the value of having a wise mentor whom can give sound advice and support especially during the start-up phase of your venture. Consult with your mentor on how to thoroughly test your product or service and structure the testing phase of your project in such a way that it saves you money and a lot of pain in the future.

By Dirk Coetsee

Source: Entrepreneur Magazine

Magda Wierzycka’s 10 tips to run your own business

Most people who say they want to run their own business don’t necessarily end up doing it, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing said CEO of Sygnia Asset Management Magda Wierzycka.

Wierzycka was speaking at the UCT Graduate School of Business’s annual Women in Business conference held in Cape Town on Friday.

“Running your own business does not necessarily mean you got to set up your own corner shop or your own company. You can think of running your own business – as running your own business within a large corporate.

“If you consider the work you are doing currently as running a business and taking responsibility on that level and change your mindset, you will start to achieve even greater things,” said Wierzycka.

Wierzycka went on to share lessons she learnt in her career.

1. You have to follow your passion

If you find that your purpose to work is just to get a paycheck at the end of the month, and if you are deadly bored, then you need to change your situation, even if it means you have to get a salary cut.

Wierzycka recalled leaving her first job to join a start-up. She earned only a third of what she had been earning in her previous job.

“Follow your passion. Whatever you do you must be passionate about it, you must love what you do.”

She encouraged those in corporates to use the “limitless” opportunities to move into a department that speaks to their passion. “That makes going to work everyday a completely different experience.”

2. Consider your purpose in life

When she started Sygnia, Wierzycka said she had to consider what the business was supposed to achieve – apart from making profit. The business had two objectives: to improve financial literacy among South Africans and to provide products at lower cost than competitors.

Having identified these objectives, every decision they made for the business was in line with these principles.

3. Innovate, never imitate

“When you imitate you will only at best be second in line. There will always be someone who is bigger, who has a bigger budget, who has done it first.”

She encouraged delegates to come up with “crazy, creative” ideas. “Don’t be scared to put crazy ideas on the table.”

Wierzycka added that those working in corporates should use their time to learn the basics of running a business. Those basics cut across every business, whether it’s a bakery or a large corporate. The knowledge will help inform better ideas, with substance.

4. Women have to work twice as hard

Wierzycka shared that as a woman she had 60 seconds to make an impression when she presented to clients. The situation was different for male counterparts. Women need to work twice as hard, this means putting in longer hours.

Whining about it is not necessarily productive. She encouraged women to use their talent in multi-tasking and work ethic as that is valued in firms, especially start-ups.

“It’s actually better to start a business with women than men. When you start a business you need people who multi-task. Women can do 10 different things.”

5. Use technology wisely

Technology can help you, Wierzycka said. Technology can help with efficiencies and cutting costs, like those associated with marketing.

6. Speak up

“Women tend to sit back in meetings and not speak up,” said Wierzycka. She encourages women to develop their self-confidence and attend public speaking classes so that they can learn how to share their ideas. “It’s easier to express your ideas if you can articulate or project it.”

Public speaking and debate classes for girls are non-negotiables for the new world, she said.

7. Find a social cause

“When you do anything, associate it with a good social cause,” Wierzycka said. Instead of just being driven by profit, try and do something which is a force for good, she explained.

“It does not mean you must not make money. Profits are important.”

8. Hire culture not just skills

“I have learnt over time skills can be taught, a cultural mindset cannot (be taught),” Wierzycka said.

It’s important to hire like-minded people who fit your culture. Wierzycka said she has not been scared to fire people if she found she made a mistake in hiring them because they did not share the same vision. “I don’t apologise for it, I never have.”

9. No one has money to fund a clever idea

Wierzycka said she often gets asked if there are money for start-ups, to which she said there really isn’t.

Funders want to see proof of a concept. “No one will give money to anyone just because they have a clever idea. There are lots of people with clever ideas. My inbox is flooded with clever ideas.

“A clever idea is not a business. A clever idea is no indication that the person behind the idea can turn it into a business that makes money.”

Funders want something tangible, whether it is a client or a product.

The idea of venture capitalists works in Silicon Valley, right now it is not practical in South Africa.

She added that crowd-sourcing is an option, but is no guarantee of success.

10. You have to take risks

“Life is about risk and reward. Few people will stand up and give you money. You will have to recognise that you have to take risks,” she said.

Wierzycka said if you want a start a business while you’re working in a corporate, try to start saving money as early as possible.

Source: News 24

Creating funding opportunities for start ups

Buthelezi, who has worked for Citibank and Deutsche Bank as an equity operations analyst and operations analyst, respectively, says they spent the whole of last year and half of 2018 signing a number of startups who have a huge potential in manufacturing.
 
She said some of the startups could not meet demand and struggled to access funding.
 
With the CFB3 app now in place, Buthelezi says the fledgling businesses have expressed a willing to work with stokvels to address their financial situation.
 
“They are saying if stokvels fund them, they are willing to look at profit-sharing with them,” says Buthelezi, who matriculated from Centurion College in 2006. She holds the ACI certificate on financial instruments, which is required globally for anyone working on an investment bank’s operations department.
 
Buthelezi says interactions between stokvels and startups will address the lack of financial literacy confidence in global communities and also the barriers and inadequacies of startup funding. 
 
“I strongly believe that the current existing annual R44 Billion financial muscle of stokvels will have a great positive impact in curing the over R300 billion (small, medium and macro enterprises) credit gap in South Africa alone,” says Buthelezi, who resigned from Deutsche Bank in 2016 to focus on her business on a full-time basis.
 
She says this is a win-win situation for stokvels and startups as the former are forever looking for ways in which to increase interest on their savings.
 
Buthelezi says the culture of saving and “honest interest earning” is encouraged and facilitated through the CFB3 app. 
 
The businesswoman, who is studying towards an LLB degree at the University of South Africa, says: “I’m very much interested in the advocacy side of things, as opposed to enforcing the law. I want to find innovating ways in ensuring that justice happens even in the entrepreneurship space.”
 
“When we grow up we want to be like Bidvest because we are following more or less the same model.”
Buthelezi volunteered for leadership development organisation City Year after matriculating and represented South Africa at one of its conference in New Hampshire in the US the following year in 2007.
 
The entrepreneur, who regards herself as a leader, has also given inspirational talks in the UK and the US.
 
She says they would also uniquely position Fincamp to tap into the endless opportunities presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution .
 
“There is no way that technology is going to go back. Henceforth, it’s onwards and upwards.”
 
Buthelezi says she has been rallying the lucrative stokvel sector to come to the fore and fund the startups.
 
“If you fund startups you are saying, ‘I’m giving this money to be able to receive profit sharing in years to come’,” she says.
 
She says they would like to see the company listed in the JSE. “We also want to see it owning infrastructure in the connectivity environment. People will get data and fibre (connection) directly from us in the future.”
Source: IOL

How To Turn Your Side Hustle Into A Full-Time Gig

Few people are lucky enough love their 9-to-5s, and more and more people are finding themselves doing something else on the side, either to add to their income or to feed their passion. Sometimes, those “side hustles” start to feel more and more like “the real thing,” and suddenly these people are dreaming about running a business of their own. Sound familiar? If you’re one of the thousands of people dreaming about turning your side hustle into a true business, you’re not alone.

Moving away from a steady, full-time position to being on your own is the scariest, yet most invigorating feeling in the world. I’ve found most people consider entrepreneurship either unattainable or, honesty, highly romanticised. The reality is that neither is correct. Being an entrepreneur is a ton of work, but it’s also completely possible.

1. Be clear and honest with yourself about when it’s time to make the jump

Giving up the benefits and security that come with a full-time job is scary, and sometimes unrealistic, but it’s also dangerous to keep waiting until the time “feels right.” Ask yourself exactly what you need to have before you can make your side gig your new reality. A good rule of thumb is to have enough savings to live for about six months without income, and/or with the income you already have from your side clients.You should also have a clear idea of who your potential clients might be and how to connect with them.

After taking care of the logistical considerations, try to avoid dragging your feet. According to the British Psychological Society, you’re 91 percent more likely to accomplish something if you give yourself a deadline. So do it! Hold yourself accountable. Maybe you’re not willing to stay at your current job beyond a certain date, or maybe there will be other indicators that will make you certain that it’s time to go.

If your current role isn’t fulfilling and the passion is gone, it may be the perfect catalyst for making the jump.

Both of my businesses came to fruition because of my own realisation that I wasn’t flourishing in my current roles. I wasn’t the best, I wasn’t seeing the success I wanted and instead of feeling defeated, I changed directions. For me, the clearest signal that it was time to leave was that I didn’t believe in the goals I was supposed to be working toward.

2. Before you quit, put the processes in place to help your side gig scale

Early on, business organization and strategizing is a huge component of success. You’ll need to limit stress and create as much efficiency and ease as possible in your daily systems. This could mean scheduling things carefully, or using free software to make your work more effective. I try to divide the week into days assigned to different businesses tasks. Try as best you can to not switch back and forth between your different focus areas within the same day. Going back and forth between tasks that are not related is inefficient and breaks focus. Give your brain a break and keep yourself on one straight road each day.

Digitising your work can help, too. According to Accenture, companies that use cloud collaboration tools with their teams improve productivity, have greater clarity about what’s going on in their business and save money. When you first start out, it can feel silly to keep documents in a shareable cloud space (like Google Drive, DropBox or whatever option you like best), but you need to have the structures in place so that you’re organised and ready for the time if/when you hire a team to support you. This is a good thing to play around with before you quit your main gig. Having the tools and processes you know work well for you ready to go when you make the switch can make ramp up time easier.

It’s long hours, it’s always being “on,” its wearing too many hats, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. So, how do you successfully turn your side project or passion into a prosperous business? What are the steps? We all want the “1, 2, 3 and voila, here it is, a company of our own,” but realistically, how can we make it happen? I can only speak to my own experience, failures or what I like to call “directional pivots” and successes. There have been a few true catalysts that have helped me turn my two side gigs into full-time gigs.

3. Work hard, and be humble

Your time is valuable, but as new entrepreneur you can’t treat it like currency. What I mean is, be prepared to put in lots of hours with minimal return. Initially, time may not correlate with financial success; this is an incredibly important mindset to remember. Your time isn’t money, yet. It’s groundwork. Building a side gig up from the ground requires wearing a lot of different hats. If you want your business to succeed, you have to be ready to play customer service rep, salesperson, individual contributor and HR.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, break the work down further. Spend more time working on the day to day tasks, checking things off the to-do list. These are all working toward your big vision, but in small doable pieces rather than hefty overwhelming ones. Try not to consider any task “beneath you” and take some time to truly understand what goes into each part of your business.

You won’t have a boss telling you what’s right or wrong, so you’ll need to build a sense of self-accountability – one of the toughest parts of being an entrepreneur. Take notes about the challenges you face in each aspect of your business so that you’ll know what anyone you might hire will have to cope with. It’s your best chance to uncover important considerations and think about what resources might need to go where, down the line.

4. Surround yourself with smart people – even if you never plan to work with them

As much as entrepreneurship can be a solitary job, especially in the beginning, it’s vital to your success to remember how others can help you thrive. Invest your time in like-minded people. Take time to get to know others and their stories and create valuable relationships. So much of success is built from opportunities or inspiration from people we know.

Find people you connect with to talk about your ideas, write about your ideas online and build a community that empowers you. Take advantage of those around you who want to see you succeed. You’ll be surprised at how much people want to help!

The number of new startups and small businesses has dropped dramatically in recent years, nearing a 40-year low in 2016. The landscape has gotten tougher, which makes being an entrepreneur scarier. Turning a side hustle into the real thing is not easy, and I’d be lying if I said I loved every minute of it. But, just as with most other big decisions in life, there are always lessons to be learned no matter what happens. Be thoughtful, take smart risks and see where your “side hustle” can go.

By Nicolette Amarillas

This article was originally posted on Entrepreneur.com.

AFRICAN WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS – A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE

I recently came across a TED talk by  Natalie Case and Freya Estreller. They are co-founders of CoolHaus, a company that creates architecturally designed Ice cream in the U.S.A

I found their passion and drive for their business fascinating. They started their business with an old postal van, which they converted to an Ice cream truck.

In less than a decade, CoolHaus has grown into a multi-million dollar enterprise. It now has over ten trucks, two scoop shops and is being distributed in over four thousand groceries stores across the U.S.

They currently oversee seventy employees and they plan to broaden CoolHaus to the number 1 recognized Ice cream brand in the world.

Bringing this home to Africa, with the entrepreneurship buzz going on right now, I began to look at the reasons for the springing startups we have right now, especially the businesses founded by women.

Why do women want to be their own bosses? What makes entrepreneurship exciting and interesting right now?  I asked around and found answers like:

I.  More income will help me take care of myself and my family

II.  A business will help to beat the recession crunch

III. It will enable me to be independent of my spouse/ partner

IV. No one wants to be a stay-at-home mom anymore

V. I want to be respected and admired as a capable leader

All of these are great motivating factors but are these all there is to entrepreneurship? These do not have the ability to project a business to global standards.

It is important we know the motive for creating a business because of this, in most cases, determines how far a business will grow.

A woman may want to augment her spouse’s income. She may start a business to achieve this and this will determine the kind of business she goes for and what her vision for her business will be.

If her trade achieves that goal in a few years there might not be a need to expand the business any further. While earning enough to cater for her family is important, having this mentality about the business may stifle it.

If we survey all outstanding businesses, we would discover they were created by people who had a vision of making their companies prominent in the world. This factor may be deficient in Africa’s startups. It is imperative that African women entrepreneurs must first begin to develop a different orientation towards startups.

Building the right business starts from the core, but the right questions need to be asked. Why is it being started? What motivates an individual to start a business?

If these questions are answered correctly, this would change the way African women entrepreneurs approach their businesses. Sadly many entrepreneurs do not know the ‘WHY’of their business.

This crucial step is neglected AND camouflaged with reasons like “Everyone swears by it on Instagram“, “It’s what brings in the cash” and “It just seems like the best thing to do now”

The ‘why’ of a business also establishes if a business is the right thing to do. Does it really meet a need? Does it emerge from an undeniable conviction in the entrepreneur’s heart?

Listen. There are two ways to go about it.

1. Find a passion to turn to a business or find a business to turn to a passion

While a business is something entrepreneurs should be passionate about they shouldn’t be delusional about the relevance of their business. Every business should satisfy the needs of people while accruing profit.

2. Striving onwards

While being financially liberated may be a reason a business is started it should not be the sole reason a business continues. 50% of the United States GDP comes from small businesses employing less than 500 people.

African women entrepreneurs should seek ways to come together and build a conglomerate enterprise that can employ young people from every scope and status in Africa thus helping young entrepreneurs off the streets.

Women should be encouraged to dream big and start businesses that can grow into mega-corporations in their lifetime. This indeed is possible.

African women entrepreneurs shouldn’t be constricted to starting businesses that are short termed, escape routes to financial challenges.

Entrepreneurs should be made to understand that within them lies the capacity to create a lasting legacy and they should regard their business as legacies.

They should be encouraged to have prospects and plans for expansion into the future. Therefore partnership and public corporation are the way to go if these businesses would outlive their founders.

All of these start with a different perspective and a clear vision of what entrepreneurship means and what African female entrepreneurs can do. Some of which include:

  • Influence the decision making in a nation if they drive its economy in a significant way.
  • Sponsors lawyers, activists and projects that will push the goal for women rights and achieve gender equality faster.
  • Reducing the risk of young girls being raped by removing them from the streets through the provision of jobs.
  • Put communities in Africa in the spotlight, they can influence global decisions and drive Africa’s economy.
  • Create brands that outlive them and change the world.

Source: She Leads Africa

HOW TO OVERCOME THE FRIGHT OF STARTING A BUSINESS

If you have decided to ignore all the advice of well-meaning individuals and friends and have still gone ahead to start a business this year, you must have some real guts. Starting a business is no easy task. There are endless challenges that often discourage you from even starting. 

When looking at all the challenges entrepreneurs face, it’s easy to question how your business would thrive. If your business was a soft, supple, newborn baby, your goals as a business owner is to see that this business survives its first years. 

But how do you achieve this and start your business like a boss?

1. Face your fears

Spending nights rolling on your bed, worrying about your business goals won’t make you cause you to achieve them. Unfortunately just thinking about your business will not turn it into reality. You may have several doubts about the likelihood of people getting your products and services, but until you put your business out there you won’t know for sure.

Start by creating your sample products, sell them to family and friends and get feedback about them. With every action, you take you to become less and less afraid.  Every action you accomplish will help your confidence grow and you’ll begin to see your fear diminish.

2. Surround yourself with positive people

Surrounding yourself with positive people can make a huge difference on the success of your business. There are people who would do nothing to encourage you and will not give any positive feedback. If you stay close to such people, you will begin to doubt your ability to reach your business goals.

The truth is, the people closest to you may be more susceptible about your business than strangers. Expect it. They may not believe in your ability to drive your business to fruition, you shouldn’t make it your aim to prove that point to them.

On the other hand, having a supportive people chip in a suggestion or two will stir your faith in your business, you’d start to believe in this brand becoming tangible as you hear them talk about it like it already exists.

3. Be Patient

If there is one thing you will most likely encounter, is roadblocks! And when you do, you will need lots of patience. When things get tough, don’t through your hands in the air and shout “I don’t have time for this”.

Firstly, try and understand that the problem you face is not always your fault. If you cannot go through the problem, find a way to go around it. Do not compare yourself with what you see on the news and social media. Seeing everyone move on a much faster pace may be discouraging.

When you do his a roadblock on your journey, figure out how to deal with it while putting other aspects of your business in track. You should always be ready to take off when the roadblock is removed.

4. Dance upon disappointment

As an entrepreneur, managing disappointment is a skill you can’t afford to live without. So what if things do not work out as you plan? What if a key team member decides to leave at the last minute, or a trusted supplier fails to supply your ingredients on time? What would you do when people fail you?

You cannot always control all circumstances when working with people. When things go wrong, you shouldn’t beat yourself over. Try and come up with new alternatives. Though this may be tough, it will become a lot easier if you stay positive about it.

Take a break, play some music and dance away your disappointments. You can also create a warm environment where everyone can come together and decide on the next steps for the business will be.

Source: She Leads Africa

Awaken Your Entrepreneurial Spirit

Whether you’re keen to start a business in services or hospitality, food or retail, all entrepreneurial ventures have two things in common: you, and the people you want to serve. Together, you form a community bound together by values, and this is what determines your success. That’s because the more your venture allows you to live by your highest values or priorities, the more prepared you’ll be to weather the storms that are an inevitable part of entrepreneurialism and ultimately be able to thrive. On the other hand, the more you’re able to fulfil other people’s needs, the greater your chances of success.

1. Find your niche

A niche is a gap, a need that is currently not addressed by existing businesses. There are all kinds of niches; some are completely disruptive (like Uber, which revolutionised public transport), others simply improve upon an existing concept. But, just because you have identified a niche, doesn’t mean that it’s right for you. You need to make sure it’s a niche that speaks to your market’s needs, while also speaking to your individual needs or highest values.

To do this, you have to make sure that you are clear on your own highest values:

  • What is important to you?
  • What are your priorities?
  • How can you use your business to fulfil these?

If you can’t answer these questions, you may find that you don’t have the energy or resilience to invest in what is an undeniably challenging career path. At the same time, you also need to make sure that you are in tune with the dominant buying motives or highest values of your market. If not, you are simply assuming that there is a need for your product or service, when there might not be. The more you are able to answer the market’s highest need or value, the greater your chances of making a sale.

2. Think innovation

The most successful entrepreneurs are those who improve life for others. Again, Uber stands out as a great example. That’s why it’s not enough simply to have a good head for business: If you’re set on an entrepreneurial career, you need to cultivate an inventive mindset. You need to be constantly on the lookout for the gaps in current offerings so that you can address them and, in so doing, offer people an improved product or service. It’s about creating efficiency and convenience. But, as I’ve previously mentioned, innovation isn’t always new; sometimes, it’s just better.

Richard Branson stands out as a prime example of an entrepreneur who finds dinosaur companies with big brand names that overcharge people because they are well known. He offers to do the same thing at a fraction of the price. He’s not offering anything new; but he is offering improvement and greater efficiency.

3. Focus on problem-solving

You need to be clear on the fact that entrepreneurialism isn’t solely about making money. It’s also about upgrading people’s quality of life. In this way, entrepreneurialism has an inextricably humanitarian component. Once you start focusing on how you can solve the problems that dog our society, you’ll have found a truly rewarding niche – one that’s not only financially rewarding, but one which allows you to service the largest number of people.

4. Keep looking for opportunities

The ability to identify and pursue opportunities is hardwired in most entrepreneurs; it’s part of their DNA. It must be, because this is the only way you will be able to keep refining, building and expanding your business.

Source: Entrepreneur Magazine

Writing a Business Plan May Not Be Your Idea Of Fun, But It Forces You To Build These 4 Crucial Habits

The average entrepreneur reacts to the term “business plan” with distaste, seeing it as a necessary evil when starting a business or seeking funding.

While the process of documenting your plan might not be enjoyable, the results you can get from it can be, as numerous studies have shown a direct correlation between a written business plan and a company’s success. Equally as important, creating your business plan forces you to build many good habits.

Goal setting

Your business plan forces you to set goals. You need to forecast what your sales will be this quarter, this year and in five years.

Creating goals is the first step to achieving them. And when you create them in your business plan, you are forced to support them. Specifically, you must explain how you will achieve those goals. Who must you hire? What type of marketing promotions must you implement? While you may not ultimately follow all the strategies outlined in your plan, you will assess multiple options and determine the best path to follow.

Goal setting clearly yields superior results than entrepreneurs who “fly by the seat of their pants.” Getting in the habit of setting annual, quarterly and monthly goals will help your business grow.

Focus

The biggest fault of most entrepreneurs is that they lack focus. They start down one path, learn of a new idea and then pursue that new path. This is rarely a strategy for success. Rather, it typically results in multiple “partially built bridges.” Importantly, 100 partially built bridges are worth nothing, while one fully built bridge could be all your business needs to be successful.

Your business plan forces you to focus. It does this most specifically in the “Milestones” section. In this section of your plan, you should document what your milestones are by month for the next three months and by quarter for the following four quarters.

Once you have these milestones documented, you’ll gain the habit of judging all new ideas with regards to whether they’ll more effectively allow you to attain your milestones. If they will, then pursue them. If not, table them so they don’t distract you.

Figuring out your unique qualities

I tell entrepreneurs to start their business plans with two succinct messages. The first is a clear definition of your business. That is, what it is that you do. This is important since if readers can’t clearly understand what kind of business you’re in, they’ll stop reading.

The next key message is to explain why you are uniquely qualified to succeed. The answer to this question varies. For instance, maybe your management team has incredible experience. Or you have patented intellectual property. Or you have unique relationships with customers or partners that your competitors don’t. Or market trends have shifted and now require an approach upon which only your company can execute.

If your company is not uniquely qualified to succeed, then at the first sign of your success, you will have lots of competitors and nothing to keep customers from flocking to them.

That’s why in creating your business plan it’s not only critical to think about why you are already uniquely qualified to succeed, but what can you do in the future to cement that position. For instance, should you seek patent protection? Would hiring this person allow you to gain an unfair advantage? And so on.

This is an important habit to form. You should always be thinking about why your company is unique and how to make it more unique, particularly if competitors are gaining on you.

Getting others excited to join you

A great business plan doesn’t only document your goals, milestones, action plans and unique qualifications, but it gets the reader excited. The comparison I tend to use here is between an automobile’s brochure and owner’s manual.

While an owner’s manual tells you every key detail about a car’s features, it is boring and not something anyone reads for pleasure. Conversely, the car’s brochure has cool pictures and sells the car’s best features.

While your business plan needs detail, it should be more like the brochure then the owner’s manual. It should get readers excited. You get them excited not by giving them boring industry statistics, but giving them statistics that prove why your company will be successful. You get them excited by showing how your management team has unique qualifications. And how your past successes make you likely to achieve future success.

When your business plan gets others excited, you can use it to raise funding, and gain customers, partners, board members and virtually anything else you need.

This is yet another important habit to form. You should constantly be getting others excited about your business, as this can prompt your long-term growth.

So, next time you sit down to work on your business plan, realise that in doing so you’re building key habits that will allow you to grow a stronger, more profitable business.

Source: Entrepreneur Magazine

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