Our First-Time Visitors

A Serial Entrepreneur Becomes A Millionaire From An Accidental Startup

Monis Rahman, serial entrepreneur, accidentally launched Rozee.pk when he needed to find more programmers for his startup.

Getting A Mentor

I had a strategy session with a business start-up owner a few months ago. She was six months into her start-up and needed some ideas during her development stage.

Simple Steps To Creating Your First Website

When you make that decision to start a business, you immediately become a multi-tasking maniac. Let's face it, you will have a lot of work on your hands.

Why 'Core Competency' Is Important To A Startup

Well, I like the answer that Norm Brodsky gives in his book, The Knack: "It was the one thing we had that our competitors couldn't offer, and by the time they caught up, we had a foothold in the market and were known for providing that service."

Monday, March 31, 2008

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP VS. MANAGEMENT

I was fortunate to attend a "power lunch" hosted by the Young Professional Association of the Columbus Urban League on March 26th. The lunch took place on Franklin University's campus and Dr. Christopher Washington, Chief Academic Officer at the University and Dean of the School of Management & Leadership, was the speaker.

The Young Professional Association is an affiliate of the Columbus Urban League and promotes the development of young professionals in the Columbus, Ohio area. There were a few young professionals in attendance at this lunch-meet and the discussion centered on the necessity of leadership and how it applies to, "building on one's own strengths."

So, my thought during this lunch was, "as a business owner, how can I apply these concepts to management and leadership in the world of entrepreneurship?"
Dr. Washington noted that, "leaders have to be able to get people to change their belief system." While listening to him speak on this subject, I was reminded of a passage in one of my favorite books (How to Win Friends & Influence People), where the author says, "there's only one way...to get anybody to do anything...and that is by making the other person want to do it."

How many times have you had a manager who goes around "barking" orders or managing their numbers instead of their employees? Or what about the manager/sole proprietor/teacher/corporate head who excels at his/her craft but simply misunderstands his or her team? Then there's the leader who motivates the team, knows about each person's passion and insecurity as it relates to the company, the leader who gains the respect of the team so that they work hard to see that leader succeed, the leader who knows what gets a certain team member driven and what hinders another, the leader who leads by example and creative ideas. Sadly, sometimes this leader is not necessarily in a management role.

Dr. Washington also stressed the point that, "leading differently starts with you. One must see, think & do differently." Besides making me do an immediate mental self evaluation, this point made me think about all the managers who consider themselves leaders. The terms leadership and management are usually used simultaneously but are they really the same? Can a bookstore owner who has 10 years of experience and has operated his business in the community for 5 years be the same as a bookstore owner who has less than 3 years of experience, is new to town, and has opened a bookstore and curbside cafe that offers monthly bookclub sessions and even offers a book subscription service with free postage?

My position is NO! The second owner is definitely a leader-- a leader in his community and his industry. He has defined the new market for small bookstore owners and he has afforded his customers with something they crave: education coupled with leisure and convenience. This does not undermine the first owner at all, it simply shows that he is a manager of his craft but is not able or willing to step "outside-of-the-box." He has relevant management experience but not necessarily leadership experience. Obviously, having managers who are also leaders will be an ideal solution. However, it does beg the question, will we see a trend where managers are trained as leaders, or will the chance be taken to train "leaders by instinct" for management roles?

I would love to see the latter. What do you think?


Cheryl Isaac is the President/Owner of Isaac Business Services and can be reached at:
www.IsaacBusinessServices.com

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

INTERNET BRANDING???!!!

Recently, I came across some interesting information while reading a book called, "The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding." This is something I have not thought about from the author's perspective--treating the internet as a business.

I, like most, have always thought of the internet as a medium. I have established a web presence and I usually partake in business-related social web activities. I have made friends and clients through the internet but have not realized that I was still using the internet as a medium.

The authors suggest that there are brands and there are internet brands and that we need to decide, "for my product or service, is the Internet going to be a business or a medium?" The authors go on to make the point that if the internet will be a business for you, then you must, "start from scratch, you must develop a totally new strategy...and a totally new name." They then make examples of banks that have URLs and argue that these banks will never win the Internet bank war because for the internetbank.com, banking is a business while there are options for the traditional banks. Hence, for traditional banks, the internet is a medium.

So when thinking about these valid points for my framework of business, I've realized that the internet for my business, IBS-IsaacBusinessServices, will be always be used as a medium (it just makes the most sense for my line of business). However, the food for thought is: what aspect of my business can I develop as an internet business? What product/service can I develop as an internet business that will still apply to my market segment? What "totally new strategy" and "totally new name" can I develop for the internet?

What about you? How can this apply to your business, institution, project, department, etc.?


Cheryl Isaac is the founder of Isaac Business Services and can be reached at:
www.isaacbusinessservices.com
or
[email protected]

Monday, March 17, 2008

YOU PLANNED YOUR BUSINESS; NOW MARKET YOUR PLAN!!

Some think the hardest part of business ownership is actually getting it started. Most would say that marketing your business and yourself is arguably the most difficult step in entrepreneurship. So, how do you let others know that you exist and that you are really serious about what you do? Here are some tips:

  • Research your competitors and the services they offer
  • Research the customers you will sell to and see if they need your product
  • Research the area you will do business from to assess whether it is the right location for your particular product/service
  • Find out if your ideal customer base will do business in your area and at your location
  • Establish a niche (that "umph" that will set you apart from your competitors and draw your ideal customer base to you)
  • Establish your pricing based on your research
  • Then, construct a realistic & detailed marketing plan based on your research. It should be a plan that you will actually follow

Your plan should also include the amounts you are willing to spend on getting your name out there. This could be done via business cards, flyers, website, print advertising, internet, radio or tv advertising, etc. My suggestion: Just Do Something! Let people know that you exist and that you are serious!!

Don't forget...hiring business consultants is always a good route to go because you actually have unbiased and professional advice!!

Monday, March 3, 2008

When Do You Hear, "Your Business Is Approved For This Loan?"

Recently, there have been a lot of efforts in support of providing entrepreneurs with capital to start their business. Eg: Small Business Administration (SBA) Express Loans, State Development Office Loans, etc. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts has even helped with some reform geared towards improving women and minority business loans in his role as Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. There are micro loan programs and angel investors, as well as venture capitalists. State governments are also improving business services departments and banks are advertising credit cards, business line of credit, business loans, etc.

As a business owner and ex-banker, I too feel like it is still hard to obtain financing for your business. How do we increase business ownership if entrepreneurs with low budgets still find it hard to obtain financing? The fact is that more established businesses are considered favorable, yet they had to start somewhere too right?

Angel Investors oftentimes look for certain industry-specific businesses. Venture Capitalist investors look for tenure and companies expecting to make millions in their first years . Banks look for tenure (most times 1-3 years); but sometimes reduce those limitations when they enter these loans as SBA loans. The SBA in turn, looks at credit, income and debt-to-income ratios. Somewhere in the middle, someone gets left to "fall between the cracks."

Should there be programs targeted towards businesses with no proven records, but GREAT ideas, SOLID business plans, a STRONG NICHE and a powerful assumption of success?

-Cheryl Isaac-

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More