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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."

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Thoughts of the Aspiring Entrepreneur

by Cheryl Isaac

I hosted a workshop today that focused on transitioning from a full-time career to a business--part-time or full-time. My husband and I shared our story on how we made the transition and how our experiences formed the foundation for the business model. Everyone in the workshop was so open to sharing their thoughts and concerns about entrepreneurship, that I decided to take some notes. Of all the thoughts shared, this is what a majority of the attendees admitted to thinking about after they try to conquer the fear that hinders them from moving forward: positioning themselves and their business. They think, now that I have moved from step one and I'm ready, what now? They listed some key elements of concern:
  • Where do I start? They listed frustrations with too much paperwork and feeling overwhelmed.
  • When is the best timetable? For some, they wanted to know the magic number--"Is it a year, less than that, when?" they asked.
  • What next after I get a potential client interested? Someone mentioned that she had sold someone on the idea of getting her services and when the person finally agreed, she did not know what to do next.

My response to all of these questions resembled some of these tips I normally give: you have to start with research and your gut feeling. Research will include learning about your industry and about what you would have to bring to the table (i.e. What talents or hired talent? What will you do different?) Then you will have to learn about your market, your target audience and what they want and how they buy. It will also include learning about your state regulations, licenses and permits you would need (this is why I have posted the Secretary of State websites for ALL the states on my website). As for timetables, that would depend on where you are in life (i.e. you could have been laid off and know that you want to start now or you could be planning for the next stage of things--which by the way is my favorite way). However, the reality is, no one can tell us this timing--we have to feel it inside. The key is planning forward, you can't just decide that everything will fall into place when you are ready.

As for figuring out what to do after a potential client has agreed to purchase your service or system, you would want to incorporate systems for this. Meaning a set A-B-C-D method of doing things. An example would be, "I have found out what Mr. B likes or needs...I have told him about how my company could fulfill that need...He is interested...I have drawn up a proposal to ensure that he knows how we will accomplish this goal...he lets me know that he is still interested by agreeing to the proposal...I advise him on payment methods, etc...."

In Donald Trump's book, Wealth Building 101, Dr. Michael Gordon states that one of the factors in thinking like an entrepreneur means acting decisively. He states that "entrepreneurship is a contact sport...it is about doing, figure out how to get the task done and be unstoppable in its execution." So, even if you don't have your system in place yet, just go! Think quick and make sure you sound confident! I have learned that it gets easier after the first try, you just have to make yourself GO!

Questions, comments about the workshop or this topic? Please post here...

Cheryl Isaac is the writer of this blog and the Chief Executive Officer of Isaac Business Services.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Networking to Create Friends

by Cheryl Isaac

Just recently, a good friend asked me for some tips on "easing into networking." While I do not claim to be an expert on the topic, I can say that for someone who hates being the center of attention, I am pretty comfortable attending events or networking socials and interacting with people. Why? Because I see it as an opportunity to make new friends or business acquaintances. I don't go because I think I will get new business or close any deals. I just want to meet new people. Everything else falls into place after.

Here are some tips for networking that could help:
  • Go early: this might help ease your anxiety because everyone will come in and see you instead of the other way around
  • Find someone standing alone and try to make them feel comfortable; introduce them to people you meet
  • Hang around the coffee or food table; someone's likely to stop by
  • Always keep an inviting facial expression and make eye contact with people
  • Go regularly to things/events you like: you might run across the same people and gain some rapport
  • Invite people to lunch or coffee: instead of trying to talk to everyone, find a few people and learn about them--let your name and face stick out to them
  • Analyze your results: what's working for you?
  • Don't network just to network; focus on finding the right fit
  • Listen! Don't ask questions just to ask; be genuinely interested in what someone else has to say

Whatever you do, don't let the fear of networking hinder you from meeting new people. No matter how much confidence we may portray as business owners, we need all the help we can get and we definitely need people!

Cheryl Isaac is the writer of this blog and the Chief Executive Officer of IBS-Isaac Business Services--a business development firm for start-ups.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

How Do you Network?

By Cheryl Isaac

Do you still get nervous when you have to attend some function or event as a part of your networking strategy? If you are a small business owner, you know that every chance you get to inform someone of what you do for a living is important. The question is, how are you doing this informing? Are you coming off as the slick talking, strong, confident, and aggressive sales person that you want to be viewed as? If you are, you're doing it all wrong.

I was at a networking event last week and my new friend at this event would not get off his "soapbox" for a minute to listen to the woman who was trying to give him a few hints that she was open to doing business with him. He kept on stressing his experience, his company's experience, then he went on to talking negatively about his competitors...and all this time she kept asking him questions that started like this, "So if I were to do business with you....what would you...." and questions like this, "So a person like me would pay...." And this guy missed all of those leading questions.

Bob Burk, author of How To Cultivate a Network of Endless Referrals, says that "the people we find more interesting are the people most interested in us." I've found that my most successful networking trips have been the ones that allowed me to forge ongoing relationships. Matter of fact, this is the reason I attend such events. I don't chase "quick sales" because I want to build the "know you, like-you, trust-you" feeling that Burk talks about further in his book. I've found that when my clients have not built that trust, it's harder building an ongoing relationship with them.

Burk advises that you always have a benefit statement about yourself or your business when you meet with people at a networking event. This statement should explain how what you do might help the person standing next to you. For instance, if you are a financial advisor, instead of saying that, you might want to say, " I help people build wealth..." My benefit statement is, "I help full-time employees make the transition from their careers to owning their business. I save them some time by doing the "leg work" for them and "holding their hands" through the process until they are able to leave their jobs."

What is your benefit statement? Any networking tips or stories you want to share? Post here...

Cheryl Isaac is the writer of this blog and the Chief Executive Officer of Isaac Business Services

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