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."

Friday, January 30, 2009

Your Elevator Pitch: the clock ticks once you press the button!

Today, I set aside thirty minutes to once again refine the elevator pitch for my business. If you're unfamiliar with the term, an elevator pitch is a sixty-second description about your business--sixty seconds being the time it takes to enter and leave an elevator. The idea behind the term is pretty obvious--you must be able to describe your business like you would to a stranger on a short elevator ride. Some people dislike the term pitch because of its sales connotation---but the fact remains that you are pitching your business because you are doing so with an end result in mind. Maybe your wish is a potential client acquisition, or money from a potential investor.

Depending on your audience, your elevator pitch may vary. For instance, if you are telling a potential client or colleague about your business, you may include a brief description of your product or service, your target customer, the reason your company exists, the solution you provide, etc. However, an elevator pitch to a potential investor usually consists of the following elements:
  • Name of your company and a clear description of your product or service: Your company and a way to be reached is important. So you will want to hand out a business card as you talk or state a website after your company's name (i.e. 800-Sleep at 800sleep.com). The description of your product or service is also very important to your pitch--if you sell products it is vital that you have them displayed with you or on you. If you are a service business, you have your work cut out for you. Make sure to practice a line that adequately explains your business. Most of all, do not forget pricing. Investors want to hear "ching..ching!" How much?
  • A brief line about the need and the "pain" you would be alleviating: The reason you started your business and the "thing" that makes you stand out will be a vital point to cover. You must keep in mind that an investor talks to tons of businesses, so place them in your shoes--why your business? You will also want to briefly mention a target audience and their buying pattern to further hone in your point.
  • Market Penetration: How many clients do you currently have and how many products have you sold? And if you are a service business, investors would definitely want to know about amounts paid, and receivables expected. Your market penetration determines your business "stage" so don't be shy about showing off this number.
  • Amount Requested: Remember to state how much you want and your intended usage for such funds. Investors are like bankers in this regard, asking for money without an idea of how much and what for will irritate them and be a deal closer for you.
  • Return on Investment (ROI): Investors are people too so the "What's in it for me" scenario enters their mind. They are also business people and the thought of a hefty investment return catches their attention quickly. So ensure that you include a statement of what percentage of interest you expect to give them after a set amount of years.

If you're thinking that it's impossible to capture all of this information within a 60-second-pitch, think again! I can tell you from personal experience that it is possible. All you need is practice, practice, practice!

About the Author: Cheryl Isaac is the writer of this blog and the Founder & CEO of Isaac Business Services LLC; an agency that caters to start-up businesses. Her company's website is http://www.isaacbusinessservices.com/

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Laid-Off Employee? Beware!

This week, more than 55,000 job-cut announcements were made from leading companies like: Caterpillar, Sprint, Home Depot, Starbucks, Microsoft, Intel, GM, United Airlines, Pfizer, Target and IBM. In the midst of it all, newly leaked information surfaced--Citi had been considering purchasing a 50 million-dollar foreign jet. After the Treasury Department intervened, Citi announced that it had no plans to purchase a jet. With all the layoff frenzy and spending craziness, one thing is clear--after the big companies have covered their assets, after small businesses have protected their cash flow, you the employee will be left without an umbrella to find shelter from the rain.

If you are not an owner of a Fortune 500 Company, or any company for that matter, you have a problem. Unless you work for a company that truly cares for its employees, you may be on the other side of the protective shields going up at every corner. Businesses are agitated and their primary path to budgetary cuts is you! There are tons of laid-off workers today and most have dedicated their lives to their employers. You as a laid off worker have some rights too; make sure you know learn about them.

If you are a laid-off worker or have the feeling that you may become one, here are 3 reasons to beware:
  1. Beware of Non-Compete clauses: Most companies include these in their employee contracts that workers sign when starting their jobs. It includes specific wording to prevent the employee from later working for competitors within a specified time period and geographic proximity to the company, or from performing a specific function within a new company. They want to ensure that you do not take knowledge that can be passed along to competitors. Former employees who ignore the non-compete clause and eventually sign on with a competing company can be sued for breach of contract. Keep in mind that you have one factor on your side--the fallen economy. So if you are considering working for a competing company, have your HR representative call your former company to see if the non-compete clause can be voided or somehow limited. Or, contact an employment law attorney to help you negotiate with your former employer.
  2. Beware of student loan repayment: Oftentimes, employees who switch jobs may have to repay their former employers for student loans paid on their behalf. However, if you are being laid off, most likely there is a clause that allows you, the laid off worker, to walk away student-loan free. Make sure to do your homework so that you know your entitlements. A simple call to the right department to request loan-repayment documents could be a good start.
  3. Beware of the severance package: If you were a key employee, you would most likely have a severance package thrust at you with key points covered: like money, insurance, etc. However, keep in mind that you do have a recessionary period to sign. Request a couple of days to sign and immediately contact an employment law attorney. Most packages contain a "gag order." With this, you are agreeing not to criticize or sue the company you are leaving. So if you have had some sort of discrimination in the workplace, you have now signed your right-to-sue away. You may also have some negotiating rights as pertains to insurance and payment. Remember, you do not want to wait too long to accept a severance offer, but you do not have to accept right away.
  4. Beware of your start-up business concept: Most laid-off workers turn to entrepreneurship after the heartbreak. Rightfully so. Since most employees have years of experience within a specialized field, they typically want to start there. While this is usually recommended, you also want to ensure that you do not start a business that could be considered a direct competitor of your former employer's. So do your research, peruse your employee contracts diligently, establish your concept and niche differently from your employer's, do not contact a former employer's customers or employees, and consult with an attorney for guidance.

About the Author: Cheryl Isaac is the writer of this blog and the Founder & CEO of Isaac Business Services LLC; an agency that caters to start-up businesses. Her company's website is http://www.isaacbusinessservices.com/

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Your Customers and their Customer Service Experience

Yesterday, I visited a locally owned car wash called Don's Car Care (if you're ever on Main Street in Reynoldsburg please pay them a visit). Before I go on with the story, I must first confess that I have a pet peeve--I CAN'T STAND dirty cars. Since I have a pearly white car, you can probably understand my frustration with dirty cars. I think of my car, house and business in this manner--they're all an extension of me, my personality, and how I carry myself. And so, I refuse to arrive for a business meeting in a car that is brown when it's real color is white (unless of course it's a messy day outside and there is no way to avoid it), or that has visible junk laying around. After all, you never know when you may have to give Bill Gates a ride. Do you really want to pitch to him in a messy car that stinks?

Upon entering this particular car wash, I noticed a difference. First of all, the owners were NOT allowed to drive their own cars through. Upon driving in, you talk to three service workers: one greets you and asks what you need, examines your car and makes additional suggestions (obviously a sales strategy but one that works because it's consultative sales), the other directs you to the drive-up, and the third comes up, opens your doors, points to the walk-up, and takes over your car. You then proceed to watch your car while it was being washed, and get to talk to a fourth person who takes your payment and tries to sell you scents and accessories for your newly washed car.

Although it was a cold day, as I stood waiting on my car, I felt good about being at the car wash. Why? I think that because I interacted with four customer service workers who were motivated, and who presented themselves as consultative car wash engineers, I felt good about being there. I waited but I still felt as if I mattered because four employees interacted with me during my wait. I spent money that I could have saved and I still felt good about being there. And I wasn't the only one. The teenage girl before me could not stop jumping for joy as she saw her car being washed. And keep in mind, the line was long so there had been at least a ten minute wait.

As I stood there deep in thought, I took some mental notes. My main question to myself was, what do I want my customers to say their customer service experience is when dealing with my company? How do I make their interactions easier? What service aspect do I aim to change in order to enhance my brand? These are the questions I will be answering for myself over the next few weeks. I suggest you do the same.

About the Author: Cheryl Isaac is the writer of this blog and the Founder & CEO of Isaac Business Services LLC; an agency that caters to start-up businesses. Her company's website is http://www.isaacbusinessservices.com/

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Countdown: Go-Getter or No-Getter?

"This has been a nation of risk takers...the doers...the makers of things...," were the words by our new President in his inaugural speech--words stated to urge Americans to keep the hopeful spirits and fearless mentality that shaped America into the nation it is today. As I mentioned in a previous post, I kept updated with the Obama campaign regularly, partly because I looked to them for examples of what I considered to be a well-run business. To me, the Obama campaign symbolized audaciousness--Daring to be. The campaign dared to be different. They dared take a route that was not considered to be the norm--after all, Obama spent less time in the senate than what was warranted. They dared to go against industry giants--the Clintons. Most importantly, they dared to fight the odds and stand their grounds when most thought they were crazy. And what I admired most of all about the campaign and its leader is that they remained poised during most of their challenging times--even when you sensed that they had to be terrified.

Starting a business is about daring to be--it is about risk taking. Since America was shaped on the backs of business owners and inventors, a nudge in the same direction could be what is needed to nurse this economy and restore economic independence to families. Warren Buffet, once considered the second richest man in the world, says that "the big question about how people behave is whether they've got an Inner Scorecard or an Outer Scorecard: If the world couldn't see your results, would you rather be thought of as the world's greatest investor but in reality have the world's worst record? Or be thought of as the world's worst investor when you were actually the best?"

Timing is never perfect when it involves business start-up. You're either in or out. Being sensitive to what others think about you will not work either--you must accept critique, listen to feedback, and take negativity with a grain of salt. This week, I've had two people tell me that they needed to talk it over with the family to decide whether this is the right time. Last week, someone presented a business concept they've been planning for years--and yet they don't believe this is the time. Just today, someone told me that he does not believe that the public will take him seriously and so he will wait a few more years. A few months ago, I would have tried to convince these people to start their business and I would have spent a lot of time with follow-up calls and appointments to no avail. I don't do that anymore because I learned a lesson. I learned that true entrepreneurs are go-getters, they are risk takers. True entrepreneurs don't need convincing. They just need help and to feel confident that their helper is efficient.

Since dealing with start-ups, I have found that there is a certain way of thinking and doing that proves itself fruitful:

  • Don't think about the gruesome steps that lie ahead; instead literally attack each task on a daily/monthly basis

  • Discuss your ideas with friends, family and associates. Then listen for the naysayers and exclude them from your updates; and I mean tell them NOTHING!

  • Pick a projected start/trial date, jot it down and form a plan around that date. This will encourage you to take some action.

  • Daydream and fantasize about your desired business (because in order to think big, you must first dream big)

  • Don't analyze too much--attack a topic or issue and move on.

  • Then DO as you PLAN. Step out and start small steps. Take a calculated risk--but this means you actually have to step out and do it. You can call it a trial period, a launch period, etc. Just try it! Your first attempt may be futile and you will definitely learn that you were wrong about some aspect of the business (hopefully not the entire concept) but you must try and err first before you can truly learn.

About the Author: Cheryl Isaac is the writer of this blog and the Founder & CEO of Isaac Business Services LLC; an agency that caters to start-up businesses. You can also view her article for start-ups on http://www.womenentrepreneur.com/ (http://www.womenentrepreneur.com/article/3850.html) Her company's website is http://www.isaacbusinessservices.com/

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Use E-Mail to Spread the word and Ease the stress

This month, I am grateful to the editors of Business Vision for the chance to be mentioned in Key Bank's Business Vision magazine. The magazine focuses on small business issues and is circulated four times a year at every Key Bank branch location. Start-up business and the world of entrepreneurship is my true passion, so any opportunity to be affiliated with people who care about business is exciting to me. I truly believe that entrepreneurship is the next wave that will catapult its way through our communities, cities, schools and economy. Generation Y is geared up and ready to take over with an entrepreneurial storm that has never been seen before--and technology and social networking is the cloud that will transport this generation.

So it is only appropriate that the article, titled "@ccess the inbox" discussed e-mail marketing campaigns as a way to bring in new clients. One of my quotes about e-mail marketing that was noted is "I really rely on it for getting the word out about my workshops." E-mail is the new and hassle free way of communication nowadays and I still don't understand why some refuse to conform to it. An example of how I have used e-mail marketing is when I hosted a Power Lunch late 2008. E-mail marketing was my only source for getting my participants. Interestingly enough, the lunch centered around the topic of the "internet as a tool to grow business."

In addition to marketing, I also use e-mail to communicate with my clients (especially since I work with clients in different states). I set appointments using e-mail, and put in an occasional call to confirm. I update using e-mail. I network using e-mail. I have built relationships using e-mail. I even have access to my e-mail on my blackberry, so I can still communicate with people and clients when I am running around from meetings, events and errands. I talk to an average of twenty people a day via e-mail. Calculate the time factor if I talked to this much people via phone a day (in addition to other calls I get) and imagine how much time I would spend talking as well as completing projects and meeting clients. E-mail is a vital business-assistance-tool for me and it helps ease the entrepreneurial multi-tasking pain.

Newsletters are another great form of e-mail marketing. They provide a platform for a business owner to express their views on a subject that is relevant to their business. Now I must admit that I am not a huge fan of newsletters. I find most to be too cluttered and too informative about a variety of subjects I don't care about. My preferences are blogs. However, newsletters are proven to be effective marketing tools and so I utilize them as well. With the right newsletter, your readers can easily forward your newsletter e-mail to a friend, or facebook it (I'm a big facebooker). Think about, you can send a newsletter out to 10 people, they can each forward it to one friend and you can end up with 20 readers who have learned a little more about your business. All this can happen in a few minutes with a few clicks of a mouse.

Whenever you can, work smarter not harder. Use e-mail to:
  • Send out relevant information to a carefully selected audience
  • Communicate with clients and colleagues when it pertains to minuscule details
  • Market an event, product, or service
  • Build relationships with business owners or colleagues who may not have time to meet or have phone conversations

Cheryl Isaac is the writer of this blog and the Founder & CEO of Isaac Business Services LLC; an agency that caters to start-up businesses. You can also view her article for start-ups on www.WomenEntrepreneur.com (http://www.womenentrepreneur.com/article/3850.html) Her company's website is www.IsaacBusinessServices.com

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tools for Start-up Businesses with little Money and lots of inspiration

If you are starting a business with virtually no money, lots of inspiration, and plenty of hard work, then you are a bootstrapper according to Seth Godin, author of The Bootstrapper's Bible.

Seth lists seven tools for the bootstrapping start-up:
  1. Nothing to lose: this is my key tool. When I started my business I thought, "what do I have to lose?" As a start-up, you will be going against established industry giants who may not want to offer the prices or services you are offering. So why hesitate?
  2. Happy with small fish: Today bigger businesses are swimming in a sea of layoffs and store closings. You as a start-up are happy with your small office and smaller profits so use that to your advantage. While a bigger company may need millions to break-even, you may need hundreds or thousands. So don't let an industry giant discourage you.
  3. Presidential input: If someone is unhappy with my company or services, they get to voice their disappointment to me. If they are unhappy with a big competitor, they get to speak to ten different people in their customer service department. If my customer wants a service offering changed to fit them, I make the decision. If they want it from a bigger company, they have to fill out surveys and hope it gets to the right decision maker.
  4. Rapid R&D: As a bootstrapping business, you don't depend on a host of people to get something accomplished. It simply gets done by you or a partner. So if there is a problem with a product or service, your customers can expect some quick resolution.
  5. The underdog: When you are the underdog, everyone tends to sympathize with you. Just ask Barack Obama. Your customers empathize when you explain your day-to-day business life and they automatically root for you. People simply cut you some slack.
  6. Low overheard: A bootstrapping business does not have high expenses and will use this to its advantage.
  7. Time: Time is your best friend. You have time, and you don't have time (because of all the hours that small business owners work). Yet you have the flexibility that big companies do not. You don't have to pay someone to come in on a Saturday to get that project completed (and hope that they don't take time off or give an excuse). You can simply go to the office, or work from home at night to finish your project.

A bootstrapping start-up needs to use these seven tools as a motivational aid when presenting before a potential client. And when you have that depressing moment because no one will take you seriously, remember these tools and perk up. Start-ups and bootstrapping businesses exist for a reason--to offer products/services that would otherwise be overlooked.

Cheryl Isaac is the writer of this blog and the Founder & CEO of Isaac Business Services LLC; an agency that caters to start-up businesses. You can also view her article for start-ups on www.WomenEntrepreneur.com (http://www.womenentrepreneur.com/article/3850.html) Her company's website is www.IsaacBusinessServices.com

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The New Year and your Business

by Cheryl Isaac

I'm not a huge fan of New Year's resolutions, but I must admit that around the time the old year nears to an end, I'm usually thinking about what I would do different for the new year. So at the end of 2008, I decided that in 2009, I would try to:
  • Live a healthier lifestyle: I'm watching my sugar intake (so about three months ago I stopped drinking pop and most drinks that include high fructose corn syrup), I'm incorporating some exercise into my weekly routine (so I've bought exercise dvds and will also be transforming one of the rooms in my home into a workout room with equipment), I'm eating a lot of fish and watching carb intake, and I've been trying to eat three times a day minimum (instead of once a day as I would do after working crazy hours).
  • Grow my business to fit my lifestyle: For most, starting a business was a result of wanting some sort of freedom to make life choices; and this is true for me. I've always wanted to be free to do what I love, and not feel constrained. And this is one of the main reasons I was prompted to start a business. So this year, incorporating my love for social media, social networking and virtual interaction into my business model will be a focus for me.
  • Find some time for hobbies: For me, this includes mini-getaways and road trips with my hubby. My husband and I are both entrepreneurs and we work insane hours. Since our love for our companies keep us motivated to work, we look forward to our breaks when we travel together. I've found that your greatest level of clarity often comes when you are happy, peaceful and not trying to think. So I've decided to plan small trips (if I can afford them), take pictures, meet new people, see how they do business, and find time to breathe and enjoy life.
  • Connect with people who care about small business: If people really care about small business, then they care about small business success. The skepticism that surrounds the world of business can be a barrier of entry for most and the worst is when it comes from seasoned business owners. I think that every young business owner (and not just young in terms of age but in terms of business) needs to surround themselves with young or old business owners who care about the success of small business. There is strength in numbers and the more you surround yourself with optimistic people, the more optimism you retain, and the more mental support you get.

I have decided to take these steps to keep my sanity, keep focused, keep healthy, and still be myself. My business is still at its early stages right now, but I do realize that I'm growing my brand and that everything starts with me. So what are you doing for your business in the New Year?

Cheryl Isaac is the writer of this blog and the Founder & CEO of Isaac Business Services LLC; an agency that caters to start-up businesses. You can also view her article for start-ups on www.WomenEntrepreneur.com (http://www.womenentrepreneur.com/article/3850.html) Her company's website is www.IsaacBusinessServices.com

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Economy getting you down? Get Creative!

by Cheryl Isaac

According to CNN Money, there were 533,000 jobs lost in November 2008; bringing the year's totals to 1.9 million in November. In December 2008, AT & T, Viacom, DuPont, and Avis announced about 20,000 plus total cuts to take place over several months. Reuters then reported 700,000 jobs lost in December 2008 (more than what had been estimated). This month, AEP announced high cuts to occur over a few months span.

Yet, despite all this frenzy, Discover Small Business Watch's polls showed an uptick in optimism amongst small business owners. The measure of relative economic confidence had risen to 21% in December. Although small businesses are struggling also with this downward economy, business owners retain confidence in their products and services, in the people they serve, and in the values of entrepreneurship. I believe all of this stems in part from the knowledge that although failure is a probability, small business owners realize that before anything happens to change their lives, they will be aware of it. They will have some input in the direction of their business and lifestyle.

If you think I provided you with this information to get you depressed, think again! I wrote this to say, "WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? BECOME A FREELANCER OR START YOUR OWN BUSINESS! OUR NEW ERA IS TIED TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP" If you have a passion, are a self-starter, have uncovered a need, have confidence in your abilities, then go for it! If not, entrepreneurship may not be your ball game. With the new wild world of the web, anyone can sell anything. Plus, no one expects everyone to work out of an office anymore, so home-based businesses are rampant. So what is your excuse?

Starting your business while keeping a full-time job has been done by a lot of successful entrepreneurs. You must first analyze your personality (because it takes a special person to step out alone) then you must start taking the necessary steps to get there. However, you cannot slack at your day job either. The least you can do is show some respect for the employer who gives you a paycheck (although he could fire you and do the work himself). In the long run, this is what you will achieve: you will have a second set of income, if you get laid off you still maintain some confidence, you will have aided your economy by being a small business owner, you will have taken the chance to double your salary if you work hard and you will have the freedom to quit in the future if you choose to. Sounds good? Then start calculating your risks by pre-planning for business ownership.

Cheryl Isaac is the writer of this blog and the Founder & CEO of Isaac Business Services LLC; an agency that caters to start-up businesses. She has also written an article for start-ups on www.WomenEntrepreneur.com (http://www.womenentrepreneur.com/article/3850.html) Her company's website is www.IsaacBusinessServices.com

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Managing your Customer Relationship

by Cheryl Isaac

If you are a small business owner who thinks that a system to manage your customer data means paper folders and pads, think again. Small businesses (especially those with a one-person-sales-department) need to have an adequate system in place to keep up with customers and leads. If you are a service business, you know how important this can be. A lead (possibility of a sale) can turn into a prospect (potential client) and then a client. This cycle could occur in a day or two, or could take several months. To ensure that you remember each customer or potential customer, you must have a system to manage your sales and service cycle (which will be different for each business).

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is an organizational system that helps you manage and control your customer data. It makes life easier when dealing with clients, prospective clients, leads, sales numbers, etc. You know you have a good system in place when you remember to call your customer three months later (as promised) to see whether they are now ready to try your new product or service.

Trying to remember who to call, who to thank, whose account needs maintenance, or which employee brought in the most accounts, takes a lot of time and energy. Of course, there is also the possibility that you will forget and end up having a disgruntled customer. It is a relief when you can sign onto a computer and CRM software system and have a reminder pop up to call Mrs. Jones (who took a month vacation) to follow-up on your presentation two months prior. Now this may seem simple enough to do on your own, but can you really remember every potential client you talked to two months ago?

Some CRM systems out there are: Webex (http://www.webex.com/), Salesforce, (http://www.salesforce.com/) NetSuite (http://www.netsuite.com/) and Small Business CRM (http://www.thecontractoroffice.com/). Most companies will offer you a free trial to test out their service; after which you pay a low monthly fee. Take advantage of free trials because this is the best way to figure out whether the pricing, structure, usability, or dashboard features work for your business. If you are a sole proprietor, you will definitely want to implement a system to manage your customer data; especially since databases are now operating as great sales assistants.

Cheryl Isaac is the writer of this blog and the Founder & CEO of Isaac Business Services; an agency dedicated to start-up businesses. www.IsaacBusinessServices.com

Thursday, January 1, 2009

How Do You Go From A Job, To A Career, To A Business?

by Cheryl Isaac

My job sucks. My 9-5 is boring. I hate that place. My boss is annoying. If I have to answer one more phone call... These are common statements made by employees who dread their work environment and hate their jobs because this is simply what it is to them--a JOB. Not a CAREER. I was listening to a comedian the other day and he said that "there's never enough time in the day when you have a career." This is because when you have a career, you enjoy becoming entangled in what you do so much so that you lose track of time most days.

So why do people stay? Money of course is the biggest motivator for sticking with a lifeless job, but fear is a main reason for hanging on. You see, a fruitless job is like a meaningless relationship to some. They don't want to leave because they fear the unknown. What if they don't like that new job or they can't get comfortable with new co-workers? What if their new duties are more challenging? What about that seniority they now lose to become a newbie? Oh, and the big one...what if their new boss fires them for a mistake? At least at this job, they have some kind of security. Or do they? Now the economy has become a bigger excuse. It doesn't matter that you still try to get a new job before you leave the old one (same as it was when we had a good economy). Some still find some excuse to latch on to.

Someone asked me what to do about a job recently and I just asked, "what do you want to do?" It's that simple to me. When I was an employee, I never had a problem leaving a job for another that would help me grow as a person. And I never expected loyalty from a company (I simply didn't believe in it). I would enter a new position, ask for the numbers of the top sales people, and vow to myself to reach the top in half the time it took for your average salesperson. Then I would look at those who fell in the "average" ranking and make a note to always remain above their numbers. And I did. Recognition and awards would always make me uneasy, so I would ask for recognition in one way--by being given more responsibilities or a more favorable title. If I didn't feel like I was being appreciated for my part in helping a company increase its bottom line, I would leave. Just like that. Along the way, I realized my true passion for helping small business owners.

There was one thing I always knew. I knew that I was establishing a career--not a job. I had jobs when I was in high school. They were boring and meaningless, but they gave me a meager salary and that was enough for a high school student. You make a leap from a job when you realize what is in it for you (besides the paycheck). You could be a cook at Wendy's who realizes that you like helping other employees come up with solutions to workplace problems. Guess what? You just realized your future management career path--all that's left is how do you get there? When you can have a company recognize your worth, feel your passion, and want to help you so that you can help them, you have found your career! You could possibly be headed for your career path in your current job right now; you may just have to find the right job duty to get you there.

The best start-up business clients I have are the ones who have given a company years of their life, and now want to use that same energy to create wealth for themselves. They know that their experience entitles them to be experts, they have been tested, and they are ready to be their own boss. You go from a career to entrepreneurship when you can say with no uncertainty that you love what you do so much, that you are willing to take the risk of a paycut to keep doing it; just on your own terms.

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