Tag Archives: Creativity

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Do you have an idea for a book? Unless you can find a traditional publisher to fund it (no small feat) your only alternative is to self-publish. There are essentially no standards to what can be self-published. Of course, you fund the project yourself. For an overview of self-publishing see http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/pod/.

There are several companies that offer packages for on the order of $4,000. I used iUniverse out of Bloomington Indiana. For one’s investment, one gets the book ID (ISBN), the style of the book and delivery of a print-on-demand (POD) copy. An alternative is to print offset, a process that runs in quantity. With this you get into the inventory management business.

Few authors get by with the standard package. The publisher’s marketing resources all cost extra and it seems to me that they were a total waste. With offset there are also warehouse fees. The average self-published book sells 250 copies over its lifetime. In addition the eBook competes with the hard copy.

I made a terrible mistake, aided by misinformation about royalties from my book representative at iUniverse, and printed 2,000 copies of my book. For information on the book see https://www.jbv.com/8steps. This site also contains a link to purchase the book. After I realized the mistake I tried to back out, and the vendor was extremely uncooperative. I took them to small claims court and got close to half of my purchase returned.

So, what advice would I give? Don’t print offset. Live with the POD even though the return is less. Do more research than I did; there are less expensive alternatives, particularly if you are comfortable managing your own marketing. Choose an underserved topic; mine is about business startup and the selection is huge.

Entrepreneurial Career Consulting

The following is excerpted from Careers in Entrepreneurship, http://careers-in-business.com/en.htm. If you find it overwhelming, consider entrepreneurial career consulting. There are sources of free consulting such as SCORE, http://www.score.gov.

Entrepreneurs start new businesses and take on the risk and rewards of being an owner. This is the ultimate career in capitalism – putting your idea to work in a competitive economy. Some new ventures generate enormous wealth for the entrepreneur. However, the job of entrepreneur is not for everyone. You need to be hard-working, smart, creative, willing to take risks and good with people. You need to have heart, have motivation and have drive.

There are many industries where wealth creation is possible be it the Internet and IT, personal services, media, engineering or small local business (e.g., dry cleaning, electronics repair, restaurants).

But there is a downside of entrepreneurship too. Your life may lack stability and structure. Your ability to take time off may be highly limited. And you may become stressed as you manage cash flow on the one hand and expansion on the other. Three out of five new businesses in the U.S. fail within 18 months of getting started.

It’s important to be savvy and understand what is and is not realistic. The web is chock-full of come-ons promising to make you rich. Avoid promotions that require you to pay up front to learn some secret to wealth.

Look for inefficiencies in markets. Places where a better idea, a little ingenuity or some aggressive marketing could really make a difference. Think about problems that people would pay to have a solution to. It helps to know finance. It’s a must to really know your product area well. What do consumers want? What differentiates you from the competition? How do you market this product?

A formal business plan is not essential, but is normally a great help in thinking through the case for a new business. You’ll be investing more in it than anyone else, so treat yourself like a smart, skeptical investor who needs to be convinced that the math adds up for the business you propose starting.

John B. Vinturella, Ph.D. has over 40 years’ experience as a management and strategic consultant, entrepreneur, and college professor. He is a principal in the business opportunity site jbv.com and its associated blog. John recently released his latest book, “8 Steps to Starting a Business,” available on Amazon.

Creative Ways to Become a Business Owner In 2018

A new year, a new you: it’s a time-honored tradition to treat yourself to a spruce up as one year becomes another.

But the start of the next 12 months of your life isn’t just a chance to dust off your cobwebs and hit the gym, it’s an opportunity to make a big career change by starting a new business.

Running your own business is a challenging, but supremely rewarding, experience. If it’s something you’ve been thinking of for a while — there is no time like the present to get stuck in!

Below I have listed some of the creative ways that you can become a business owner in 2018 to help give you some direction and inspiration.

Help other businesses outsource

A B2B service-based business is hugely recession-proof. Unlike product-based businesses that ebb and flow depending on consumer demand, service businesses are always in demand. Why? Because they help other businesses stay afloat.

There are plenty of things that business owners are happy to outsource and get off their chest, including:

● HR

● Accounting & Finance

● Marketing & Comms

● Administration

● Customer Service

● IT

● Maintenance.

Whether you are a good ‘all-rounder’, or have specific skills — setting up your own B2B business is a savvy move. You may even find that your skills are best suited to an advisory or coaching role — business consultants are always in high demand.

The best B2B businesses inspire confidence, show measurable results, and help busy business owners do more with their time (and money). You can also have a bit of fun with your brand and aim it at a very specific niche market or vertical.

Test case — social media manager & business owner

There are expected to be 2.62 billion social media users in 2018. That’s 35% of the world’s total population of 7.48 billion!

Given the ever growing popularity of social media it presents an opportunity for you to start a new business in 2018 as a social media manager/consultant.

Any company with ambition of surviving the age of social media will have an outlet to connect with their followers — and many companies are increasingly falling short of what’s required of them in this new social commerce age.

Spend some time researching the different platforms, or enhancing your existing knowledge of them, and then set up a business to sell your services. You can start by just working on a few smaller contracts, and build yourself up to business owner slowly. Once you have taken on more work, be smart about scaling and invest in virtual assistants and copywriters to help you service more clients.

Make money from your own personal brand

Imagine if you could get paid just for being yourself?! OK, it’s not as easy as that — but a stellar online brand can definitely be something to monetize and profit from. If you have a compelling story to tell, a gift or flair — start making the most of what you’ve already got. A lot of online personalities only made it because they were brave enough to put themselves out there.

Number one rule: be clear on what you want to achieve from day one. If you’re looking to build a business here, you will need to invest in your branding, drive traffic, and have plenty of ways to make money from your brand. Just creating a website won’t guarantee you’ll have a business to run — be prepared to put in months of brand development time. Just because it’s also personal, doesn’t mean it’s not professional.

How to do it with blogging

If you fancy yourself as a wordsmith then you could put your gift into practice by creating a blog and making yourself the owner of your own blogging business. Gone are the days when a blog was the journal for those with dimnaliphobia. There are now a number of ways that you can make money as a blogger:

● Guest posting – you can either sell space on your own blog, or uses guest posting as a sales strategy to sell blog tie-ins like coaching calls and digital products
● Sell advertising – sell advertising space on your blog, or monetize your content through product and service reviews

● Affiliate marketing – this is where you link out to a product being sold on another site. Each time someone follows the link and buys that product you get a commission — Amazon’s affiliate program is very easy to get set up with

● Training – you can sell your services as a blogger to those looking to become a blogger and show them how it’s done through courses, or training guides/videos.
Start investing in other businesses

When you hear “flip” you probably think of burgers….Well, while you could make some extra cash setting up a burger business, we think that you’ll find flipping websites and businesses a much more creative way of becoming a business owner in 2018.

Investing in other businesses and being part of their journey is a surefire way to quickly become a successful entrepreneur, and you don’t need bags of cash to get started.

How do you do it? It’s simple. Flipping websites is the art of buying a website and then selling it on for a profit. You can do this by visiting one of the many online marketplaces and then selecting from the vast array of websites on offer. Improving a website generally comes down to creating better, fresher content. Ecommerce stores are especially great website investments, and you may even find that you stumble on an exciting brand you want to take all the way yourself!

While it’s difficult to put a precise figure on how much you could earn from the business of website flipping, some flippers have made over $50,000 in less than two years. Suffice to say, it’s a profitable business to be in. Use your passion to find an underserved niche.

Great businesses are created when passion meets niche demand. Mine your fields of interests to find something that you’d be happy to devote lots of time to, but only if you can justify your investment with a ready and waiting marketplace. Peddling your dreams to an empty room is just depressing!

Vegans — your new customers?

Due in part to the age of millennials and now linksters, veganism has grown over 500% in the US since 2014. This makes producing vegan food not just a creative business idea for 2018, but a cash almond that you can milk to bring you a company that has the potential to explode. Vegan food sales is a market worth over $3.1bn a year. You could make 2018 the year that you take a piece of that market for a business that you own.

The key is to find a way of turning an existing non-vegan food into one that is suitable for vegans, as this way you can corner a part of the market and have a product that is totally unique. Focusing on nutrients, health, and superfoods is also a lucrative way to make the most of changing food trends. Another angle to take would be to create vegan products (makeup, fashion etc) and make the most of ethical consumerism.

For 2018, make your New Year’s resolution not to have a new you, but to be the owner of a new business.

Recommended reading: Financial Issues In Business Startup<

Victoria Greene is a freelance writer and ecommerce specialist. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, she shares her experience in blogging, ecommerce, and entrepreneurship. She is passionate about helping companies and individuals develop their business.

Financial Issues in Business Startup

The prospective new business owner approaching a lending institution should keep in mind the “five c’s of credit:” character, cash flow, capital, collateral, and (economic) conditions. Character consists of the borrower’s integrity, experience, and ability; particularly close attention is paid to a borrower’s credit history, which is a matter of record. Should you decide to try to fund a startup through a commercial lender, the remaining criteria are addressed in the loan request.

A primary inhibitor of business start-up is that few people have the financial cushion to give up a job for the uncertain income of a start-up venture. In a recent survey, about 30% of new business founders identified inadequate funding as their biggest hurdle, and a similar amount said lenders were too conservative. About 15% reported being unable to find investors, and a similar amount claimed a lack of collateral.

The prospective new business owner approaching a lending institution should keep in mind the “five c’s of credit“: character, cash flow, capital, collateral, and (economic) conditions. Character consists of the borrower’s integrity, experience, and ability; particularly close attention is paid to a borrower’s credit history, which is a matter of record. Should you decide to try to fund a startup through a commercial lender, the remaining criteria are addressed in the loan request.

The loan request should include a credit application, financial information such as tax returns and personal financial statements, and a brief business plan emphasizing projected financial performance of the new venture. The plan should demonstrate how the business will generate sufficient cash flow to repay the loan, specify collateral, and show the borrower’s personal investment.

In addition to servicing the loan, cash flow should also cover operating expenses, and provide for some re-investment for the increasing financial demands of a start-up venture. As collateral, banks will often lend up to 80% of the market value of real estate, and up to 50% on business assets such as equipment, inventory, and current accounts receivable. Lenders and investors often require that the bulk of start-up monies be provided by the business owner. This assures these stakeholders that the owner is committed, and has confidence in the financial projections.

When the entrepreneur can not meet the requirements of commercial lenders, and does not have a favorable arrangement with partners or other investors, the remaining options are difficult and expensive. These options include public-sector guarantees, finance companies, and the venture capital market.

Even where the start-up investment consists largely of other people’s money, the amount of financial risk for the entrepreneur is beyond what most can responsibly handle. For many with the financial means, the stress of bearing complete responsibility for the company’s direction and performance is the discouraging factor.

Once the venture is off the ground, a new set of challenges faces the entrepreneur. A recent survey showed their major concerns, named by more than half of respondents, were: “getting new business/clients”; “managing my time”; and, “promoting my business”. Another interesting question was what they missed about the corporate world. The top three responses were “company-paid health insurance”, “a regular paycheck”, and “retirement plans”.

Various estimates have been made for the failure rate of business start-ups, based on various concepts of failure and of appropriate survey methods. The consensus seems to be that less than half of new businesses survive the start-up “trauma”.

Perhaps, a major reason for what seems to be a high failure rate is that it is so easy to start a business. There is no institutionalized check of qualifications in the U.S.; on the contrary, our tax dollars fund the Small Business Administration and other agencies and programs that encourage business formation.

Another survey showed that over 80% of entrepreneurs would take a pay cut if that is what it took to keep the business going. Just over a third would sell the business, even if a good price were offered.

John B. Vinturella, Ph.D. has over 40 years’ experience as a management and strategic consultant, entrepreneur, and college professor. He is a principal in the business opportunity site www.jbv.com and its associated blog. John recently released his latest book, “8 Steps to Starting a Business”, available on Amazon.

Competitive Edge

In his book, The Road Ahead, Bill Gates of Microsoft writes of “friction-free capitalism” made possible by developments in communications, chief among them the Internet and its World Wide Web. In this context, “friction” is everything that keeps markets from functioning as the “perfect competition” of economics textbooks. This friction can be a function of distance between buyer and seller, costs of overcoming this distance, and incomplete or incorrect information.

Friction manifests itself by causing barriers to entry for new competitors, limiting the number of outlets from which the consumer has to choose. Large companies, with multiple sales outlets, and economies of scale, have greater power to direct the marketplace.

The degree of friction in the developed world has been decreasing for some years now. Affordable air travel, overnight delivery, improved telephone and fax communications have shortened distances. Credit cards and toll-free numbers have spawned at-home shopping from sources across the country.

The Web has taken the friction in our economy down another notch. In principle, we can sell products and services to a worldwide audience as easily and effectively as our largest multi-national competitor. In principle, we can sell products and services to a worldwide audience as easily and effectively as our largest multi-national competitor. In the friction-less economy, the challenge of differentiating ourselves from the competition becomes even greater.

In the friction-less economy, the challenge of differentiating ourselves from the competition becomes even greater. Successful small businesses tend to be those who can find some competitive edge, even when their product or service is similar to those around them.

Marketing professionals often call a business’ competitive edge their “unique selling proposition”, or USP. Pinpointing and refining one’s USP, however, is not a simple matter. An approach is unique only in the context of our competitors’ marketing messages.

Some marketing messages go beyond product and service characteristics. For example, Charles Revson, founder of Revlon, insisted that he sold hope, not makeup. Similarly, United Airlines sells “friendly skies”, and Wal-Mart sells “always” the low price. Do these slogans convey how each company views their customers? Does their selling proposition appeal to your preferences?

Sharpen your USP:

  • Put yourself in your customer’s shoes; satisfy their needs, not yours.
  • Know what motivates behavior and buying decisions.
  • Find the real reasons people would buy your product instead of a competitor’s. Ask them!
  • “Shop” the competition, be open-minded about your product, and never stop looking for ways to make your product stand out.
  • Try now to recast your business idea in terms of its competitive advantage. Prepare an industry analysis (size, customers, trends, and competitiveness). Identify what you see as your specific market, and estimate the share you think you can capture.

    The Web can be a powerful research assistant. Virtually every major business puts product and service information on the Web, including business directory services and magazines.

    Search engines can help in improving your understanding of your industry, and the key success factors. Test the resources available on the Web. Visit sites of major companies in the industry, where appropriate. Search the archives of business magazines for articles that give background and statistics.

    John B. Vinturella, Ph.D. has over 40 years’ experience as a management and strategic consultant, entrepreneur, and college professor. He is a principal in the business opportunity site www.jbv.com and its associated blog. John recently released his latest book, “8 Steps to Starting a Business,” available on Amazon.

    Innovation

    Abstract: Innovation, in a business context, is generally thought of as the product or application of creativity. Peter F. Drucker suggests that innovation “is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship”.

    Mr. Drucker further suggests that there are seven sources of innovative opportunity. Four of these relate to a specific industry or service sector: the unexpected; the incongruous; process needs; and structural change. The other three relate to the human and economic environment: demographics; changes in perception, mood, and meaning; and new knowledge.

    Let us observe some of these factors at work in a coffee shop venture. The unexpected factor in the recent success of gourmet coffee shops is the willingness of the consumer to spend two or three times the cost of a generic cup of coffee for exotic, flavored or brand-name coffee. An incongruity is the popularity of fat-free desserts (“healthy” indulgence) to go with that coffee. The structural change in the industry is the emergence of franchises.

    Environmental changes have also contributed to this phenomenon. As the “baby-boomer” generation has aged, the preferred place to meet has moved from the bar to the health club to the coffee shop.

    Let us consider information about some current trends to see if we can relate them to potential opportunities in the context of Professor Drucker’s categories. For each, see if you can possibly find a niche on which to build a business:

  • The unexpected The International Association for Financial Planning is observing a rapid (to the point of unexpected) increase in calls requesting referrals for financial planners. A spokesperson for the IAFP says, “People are realizing that financial planning is not just for retirement or saving for a child’s college education; it’s for all stages of a person’s life”.
  • The incongruous Many Americans are feeling pressed for time, incongruously wishing to lead simpler, easier lives without giving up those activities that take the most time and effort. The opportunity lies in offering personal time-saving products and services that relieve these people of tasks that they find less than fulfilling, not worth the time, or unpleasant.
  • Process needs Individuals and businesses are spending unprecedented sums of money to acquire the education, training and skills necessary to remain competitive in a rapidly evolving marketplace, creating opportunities in consulting and training.
  • Structural change The health-care industry will flourish because of an aging population, myriad technological advances and people’s expectations of readily available medical care. One of the industry’s fastest growing segments is home-based health care, which is well-suited for entrepreneurs because of its ease of entry.
  • Demographics The aging population referred to possesses a combination of leisure time and discretionary funds that makes them a great market for new ventures in services relating to their comfort and recreational needs.
  • Changes in perception, mood and meaning The amount of money that citizens and businesses spend on security products and services is growing rapidly; the preferred method for many forms of purchase is increasingly becoming the Internet.
  • New knowledge In 1996, for the first time, computer sales outnumbered television sales in the United States.
  • Do any of these sources of innovative opportunity suggest an entrepreneurial niche to you?

    John B. Vinturella, Ph.D. has almost 40 years’ experience as a management and strategic consultant, entrepreneur, and college professor. He is a principal in the business
    opportunity site www.jbv.com and its associated blog. John recently released his latest book, “8 Steps to Starting a Business”, available on
    Amazon
    .