Tag Archives: Entrepreneurial Career Consulting

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.

Entrepreneurship Knowledge Services

For many businesses their competitive edge lies in their knowledge. Entrepreneurship Knowledge Services offer a way to maximize your advantage. The Canada Business Network expands upon this concept:

What Is Knowledge In a Business?

Using knowledge in your business isn’t necessarily about thinking up clever new products and services, or devising ingenious new ways of selling them. It’s much more straightforward.
Useful and important knowledge already exists in your business. It can be found in:

• the experience of your employees

• the designs and processes for your goods and services

• your files of documents (whether held digitally, on paper or both)

• your plans for future activities, such as ideas for new products or services

The challenge is harnessing this knowledge in a coherent and productive way.

Existing forms of knowledge

• You’ve probably done market research into the need for your business to exist in the first place. If nobody wanted what you’re selling, you wouldn’t be trading. You can tailor this market knowledge to target particular customers with specific types of product or service.

• Your files of documents from and about customers and suppliers hold a wealth of information which can be invaluable both in developing new products or services and improving existing ones.

• Your employees are likely to have skills and experience that you can use as an asset. Having staff who are knowledgeable can be invaluable in setting you apart from competitors. You should make sure that your employees’ knowledge and skills are passed on to their colleagues and successors wherever possible, e.g. through brainstorming sessions, training courses and documentation. See the page in this guide: create a knowledge strategy for your business.

Your understanding of what customers want, combined with your employees’ know-how, can be regarded as your knowledge base. Using this knowledge in the right way can help you run your business more efficiently, decrease business risks and exploit opportunities to the full. This is known as the knowledge advantage.

BASIC SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE

Your sources of business knowledge could include:

• Customer knowledge – you should know your customers’ needs and what they think of you. You may be able to develop mutually beneficial knowledge sharing relationships with customers by talking to them about their future requirements, and discussing how you might be able to develop your own products or services to ensure that you meet their needs.

• Employee and supplier relationships – seek the opinions of your employees and your suppliers – they’ll have their own impressions of how you’re performing. You can use formal surveys to gather this knowledge or ask for their views on a more informal basis.

• Market knowledge – watch developments in your sector. How are your competitors performing? How much are they charging? Are there any new entrants to the market? Have any significant new products been launched?

• Knowledge of the business environment – your business can be affected by numerous outside factors. Developments in politics, the economy, technology, society and the environment could all affect your business’ development, so you need to keep yourself informed. You could consider setting up a team of employees to monitor and report on changes in the business world.

• Professional associations and trade bodies – their publications, academic publications, government publications, reports from research bodies, trade and technical magazines.

• Trade exhibitions and conferences – these can provide an easy way of finding out what your competitors are doing and to see the latest innovations in your sector.

• Product research and development – scientific and technical research and development can be a vital source of knowledge that can help you create innovative new products – retaining your competitive edge.

• Organizational memory – be careful not to lose the skills or experience your business has built up. You need to find formal ways of sharing your employees’ knowledge about the best ways of doing things. For example, you might create procedural guidance based on your employees’ best practice. See the page in this guide: create a knowledge strategy for your business.

• Non-executive directors – these can be a good way for you to bring on board specialized industry experience and benefit from ready-made contracts.

EXPLOITING YOUR KNOWLEDGE
Consider the measurable benefits of capturing and using knowledge more effectively. The following are all possible outcomes:

• An improvement in the goods or services you offer and the processes that you use to sell them. For example, identifying market trends before they happen might enable you to offer products and services to customers before your competitors.

• Increased customer satisfaction because you have a greater understanding of their requirements through feedback from customer communications.

• An increase in the quality of your suppliers, resulting from better awareness of what customers want and what your staff require.

• Improved staff productivity, because employees are able to benefit from colleagues’ knowledge and expertise to find out the best way to get things done. They’ll also feel more appreciated in a business where their ideas are listened to.

• Increased business efficiency, by making better use of in-house expertise.

• Better recruitment and staffing policies. For instance, if you’ve increased knowledge of what your customers are looking for, you’re better able to find the right staff to serve them.

• The ability to sell or license your knowledge to others. You may be able to use your knowledge and expertise in an advisory or consultancy capacity. In order to do so, though, make sure that you protect your intellectual property.”

Best Home Business Consultant

The following is excerpted from Entrepreneur magazine:
“The dictionary defines a consultant as “an expert in a particular field who works as an advisor either to a company or to another individual.” Sounds pretty vague, doesn’t it?

Businesses certainly understand what consultants are. In 1997 U.S. businesses spent just over $12 billion on consulting. According to Anna Flowers, spokesperson for the Association of Professional Consultants in Irvine, California, the association has recently noticed an increase in calls for information from people who want to get into the business. “The market is opening up for [the consulting-for-businesses] arena,” Flowers says.

Melinda P., an independent consultant in Arlington, Virginia, thinks more people are getting into the consulting field because technology has made it easier to do so. “The same technology that has helped me to be successful as a consultant has made it easier for others to do the same,” she says.

A consultant’s job is to consult. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s that simple. There’s no magic formula or secret that makes one consultant more successful than another one. But what separates a good consultant from a bad consultant is a passion and drive for excellence. And–oh yes–a good consultant should be knowledgeable about the subject he or she is consulting in. That does make a difference.

You see, in this day and age, anyone can be a consultant. All you need to discover is what your particular gift is. For example, are you very comfortable working around computers? Do you keep up with the latest software and hardware information, which seems to be changing almost daily? And are you able to take that knowledge you have gained and turn it into a resource that someone would be willing to pay money for? Then you would have no trouble working as a computer consultant.”

Be the best home business consultant that you can be. As your home consultancy grows be sure to request testimonials from satisfied customers. These can be displayed prominently on your website.

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.

Business Services for Self-Employed

An important consideration in setting up a new business is to set up an accounting system which is easy-to-use but robust enough to contain features needed for a well-managed business.

QuickBooks is the accounting system of choice of many professionals.

Mariette Martinez discusses the pros and cons in terms of the features required by small businesses. She focuses on “a newly self-employed individual also referred to as a 1099 Independent Contractor in a Service-Based profession with limited need for invoicing and no product selling.

Based on this type of individual, I have learned that there are 5 Key Elements for an accounting solution to best fit this individual’s need:

1. Anytime, Anywhere Access –This type of individual is usually on the go

2. Pricing – As first-time self-employed, low-cost solutions are best; Free Trial is a PLUS

3. Bank & Credit Card transactions import capabilities – Bank feeds (i.e. automated bank transaction import) are the future of efficient bookkeeping; No More manual entry

4. Reporting – Basic financial reports are essential for year-round profitability analysis & preparation for year-end taxes

5. Mobile App Capabilities such as Receipt Capture & Auto Mileage – If the accounting solution can provide additional features that can eliminate the need for MORE APPs, that’s a PLUS

6. Your Accountant’s BIGGEST Request – Shared Access to Your Books

After researching several online accounting solutions that met all of these qualifications including QuickBooks Online (Simple, Essentials, Plus), QuickBooks Self-Employed, Wave, Xero, Zoho Books, FreshBooks, Kashoo & Sage One, I have narrowed my TOP 3 Choices to QuickBooks Self-Employed ($5/mo.), QuickBooks Online Simple Start ($13/mo.), Wave (Free) (in no particular order).
Please use the above list of programs as a good reference for other great accounting solutions that may better fit your business’s unique accounting needs.

Advantages for ALL Top 3 Apps:

• 100% Cloud Based Accounting Solution – all solutions are web-based with mobile app capabilities (mobile features vary per app)

• Very Simple to Use – all solutions have dashboards and easy to navigate tool bars that are simple to learn and intuitive to use

• Ability to Separate Business vs Personal transactions – newly self-employed individuals may not have opened a separate business account yet or he/she is still getting used to using the business account for only business purposes (i.e. no comingling); the ability to separate business vs personal transactions is a great solution to fix these mistakes

• Ability to import multiple bank & credit card account transactions – adding/importing a new bank/credit card account to the system and assigning the income and/or expense type to the transaction is super simple

• Basic Accounting Reports – throughout the year, it’s important to keep a close eye on your income & expenses so you have an idea on how your business is doing; even more important is the ability to estimate your income for the year since as a Self-Employed individual, you are responsible to PAY self-employment taxes

• Pricing- all apps provide a FREE trial period and are less than $15/month

• Receipt Capture – as a newly self-employed, keeping track of your receipts in one place is more important than ever to take advantage of the tax benefits of business expenses; the mobile app for all solutions has the receipt capture capabilities which will attach a picture to a transaction.”

Note that two of her top three choices are versions of Quickbooks. The other choice, Wave is free. All have a free trial period so you may want to take a look at more than one.

Business Planning Overview

The purpose of the business plan is to recognize and define a business opportunity, describe how that opportunity will be seized by the management team, and to demonstrate that the business is feasible and worth the effort.

The successful entrepreneur is generally more inclined, once a business idea is selected, to sharpen the concept by a detailed planning process. The result of this step is a comprehensive business plan, with its major components being the marketing “mix”, the strategic plan, operational and logistical structures, and the financial proposal. The purpose of the business plan is to recognize and define a business opportunity, describe how that opportunity will be seized by the management team, and to demonstrate that the business is feasible and worth the effort.

The business plan is the “blueprint” for the implementation process. It focuses on the four major sub-plans: marketing, strategy, operational/logistic, and financial. While the business plan often goes through some revision, it generally represents a rather advanced stage in the planning process. The primary product or service to be offered, based on the results of the market research, should be determined.

Whether the business will be a start-up, purchase of an existing business or a franchise should certainly be firm at this point. Often, a specific business location is indicated, or at least a rather specific area.

Time estimates in a business plan should allow for meeting all the necessary regulatory requirements and acquisition of permits to get to a “customer-ready” condition. The amount of funding required and a general approach to raising these funds should be determined. Marketing mix issues focus on how the product or service is differentiated from the competition.

A business can differentiate itself on any of what are often referred to as the “four P’s” of marketing: product characteristics, price structure, place or method of distribution, and/or promotional strategy.

Strategic issues relate broadly to the company’s mission and goals. Every venture must continually assess its strengths and weaknesses, the opportunities to be seized, and any threats to the success and plans of the business. Operational issues relate to company structure, and the scope of the business. The operational plan addresses tangible items such as location, equipment, and methods of distribution. Decisions on these issues largely determine startup costs.

The financial proposal includes an estimate of the amount of money needed to start the venture, to absorb losses during the start-up period, and to provide sufficient working capital to avoid cash shortages. It projects sales and profitability over some period into the future, generally 3 to 5 years. Where outside funding is sought, it also describes distribution of ownership of the venture and methods of debt repayment and/or buyback of partial ownership.

Where implementation of the plan requires participation of lenders and/or investors, the plan must clearly and convincingly communicate the financial proposal to the prospective stakeholders: how much you need from them, what kind of return they can expect, and how they can be paid back. Many entrepreneurs insist that their business concept is so clear in their heads that the written plan can be produced after start-up; this attitude “short-circuits” one of the major benefits of producing the plan. The discipline of writing a plan forces us to think through the steps we must take to get the business started, and, to “flesh out ideas, to look for weak spots and vulnerabilities”, according to business consultant Eric Siegel.

A well-conceived business plan can serve as a management tool to settle major policy issues, identify “keys to success”, establish goals and check-points, and consider long-term prospects. The plan must realistically assess the skills required for success of the venture, initially and over the long run, and match the skills and interests of the team to these requirements. Test the plan, and an accompanying oral presentation, on friends whose business judgment you value. Let them assume the role of a prospective investor or lender.

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.

Motivation and Commitment

Abstract: What kinds of people start businesses? Their skills are seldom different from those of people who succeed at working for others. The more successful entrepreneurs tend to be proactive, assertive, and highly observant.

Why do people start small businesses? The most frequently cited motivation for business start-ups is to allow the entrepreneur to achieve independence; money is secondary. Is this surprising? The other reasons named most often are that an opportunity presented itself, a person took over the family business, or the person simply wanted to be an entrepreneur. Identify your motivation.

For context, what reasons might people offer for joining a large corporation? For choosing a government career? A union job? Certainly, many people desire security, fringe benefits, and a predictable career “trajectory”.

What kinds of people start businesses? Their skills are seldom different from those of people who succeed at working for others. The more successful entrepreneurs tend to be proactive, assertive, and highly observant. They are efficient, quality-conscious, and good at planning and procedures. As business operators, they are committed to “partnership” with employees, customers, suppliers, and their community. Would these skills or personality traits lead to success at any professional pursuit?

Most entrepreneurs value control, freedom, flexibility; and self-reliance. They generally desire responsibility and personal fulfillment. Most entrepreneurs are not “gamblers”; they have a preference for moderate risk (What is the largest financial risk that you would consider moderate?). They are always searching for opportunities, and willing to pursue some.

These are merely general characteristics. How might we apply them to our own fitness for, and commitment to, the entrepreneurial lifestyle? We need to ask ourselves some tough questions:

Do I really want to start or own a business? What are my real reasons for considering going into business? The motivation must be strong enough to sustain you when the excitement of the startup has passed, and the everyday grind begins.

Is there a product or service that fits my talents or desires? How should I address the opportunity? About 65% of new businesses are startups, 30% purchases of existing businesses, with the remainder inherited, promoted or otherwise brought into ownership. About 11% of the businesses operate under a franchise name.

Am I ready yet? Why do you think so many new business founders are in their 30s? Perhaps it is because they have enough experience to be confident, yet are still flexible enough to take some risk. Do you think entrepreneurs are born (demanding parents, ethnic tradition) or made? Is it for you? If so, identify what additional skills or knowledge would increase your readiness.

For women and minorities, there are additional considerations relevant to their chances of success. Do they have to be “better” to make it, or is entrepreneurship the only true meritocracy? Is any disadvantage only at startup?

Do I have an adequate support structure? If you have a spouse, or are relying on some other form of family support, make sure that they understand the sacrifices involved and the pressures these will put on relationships.

Can I place developing this business over other interests and goals for the foreseeable future? Am I willing to take on the personal demands of entrepreneurship? For example, can I work a full day as an employee of another firm, then work at my coffee shop evenings and weekends until it can support me full-time? There is more to life than work, and maintaining a balanced and healthy lifestyle can be a challenge for the self-employed.

Can I muster the resources to make the venture a success? Do I respond well to continuous pressure? Once I make the venture a full-time pursuit, can I live without a regular paycheck, a predictable work schedule, and for a while without vacations and other benefits? Even after startup, business concerns seldom end when you lock the door at closing time. Am I prepared for the possibility that I might lose my money and property, and damage my health and self-respect?

There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, only those that best reflect your feelings on these issues. Similarly, if your feelings indicate that you should not take the entrepreneurial path, it is certainly not a sign of weakness or any other sort of deficiency. It is more likely a decision that reflects the best life-work balance for 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.