Digital Disruption: Is It Your Friend Or Foe?

Digital disruption has become an obsession for businesses and industries alike. It is an obsession that has the potential to overwhelm and dilute the underlying opportunities that a disruption itself presents.  Your business must choose if disruption is its friend or foe!

digital disruption
Digital Disruption: Friend or Foe?

A focus on being disrupted will overshadow the opportunity to disrupt.

10 indicators that your business may be REACTIVE

  1. High investment but declining revenue. This may suggest that you are chasing what you think will change the market without understanding what the market is actually looking for.
  2. High supply, lower demand. This may suggest that you are not aligned with what your customer wants even though you are competing with what is in the market.
  3. More service offerings but complaints from customers are on the rise.
  4. Higher staff churn than normal sees newer staff leaving your business while longer term staff are less likely to leave.
  5. Your industry is experiencing growth but your business is suffering a downturn.
  6. The technology platforms your business has adopted are disconnected from each other. This may indicate you are integrating new technology without recognizing how and where it will work with legacy systems.
  7. Your business is suffering from a progressive loss of market share.
  8. You notice a lack of cohesion in your product or service offerings.  They provide solutions but these are singular in application.
  9. Your business is generating lots of data but has no ability to qualify or contextualize it.
  10. Collaboration and partnering that exists is more of a ‘power play’ than an ‘innovation play’.

10 Indicators that your business is PROACTIVE

  1. Your business is experiencing exponential revenue growth and also enjoying increasing patronage despite more competition entering the market.
  2. Other businesses are seeking your business out to discuss collaboration and partnership opportunities.
  3. Your business is able to confidently make budget projections based on performance indicators measured against milestones.
  4. Agility enables your business to respond to change without impacting your core business strategy.
  5. You see failures as necessary and you are not afraid of them. They are seen as learning experiences your business can build on.
  6. Industry best practices, global trends and benchmarking are used by your business to give you insights to plan and strategize.
  7. Your employees are engaged, have taken ownership and actively participate in the business’ transformation journey.
  8. Your business communicates visibility and transparently without fear or favour.
  9. Digital is at the core of all your business decisions.  You always ask the question ‘How can digital make this more efficient or effective?’
  10. Your strategy is customer led. Your strategy is a living, breathing document that is a ‘work in progress’. It is responsive to change without compromising its core ethos.

Successful change will not happen when you apply band-aid solutions.  A band-aid solution is one dimensional and it only heals what ails the business in that area and at that time.

Transformational change is evolutionary.  When your business chooses to be proactive rather than reactive in its approach the word ‘disruption’ takes on a very different meaning.  To survive and also experience success you must choose to become the disruptor and not the disruptee.

 

Originally posted 2016-10-18 18:02:41.

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Beat Your Sales Budget in 3 Easy Steps

Achieving your sales budget is critical to the performance of your business but it is often a pressure cooker of wishful thinking and expectation based on projection and perception. This is acutely felt on the front line with your sales people who you depend on to achieve your set sales budget.

Given this the sales person should be one of the most supported members of your team.  Unfortunately they are often not.

A couple of questions that should be asked by the business:-

  • Are the sales people that we have on our team the right ones to take the field?
  • Do they have what it takes to win the game?
  • Are they well aligned with the business?
  • Do they know how to bat (sell) for the team?
  • Do they know how to  hit home runs to bring that winning performance to the workplace?

What makes a great salesperson?

Passion fohar what they do

Sales is not a natural process for many even if they purport to be a salesperson.  It is important that sales people are aligned to what is expected of them.  An employee that is asked to meet a sales budget but is not able to close a sale is going to fail and become a legacy for the business.

#Sales Success Tip:  Recruit wisely! Look at how the sales person will respond to a sales environment and how they think on their feet when faced with overcoming objections.

Belief in what they sell

The last thing you wapost-it-note-for-sale-1240322-1278x916nt to see is a salesperson who is selling your products or services from a script and not believing in the value they have to offer.  Your customers will see right through your sales people if they do not believe that what they are selling has a benefit or value to them that is being communicated clearly.

#Sales Success Tip:  Ask your sales person to tell you why they believe your products or services deliver benefit or value.

Desire to take ownership of what they are selling

keys-1306991-639x829Give your sales person the opportunity to demonstrate that they understand what the product or service can do for the customers.  A true salesperson will want to become an expert on the subject matter and will deliver an elevator pitch that illustrates this in a short period of time.

This gives the sales person confidence and credibility to communicate efficiently and with effect to attract and convert customers.

 

#Sales Success Tip:  Give your sales person the sales tools to take ownership of what they are selling. If they don’t embrace this opportunity this is an indication that they may not be the right fit or may need further training

What makes an organised salesperson?

Strategy to plan and execute the sales life cycle

chess-by-candlelight-2-1312386-1280x960An organised sales person or sales manager will ensure they have an operational sales strategy with milestones to measure and report progress aligned to the sales budget.

Without a sales strategy the sales efforts are reactive and not proactive meaning poor use of time and other resources,

#Sales Success Tip:  A strategic approach to sales takes the guess work out of the life cycle.  It establishes expectation and incremental progression that delivers indicative reporting.  This increases visibility and transparency of a sales person’s performance.

Access to quantified and qualified sales data

brain-in-hand-1312350-1279x849

A comprehensive sales strategy should have data as its fuel!  Quantified and qualified data will accelerate the lead generation and the sales conversion processes.  Take care to view data with a lean and agile approach. Qualified data will always have an assumptive element.  Look at trends and insights to gain sales intelligence.

#Sales Success Tip:  Data when quantified and qualified will shape sales and influence decision making to justify resource to budget ratios.

Setting goals

Basic RGBSuccessful sales people set goals for themselves.  This enables them to feel that each step they make towards converting and retaining customers is noted and celebrated.  The sales journey can be long and arduous depending on what the sales objective is.  Smart goals help define the journey and help the sales person keep their eye on the prize.

#Sales Success Tip:  Smart goals help sales people break down the process and keep focus.  Understanding what those smart goals look like and how to measure them is an advantageous sales tool. 

Time management

world-time-1-1586162-1279x1637Time is an often misused resource by the sales person trying to get to budget.  The consummate professional sales person is disciplined in their time management. They invest their time before spending it by gaining insights into who their customers are, benchmarking how they should position themselves and understanding what best practice sales approach is.  This helps them to position what they are selling, where they are selling, why they are selling and to whom they are selling.

 

#Sales Success Tip:  It is really easy to be a reactive sales person by default. Proactive sales positioning gives a salesperson control of the sales process.

What makes a successful salesperson?

Relationships

paper-people-1316581-1279x920The connection that a great sales person makes with their customers is measured first and foremost by the feedback and referrals that result from that relationship before it is measured by budget performance.  The investment in robust and transparent relationships builds a foundation that will bring financial reward that is sustainable and scalable.

#Sales Success Tip: Customers want to trust and respect a sales person. When they see genuine interest, empathy and a desire to listen to what their needs and wants they open the sales window.  The investment in nurturing the customer relationship by the sales person establishes the success of the customer interaction and anchors their value to the business. 

Communication

listening-to-some-music-1199808-1280x960Are you listening to what your customers are saying?  If so where are they communicating with you and how are they wanting to communicate?  The answers to these questions will help you answer another question. What do my customers want to know?  Too much communication or the wrong communication can be detrimental to engaging successfully with your customers.

#Sales Success Tip: Sales people like to talk. Lets not pretend they don’t.  The challenge is to listen. Only when they listen successfully to what is said, what insights are telling you and what trends or challenges are defining in the marketplace can you start to tell a story that will resonate with your customers.

Take the politics out of sales budgeting.

wooden-dictator-1246248-1280x960Don’t make sales all about the people or leave room for agendas in sales teams.  Team budgets can lead to individual sandbagging and budget negotiations that may be detrimental to revenue performance.  A true sales superstar will be motivated by sales performance to budget when it is clearly defined.  A team bonus is successful when it does not impede the individual’s performance being recognized.

#Sales Success Tip: Team work is important but not when it breeds sales cannibalism.  Structure sales bonus’ and incentives to recognize the individual and the team as a second tier bonus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally posted 2016-11-29 18:27:35.

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Customers don’t care

That’s right you heard me…Your customers don’t really care about you!  This can be a shock to some businesses who believe that they have loyal customers who have and will continue to frequent their business no matter what.

customers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The reality in today’s world is that the customer can be bought, sold and coerced. If you do not know what their triggers are you are in danger of becoming extinct.

Challenge yourself by answering the following questions as ‘your customer’?

Be honest and brutal with your answers because these will assist you to improve your customer ‘stickiness’. It will also give you an advantage over your competitors. Once you understand where your weaknesses are where, when and how you interact with your customers you will be able to do something about it.

What are the ‘BEST’ reasons customers will leave you?

1/ Benefit

  • What value do you give a customer that no-one else does?
  • Are you solving a problem for your customers?
  • What advantage do they gain by using your product or service?
  • How do you differ from your competitors and how do you communicate that?
  • Is the benefit you deliver for the customer significant enough to establish them as a regular customer?

    2/ Experience

  • Is the customer’s journey seamless from beginning to end?
  • Do you believe your customer’s journey intuitive?
  • Do you believe that your customers feel like their needs and wants are being considered?
  • Does your customer feel that they have ownership of the process and are in control?
  • What makes the experience that you deliver different/better than your competitors?
  • Is the message, outcome or ‘call to action’ clear and relevant for the customer?

3/ Satisfaction

  • How does your product or service make your customer feel?
  • Will the experience make your customers want to tell their family and friends?
  • Did the customer feel rewarded, valued and happy with what you delivered?
  • What happened that will make the customer return?
  • How do you know that your customer’s are satisfied with what you are delivering?
  • How are you identifying and assessing the level of satisfaction you are delivering for your customers?

4/ Time

  • Was your customer’s experience timely because we now live in a world of immediacy and time is precious?
  • Are you aware of where your customers are and what they were doing?
  • Was navigation easy and quick to let your customers find what they are searching for?
  • Did the effort the customer had to put in to receive your product or service make it worth the investment that you asked them to put in?
  • How much time did your service or product save your customer and what value did it give them?
  • Did you customer achieve cost savings in other areas by using your products or services?

Do you know how you could improve your business to attract and engage customers so that they ‘care’ about what will you have to offer them?  How will you become a more customer-centric business?

Originally posted 2016-04-18 08:44:50.

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Survive to realize the entrepreneurial dream

Below are some questions to ask yourself to help you visualize what you need to do to create an action plan to survive as an entrepreneur. What should that look like? This is a ‘reality check’, as once you embark on your venture, the way you have answered these questions will be pivotal to your success.

survive as an entrepreneur

How to survive Q & A

Q1 How do I manage my money?  I need to make sure that I can look after myself and my family while I build my business.

Q2 What do look after my health? I need to make sure that I don’t fall ill or become overly stressed.

Q3 How will I prioritize my family time? I need to make sure that I spend time with them as a priority.

Q4  How will I make time for socializing with friends? I need to learn to shut off from the pressures of starting my own business.

Q5 What will I do to prioritize my time to make fitness a priority?

Q6 How will I manage my time to be productive while creating balanced?

Q7 What processes will I adhere to that will protect and nurture my business? I need to ensure ongoing cash flow to keep it cash positive.

Q8  How scalable is my business idea and implementation or will it stall after initial success?  How will I overcome this?

Q9 What does my ‘proof of concept’ look like? What do I need to do to make this happen?

Q10 How do I determine and who do I identify to collaborate with to grow my business while protecting my interests and IP?

Q11 What can I do to keep myself focused on the end game while still enjoying the journey?

Q12 Where do I look for investment and funding to make my idea a reality?

Want to learn more?

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses.

The Start Up of YOU by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha

How do you survive and thrive in this fiercely competitive economy? You need a whole new entrepreneurial mindset and skill set. Drawing on the best of Silicon Valley, The Start-Up of You helps you accelerate your career and take control of your future–no matter your profession.

How to start a business with no money  by Trent Dyrsmid

Originally posted 2016-01-09 15:26:50.

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Startup formula for success

Sorry…there is no fool proof startup formula for success but you can put yourself on the track to success by following the below formula as a guide.

startup formula

 

 

 

 

 

 

The startup formula positions you to become customer centric.  Your next step is to ask yourself the following questions. The answers you give to these questions will help you determine your strategy as an entrepreneur. You need to be sure that your strategy will support you and help you to realize success.

Startup Survival Checklist

1/ How am I going to live and pay my bills while I work on my business ideas and they are being incubated?

2/How do I look after my health?

3/ What is the Unique Value Proposition that my business idea has that sets it apart from its competitors?

4/ Who will be my customers or audience?

5/ How is my business idea going to make money?

6/ Do I spend too much time playing with the ‘fluffy’ stuff?

7/ Who should I align and collaborate with to get the best outcome for all stakeholders?

8/ How will I get people to invest in my business idea?

9/ How will my business grow?

10/ How will I plan to overcome isolation, insulation and demotivation?

Balance and focus are key to being successful as a startup.  Your journey may be long so you need to be well prepared to weather the challenges ahead. Many great ideas have never been realized due to lack of due diligence on the part of the entrepreneur.  One of your best assets as an entrepreneur is to find at least two mentors who can advise and guide you.  Collaboration with complimentary or like-minded businesses is another tool that can strengthen your path to success.

If you live in the business always make sure your can still see outside the business.

Robyn Gunnis

 

 

Originally posted 2016-01-09 14:10:44.

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Survival Of The Fittest Checklist – Entrepreneur’s Guide

Survival for the entrepreneur is all about balance and focus. Your personal and business life also needs to be considered wisely to survive the challenges that  working with a startup brings.

survival of the fittest

 

Being an entrepreneur can be very rewarding but it comes with its fair share of challenges. To make your dream a reality you need to be dedicated and focused. The only way to do this successfully is to plan in advance yet you also need to be able to anticipate the ‘what if’s’ and how to’s’ to try to avoid them impacting or derailing what you are trying to achieve.

Ask yourself the following questions to help you determine your strategy as an entrepreneur. You need to be sure that your strategy will support you and help you to realize success.

Top 10 Entrepreneur’s Survival Checklist

1/ How am I going to live and pay my bills while I work on my business ideas as they are incubated?

2/How do I look after my health?

3/ What is the Unique Value Proposition that my business idea has that sets it apart from its competitors?

4/ Who will be my customers or audience?

5/ How is my business idea going to make money?

6/ Do I spend too much time playing with the ‘fluffy’ stuff ?

7/ Who should I align and collaborate with to get the best outcome for all stakeholders?

8/ How will I get people to invest in my business idea?

9/ How will my business grow?

10/ How will I plan to overcome isolation, insulation and demotivation?

If you live in the business always make sure your can still see outside the business.

Robyn Gunnis

Want to learn more?

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses.

The Start Up of YOU by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha

How do you survive and thrive in this fiercely competitive economy? You need a whole new entrepreneurial mindset and skill set. Drawing on the best of Silicon Valley, The Start-Up of You helps you accelerate your career and take control of your future–no matter your profession.

How to start a business with no money  by Trent Dyrsmid

Originally posted 2016-01-08 17:32:16.

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23 Ways You Could Be Damaging Your Reputation Without Even Knowing It!

How often have you wondered why people behave in different ways when they meet with you, haven’t seen you in a while, or you both know the same person? Often it is your reputation that precedes you.

reputation

23 Ways You Could Be Damaging Your Reputation

1. Dismissing people

  • Do you find that you are always busy and often people become just another source of ‘noise’?
  • Is it easier to prioritize the people that will have an immediate impact on what you, and dismiss others?
  • Are you guilty of reacting to people who become your ‘squeaky wheel’ and ignoring others?

You need to ask yourself what message this is conveying.

2. Giving people ‘lip service’

Are you telling people what you think they want to hear, rather than what they need to hear?

Often we are guilty of doing this, however, this is often because it is an easier way of keeping the momentum going and not getting bogged down in discussions that we may see as unnecessary, or that we feel we do not have enough time for.  

You need to ask yourself if your message is speaking the language your audience understands or are you speaking to them in a language that they need to have interpreted?  

If this is the case your reputation may suggest to people that you are out of touch. 

3. Talking trash

 Have you ever caught yourself listening to what you are saying to others as you are speaking, and said to yourself  …Wow!, that sounded great?

You need to ask yourself that if you felt it sounded great are you framing what you are saying to make yourself look good or are you communicating in a way that will make your audience look or feel good?  

This will leave a lasting impression as to whether your audience feels you are credible.

4. Believing your opinion matters more than others

You know your stuff right!  It is an expectation that you express your educated opinion because that is what you are employed to do isn’t it?

This is a dangerous assumption because you are more than likely to come across as expecting others to conform to the way you think, giving them the impression that their opinions are less important than yours, or worse still that you feel they are irrelevant.

You need to ask yourself what perception you are projecting and how people are interacting with you.  This will give you a good indicator of what your reputation is with the people you interact and engage with.

5. Needing to be right

We all like to think we are right, but the truth is, that more often than not, we may be trying to solve problems with solutions that are ’cause and effect’ only.

This may stem the flow of the problem initially but you will only be treating the symptom and not the disease.

Being ready, willing and able to contemplate, consider and collaborate. This is when your reputation will open doors for you.

You need to ask yourself honestly, does your need to be right means you are sabotaging you and your team’s success? 

6. Making yourself look good

This is often a fear driven behavior.  If we do not look good then people may not believe that we are doing a good job, are capable of being promoted, or of being of significant value to the business or others.

You need to ask yourself are you trying to promote yourself at the expense of others?

Are you excluding others because you feel that if you include them it will take the gloss off you?  

This can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Ultimately your ‘gloss’ will become tarnished because you cannot be everything to everyone. All you are doing if you are behaving this way is providing an opportunity to showcase your weaknesses.

7. Promising but not delivering

Words are cheap.

Actions speak louder than words.

We have all heard these phrases, but often we don’t pay them enough attention to them and this can be to our detriment.

You need to ask yourself when you suggest, direct or intimate something in conversation do you follow through even if the outcome is not favorable for the person you have spoken to?

 If you don’t, what is the impression you are giving to that person and how do you know that person will not become pivotal in your future direction?

The truth is you don’t know, but you can be assured that they will remember the way you treated them.

8. Not surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you

Have you ever been guilty of not employing someone because you felt that they might show you up?

Do you ever have that niggling feeling that you might be caught out as an ‘imposter’ in an area that you do not believe you perform as well as you should?

You need to ask yourself if you are missing an opportunity to showcase your leadership skills and team performances all because of lack of confidence in your own individual abilities?

9. Believing that there is an ‘i’ in team

We all joke about this statement because we have all heard it said at training sessions and in motivational speaking forums.

The  ‘i’ is really an ‘e’ and that ‘e’ stands for ego.

You need to ask yourself if you are putting you first when you lead, or the team first and if you are jeopardizing your reputation?

 

Your team will follow if you lead from the front, but will leave you, if you push them from behind.

10. Pretending you know what you are doing when you really don’t

Faking it till you make it may work in some cases but in the long run you will always get caught out and this usually happens when you least expect it.

You need to ask yourself if you are always waiting for that ball to drop, how many others are able to see your vulnerability, exploit you, or pass judgment?

11. Not asking for help when you really should

Flying solo may look attractive but everyone has weaknesses and things that they are not really good at.

You need to ask yourself what will happen when those holes in your armor appear and your team realizes you are only human.  

What message you are sending to the people who are following you? 

12. Fear of failure means you avoid trying new things

Being change-averse and risk-averse means you are stuck.

Being stuck means that others will pass you by and overtake you.

You need to ask yourself if you can afford to be left behind and seen as someone who was not forward thinking. Do you want this to be your legacy?

13. Always doing things the same way as you always have

Habit is a comfortable word.

It is so much easier to repeat the same processes than to learn something new, and often this is why we default to this, often subconsciously.

You need to ask yourself if you are guilty of complacency and recognize that people could see this as your ‘Achilles Heel’ and take advantage.

14. Worried about what others think when you determine how you act

As humans, we are very vulnerable to how we are perceived.

For some of us, this controls our behavior and can, when escalated, paralyze us to act according to what others deem as appropriate and not trust our own instincts and experience.

You need to ask yourself are you allowing your actions to be determined by others, or are you taking responsibility and setting an example.

Do you have a reputation as a leader or one who is being led?

15. Overanalyzing everything

Thinking too much can cause you to overthink and over analyze.

This can lead to doubt and indecision.

You need to ask yourself how you approach your decision making?  

Are you reticent to make any decision and procrastinate because you can’t? 

What impact does this have on your performance and reputation?

16. Communicating what you say will happen, and when it will happen, and then not delivering on that

This is often seen described as time management.

Don’t focus on where you aren’t going to proceed or get outcomes.

However, this approach often means that you, in good faith, promise to come back to someone, follow up, confirm a quote or offer or give them an update within a time frame with some sense of surety and optimism that this will happen.

You need to ask yourself when circumstance and timelines change are you guilty of blowing people off, forgetting to get back to them, dropping them down the priority order or just ignoring them because getting back to them is no longer as important?  

If so what if you need or want something from that person in the future and that is not something you can foresee.  

Will they be there for you?

17. Making decisions on what others say you should do

Following the crowd or winning the popular vote may make you a hero in the short term but when the consequences of decisions that are made, motivated by others opinions, inevitably, you could be the one with egg on your face.

You need to ask yourself are you band-aiding a problem with a solution that you didn’t give consensus on?

18. Making yourself a minority in your mind:  Creating the Victims Syndrome

Society likes to create minority groups, even where they weren’t in existence before.

Why then do we move into the shadow and allow ourselves to be a minority?

You need to ask yourself…

Are you a leader with conviction or a leader without a voice?

You need to be prepared to stand up for your team, be responsible and accountable, to gain their respect and the respect of your peers.

19. Looking at the problem, not the solution

This is more common than most of us want to acknowledge.

It feels so normal to complain about the problem, how it is impacting us and if you give your team a chance they will run with this approach every time.

You need to ask yourself if you are determined to draw a line in the sand.

Expect that your team comes to you with a solution for the problem and never comes to you with the problem for you to solve. 

The solution they offer does not have to be the right one, but it will start them thinking the right way. In time, more often than not, they will be on the right track and be thinking more laterally, than literally.

20. Assuming that the problem cannot ever be part of the solution

Believing that the problem is part of the solution almost sounds like a contradiction for most people, and often it is hard to understand and process.

You need to ask yourself how you can illustrate to your team, and peers, that the problem is a symptom.

To determine the solution, the symptom or symptoms of the problem,  if reverse engineered, could provide valuable insights into the solution or solutions.

The ‘problem’ needs to stop being the barrier between you and the ‘solution’.

21. Doing what you think other people think you should do

Guesswork is about as accurate as being blindfolded and asked to perform a task that requires sight to be successful.  It is not going to end well.

You need to ask yourself if you are prepared to risk your reputation by assuming what you think others think you should do, or be bold enough to find out what should be done and show initiative.  

Travelling with the herd may feel safer but when predators move in you are likely to be trapped.

22. Not investing in yourself as a unique value proposition

Do you pay enough attention to yourself?

If you value what you bring to the table you need to invest in yourself to get the best returns.

Makes sense doesn’t it?

You would do that with any depreciating asset, wouldn’t you?

You need to ask yourself what your strategy is for continual improvement to be at the top of your game or your reputation in your chosen field may suffer.

23. Not believing you can because it is easier to give up

We all get tired living in the human rat race, competing to stay on top of the pack, and to remain relevant.

Sometimes it just seems easier to concede, rather than compete.

You need to ask yourself what the impact will be on your reputation if you choose the easy way out each time.  

You might cruise along for awhile but sure enough, you will hit the rocks if you continue without a rudder to guide you in your strategic decision making.

Your business card is your boarding pass but your reputation is your passport.  If you want to reach the right destinations you need to make sure your journey doesn’t hit turbulence.

 

 

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Entrepreneur Survival Checklist

You have taken the leap into the world of entrepreneurism.  You are motivated, excited and enjoying the freedom you now have to create, innovate and explore your ideas and ventures. This entrepreneur survival checklist is a tool to help you stay focused and succeed.

entrepreneur's survival checklist

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Steve Jobs

I am sure you will agree that an entrepreneur experience could be described as a feeling that you are at last set free. You have been given permission to be what you were meant to be and do what you were meant to do. Living the entrepreneur dream of not being locked into the 9-5 treadmill and no longer being dependent on working for someone else to help them realize their dreams feels like the right thing for you.

You probably are now asking yourself. ” Why on earth did I not do this earlier” ?

…and then you need to ask yourself the next question: “Am I prepared”?

Being an entrepreneur can be very rewarding but it comes with its fair share of challenges. To make your dream a reality you need to be dedicated and focused. The only way to do this successfully is to plan in advance, anticipating the ‘what if’s’ and how to’s’ to try to avoid them impacting or derailing what you are trying to achieve.

Ask yourself the following questions to help you determine your strategy as an entrepreneur. You need to be sure that your strategy will support you and help you to realize success.

Top 10 Entrepreneur’s Survival Checklist

1/ How am I going to live and pay my bills while I work on my business ideas as it is being incubated?

Determine a plan based on the resources you have available and a timeline for your project. This must be realistic and not assumptive.

2/How do I look after my health?

Am I engaging in regular physical exercise, sleeping well, giving myself permission to have downtime and spend time with my family and friends? It is important to be focused but try not to be consumed by your business. A hybrid 7 day week is expected, but scheduling personal time is essential to maintain a balance.

3/ What is the Unique Value Proposition that my business idea has that sets it apart from its competitors?

Those competitors may be active in market and in the space that your business idea will reside or they may be like businesses that have adopted parts of your idea but it may not be their core business. Networking with other entrepreneurs, especially those that are playing in your space, will help you identify your U.V.P. and potentially help you to recognize other points of difference you can leverage.

4/ Who will be my customers or audience?

Your business idea cannot be successful unless it is adopted or consumed. Don’t be afraid to research and explore a cross-section of who you think your intended audience or customers are. Find out what they think about your business idea. You don’t have to give the game away just ask questions to determine a scenario of need or want versus motivation. Take the time to look at similar ideas and where they fell short or are successful to streamline your business idea.

5/ How is my business idea going to make money?

All in all they say money makes the world go around and although this is not necessary to find initial success it does help to attract investment and resource to realize the potential of your business idea. A sound commercial strategy, that although based on projection, has robust data to support assumptions, will be one of the first thing investors will be looking at.

6/ Do I spend too much time playing with the ‘fluffy’ stuff?

High level business structure and strategy are important, but actioning these steps with a solid go to market operational plan will ensure that you adhere to your timeline, which is important and relative to Question 1. Entrepreneurs can spend a lot of time thinking and not enough time doing. Both are important but need to be balanced to reach milestones.

7/ Who should I align and collaborate with to get the best outcome for all stakeholders?

Entrepreneurs who go solo are destined for a lonely and isolated journey with less opportunity for success than those who collaborate and network ideas, equity and resource. You must play to your strengths and look to others to assist where you have weaknesses or lack of experience and credibility when building a startup team. The people you choose to align your business with can be your greatest asset when you are going through the seeding and subsequent funding rounds for your business …..so choose wisely.

8/ How will I get people to invest in my business idea?

When you have answered questions 3,4,5,6 and 7 you are better positioned to not only determine who would be likely to invest but where to find those investment opportunities and create the opportunity to make them happen.

9/ How will my business grow?

The people you recruit will either make or break your business so positioning the growth strategy of your business will make the difference between scalability and stalling. Everyone is dispensable, even you, and the smarter your decisions on the roles and responsibilities of your staff the more effective and efficient your business model will be.

10/ How will I plan to overcome isolation, insulation and demotivation?

One of the biggest downfalls of being an entrepreneur is the extreme highs that can be followed by extreme lows. One of these lows which is common is isolation and insulation from the world around you which often leads to you becoming demotivated. Identify what will make you feel isolated, insulated or demotivated to avoid this happening. Many entrepreneurs dedicate so much of their time to their business that how they prioritize and spend their time can easily become blurred. Working smarter and more strategically is always better than working harder to deliver the outcomes you want in a timely manner.

If you live in the business always make sure your can still see outside the business.

Robyn Gunnis

Want to learn more?

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses.

The Start Up of YOU by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha

How do you survive and thrive in this fiercely competitive economy? You need a whole new entrepreneurial mindset and skill set. Drawing on the best of Silicon Valley, The Start-Up of You helps you accelerate your career and take control of your future–no matter your profession.

How to start a business with no money  by Trent Dyrsmid

 

 

Originally posted 2015-06-14 10:16:53.

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Startup pizza…its all about the idea and the base

You have a great idea for a start-up business and you are fairly confident that everybody will need and want your solution, product or service.
Your ‘light bulb’ moment could be the beginning of a remarkable start-up journey but how do you really know if it will work?
 start-up idea pizza

The number of entrepreneurs with great ideas is multiplying as fast as they are failing but don’t be deterred.  Your idea can be successful! You just have to have the right ingredients, a robust business base and a unique value proposition to get started.

Many entrepreneurs, unfortunately, put the ‘cart before the horse’ and believe that because they have sold themselves on the idea that it will be easy to wow investors. You could have a knockout slide deck with all the ‘bells and whistles’ and some financial projections to demonstrate the path to success. This does not always guarantee to open doors for you.  You need to convert others to become true believers by helping them to understand the who, where and why before tackling the how and when to position your idea as viable.  This approach embraces the ‘pizazz’ factor!

‘Pizazz’ is a great sales tool but not a great planning tool. Once you make this distinction you will need to channel your focus to create the recipe for your business ‘base’. Once you have done this the pizazz can become part of your choice of ‘toppings’ to garnish your go-to market proposition.

You may have noticed the not so subtle lead-in to the ‘pizza’ reference in the header with words like ‘base’ and ‘toppings’ and are wondering what on earth does ‘pizza’ have to do with startups?

Firstly the secret to a great pizza starts with the base! The perfect pizza base must be balanced, kneaded  and proven with attention to process and planning to get it to rise and have the right balance in taste and texture. The base is what makes the pizza work! The toppings (pizazz) give the pizza an individual flavour and visual appeal.

The foundation of a successful startup is not dissimilar to creating a great pizza base. The business base should be build with the right ingredients:

Position your idea by doing a SWOT Analysis internally (on the idea) and externally (looking at potential competitors). Talk to people about your idea. Get feedback and take constructive criticism on board.  You are in a learning phase and this will be invaluable to giving your idea clarity.

Idea Clarity is next where you determine your Unique Value Proposition. What makes your idea different? Who is your market and why and how would customers embrace your idea?

Zero Distraction is a must. Focus, Focus, Focus! It is imperative that you focus on the fundamental business processes that you need to undertake to tick the boxes once you have determined your Unique Value Proposition using the research from your SWOT Analysis.

Zoom in on the people that will make your business soar in the beginning and as you grow. A startup works well by embracing collaboration,  seeking out great mentors and engaging with the right people that will give your startup credibility and create investor conversion. Many entrepreneurs are reluctant to share for fear that they may lose their intellectual property to others. You are in control of how much you divulge and how little. Opening the doors to experience, advice and resource is imperative for your idea to have a fighting chance.

Act in a timely manner.  Don’t rush the process. If you get the base right you can build on it to make it attractive and scalable to gain traction.  Being too eager to go to market leads to compromise. Once you have launched, the impression you make on the market will always be determined by what you deliver.

A good base should be complimented with a good ‘sauce’ or in the case of a startup a ‘glue’ that pulls all the business smarts together.  This glue is the team that makes the idea into a tangible, relevant and viable startup proposition.  The team must be balanced, appropriate and reputable in context with the startup and the market space it will occupy.

Finally the toppings (pizazz) which are unique and different for every startup and gives your startup the irresistible appeal it needs. If  you have done a good job with your market research you are in a good position to create the market appetite for your startup.  To present your startup for maximum impact you need to have the right ingredients for your startup to be served up as attractive for investment.

To give your idea a chance to shine these will include:

Visual – Are you presenting your start-up in the way they want to consume it?Market temperature – How hot is your market for investment in your space?Competition – Is your start-up flavour of the month? If so is the space crowded and will your unique value proposition stack up?

You can control some of the outcomes when you commit your time and resource to a start-up but market conditions, volatility and acceptance will still have an impact on your ability to launch successfully.  Respected serial entrepreneurs don’t have success on every attempt but what is remembered is their innovation, resilience, passion, enthusiasm and insight. Never let self-doubt decay your dreams.  You may just need to improvise and change the recipe to get the desired outcome.

….and at your start-up launch you might want to celebrate with a pizza of course? I have included a ingredients for the base, sauce and a topping list below with links for the ‘how to’.  Enjoy!

Pizza Base Ingredients

1 1/2 cups warm water

1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) of active dry yeast

3 1/2 cups bread flour

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon sugar

Find out how to make this pizza base

Pizza Sauce Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1⁄cup onion, chopped

1⁄cup celery, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 can tomato sauce

1 can tomato paste

2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1⁄teaspoon salt

1⁄teaspoon sugar

1⁄teaspoon black pepper

1 small bay leaf

1 teaspoon fennel seed

Find out how to make this awesome pizza sauce 

Suggested list of pizza toppings to choose from:

Anchovies, tomato, ricotta, pepperoni, green pepper, onion, mushroom, grilled chicken, cheddar cheese, pesto, prawns, salami bacon, chorizo, feta, mozzarella, black olives, pineapple, prosciutto, garlic, avocado, pancetta, ham, beef mince,

What would you have as a pizza topping?  Feel free to suggest other toppings you may have tried and liked

Originally posted 2015-05-10 12:20:04.

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3 Call-To-Action Hacks That Really Work

How much impact does what, why, how, where and when you place your call-to-action have on your business, and what does it mean to your customers?  What if you could hack it and get even better results?

action

You want your customers to feel compelled to buy what you are selling or commit to what you want them to do, right?

What if you hacked your trusted go-to call-to-action to evoke a different type of emotion that makes your offering different to what others are offering?

Would that make you want to engage with your product or service if you were your customer?

What does hacking a call-to-action look like?

1. The call-to-action might be a:  FREE download, checklist, e-book etc

What emotion does it evoke now?  

The customer feels initially like they are getting something without giving you something, but they have a nagging feeling, through experience, that there will be a catch.

That nagging feeling can create a lack of trust over time and your customers can start to feel numb if you use this too often to encourage them to then pay for your products or services.

Why hack it if you are having success now?   

There are a plethora of people doing the same call-to-action and if you don’t set yourself apart from them now, you risk being painted with the same brush stroke. People become jaded.

That is the cold hard truth, unfortunately.

Hacking your call-to-action will make it different, distinguishing your genuine offer to your competitor’s opportunistic offers.

Your customer has learned to expect the latter will be what they will probably get from previous experiences.

How to hack it and change it up!

Value creation is extremely important as this is an act of good faith for your customers.

What does value creation really mean?

The unfortunate behaviour of a lot of people offering FREE as a call-to-action is that they use this as click bait for the sale.

This is where they come unstuck.

The FREE offer has to have a stand-alone value all of its own and this has to be tangible for your customers to identify and engage with it.

Some examples may include:  

You may give away a secret…

If you do, you must demonstrate how it can be applied and where it has worked before to validate it.  This must be a real game-changer and one that your potential customers can readily relate to.

You may give your customers a formula…

This must be demonstrated in the FREE offer as to how, why and where it has worked before.

If your customers can see that they will get a tangible outcome by applying your ‘formula’, this will fast-track your customers to buy your saleable product or service.  It will also compel them to buy to unlock that second tier of value.

You may use ‘the stick more than the carrot’ …

This is often used in checklists that are framed to create fear or scarcity.  If you do not comply you will suffer this consequence!  Oh, and by the way…we have the solution.

This only works when your customers don’t feel like you have trapped them.  If they feel trapped they will search for another way to comply with somebody else that they feel will look after them or give them a way out with less pain.

You can overcome this by creating value your customers can see without looking.

Make ‘the carrot’ more visible by taking away the pain point immediately and using the checklist as a reassurance that establishes a comfort zone rather than a fear factor.

Thestickmight be ….Do you comply? Be aware you could be audited!

Thecarrotmight be …  We offer a FREE audit to give you peace of mind.

This talks directly to the pain point, at the pain point, introducing your service as a ‘solution partner’ who wants to earn your customer’s trust and not just take their money.

2. The call-to-action might be:  Buy one, get one FREE

What emotion does it evoke?

Your customers feel that they cannot lose if you have convinced them that the product or service that you are selling them is good value.

They feel like they are getting a good deal once you have converted their thinking to believe that buying your product or service is a no-brainer.  Double the benefit for the price!

Why hack it if you are having success now?

Your product or service may experience great success with this approach but consider if what you are offering has limitations how long will this be sustainable?

These limitations could be the price point, competitors using the same call-to-action or a window of opportunity if your product is seasonal or a niche offering.

How to hack it and change it up!

What if you were to change the way your customers think about the ‘buy one get one FREE’ purchase?

What if you introduced the idea of the second product becoming a ‘pay it forward’ or ‘gifting’ opportunity, dependant on the type of product or service on offer.

Would this present as a different opportunity and one that your customers could use to share on social media at the sale-point to promote what a good person they are, while at the same time promoting your product or service to an unlimited, new audience?

You could also value add to this concept by ‘sweetening the pot’. You could offer your paying customer the chance to go in the draw to win a prize for making the purchase. This message could be embedded in the automated share message that your customer sends out at the sale-point to encourage the next wave of customers to do the same… repeating the sales process over and over again.

3. The call-to-action might be:  Subscribe NOW, Buy NOW,  Act NOW

What emotion does it evoke? 

Your customers may feel pressure by using any of these call-to-actions if they do not have enough knowledge to make the decision.

When your customers feel pressure they are going to act one of three ways.

  1. Your customers will make the purchase as they have already made the decision.
  2. They will abandon the post, article or cart because they are not convinced.
  3. They will look for something to validate why they should engage and commit to the sale.  This may include reviews, social media or your website as points of reference.

Why hack it if you are having success now?

The challenge is that once your customers look to validate, this exposes your product or service to scrutiny and competition.

You have to ask yourself…

  • How many potential customers do you lose through either abandonment or the validation process?
  • How many potential customers are not convinced by the time you ask them to take action and what impact does this have on the success you could be experiencing?
  • How many of your potential customers don’t even react to those call-to-actions because they see them all the time?

How to hack it and change it up!

Identifying and understanding what your customers ‘need to know’ is something that you probably do now.

What if you are missing pieces to the conversion puzzle? What might they be?

If you were your customer and you were confronted with an Act NOW,  Buy NOW or Subscribe NOW, what would your first reaction be without thinking?

Do you want more information and a better reason to make that commitment?

Speed selling is a bit like speed dating.

You want the person to commit when they don’t really know you, your products or services and they don’t know if they can trust you.  Some small talk, identifying and sharing common interests, feeling comfortable and becoming curious to learn more is the beginnings to starting a relationship and may get you that second date …but consider this … it may also get you that sale.

You are not selling a service or a product, you are selling a feeling that makes your customers believe that they will get the desired outcome.

Any guarantees you can throw into that mix will create more sales momentum (if they are believable and relatable)

What your business offers is unique and valuable. Make sure you let your customers in on the secret 🙂

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