Final Lecture

For my final words of advice to those wanting to take the dive into the world of entrepreneurship, I offer what I consider to be the five most crucial elements to starting your own business: Dream big, be different, be passionate, plan EVERYTHING, and adjust as you go.

Starting with the first, Dream Big. If you have a dream to do something you are scared to do, don’t be! First times for anything will always be scary. Go ahead and dream big! It needs to be something you’re crazy about and if you aren’t dreaming of it then you probably don’t really care about it so if you have a dream, don’t be afraid of it, indulge it! Go for it, but don’t forget number two….

Plan EVERYTHING! I’m talking, every little detail. You’ll start with a business plan, and this will be necessary if you need financial funding or investors. You’ll need to know even the smaller details. How many people will the business require to function well? How will you get inventory and where will you store it? How will you advertise? Where will you be located? Who will your target audience be? How much do expect to make? How much do you expect to grow over the next few years? Include your end goals as well, if you plan to spread your business to other areas or incorporate more products down the road. Even after you’ve accrued the necessary funding and have already made the dive, keep planning. You’ll need to write everything down in a hand book and be extremely well organized so that your company will know what to expect and your employees will work in unison. When your customers know what to expect every time they come in, they’ll feel comfortable and trust you more.

Be passionate! Passion isn’t just about being crazy about your dream business. It’s staying crazy about it when things get hard. You may go through hard times or work really long hours. You may undergo losses and failures. Use these to your advantage and find ways to make it better, to make it work, and stay madly in love with it!

Be different! You don’t want lots of competition. This means less customers. You want to stand out and offer something in a new way or with an improvement that makes you stand out and above your competition. Could be packaging, style, price, efficiency… whatever it is, just make sure it’s not the same because you won’t catch anyone’s eyes.

Adjust as you go! This goes back to number four just a little. You will face failures and that is OK! Use those as learning experiences to help you come out on top. Now you know something that doesn’t work and you can move on to another way! Congratulations!

If you keep all 5 of these tips in mind, you are bound for success! Time to take the dive!

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Failure Leads to Success

This week’s class was entitled “Fail Forward.”  It was all about the importance of failing and learning what doesn’t work.  A person won’t be able to succeed until they learn from their mistakes.  No one is perfect from the very beginning.  There is growth required.  Our society makes failure seem like an awful thing, however, it should be celebrated because that means you’re that much closer to success.  I was highly amused by the idea of failure parties and treating them as rewards and positive things instead of being terrible things.

My Challenge project is wrapping up this week.  I’ve closed my classes and submitted my presentation.  It was a fun class and I think it might be fun to try it again in the fall and see if it’s a better time of year.  I reached the base requirement and ALMOST made my end goal… but not quite unfortunately.  Nonetheless, I still consider it a great success considering the fun we had, the friends made, the profit made, and the satisfaction of my customers.

Family Businesses

Family businesses can be tricky for many reasons.  One can be chain of command.  Sibling rivalry or personal problems can cause difficulty in the work place.  Another problem can be family allowing work to take over their lives outside work and destroy family bonding outside the workplace.  In addition, if family members have varying ideas of where the business should go or what the goals should be.  A few ways to remedy these problems are to limit take about work to the work place only as much as possible, and to have a written plan that everyone can agree on.

My $100 Challenge is now wrapping up and I’m starting to prepare my presentation for next week.  I’m interested to see everyone else’s and how they’ll come together in the end.  Until then!

Working on and in Your Business

This week was about the two main problems entrepreneurs often have when starting their new businesses.  They either get too caught up in the day to day chores of doing everything IN their business to the point where they don’t have any time to work ON their business and setting goals to make it continue growing and developing.  OR they hire people to work IN their business and then pretty much abandon it to go work ON their business.  In this case, the employees aren’t likely to do the job you would do and they will need management and supervision to do a great job.  As entrepreneur, you’ll need to be involved in both aspects: both in and on the business.  By neglecting one or the other, you jeopardize the hard work you put into it.

My $100 challenge seems to be rather stagnant.  This week I had no attendees in my class again for all the 4th of July and summer plans.  I sent a message to a lady who wanted to have a class for her friends and family but then had her family get sick and called it off.  I’m hoping I can still get in a couple more classes before the end of the semester.

Business Process Improvement

This week’s lesson focused a lot on how to improve a business process and making sure you have a formal process in place.  If you don’t, people might only work on tasks they feel like accomplishing and at some point parts of the process won’t happen and then end product will suffer.  In addition, having a written process eliminates much confusions and miscommunications.  It also ensures that people are held accountable for their tasks and responsibilities.

I enjoyed learning about Roxanne and Burt this week and how Burt’s Bees came about.  I really enjoyed the discussion boards on whether or not Roxanne should stick with moving the company to North Carolina instead of staying in Maine where things were going well.  I think she made the right choice, though.  It’s important to allow the business to grow when you feel the need to expand or improve it.  If you stifle it’s growth, you’re more than likely to eventually see it die away.

We also discussed debt in business.  While we usually try to avoid debt, it can be necessary in starting a company.  If you don’t take out a loan, it may take many many years to get it up off the ground and in that time it could die away completely.  The important thing is having a plan in place to make the business successful and turn it into a financially rewarding asset.

This week on my $100 Challenge project my whole family came down sick so I had to cancel my classes.  Monday classes weren’t being attended anyway, so that’s permanently cancelled, but I’m hoping to have Thursday class again this upcoming week.  I feel like people are very busy with summer camps, scouts, vacations, etc. and having difficulty attending.  However, I’m hoping to get a few more dollars out of this before the end of the semester.

Hiring and Firing

This week’s lesson material was on management and how to find the right people for the job.  I learned that it is important to know what the job description is before looking for candidates.  Make sure you know what educational and experience requirement there are as well as personal attribute and personalities you need in the job.  Be prepared to interview.  Role play with other workers if need be and make sure you follow the 80/20 rule… you do 20% talking and 80% listening.  You need to ask open ended questions, questions that will show you how the person will react in certain situations, what type of experience he/she has and if they feel competent for the role.  If you get someone in the position who you discover is not a good fit, be sure to cut them loose sooner than later.  Waiting around can loose valuable hiring time in finding the right fit.  Better to not get emotionally involved

Leadership in Business

This week was all about managing and leading business.  Managers push their employees or workers to complete fixed tasks and to reach the manager’s goals while a leader is more concerned about helping each team mate grow and in turn teach each of those how to take leadership responsibilities and accountability for his actions.  A manager threatens and demands while a leader teaches by example and with patience while helping his workers to step outside their comfort zones to further develop their abilities.  A leader is interested in the individual and the company as a whole.  The manager is simply interested in his own will being.  I hope to be a leader similar to our Savior.  He led by serving others and by showing the example- everything he wanted his followers to do he also did so himself.  Even things that seemed unnecessary for him to do.

My $100 challenge is going alright this week, though not as well as I had earlier anticipated.  People are very busy with summer and dropping out of classes to attend other things.  I’m wondering if my class is not engaging or exciting enough.  I thought it was really good, but I’m trying to think of how to improve retention.  I also had a new class set up for today but it fell through because of schedule conflicts of the attendees and some illnesses going around.  I’m hoping I can pick up next week but also trying to find ways to improve my class to make it a place people will be eager to return to every time.