Archive for the ‘Entrepreneurship’ Category

  • Do What You Love – Don’t Settle for Second Best

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    Courtesy, webgrrls.com

     

    If you’re 60 years old and just starting a business of your own, this is not the time for you to settle for second best. First, it is not good for your psyche and second, it is not good for your business.

    In this 12 Most Overlooked Essential First Steps For Starting A Business blog post, the first and last steps are all about you.

    The number 1 question is: Ask yourself, “What do I want out of life?”

    And the 12th and final “most overlooked essential” question is: Remind yourself, “Why you are starting this business and what it’s supposed to do for you?”

    You’ve lived and worked a lot of years. Now you’re free to choose what you want to do for the next 20-30 years. Don’t blow the opportunity. Stay focused and don’t compromise.

    Business News Daily had an article, Innovation Begins at Home for Entrepreneurs, that notes one of the best ways to test your entrepreneurial mettle and staying power is to build on something that works for you. It cites a study, released by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a nonprofit group that focuses on entrepreneurship and innovation, which found, “Nearly half of innovative startups are founded by user entrepreneurs. These are firms created by entrepreneurs who developed innovative products or services for their own use and then went on to found firms to commercialize them. They leave an outsize mark on the economy; even though they create only 10.7 percent of startups overall, they account for more than 46 percent of innovative startups that have lasted five years or more.

    For more about the you in entrepreneurship, don’t miss this new book The Big Enough Company by Adelaide Lancaster and Amy Abrams. They explore how to grow your enterprise in a way that sustains your own personal goals and needs, not someone else’s standards. Drawing on the true stories of nearly 100 entrepreneurs, as well as their own experiences, the authors guide readers through the best principles that really matter when you work for yourself. This book empowers entrepreneurs to ignore popular “wisdom” and peer pressure to take charge of their businesses in a way that will help them succeed on their own terms.

    Never Lose Sight of the You in “Starting Your Own Business!”

  • Orchestrating Innovation – Old and New

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    Courtesy, Harvard Business Review

     

    This weekend, as I read a preview of Walter Isaacson’s article, “The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs” the April cover story in the Harvard Business Review, I was struck by the parallels between the culture of creativity Jobs fostered at Apple and that of Mervin Kelly, “the man most responsible for the culture of creativity” at Bell Labs fifty years earlier.

    Jon Gertner, author of the forthcoming “The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation,” published an ode to the “Bell Labs’ Miracle” in the NY Times last month. Just for starters, read and compare how these four key lessons of Jobs – “Focus; Simplify; Take Responsibility; and Combine the Humanities with the Sciences” were integral to the Bell Labs’ creative ecosystem.

    Echo, the first communications satellite, in 1960. Courtesy of Alcatel-Lucent USA Inc. and the AT&T Archives and History Center

     

    As Gertner notes: “His [Kelly’s] fundamental belief was that an ‘institute of creative technology’ like his own needed a ‘critical mass’ of talented people to foster a busy exchange of ideas. But innovation required much more than that. Mr. Kelly was convinced that physical proximity was everything; phone calls alone wouldn’t do. Quite intentionally, Bell Labs housed thinkers and doers under one roof. Purposefully mixed together on the transistor project were physicists, metallurgists and electrical engineers; side by side were specialists in theory, experimentation and manufacturing. Like an able concert hall conductor, he sought a harmony, and sometimes a tension, between scientific disciplines; between researchers and developers; and between soloists and groups.”

    Indeed, it will take all of us – artists, scientists, politicians, teachers, navigators, cooks, athletes, geeks, oboe players and more – to address the world’s seemingly intractable problems today.  And, once we truly understand this, we need to identify another innovator cut from the same cloth as Jobs and Kelly to lead our orchestra.

     

  • Balancing Work and Life: Stories from the Trenches

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    Stone Sculpture, Willard Beach, Maine

    The challenges can be daunting but they need not be insurmountable. As a wise old soul once said, “Nothing is impossible; the impossible just takes a little longer.”

    A key first step is to identify your priorities. Determine what you want to get out of your work and your personal life, and jettison all the things that don’t help you achieve those goals.

    The second key step is to give yourself time. You can’t expect to achieve this balance overnight. Take small steps and build on each success.

    Help, as in interviews with those who have and have not achieved balance, is available at Stanford University’s e-Corner (Entrepreneurship Corner), a project of Stanford Technology Ventures Program. They have published a collection of videos and podcasts of more than 1800 of Silicon Valley’s most practiced entrepreneurs and thought leaders.

    Check out three of their videos with “perspectives on this frequently elusive pursuit” below:

    Video: Life With an Entrepreneur
    Brad Feld, Foundry Group, TechStars
    5 min. 7 sec.

    Living a “life” while being an entrepreneur can have its challenges, according to entrepreneur and investor Brad Feld. Through a candid story from his own marriage, Feld explains how he has successfully found a way to balance his love of work with his love of family.

     

    Video: Work-Life Balance for Driven People
    Dominic Orr, Aruba Networks
    3 min. 28 sec.

    Dominic Orr, CEO of Aruba Networks, wrestles with the definition of work-life balance for people deeply engaged by their work. Orr recognizes it can be difficult to separate work and life, but that we must still make room for relationships that matter to us. According to Orr, this ultimately comes down to carefully allocating our time and energy.

     

    Video: Failure in Work-Life Balance
    Lisa Lambert, Intel Capital
    2 min. 19 sec.

    “Failure is as much about success as success is,” says Lisa Lambert, vice president at Intel Capital. “In fact, it’s probably a more important part.” Lambert reflects on aspects of her career she wishes she could revisit, including work-life balance. Get practiced in the act of saying no, she advises, and accept that your time and money, and other resources only occur in limited quantities.

     

  • The Power of “Power Posing”

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    Nicole Wallace writing for the Chronicle of Philanthropy described a rather unique presentation at the Pop Tech conference last fall.

    Wallace writes: “With strains of the ‘Wonder Woman’ theme song opening her talk, Amy J.C. Cuddy, a social psychologist at Harvard Business School, discussed her research on body language and how it can change the way people feel about their status—something that could come in handy for the people nonprofits train to get jobs, and many other purposes. She and a colleague found that holding ‘power poses’ —open, expansive body postures that convey confidence and power (imagine a corporate titan with his feet propped on a desk or an Olympic runner raising her arms in victory)—for as little as two minutes changes people’s levels of testosterone and cortisol (hormones associated with leadership), increases their appetite for risk and helps them cope with stressful situations.”

    Watch the video of Professor Cuddy’s conference presentation: The Power of “Power Posing”

    Do you need a power pose to ask the right questions and nail your next job interview? Or, imagine how a power pose might impact your presentation to a bank, micro-finance institution or venture capitalist to secure funding for launching your own business.

    The applications are unlimited. I remember, for example. when my son’s traditionally reticent, somewhat elderly, first grade teacher dressed as Wonder Woman and assumed that icon’s power pose on an float in our small town’s Independence Day parade. Parents lining the parade route were stunned and children were awestruck.  And I can say with confidence that woman never had a discipline problem in her classroom again.

    “Power Posing” could that be just another way of saying –  take charge of your life???

  • Buttermilk Biscuits and Super Start-Ups – A Delight to the Cents and Senses!

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    Courtesy, Gourmet Live

    The latest issue of Gourmet Live magazine celebrates America’s top food entrepreneurs – and what a feast it is.

    Gourmet writes, “There’s no question that the food and beverage industry is tough. Profit margins are small and failure rates are high—roughly 80 percent of restaurants, for example, don’t make it to their second birthday. But it can also be an incredibly rewarding business for those plucky and lucky enough to find success—the Entrepreneurs issue of Gourmet Live salutes those who have already made it and those on their way.”

    They begin their tour of “the upstarts and start-ups driving change in the culinary world” top 25 American food entrepreneurs of the past 25 years. Kate Sekules pays tribute to major players such as Mario Batali, Annie Chun, and Starbucks’ Howard Schultz, who have not only made their fortunes but also “shifted the axis of American taste.”

    “If you have a quit-your-day-job dream simmering, you’ll be inspired by three more tales of passion and perseverance in this issue: St. John Frizell’s firsthand account of launching his Brooklyn bar/café, Fort Defiance; a visit by Jean Anderson to Saxapahaw General Store, the North Carolina haute eatery that gives the term filling station a whole new meaning; and an ode to the makers of Kate’s Real Buttermilk, who turned a butter by-product into liquid gold, penned by Gourmet Live’s Kemp Minifie.”

    Edible entrepreneurship indeed!!

     

  • Optimizing Failure

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    Courtesy of waltsense.com

    Wile E. Coyote – did you ever know a character more inured to failure? The Critter deserves a medal for resilience, but just think of the havoc he could have wrecked if only he had learned from each disastrous, failed attempt to snag the Road Runner.

    In a recent post, Penelope Trunk, in her blog  “Advice on the Intersection of Life and Work” writes about starting your own business:

    She says, “Feeling stuck? Uninspired? As though your New Year’s resolutions have no spark? Maybe it’s time to start your own business. It’s likely you intuitively know if you’re actually an entrepreneur stuffed in a corporate cubicle. … don’t be stifled by your age or lack of experience. Just make sure you have the right personality for success and the right attitude toward failure.”

    “The right attitude toward failure” – that’s the phrase that struck home with me because it is something you can apply to your career as well as a new business start-up. As she said in an earlier post, “in this day, we have the ability to gather information quickly and move quickly. But why do we only apply this idea to [new] companies? Why not also apply it to our careers? We can constantly gather information, ask questions, and readjust our goals.”

    Trunk recommends we, “Fail quickly and move on. Most business leaders fail once or twice before hitting it big. Think of failure as a necessary career step and move through it quickly and assuredly – recognize when things are going poorly, fail fast, learn, and respond to new information about what really works for each of us.”

     

     

     

     

     

  • Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Senior (Aged 50+) Entrepreneur?

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    Courtesy, Mrs J. Shanahan

    The idea for a start-up may come like a bolt out of the blue but the execution of developing the idea, monetizing it and sustaining the value proposition is a long – sometimes excruciatingly long – process. The idea of starting your own business is exhilarating, but entrepreneurs need to  focus on the reality of the challenges for their businesses to take root, thrive and fly.

    The good news is that comprehensive resources exist to help you navigate these shoals. Two excellent books aimed at the 50+ year old considering entrepreneurship are:

    The Second Chance Revolution: Becoming Your Own Boss After 50 by Edward G. Rogoff, PhD and David L. Carroll. This book is filled with nuggets of practical wisdom, including a self-assessment tool to help you decide if entrepreneurship is the right path for you. (I think this is a rather gutsy thing to do, because, if you don’t pass chapter one, you could put the book right back on the shelf without turning another page and check in to the nearest employment center.) If you do pass, Dr. Rogoff offers valuable basics to help you choose the entrepreneurial profession that’s right for you. Then, too, once you’ve successfully navigated these critical hurdles, the book provides a hands-on, step-by-step guide to what you need to do and when to launch your new business. Dr. Rogoff candidly points out that you may not like hearing about some of these steps such as: legal issues, boards of directors, insurance and taxes but, like it or not, you must tackle these head-on to succeed. The point is that this book guides you through all the hurdles and risks before you ever invest a penny in that exhilarating business idea.

    The second book, Boomerpreneurs: How Baby Boomers Can Start Their Own Business, Make Mondy and Enjoy Life, by M.B. Izard is an equally thorough and pragmatic tool. Izard also helps you determine if entrepreneurship is a good lifestyle fit for you, as well as assessing the marketplace for your business idea and how to mitigate your risks. The book has detailed action plans and is enriched by stories from Boomers who have launched new businesses. As Izard points out, there are lots of books about how to start businesses, but there are few indeed that address  the unique needs and concerns of starting a business at 50+ years of age.

    That being said, I also want to include a book aimed at entrepreneurs of any age. The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything by Guy Kawasaki is one of the most enlightening and inspiring books I have read on this subject.

    When you have a moment, please let us know your thoughts on the opportunities, challenges, pitfalls, and exhilaration of starting your own business after turning 50.

     

  • “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”

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    Photo courtesy of www.indivisualism.com

    Seniors should take heart in this courageous quote from the English novelist, George Eliot (1819-1880). She was often called the last Victorian, and we know that was not exactly an era open to creative thought – nevertheless articulation.

    We hear the term “reinventing themselves” often as seniors – with many extended years to live – are taking on new jobs and even starting to launch their own businesses.

    This week’s “Fact of the Week” from the Sloane Center on Aging & Work at Boston College is:

    “According to a 2011 report on retirement trends, ‘continued employment in something other than the career job…rises to a maximum of 32 percent of the men and 37 percent of the women when the HRS respondents are aged 59 to 69, but still remains significant (more than 20 percent of the sample) even among those aged 67 to 77.’ ’’

    The key phrase here is “something other than the career job.” These seniors are truly breaking new ground.

    For those who might be contemplating a bold entrepreneurial venture, the US Small Business Administration’s website offers a nifty self-assessment tool to determine just how ready you might be to start our own business.

    The SBA notes, “Your responses will be scored automatically when you click the Submit button. This score will be used to develop your assessment profile. Based on your score, you will also receive a statement of Suggested Next Steps, directing you to the most appropriate SBA resources to help improve your business preparedness. These suggested next steps may include free SBA online courses, direct access to online counseling or targeted links to appropriate resources.”

    Take their note with the appropriate grain of salt. It is, of course, a bit of shameless marketing for the SBA. There are multitudes of other reputable online resources to help you plan and start your own business. Granted few are directed at the 50+ year old entrepreneur, but we are working on finding more of those targeted resources and will bring them to you as we locate and evaluate them.

    To extend George Eliot’s wisdom, we would add, “It’s never too late to be who you might like to be!”

     

     

  • We, Too, Are the Fruits of Our Labor.

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    Courtesy: mycommentcodes.com

     

    When I think of work, I think of creativity – both in terms of jobs we perform for others and in entrepreneurial work we create on our own.

    Courtesy: danliterature.wordpress.com

    And, when I think of creativity, Albert Einstein comes immediately to mind. This week “The Heart of Innovation” posted “35 Awesome Quotes from Einstein.”  Four that I find most meaningful are:

    1. “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” (They did not include the rest and perhaps most poignant part of this quote – which is: “For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

    2. “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

    3.  “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

    4.  “If you cannot explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

     

    Happy Labor Day!  May the fruits of your labor be nourished with curiosity.

  • Entrepreneur Is Not A Job Title – It Is A “State of Mind”*

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    Courtesy of cafepress.com

    *Guy Kawaski nailed it in his 2004 classic book, “The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything,” where he said, “Entrepreneur is the state of mind of people who want to alter the future, to create a service or product that makes the world a better place.”

    “This book,” Guy writes, “is for people in a wise range of startup endeavors:

    1. Guys and gals in garages creating the next great company

    2. Brave souls in established companies bringing new products and services to market

    3. Saints starting schools, churches and not-for-profits

    because when it comes to the fundamentals of starting up they are more alike than different. The hardest thing about getting started is getting started.”

    But don’t think this book is a collection of platitudes. It is one of the most hands-on, no nonsense guides on the market.  It contains fresh insights, practical tips, case studies, exercises, and mini-chapters tailored to meet specific needs, in addition to the no-holds-barred strategy chapters. If you want a “feel good” read, this is not for you. If you want a honest book that makes you think, this is for you.

    This book is not just one long note from Guy. It is filled with quotes and anecdotes from those who have thrived and those who have not. It even has footnotes you will want to read, as well as additional recommended resources at the end of each chapter.

    One of my favorite sections is Guy’s FAQs – not “Frequently Asked Questions” –  but even more importantly “Frequently Avoided Questions.” These are the questions which any entrepreneur must answer if he or she stands a chance of succeeding.

    Perhaps my favorite chapter in this gem of a book is the final chapter: “The Art of Being a Mensch.”  “Mensch” is the Yiddish term for someone who is ethical, decent and admirable. Guy says, “the three foundations of menschhood are helping lots of people, doing what’s right, and paying back society – simple concepts that are hard to implement.”

    Guy and his book are the manifestation of menschhood! This is a must read for anyone thinking about making their entrepreneurial dreams a reality.

    PS – If possible try to secure a hardcover copy of this book. The jacket art was created by Adam Tucker, winner of a design contest sponsored by Guy Kawasaki. It’s a great jacket, but what is truly original is that other entries are printed on the reverse side of the jacket.  It’s a fascinating snapshot of conceptual design.

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