That’s when he started thinking about the downsides of Craigslist and it led him to search for common categories that are more valuable, and therefore even scarier to sell, than couches. He typed in several search terms and when he typed in “Rolex” he was dumbfounded. Right there, he knew there had to be a better way to sell a watch. And Crown & Caliber was born!
Crown & Caliber is the first exclusive buyer and consigner of watches on the internet with a modern twist – not only do consumers get the best value possible for their timepieces, but a portion goes back to supporting saving children’s lives in third world countries.
Before Crown & Caliber, people looking to sell a watch were forced to sell through Craigslist, Ebay, or go to a second hand jeweler. Hamilton changed all of that with his revolutionary 5 step process of selling luxury watches online that is fast, safe, easy and doesn’t require customers to spend money on shipping or insurance.
Unusual Entrepreneur Interview Questions Part One
ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Awakening the Spirit of business
1. Can you please tell us a little about yourself and your business? What do you do?, how do you do it?, why do you do it and who do you do it for?
Born and raised in Atlanta, GA, I am the CEO of Crown & Caliber and the managing member of Powell Growth Capital, which is the funding source of Crown & Caliber. Crown & Caliber is the nation’s preferred solution to selling a luxury watch. Our Consignment Process allows us to work together with our customers to sell the watch for the highest possible value. We understand that a watch does more than just tell time and often has significant sentimental value to the owner. We enjoy speaking with all of our customers over the phone to learn more about them and their watch and to establish trust, ensuring them that selling with Crown & Caliber will be a rewarding process.
2. How would you describe your entrepreneurial journey into the world of business? Where there any key incidents or life changing events that inspired your decision to become an entrepreneur?
I was fortunate enough to have great teachers in school. I believe teachers can be incredible role models for entrepreneurs.
3. When you started out in business, what specific idea, purpose or vision was your key driving force?
I believe too many start-ups are “solutions in search of problems”. When I founded Crown & Caliber, I did so because it is nearly impossible for an individual to sell a luxury watch in a profitable and safe way. Therefore, we sought to create an innovative solution to this problem.
4. What is your take on the general notion that entrepreneurs should build a business around what they naturally love to do?
It is important to be passionate about your business. When speaking with customers on the phone, they can tell that we truly care about their timepiece. We are passionate about watches and people, which is evident to all of our customers through the relationships that we build with them.
5. What is your personal life mission as an entrepreneur? That is; what contributions do you want to make with your life or what would you like to be remembered for as an entrepreneur through the businesses you create when you die?
Our time on earth is short and it is important to leave a legacy. When we leave this earth, we will be remembered for the things we did and the people we touched. I have implemented this philosophy into the foundation of Crown & Caliber. With every watch Crown & Caliber sells, a portion of the money is donated to MAP International, which provides medicines to sick children around the world. Although they may never know who helped provide that medicine, our business efforts have helped to change a life. And that is a great legacy to leave.
6. What would you describe as the purpose of entrepreneurship? That is; what role do entrepreneurs play in the world?
An entrepreneur needs to be innovative and offer customers a product or service that addresses their needs. It is important to do significant research before creating a new business in order to figure out what voids need to be filled so that your business is not pushing a product on people who don’t need it.
Unusual Entrepreneur Interview Questions Part Two
STRATEGY: The unusual execution of business best practices
7. How do you identify business opportunities and what metrics do you use to measure their viability?
8. Do you have mentors, business coach or external consultants that you work closely with to grow yourself and your business? If yes, to what extent would you describe their impact on your business? If no, are there any particular reasons?
Crown & Caliber has a Board who offer great insight. These members are from all over the world and are from all different industries. It is important to have people outside of your business who can provide guidance because they can give views that are similar to the customers’, rather than from that of an employee. Each of these members has a different background and they are able to draw from their different experiences to help direct Crown & Caliber.
9. How do you strategically use your time as an entrepreneur? What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs use their time for?
I think one of the least focused on aspect of the day to day life of an entrepreneur is taking time to read. By reading you will be able to raise your standards beyond just being the best in your industry.
10. How do you generate profitable customers for your business? What unusual approaches do you adopt for marketing your products/services?
As an online business, we focus many of our marketing efforts to online customers. We fill our site with rich content, in the hopes that watch enthusiasts visit it to learn more about their favorite watch, as well as to participate in our Consignment Process.
11. Many entrepreneurs complain about not succeeding in business due to lack of adequate funding, what is your take on this matter and how do you cope with funding issues in your business?
I believe funding is important – but using the funds wisely can be a difficult thing. It is easy to “ready fire aim” when you are well funded – so in some ways, having a lack of funds can be the best thing for the business. It forces you to focus.
12. When starting out a new business, who are the likely possible partners or professional service providers you would recommend every entrepreneur work with?
No matter what business you are in – you need a “coach”. This is an unbiased individual whom you can turn to seek honest advice.
13. The pricing of products/services is always an issue for entrepreneurs, what unusual approach do you take when it comes to pricing?
When a customer submits a quote request, it is immediately sent to our valuation team. Within the next few days, our team reaches out to the customer with a quote. If the customer accepts, we send them pre-paid, pre-insured packaging materials. Our watch-makers then authenticate and verify the watch and we provide the customer with a firm quote. Up to this point, the entire process has been free to the customer. If they decline our offer, we return their watch, free of charge.
We take on all of these costs ourselves because we want to make the process as convenient and easy as possible for the customer. If they accept our consignment offer, we charge the customer 19.5% of the final selling price as a service fee. Because it is a percentage of the final sale price, it shows the customer that we will work as hard as possible to get the highest value for his or her watch.
Unusual Entrepreneur Interview Questions Part Three
MISCELLANEOUS: Resourceful Recommendations, tools, books, and ideas for entrepreneurs
14. Since you became an entrepreneur – someone who solves problems for people profitably; what has been your most outstanding accomplishments in the context of business?
The thing I am most proud of in our business is our culture. When we started C&C, we began first by defining our culture. Our culture is defined by a simple phrase: “We live for the line, not the dot”. Every one of our team members believes in this. What does it mean? Well – simply that we are all alive for a very short period of time (dot), but there are things we can do during our time that will outlast us and continue to positively affect others (the line).
So we focus on those things, like treating our customers as human beings, not transactions – like our relationship with MAP International – how we treat each other at C&C – all of these kind of things will outlast all of us. Having a strong culture has allowed us to recruit incredible talent. If you are in a customer service business like us – you will live and die by the talent of your employees.
The second is our testimonials; it is the most rewarding part of our business. It proves that we can operate profitably while at the same time serving our customers.
15. What would you describe as your major setbacks and what lessons did you pick from them?
Early on with Crown & Caliber, we operated under the “if we build it, they will come” mentality. We built a great site, had an incredible team, and offered an awesome service. But all of that didn’t matter if people couldn’t find us. The element we were missing was PR/Marketing. We were confident that if people just knew about our service, the response would be massive. So we invested in PR/Marketing.
Just as we thought – customers came a-comin’. I think many entrepreneurs are so involved in the product or service; they fail to pay attention to the delivery of the message. You have to be seen (PR), you have to be found (SEO) and you have to advertise (PPC). This was a big failure of mine. Fortunately, crisis averted.
Another of our second biggest “problem” was actually fast growth. While it sounds strange, fast growth can kill a business. We had to adapt quickly – and it’s a good thing we did.
Hamilton has shared a lot in this interview, but just in case, he missed out something, what more would you like to know about the unusual Hamilton Powell?
You can ask him further questions below in the comment section and I will be sure that you will get an answer directly from him.
Also, what did you learn from this unusual entrepreneur? What lessons, what business philosophy of his strike you the most?
Hamilton has shared his unusual story with you, now is time to hear from you. Can’t wait to hear what you have to say!
Is it their ground breaking innovations or exceptional business skills or determination?
The answer is neither.
While it’s obvious that all of these attributes definitely contributed to their success, as a matter of fact, these are the very attributes that have been often popularized. The truth is that there’s something more subtle that’s been frequently overlooked but is highly responsible for the success stories of most unusual entrepreneurs.
What’s this often overlooked secret weapon?
Their personal brands!
What’s Personal Branding?
Personal branding describes the process by which entrepreneurs differentiate themselves and stand out from the crowd by identifying and articulating their unique value proposition, whether professional or personal, and then leveraging it across platforms with a consistent message and image to achieve a specific goal.
A well-executed personal branding campaign creates a strong, consistent, and specific association between the individual and the perceived value they offer.
Personal Branding in Action
Let’s take some clues from the unusual entrepreneurs mentioned in the introduction.
- Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs is known as a perfectionist. He had a passion for design. He understood what a personal brand is about. It is your unique essence and impact in the world. Steve reminded us to pursue our uniqueness. His personal brand defined all his actions. It was about the relentless pursuit of excellence. It was about innovating, not being afraid to break the rules to be different.
He didn’t care about making money. He cared about something bigger. Your personal brand is always about something bigger. Here is Steve Jobs’ famous question to John Sculley, former Apple CEO “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?”
- Richard Branson
Richard Branson, is clear about being a risk taker. He is not your typical CEO in a blue suit and white shirt. He is a dare devil who was dressed a wedding gown when he launched Virgin Bridal, and was not dressed at all when he launched his book, Virginity. Among his first big risky ventures was signing the Sex Pistols onto his record label when no one else would even consider them.
Since then, he has taken on both British Airways with Virgin Airlines and Coke, the strongest brand in the world, with Virgin Cola. Even outside of the professional arena, Richard Branson is clear about being a risk-taker. While many CEOs travel the world comfortably in their plush corporate jets, Richard Branson decided he was going to circumnavigate the world in a hot air balloon.
- Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is the human brand of show biz. Oprah’s personal brand is associated with celebrity, charity, education and successful launches of products. She cares for people and is willing to share of herself to help people advance. This clarity about what makes her unique is consistent among all of her endeavors. And it is constantly visible to her target audience through her numerous ways of interacting with the public.
Oprah’s business success is built solidly on a powerful personal brand marketing strategy. Oprah has turned her talents, skills and values into a multi-billion-dollar media empire that’s still growing. Other media personalities have tried to emulate her personal brand strategy. So far, no one else has been able to match her ability to make women laugh, cry and dream about how to “live your best life.”
The Brand Called YOU
“All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called YOU.”
– Tom Peters in Fast Company
Most entrepreneurs in their quest to build a business often forget to build themselves in the process. They focus on developing the image and reputation of their business and products/services and completely lose touch with their own image and reputation.
They erroneously believe that the only thing the market cares about is the products/services they offer or the businesses they create. In the end, they end up building a company without a human face.
The human factor is the most powerful factor of all factors of production. The most powerful brand on earth, is the brand called YOU!
People buy from people. Companies are built by people. Products are created by people. People connect with people, not products. The more of yourself you put out there, the more acceptable your products/services will become. When they have bought into your person, then they will buy into your company.
Successful entrepreneurs know this and that’s why they inject themselves into the businesses they create. They literally become the face of their companies, putting themselves endlessly out there for the market to know, like and trust them.
7 Facts About Personal Branding
- “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room” – Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon
- You already have a personal brand whether you want one or not.
- Your personal brand is built 24/7 and 365 days per year through what you say, but even more importantly, through what you do.
- Personal branding is all about your Audience. Your personal brand exists in the minds of your Audience.
- Your personal brand exists in the minds of others in the way they perceive, think, and feel about you.
- The only way to have a strong personal brand is to carefully define it.
- The best personal brands are credible, so you must prove that you can deliver what you promise.
How To Create A Powerful Personal Brand
To help you create a powerful personal brand, below are 12 questions you need to fundamentally answer, they are the personal branding checklist for entrepreneurs. Don’t rush through them, don’t lie to yourself while answering them, if you do, it’s only a question of time, people will know and detest you for it.
1. Your Identity: what do you want to be known for?
2. Your Purpose: what’s your ultimate reason for living? What’s your why?
3. Your Vision: what do you hope to achieve by fulfilling your purpose?
4. Your Values: what principles/ideas are you willing to live and die for? Click here to learn more about values.
5. Your Message: what ONE word or phrase best captures the essence of your existence [Life]?
6. Your Story: what facts or personal experience about your life/past helped to define who you are today and what your purpose here on earth?
7. Your Heroes: who do you model your life after? Who do you aspire to be like and why?
8. Your Expertise: what are your most valuable skills/talents/competencies?
9. Your Profession: in what field/industry do you want to commit your life’s work?
10. Your Results: what are your greatest accomplishments in life?
11. Your Media: how do you intend to spread your message?
12. Your Legacy: When you die, what do you want to be remembered for?
This is not an exhaustive list, they are certainly more questions you will have to ask and answer to help refine your personal brand as you progress on your entrepreneurial journey. But, you should take these 12 seriously because they are the foundational questions that your personal brand will be developed on. Other questions will only strengthen your personal brand if you’ve taken time to answer these ones.
So what are other questions entrepreneurs need to ask themselves in order to create a powerful personal brand? See you in the comments!
Unusual Entrepreneurs are in business to make a profit by making a difference. Around here, we simply call it; changing the world and profiting from purpose.
Neither is an easy task. While you should always strive to create products/services that positively impact the life of your customers, you should never lose sight of the bottom-line –profits. The more profits you are able to make, the more impact you will eventually make.
So in this unusual article, we would be looking at one of the often overlooked ways of increasing profits in business; cutting costs, in this case, inventory cost.
5 Ways to Reduce Your Inventory Costs And Boost Your Profits
You’ve been successful at marketing your offerings to your customers, and now your business is growing. You’re in a great position now, but you’re running into the challenges of growth. These are good problems to have, but if you’re not careful and don’t plan ahead, you can sink your business’s profits with too much overhead.
When you think about ways to streamline your business, one of the most effective ways to cut overhead costs is to better manage your inventory. As was pointed in this unusual article about the 7 warning signs of a dying business, poor inventory management can lead to overstocking which eventually affects your profitability.
So to help you out, here are 5 ways to reduce your inventory costs and also increase your bottom-line:
1. Perform Disruption Analysis
The success of your business depends on other businesses to deliver goods and services on time. If partner businesses fail to perform their obligations for whatever reason, your business could take a big hit. How heavily do you rely on a given supplier? How would your business respond if that supplier went down?
If you rely on a single provider and disruptions occur, you can count on one of two things happening: You would have to pay exorbitantly to keep your customers satisfied or you would lose them to another provider.
The business partner relationship is one of the most crucial and complex in your supply chain, and should be carefully examined so that you can implement contingencies when disruptions occur. Audit your supply chain to identify the ways in which it can be disrupted.
2. Audit Your Inventory System
One of the biggest factors affecting your bottom line is your inventory. Not only do you have the costs for purchasing your inventory, you have the overhead of warehousing it. You need to keep enough products on hand to satisfy your clients and keep your sales volume high. Nothing sends a customer to another provider faster than the words, “Out of stock.”
But you have to be careful about stocking too much, and depending on the type of inventory you carry, you also have to be careful of its shelf life. Products that are hot today may be very cold tomorrow. The last thing you want in your warehouse is a bunch of inventory that no one is interested in anymore.
If your inventory isn’t complicated enough, add to it the market fluctuations you need to account for from seasonal and holiday trends. So, make sure you regularly audit your inventory so that you always have on hand the inventory you need.
3. Plan to Succeed
Now that you have analyzed your supply chain for possible disruptions and identified your inventory balance concerns, you can create a plan that mitigates your risks and optimizes your bottom line. Look at your suppliers, for example.
Even though one supplier may be more cost-effective than others, using multiple suppliers creates safety through redundancy. This way, if one supplier goes down, your entire operations don’t go down with it. Your approach to planning needs to include external variables, such as the ways in which government regulations may affect the way you or your business partners operate.
4. Regular Updates
You aren’t done! This process is ongoing. It requires constant re-evaluation. Over time, your suppliers will change and your inventory will expand. One of the biggest factors of successful businesses today is their ability to quickly react to the changes that occur in the market.
You don’t want to be the business that gets left behind because you assumed that the plans you’ve put in place won’t need to be changed. Make sure your business is ahead of the curve by consistently updating your disruption analysis, inventory balance audit, and your optimization plans.
5. Supply Chain Solutions
Believe it or not, you can streamline your costs and maximize your bottom line by adding a middleman. Professional athletes hire agents to broker their contracts. These agents get paid large commissions in return for their work.
Why don’t athletes just work their own deals? Because athletes are good at, well, athletics; and they might not be proficient at negotiating contracts. Agents aren’t just good at contract negotiation, they also very good at finding other opportunities for revenue, such as endorsement deals and product development. The athlete’s bottom line is a lot higher because of their “middleman.”
Think of your supply chain in the same way. You are very good at running your business, but the time you spend managing your supply chain is time you could be using to expand your business more rapidly in other ways.
Supply chain tracking providers are experts at managing and optimizing all of the elements I’ve been talking about, from managing your suppliers to keeping your supply chain up to date to everything in between. Supply chain solutions can also identify new ways of cutting costs that you might not be aware of. They truly are the agents in your corner.
About The Author
Nicole is a small business owner, and she enjoys the growth she receives from both the successes and the defeats she experiences from running her business. She enjoys writing about ways to more successfully run and manage a business.
Perhaps the most frequently asked question by entrepreneurs is this; “How do I get funding for my business?”
Without any doubt, this is a very valid question.
However, this is not the right question entrepreneurs should start with. Rather, they should be asking questions such as these;
“Will I get funding for my business?”
“Should I get funding for my business?”
“When do I qualify for funding?”
“How can I build my company without funding or by delaying funding?”
The question of how to get funding presumes that everyone can get funding, if only they knew the method. So every entrepreneur goes in search of the almighty formula for business funding and when they eventually get turned down by potential investors, they wonder what went wrong?
Here’s the painful truth;
Not every entrepreneur qualifies for funding. Getting your startup off the ground takes a lot of work. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by seeking funding before you get the basics in place.
In this unusual article, I will be addressing 9 brutal facts about business funding that most entrepreneurs looking for money often overlook.
Business Funding Checklist for Entrepreneurs
Where you are in your entrepreneurial journey will dictate how you should think about securing funding for your business. The following 9 brutal facts will help you clarify where you are, help you refine your thinking about funding and better prepare you for the herculean task of raising capital for your business.
This is where it all begins, that awesome moment when you are struck by a million dollar business idea. As I have previously written, this is the easiest part of the whole entrepreneur’s journey. Why? Because investors don’t put their money on ‘virgin ideas’ they bet their money on ‘working ideas’.
What many entrepreneurs often fail to realize is this, there’s a world of difference between a ‘virgin idea’ and a ‘working idea’.
- Virgin ideas: are those ideas that haven’t been tested in the real world. They are those ideas that haven’t made it to the market. They are the ideas that have been practically endorsed with cash from real world customers and I am not referring to your family and friends.
- Working ideas: are those ideas that have been tested in the real world. They are those ideas that have made it to the market, they have been practically endorsed with cash from real world customers because they solve real world problems. A working idea is an idea that is making money or has the potential to make money because of market acceptance. The potential to make money is measured by the degree of market acceptance.
For example, if you’ve just scribbled an idea on a piece of paper and feel it’s the next big world-changing idea, then you’ve got a lot of homework to do before you reach out for funding. No potential investor will take you seriously if you don’t first do the research and prep work.
According to the Small Business Administration, about 600,000 new businesses are started in the U.S. each year, and the number of startups funded by VCs was about 300. This means that the probability of an average new business getting VC is about 0.0005 (300/600,000), and it also means that 99.95 percent of entrepreneurs will not get VC at startup. Most VCs like to invest in ventures after the potential has been proven and the risk reduced.
This is one of the major reasons why seeking for funding isn’t the first question on your mind as an entrepreneur. The first question on your mind, should be this; what problem is this idea solving and for who?
Your idea needs to be validated in the real world. And what better way to validate your business idea than to test it with potential customers?
If investors are only interested in ‘working ideas’ –ideas that have been practically endorsed with cash from your customers, then it’s very natural for them to know your customers. Who are they? Where are they? And how will you get them?
Those are the first questions you need to answer. This task should take up half your time.
Adequate knowledge of your customers and their problems is critical to acquiring funding for your business. The very reason investors bet their money on ‘working ideas’ is because they know no matter how world-changing your idea may be, if no one cares enough to pay for it, then it’s no good to anyone.
Businesses exist to serve the customer, businesses make a profit by solving customer’s problems. So if your business doesn’t have customers before approaching potential investors, then it only means one thing; your idea is not viable. So don’t even bother reaching out for funding.
The most obvious proof of a ‘working idea’ is the passion of the founding entrepreneur. You don’t tell investors how passionate you are about your business ideas, they see it or don’t see it based on how far you’ve gone to make it work in the real world.
The length of your business plan does not communicate your passion, neither does your grammar/vocabulary. What communicates your passion is the extent you have gone to make your idea happen. Your passion is communicated by real world results. Like I always say; seeing is believing –stopping telling me, show me!
So before you head out in search of funding, put your passion to work through the creation of the actual products/services your business is offering to customers in exchange for their money. Don’t just stop at product development, take it to the market for real world testing, gather as much feedback as possible from your customers to help improve your initial product launch.
The worst thing that can happen to you as an entrepreneur is to show up before investors with nothing but your ‘virgin idea’. The proof of your passion is the creation of products/services that people in the real world have shown interest in. Passion is not passive, passion is active –meaning you communicate your passion by working on your ideas and putting them to test.
You can’t expect to obtain funding for your business without contributing a fair share yourself. According to a recent study on the source of business funding by the U.S. Census Bureau, 60.3% of business funding came from personal savings and a mere 0.4% from Venture Capitalists.
I know this will probably shock you, but nothing can be truer. Contrary to popular beliefs, investors don’t bet their money on an idea that the founding entrepreneur haven’t personally given their all to make happen. In fact, there’s a popular saying to back this up; “put your money where your mouth is”.
So aim to fund 25% to 50% of your business from your own pocket. This shows prospective lenders and investors that you are personally assuming some risk, and are committed to your business success.
After your money, another resource potential investors want to know how much you’ve personally invested into your idea is time. This is one of the reasons I often tell wannabe entrepreneurs to give up their jobs and pursue their entrepreneurial dreams full time.
I know it may sound very harsh, but really think about it, who would you rather bet your money on; someone working on his dream part-time or someone working on it full-time? In fact, who is more likely to succeed; the part-time entrepreneur or the full-time entrepreneur?
Raising capital is not a quick and easy process, it takes time. You’ll have less time to focus on growing your company organically as you’ll be busy meeting with potential investors and drafting presentations. There’s more to business funding than just collecting investor’s money. So from the outset, you need to clarify your expectations.
What exactly are your goals for the business? Do you want to try to build a company on your own? Or do you want to try to build the next leading brand in your industry?
As a founder, you will be giving up a portion of your company to investors for capital and resources. So you should be very cautious as to who will be helping you grow your business. On a personal level, are you going to be able mentally to handle reporting to a VC and conducting board of director meetings? Are you going to be okay if, in the future, the board decides that you are no longer the best person to lead the company?
These are all questions you need to ask yourself in advance.
If your primary motivation is to be your own boss, then you don’t want an investor who will take a controlling stake in your business and, in turn, call the shots. A silent investor is probably more appropriate.
If, on the other hand, creating a new product or service is your primary motivation, then finding an investor with the management expertise to grow your business in exchange for management control is probably appropriate.
Investors doesn’t invest in businesses, they invest in people. Why? Because money doesn’t run businesses, people do.
The quality of your character as an entrepreneur can and will affect your capacity to get funding for your business. I have often emphasized this, business is not different from life, business is an extension of life. What you do in your personal life reflects in your business. Why? Because at the core of business is relationship.
If you have a questionable character, it will tell in your business relationships. No wonder they say integrity is a social capital. Can people trust you? Do you keep your word? How well do you repay debts? Are you transparent and accountable? Are you disciplined? Are you a man or woman of values?
When it comes to seeking for funds for your business, just as everything else in life, your character precedes you. It’s like a smoke and can be perceived long before your arrival. So guard your character with all thy might, it’s a social capital that can be converted to cash!
Investors don’t expect that you would be the only one to build your business. The responsibilities of building a successful business outweighs the ability and competencies of an individual. That’s why investors only invest in companies with strong management team or partners. No investor is going to give a one-man army money!
Before you head out in search of funding for your business, surround yourself with the right network, team, partners or association of skilled individuals that would compensate for your entrepreneurial foolishness.
Investors are bombarded daily with countless business ideas. The irony is that most of these business ideas are clones of already existing businesses. To get the attention and funding you need, your business idea must be strategically differentiated from all the existing competitions out there.
A brand is a product/service that is SIGNIFICANT –unique [different] and useful [making a difference].
One of the reasons startups like Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Google got funding was primarily because of their brand. They were not “me too” companies, they were strategically differentiated in the market.
Another important element of branding is your marketing. It is not enough to be unique and useful, you must continuously communicate to the market your uniqueness and usefulness. What good is an unknown brand?
So apart from being SIGNIFICANT, be VISIBLE.
Over to you
This is obviously not all, so I’m counting on you to move the conversation further by sharing other brutal facts most entrepreneurs overlook while seeking for funding.
See you in the comments sections below!
Recently I got this remark from one of my startup consulting clients during one of our strategy sessions.
She said; “why didn’t I come to you 3 years ago when I just was starting out?”
I replied; “Because you didn’t think it was SO necessary”.
And that’s the sincere answer. She was just starting out for the first time. She was full of her dreams and had great ideas about how her business was going to turn out.
As a matter of fact, she had sufficient technical skills than most of her competitions, after all, she was trained abroad, so why on earth would she need my help? Why should she seek the counsel of a business development consultant? Why should she pay for a strategy session?
But after the second and the third business failure, she knew something was FUNDAMENTALLY wrong. She knew she was missing something. And at that instance, she realized she was a fool for trying it out alone the second and third time.
The reason she finally came to me now for help was because she had started and failed in business 2 times in the last 3 years!
When It’s OK To be FOOLISH
A fool is an unintelligent person.
Somebody considered to lack good sense or judgment.
Actions taken without a good sense or judgment is the cause of mistakes. Mistakes are the results of unintelligent actions. Mistakes were invented to make us better humans. They reveal our foolishness [unintelligence] as humans, making us realize that we don’t and will never know it all. Mistakes and failures humble us.
Now that’s absolutely understandable if you are making those mistakes for the first time. The first time you fail or make a mistake is the only time you should be proud to be a fool –unintelligent.
But when you begin to repeat your mistakes, just as many of us do [including me] then it’s no longer cool to be a fool. Especially, being an entrepreneur. Because every mistake or failure costs you money [which can be replaced] and time [which can never be replaced].
My client didn’t fail once, she failed 3 times and only then did she realize she was a fool for repeating the same mistake twice after the first time.
Why Successful Entrepreneurs Are Better FOOLS
The difference between successful entrepreneurs and the unsuccessful ones is this; the successful ones know the areas where they are complete Fools and the areas where they are complete geniuses.
They never try to deceive themselves into thinking otherwise. They know and accept their limitations as humans and never try to fight against it. The unsuccessful ones, act otherwise.
Here’s the bitter truth, we are all fools –unintelligent in so many aspects of life. Successful entrepreneurs know this and consistently work on minimizing their foolishness by surrounding themselves with smart people.
They know that business is a team sport and the team with the best players win. To win you will need to enlist the help of A-players, people who would cover for your foolishness [unintelligence] in other areas.
And there are two ways of doing this;
- Hire employees for OPERATIONAL help [internal]
- Hire professionals for STRATEGIC help [External]
Trying to argue against this fact is the source of entrepreneurial foolishness. It’s ineffective, costly and deadly. You will end up blaming yourself!
How To Become A Better FOOL In Business
Fighting against your foolishness as an entrepreneur is in fact more foolishness. Rather, embrace it and learn how to become a better fool in business as most successful entrepreneurs do. Below are the 3 guaranteed ways successful entrepreneurs overcome their entrepreneurial foolishness.
1. Identify and Accept Your Weaknesses
You don’t know it all. You will never know it all. Wisdom lies in identifying what you know and accepting what you don’t know.
Don’t feel bad about this, it’s not your fault. It’s just nature. To ensure balance and peaceful co-existence on earth, we’ve all been unequally gifted. No two persons completely have the same gifts or talents. So get used to it!
2. Identify and Maximize Your Strengths
You are unequally gifted than most people in certain areas, it’s your unfair advantage, MAXIMIZE it.
Stop magnifying your foolishness trying to play in other people’s areas of strength when you have none. Focus on your strengths and get help with your weaknesses. Period.
3. Seek External Professional Help for Strategic Issues
In business, there two kinds of issues that will always confront you as an entrepreneur;
1. Operational Issues: these are day to day challenges of running your business. They are issues that affect your today. They are very short term issues. Operational issues is all about doing business.
- Selling/closing a sale
- Freelancing/doing contracts
- Managing your Inventory/stock
- Accepting any and every deal
- Doing paper/administrative work
- Making contacts/networking
- Pursuing more business/revenue
- Servicing existing clients/customers
- Faulty production machine,
- Delayed supply of materials,
- Poor customer feedback/experience,
- Loss of a client.
- And other day-to-day operational requirements
2. Strategic Issues: these are issues that affect the core areas of your business. Their impact is long term, they affect not only today but also tomorrow. Strategic issues is all about building a business.
- Strategic Planning
- Strategic Execution
- Strategic Marketing
- Creating a powerful brand
- Creating a corporate culture/business DNA
- Creating operational processes/structures
- Developing competitive strategy
- Developing innovative products/services
- Developing your people/employees
- Delivering excellent customer services
- Forming strategic partnerships/alliance
- Improving existing products/services
- Launching new products/services
- Research and development
The existence of operational and strategic issues in business is what I refer to as the paradox of business. And your ability to strike a balance between these two kinds of challenges entrepreneurs face in business is the cure to entrepreneurial foolishness and the key to entrepreneurial success.
Over to you
In what areas of your business are you a complete fool? [Lacking sufficient skill and experience.] And how has this impacted your business and entrepreneurial journey?
Kindly share your entrepreneurial foolishness experience in the comment section below.
So glad you made it. Hopefully, this will be the best year ever for you and your business. While I trust that you would the ‘you’ part of the equation, I will do my best to continually equip you paradigm shifting practical business ideas, strategies and best practices that will take care of ‘your business’ part of the equation. So help me God, amen!
Something’s Gotta Change In 2014!
As the year kicked off in full swing last week being the first week of the New Year, I was discussing with a friend of mine who out of frustration recently gave up on his entrepreneurial dream in exchange for employment. He resumed on Monday, the 6th and on Tuesday evening, just the following day at his new employment, he called me up lamenting.
As it turned out, the very thing he was shying away from in his business, was the very thing he was being employed to do for another entrepreneur. So it suddenly dawned on him that he couldn’t do this very thing for another entrepreneur for such a meager pay when he could be doing this very thing for himself and reap all the benefits.
What was this very thing?
This very thing was marketing.
His first assignment at his new place of work was to come up with a strategic marketing plan on how the company can sell more of their IT products/services. Exactly the same nature of business my dear friend had been struggling with and had to abandon for the comfort of employment. It was literally a slap on his face!
And a good slap it was, being the first week of the New Year. It was all the feedback he needed to set the direction for the year and hopefully alter the outcome of the year for the best. On Wednesday, the 8th of January, 2014, my friend quit his new job, barely two days old with a resolve to do the very thing he was just employed to do for another entrepreneur for himself!
What Are You Going To Do Differently This Year?
My friend’s story is not uniquely his, so many other entrepreneurs have found themselves in such situations before and many may still end up in such situations this year, if they don’t start doing things differently from now.
While my dear friend was lamenting about his new employment, I was busy meeting with clients and closing deals. And to give him more closure, on Thursday I took him along to meet with a new client of mine and he watched as I closed my very 3rd deal of the week!
On our way back, one of the greatest lessons of his life began… the very same lesson I’m about to share with you today.
In 2014, What Will You CHANGE?
I would like you to chew on this question for a while. This year will most likely end up just as last year did if you don’t deliberately make up your mind to do something’s differently in both your life and your business.
Things will not change unless you change some things. In 2014, something’s gotta change!
All your list of New Year resolutions isn’t going to nail it. What you need is to ask yourself this question and relate it to some specific aspects of your life and business. Answer the questions and just do it!
To change your life or business isn’t always as complex as many people think, it’s as simple as making a decision and doing that decision. The problem often comes from the ‘doing’ part of the equation. People are quick to make decisions but reluctant to act on those decisions by taking corresponding actions.
The 2014 BUSINESS REDESIGN Plan for Entrepreneurs
To help you kick start this 2014 on a strategic note, starting from this month of January till March 2014, I’ll be helping 10 serious entrepreneurs monthly to create their 2014 Business Redesign Plan together in an exclusive strategy session.
Below are some of the strategic questions we will be tackling together;
- What will you do differently this year to PROMOTE your business?
- What will you do differently this year to increase your CASHFLOW?
- What will you do differently this year to improve your PRODUCTIVITY?
- What will you do differently this year to REFINE your business PROCESSES?
- What will you do differently this year to DIFFERENTIATE your product/service?
- What will you do differently this year to EXPAND your business?
- What will you do differently this year to work better with your PEOPLE?
- What will you do differently this year to UPGRADE your business SKILLS?
- What will you do differently this year to GAIN industry RECOGNITION?
- What will you do differently this year to ATTRACT more FUNDING for your business?
- What will you do differently this year to RETAIN customers?
- What will you do differently this year to STRUCTURE your business?
If you are interested in becoming one of the 30 serious entrepreneurs that wants to make 2014 the best year of their life and business ever, click here for more details!