ENTREPRENEURIAL VISION: How to Create a Better Future for Your Startup!
What’s your entrepreneurial vision?
All great companies were first conceived as an idea in the mind of the founder. This founding idea must metamorphose into an entrepreneurial vision and brought to life if the startup is to succeed.
As an entrepreneur, having an entrepreneurial vision is a starting point; you are never too busy to look into the future. If you do not deliberately create the time to look into the future by creating an entrepreneurial vision for your startup, there’s no way you will survive long.
Because entrepreneurial vision defines your business and the foundation on which your business model will be designed. So it is extremely important to have an inspiring, compelling and clear cut entrepreneurial vision before you even begin launching your business.
You see, the business world is very competitive and the companies that don’t have a clear vision of where they are headed are easily eaten up alive by those competitions who do. When you don’t have a vision, every destination becomes your bus stop. Every customer becomes a prospect. Every project becomes a sale. Every applicant becomes an employee.
In short, without an entrepreneurial vision, your startup, product or services will just be like that of everyone else, no significance!
What is Entrepreneurial Vision?
Entrepreneurial vision is a picture of a preferable future for your startup business. It is a thing you create with your imagination and then make practical plans on how to achieve it. It is what you see your venture will be doing in the future, and what it should be doing today in order to get there.
Entrepreneurial vision is your own making; your role is that of a manufacturer creating a finished product, in this case; a preferable future; a better tomorrow for your startup. It’s not by force; it’s a choice. It entails making a choice to pursue the preferred life of your choice. It’s not the same as your life purpose.
Purpose is not a picture that you paint, it’s a call that must be obeyed – answered. It’s not a thing you created, it’s a thing created for you deposited in you. Purpose is not within your power to create, it’s a thing you discover.
Purpose lies in your source and not in your choice. What does this mean?
Purpose is something hidden deep within you by the creator from your very beginning. It is a treasure that is to be discovered. You don’t alter (change) it or choose (pick) it; it’s discovered because it chooses you.
You must therefore make a choice to follow or submit to what you have discovered about yourself. Since you never made yourself, you can only search within yourself to discover what the creator hid in you.
Our task as humans is to uncover or discover what it is that we carry within us individually.
Your entrepreneurial vision is an instrument for fulfilling your life purpose. So your entrepreneurial vision (pictures of a preferred future) must be in alignment with your life purpose (what you were created to originally do).
Because your entrepreneurial vision has to do with how far you want to carry out your life purpose through your business.
Entrepreneurial vision is a question of the size of your startup dream – to what extent do you want to follow and carry out your life purpose? How far do you want to go in the direction of your purpose?
Your life purpose is your destiny – the end; your entrepreneurial vision is your legacy – the means to the end. Your entrepreneurial vision should lead you to fulfill your life purpose!
How to Create an Entrepreneurial Vision
To create an entrepreneurial vision for your startup, follow this simple process below.
Passion -> Purpose -> Vision
Passion, that thing which you enjoy doing and naturally excel at is the source of your purpose. Because it comes with you from birth, your purpose was defined by the creator.
You cannot choose your passion; no one says to himself/herself, this is what I want to enjoy doing. We all must submit to our passion, it is a force that consumes and inspires our life work.
Once you can tell what your passion is or are, purpose is the contribution you want to make on earth using that passion.
Your entrepreneurial vision becomes clearer when you have found purpose. It becomes the extent to which you want to fulfill purpose. Entrepreneurial vision is how far you want to go in the direction of your life purpose.
For example: “Company X aspires to be here, selling this product or providing this service, to these people, using this technology, or these means for this purpose.”
How Entrepreneurial Vision Impacted My Business
Entrepreneurial vision plays a role in energizing and directing the birth, growth, and direction of new ventures, mine was no different. Entrepreneurial vision has greatly impacted my startup in the following ways;
Clarity of Purpose
The greatest impact of entrepreneurial vision on my business is the clear sense of purpose it gives to our entire operation.
These days as entrepreneurs, it has become increasingly difficult to really explain with clarity what your business is about as there are many ‘me too’ businesses out there. But through entrepreneurial vision, I have been able to set my company apart and stand for something very tangible in the mind of my target customers.
Entrepreneurial vision is how I chose an unusual business name –MADphilips. I added the acronym ‘MAD’ which stands for Making A Difference to my surname ‘Philips’ and registered it as my company name. It is the single most distinguishing factor of our business. It is the philosophy that drives all that we do.
Entrepreneurial vision helped us define our business. Our business is SIGNIFICANCE –empowering people, businesses and lives to be different and making a difference.
Today, MADphilips is fast becoming a Nigerian brand with a global appeal that is helping people, businesses and lives become dissatisfied with SURVIVAL and showing them how to make the crucial life changing transition from survival to significance.
Entrepreneurial vision has also helped to shape the kind of products/services we develop at MADphilips.
naijapreneur.com – a business and entrepreneurship resource was created to raise a tribe of unusual entrepreneurs and equip them with necessary knowledge and skills to build SIGNIFICANT [extra-ordinary] businesses that profit from purpose by changing the world!™.
Differentiate Online – a 360° digital marketing solution was created to help these significant businesses become an ICON in their respective industries through online marketing.
UniteNigeria.com – a platform for social change was created to unite the voices of Nigerians on pressing societal issues in order to make a difference by influencing positive changes in Nigeria.
asuqu.com – an online marketplace to buy and sell professional services in Nigeria, where I’m currently a co-founder was created to help talented and skilled Nigerians earn a living through their passion –doing what they love.
The desire to change the present into something better by solving a problem is the core driving force of every unusual entrepreneur. That desire is expressed in an entrepreneurial vision that energizes and propels the entrepreneur and the startup he/she creates towards a greater future.
Without an inspiring entrepreneurial vision to guide and harmonize actions, there’s every possibility that your startup will be stuck in confusion!
- Published in Start Up
What You Need to Know About Starting a Business (Infographic)
This is a guest post from Colette Cassidy, the Director of an Irish tax consultancy company named All Finance Tax, specialists in financial and taxation advice.
For many people, the thoughts of working in a functional 9-to-5 job simply to pay the bills and fund a living can be demeaning and dull, so they might well decide to follow their passion and form their own company.
Entrepreneurship is very common, with as many as 1 in 5 adults choosing to go down this route, and can be extremely rewarding, but it is also fraught with pitfalls and requires vast amounts of dedication and self-confidence.
Irish finance and taxation specialists All Finance Tax (www.allfinancetax.com) created this infographic which sums up really succinctly the main things that anybody needs to know before they consider setting up a business.
For every successful business venture, there are many more which fail all too quickly, and the main reasons for business failure are pinpointed below. It also identifies the main characteristics of a successful entrepreneur, a thorough checklist for setting up a business, and the contents of the all-important business plan.
Anybody seeking to start their own business should be expecting to thrive rather than merely survive, but if you go into the enterprise game unprepared, even survival will be very difficult.
The points contained in the below infographic are simply the starting point for an entrepreneur to know what to avoid, what is the least they need to do, and indeed whether or not they have the personality traits necessary to succeed in business.
- Published in Start Up
Startup Planning: 5 Things You Fundamentally Need to Start A New Business
Startup planning refers to all the essential things you need to consider when starting up a new business.
As an entrepreneur, there are so many things you need to consider when starting up a new business. But of all these things, the 5 essential factors you need to focus on during your startup planning that will guarantee a successful launch of your new business are;
- Business Model
Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
Startup Planning: 5 Things You Fundamentally Need to Start A New Business
To build a great company, you definitely need a great team. Successful startups are not created by an individual. They are created by a team.
The first essential element of your startup planning is people. Your startup idea is not going to automatically create itself; you need people to make it happen.
I’m sure this is an obvious factor to you. Where most entrepreneurs miss out is determining what kind of a startup/founding team they need to put together.
A good startup team, according to entrepreneur magazine, should comprise the following people;
- The visionary and dreamer. Typically the core founder with the vision that leads the rest of the team.
- The customer champion. Someone who steps into the user experience role making sure the product is giving buyers exactly what they need and want.
- The innovation architect. This programming-savvy member is supposed to tie together the right technologies to build the product and keep the company on top of industry trends.
- The rainmaker. This is the financial and business wizard assessing the viability and profitability of the company and keeping a close eye on the burn rate.
The product/service you want to offer to your target customers is the second essential element of your startup planning. What are you going to sell?
Your startup is only as good as the problems it is being created to solve in people’s lives. Your product/service is the solution your startup created to the problems in the lives of your target customers.
There are certain criterion this product/service needs to meet to qualify as a viable product/service;
- Uniqueness: the product/service your startup has created must be significantly differently than all the existing options currently in the market. Why? Because no one needs another “me-too” brand. To get the market’s attention, you gotta stand out from the crowd!
- Usefulness: the product/service your startup wants to offer her target customers must be capable of meeting their needs and solving their problems. In other words, it must be useful to the buyers. Why? Because people don’t buy products/services, they buy utility – the solutions in your products/services.
The market you want to serve is the third essential element of your startup planning. Who are your target customers?
A very clear understanding of the people who have the problems your product/service can solve is crucial to your startup success.
If your product/service is great BUT there’s no market for it, you’ve failed.
So to ensure there’s a ready market for your product/service, you need to clarify the following;
Market Size: what’s the total addressable market? That is; what’s the total number of potential buyers/customers/users for your proposed product/service?
Growth rate: how fast or slow is this market growing? Is there an opportunity for expansion?
Demography: these are the average or typical characteristics of your target market. These characteristics might include age, annual income, educational attainment, type of occupation, region of the country they live in, or number of individuals living in their household. Demographics help you understand who buys your product or service.
Psychography: these characteristics go beyond the external to focus on your target customers’ psychology, lifestyles, and behaviors. Psychographics can include such factors as where your target customers like to travel on vacation, the kinds of hobbies and interests they have, the values or opinions they hold, and how they behave. Psychographics helps you understand why they buy.
Your business model is the fourth essential element of your startup planning. A business model describes the rationale of how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value.
The business model is like a blueprint for a strategy to be implemented through organizational structures, processes, and systems. Without one, your startup cannot succeed!
A good business model design according to the greatest book ever written on the subject, ‘business model generation’ should cover the following 9 building blocks which form the four main areas of a business: customers, offer, infrastructure, and financial viability.
1: The Customers:
- For whom are we creating value?
- Who are our most important customers?
2: Value Proposition:
- What value do we deliver to the customer?
- Which one of our customer’s problems are we helping to solve?
- Which customer needs are we satisfying?
- What bundles of products and services are we offering to each Customer Segment?
- Through which Channels do our Customer Segments want to be reached?
- How are we reaching them now?
- How are our Channels integrated?
- Which ones work best?
- Which ones are most cost-efficient?
- How are we integrating them with customer routines?
4: Customer Relationships:
- What type of relationship does each of our Customer Segments expect us to establish and maintain with them?
- Which ones have we established?
- How costly are they?
- How are they integrated with the rest of our business model?
5: Revenue Streams:
- For what value are our customers really willing to pay?
- For what do they currently pay?
- How are they currently paying?
- How would they prefer to pay?
- How much does each Revenue Stream contribute to overall revenues?
6: Key Resources:
- What Key Resources do our Value Propositions require?
- What Key Resources do our Distribution Channels require?
- What Key Resources do our Customer Relationships require?
- What Key Resources do our Revenue Streams require?
7: Key Activities:
- What Key Activities do our Value Propositions require?
- What Key Activities do our Distribution Channels require?
- What Key Activities do our Customer Relationships require?
- What Key Activities do our Revenue Streams require?
8: Key Partnerships:
- Who are our Key Partners? Who are our key suppliers?
- Which Key Resources are we acquiring from partners?
- Which Key Activities do partners perform?
9: Cost Structure:
- What are the most important costs inherent in our business model?
- Which Key Resources are most expensive?
- Which Key Activities are most expensive?
This is the fifth essential element of your startup planning. How much do you need to startup your new business? Do you have this money? If not, where will you get it?
There’s no denying it, every business needs money to run. So the availability of it or lack of it can mean success or failure for your startup.
But before you run off to raise money for your business, here are 9 brutal facts you need to understand about business funding.
And lastly, not every entrepreneur is qualified to raise money for their startup, especially from financial institutions like banks. So to assess yourself before heading out to banks, the following factors must be met;
The 7Cs of Credit
- Do you have experience running a business?
- Have you had this business for more than one year?
- Do you know this industry well?
- Do you have a good team working for you?
- Is the business operating well?
- Cash Flow
- Is your business profitable?
- Do you have a bookkeeping system that will allow you to demonstrate this to the bank?
- Can you produce financial statements from this data?
- Is your cash flow sufficient to make the loan payments?
Do you have sufficient reserves, or other people who could invest in the business, should unexpected problems or hard times arise?
- Do you have collateral (business and/or personal) which you can offer?
- Is the property you own yours, or do you share it with your husband or family?
- Can you show the bank that I am honest, and keep your promises?
- If I’ve had a loan or supplier credit before, did you always pay on time?
- Have you always paid your personal bills on time?
- Can you prove this to the bank?
- Do you have good references?
- Is the industry that you are in a good one?
- Do you have a unique product or service which makes you different from your competitors?
- Is there growing demand for my products? Does a loan make sense for my business?
- Are you committed to working hard so that your business will succeed?
- Do you really want it to grow?
- Have you put your own money into the business?
Starting up a new business requires a lot of planning on your part as an entrepreneur. This post has been able to highlight 5 of the essential elements you need to focus on during the startup planning phase of your new venture.
Under each element, I have highlighted the actionable process you need to take during your startup planning. Doing them is what will guarantee that you launch your new business successfully!
Over to you
Are there other critical factors entrepreneurs need to consider during their startup planning? Feel free to contribute through the comments section below.
- Published in Start Up, Thought Bank
Business Funding Checklist: 9 Things You Should NEVER Ignore When Raising Money
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!
- Published in Start Up, Thought Bank
Entrepreneurial Fears: How To Conquer Those Inner Demons Limiting Your Dreams
Between the conceptualization of business a idea or the recognition of a business opportunity and the actual execution of the idea or the pursuit of the business opportunity, there is a gap.
This gap is caused by fear, those inner demons that rare up their ugly heads as you embark on your entrepreneur’s journey. I refer to them as entrepreneurial fears and they are quite a handful of them.
In my previous post about the greatest fear of an entrepreneur, I discussed 9 of these inner demons [fears entrepreneurs face] with the fear of failing being the greatest.
- Fear of starting
- Fear of the unknown
- Financial fear
- Business Partner fear
- Fear of being your own boss
- Fear of too much workload
- Fear of boredom
- Fear of failing
- Fear of success
Entrepreneurial Fears: Some Hard Facts!
According to a recent research by Mitchell, J. Robert and Shepherd, Dean A. (2011) titled “AFRAID OF OPPORTUNITY: THE EFFECTS OF FEAR OF FAILURE ON ENTREPRENEURIAL ACTION,” After surveying 120 CEOs from technology firms, the fear of failure was discovered to strongly influence entrepreneurial actions, both negatively and positively.
In another recent study by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor [GEM 2012], the fear of failure was also discovered as one of the attitudes and perceptions hindering entrepreneurs from pursuing business opportunities globally.
To shed more light on this finding, in the table below, I have extracted the % of entrepreneurs with the fear of failure across all 69 countries that participated in the GEM 2012 study. This factor to a large extent accounts for the level of entrepreneurship in these countries!
Entrepreneurial Attitude & Perception Towards The Fear Of Failure According To GEM 2012 Study
% Of Entrepreneurs With The Fear of Failure
|LATIN AMERICA & CARRIBEAN|
|Trinidad & Tobago||17|
|MIDDLE EAST & NORTH AFRICA|
|ASIA PACIFIC & SOUTH ASIA|
|Republic of Korea||43|
|Bosnia & Herzegovina||27|
|United States of America||32|
5 Tips For Managing Your Entrepreneurial Fears
In this unusual article, I will be sharing some insights on how to manage these fears and learn how to use them as fuel for your entrepreneurial journey.
This is perhaps the often most overlooked tip for dealing with your entrepreneurial fear. Rather than resist the existence of these entrepreneurial fears, embrace them!
The simple truth is this; every successful entrepreneur out there became successful because of these fears NOT in spite of them. The very existence of these entrepreneurial fears is what propelled every successful entrepreneur forward towards the fulfillment of their entrepreneurial dreams. No one can totally eradicate entrepreneurial fears; so your best bet is to embrace them.
To succeed in business and also in life, you must begin to accept failure and the fear of failing as an inevitable requirement for success. This is very important because failure and the fear of failure serve two purposes that are critical to your entrepreneurial success.
1. Fear of failing serves as warning signals of impending danger:
Rather than letting this fear immobilize you, let them inspire you to take corrective actions that will minimize the impending danger. The truth is when you feel the fear of failing, you are actually not doing some things right in your business and this fear is only acting as a reminder or signal to inspire you to diagnose your business.
When you ignore this fear, you do so at your own peril. But when you heed to it and slow down to really evaluate your business or the business opportunity you are about to embark on, you will most likely discover some improvement areas that would minimize the possibility of failing.
You must have probably heard many people say that fear is a false alarm and they back up their claims with this famous acronym for F.E.A.R –> False Evidence Appearing Real. This is not 100% accurate, as a matter of fact; the emotion of fear was biologically created to keep humans more alert of our immediate environment. In business, this fear keeps you on your toes and this is good because being on your toes constantly gives you a competitive edge. It simply means, you are not complacent, remember, complacency is a sign of a dying business!
2. Failure serves as shortcuts to success:
No one likes to fail, yet failures are practical lessons needed to succeed. Every time you fail, you are a step closer to success. The greatest benefit of failure is that it practically shows you how NOT to do something and that alone is a shortcut to success.
So rather than avoiding failure by all means, learn to fail fast. This is a common phrase in the start-up world these days; it simply means learning from your failures. The quicker you are to implement your business idea, the quicker you will fail and the faster you will learn what works and what doesn’t work. This knowledge is what will get you closer to success faster than any business plan!
Read this to learn how to fail the right way.
So what does it mean to embrace your entrepreneurial fears?
Being brutally honest with yourself about the existence of these fears
Identifying with them and
Seeking out ways to manage them
Never Go It Alone:
The entrepreneur’s journey is not one you should embark on alone. Even though you don’t have a business partner per se, find a strategic support group of like-minded entrepreneurs that you can share your entrepreneurial fears and challenges with. On this journey, silence kills. No one knows it all, so it’s only foolish to assume you can make it alone.
Join a local chamber of commerce, attend your industry meetings or become a member of a business club/association. Whatever it takes, never go it alone. And thanks to the internet, these days there are many online support groups on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and on several blogs and forums. So you have no excuse to be a one man army or to die with your fears alone. Don’t just join, participate!
As I have often mentioned, one of the reasons why I created naijapreneur.com is to provide this support ecosystem for unusual entrepreneurs out there. As many subscribers would testify, in my welcome message I strongly emphasized the need for them to openly communicate their challenges and to actively participate in the community.
It’s not just sufficient to read the unusual articles I share, as a naijapreneur subscriber you owe it to yourself to also share your experience with the community, especially when any unusual article addresses an issue you are currently facing. That’s why we have the comment section; it’s for you guys to interact and let out some of these inner demons. Silence is not a strategy!
Taking it further, I launched a monthly business strategy session to create a mastermind group of 10 serious minded entrepreneurs who can actively support one another with my ongoing coaching/consulting. Very soon, we are going to launch an online private forum where all participants of the monthly strategy sessions can continue their strategic discussions. This forum will only be open to anyone who has attended at least one monthly strategy session. It won’t be open to every naijapreneur subscriber!
Think BIG, Start SMALL:
To manage the fear of starting, I often tell entrepreneurs this; think BIG, start small. Often times you get crippled by the fear of starting because you want to start BIG. From experience, I have noticed that most entrepreneurs want to start out from the end rather than from the beginning. They want to start the business as a finished product rather than as a work in progress.
I can totally relate with this, as an entrepreneur, the dream is often conceived in its finished state. The business idea comes in perfect form, already made and so you want to start out from that perfect stage. This is why you are so afraid to start because the finished product you see with your mind’s eye is too overwhelming for your current situation.
So rather than being inspired by the business idea, it cripples you and blinds you from knowing the very next step to take to make the idea a reality. This is what you must realize as an entrepreneur; ideas come in their finished forms, but actions are taken one step at a time.
In other words, the BIG picture, the BIG idea, must be broken down into tiny practical steps that you can begin to act on immediately. This is the critical difference between dreamers and achievers. Never confuse the dream with reality, in your mind, the dream is finished but in reality you are just getting started. So don’t start from the end, start from the beginning, start from exactly where you are. That’s why it’s called the entrepreneur’s journey. Think BIG, Start small.
Be Neither Optimistic Nor Pessimistic, Be REALISTIC:
This is the most brutal advice for dealing with entrepreneurial fears. Most fears are often as a result of your misinterpretation of your current situation. This misinterpretation can come in two forms, over optimism [too positive] or over pessimism [too negative].
When starting out a business, the first misinterpretation shows up as optimism. You will often have a positive outlook about almost everything. The excitement of creating the next big thing will blindfold you from the reality around you. The typical phrase is; all is well.
The flip side of this misinterpretation of your current situation is pessimism. This shows up when things are not working out according to plan or as envisioned. The natural inclination is to expect the worst by having a negative outlook of everything around you and going about like a loser. The typical phrase is; it’s all over.
Neither of these two misinterpretations of your current situation is good, they amplify your entrepreneurial fears because they create a false perception of reality. When your perception of reality is distorted, fear will be amplified.
The ideal outlook is to be realistic. Being realistic simply means accepting the honest truth about your current situation and taking the appropriate decisions and actions that it demands. It means always being in touch with NOW, leaving yesterday or tomorrow aside and practically addressing the present. It means responding as the situation demands. It means acting based on facts rather than emotions.
If you are afraid of starting, it’s probably because you are trying to bite more than you can chew or you are lagging behind in some vital areas. Don’t shove it aside with over optimism and don’t make matters worse with over pessimism, look the situation in the face and deal with it. If you are biting more than you can chew, start small. And if you are ill prepared, start learning what you need.
If you are afraid of working too much, it’s probably because you are trying to be a jack of all trades or you are not passionate about what you do. Look the situation in the face and deal with it appropriately. If you are trying to be a jack of all trades, seek for more strategic help like partnership or outsourcing. And if you are engaged in a business you don’t have passion for, be realistic with yourself, no matter how profitable, more work will mean less life for you.
If you are afraid of running out of money [financial fear], it’s probably because you are spending too much or you are making too little. Don’t say everything will be alright and continue spending too much [optimism] and don’t panic that everything will come crumbling down because you are not making enough [pessimism], rather look the situation in the face and find out what is exactly wrong and respond accordingly.
The bottom-line is this; when you give the situation exactly what it demands rather than misinterpreting it with over optimism or over pessimism, you will be less fearful. In other words, it’s not what has happened, or what will happen; it’s what is happening. Don’t let negative events of the past hold you back with fear from moving forward and don’t let future expectations make you bite more than you can chew. Always take a realistic view of the situation and let it dictate the appropriate action.
Acquire Relevant Knowledge And Skills:
This is another often overlooked solution for managing entrepreneurial fears. As humans, we are naturally more afraid of the things we don’t understand. As the popular saying goes; “what you don’t know can kill you!”
The same is true in business. If you are about to embark on your entrepreneurial journey without adequate information and necessary skills, your chances of failure is amplified and this alone will significantly increase your fear of failure, fear of starting, your financial fears and fear of the unknown.
Knowledge they say is power, nothing can be truer. Fear melts away in the face of knowledge. The clearer you are about the path you are treading on, the less scary the journey will be. But ignorance fuels fear; the less you know about the path you are on, the scarier the journey will be. There is a limit to how far commonsense can take you on this journey!
Knowledge bridges the gap between where you are and where you want to be. As a matter of fact, research shows that an individual is more likely to pursue a business opportunity or execute a business idea if he/she believes they possess the relevant capabilities – knowledge, skills, and talent to excel [GEM 2012 study].
The research revealed that economies with more emphasis on entrepreneurial education produced far more successful entrepreneurs than their counterparts. In other words, knowledgeable and skilled entrepreneurs are far more likely to succeed in their entrepreneurial pursuit than their ignorant and unskilled peers. So how prepared are you for where you are going?
Over to You!
The data has spoken and so have I, entrepreneurial fears are real and they greatly influence your journey as an entrepreneur. The choice is yours whether to let these fears positively or negatively influence you.
This unusual article was written to help you draw some positive insights on how to deal with these fears; this is obviously not the end of this matter. So here’s your own chance to add to the discussion by sharing with us from experience; how have you been able to deal with some of these entrepreneurial fears?
Use the comment section below to contribute, thanks a lot!
- Published in Entrepreneurship, Start Up, Thought Bank
e-Commerce 101: How To Startup An Online Retail Business
The term e-Commerce basically means; business done over the internet. Could be buying, could be selling or a combination of both; could be a product, could be a service or a combination of both.
It’s anything that involves using the internet or web as a business medium. In other words, e-Commerce refers to internet-based companies.
This model of business was popularized by American entrepreneurs between 1997–2001 when several e-commerce businesses were being launched; this era was popularly tagged the “DOT-com boom”.
All forms of companies sprang up with e-commerce ideas; anything and everything that was done in the real world suddenly had their online versions.
History Always Repeats Itself
Fast forward to today, 12 years later, Africa is on the e-Commerce spotlight. Suddenly, the whole world is focusing on Africa and her teeming population as the next potential market for e-Commerce. Foreign investors and venture developers are flooding the continent launching the clones [imitations] of successful e-Commerce sites in America.
And because my country Nigeria is one of Africa’s most populated nations, it has suddenly become the ideal market for several e-Commerce startups like; Kaymu, Jumia, Hellofood, DealDey, Konga, EasyAppetite, SunGlasses, Vconnect, and many others. It’s now obvious we are experiencing our own DOT-com boom in Nigeria!
Being a typical entrepreneur, I couldn’t help but spot these opportunities and in this post, I would like to share one with you; how you can own a shop online FREE and start an online retail business. Don’t know about you, but I see money to be made; I see a huge business opportunity; I see a new generation of entrepreneurs –the internet entrepreneurs who would take hold of this huge opportunity and translate it into a thriving business venture.
With this growing trend comes a huge business opportunity that only a handful of Nigerians are taking advantage of. Just think about it again; over 60 million Nigerians are online and counting. These are people with problems, needs, wants, aspirations and most importantly buying power!
How To Startup Your e-Commerce Business
The traditional cost of developing an e-Commerce site is so large that most small businesses are unable to afford one. And then follows the cost of successfully marketing the existence of such site, which is also quite expensive. So what’s your best option?
Own a shop online!
There are a couple of e-Commerce sites that now serve as online marketplaces where buying and selling is done between individual buyers and sellers or corporate buyers and sellers. The popular ones are what is known as classified sites, popularized by craigslist.
Other popular examples are Alibaba, DHgate and many others. These online marketplaces are designed to showcase your goods like you would normally do in a physical store. They have huge marketing budgets that allows them reach as many people both online and offline.
A typical example and the pioneer of such online marketplaces is eBay –the world’s largest online marketplace. The success story of several eBay merchants/sellers who turned millionaires as a result of trading on the eBay platform is enough proof that owning a shop online works. eBay has its branches in so many countries worldwide, but not yet in Nigeria.
Fortunately, there is an eBay clone now in Nigeria and it’s currently the largest online marketplace for buying and selling the smart way –it’s called Kaymu. The parent company; Rocket Internet is known worldwide as the leading e-Commerce incubators and have successfully started over 100 clones of successful internet-based ventures worldwide. As a matter of fact, the eBay clone they started in Germany did so well that eBay couldn’t help but buy it over!
I have previously written about two of their e-Commerce startups in Nigeria, Jumia and Hellofood. Being an entrepreneur and serving a community of unusual entrepreneurs, none of the previous two offers a solid business opportunity like this one.
To show you how big Kaymu is, even Jumia has a shop on Kaymu. Recognizing this business opportunity, I decided to give it a shot last two weeks and opened up the online version of my boutique business on Kaymu. Guess what? I sold 3 shoes within the first week I listed them on Kaymu auctions!
Here’s How Kaymu Works For Sellers/Merchants
- A seller lists an item [new or old] on Kaymu for FREE, almost anything from smart phones to laptop accessories, books to rare coins, etc.
- The seller chooses to accept only bids for the item [an auction-type listing] or to offer the “Fixed price” option, which allows buyers to purchase the item right away at a fixed price.
- In an online auction, the bidding opens at a price the seller specifies and remains on Kaymu for a certain number of days. Buyers then place bids on the item. When the listing ends, the buyer with the highest bid wins and gets the item.
- In a “Fixed price” listing, the first buyer willing to pay the seller’s price gets the item.
- Arrange with the buyer a suitable delivery option such as; shipping, physical pickup or payment on delivery = sales!
Here’s How To Own A Shop Online FREE Using Kaymu
There are 2 options you can start from depending on your preference.
First, if you are a retailer who already buys and sells offline through a physical shop, Kaymu is simply your online shop to showcase what you are selling already offline. If you fall into this category, Click here to sign up for a FREE online shop
That’s what I did with my boutique business since I already own a physical store where I sell unisex clothing for male, female and kids.
Second, if you don’t own a shop offline and would like to take advantage of this opportunity by selling other people’s goods online through the Kaymu platform, follow the steps below.
- Click here to sign up for a FREE online shop
- Decide any product [new or fairly used] of your choice that you would like to sell on your online shop
- Look for a company [manufacturer], store or seller around you who would like to increase their sales [trust me, everyone does]
- Introduce yourself as an internet marketer who can help them sell more via the internet through your online shop
- Negotiate a discount on the product[s] so that you can make a profit selling them on your online shop
- Take clear pictures of the product[s] with a phone or camera to display on your online shop
- Head over to your online shop and list the product[s], the pictures and their prices so potential buyers can contact you directly via email or phone
- Arrange with the buyer a suitable delivery option such as; shipping, physical pickup or payment on delivery = sales!
Head over to Kaymu and click on the register link to claim your shop online, FREE!
This opportunity is also useful for readers from other parts of the world, thanks to eBay. You can adopt the tips in this unusual article to ebay. And if you are interested in the Nigerian market, shoot me a mail and we can discuss more on how to make this happen!
- Published in e-Marketing, Start Up, Thought Bank