Archive for April 2012
If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.
For twelve years I worked in corporate banking knowing everyday that eventually I wanted to have my own business. As I moved from department to department I watched, listened and learned from some of the best leaders at three of the largest banks. As a young female learning the ropes within the male dominated financial world I knew this was a valuable education in itself. Each day was part of a bigger plan in creating my future as an entrepreneur. I stretched myself to the limit everyday, stayed true to my goals and made sure everything did equipped me for the future. Any activity or action that doesn’t serve your higher goal is wasted effort. Stay alert, on top of your game and be ready to step out on your own when the opportunity arrives.
The future is sooner than you think
Ten years ago it was acceptable to have a five to ten-year plan for your future, but today’s technology and innovative advances have changed the game of how short the future is. Today the scale for future goals has been shortened to one to five years and fastly shrinking. If you’re still working on a five-year plan, the reality is that by the time your plan comes to fruition your entire business idea could be obsolete. There’s no time for putting your dreams on hold to support someone else’s. It’s fine to do what you can until you can do what you want, but to move to the next step you have to be honest with yourself. Ask yourself some tough questions: Is what I’m doing now helping or hurting my future? What is stopping me from starting a business right now? Making up your mind to do it is only half of the battle. Putting action behind your idea and taking responsibility for your results are the only way your ever going to make it a reality. Here are two major steps to take to get your future started today.
Create a real vision of your future:
- Believe that you can achieve what you want. Believing in yourself is what motivates you to move forward. Begin to actually visualize yourself where you want to be and know that you can do it. Tunnel vision is key here, don’t let outside influences lead you to stray from your dreams.
- You must know what your big picture is, and what you’re trying to accomplish. Once you know what your vision for your future is you’ll be guided as to what steps you need to take to get you closer to your future goals.
- Create a vision board. A physical daily reminder of what you’re working towards will inspire you to keep moving. Seek a mentor or even a business coach to help guide you and keep you on the right path to meet your goals.
Make real moves towards your future:
- Once you have established what exactly it is that you want to do, you should make a list of goals to support your vision. Start conditioning your mindto think positive thoughts and avoid negative thoughts. Avoid weak goals that are meaningless or don’t support to your goal.
- For every goal you set, you should have an action that you’re doing now to help accomplish that goal. This is the step that makes a dream reality. Start creating strategies related to your future goals and objectives. Make everyday count towards your future. Don’t just get through each day. Use where you are and what you’re doing as a learning tool to gain knowledge or experience that you can use in the future.
- Set a start date. It’s ok if you have to change it the important thing is to put a time frame on your goals. You will be able to gauge where you are at and what needs to be added or taken away. Also, setting a start date motivate you to work more diligently at gaining the skills and tools you will need to be successful.
Success is only another form of failure if we forget what our priorities should be ~Harry Lloyd
Many business owners buy into the false belief that the more priorities they have, the more accomplished they are. Not true at all. In fact, if you have more than three set priorities for your business you have too many. When someone ask me “what are the priorities for my business”, the first three things that come to mind are Profitability, Innovation and Growth. Knowing everything that you want to accomplish in life is good, but shouldn’t take up too much of your valuable time trying to achieve it all in a day.
As a business owner it’s important to say no to ideas that are appealing, but do not match your current business goals. Planning ahead and considering your priorities ahead will help you grow your business in so many ways. The nature of entrepreneurship is one of constant change and always having something to do. I am very aware that I can not do it all, so I focus on priorities that help my business excel now. Everyday I make sure I focus on three main priorities; Profitability, Innovation and Growth. Each day at least one (if not all three) of these business priorities should be a part of every entrepreneurs day.
Here’s my top three priorities entrepreneurs should focus on
Focus on what you are best at. What are the capabilities you have that others don’t. Spend time fine tuning your skills and credentials. Network in circles of your peers; keep up to date on the latest trends in your field. Profit is not always immediate funds, but sometimes comes through the relationships that you build with clients and business partners. Focus your marketing and branding on your skills and abilities. This compels more people to seek your product/services, which will result in profits. An important part of being an entrepreneur is being able to look into the future, set goals and take the necessary steps to make it happen. The only way to make it happen is to set priorities that align with your business; have a team that understands those priorities and work with you to achieve them. Profits allow entrepreneurs to reinvest in their business and expand. Don’t wast time on fly by night gimmicks that may strike a chord with customers for a moment, but have no long-lasting effect. Profit comes when you strategize and focus on what your ideal customer needs. Continuous profit comes with consistency. Slow and steady always wins the race.
Think about what skills you don’t have that you could establish to help you succeed and reach your business goals. Take a look at your team and make sure you have team members who have knowledge about things that you don’t. Diversity in yourself and your team is the welcome matt to innovation. Encourage new products/services for your existing customers as well new ones. To be innovative a business must not only be able to satisfy their customer’s current needs, but a business must be able to predict customer’s future needs as well. Consider new ways to provide your product/services to customer using up to date technology. The more your business innovates and adapts to new trends the broader your customer base will become.
At the start of a new business most entrepreneurs spend their time assisting the priorities of others. Catering to current customers and trying to get new ones are critical to your business, but if you spend too much time on the phone and answering emails you soon realize that you’re that you’re getting the work done, but your business is not growing. Spend extra time (ans sometimes money) on a marketing plan that will successfully take your business to the public. Consistently think of outside of the box ways to market your business. Consider speaking to professional groups in your field, hold monthly mixers and invite community and business leaders in your area, start a blog focusing on your services. To see substantial growth in your business you must always work on ways to let others know about your business and your services. The only way for your business to grow is for more and more people to learn about it. The only way more people will learn about it is if you’re out there talking about it.
The first 20 percent of a task usually accounts for 80 percent of the value of that task. Once you focus on your priorities and begin working on them, the first 20 percent of the time you spend strategizing to achieve them will account for 80 percent of your success. When setting priorities, always focus on the first 20 percent and then the 80 percent will flow smoothly in your business.
Our intuition is internal wisdom that tells us the truth of who we are and what we should do. Our job is to know our inner self and learn to trust our own voice.
If you have ever been in situation where you had to override your brain and follow your gut feeling then you already know a great deal about inner wisdom. If you are an entrepreneur or manager, then by nature you rely on your guts to guide you from one success to another. In today’s business change happens overnight and decisions need to be made quickly. Your inner wisdom or gut feeling is able to decipher the difference between profitable and non-profitable much quicker than our brain. Your brain is made to store information. We use our brains as a learning and memory tool. We use our intuition to quick decision-making. The key is to know the difference of when to follow your intuition vs your brain.
When you should follow your (gut) Intuition:
- When you are personally attached to the situation or others involved
- When you do not know a lot about the subject at hand
- When you have limited information that doesn’t add up
- When you have too much information that doesn’t add up
- When it directly affects your future goals
We are all born with intuition. Some tap into it more easily than others but the more you practice using it, the better you will be. The key to using it well is knowing when to use it. When do you override the brain and use your gut? In business this can be tricky because you may have a team around you that is persuading you to do one thing or logical data that does not support an idea that you have. Remember that intuition is not taught it is something we are born with. The good thing about it is you don’t have to know when to use it. There’s a process the brain has to go through when it receives data that needs to be sorted out logically. When you’re trying to force the brain to decipher data quickly intuition immediately kicks in and gives you an answer.
“Intuition draws from the right side of the brain which is the part of the brain that controls nonverbal thoughts and expression.”
Here are some ways you can focus on using your (gut) intuition:
Know yourself – Spend time focusing on your business goals. The more sure you are of your goals the easier it is to recognize the voice that speaks to them.
Meditation – Create an open space for your inner voice to flow
Do random test Begin making daily gut decisions on a small-scale around the office and keep a record of how many times you were right or wrong.
Know your body – When faced with a gut decision your body physically reacts. Notice the change in your body when your intuition is moving in a positive or negative direction.
Shut out other voices – Your intuition speaks to you from within. Inviting outside opinions into that conversation only brings confusion.
Take time to focus on what your goals are and know them well. Your inner wisdom will always leads in a positive direction towards your goals. Our job is to learn to trust our own voice. The only way to trust your gut feeling is to trust yourself. When you have taken the time to really know who you are it becomes easier to trust your gut because you it is your inner self speaking for you.
A successful leader is able to service multiple demographic groups
Developing leadership skills and effectiveness has never been more critical. Everyday we hear or read about how entrepreneurs must approach diversity as a building block to strengthen their teams. Diversity within any company starts with its leader. Attitude toward diversity originate at the top and eventually filter downward. Prior to starting your entrepreneur journey you should start taking steps to personally diversify yourself so that as you build your business brand and culture, you will be sure you are encouraging diversity throughout your organization. Developing a personal diversity as a leader allows you to create different ideas, broader viewpoints, and a more diverse experience base all of which are a sure formula for business success. Effective diversity where differences are truly valued is more than just a good idea – it’s good business.
Rule number one as a leader always keep your personal, religious, political, and other beliefs outside the office. Hiring on this basis your team will be diverse in ethnicity, age, culture, political beliefs and religion. To some diversity is a group of people who think the same but look different. True diversity takes advantage of the individuality of a person’s expertise and inspires them to perform to their highest abilities. A diverse collection of individuals allows your company to harbor a greater supply of ideas and solutions.
Companies today represent the current world we live in. Technology has increased the visibility of business services; making even the customers we reach more diverse. Research has proved that diversity is a source of strength and companies who support diversity are more successful. As customers become more global, our businesses must become more diverse to compete for customer approval.
Here are three ways to diversify yourself as a leader
- Attend Diversity Workshops & Seminars. If you want a diverse team and client base, you have to learn how to change your way of thinking. Diversity workshops teach business owners how to brainstorm and target a different industries or a different niches of your current industry.
- Volunteer For A Cultural Non-Profit. If you want to catch different fish, you have to fish in a different pond. Volunteering for a non-profit outside your culture is a great way to learn the likes and dislikes of customers you may want to target. Also, try using social networking tools like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to build relationships outside your culture.
- Team up With Other Businesses. Go outside of your box and build partnerships with other business owners in your community. Working with diverse businesses will open you up to different ways of doing things, new products and services to expand your client base.
Develop a diversity mission statement that communicates your commitment to diversity. With a mission statement in place, now you need to develop objectives to help achieve the mission. Launch a diversity plan with an all-employee meeting where you introduce your plan to the entire team. All of your employees must commit to the plan to achieve the goal. Each employee should have a clear vision of how they can participate in the plan. Supply diversity training materials to the employees to jump-start their ideas and involvement.
Here are some ways to diversify your staff
Hire Individuals From Various Ethnic Groups. Hire employees who can help you gain insights into certain ethnic markets that could mean bigger profits for your company.
Expand Your Current Diversity. Ask employees for referrals, since they will have peers in the industry and may know qualified candidates who may be looking for work.
Recruit Candidates From Local Groups/ Organizations. Talk to local organizations with community connections, including churches, cultural institutions and colleges
If entrepreneurs do not take on challenge to diversify, their businesses will eventually become extinct or behind the more innovative brands. Every business is striving to become the best. Those that are at the top must continue to fight to be the best or they will be blindsided very quickly. You must focus on being the best in more than one area, and offer more than a single solution to customer’s needs. Great leaders who stay on top of their diversity game are not just sitting back while it just happens; they keep taking the necessary steps to move from one level to the next.