Thursday, October 27, 2016

Coping with Failure

There are unlimited mantras, quotes, and stories dedicated to coping with failure. This is perhaps because it is a well-accepted fact that failure is simply a part of life. Starting and running a business is often subject to the same outcome. In fact, failure is often a welcomed disposition in the discourse of entrepreneurship because it helps to shape and reshape a successful business.  Failure should never be a deterrent from pursuing your business goals. Rather, it should be embraced and perhaps anticipated. In this article, we’ll explore coping with failure in business and using it as a sword rather than a shield.
Business failure can span anywhere from an unsuccessful marketing or promotional method to the complete termination. Regardless of what failure looks like in this particular context, it has an impact on the psyche of the self-employed individual who started or took over the business. 

According to Bruno, McQuarrie, and Torgrimson in an article published in Journal of Business Venturing, the self-employed appear to have an emotional relationship with their business.  More specifically, the motivation for managing one’s business spans beyond personal profit, into loyalty to a product, loyalty to a market and customers, and the need to prove one’s self. When you consider these elements of this emotional relationship, it becomes clear, first, why failure elicits such a huge response in business and second, why the way in which you recover is much more important than the failure itself.  So, how do you cope? How do you recover?

1. Learn
One of the best ways to cope with failure in business is to make a conscious decision to learn from it. In a 2003 article published in Academy of Management Review, Dean Shepherd suggests, “learning from business failure occurs when you can use the information available about why the business failed to revise your existing knowledge of how to manage your own business effectively.”  This requires the ability to stare failure in the face and accept that you are still a student even when you run the business. It further requires an ability to “revise assumptions about the consequences” of previous decisions, actions, and omissions.  When you can approach your failure in an evaluative manner, you are more likely to have a successful outcome.

2.  Anticipate and Rehearse

“Don’t make the same mistake twice”.  This warning cannot be echoed loud enough in business. When you’ve done something wrong or insufficient a first time it should prompt you to be more careful the second time around. In other words, you should anticipate an error; rehearse with that error in mind and control for it.  Many entrepreneurs have had to test and retest prototypes continuously to ensure it is failure proof.  Sometimes this means getting out of your comfort zone and being completely transparent.  The more you dissect your product or service piece by piece and ask yourself “how can this fail”, the closer you get towards a product or service you can proudly stand behind in success. This will not make you failure proof, but it can certainly minimize the outcome of same and teach you more about yourself as a business owner.

3.  Think Positively

One of the immediate responses to failure is negativity. A close second is doubt. These two devils can drive your business into hell if you allow them to manifest and percolate.  When you’ve come face to face with failure, take a few minutes to cry and scream if you have to. But once those minutes have expired, commend yourself for your effort, feed your mind with positive affirmations, and most importantly, saturate yourself with acceptance. Accept that the one thing that makes you most like any other business is your susceptibility to failure. Once you’ve acknowledged that, immediately begin rebuilding, modifying, or changing your direction.

4. Start Again

Some of the biggest companies that exist today have failed hundreds of times before getting their big breaks; Apple and Disney are prime examples. Failing just might be the answered prayer you didn’t know you need. It can challenge you into success. Don’t pressure yourself with deadlines if your product isn’t ready. Take your time with your craft. If you love it, you’ll be tender and starting over will only allow you to become more intimate with your business. Embrace a fresh start.

Failure is a part of life and that life doesn’t stop when you acquire a business. Instead, it becomes much greater. Consequently, your failures will increase, but so will your successes.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Getting Acquainted With the Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs

Psychologists have proven, through continuous research, that behaviour can be learned through observation and mirroring. They also purport that it takes 21 days of consistency for an individual to make or break a habit. Why is this important to entrepreneurship? Well, your success as an entrepreneur can lie heavily on the monitoring, observing, and putting into action some of the habits, techniques and practices that are common among entrepreneurs and small business owners who have propelled their careers beyond the confines of “a single start up”. Many entrepreneurs credit their success to modeled behaviour and plans. Consequently, we have compiled a list of some of the habits of successful entrepreneurs to help steer you in the right direction and give you a head start on your return on investment.

Watch the company you keep.

If you want to attain entrepreneurial success, you should find yourself in the company of those who have gone before you and have excelled. You can learn a lot from people who are smarter than you. Don’t let their knowledge dissuade or intimidate you. They, too, once had a startup (in many cases, of humble beginnings). Once you’ve selected the individuals you want in your circle, refrain from suffocating yourself with business and business-related tasks and conversation. 

To elaborate, refrain from meeting these  “role models” in networking and business settings. Instead, spend time with them at sporting events, barbeques, or even light coffee. If you surround yourself with successful business owners beyond the context of business, you create the opportunity to learn how they live their lives on a day-to-day basis. Conclusively, if you intend on starting an accounting firm, make sure accountants make up a percentage of your “friends group”. 

Be intentional about your day-to-day routine.

Successful entrepreneurs rarely complain about lacking enough hours in the day. They recognize that everyone is allotted the same time and it is the use of that time that is transformative. If you are a morning person, wake up early to capitalize on your hours of productivity. That doesn’t mean waking up at 7 a.m. It means really taking advantage of the time you complete your best work. That may translate into a 4:00 a.m. call time. If you want to maximize your daily productivity potential, you must take your body’s cues seriously. Recognize that work is just as important as rest and when there’s an imbalance of these two things, you and your business are bound to suffer. Further, incorporate time for exercise, personal time, and quality time with family and friends. Once you’ve settled on your day-to-day routine, be consistent.

Make use of the short-list.

When you own a business, your to-do list is often eternal. The list itself might discourage you from completing any work at all. In other instances, it can be so demanding that you seldom complete tasks in a reasonable manner.  Successful entrepreneurs report condensing tasks to two to three priority items each day. As a result, in the likely event that you do not get through your entire list, your most important tasks are completed daily. This technique keeps you accountable, increases task completion, and provides an overall picture for your efficiency. Additionally, short-lists function as an evaluation tool on how to run and grow your business.

Aim high.

Finally, one of the most common emotional traits that persist among entrepreneurs is doubt. Will this work? What if I fail? Is this the right way? Will they buy it? Should I do this? The second-guessing disease is correlated with goal setting. The more you second-guess yourself, the smaller the goals. Successful entrepreneurs aim high, no matter how unsure they are. Why? Because starting a business is a risk and that’s where the magic happens in many instances. Will the outcome always be favourable? Probably not, but at least you can edit and go back to the drawing board when something does not work out.

It is better to aim high and land somewhere at the top than to aim low and hit the mark.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Importance of Market Research

Most entrepreneurs are inexperienced and ignorant to the discourse of business when they first embark on the journey of managing a company.  It’s not a bad thing, but it is a fact worth acknowledging. That being said, a vast majority of starting a business is education and in many instances, that education is informal and self taught. One of the greatest challenges of an independent business education is the experimental learning of trial and error.  Some aspects of business will only make sense once you’ve tried it a few times and realize what is missing. Other aspects will come quickly and immediately and will pose no further threat to your business.

The pedagogical journey of entrepreneurship consists of a series of fundamental factors that should be considered and practiced for any serious contention for a successful business. One of these factors is market research; how well will your product or service perform in the market? Often overlooked due to costs, time, and significance, market research can make or break any business idea.  We want your business venture to start off in a way that will encourage growth. As such, we’ve outlined our top three reasons why market research should be on your priority list.

Market research reaffirms your business idea

When you have a concept or idea and you wish to convert it into a product or service, market research helps you understand who your target audience is, whether there is indeed a demand or interest in your product, and ultimately your business’ success potential. For example, if you anticipate your target audience to be young adults between the ages of 18 and 27, but upon reviewing the data from your surveys and focus groups you notice that middle-aged persons express a greater benefit from the product, you may need to redesign your business model taking into account middle-aged individuals.  On the other hand, you might also find that there is absolutely no interest whatsoever and your investment may not be worth it. Market research is simply a strong editing tool that can refine your business to properly meet the needs of your consumers.

Knowing your numbers

Numbers are vital to a business. How much will you pay? How much will your consumers pay?  Are you competitive enough? Market research assists in money management. If you understand who your ideal consumer is, you can further assess how much they are willing to pay for your product. Additionally, it will gauge how much money you need to invest to obtain a beneficial return. Research will highlight the monetary relationship between the business and the consumer. If your intended audience is women, but they are from low-income brackets, you must consider the likelihood that they will impact your business financially, particularly in a way that will encourage steady growth. 

Further, market research, in the form of business-to-business comparison, can help you determine whether your prices are too high or too low and how competitive you will be among your entrepreneurial peers. This research can often be obtained by simple web searches and do not require much time. It is an easy way to gain some perspective on your business.

 Business and Market Predictability

Market research can reveal how your business will perform in its initial stages as well as the future. Granted, there are a myriad of factors that can cause predictions to deviate, it is still a reliable tool for estimates on what to expect. The research can guide contingency plans and business projections.

Whether you decide to limit your research to the web or other minimal resources or you choose to spend thousands of dollars in quantitative and qualitative data collection, market research will have a positive effective on your entrepreneurial pursuits.