Monday, November 12, 2012

Do you have traits of an entrepreneur: Part 2

Continued from part 1

Entrepreneurs are always hard-working people. Running a business is not a walk in the park. Ultimately, they put in the hours to get the job done and make sure that the business achieves its full potential. With time, a clever entrepreneur delegates to reliable employees.

You need to build a top-notch business team. No one person can build a successful business alone. It's a task that requires a team that is as committed as you to the business and its success. Of course the most important team members will be your customers or clients. Any or all may have a say in how your business will function and a stake in your business future.

A big driver to starting one's own business is the desire to work for oneself; what I’d call loosely call independence. Entrepreneurs are notorious for this characteristic. They generally hate having a boss and having to report to someone else. They want to call the shots and make their own "destiny."

Entrepreneurs have an uncanny ability to take strategic risks while reducing risks in day-to-day operations. Few people in this world take as much personal and professional risk as small-business owners do. But that doesn't mean small-business owners are reckless or without calculation. The most successful entrepreneurs cover their bases whenever possible. What vulnerabilities does your business have?

The reality of owning a business is much more daunting today than it was even a generation ago. The most successful entrepreneurs aren't afraid to navigate change, and they can thrive on it. Many small retailers have found it difficult to take advantage of technological advancements. How equipped is your business to change?

Planning every aspect of your business is not only a must, but also builds habits that every business owner should develop, implement, and maintain. The act of business planning is so important because it requires you to analyse each business situation, research and compile data, and make conclusions based mainly on the facts as revealed through the research. Business planning also serves a second function, which is having your goals and how you will achieve them, on paper. You can use the plan that you create both as map to take you from point A to Z and as a yardstick to measure the success of each individual plan or segment within the plan.

The lifeblood of any business enterprise is cash flow management. You need it to buy inventory, pay for services, promote and market your business, repair and replace tools and equipment, and pay yourself so that you can continue to work. Therefore, all home business owners must become wise money managers to ensure that the cash keeps flowing and the bills get paid. There are two aspects to wise money management.

1.             The money you receive from clients in exchange for your goods and services you provide (income)
2.             The money you spend on inventory, supplies, wages and other items required to keep your business operating. (expenses)

You have but a passing moment to make a positive and memorable impression on people with whom you intend to do business. Business owners must go out of their way and make a conscious effort to always project the most professional business image possible. The majority of business owners do not have the advantage of elaborate offices or elegant stores and showrooms to wow prospects and impress customers. Instead, they must rely on imagination, creativity and attention to the smallest detail when creating and maintaining a professional image for their business.

Entrepreneurs ought to create a competitive advantage. A business must have a clearly defined unique selling proposition. This is nothing more than a fancy way of asking the vital question, "Why will people choose to do business with you or purchase your product or service instead of doing business with a competitor and buying his product or service?" In other words, what one aspect or combination of aspects is going to separate your business from your competition? Will it be better service, better selection, longer business hours, more flexible payment options, lowest price, personalized service, better customer service, better return and exchange policies or a combination of several of these?

You must remain cognizant of the fact that few people will work hard, go out of their way, or be inconvenienced just for the privilege of giving you their hard-earned money. The shoe is always on the other foot. Making it easy for people to do business with you means that you must be accessible and knowledgeable about your products and services. You must be able to provide customers with what they want, when they want it.

It's difficult for most business owners not to take a hands-on approach. They try to do as much as possible and tackle as many tasks as possible in their business. The ability to multi-task  in fact, is a common trait shared by successful entrepreneurs. However, once in a while you have to stand back and look beyond today to determine what's in the best interest of your business and yourself over the long run. Most highly successful entrepreneurs will tell you that from the time they started out, they knew what they were good at and what tasks to delegate to others.

Constant contact, follow-up, and follow-through with customers, prospects, and business alliances should be the mantra of every home business owner, new or established. Constant and consistent follow-up enables you to turn prospects into customers, increase the value of each sale and buying frequency from existing customers, and build stronger business relationships with suppliers and your core business team. Follow-up is especially important with your existing customer base, as the real work begins after the sale. It's easy to sell one product or service, but it takes work to retain customers and keep them coming back.

You may have realized that most of these traits are not in-born but more or less acquired. Success doesn't come easy but once you understand how to operate, it becomes much easier.

Next several lessons will dwell on pooling resources in groups (chama): ingredients for success and / or failure.

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