What’s another year?

What’s another year?

Winding back to the end of 2015; I just finished my planning for 2016. I know it sounds so organised, but far from it. I didn’t really know what I am going to do and where to focus on.

My list at the time looked like this:

Improve Social Media Skills and create Plan
Develop sellable products and services based on customer profiles and publish them (transparency)
Finish Entrepreneurs on Fire platform
Write and publish Entrepreneurs Guide
Clarify customer niche and drill further down (relates to products and services)
Help 6 entrepreneurs to start a business from scratch
Spend 10% of my time to support student organisations and get involved

One year later, I am happy to say, that I’ve done all of it except the book. I didn’t get it finished. Instead I published a mini book (The Secret Key to a Successful Business)
I helped 9 start-ups to a successful start and I got really involved in 6 different student and youth organisations (loved every minute of it).

Most businesses I know have a very similar approach, but can you see something wrong with this?

Only a few of the listed items are actually measurable, the rest is very vague. For example “Improve Social Media Skills and create Plan”, how do you measure that?
How do I know that I actually done this and how do I know if I done it well?

The mistake I’ve made was listing actions instead of results. This is the typical “How To” process approach in its extreme form. I defined actions without knowing where to go with this.

Now I am sitting in front of this list with no way of measuring if I was successful with it. Yes I’ve done lots of Social Media stuff, but what for?
It is easy to think having lots of connections in Social Media is good. That’s what we are told all the time. Now I am thinking, what is good about it if I don’t know what to do with it?

Many of us (me included) just follow what we’re told, specially in areas new to us. We hear these great stories how X made 100.000 because X had 10.000 followers on LinkedIn. This is presented in a way to make us believe the only reason X made a 100.000 was because X had 10.000 followers.
I managed to get over 12.000 followers on LinkedIn, but for what? You might say they are all potential customers, but are they? How do I know if I don’t know where I am going with this?

These are common mistakes and we all fall for it. To avoid this to happen next year, here are a couple of tips:

Take a piece of paper and write down the main reason Why you are running a business in the first place and What your business is about. I hope you know what that is (if not read my FREE eBook).

For example my Why and What is following:
“To help entrepreneurs and change-makers to create successful businesses and positively change the lives of everyone involved.”

Now make a list of all the things you want to do coming year and question it against your “Why”.
Make sure to only list expected results, not actions.
Now define a measure for each list item (when do you know that you’ve done it successfully?)
Under each of these items list the actions you think might get you there.

The main items stay fixed, but the actions might change. You will find that certain actions don’t actually improve the measurement after a few weeks or month. Knowing this allows you to adjust your actions accordingly to achieve your goal.

You might have to change the way you think about success and your business and you might have to become accountable for your actions. But if you want to look at your results next year and the numbers to reflect your actual success you need to make sure that you can measure it. And that sometimes means to fail at some of the points. But now you know why and what to do about it.

I wish you a great 2017 and all the success you can measure.

Do You Really Want To Be An Entrepreneur?

Do You Really Want To Be An Entrepreneur?

It’s Saturday morning. You’re sitting at your table at home reviewing what you’ve done with your business over the last year. You’re not really happy with what you have achieved and your mind travels back in time to the day when you decided to make your dream come true.
You can remember it as if it was yesterday. You were full of enthusiasm, ready to start this great company. Little did you know about the reality of running your own business.
The past year has been hard, progress was slow and so many things didn’t go the way you were hoping. You think that all this might not have been such a good idea. You think about the things you’ve could have done different, the decisions you’ve made that turned out to be the wrong ones. You’re frustrated with yourself, your business, everything and everyone, but mainly yourself.
In short, the business didn’t really make enough money to justify its existence.

What you’re going to do next?

You really only have 2 choices:
You can give up and the story ends here. You gave it a real go, but it is clear it can’t work and what is the point anyway? It is much better to count your losses and move on to something better. This is the sensible thing to do.

Or you continue. But how? It hasn’t really worked so far, how can you turn this around?

[bctt tweet=”Why did you start your business in the first place?” username=”entr_academy”]

The decision must be based on the reason you’ve started your business in the first place. Is that reason still valid?
Is it really required to run your own business to achieve your dream?

If your reason is money, there are many places you can make a lot of money. Just think about the banking and insurance industry to mention the obvious ones, or sales being another option.
If you want to change the world, why don’t you join an organisation which already works in that field. There are hundreds of them to choose from and most of them are desperate for support.

Maybe you’re out of a job and you struggle to find one.
Maybe you like the image of being a business owner or you’re just riding the wave. Starting your own business is a big thing right now.

[bctt tweet=”Business is about making money” username=”entr_academy”]

Whatever your reason, you need to understand that running a business is about making money. The whole construct of a business is based on that. From a business perspective everything you do has to result in making money. If making money is not something you feel comfortable with you either shouldn’t run a business or find a business partner who loves that part and join forces.

Successful entrepreneurs understand that business is about money and that the money allows them to do the things they really want to do. They are not ashamed of making money, they embrace the possibility of making money as part of their success.
Money allows the business to exist and to provide the platform needed to create real value and to have a positive impact. They see money as an appreciation from their clients for the service they provide.

Unless you understand that money is not the devil, you most likely won’t make it and keep struggling with your business.
If you are not sure how to create a business model around your idea, get a business coach. Get someone who understands business and is willing to work with you. Someone you’re accountable to and helps you create the platform to make your dreams come true.

So what is it?

[bctt tweet=”Do you really want to be an entrepreneur?” username=”entr_academy”]

Do you really want to be an entrepreneur?

How to guarantee failure as a start-up

A guide in how to fail as a start-up. If you love failing in business, follow the directions given and enjoy the ride 🙂 You could also read between the lines and avoid failure. It’s up to you!

Please leave your comments below (I will respond, I promise) and let everyone else know how you measure success and what you do every day to grow to the person you want to be.

Decisions, Decisions

Decisions, Decisions

It is 4 pm, I am sitting in the lounge of my hotel preparing my next meeting and taking some notes about the things that stuck out from my last meeting just 3 hours ago with Melanie.

Melanie is a successful business woman and she contacted me a few weeks ago in total panic because the online business she had been running for over 4 years went into a sudden dive and she lost almost 50% of her usual turn-over for this time of the year.

We never met in person before, so our meeting today was a “Get to know each other” and to see if we can work together in the future.

The incident with her business has clearly shocked her and made her question her way of working and the decisions she’s been taken lately. I listened to her story which was filled with Ifs, Buts and Whens and ended with the questions: “What can I do to prevent this from happening again?”.

What happened was very much out of her control and had nothing to do with her decisions. It was just one of those things that happen in business. Until now Melanie’s business was a smooth ride, steadily increasing over the years and this event has clearly shown her how vulnerable her business was. She never really had to make any serious business decisions during this time, things just came together, until now.

She realised she needs to make sure that this won’t happen again and it is time to make some decisions. But how is she going to make the right decisions in the future?

Decisions are based on our belief of possible future outcomes. We usually go through a process of laying out several scenarios and then decide on the steps towards the outcomes we believe to be the best at this stage. Sounds simple enough, but most people find themselves in one of two different positions: They either have a huge imagination and can think of hundreds of possibilities, or they are so tied down that only one option seems to be possible which they just can’t or don’t want to accept.

Studies have shown that our ability to make decisions decreases as higher the amount of choices are. They also revealed that when confronted with 3 possible options, we most likely make a good decision and find it far easier to make a decision in the first place. If we have only 2 choices, it becomes much harder, because we are confronted with a yes/no option and only one choice isn’t a choice.

With this in mind, making good decisions means we need to bring down or up our options to the magical number 3. So how do we choose three options out of the possible 100s?

We need to define some rules about the options we actually accepts as considerable and which we won’t accept. We need to step back to get a different perspective of what it is we are trying to do. The best time to setup these rules is if we are not in the middle of a decision process. They should not be setup as a reaction of a current situation, but defined as something we can personally stand for.

Once we defined our rules, we can measure all possible options against them, that will most likely reduce that number a lot. To cut it further down, we can look at the options we could implement the easiest. something we can do now and create impact straight away.

If we have only one option, we need to create other (maybe similar) options. But they all need to have a different possible outcome or direction. If we are so tied down that we can’t think of something, we could ask our friends or co-workers and just accept whatever it is they suggest as a possible option. Again, we need to make sure we’ve got our rules in place.

Now we have 3 options. Which one are you going to take?

I went through the same process with Melanie and now she is working on it. I am looking forward to find out about her choices and her resulting decision.

I love it when things come together and my next meeting just arrived….