There she is. Your new potential client, the one who could give you the deal of your lifetime.
The things you’re going to do and say now are crucial for your success. You know that the first 20 seconds count to get the interest you need.
Are you prepared for such a situation?
In my experience most people are not prepared at all. Most can talk for hours and still don’t come to the point.
This is one of the first things I go through with my clients. It is not so much that you might come into such a situation, but more for yourself. You need to know what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, how you’re doing it and for who you’re doing it. If you don’t know that or can’t bring it over, how will you expect anyone ever getting excited about the things you do?
Every elevator pitch needs to answer 4 questions:
What – What is your product or service? (Name, type and category)
Why – Why are you selling this product and service? (The problem you’re trying to solve)
How – How are you solving the problem? (The solutions your product provides)
Who – Who benefits from the solutions? (Your target customer)
Lets take an example:
I’ve developed an online learning platform (What). It is designed for anyone who’s thinking about starting a business (Who) and is looking for support, guidance and a place to improve ones skills (Why). It provides training videos, webinars, a Q&A section, one-on-one coaching sessions and gives access to hundreds of valuable resources (How).
The goal of an elevator pitch is to create interest. We want to get attention and create some excitement.
If you haven’t created your pitch yet, today is the right time to do so. Put it on your task list with the highest priority and get on it as soon as possible.
I would advice to answer each question separately in a short sentence and then put them together in the order it flows easiest.
Use sticky notes if you have multiple answers to each question. Play with the order but only use one answer for each question.
Avoid going into too much detail. Pick the strongest points and stick with them.
Test your pitch as much as possible and refine it on the way. Again, avoid to get into too much detail and allow the listener to find her space.
I am sure once you got your pitch working your confidence level will go up a lot and you’ll become eager for a chance to use it.
Here is my question to you: What do you do?
Use the comment section below and tell me your pitch!
Also read: How to start a business the right way
Bankruptcy is a legal status of a person or other entity that cannot repay the debts it owes to creditors. In most jurisdictions, bankruptcy is imposed by a court order, often initiated by the debtor.
Everyone who runs a business has thought about it at one point, but don’t think that only business people can become bankrupt. Actually bankruptcy has nothing to do with a business. If you owe someone money and you can’t or won’t pay it back, that someone can go to court. The court can then decide what to do and in the worst case scenario declare you bankrupt.
Related to businesses this process is called insolvency and usually ends with the liquidation of the company. If you are personally liable for the depth of the company this can end in your bankruptcy.
If we are looking at the numbers of bankruptcies/Insolvencies throughout Europe, we can see that this is not a rare occurrence. Have a look at this data here and make your own mind up: http://www.tradingeconomics.com/country-list/bankruptcies
There are thousands of bankruptcies in Europe alone every month. These numbers are so staggering, it takes your breath away.
On the other hand, if you are in this situation, you’re certainly not alone.
Each country has its own way in dealing with these things and you should really check the conditions in your own country for more details.
The most important thing is that you are up-to-date with the proceedings in your country and that you seek as much help as you can get. Don’t just sit there and let it happen. In many countries it might be an advantage to declare yourself bankrupt before the court decides, but check this with your local authorities.
So now it happened. You couldn’t pay your bills, the bailiffs just left your building with pretty much everything beside your bed, some chairs and a table. What are you going to do now?
In my line of business I come across people in theses situations all the time and for almost all of them the embarrassment of it all is the worst thing they have to deal with.
Some blame themselves, some blame the system or others. Everyone has his own way to deal with such a situation. But for all of them life goes on and as hard as it might be for some, it is important to pick yourself up and get a move on. Specially if family is involved.
For many, the reason they are in that situation is not based on them doing something wrong, but often is the result of circumstances or fraud by other parties. Also taking a risk is part of running a business and yes, sometimes it doesn’t work out. There is nothing wrong with this. Actually, being an entrepreneur is about taking risks. I’ve met some amazing people with incredible skills and talents who went through this process. Listening to their stories I can find the mistakes they’ve made but I can also understand why they made them. I probably would have done the same.
If you are in that situation, it is going to be difficult to find a job, because companies don’t like to deal with theses things. It will even be harder to impossible to start another business, because in most countries you’ll be banned from running a company for several years. So what can you do?
The first thing to do is to be clear about your situation. You need to know what you’re aloud to do and what not.
The next thing is to look at your options. Whatever period the bankruptcy takes, you want to prepare yourself to get your life back.
This could be a great time to learn new skills, to practice and investigate your possible future market.
It is important to think ahead. It doesn’t matter how difficult this might feel right now. You’ll have to look forward, be an entrepreneur and look at your options. If you can’t see anything speak to people who do. Go to meet-ups, get out there. You’ve done your best. It didn’t work, but you’re preparing for the next run. This is something to look forward to. If other people, like partner and children are involved, speak openly about it. Identify where it went wrong and learn from it.
This can be hard to do on your own. If you struggle a lot, go and work for a charity and help others in difficult situations. It brings back the perspective of where you stand on a larger scale. And if they can smile, you certainly can.
The one thing you want to do is learn from it. This doesn’t mean to never take any risks again. Many founders of amazing companies went through the same process and look where they are today. Just google “CEO’s who went bankrupt” and you will see you’re in good company.
That leaves me with one question: What’s your future life going to be?
I just read this article that clearly stated, that if your business doesn’t make any money right at the beginning you won’t make it and you should stop before you go too far. The author of that article made a good case, if….
I will come back to this if in a minute, but lets first make some things clear:
Anyone, I mean anyone who starts a business will have to work hard. Most (99%) will take more then 3 years before they are out of the red numbers and can even start thinking about paying themselves. If you think any other way you will be in for a surprise. Most (80%) will give up long time before that and lost a lot of money and time on the way.
Why is this?
Most start-ups are not business people. They decided on the one thing they want to do and because of circumstances chosen to do it as a business.
Maybe they couldn’t find a job or try to re-invent themselves or whatever reason they might have.
When you’re in that position you will struggle to make that business work, but at the same time you’ll be probably the only person who will ever make it.
This is because you don’t know if your business will work. Most likely you won’t even know how much money your business needs to make. Most just start and hope for the best.
And as a passionate entrepreneur let me tell you there is nothing wrong with that.
Extraordinary things are not common. They are extraordinary because they’re either very rare or don’t exist yet. Anything that is created requires 2 things, the creator and the creation. The creation will always be influenced by the creator and therefore in itself unique. Maybe it doesn’t work out, but if it does, nobody else but you could have made this work.
Lets get back to the if:
When reading articles like the one mentioned at the beginning, I know that the author is not an entrepreneur. First of all, money is just one of the many measurements for success, an important one but by far not the only one. I call them managers. A manager deals with given facts, looks at ways to measure progress and reduce uncertainty to the minimum. Managers are not good entrepreneurs, because they don’t create anything, but deal with what is given.
An entrepreneur has no clue what to expect and will try the most amazing things without any reason or backup. Sometimes this creates something special. Something nobody would have expected. And yes, most times it doesn’t work out.
If you train for an MBA, you don’t study to become an entrepreneur, you study to become a manager. This is not the same.
A manager will close a business down if it doesn’t go to plan. An entrepreneur doesn’t really have a plan. He just loves what he does and enjoys every minute of it.
Of course money is the most common measurement for value today and we can’t get around making money if we want to survive. This is why so many people give up. Often they have no choice. There are countries who test the minimum income for anyone at this moment and I truly hope that if the money matter is sorted, more people will start creating some amazing things for all of us.
Without these entrepreneurs our life would not be what it is today. Many things we take for granted only exist because of those incredible minds. The entrepreneurs who didn’t give up and the ones who did. We need them all. But most of all, we need the real entrepreneurs and changemakers, driven by passion, curiosity and willing to take the challenge.
If that is you, I dare you not to give up. Find like-minded people and support each other. Create something extraordinary and change the life of the people around you for the better.
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What are you waiting for?
This is the first question I ask when I start working with a new client and the one question many struggle to answer.
The reason this question is so important is because it is vital to understand who and where you are before you can map out a path to where you want to be and who you want to become.
If you start-up your SatNav the first thing it will do is identifying your current position. Depending on the complexity of the map that position has to be more or less accurate. The SatNav also needs to know if you are a car, a bike or walking, because this is part of the calculation to find the best possible route to your destination. Then it needs the destination in order to calculate. As more detailed the information is as easier it is to find the best route.
The who and where are very much linked to each other. It’s unlikely to be a bicycle and on the motorway at the same time.
Have you ever asked yourself the question who and where you are? If so, what was your answer?
Many people describe the most obvious things first. Things like their name, age, gender (if not clear), occupation, nationality, current address etc. These are the things that are usually required when filling out forms, but when it comes to the inner core most people struggle describing themselves.
Depending who is asking we describe the things we believe they would like to hear. For example we tell people how positive or negative we are, whatever fits best. We describe the things we like to do, what we do and how we do it. The stories are never the same, but change depending on the expected outcome.
If you apply for a job, you’re probably not going to tell them that you’re lazy and just come for the money until something better pops-up.
That means we create, or better re-create, ourselves every time, leaving a very different picture. Most of us become very good at this. So good in fact that we even do this to ourselves.
The risk is that we never really understand who and where we are and that we base many decisions on the wrong assumptions. That causes stress, self-doubt and is not getting us anywhere.
In my experience the biggest issue is our addiction with judgement and expected values. Every time we look at ourselves and discover something that does not look so nice, we create a story in our head that either puts the fault onto someone or something else or we just outright lie to ourselves and don’t except that observation as being true. Creating another us that doesn’t look as bad.
This forms a completely wrong picture and with this information no SatNav will ever be able to show the right route. So what can we do to avoid this?
If I give you a dice and ask you to describe it what would you say?
It has 6 sides, each side with a different amount of dots. The corners are rounded and so on. Most would describe the object in its essence based on facts.
If you would’ve to describe another person, you’ve never met before, based on a short conversation what would that description sound like?
Most likely, because you have no associated values and stories, you would stick with the facts you’ve observed.
Now try to do the same with yourself.
Not so easy, right? We are so used to creating these stories that it becomes harder and harder to identify the real thing. But if you don’t know who and where you are, how will you ever get anywhere?
I believe the first thing we all need to do is to stop judging or measuring ourselves against anything. Instead we need to accept that we are as we are.
This takes the essence out of all the stories we created over the years and they just break apart.
The next step is being more aware of what is going on in our lives, how we feel about it and how we react on it.
If we avoid to judge what we see and just record it as given we start to see the real picture. Again, it is not important if you like that picture or not It’s just collecting the facts. As more time you take on this task as more accurate the picture will be and as easier it will be to map out your path.
This process is also called Awareness or Mindfulness.
This helps to see if we are progressing in the right direction. A SatNav always needs to know where it is at any given stage and if you’ve switched the bike with the car or started to walk. This is because it constantly re-calculates the route as soon as it finds a diversion from the initial course.
The SatNav doesn’t care where or who you are. It just takes the data, calculates the route and gets you there. There is no need to pretend to be something or somewhere else.
We should apply the same logic to ourselves. Once you understand who and where you are, the path becomes very clear and easy to follow. Like the SatNav, you always re-check your position and if required re-calculate the route. The trip becomes a very straight forward affair.
To get to this stage of awareness I use a specially designed questionnaire as a base and introduce my clients to easy manageable meditation techniques to help with the constant re-calculation and to record the progress. Once my client is used to the process and it becomes part of their daily routine the ride becomes smooth and enjoyable. It removes the fear of failure, encourages trust and self-believe and this can be clearly felt by anyone around.
So, if you have a destination in mind and looking for ways to get there, make sure you know who and where you are.
Enjoy the ride 🙂
When I compare the job market today with 30 years ago I am amazed how much has changed in such a small timeframe. When I was a student I had two choices. Become an apprentice, learn a skill, find a job and make money straight away or go to university, study and hope for a better job. Either way, the idea was to work for 40 years in some organisation or company until my pension age and then relax for the rest of my life.
This doesn’t sound very exciting, but it gave most people exactly what they needed: stability, direction and security.
There were a few out-breakers, so called entrepreneurs. These were the ones who managed to create a businesses out of small labour jobs, like gardening, building work, cleaning or similar. These were usually one-man set-ups but some managed to created amazing companies. However, most people were looking for a secure job.
With the computer and internet age, we started to see a shift in the job market. A few so called nerds managed to become very successful and created enough motion for others to get attracted into the Information Technology market. We all know the stories.
In 2000 the IT market had its own little crash, but this didn’t stop the flow of people wanting to get involved in IT. Because Information Technology was such a new area only a few companies existed and jobs were very difficult to come by. This caused more and more young people to start their own business. It was exciting, new and different and that in itself created a magnetic field that attracted more and more young people to get involved. The rise of small companies involved in the IT sector sky-rocketed. It really went from 0-100 in only a few years. You didn’t need a degree in science to develop webpages and there was no need to be an electric engineer to build or repair computers. For many that was the opportunity they were looking for.
I remember it well, I was part of this movement.
IT had the largest impact in society after the industrial revolution last century. We should really call it the IT revolution. It has not only changed the job market, but almost every aspect of life in almost all parts of the world. Everything changed.
Then in 2008 we had the banking crises. Many people lost their jobs and savings and most pension funds went down leaving the investors with none or very little money. This caused a huge outcry in society and governments were pushed to find solutions to this dilemma. This last crises showed how fragile the idea of stability, direction and security really is and more and more people don’t trust the system anymore.
The result of this is what I call the Short-Term-View of life. Because our future is so uncertain we try to avoid looking too far ahead. Working with many student organisations in Europe I find that most students think within a 5 year timeframe. While 30 years ago people where looking forward to their pension, today young people don’t even want to think about it.
This of course affects the job market as well. Everything has to happen in 5 years or shorter. If a student today wants to become successful he is not thinking about a 40 year plan. He wants it now, as quick as possible. Most aim for the result and not the process, putting a lot of pressure on themselves to make it happen or to fail.
This has caused most careers to be project driven. Instead of one career we think in short steps which we call projects. A project in its nature has a start and an end date which fits perfectly into the new thinking model. But it does not fit into the structure of most organisations or businesses. Also our legal and social setup is not supporting this way of thinking. Most companies cannot just employ someone for 2-3 years and then fire them when the project is finished. Our legal system requires them to provide long-term stability.
Currently we have this split, where the older generation is still looking for the security and stability while the younger generation is looking for the new, the excitement and the variety. This puts governments and businesses into a difficult situation. Someone had this idea of promoting entrepreneurship as the solution for this dilemma. But whoever came up with this hasn’t really thought that through. The problem is not solved, just shifted. In most countries in Europe you can’t just start a business and stop it whenever you want. The legal and tax system are laid out for the long term and it isn’t cheap either. Additionally, if it doesn’t work, you can’t go back into the system like any other employee and apply for unemployment money. Specially in Europe you are treated like an outcast and support is zero.
Another challenge is location. It has never been easier to travel the world and to settle wherever you want for whatever period you want. You can literally live anywhere in the world and as long as your job does not require you to be physically at a specific location, you can work from anywhere. This is not the future, this is Now. This makes borders irrelevant for the individual, but governments and our legal systems are not aligned with each other and that causes friction. We can see how difficult this process is in Europe right now. Think about the Brexit and you get my idea.
Some countries identified this issue and are coming up with ideas in the right direction. Just look at countries like Estonia which really embraces IT Technology. Or some of the Scandinavian countries which always come up with new ideas to support that change and test things out. They all step out of their box-thinking and explore new areas and create progress.
If I speak to students about their future possibilities I always advice to use some entrepreneurial thinking and start creating their own future. I am not suggesting everyone should run his own company, but everyone should run himself. Don’t look for a job and don’t just start a business. Look at what it is you want out of life. Set yourself some high-level goals you want to achieve on the long-term. When I say high-level, I mean the person you want to see. Who do you want to be and to be seen as?
Then set yourself a low-level goal. Something you can achieve within the next 5 years and then start looking for the best way for you to make it happen. This could be as an employee or as an entrepreneur with your own company. Whatever works for you is great. Important is that you enjoy the process and that you keep growing and keep improving yourself to become the best you can be. Doing it this way allows you to adjust to the constant change, while being stable in yourself as a human being.
Work with people who respect your point of view and support you on your path. It doesn’t matter if they are business partners or employers.
I truly believe that this is the only way for all of us to enjoy our life, have the careers we want and get the results we seek. It allows for change and does not force anyone into a specific box.
The future jobs are not created for us, but created by us.