Are you the right person for the business?

Are you the right person for the business?

This is a question I ask my clients frequently.

Many people come to me with ideas for a business and some amazing vision how the business will look like in a few years time. They try to sell me the idea why this business will be a success and how much money it will make. They clearly see the gap in the market and are convinced that it will work.

Sounds like a great start until I ask the question: “Are you the right person for that business?”

What I really want to know is if they see themselves in that future vision and what role they are playing. One thing many startups forget is that someone has to do the job and it will probably take a few years before it will turn into a workable business.

If you believe to have the perfect business idea, I want you to stop for a moment and think about it. It might be a great business idea but are you the person to make it happen?

Before setting out on a new business venture make sure it’s in line with who you are. Don’t be blinded by the possibility of making lots of money or becoming famous. If what you choose to do does not align with who you are, you will never make it!

Why is this so important?

Let’s face it, it will take a long time to get the things you’re dreaming of. There isn’t really a quick fix when it comes to starting a business. For most it’s a lifelong journey as goals become bigger and life adjusts.

Do you really think you can pretend for such a long time to be someone you’re not? Even if you could convince others, you’ll never convince yourself and that is the base for an unhappy life and a failed business.

How do you figure out if you’re the right person?

This isn’t an easy question to answer. Most of us are so used to pretend that we come up with different answers depending on the time of the day. Starting a business isn’t easy. You will hit lots of resistance on the way and dealing with that is the hard part.

There are two paths to look at and choose from.

If you are really good at what you do and a great fit for what your business needs, you can concentrate on jumping those hurdles on the way. As you go along you’ll get better at it while still delivering great value because you’re great at what you do.

If you step into uncharted territory, you’ll need lots of curiosity and a strong belief in yourself to have a chance to make it happen. You shouldn’t be easily distracted by other ideas or because of what others tell you and like a bull on the run plough your way through the unknown while enjoying the ride.

Which is the right path for you?

During my career I only met a few people with that attitude. Most start out right, but soon lose track and get lost on the way.

If you are neither of them, don’t bother for now. I would suggest to either work on becoming the best in your field and take the first path or find someone who is made for the second path make him or her a partner and ride along.

Personally, I would advise taking the first path. Become the best you can. Get a job in that field, learn everything there is to know and practice it as much as you can. This will give you the base for a successful business and it will show you if that is what you can see yourself doing for a long time to come.

Once you feel you’re ready, get the support you need to help you with the business side. Now you will be able to answer the question and by doing so, your chance to make it has increased 10-fold.

If you want to know more about how this all works and how you can make it in business, get in touch and check out our free resource section on our website. Also join us on our Social Media channels for real help and advice.

Above all, enjoy the ride!

How to solve problems

How to solve problems

Have you ever been stuck with a problem and just couldn’t find a solution?

Welcome to the club. This happens to many people – and more often than you might think.

So, today I want to share with you a 7-Step process based on seven questions to ask yourself to get unstuck and to find the perfect solution.

In Step 1, we need to be clear about the problem. Take a piece of paper and define the problem in as much detail as you can. Why does it bother you? What is the negative impact right now. Who is impacted and when is it a problem? Take your time.

Step 2 is the preparation of the environment. What we need is a table with free access all around. Remove any chairs that might be in the way. Place the problem description in the centre of the table.

Step 3 is the preparation of the seven questions.

The questions we need to ask ourselves are based on seven different perspectives. Not all of them will fit every problem, just use whatever works. The perspectives are:
Look: At which aspects of the problem can we look differently or in a new way?
Use: What parts of the problem can we use in a new way or for the first time?
Move: Which parts of the problem can we move or change its position in time or space?
Interconnect: Are there any parts which are not yet connected or we could connect in a different way?
Alter: What could we change in terms of design or performance?
Make: What could we make to create something new?
Imagine: What could we imagine that would create an amazing experience?

Start thinking of the bigger picture

Next, place seven pieces of paper along the table sides in equal distance to each other. Write one question on each page. What we have now is a table with the problem description in the centre surrounded by seven pages, each with one question.

Lets continue:

Step 4 is the completion of the questions with a checklist. Each question has its own checklist to go through depending on the type of problem. Complete each page with the related checklist:

Look
Higher: Look at it from a 5km aerial view
Reverse: Look at it in reverse, from the back and from behind
Value: Look at it from the point of its value
Kids: Look at it in the way a child might look at it
Ignore: Look at it ignoring what you know to be true about it
Holistic: Look at it as a whole, from a system point of view

Use
Leverage: How can you use this to leverage something else?
Foundation: How could you use this as a foundation for something?
Substitute: How could you use this in place of something else?
Aspect: How could you use some aspects of it in a different or new way?
Change: How could you use this to change something else?
Apply: How could you apply this in a different way?

Move
Import: What new element could you bring in to make a change?
Rearrange: What could you rearrange to make a change?
Replace: What could you replace or swap to make a change?
Remove: What could you remove to make a change?
Speed: What could you speed up or slow down to make a change?
Frequency: What could you do more often or less often to make a change?

Interconnect
Power: What could you connect to make it more powerful?
Combine: What could you combine to make something new?
Network: Who or what could you network with to make something new?
Transparent:* What could you expose to make something new?
Open: What could you open to the world to change the impact?
Partnership: What could you partner with to make something new?

Alter
Quality: How could you improve the quality?
Design: What could you design differently?
Performance: How could you increase the performance?
Aesthetics: How can you change the look?
Experiential: How can you change the experience?
Standardize: How can you make it fit with other things?

Make
Process: Which new process could you create?
Meaning: What new meaning could you give it?
Harness: What could be harnessed to change it?
Instantiate: What could you instantiate into something new?
Functions: What new functions can you create?
Specialize: What could you make more specialized?

Imagine
Amplify: How could you make this bigger?
Easier: How could you make it easier to use, buy, assemble…?
Negatives: What are the negatives you could fix?
Go: Imagine anything that comes to mind
Sci-fi: Imagine a sci-fi solution or improvement
Try: Try using it in different ways and see what happens

Now the fun begins!

Step 5 is the fun part and where the real problem solving happens.

Start at the first sheet of paper with the question ‘Look’. Go through the checklist and answer each part in short words. You have two minutes for each a page before moving on to the next page. Don’t worry if you can’t answer all the questions in that short time. Just keep going on. Go around the table until you feel you can’t answer anymore questions.

Step 6 is the collection of all the answers and writing them down on a separate page. Now you have a pool of ideas to solve the problem and to create amazing solutions. Put them in any order you might feel comfortable with starting from the easiest to implement or change to the most difficult.

Step 7 is selecting a single solution and acting on it. Problem solved. Or at least you started with solving the problem and you’re on the right path.

Just give it a go. You will be amazed by the results. You will have a much better understanding of the actual problem having looked at it from all angles. And you will have multiple options to solve the problem right in front of you. If you work in a team or with your family at home, get everyone involved going around the table answering the questions and adding comments to the checklists. This is a great way to come up with new ideas and solutions together, which makes it even more powerful.

Which problem would you most like to solve today?

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Aren’t you curious?

What makes a good idea?

What makes a good idea?

What makes an idea a good idea?

Let’s start by trying a Google Search: “What is an idea?”

Result: “A thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action”

The one thing I want to point you to here is the word “*action*”. Because the only reason for an idea to exist is if we are acting upon it.

There’s a lot of talk about how difficult it is to have ideas. I don’t think that it is the case. We have ideas all the time, we just don’t act on them. We think an idea must be something big, a world-changing event. But why is that?

We often disregard the small idea as not being worth it or as insignificant. But funnily enough, most people wait for their big idea and never act on anything. This way they never achieve anything. All the big ideas require many actions and because of that we never start. What is the point?

Bringing your ideas to life

The truth is that whatever your idea is, it will only come to life if you act on it. Do never underestimate the power of small ideas. If you act on it you bring it to life – and this is more than most people will ever do. Put some effort into the small things, and by doing so make them big.

If you have many small ideas, but never act on them, how will you ever trust yourself to do the big ideas? You won’t! And that’s why you will never get any ideas alive.

Take a piece of paper and write down all the small ideas you always throw out as not worth the effort. Every day, take one of those ideas and make it alive through actions. Your confidence level will grow every day and anyone else around will start seeing you as the person who can bring ideas alive. Sooner or later you will start tackling bigger ideas and – because of your experience with the smaller ideas – bring them to life as well.

A thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action?

That brings us to the point of good ideas. My definition of a good idea is an idea we bring alive and not just think about.

Let’s do it!

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How to get great ideas

How to get great ideas

How is it that some people come up with great ideas all the time – while others struggle to think of anything original?

That was a question in one of my coaching sessions a couple of years ago. Since then, that question has nagged me and last year I decided to investigate what’s behind all this.

For me, it seems there are periods when I am really good at finding solutions or coming up with new strategies to move a client forward. At other times I come up with nothing.

What is your experience?

First, I thought that some people are born with it. They are natural idea creators or problem solvers. But during my investigations it became very clear that this is not the case. The simple fact is that people with great ideas created a greater pool and wider range of knowledge, experiences and out-of-the-box thinking.

They are not born with this. It’s based more on the way they live and how far and often they step out of their comfort zones and expose themselves to new things.

This creates a wider range of connections and synapses in your brain which allows for new and different kinds of ideas. If you do this over and over again, your whole mindset changes and you open up to completely new thinking models. That is what makes those people tick.

What can you do to become a natural idea creator and problem solver?

First of all you need to put yourself out there and create different experiences for yourself. This does not need to be extreme. Sometimes the small changes make all the difference. Instead of watching the TV series you watch every night, chose something completely random. Something not on your list of things to watch.

Most famous people in the world from Albert Einstein to Nicola Tesla found inspiration in taking a walk to come up with new ideas. They had the habit of walking if they became stuck and couldn’t find a solution.

Another very good way is to give yourself time constraints to find a solution. This works really well in a game with other people. You put a problem on the table and everyone has three minutes to come up with a solution. You than share the results and decide on one solution to be implemented within the next three minutes.

Tune in to something different

Here’s another idea: try changing the environment you’re thinking in. This can be done with something simple like sounds. Having the sound of waves surrounding you can change your perspective. It can be rain, thunder, birds or any other natural sound. Even the background noise of a coffee shop can be a great stimulation. Have a look at asoftmurmur.com for some ideas.

Even instrumental music is a great way to widen your mind. Just make sure there are no lyrics to distract your thoughts. How about some classical music instead of the common pop stuff? You might be surprised what this will do to your idea creation.

It seems that most great ideas occur in the shower or present themselves in the morning after a good night’s sleep. The way this works is that you might be really occupied with a problem you want to solve. But you can’t come up with an idea. As soon as you step into the shower your mind is distracted and moves away from the problem.

That is often the moment when your brain steps out of the problem and connects with other parts not related to the problem and a new idea is created. This is a very simple description, but that’s how it works. The wider the range of experiences then the more synapses that can be formed…and the more possibilities for ideas and solutions become available.

Get out there and create some amazing experiences. Expose yourself to new environments and step out of your daily routine. Mix things up and you will turn into a real idea machine and problem solver. How’s that for an idea?

Enjoy your new experiences!

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Entrepreneurship: is it really worth the battle?

Entrepreneurship: is it really worth the battle?

I don’t know about you but, over the past 15 years, becoming an entrepreneur and running your own business has become so fashionable it’s unbelievable.

But if you are working in the space of entrepreneurship, either as an entrepreneur running your business or providing services for other entrepreneurs, you probably feel the pressure more and more.

So just why do so many people get into entrepreneurship and want to run their own business?

Because it sounds great. It sounds cool when you’re asked “What do you do?” and you can answer “I run my own business”.

Because you can make lots money. We are all caught by that thought that running your own business is the only way to become rich today.

Because we are told we can. Why struggle in a loser-job if you could run your own business? At least you are in charge.

And from where do they get the ideas for running a business?

Random searches online are not always the best solution

A good example is finding a course online while searching Google for “How to start a business?”.

They find a few ‘gurus’ selling a course to teach them how to become successful with whatever the course is about. The aim is to sell as many of those courses as possible. Most people taking part in these courses lack their own ideas and look for an idea and a how-to guide.

How many of those do you think will try to follow the script?

I guess most will give it a go and if lucky one or two percent will actually make any money with it.
The rest will give up frustrated, looking for the next opportunity which surely comes along with the next course. Or does it?

Let’s face it, not everybody needs to run a business. Actually just following a fashion is everything but entrepreneurial.

The question everybody should ask themselves is why they want to run a business in the first place.

Why do you want to run a business?

Is it this dream of being your own boss, running a business your way, doing what you want whenever you want? Is it about making money, becoming rich?

If any of those are on the button for you, I want you to think again!

Running your own business isn’t easy. It’s very hard work and most likely you’ll need to work for more hours in the week than you’ve ever worked before.

Forget your holidays for at least the first five years of starting your business and prepare for having less money than you’ve ever had before. If you make it through the first three years and you enjoyed the journey, prepare yourself to change your job completely from doing the work you know and love to building and managing a team to take over from you. At least if you plan to grow and scale your business.

It’s not all about the money…or is it?

Truthfully there are better and easier ways to make money without all that stress. This is specially true in Europe where employment is highly regulated in most countries and 12 hour days are very rare. In other parts of the world this might be different.

If you are just out for the money, I would advise you to save 50% of everything you make and invest it wisely. This will give you financial independence much faster than most business will ever do.

So the question is: “Is it worth it to become an entrepreneur and run your own business?”

My answer is “Yes”. Yes it is, if you are in it for the right reasons. But reasons like being your own boss, running your own business, doing whatever you want, or making lots of money are not the right reasons.

If that’s what drives you, then get a job in sales or in the financial markets. Where the money is, you make money. And as long as you make money you can pretty much be your own boss and do what you want.

Five reasons to battle it out

What are the right reasons? In my experience they are:

  • You’re desperate – you lost everything and you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get out of this hole and you don’t have other opportunities
  • You’re obsessed – you’re so passionate about something and you don’t believe anyone else can do this better than you
  • Opportunity knocks – something falls right into your lap and its too good not to pursue
  • It’s in your DNA – it’s the one thing you feel you were born to do
  • You have huge experience – you know everything there is to know about running a business and it’s something you always wanted to do

This is just a short list of the most important ones.

Actually, being an entrepreneur has very little to do with running a business. Instead, it has everything to do with setting and achieving your goals. If you can do that running your own business, great. Go for it. If you can do this by getting the right job in the right place, go for that.

There is no good or bad in either of them.

How about you? What kind of entrepreneur are you?

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An Entrepreneur’s Curiosity

An Entrepreneur’s Curiosity

Putting curiosity at the heart of entrepreneurship

One of my core desires has always been to be of value to myself and to others.

It’s not about being wanted or liked, even so it’s nice. But to see others transform to something better and being able to help and support this process has been – and still is – my dream. The same goes for myself.

Moving from one state to another is most important for me. It’s not about money. It’s more about change, improvement and development.

At the beginning I concentrated mainly on other people and failed miserably. First I couldn’t understand why, but now I know that to help others grow, I need to grow.

Since then I’ve been practising the art of curiosity. The question “I wonder what would happen if…?” Has become my driving force.

Creating space for your curiosity

As you can imagine, this question on its own can cause real chaos. I needed a base to work from. A base that can grow but one I accept as my given. Not because it’s just there, but because I chose it to be there. These are things like family, friends (of which I only have a few), my environment and my beliefs.

Most curiosity happens in my way of interacting with myself and others. I found this a big enough space and long time ago I’d given up on the idea to change others. It never worked anyway (only through force, fear or general negative impact), and concentrated on changing myself and my interaction with others.

Since I started this journey I learned that this is never ending. And I needed a way to measure my success and to see if I am actually moving forward or backward. I do this by keeping a book and by writing things down.

Since the Entrepreneur Academy started I found a new space for this, in the blogs I write and the videos I make. This is my way of recording my progress and talking about the things that move me and am working on. I also think – and hope – that by doing this publicly I might be able to help others on their journey.

All part of the process

This process of life development is what I call entrepreneurship. A business is just a legal and social construct. The actions taken as an entrepreneur are not just confined to this construct but are open to every aspect of life. In a way the Entrepreneur Academy has become my channel to communicate, learn and practise. It’s not just for me but everyone can take part in it. Learn, practise and improve – and be as curious as you like to be.

During this time I learned that if I am not pursuing my curiosity it turns into frustration. Too many open questions stay unanswered and if that happens I try to block them out as I feel that I am losing control of myself and letting things slide. To avoid this and help keep me and others on track I created products like the Accountability Tracker and the Sweet Spot – with many more to come.

Curiosity will always help to shape the future

If I had to make a sentence describing my vision it would have to be:

‘To help myself and as many entrepreneurial minds as possible to reach the highest level of life within my life time.’

This really describes it. But from a business and goal setting point of view, it needs to be more specific, with clear purpose, a clear time frame and an expected result.

For that I can only change things like “highest” and “life time” and “as many” with values like “financial independence”, “20 years” and “one million”.

So the result would be…

*’To help myself and one million entrepreneurial minds to reach financial independence by 2038.’*

I hate to restrict myself to numbers, but I learned that numbers play a big role in people’s minds. Just think about money to understand the power of numbers.

I would like to invite you to join me on my journey and become part of what I call the “Curiosity Movement”. We need no preparation. There is no business setup, no funnel, no price to be paid.

All that is required is you and your curiosity.

I wonder how many more lives we will be able to improve?

What do you think?

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