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Entrepreneurial Failure – Get Used To It

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To be a successful entrepreneur you are going to have to learn to deal with failure. There is no way around it. Thomas Edison tried over ten thousand different experiments before he finally demonstrated the first incandescent light bulb on October 21, 1879. Bill Gates’ first company, Traf-O-Data, was a failure. Michael Jordan was once quoted as saying: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot; And missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

In my short stint as an entrepreneur I’ve failed more times than I can count. I have also had my share of success, but it’s not even close to equal. The failures far outweigh the successes, and I’m sure I have a lot more failure ahead of me. I’m OK with that because I know that as soon as I stop failing, I have stopped trying to innovate. It’s the nature of the business of being an entrepreneur, and of success in general.

If it were easy, everyone would do it. It is naive to think that every good idea that you have will result in a successful business venture. I have yet to hear an entrepreneur say “every single idea I come up with seems to work.” More likely, you hear something like “I failed at my first five businesses before this one took off.”

Think about that for a second. Five businesses. Sometimes the number is three, sometimes it’s 20, but the important point is that most entrepreneurs don’t hit a home-run with their first company. It really does amaze me – how many people have the stones to fail five times and still start a sixth business? You have to be supremely confident and treat those previous five times as a learning experience for the sixth. And if number six fails, you have to do the same and move on to number seven.

In my opinion, the most important thing is how you deal with failure. Once you accept that it’s inevitable, you are able to learn from your mistakes and move on. It’s easy to let the failure consume you – not so much because you are pessimistic, but more so because it is hard to see something that you poured your heart and soul into be ignored or rejected. As soon as possible you need to come to the realization that your business is what they are ignoring or rejecting, NOT you. The sooner you do that, the sooner you can objectively analyze why you failed and learn the things necessary for improvement in the future.

Failure isn’t easy and is extremely frustrating, but it’s a necessary part of success. Don’t believe me? Ask Thomas Edison, Bill Gates or Michael Jordan! Ok, asking Thomas Edison might be a little tough, but you get the idea :)

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Catch the Spirit of the Entrepreneur

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Grabbing opportunities with open arms is often easier to talk about than to actually do. Most people find themselves dreaming about being rich but never actually doing anything about it. A combination of procrastination and ‘what if’ syndrome can cripple your creative spirit and might mean your idea will never become a reality.

Socrates said “Action equals knowledge’. He was one of the greatest philosophers of our time. What he meant was that it is through action that we achieve results.

For example, you could think about learning Spanish for months, imagining the holidays you will take and the people you will communicate with. You can dream forever but accomplish nothing unless you actually make the effort to start taking lessons.
Much like the martial arts approach – the idea is to take action immediately and avoid over analyzing the situation.

Do you want to start your own business but are afraid of what kinds of things can go wrong? What if your initial investment doesn’t pay off? There are millions of things that could go wrong but likewise there are many things that can go right! Fear can be paralyzing. When thinking about starting a business particularly if you keep waiting for the right time. There will never be a perfect time. It’s now or never when it comes to starting your own business.

Overcoming your fear is a step by step process.

– Do you have a clear idea of what kind of business you want to start? A clear plan will help keep your worries at bay.
– Do you have access to the resources you will need? This includes the necessary start up cash as well as anything else you will need.
– Do you have access to clients or do you know enough about marketing basics to ensure you will have enough interest in what you are offering?

Just like anything – taking action is the most important part. Make an itemized list of what you feel needs to be done in order for you to start that business you always dreamed of.

Prioritizing your list will help too. Don’t wait for all your ducks to be in a proverbial row before you begin but make sure you have all the basics covered.  Don’t wait for that ‘perfect someday’. Make an imperfect start.

Don’t over think everything. Sometimes the best approach is to just jump into the deep end.

Don’t wait to start discovering your own entrepreneurial spirit. Take action today!

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10 Tips for a Successful Entrepreneurial Pitch

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One of the hardest presentations to make is the entrepreneurial pitch. You have a great idea for a business and you want someone to give you money to make it happen. The problem is that venture capitalists, angel investors, and even rich uncles are heavily predisposed against you. Why? Because 99% of the pitches they hear sound like sure-fire prescriptions to lose money!

If you are pitching investors to give you money for a new venture, you should subscribe to the following rules:

1. Explain exactly what your business is within the first thirty seconds. Many entrepreneurs waste valuable time giving loads of data, background and other info—all the while investors are left scratching their heads thinking “What does this business actually DO?”

2. Tell your audience who your customers will be. Paint a vivid, specific picture of these people.

3.  Explain why your customers going to give you there hard-earned money.

4. Explain who your competitors are. (And if you say you have no competitors, that is a certain sign you are unsophisticated and deserve no investment money!)

5. Explain why you are the ONE to make this happen.

6. Give your presentation with confidence and enthusiasm. Investors want a founder/CEO to be a chief salesperson; they want to see that you can convince the world of your dream—not just them.

7. Explain what star you can hitch a ride to. Has Best Buy or Radio Shack agreed to distribute your new product? Investors feel much more comfortable knowing you have an established player willing to distribute your wares.

8. Ask for a specific amount of money. If all you do is ask for money, then you can’t complain if an investor gives you $3.25 for a cup of Starbucks coffee.

9. Tell prospects exactly what you are going to spend the money on (hint:a trip to Maui for you and your friends will not impress)

10. Dress well, act confident, and put on the air that you don’t really need their money, but would be willing to accept it if they bring enough to the table to be a strategic partner for you. Sad but true regarding human nature, but people are much more likely to give you money if they feel you don’t really need it.

Finally, make each pitch presentation serve as a focus group for your next presentation. When one group of investors asks you a series of questions after you pitch, write down all of those questions and make sure most of them are answered in your next pitch so that the next group doesn’t have to ask them. Keep pitching and keep improving your pitch and eventually you may get funded.

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4 Rules For New Entrepreneurs

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It’s a great time to be an entrepreneur—in the last decade, technology has leveled the playing field and propelled an entrepreneurial revolution. As an entrepreneur, you now have more access to information that enables you to make more intelligent choices more quickly. You have an advantage over big businesses in that you’re lighter, more flexible, and faster on your feet. You can target new markets more quickly, and you can turn on a dime.

But being a successful entrepreneur requires that you look at the big picture and follow a plan through from beginning to end. Rieva Lesonsky, editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur Magazine gives some practical guidelines that can help you when beginning your own enterprise:

1.Don’t Quit Your Day Job.
Consider starting your business part-time, especially if it’s online, while you’re working and have a steady income. It usually takes six months to a year to get a business going and you don’t want your ability to make your house payment to hinge upon your company being an overnight success. Start with what you can manage, financially and time-wise, and scale up as your business grows.

2.Find Your Niche.
The days of general stores are over. Particularly online, consumers are looking for stores that specialize. You have to find a need—something a specific group of people want, but can’t get at the big chain stores—and fill it. Advises Lesonsky, “You can’t compete with the big guys, so you have to find where the big guys aren’t and go into your niches.”

3.Have an Online Presence.
Even if you’re not planning to start an online retail business, consider that the internet can still play a valuable role in your company. Having an online presence eliminates the limitations of physical location and broadens your customer base by, literally, millions. It’s also a great tool for promoting yourself and letting people, even in your own area, know that you’re there, and what you’re doing.

4.Refuse to Quit.
Successful entrepreneurship requires creativity, energy, and a drive to keep going when you fail. Few people realize that before Bill Gates created the extremely successful Microsoft 3.0, he created a Microsoft 1.0 and 2.0, both of which flopped—but he kept at it. And that determination and refusal to give up is what will separate successful entrepreneurs from unsuccessful ones. Says Lesonsky, “Arm yourself with optimism to get beyond the ‘No’ or the trouble. There’s nothing wrong in failure—just don’t repeat the same mistake!”

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