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Author: Dane

Optimistic young professional with a single goal of changing the World for the better! Experienced in running startups, writing professional content, business planning and development expert, with a background in finance and environmentally friendly businesses.
It is OK to have Low Self Confidence – Just Not Forever

It is OK to have Low Self Confidence – Just Not Forever

This post is specifically written to those of you out there that are in the beginning of their career. It is OK to have low self confidence – just not forever. 

I often get asked the question:

How do you manage to keep a constant high self confidence level?

I really could not provide a clear answer. At least, not until today. Does it come as a natural thing to me? Have I done something in the past that rewired my brain?

The Story of Low Self Confidence – Starting A New Job

The troubleshooting begins with a story from our everyday life. I have changed a considerable amount of job position is the past few years. The process of integration into a new company can be a daunting feat. A new environment, totally new personalities, specific hierarchy and a unique set of norms that define that organizational culture.

Jumping in, it is only natural to have low self confidence. You do not know anybody, you are unsure of their skills and abilities, but you are also afraid of their roles:

Role, in sociology, the behavior expected of an individual who occupies a given social position or status. A role is a comprehensive pattern of behavior that is socially recognized, providing a means of identifying and placing an individual in a society.

Wandering that unknown environment, we cannot help ourselves, but to indulge in role-trusting. As mentioned above, each person inside that new setting, has some specific role that gives them the right to do certain things.

Well, I learned something very early on – partly because I took an elective course in Sociology and sort of loved it ever since. The real factor for low self confidence in a new setting is:

we blindly believe in the roles everyone plays!

Even worse – we take for granted all that role demands of the one who holds it.

You meet your new boss. You have no way of knowing of judging his/her personality and abilities, so you take for granted what the position boss requires. Hmm – to really become the boss, you must be good?

Reality Check

Continuing the story – you start collaborating and trusting the “system”. You are supposed to be:

  1. curious (but not too much)
  2. “yes” man/woman
  3. respectful
  4. grateful for position you have been offered

But I learned that all these characteristics of the “system” are absolutely paradoxical and depressing. Each of us is unique. We all bring something different to the table. Being afraid to speak and act makes us virtually useless on the new job.

Starting out in the beginning of your career you are going to face all kinds of rejections and drawbacks. Not because there is something wrong with you, but because you are way better then them. You are not supposed to know so much, learn so fast, multitask or even have fun!

You are going to be constantly degraded for your years and “inexperience” because no one can really understand your true potentials. This in itself is a paradox. And it leads to your depression.

Two Choices

Soon enough, you come to an intersection:

conformity or rebellion

Everyone around stands for something you find paradoxical. Their sheer number must mean they are right! Low self confidence thrives in this setting. When you do not comply, it must mean there is something wrong with you. The thoughts creep in. Am I good enough? Will I ever be successful? I am young and inexperienced – everyone must know better than me. MISTAKE!

Thinking they are right is going to kill all your hopes and dreams. Living in the past is bad enough. It is even worse when you are not going to accept that you shape the future. You make your destiny. So do what you believe in.

Yes, you are probably going to be marked as a person who is not reliable. You are probably going to try to change a lot of jobs. Each would seem like a dead end. Just remember – persistence is virtue. Persist to achieve what you want and how you want it.

It All Ends Today

If you are reading this far, I am glad to say you are more than ready to change your life. Stop being the black sheep trying to satisfy everyone else. You will grow old by being miserable.

Staring doing something you love today is going to mark the beginning of a new chapter. No matter if it is a new business or a totally new career path, you, and only you will make that choice.

Stick to your vision – all setbacks are just one more gray hair you can look back upon. 

Have an Idea?

Use our Ultimate Business Idea Evaluation Guide to start walking on the right path.

 

What I Learned From Derek Sivers?

What I Learned From Derek Sivers?

The crash of my startup, in the least of terms, was a highly unpleasant experience. Failing before 25 does wonders (in a negative connotation) to your persona and confidence. Scouring the net for something to give me inspiration soon became an addiction. The Internet is full of useful information, but it can be a very unforgiving place for anyone trying to find purpose.

You get abused by so many success stories that soon you begin to question your abilities. Luckily I ran into Derek Sivers. A very unconventional entrepreneur, who made a very successful brand by defying the modern “principles” of running a business.

His book – “Anything You Want” became my lifeline.

Anything you want

I have compiled a list of what I learned from Derek Sivers to show you his genius. Hopefully it will motivate you also.

We Are Taught To Over-try

I am not sure why, but as we grow older and more experienced, we gradually start thinking in a more complex way. On that note, look at the story of Ken Watanabe – his efforts to teach Japanese kids the problem solving mind set.

Derek Sivers took a totally different approach to anything we know of – start by doing.

Set up your business like you do not need the money, and it’ll likely come your way. – from the book “Anything You Want”

We forget that business is about solving problems first and bringing money second. Our societies have made us materialistic slaves that only care for themselves. Digging deep into the essence of our business, we can find the spark that makes our customers happy. It definitely is very, very simple.

Ditch The Conventional Way

I have always had an “in between” position when talking about business formalities. Should you not do some research/planning/testing and go all in? Or should you invest a lot of effort into all these before even thinking of starting?

What Derek taught me was to always look for your unique approach. If a business plan seems like a tough job for you, than you are probably better of without it. Or you hate formalities that surround almost every business? – Then do not use them:

As your business grows, don’t let the leeches sucker you into all that stuff they pretend you need. They’ll play on your fears, saying that you need this stuff to protect yourself against lawsuits. They’ll scare you with horrible worst-case scenarios. But those are just sales tactics. You don’t need any of it. – from the book “Anything You Want”

It Is NOT About YOU

Care about your customers more than about yourself. and you’ll do well. – Tao of business by Derek Sivers

Your sole purpose was to never satisfy your needs. It has always been to satisfy your clients’.

This approach has helped me gain new ground on any opportunity I see. Just imagine putting yourself in the your customer’s shoes. Be realistic and answer the following question:

Is what you are doing really helpful?

I strongly believe that whoever is reading this will start and think. More importantly, be able to throw away his ego and make the business better. Being flexible is not a bad thing. You can never have planned for everything that has/is or is about to happen:

Anytime you think you know what your new business will be doing, remember this quote from serial entrepreneur Steve Blank: “No business plan survives first contact with customers.” – from the book “Anything You Want”

What Is Success?

This is a very confusing question. Ask around and you will get different answers. Yet everybody talks about it!

Derek’s approach to this question is very simple. First you would need to define what success is to you and how to measure it:

Don’t be on your deathbed someday, having squandered your one chance at life, full of regret because you pursued little distractions instead of big dreams. You need to know your personal philosophy of what makes you happy and what’s worth doing. – from the book “Anything You Want”

His “compass” is a set of principles that can be applied to every part of your life.

The second thing you need is persistence. Not the usual definition though:

We’ve all heard about the importance of persistence. But I had misunderstood. Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently doing what’s not working. – from the book “Anything You Want”

Bringing It Together

At first, Derek’s methods might be too simple to believe. You might argue that a business is a complex entity that cannot operate with such a simple mindset. Just remember – you are bound by the social norms of the society we live in. If living and succeeding means totally slashing them, then so be it. Each of us is unique, so we should to be expected to do the same things.

Please take the time and read Derek’s content. It is appealing to anyone looking for a path to success.

47 Reasons For Starting A Business Today

47 Reasons For Starting A Business Today

It is fine to be afraid to leave your comfort zone. You might be beginning to contemplate doing that, but it is just a thought for now. Starting a business is probably one of the best examples of venturing into the unknown. I know you are just looking for that push. Are 47 reasons for starting a business today enough get you going?

Although the list is numbered, the list items are not by any means listed by significance or importance. 

1. Follow Your Dreams

You have a business idea. It matures over time in your mind. The more you think of it, the more you like it. Trying to make that business idea a reality means that you are no longer dreaming – you are following your dreams!

2. Create Something

Each one of us has a unique trait of talents and skills. Our minds work in totally different ways – in a good way. By using what we know best, we can create a something that will count forever.

The idea is not to live forever. It is to create something that will. – Andy Warhol

3. Do What You Want

What is harder than doing something that you do not want to do?

Trying to suppress your desires to do what you really want.

The modern lifestyle is full of boundaries, even though we are more free than ever. But our boundaries come from the materialistic nature of our society. Everything runs on so called “norms”. It is a sin to not follow them.

On the other hand, our mind knows no boundaries. Thus our desires hold no boundaries too. Starting a business today means you not only fight your business competition, but the societal norms as well. Just remember – you are going to be happier!

4. Define Reality

Reality includes everything that has existed, exists, or will exist

If you are reading this far, it means you are not satisfied with what existed and exists. Do you really need a better reason to start a business than to create something that will exists?

5. Face Your Fears

Fear is a fine thing – it protects us physically and mentally. It is also a key factor to starting a business today. Creating a venture for the first time is far more than a scary thing. It is associated with fears that we are not even aware of. And that is a good thing. The more fears you face, and eventually overcome, the tougher a person you become.

6. You Are Missing Opportunities

Usually we first think of solutions to our personal problems. It is awesome to solve something that is a pain in the neck for use. Our life is suddenly more fun. Then we say:

– How many others have the same problem?

Lack of confidence and personal motivation tends to stop the thinking process here. But a little effort into research is nothing to be shy of. Just imagine what opportunities you might be missing by not gathering info? What if your solution is the most superior out there?

7. Someone Else Will Do It, Eventually

In context to the previous reason, there is also a high probability that someone else has had the same problem. He/she might do something about it in the future, or maybe not. By not acting, you are letting time make that problem an even bigger pain in the neck. And the bigger the pain, the bigger the need to be solved.

starting a business

8. Achieve Monetary Independence

Are you going to wait for someone else to see your potentials? Give you that promotion you feel you earned? Or take action now, make your business idea a reality and never wait for anyone?

The hardest, but most rewarding way to achieve monetary independence is to start a business. I say the hardest, because it requires an extreme unconditional effort before you are going to see any rewards. This is a risk that most people are afraid of. Leaving the comfort zone to try something that might fail. People are really afraid of being broke. It is not only a matter of physical needs, but an ego-shattering experience that is only effected by our materialistic society.

By taking your destiny into your own hands, your existence on the line, you will not get any better motivation. Remember that great rewards require the greatest risks.

9. Networking

People make the world “spin”. The more people you get to know the better your access to information. Starting a business means meeting people from a wide range of backgrounds. They could be your new friends, new partners, new employees or new competitors. Each brings a personal opinion to the issue at hand. Their inputs could be valuable for the development of the new business.

The guide to help you along the way.

10. Be Able To Sell Something

New entrepreneurs often forget that a business at the end of the day exists to make money. It is very true that its purpose is to satisfy a need to a large enough market, willing to buy the solution. And it is even better to not set money as a direct goal. But if a business does not make money, it will seize to exists.

One of the best fillings for anyone wanting to start a business is to have your idea be accepted. It achieves that only by trying to sell. That feeling also works wonders for your confidence. You have created something that customers want to and have bought.

11. Increase Your Confidence

Surprisingly we are not aware of how our confidence level is low. When was the last time you confronted you boss? Or when was the last time you stood for something that was the right thing? I can assume not in recent time.

Our society trains us to be obedient. We listen to the elders, do the tasks, do not question reality and live a boring life. But starting a business means fighting all that head on.

At first most want you to fail – so they will be right.

You live a life full of sacrifices all for your vision. Looking back on what you have done is a major personal boost. How many of the people you know have stood for something they believed in? Went all in against all odds? Lived a happy life even if they failed?

12. Improve Your Personal Brand

Starting a business has many secondary positive effects. When you create something that is successful, you become the its successful image. You become known in your community as a person that has done something amazing. The community will start to look up to you as a leader, will ask for opinion and help. This is your chance to show what you stand for.

13. Help Someone By Solving A Problem

A business’s sole purpose is to do something that improves the life of a certain market. You will get to create a product that will make people happier by solving a problem that is giving them headaches. There is nothing better for an entrepreneur to create a solution that people are happy to use, but also share their happiness. That is a real reason to start a business!

14. Take On A Responsibility

Staring a business is a combination of many responsibilities. As it grows bigger, you become responsible for not only satisfying the needs of the customers but making sure the business is running smoothly. Employees rely on your actions to provide them salaries they can take home to their families. Partners and vendors expect to be fully compensated too. But probably the biggest responsibility you have is the one towards yourself – you are responsible to make your business work because of all the sweat, tears and passion that has gone into it.

15. Create Jobs For Those Who Can Not

You have an obligation to do something today. You are thinking of reasons to start a business and a business cannot exist without its employees. If your business grows, so will the need for colleagues. You have the power to create something that will take care of other people’s needs at home. They will get to do what they want, do it in a pleasant atmosphere and be rewarded for their efforts.

16. Fight Challenges Everyday

Starting a business is nowhere close to boring. Daily challenges always come up. They are things you have never even thought of or planned for. You will be challenged by your market, competition and even by your employees. Working under pressure and creative problem solving will become something very normal.

17. Give Back to the Community

A business is only as goods as the environment it operates in. Are you a person who is looking for ways to improve your society? Building an enterprise will provide you with the resources to do so.

18. Support Newcomers

Entrepreneurship is about sharing. Help others achieve their dreams too. Every entry into a new field is very hard. You need self motivation, knowledge, networking and energy to sustain the effort. The world needs newcomers because they bring new ideas. One should never see them as competition but as people with a genuine mission. Support them!

19. Create The Lifestyle You Want For Yourself

Not having the lifestyle you always wanted? Starting a business today provides the flexibility to make your own decisions. Take the initiative on life and strive towards your dreams.

lifestyle change

20. Invest In yourself

Constant personal improvement must be a personal goal. One of the best ways to do so is by starting a business you have always wanted. When passion has a saying in your actions, you will want to have the best possible knowledge and skills to make your business work. So investing in yourself is not only an excellent reason to start a business today, but an excellent reason to be a better person.

21. Make A Lot More Money

Basically, starting your own business will mean that all the finances will be yours to manage. All the gains will be yours to manage as well. Remember that running a business requires a lot more effort when compared to being an employee. It is only natural to ask for greater rewards too. Just have in mind not to jeopardize the healthy operations of your new company by fulfilling your personal wishes.

22. You Set The Deadlines

Running your own business also means you will set the deadlines. We have all been in a position where some deadlines set by others cannot be completed under the circumstances. We were unhappy and anxious. Now you will have the chance to properly manage the resources and delivery dates, making sure stuff gets done, but your colleagues are happy along the way.

23. Be A Leader

Do you want to be able to influence others? Have you found a reason why people might follow you? Creating a business today will set you on a path to leadership. You will be doing a change, guiding your colleagues and making your clients happy. By building your reputation, you will be building your leadership.

be a leader

24. Give To Those In Need

Inequality has become a major component of modern societies. Finances are limited, especially for some specific groups of people. By starting a business today, you will also get to help those in need. You will provide free services, create jobs and brighten up their future.

25. Find Colleagues That Are Passionate About Things You Are Not

We all have different characteristics. We like different things. This is a good thing. How often have you been asked to do stuff you have no passion about? It is fine to be helpful when needed, but often wrong management practices leave us unhappy at our workplace. We are misunderstood and given daily tasks we absolutely hate.

Creating your own business will mean that you can always search for colleagues to do the stuff you are not passionate about. But you will also not make the same mistake – make sure they like what they are doing.

25. Flexible Working Time

You are your own boss. You set the working time, tasks and deadlines. But flexible working hours can also create negative effects. Do not get carried away without regard for the your colleagues and company’s needs. Maintain strong personal discipline despite having flexibility in your operations.

26. Make Your Society Better

You have an idea to make something better? Is your solution going to kill one more headache in our lives? After all, being part of your society gives you the responsibility to act if you can.

27. Gain New Skills

Reaching success requires gaining many new skills. Some are to your liking, some are not. Nevertheless they will help you reach your goals. If you are a person that wants to explore new subjects daily, that starting a business is one of the best things you can do.

28. Take Care Of Your Body And Mind

The body achieves what the mind believes. – Unknown

The tremendous energy that is used in the beginning phases of a business are somewhat comparable to a superhuman effort. Most importantly, taking care of the physical condition of your body will lead to a healthy mind.

Further Reading: “Physical exercise for brain health”

29. Learn Something New Every Day

Learning is not only related to gaining skills and knowledge in the professional field you are in. You meet new people, learn about personal characteristics, learn to communicate, implement psychology to improve the outcomes. You experience new cultures, spend time among different social circles. In other words, learning new things everyday means you are going to become an even more open and tolerant person.

30. Learn To Manage Finances

Starting a business today will teach you everything about managing finances. It does not matter if you are good with numbers or not, learning to work with money is a skill that every business teaches you on. The same principles can also be used in your personal life.

31. It Is Never Boring

Each new day presents something new. Whether it is a problem, a prospect or a new unexpected lead, running a business is never boring. It sometimes gets very intense but be sure you will be challenged every day.

32. Start In A Totally New Profession

Some professions have very significant barriers to entry. They require climbing the ladder slowly, taking up various entry level positions and hoping for the best. You would need very good networking too.

There is also another way – starting a business! It is the hardest but the most rewarding. Have you always had a dream to try something or try a new career? Why not start a business in that related profession? It will be a tough path anyhow but at least you will create something for yourself and learn even more.

33. Help Develop Others

Entrepreneurs have the ability to look into other people’s best, even if they themselves do not. They can spot the best working preferences, their passions and ideas. Starting a business means you will have the chance to give others the best opportunities to achieve the most. Your motivation will come from their success.

34. Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Getting out of your comfort zone is the first thing an aspiring entrepreneur has to do. The feeling of being constantly under the burden of social norms and stereotypes can prove a lot to bare with. It sucks your energy away. It makes you less responsive to the environment. It makes you passive. Taking the first little step out of the bubble will make the world show its purpose again.

35. Shut Everyone Who Has Ever Questioned You

Entrepreneurship is a very lonely road. We are lucky if we find a partner who understands us. What hurts the most is the negativity of the people around you. They want to see you fail. They will be happy when you do, because they were right. This reason should not be a starting point, but should be a motivation for persistence. Show everyone what you are made of.

36. Become A Mentor

There is no better feeling than helping someone else reach your success levels and even pass you. Now you might be thinking that these words are stupid, but by remembering your early days into entrepreneurship, become the mentor you have always wanted and needed.

mentor quote

37. Be An Inspiration

Become the person new entrepreneurs look up to. Inspire them to build their dreams, use your tricks and learn from your mistakes. Become the entrepreneur that would inspire you.

rise

38. Create The Organizational Structure You Feel Is Right

The organizational structure of any company is as unique as the company itself. It is its bloodline. It depicts how decisions are made, roles are played, communication is conducted. Working a regular job means fighting an organizational structure that might be faulty. Its issues create demotivation.

By starting a business today you have a chance to create the organizational structure you feel is right. Do not make the same mistakes your previous managers did.

39. No More Working Days

I see the term “working day” as any day we work to make the dreams of someone else. We excange our time for money and other benefits. So our income is limited to the amount of time at our disposal. Starting a business today will spell the end of the “working day” as you know it. No day will ever mean only work, but will have a higher purpose. You are making your dreams come true and being happy in the whole process.

40. Do CSR

Corporate social responsibility means incorporating all the legal, social and ethical standards into your business model. It is not only about providing value for you and the investors, but also taking care of the ecosystem. Just as your business will rely on the environment it operates in, so will the environment rely on your operations.

41. Be The Boss You Wanted To Have

A boss’s job is quite unique. Managing people is considered to be very demanding, both in knowledge and personal skills. Often the managers misconduct operations that leave unsatisfied employees. Their disregard for personal traits and beliefs can lead to unhappy workers. Start a business today to become the boss you wanted to have. Take care of your employees by satisfying their human needs first.

42. Create A Legacy

Our lifetime is limited. It is the only limited thing today. Naturally, humans want to have a life purpose. Each chooses it individually but is goes in line with their believes. A legacy will insure that your achievements will be handed down in the generations to come.

we all die

43. Get More Creative

A way of looking at problems or situations from a fresh perspective that suggests unorthodox solutions (which may look unsettling at first) – Business Dictionary

When an entrepreneur approaches a problem, it is based on creative thinking. The mind works in mysterious ways when a problem pops up. Starting a business today immediately boosts your creative potentials. Creativity will help you deal with all the unplanned issues.

44. Surround Yourself With The Colleagues You Always Wanted

We rarely choose the people we work with. Yet they become a vital part of our life. We share more than one third of our days in their company. Conflict might sometimes come between us and our colleagues. It may make us dislike our job. By starting a business you will have the rare chance to choose the people you share the working day with.

45. One Business Leads To A Next One

Entrepreneurship is addictive. Once you feel the power to make things happen, you will never go back. All your skills are continually improving with experience. It becomes easier to spot new opportunities and approach them effectively. The first venture is the hardest. Then it becomes natural.

46. Never Ever Live A Boring Life

What is the purpose of our life if we are unhappy. Boundaries are all around, constraining our thinking and feeling. Starting a business will make you enter a dynamic world, where no same day will ever exist. Sometimes it will feel too dynamic, but just remind yourself of the life before entrepreneurship.

47. No More Monday Fever

The hype that exists around Monday, I feel, was created by people who do not like their job. Going back to work after a nice weekend can only be a bad thing if you are not happy with your career. Pursuing your dreams will eliminate the “Monday Fever”. As a matter of fact, the workweek will take a new form all together.

I Have a Business Idea! – The Ultimate Guide to Evaluating Business Ideas

I Have a Business Idea! – The Ultimate Guide to Evaluating Business Ideas

Eureka! I have a business idea!

The creeping thoughts begin to show their face – but is it good enough? Do I have the needed skills? Am I persistent? What would my friends think? Will anyone buy my product/service? Where will I find the money?

STOP!

Everyone has had at least one business idea. Even if said as a joke or as a show off. I have found out that most people like ideas, but are scared to face reality. Being afraid is associated with stepping out of your comfort zone, doing something that you have no idea will work and taking a risk. I am tired of reading all kinds of posts on the internet that try to help YOU decide if your idea is good enough. The idea of creating an Ultimate Guide for Evaluating Business Ideas was born! Ultimate because I will not only present everything out there, but also give my personal review.

The goal of Ideagyzer is to give energy to your ideas! Creating this guide means changing your reality! So follow me on this journey that will change your perspective.

cropped-cropped-Ideagyzer-logo11.png

An Idea

An idea is far more than just an abstract concept. In the ancient times, when philosophy ruled the scientific world, an idea was thought to be the inception of creation. Being could only be achieved if an idea was first created.

The word idea comes from Greek ἰδέα idea “form, pattern,” from the root of ἰδεῖν idein, “to see.”

Scientists like Plato, René Descartes, John Locke and Immanuel Kant all saw something in the concept of ideas. Their work lead us to modern definitions that can be summed up as: 

a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action

or

the aim or purpose

You might begin to wonder as to why I am trying to tie the definition of the idea with its realization? Knowing the meaning and all the effort our predecessors put into it’s definition shows how important ideas are for our future. A massive post in itself can be written about the definition of ideas yet it put us nowhere to achieving them. As I see it, a business idea is:

thought of the mind proposing action towards solving a problem or improving a current solution with value implications (monetary or non-monetary)

Around the keywords:

  1. An idea originates from your intellectual capacity therefore it is a thought of the mind
  2. Doing something in business terms always means solving a problem or improving the current solution
  3. Businesses exist to provide, thus value implications. 

Ideas are not only about their meaning. My research has brought me to a number of articles segmenting ideas in different ways. It is very cool to see how others divide  ideas into different shapes and sizes:

Geoff McDonald divides ideas into 4 types: Concept, Process, Achievement and Thing. The concept is the basic inception. This is the moment when the idea comes to mind, it has very little boundaries and seems awesome. A second way to express an idea is by the necessary steps needed to make it a reality. An idea can also be an achievement – doing something to finally reach a milestone. Why not make it a physical thing? The final expression of the idea according to McDonald is to try to make it a tangible substance. Then you could start interacting with it, tweaking it and creating the ultimate solution.

7 Ideas explains ideas as 15 types of innovation:

  1. Incremental innovation – a step by step process with neverending improvement
  2. Process innovation – improving production methods can lead to other improvements
  3. Red ocean innovation – innovating inside the “Red Ocean” space, a clearly defined marketplace
  4. Service innovation – drastically improving a segment of a service or combining few different changes with one great impact
  5. Business model innovation
  6. Sustainable innovation
  7. Frugal innovation – doing more with less
  8. Blue ocean innovation – opposite of “Red Ocean” innovation
  9. Radical innovation – often referred to as a breakthrough
  10. Open source innovation/Crowdsourcing – a pragmatic way that promotes free redistribution in the society
  11. Experience innovation – improving customer experience with a holistic approach
  12. (Im)possible innovation
  13. Disruptive innovation – an idea that creates a totally new market and disrupts current trends
  14. User led innovation – can users really drive innovation?
  15. Supply chain innovation – all about reducing cost and making the supply chain more efficient

Finally, Think Differently! points out 3 types of ideas: logical consequence ideas“now we are ready ideas” and “bad ideas” – Is there ever a bad idea? We have to wait and read till the end.

What category does your idea fall into? – Let me know in the comments section. 

This is where we stop because talking about the meaning of ideas can only lead us to inaction and no achievement. Since you have come this far to reading this Ultimate Guide there is a high chance there is one you want to evaluate and realise. Now comes the “good stuff”.

Business Idea Evaluation Methods

One of the most crucial skills any successful entrepreneur can possess is the ability to know when their baby project is ugly. – Wayne Chang – serial entrepreneur

Actually there are as many methods of evaluating a business idea as there are let’s say, ideas. The difference between them is the approach the author has or their experience behind the writing. When talking about the approach, methods can be divided into two types:

  • Basic – commonly seen all around business related content. Fine to initiate a start, but lack in detail.
  • Advanced – highly theoretical/empirical approaches which draw conclusions based on scientific facts and findings.

You might guess that the basic ones are easier to read by beginner entrepreneurs, but really it ultimately comes to the advanced ones. It all depends on how much in-depth you would like to go. But in order to really try to find the best way to evaluate your business ideas I urge from this moment on to continue reading this guide with an idea in your mind.

Basic Methods for Business Idea Evaluation

Type in any keyword containing “business idea” and you will probably get to one of these websites. I personally feel that most of them can be a good guide, but just in the inception and initial brainstorming. Lets see some of them.


Entrepreneur.com has a “checklist” on evaluating your business ideas has 24 questions. Wouldn’t 24 questions make you even more confused? Can you answer ALL of them now (see the link)? How would your idea cope under them? According to the checklist areas of investigation are:

  • Values and benefits for customers
  • Level of innovation
  • Short term and long term expectations in combination with risk and projections
  • Does the idea create any problems for any stakeholder/s?
  • Idea operationalization
  • Market appeal and demand, pricing strategy and competition

I do not know about you, but answering these questions would make me a business plan. Personally I think it is more about the values, benefits and solving a problem. But I do not suggest going into conclusions until we see all the methods around.


Destination-innovation.com presents a method, which is a lot similar to the previous one, but also has a way to quantify your business ideas choice (should you have more than one). In general terms:

  • Will the customers like it?
  • Is it feasible?
  • Will it make money?

Answering these questions seems simpler but far more effective. If you have an idea of your customers and theirs needs, you will know some market potentials and ultimately see potential revenue.

The group method Destination-innovation.com suggests is to list business ideas and give ticks to ones each of the team members like. One with the most ticks wins. I personally would not base the choice THE idea behind simple ticks around the table, but they also suggest a session where each of the team members gives a small pitch to support their ideas. Now this looks to be far more promising.


Shopify‘s “16 Step Guide to Evaluating the Viability of any Product Idea” approach looks more promising for your potential business ideas. It segments the evaluation in a “pre-evaluation phase” and an “evaluation phase”. In the “pre-evaluation phase” you have to choose how to build your product/service – will you make, manufacture, wholesale or dropship. 

Next Shopify gives a 16-question list to answer, dividing questions into market and product.

Market part tackles questions like:

  • Potential market size and demand
  • Competition
  • Is it trending, flat or in decline
  • Can customers buy it locally
  • Target group

Product part looks at questions like:

  • Potential selling price
  • Potential markup
  • Durability
  • Size and weight
  • Seasonality
  • Serving a passion or solving a problem?
  • Consumable or disposable?
  • Is it perishable?
  • Regulatory restrictions?

As the previous cases, anyone reading this guide will usually have an idea that is way too broad to be able to answer specific questions like selling price and markup. But this method is so far the best in evaluating. It goes into depth but just enough to get the big picture. Although it is clearly made for online businesses, you can use your creativity to modify it slightly for your needs.


5 Essential Steps To Evaluating Your Business Idea” by Investopedia looks to be one of the best around. It begins with the idea itself. The point is that people often go into business without any broad vision. But you can only be as successful as you envision yourself. Dreaming big is a good thing. The guide then focuses on:

  • Identifying the need
  • Differentiation – what makes you different?
  • Market analysis – how many buyers and their characteristics?
  • Market share – how much market share does competition hold?
  • Costs – how much will it cost you to open?

The final method I came across is the “10 Ways to Know if You have a Great Business Idea” by Business News Daily. It consists of 10 questions that should give you a better understanding of the quality of your idea:

  • Does it solve a problem?
  • Will people pay for it?
  • What is your price point?
  • Is there a sizable niche market for it?
  • Are you passionate enough about it?
  • Have you tested your idea?
  • Are you open to advice?
  • How will you market your business?
  • Are you being realistic about your goals?
  • Can you explain your idea in the simplest terms?

Which one do you prefer so far? – Let me know in the comments section!

Basic methods – Wrap up

Can we finally see a pattern? What do all these methods have in common?

solve a problem
Does it solve a problem?

The problem is by far the most important criteria for evaluating your business idea. Today we can see countless products and services that copy each other and still give us headaches. Sometimes we hear that “…everything has been invented….”. If that is the case, why does the word “problem” still exist? Customers tend to like to do less and get more. If you have a business idea that “dramatically improves” some product/service out there, you should be on the right track! Imagine increasing battery life by ten times or drastically improving recycling methods!

differentiation
What makes it different?

Competition is fierce in any market. Fortunately it also makes you better! Does your idea have any features that are superior to current market leaders? Will your business idea satisfy the needs of the current customers even better?

cusotomer
Customer base?
feasibility
Is it feasible?

But it is not a matter of what you can make. It is a matter of what you can sell! Can you find someone willing to pay for your product/service? If so, how many? Are you solving a local problem or a global one?

Finally, is your business idea feasible? At current time, do you have the resources needed to make it a reality, or at least have an idea on how to obtain those that are missing? This is the moment when most people stop dreaming and face reality. From my personal experience, I can say that at first rarely any business idea seems feasible. If it were feasible, it would not have been an idea, but rather a functional product/service.

Advanced Methods for Business Idea Evaluation

The advanced methods for business idea evaluation are here to help you gain an even better understanding of the opportunity. Unexpectedly, there are quite few publications on the subject of business idea evaluation methods. My research brought me to the work of Mirloslav Rebernik, Phd and Barbara Bradac. They compiled a whole publication on different idea/problem/opportunity evaluation methods. Although some are very complex and should be used once the company is up and running, others are quite useful regardless of stage.

I have made a choice of the 4 most suitable methods for early phase use. Additionally, to make them more useful (and not scary) an infographic counting the snapshot of each method is provided. At the end I will also give you some feedback on the possible drawbacks of the method and some of the techniques to reduce them.

1. ABC Analysis

The ABC Analysis method consists of an array of different items divided into 3 groups (A, B, C) depending on the importance. The most helpful part is defining the A, B and C groups of items – it can be ideas, activities, customer segments, product ideas and many more depending on your needs.

ABC Method

The real drawback of the ABC Method is the pure objectivity in setting up the criteria of grading. Be sure to use only relevant criteria you feel will make you get the best choice and limit the process to only 3 to 5 different criteria for the same ideas.

2. Evaluation Matrix

The Evaluation Matrix is a more complex method that is based on the ABC Method. It gives you a chance to not only rate multiple ideas, but compare them in multiple criteria. Additionally, the Evaluation Matrix assigns grades in numbers which lets you give a clear comparison of results allowing you to make the best choice.

evaluation matrix

This method is a slight improvement on the A, B, C analysis. It can let you quantify your results, but be objective in limiting your criteria from 3 to 5.

3. NAF – Novelty, Attractiveness and Feasibility

The NAF method looks 3 idea attributes – the novelty, attractiveness and feasibility. Novelty covers the creativity part – if the idea is not novel, than there is a chance it will not have as big of success as compared to other more novel ideas. The attractiveness looks as to how big of an impact the solution has. If it makes a large group of people significantly happier, you are on the right track. Finally, the feasibility looks as to how easy it is to put the idea in reality.

NAF

A totally different approach so far. I suggest combining this method with the evaluation matrix. Use the same ideas and get a chance to see the different perspectives on them.

4. PMI Method

The PMI Method covers different aspects of rating ideas compared to the methods so far. It looks at the positive, negative and interesting points of an idea.

PMI

Very positive score shows that the idea could be implemented and very negative score that it should be abandoned. The main drawback of this method is the pure subjectivity and personal opinion that makes the outcome less relevant. But using this method in a combination with some of the other methods provided should eliminate such issues.

Real Life – Reality Check!

Reading though all the articles (and dozens more which are not featured) I can say that I have covered most of the subject. My goal is achieved! Or is it?

The entrepreneurial state of mind by default does come up with ideas that solve problems and have financial potentials. I made a decision to try to find real life feedback from entrepreneurs. What other way than Quora.com – the successor of Ask.com where anyone can open their souls and ask anything. This is what I found.

  1. What is the best way to evaluate a business idea?
  2. What are your three quickest ways of validating a new business idea?
  3. What defines a good business idea?
  4. What is necessary to have a good business idea?
  5. How do I find out if my business idea is good or bad?
  6. What are some formal business idea evaluation tools and methods?
  7. What are the different ideas of evaluation methods?
  8. What questions should I be asking to evaluate an idea for a startup?
  9. How to evaluate your startup idea?

Now you could expect that almost all the information you need can be found in these sources. Yet I have gone through all of them and still have something more to say. Yes, they basically cover what we found out in the basic method section. Just one more thing is missing – bear with me for the final words.

The Single Step Checklist to Evaluate Your Business Idea

A “single step checklist”? This is the outcome of these 2500+ words? Am I really that confident to provide such a hack?

We can discuss the problem solving aspects, the potential customer base, the financial feasibility and profit potentials of each and every one of your ideas. And they will all seem like the next best thing – for which they probably are since you have spent some time reading this far down the post. But everybody, including myself seems to be forgetting something.

Where is the passion?

Where will your energy come when everyone around you thinks you are foolish to change the world? When you have no way of building it? Or no money available? What will give you persistence to smile in the face of rejection, lead after lead? Or be happy when you have reached the 100th product iteration?

No idea evaluation method will ever prepare you for the real deal. It will never give you the needed energy. An idea evaluation method will only increase your passion and give you some light at the end of the tunnel. It will let you know that there is a real opportunity that no one sees, but will be happy to use in years time.

Now we come to the FINAL and ONLY question to evaluate your idea:

ARE YOU READY TO CHANGE THE WORLD

Looking forward to reading your comments/suggestions/feedback!

Till next time!

Bursting The Comfort Zone Bubble

Bursting The Comfort Zone Bubble

When you go in deep into the comfort zone bubble, you become part of the social machinery. Your persona soon seizes to exist. The qualities and skills no longer appear and make a difference

Every first of the month the paycheck is there. You feel protected, safe, but still have a feeling that something big in your life is missing. It resembles a giant black hole. The black hole feeds on the lack of personal realization. You know you can do more and even worse, you know you deserve even more. Achieving the the basic human needs is not enough.

Although many of you have this same feeling, rarely someone has the courage to say it out loud. Rarely one admits to it. Not sure if people think of this as a sign of weakness. I feel that it is the complete opposite.

In that sate of despair, unable to cope with reality, people stay in the same place, miserable, unhappy, without energy. Was the purpose of our life to suck at life?

Even tougher is to start chaining. Stepping out of the social norms can be catastrophic on the individual. To be different is not nice. This may be the single biggest reason why people stay in that comfort zone bubble. Popping it seems extremely scary, unimaginable and often impossible.

Your close friends define you. If you want to be successful, have friends to look up to. Do not get me wrong, we rarely choose our friends based on success, but try to expand your field of acquaintances. When around such people, you discuss constructive things, science, philosophy, problem solving, in other words – you work the mind. Or in other words, courtesy of Life Hack:

successful people
Source: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/7-key-differences-between-successful-people-and-unsuccessful-people.html

The Story of My Personal Hero

Someone very close to me was living in the comfort zone bubble too. Each work day would end in a release of negative energy, sometimes tears and depression on the long run. These results lead to other negative consequences. She had no energy, felt worthless and had absolutely zero confidence in herself.

Useless fights were always around the corner. The cause and objective of each, unknown.

Probably the worst thing about the comfort zone bubble is the constant degradation of your relationships, both professional and personal. You feel like no one really understands what is going on. Although your “friends” always say things to make reduce the “pain”, that only adds to the anxiety. You realize that your “friends” might have stood for something when you had mediocre goals. You still love them. But they are no longer the support that will help you burst the comfort zone bubble.

The real advice can only come from someone who has been there. Someone who has burst the bubble and triumphed. Although she clearly understood the severity of the situation, somehow the comfort zone bubble still continued sucked away the real purpose of life.

The people close to you need the real push. It takes considerable time to help them regain their confidence. To change the way of thinking one day at a time. Sometimes it looks like an impossible feat, but do not forget the purpose. Productive motivation takes considerable patience and pro-activeness. But giving someone the energy to burst the comforts zone bubble is totally worth it.

Afterlife – Bursting The Comfort Zone Bubble

Once you collect the courage to say “I quit!” , the afterlife begins. The door to a completely new world opens up. It is full of ideas, opportunities, new friendships. It is a fertile ground where anything you wish for can thrive.

Constantly remind yourself that what is good for one is not necessarily good for another (read: you). We are all unique and incomparable. We each bring something special to the world. Our life path should be to find what that is.

Do not be afraid to cross the line, try new things, do stuff you never wanted, because you never know if you never try!


Resources and Further Reading

Anxiety Can Bring Out the Best – WSJ.com

The Science of Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone (and Why You Should) – LifeHacker.com

The relation of strenght of stimulus to rapidity of habit-formation – Robert M. Yerkes and John D. Dodson (1908) – 

What is My Comfort Zone?

The Curse of the Pessimistic Workplace

The Curse of the Pessimistic Workplace

It’s Monday!

You wake up although the bed is very comfy. Nothing can make you get up. Or can it? You begin to think of work-related stuff. What are you going to expect this week? Will you meet your goals?

Being optimist has its pros and cons. If you are going to read this article, I have the feeling you are somewhat optimistic, although bounded by some external limitations. Back to the story – you tell yourself that today is going to be the best Monday ever! You are going to crush your goals and then some! By now, most people should envy you. It takes a lot of self motivation to, first think of such thoughts and second, to make them a reality.

Get up, do the rituals and head to work. Boom! The reality check. All that you have set out to do, sort of is extremely hard to do once you set foot in the office building. Why? – The “Curse” of the Pessimistic Workplace!

What is the Pessimistic Workplace?

It is your workplace that is full of pessimism. And it has a lot to do with your optimism too.

Pessimism is a state of mind in which one anticipates undesirable outcomes or believes that the evil or hardships in life outweigh the good or luxuries. source

Pessimism comes from the Latin word “pessimus” meaning “the worst”. In other words, pessimists simply look for the worst in everything. For the same reason, I have used the term “curse” because due to many studies, it is a curse for anyone set out to deliver results.

According to a very insightful article by Lisa Mooney, featured on AzCentral.com, there are a number of strong effects that a pessimistic workplace leads to:

1. Very low levels of energy

Back to the story – the moment you walk in, all your energy is drained. How can that be? Well, energy can be understood as something that radiates. We feel very happy around people that radiate  optimism. The same can be said for the opposite situation.

Now, when the place you work is filled up with such energy, it can very easily be transferred to you. Although no one really wants to accept such bad influence, pessimism has another deadly trait.

2. Contagion

Pessimism spreads easily around the office. If one colleague starts to spread negative energy to others, everyone starts to feel it. The coworker can lack in productivity and simply accomplish task in a less than average manner. The path of least resistance somehow finds its way to you too.

Contagion can be stopped. But the failure, or inaction, to do so, leads to having the “cursed” workplace. Good management can go a long way in managing these situations.

3. Indifference

When employees lack passion, they lack feeling. Such compassion for the company, business, clients, coworkers, tasks, really boosts the productivity of everyone. A pessimistic workplace, on the other hand, strives on indifference. It only takes one, or few, to start feeling like they do not care anymore. If left unattended, are going to begin to feel the same way too? – It is likely probable.

4. Frustration

The real killer of optimism is the frustration of being in that pessimistic workplace. The optimistic nature of people tends to try to change things. To try new opportunities, to take risks, to make mistakes, but always be on the verge of something awesome. Even worse, is to try to do those things, when little, or no one is there to support you. How long can you be alone? When will your energy drain?

5. Bad working habits

According to Chris Newton’s article featured on smallbusiness.chron.com, pessimistic workers radiate bad working habits. Low energy leads to lack of motivation, bad working ethic, distraction and an unfocused mind.

The Other Side?

Researching any possible positive things from the pessimistic workplace, I came across an article that got me thinking – could there possibly be an another side to this? Allison Stadd at 99u.com wrote an article titled: How Pessimism Can Improve Your Life And Work. The article features a video by The School of Life that actually has some very solid points to support pessimism.

pessimism prepares you for the worst, reduces your expectations, and protects you from disappointment—all helpful for your psyche as well as your creative output

It further argues that the modern society is overwhelmed with optimism, mostly due to the extraordinary supply of products out there. The purpose of the sellers (read: businesses) is to try to present them in a happy and cheerful way, full of positive energy, so you would not feel bad spending money.

Surviving the Pessimistic Workplace?

I have compiled a list of three things you can start doing today to help you fight the curse of the pessimistic workplace:

speak out loud

Communication is the key to every problem solving. To fight the pessimism, be sure to openly talk about all problems. In an cross-functional team, communication is even more important. Be sure to keep things professional and always think of the common company good.


show up

Not showing up and delivering only means you have fallen victim to the pessimism around you. Whether you like it or not, this is the make or break moment. No matter how bad things get, follow your goals, take action and show up everyday.



become a leader

The pessimistic workplace can be a very opportunistic ground for any willing leader. If you feel that your voice and concerns are not being heard and results continue to fall behind, this might be your opportunity. Start to motivate your colleagues to be better at their job. Their success is your success too.


Resources

 

Wake Up Your Entrepreneurial Spirit – 18 Tips to Success

Wake Up Your Entrepreneurial Spirit – 18 Tips to Success

“Do you want to run your own company?” – I ask

Would you answer “no” or “maybe”?

I want to find out if someone who declines this question, after using the tips below, can wake up their entrepreneurial spirit and answer “yes” in a matter of months. The tips come from my personal ups and downs of being an entrepreneur – not the glamour we think of, but the true sweat and tears.

Are Entrepreneurs Born or Made?

What makes the entrepreneurial spirit thrive? – Somehow I cannot get around the fact that entrepreneurs are born, have talents, have specific skill sets, have some “special” spirit, that makes them very prone to being successful. Starting with myself, my entrepreneurial spirit might have been boosted by some of the above, but it is much more than that.

Not to jump to conclusions, I had to explore the Internet. Matt Erlichman wrote an interesting article for Inc.com – the five characteristics of the entrepreneurial spirit are: in-tune with passion, questioning everything, optimism, taking calculated risks and execution. One of my favorite success gurus, Robert Holden, Ph.D, wrote an insightful article on his personal blog. In his view, there are 10 characteristics that define the entrepreneurial spirit and these were some I never even considered:

An entrepreneur sees that the world is a cause, and we are the effect.

An entrepreneur doesn’t wait for life to happen; they begin.

An entrepreneur realizes that you have to be what you want in order to get what you want.

This got me thinking – using what I know, can I be able to boost such traits in anyone? It does not have to mean that entrepreneurship is fully exclusive for those born with the traits. Just as sports people accomplish far more by training then on talent alone, can we apply such a thesis to our problem?

After reviewing all the characteristics that needed to be boosted, I looked into specific tips for the job. Theoretically, by using them, you could apply more energy to your persona, thus be better at making your dreams come true.

18 Tips for Enhancing the Entrepreneurial Spirit

 

1. Think for yourself

Entrepreneurship is a lonely road. At first almost everyone will question your quest. Do not worry, people are afraid of new things. To become an entrepreneur you have to start thinking for yourself. Start to be more confidant in your abilities. After all, YOU have started something no one believes will work! WOW!

Pep talk: You are your best friend! 

2. What would you do if you had no fear?

The philosophy of fear is a widely covered subject since the beginning of time. If scientists talked about it thousands of years ago, it must be very crucial to the human existence. Fear can be a good thing – according to the classification of the 5 types of fears, the first four are almost fully physiological:

  1. Extinction
  2. Mutilation
  3. Loss of anatomy
  4. Separation

But number five – ego death – is the real killer:

the fear of humiliation, shame, or any other mechanism of profound self-disapproval that threatens the loss of integrity of the Self; the fear of the shattering or disintegration of one’s constructed sense of lovability, capability, and worthiness.

This reminds of when we are obsessed with what others think of us.

I wrote a similar article based on the bestseller Who moved my Cheese? by Spencer Johnson where I point out that fear is our biggest enemy. Of course, not the first 4 types of it, but the fear around our ego. After reading the book, I have used a similar technique that helps build you resilience:

Pep talk: Always ask yourself – What would you do if you had no fear?

3. Question everything

Obedience is something we are taught from a young age. I, myself, have grown up in a transition country that is still (more than 25 years). Conformity was (and still is) a valued trait among our circles. But conformity also robs you of one extremely important tool for entrepreneurship – asking questions!

Interestingly enough, an article by the A More Beautiful Question website is dedicated to helping educators teach children to question. They have even developed the Question Formulation Technique”.

But how can asking questions help us improve our entrepreneurial spirit?

Every entrepreneurial quest begins with the urge to change something. History is here to testify that asking the hard questions is hard, clouded in fear, but crucial for progress. By questioning our society, the people around us, the potential customers, we are gathering information on the current situation. This data is vital for our progress as an entrepreneur.

Tip: Day 1 – count the number of questions you have asked that day. Day 2-10 – each day try to double the amount of questions you have asked the day before.

4. Problems are opportunities

something that is difficult to deal with : something that is a source of trouble, worry, etc. – Mirriam-Webster Dictionary

A problem is a bad thing. That we can agree on! But the longer a problem persists, the bigger the impact it has. Dealing with problems (even in our personal life) is one of the hardest things to do. But if there is something negative, that makes the life of a number of people a degree tougher, that is an opportunity. Do not be afraid of problems. We are not perfect. Our society is far from it too. Every problem is a chance to improve. Every problem is a business opportunity!

Tip: List all the problems that you face today. Start to look for solutions. Can you spot an opportunity?

5. It is OK to fail

Thomas Edison Quote

We are afraid of failure not because of ourselves, but because of others. It goes in sync with our ego.

Must read! – How to Keep Fighting in the Face of Failure by James Chin

6. Forget money – think VALUE

Money moves the world – or we think that way. Money is a means of exchange of value. It is an instrument that quantifies the benefits (most of the time).

Thinking about money limits us. Often the most breathtaking ideas cannot be quantified at first. They are hard to comprehend and even harder to measure. Nevertheless, we are talking about ideas that change the world. They bring massive value to the end users.

Warren Buffet

What is value:

relative worth, utility, or importance – Mirriam-Webster Dictionary

The connection between the entrepreneurial spirit and the value lies in the essence of customer satisfaction. The more value a product/service brings, the happier the user is going to be. By thinking about value, not money, you are beginning to rewire the thinking process. It is not about collecting money – it is about helping.

7. Money is a means to an end

Money is a tool. Simple as that. The more money you make, the more options you will have. Just remember – cash should not be your mission!

8. Ask for help

We all have different talents. That makes the world fun. To wake up your entrepreneurial spirit, you have to be ready to ask for help. In the same way a product is created for a specific purpose, each person can only be best at a handful of things.

Knowing your limitations is the best personal strength. By doing so, you know what type of help is needed and where to find it.

9. Listen (not hear) to people

Communication is the essence of society. I believe that every problem is a result of poor communication and every problem can be resolved with good communication.

An awesome video by Mind Tools to help you get there:

Another extremely helpful resource is the Training Zone article – Trainers’ Tips: Active Listening Exercises.

10. Talk to the mirror

Become the best at giving yourself the best pep talk possible. Often, entrepreneurs become very lonely and demotivated. This is when you turn to yourself for motivation. Face yourself in the mirror and act as if you are motivating someone who is of great significance to you. Just a simple rephrasing of your motivational speech can go a long way according to psychologist Sandra Dolcos, Ph.D and her team.

11. Understand that learning brings long term effects

How can you solve current problems if you have do not have the latest knowledge? The entrepreneurial spirit depends on learning.

The more you know, the more you know you don’t know – Aristotle

Sometimes learning can be a painful process. It takes time, energy and other precious resources. To remain persistent in constant learning, you need to change the thinking process:

  1. Think of learning as a tool that will help you reach your goals
  2. Think of learning as your competitive advantage
  3. Think of learning as an opportunity

12. Start to love data

Data is a friend. Numbers are nothing to be afraid of. In my belief, people are generally afraid of numbers because they never lie. Having the right information can lead to better decisions. There is no excuse for not doing research and analysis.

One of the best articles on conducting research for entrepreneurs by Aabaco Small Business will help you start the data gathering process. By using these tools you can get a better understanding of the opportunities.

Tip: Do not be afraid of reality!

13. Sharing is caring

A stereotypical behavior among new entrepreneurs is not to share their ideas. The excuse – their listeners will steal it! This absurd way of thinking is one of the primary reasons why new ideas fail. If you do not share the idea, how will you ever get feedback?

No idea is perfect, but it takes time for it to mature. The maturing process consists of small changes and tweaks that go in accordance to your new findings. Some of the best resources to improve on your initial idea is to share it out loud.

14. Feedback is a friend

Ken Blanchard

Enough said.

15. Think GOAL!

It is very easy to derail on the path to success. Living in the “success bubble” can have dreadful consequences to any new entrepreneur. By having personal SMART goals you eliminate the risk of derailment. What is even more important is to constantly think in terms of goals. Every time you come to an opportunity/problem/obstacle, check your alignment to your personal goals.

Tip: Goal execution is equally important as goal setting. 

16. Take everything with a pinch of salt

Absolutely everything in the world can be changed. Waking up the entrepreneurial spirit must be fueled by rebellion. Do not fall into the current societal platform. It is made up of people who live in the comfort zone.

17. People want to see you fail

Few days ago I saw the biographical movie about Jesse Owens. It featured a scene during the 1936 Summer Olympic Games, where Jesse (played by Stephan James) talks to coach Larry Snyder (played by Jason Sudeikis). Jesse faces constant pressures through out the competition, finding out that racial effects and politics have strong influence on sports.

Interestingly, coach Snyder recalls him missing his Olympic appearance due to a bizarre accident. Days before traveling, he crushed his airplane. The moral of the story is that people love sports because it defines the reality. It is a testament of the human evolution and character. And they love outstanding sport results.

Flying a plane is like sports. It is like no other experience. But crushing a plane is even better entertainment. – Coach Snyder

If you fail, everyone who has ever doubted you, wins! They get to be right! Not you!

18. No risk, no return

Risk is the essence of entrepreneurship. Generally we measure and present risk in material values, almost always as money. To become an entrepreneur, you have to stop treating risk as an obstinate. Risks exists to quantity the unknown. No one knows the exact future, but you have the power to change it.

Bringing it together

Waking up the entrepreneurial spirit is not an easy task. It is especially hard for those who feel they do not possess the right traits and talents. I believe there is no such thing. It is completely up to you to achieve what you want, how you want it and with who.

I hope that by using some, or all of the tips I provided above, you will be able to wake up your sleeping traits, stand up for yourself and give purpose to your life.

Til next time!

What is the “Success Bubble”?

What is the “Success Bubble”?

Few months back I wrote a Guide on Overcoming the “Success Bubble”It had some, but not a lot of traction. A nice blogging habit is to revisit old topics now and than. I feel a more detailed explanation of the concept should go a long way.

The Idea of Identifying the “Success Bubble”

My background in economics and business has wired my mind to think of life as basically a market. We sell ourselves, our skills, our traits, our talents – the market accepts them, or not. We define success by the amount of things we can accomplish. A very vague explanation for something far more complex.

A bubble (in economic terms) is surprisingly defined in many ways. Economics is an exact science, so this outcome was not expected. Paul Krugman to the rescue! The famous economist in an article for the New York Times titled  “Bernanke, Blower of Bubbles?”back in 2013, wrote a fairly simple definition of what a bubble is:

 …a situation in which asset prices appear to be based on implausible or inconsistent views about the future.

Back to our language – an asset can be considered any of our traits, skills talents or anything we possess. The source of value. But if we live in a bubble, our assets would be valued based on fairly inconsistent views about the future. Let’s face it, no one can predict the future, but scientific methods have grown to be increasingly correct. Still we are nowhere close to clarifying the idea of the “success bubble”.

Something from my last article:

A “success bubble” is a bubble which is formed around people with high goals by reading a large quantity of information about highly successful people. What happens is that you (read: myself) tend to compare yourself to them and correct your activities to achieve the success of someone else. You actually drive away from your vision path and the strategy which you had planned.

The second component of our bubble is the “success” part. I have come to think that today’s readers are bombarded with so much information that we are unable to think for ourselves. But the fun part is that there is no reality check. A person can find any reliable information to support his views, even if they are not in tune with anything sane.

To clarify things further, I will paraphrase  John Oliver and his overview of Scientific Studies. According to his research, there are so much studies on the same topic, that people can choose the one with the results they want to believe.

This same analogy made me come up with the term of “success bubble”. We are riddled with information all types of information on success:

  1. What defines success?
  2. How to achieve ours?
  3. What activities to undertake?
  4. What other people did?

Yes, this information is very helpful to read, but I feel it leads to more confusion. Even worse, it leads to low levels of confidence. Everyone has at least once been there.

How the “Success Bubble” Works?

The inner motivation kicks in. We have set out to do something that will take a lot of hard work, dedication, risk and sacrifice. Of course, the place to get basic info is the Internet. We start to read all sorts of articles on success, motivation and personal development. And soon after, we are more confused than we started off.

bubble 1

Humans are social creatures. It is impossible for us to function without others. Therefore it is only natural to use bench-marking in every part of life.

evaluate or check (something) by comparison with a standard – Wikipedia

The real problem comes up when we use those “standard”. What is the standard for success? Has anyone ever created a formula that guarantees it? – NO! But no one can be fully immune to the “success bubble”.

Exiting our comfort zone with little, or no confidence makes us very susceptible to the effects of the “success bubble”. Comparing ourselves to different leaders in our industry, we might realize that we are quite different. Does that mean we will not reach success?

Of course not! Redefining reality is what creates improvement.

More to come on the topic of “Success Bubble”

 

10 Business Skills I Developed by Having a Hobby

10 Business Skills I Developed by Having a Hobby

It all begins with an article that refreshed my views on the importance of having a hobby in my life. Yesterday, I somehow stumbled across 150+ Hobby Ideas Broken Down by Interest and Personality by Hubpages.com. There is not a hobby category I have not at least tried. In some succeeded and in others failed miserably. From a young age my parents always encouraged me to try new things. Jigsaws and Legos were always part of my life. So were all types of team and individual sports, collecting stuff, building models, DIY around the house and playing the guitar. Wow, they do seem a lot, now that I am refreshing my memories.

Tried a lot of different hobbies? Is that a bad thing?

By now you might think of me as person who is unreliable, who gets bored easily and can dump things midway?

Or you think of me as a person who is never satisfied with limits, always like to be challenged and is not afraid to fail? Two totally different perspectives!

Is having a hobby important?

Let’s look at some numbers and decide for ourselves. According to the following Statista data, people on average (at least in the USA) spend from 4 to 8 hours per day on leisure time:

Average hours per day spent on leisure and sports by U.S. population by age from 2010 to 2014*
Hours per day Total, 15 years and older 15 to 19 years 20 to 24 years 25 to 34 years 35 to 44 years 45 to 54 years 55 to 64 years 65 to 74 years 75 years and older
2010 5.18 5.69 5.34 4.4 4.17 4.66 5.24 6.85 7.69
2011 5.21 5.98 5.09 4.24 4.23 4.69 5.55 6.9 7.39
2012 5.37 5.86 5.55 4.42 4.27 4.81 5.59 7.1 7.68
2013 5.26 5.61 5.22 4.3 4.12 4.65 5.7 7.13 7.48
2014 5.3 5.74 5.45 4.34 4.1 4.75 5.45 6.94 8.02

All further information on this statistic can be found at Statista

Logically, as we grow older, the time spent hobbies continuously falls. At least until we get to retirement. But interestingly, we tend to spend 20% of day on leisure time. Every day!

But than I went further – what are the hobbies? Reality check!

having a hobby in the USA

Watching TV leads by a large margin, followed by reading books and using the computer. These results were expected, but not something we would like to admit. What does having a hobby such as watching TV say about our societies? We are lazy, boring and do not take proper care of ourselves.

What having a hobby really means?

The modern lifestyle gives us a generally materialistic purpose. We exchange our time for possessions. This in turn gives us the ability to fulfill our physiological and psychological needs. Capitalism is the creator of competition in every field of the societal circles and no one can be immune to the ever present pressure.

We spend at least one third of the day on exchanging our time in the form of work (and probably a lot more if we add the commuting time, overtime, weekends and just thinking about work). Another third goes to sleeping, resting, eating and other physiological needs. So we are left with less than 8 hours to do stuff we want. Or are we?

In that final third of the day, we run errands and do many other tasks that we are not passionate about. So that leaves us with less than 4 hours to do what we really want. Now a hobby is exactly that – doing an activity purely for the pleasure and personal satisfaction. During this time, we forget all that modern life is doing to us and try to simply enjoy ourselves.

Amazingly, science has had a lot to say about this limited time. The hobby is purely done from passion, so it assumes the last section of Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs

What a man can be, he must be. – Abraham Maslow

Maslow's Heararchy of Needs
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Source

Being self-actual gives the human being a sense of purpose and meaning to life.

Now the fun part!

10 Business Skills I Developed from Having a Hobby

The benefits of having a hobby go far beyond individual happiness and joy. Although we might not seem aware of these “intangible” benefits, they do shape our personality. In my personal case, having a multitude of hobbies has helped me develop some amazing skills. Using them is only limited to our creativity!

1. Communication

Hobbies exist in a community gravitating around a common interest. Although some activities are not directly social, they integrate an extensive amount of communication. Just think of all the time you have spent talking/writing/chatting with like-minded individuals.

Interestingly, we are rarely aware that these people come from different cultures, have different interests and are part of different social circles. Each of them brings specific attributes to communication. Refresh your memories – have you ever though of communication as something more than a means to an end? When talking about hobbies, there is no pressure, just fun and entertainment. So communication seems very easy.

Tip: When communicating under pressure, try to imagine the calmness and effectiveness you always employ when communicating with your peers.

2. Presentation

Many hobbies revolve not just around conducting activities and collecting items. Showcasing is essential. One way or another, you spent time perfecting the display, adding showpiece items and showing off unique features. Is this also not the purpose of a business presentation?

By not having any, or little, repercussions on you activities, you tend to express the best outcome possible. No pressure, just passion!

Tip: Refresh your memories and use some of the tricks you have unconsciously learned for your next presentation deck.

3. Leadership

Great efforts go a long way in any social circle. By achieving results, doing things better than before, sharing and caring for your colleagues, you develop leadership skills. Does it bring you joy when someone achieved an awesome result with your help? Does this motivate you do achieve even more?

Tip: Try being open to sharing and compassion with your work colleagues as well. 

4. Goal orientation

Achieving milestones is awesome. It is even better when we do them out of pure joy. Having a hobby demands some type of goal setting and completion. You want to enlarge the collection, or have more time to practice, or be present at more gatherings.

Goal orientation also means planning skills. No goal can ever be achieved without the proper management of resources, no matter if material or non-material. This is where you develop the skill of combining all aspects of what it takes to get stuff done. We need that in business also! Right?

Tip: Look into how you have set your hobby goals so far. What can you learn from the experience?

5. Competition

Most hobbies require having a competitive spirit. It is one thing for you to be born with such a talent, and totally another to nurture and evolve this trait. By competing outside of work you gain the following positive experiences:

  1. Delivering results under pressure
  2. Being confident in you abilities
  3. Having the urge to win
  4. Coping with loosing
  5. Self-evaluation and improvement.

Wow! All these things with just competing in your hobby! Don’t you thing that some (or each of them) would be useful tomorrow at work?

Tip: Manage professional drawbacks the way you manage loosing a match. Focus on your goal and understand that failure is part of the learning process. 

6. Sales

Sales is all about finding the right customer and identifying their needs. How on earth could this skill be connected with my hobby?  The story goes:

Playing pool as a hobby has taken up much of my leisure time during the last 5+ years. I trained hard to achieve my goals. Soon results started coming in, confidence started to rise and I liked it even more. A business opportunity was on the lookout. What if I could sell my skills in the form of lessons?

Interestingly enough, with the help of the local club and friends, we created the first Pool School in our country. This was the easy part. The hard part was trying to push this new idea to the market. How do you identify the needs, where is the market located, will it pay enough, how do we reach them, what do we say? Long story short, we outdid ourselves, despite all the ups and downs. Plus I walked out of there with some improved sales skills.

To do: Think of the last time you tried to sell something that is connected to you hobby? How did the process go? Can you use some of that experience in your profession?

7. Analysis

Analysis is the method of dissolving something into smaller elements/subjects. This is how we get a better understanding of the big picture. You could probably relate this method to the beginning phases of your hobby. Doing a lot of research about the details, participants, communities, relevant resources, communicating with leaders and so on. All of these actions contribute to a better comprehension of the activity you have chosen. Analysis drastically improves your chances of getting better.

Tip: Try to use you hobby research methods next time you need an analysis needed for work.

8. Patience

Learning a new trait takes time. It is riddled with both positive and negative outcomes. The sheer passion was your only motivation to sustain such drawbacks, especially when you were starting out your hobby. By exercising such permanent action, you become focused on the outcome. This is precisely the art of patience – being ready to invest time and resources for the greater future benefit.

Tip: Next time you seek immediate results just think of your hobby – the greater input, the longer it takes, but the bigger the outcome.

9. Time Management – Productivity

Would’t you spend all day doing your hobby? Yet always reality kicks in, you have to go to work or take care of chores. Your need to have quality time doing your passions makes very good at developing another skill – time management.

By planning in advance, you get the most of your time. The resources are used in the best possible way, your time is limited, but the goal is always achieved – you have fun. This is where you might say – “..but this is my hobby, not my job..” That is correct, but time management can be used in every part of you life.

Tip: Try to plan your workday just as you plan you hobby time.

10. Financial Management

Finally we come the finances. Most hobbies do require some amount of financial contribution. Whether it is in buying items for your collection, visiting events, purchasing equipment and many activities, money can seem like huge constrain.

We rarely think of how we manage all the constraints. Planning a hobby budget, exercising discipline, saving strategies or even selling part of the collections to sustain the passion are all segments of financial management. The next time you consider yourself to suck at finances, just look at how well you manage your passion.

Tip: Think of financial management as a tool that will help you have even more fun. Or be better at your job. 

The outcome of having a hobby

By now we should become more confident in our abilities. Although life is not easy, think of the moments that make you happy. A hobby provides the escape route of modern problems. But having a hobby is more than just being happy. It contributes to your set of skills and makes you better at everything you do.

Some of the main benefits of having a hobby are:

  1. Increased level of happiness
  2. Stress relieve
  3. Better productivity
  4. Improved self confidence
  5. Mental and physical health

A clear winner among the benefits (that is not part of the list) is

stepping out of the comfort zone

You read that right! Something that makes us all afraid – to try new things, venture into the unknown, fail, fail some more, but persist. By listening to the inner voice, you chose to do something that might seem odd to others. You invested resources for the ultimate goal – happiness.
Dear readers, this is exactly what you should be most proud of! Continue with the mindset and use you skills for different purposes.
Till next time!

Further Reading