Category Archives: entrepreneur

I Hereby Declare Myself A Leader

This is the era of the selfie, self-promotion and social media’s power to create heroes and experts.  Therefore, I have decided to declare myself a People Oriented Research Leader.

I am certain that I have the recognized qualifications for being an issue leader.  I am passionate about the subject.  I make talks about it.  I write articles about it.  I find ways to relate it to almost any conversation topic.  I pontificate on the importance of People Oriented Research to organizations, agencies and businesses.  I believe with all my heart and soul that if we do more People Oriented Research we will know more about what people think, want, feel and comprehend.  I make profound statements about this topic.  I search out and consume information the subject.   I even conduct People Oriented Research.

Further testaments to my right to call myself a People Oriented Research Leader are the things occurring in my professional and personal life.  I am actually paid to conduct People Oriented Research.  I am asked to speak on the subject.  I am asked how to conduct People Oriented Research.  Organizations, agencies and businesses who have never heard of People Oriented Research, but know they need to get information from their members, participants, clients, etc., ask me how to get that vital information.  Groups that do not know that People Oriented Research is an important issue express to me their frustration of not knowing how to make things happen.

Additionally my understanding of the world proves to me that People Oriented Research, of which I am a Leader, is the key to solving many problems and improving many situations.   Such phrases as “a penny for your thoughts” , “let the cat out of the bag” and “straight from the horse’s mouth” illustrate that society values the information and input derived from People Oriented Research.  Other common phrases such as “your guess is as good as mine”, “pull wool over their eyes” and “heard it through the grapevine” demonstrate the repercussions of not doing People Oriented Research.  Because ignorance is not an excuse, it is critical that we conduct People Oriented Research and that we have established Leaders in this field.  I am honored to fulfill that role as a People Oriented Research Leader, even for those that are unaware that it is a major issue.

Yes this is a little tongue in cheek humor on how people become “experts” and on the fact that we often forget to get input from those who are or will be affected.

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But That’s Not What I Meant

Words can persuade.  Words can hurt.  Words can calm.  Words matter.

Whether it’s convincing, providing services/care, managing a project or anything else in operating an agency or organization – words matter.  Here are 3 ways to use words to your advantage.

Know your client’s/donor’s language

Words do not always mean the same thing to everyone.  Take the word superficial as an example.  To someone in the medical profession a superficial wound means something not very serious, a surface injury.  Outside of the medical community, if we describe a person as superficial we think they are shallow.  If we think a situation is superficial we consider it insignificant.  So to an ER doctor a wound that is superficial is good; to a client whose need is called superficial by your program manager, it is an insult.  If you do not understand the lingo of your clients/donors you run the risk of insulting them or being misunderstood.  It does take research and listening to know the language of others, but the effort can set you apart from funding competitors and help you accomplish your mission.

Use language your partners understand

If you believe the premise in the previous paragraph then you probably think that your partners should make the effort to know your language and you would be right.  However, if they don’t you will suffer.  Here is an illustration:  You are on the road and almost get hit by another car.  You think, if we wreck it will be the other person’s fault.  You may be right, but you will still be in a wreck.  If you are the lead on a project/program and your partners do not understand your need, time-frame or whatever you could suffer if you do not adjust.  A good truth to remember is that just because someone should does not mean they will.

Speak softly and carry a big stick

Or as my Grandmother used to say, sugar catches more flies than vinegar.  If you start out using kind words you are likely to get cooperation.  If you do not get cooperation then you can resort to stiffer language.  If you start out with vinegary words you may get cooperation or at least action.  But if you do not get what you need, you are at a disadvantage.  Do you use tougher language or do you try to drop back and use nice language?  The typical tactic is to get tougher.  Then even if you get what you want, you usually don’t feel like a winner.  And what happens next time, because if you started out with vinegary words there will likely not be a next time.

In closing let me give you an extreme example to help you remember that words matter.  In South Carolina, my home state, and in some other Southern states the word “Shag” is a dance done to beach music.  In England the word “shag” is a slang expression for sex.  I’ll let you think of ways this word could cause embarrassment, confusion, insult or amusement.  But you get the point — if you don’t understand the other person’s language the outcome will not likely be what you want it to be.

When Preparing Is Really Delaying

Delaying can be a pitfall for any person, organization or business.  Here is an excerpt from my book 101 Winning Marketing Actions For Small Businesses to help you understand when you may be delaying something important.  For organizations and agencies, the most common things to delay are reports and evaluations and anything involving research.

 

Action #13

Guard against spending too much time on “getting ready” instead of “doing”.

When doing something that is scary, risky, takes a lot of time, seems overwhelming or is boring/tedious it is tempting to put it off by “getting ready”. Some common delay tactics that are easily disguised as preparations are:

  • Buying supplies
  • Making lists
  • Getting others opinions
  • Reading inspirational stories or articles
  • Looking for an “easier” way
  • “Finding” time

Whenever you are faced with something you know you should do to market your business and you find yourself struggling to get started or to make progress, ask yourself if you are postponing by pretending to prepare. To help yourself decide, plug your situation and your activities into one of the following examples:

 

Example A – Making a Dessert

You have to make a dessert for a pot-luck dinner. You really want to make something unusual and impressive. You look through your recipes, but you don’t find one that quite fits. You ask some friends for suggestions. You look online for just the right dessert. You visit a bookstore or library and look through several books. You call a local bakery and ask for suggestions and prices. Now you have so much information you can’t make a choice. Finally, the day before the event you pull out an old recipe you have used many times and rush to the store to get the ingredients. You prepare your tried-and-true dessert and take it to the pot-luck dinner. You are dismayed to find that three other people brought the same dessert. Your dessert certainly did not stand out, you wasted a lot of time and you have to take two-thirds of it home.

 

Example B – Building a Birdhouse

Your mother tells you she wants a birdhouse for Mother’s Day. You think that building one for her will make it extra special. You search online for plans or kits, but there are so many choices. For inspiration you visit a local gift store that sells birdhouses. You go to a local hardware store and talk with a sales clerk about materials and kits. You buy some materials and a blueprint; you take them home to get started. You wait a few days until you can find time to build the birdhouse, but you can’t seem to set aside enough time. Finally, the Saturday before Mother’s Day you go to the gift store and buy one of their birdhouses. When your Mom opens the birdhouse, she smiles and says, “My friend Ella has one just like this.”

THIS IS MY HOUSE! Using Entrepreneur Characteristics to Improve Your Life (Part 2)

Part 2 of the entrepreneurial characteristics that can help improve your life at work, home or any where.

Convincing – One of the primary philosophical characteristics of Entrepreneurs is belief – in yourself, your ideas, your organization, your abilities, etc.  The belief is the first step to convincing.  Understanding your audience or target is the second step, because understanding means you can identify the benefits for them of participating, supporting, donating, using, attending, etc.  If you do the first two steps, then convincing will come easy.  But convincing is enormously important to reaching a desired outcome.

Asks – A successful Entrepreneur asks.  He/She may be afraid of the answer, but realizes that is necessary to ask for the sale, promotion, assignment, donation, information or opportunity.  This is one of those places where “no risk, no reward” applies.  The response may be negative, but it is usually necessary to know that, if you are to complete something or move on to the next step.  Not asking is equivalent to giving up or giving control to someone else.  Remember from the original description that an Entrepreneur “accepts full responsibility for the outcome.”

Delegates & Partners – Even though the definition of Entrepreneur is “one who takes responsibility for the outcome,” it would be ridiculous to think that one person can do everything.  That can be a difficult acknowledgement for directors.  Learning when, where and how to delegate or partner is crucial to being successful.   But the knowledge is only half the story, doing is the other half.  Delegating and partnering  provides success on many levels.  Triumphantly completing a task, project, event, etc. is one level.  Another is sharing the revenue, experience, praise or recognition with someone else.  And contributing to the development of an employee, collaborator, funder, donor or organization is another.  More successes likely to be realized by partnering and delegating are increasing your opportunities, productivity and efficiency. And last, but certainly not least, delegating and partnering helps you use your time, energy, money and brain power wisely and prudently.  Entrepreneurs know when to lead and when to follow.

Researches – Knowledge is power.  Background provides understanding.  Other peoples’ triumphs and mistakes teach lessons.  But you cannot benefit from any of these if you do not do research.  Research avoids cultural faux pas, minimizes costly mistakes, provides competitive ammunition, enhances your assets, strengthens your position and reduces wasted time.  How many times have you made a purchase only to find out a few days later that you could have gotten it for less at a different store or website?  Have you ever been embarrassed because you made an assumption instead or doing a little reading?  Ever felt under or over dressed?  A true Entrepreneur prepares to be successful by doing the appropriate research.

Finishes – Making it to the end and recognizing the end are important principles for entrepreneurial living.  Our definition stated that an Entrepreneur “accepts full responsibility for the outcome.”  Normally, outcome is perceived as the end.  If you do not reach the end the outcome is likely not what you really wanted.  And if you have not clearly identified the outcome you may go past it, thus wasting time, energy, money and maybe reputation.  Although this is an important trait, not all people classified as Entrepreneurs are good at finishing.  Most of those who rarely finish were placed in the Entrepreneur category by default.   These are the individuals who keep starting something new because they have short attention spans, did not think things through before they started or do not deal well with obstacles.  They did not function well when working for others, so they became “Entrepreneurs” and started businesses or organizations.  Chronically not finishing things is extremely unsatisfying, which may explain their wanderlust and, also, may be the reason for the failure of many businesses and organizations.

Persistent – Sometimes organization directors are not comfortable with persistence because they are afraid they will be called pushy or other uncomplimentary terms.  But persistence, and often consistency, is necessary.  Everyone has their own agenda; we all have demands on our time, energy and money.  So if you are to accomplish your agenda and respond to the demands on you, you must persistently ask, remind, propose, cajole, beg, follow-up and insist.  Take this lesson to heart:  Just because someone should, doesn’t mean they will.  The entrepreneurial way is to take responsibility for the outcome and the responsibility likely includes persistent action.

So look inside and draw out your Entrepreneur characteristics.  Nurture and develop them.  Apply them to the things you do – big or small.  And enjoy the improvement in all the areas of your life.

THIS IS MY HOUSE! Using Entrepreneur Characteristics to Improve Your Life (Part 1)

Entrepreneurs are not just business owners.  They are everywhere – managing departments, directing organizations, running households, overseeing projects, handling customer bases, leading fund raisers and raising children.

According to Wikepedia an Entrepreneur is a:  “Type of personality who is willing to take upon himself/herself a new venture or enterprise and accepts full responsibility for the outcome.”  The word comes from an Old French word entreprendre meaning “to undertake.”

Organization and agency directors seldom think this term applies to them because the term is normally capitalized – Entrepreneur – as if it is a title.

As an organization/agency director, getting comfortable with the Entrepreneur inside of you will help you improve all aspects of your life.  Honing the Entrepreneur skills you already possess will make you more successful in anything you undertake.

Here are some of the key Entrepreneur characteristics that can enhance the various parts of your life:

Ownership – Whether it is your organization, a project, a daily task or a campaign, understand that it belongs to you.  Treat it the way you treat anything that you own.  Accept the risks, nurture it, protect it, make it look good, enjoy the positives and overcome the negatives.  Ownership means you are invested in something and if you are invested you will work for success.  If you do not feel that you own it, the outcome will be totally dependent on someone else.

Organized – Organization is in the eyes of the beholder.  So use the methods and tools that work best for you and don’t worry if someone else tries to get you to do it their way.   But it is vital that you are organized in a manner that helps you accomplish the desired end result and retain your sanity.   Being organized usually involves having a plan, having appropriate information and/or tools and having a process that makes sense.   For instance: if you are in charge of a silent auction, a process will maximize proceeds and minimize frustration; if you are hoping for a donation a plan will make you proactive, which increases your chances.

Clearly Defined View of Success – Success is not the same for every person or every organization in every situation.  An Entrepreneur goes into a venture with a clear definition of what success will be.  If you can clearly describe what will be a successful project, day, event, assignment, negotiation, etc. you are more likely to attain that success and a sense of fulfillment.  If you do not have a defined view of success you will not know it if hits you in the face.

Flexible & Creative – Although you have already been encouraged to be organized, be careful not to be obsessive.  No matter how well you have planned and prepared, something outside your control will likely happen that will throw you off course or slow you down.  Do not stubbornly stay with your plan or process if it stops working.  We are often told to make lemonade when given lemons or to see obstacles as opportunities.  That is not always easy.  But if you incorporate flexibility and creativity into everyday life you can adapt any plan, process or situation to the current circumstances.  Again, less frustration – more success.

Self Disciplined – An Entrepreneurial organization director has no one else to blame, often no one to make decisions, and certainly no one to save the day.  If a director has no self-discipline, he/she soon has no organization.  Self-discipline is equally important in anything you may undertake.  If you are baking goodies for a bake sale you must exercise enough control not to sample too much or you will eat the profits and the evidence will show up on your thighs.  When you are working on a project that has a deadline you must be disciplined enough to not wait until the last minute to complete tasks, because something unforeseen will happen.

Be sure to read the second part of this blog.

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