Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a Business

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A lot of would-be business owners begin their journey with nothing more than a good idea. You might’ve come across a service that you think you could provide in a better way or simply think, “Wouldn’t it be great if they did this”. Inspiration can come from many places however, not all ideas lend themselves to successful business models. In order to properly vet your ingenious new plan, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Can I see myself doing this full-time?

Sure, you might have a hobby or interest that seems like it might have profit opportunities. However, becoming a full-time business owner means you are doing this activity day in and day out. Plus, if you take the plunge, you will rely on it for income. Make sure that this idea for a business stands the test of time or you’ll be investing time and energy into something that isn’t sustainable. Continue reading “Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a Business”

How Established Businesses Can Channel Startup Mentality

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In my post, Why Startups Make Corporations Nervous, I documented what differentiated startups from established businesses. While existing companies have a lot going for them, including resources and experience, startups possess qualities that these companies should try to harness. If you have an established business that has become a bit sluggish, applying some lessons from startups might the perfect way to shake something loose.

Here are my top suggestions. Continue reading “How Established Businesses Can Channel Startup Mentality”

Why Your Mission Should Start and End with The Customer

Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it. 

Peter Drucker

There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.

Sam Walton, Founder of Wal-Mart

So, you’ve started a business. While a lot of owners start up because they want to do what they love, make a bigger paycheck or have a fancy title, the purpose of your business should start and end with serving your customer. Having a passion for what you do will get you through difficulty and profits will pay your bills however, customer satisfaction is the lifeblood of success. Without it, your entire company will burn in a ball of fire – if not now, eventually.

Unfortunately, I feel that some owners and managers gloss over this crucial point. They make decisions based solely on gut instinct and numbers in an excel sheet. I get it. Owning a business is an emotional experience and it’s difficult to not take that refund request or differing opinion personally. So, instead of always doing what’s in the best interest of the customer, we pursue courses of action that are simply reflections of how we’re feeling at the time. Continue reading “Why Your Mission Should Start and End with The Customer”

Your #1 Mistake When Managing Change

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Having worked for a startup for the last 2 years, I’ve been involved in numerous pivots and changes. While we’ve finally arrived at, what we believe to be, our minimum viable product, each change we went through was exceptionally disruptive. There was a time where it felt like we were changing our product and pricing once a month, like clockwork, and each new change was more disturbing to the work environment than the last. The culprit? Change saturation. 

Too Much Change

Making too many changes in a short period of time can cause a decline in confidence of personnel, difficulty serving customers and overall interference with the natural workflow of the product or service. Not only can it cost you customers, but employees can become wildly frustrated with a lack of stability. Whilst change is inevitable, each modification should occur after an appropriate analysis period. If you don’t manage change effectively, employees will resist the proposed changes and become disenchanted with your business model. 

Continue reading “Your #1 Mistake When Managing Change”

The People You Will Meet in a Startup

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Startups are full of interesting personalities. The trick is knowing how to deal with these people when they’re hired so you can manage them effectively and leverage their strengths. Here are the four major ones that I’ve experienced while being employed at a startup.

  1. The True Believer

These are some of the greatest people that you will employ in your business. Not only do they “get” the purpose of the company, they will do everything in their power to see it succeed. It is as if this person is an owner and they will treat your “baby” as their own. This person tends to be a “yes-man”, agreeing with the CEO or Managing Director no matter what.

Be careful to not overload them with responsibility or simply giving them projects because they’re enthusiastic.

Use them as effective change managers to enthuse other staff members about new projects and products. Continue reading “The People You Will Meet in a Startup”

The Responsibilities of a Startup Founder

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There is an air of sanctity around Founders of startups. They’re the ones that worked tirelessly to build their company and are viewed in the organization like a community “Elder”, the keeper of the keys. Founders are like a beacon, the purest version of the company’s values and purpose.

While this is a common perspective of Founders, this pedestal we place them on comes with power and obligation. It’s important for Founders to realize that they have a great responsibility to their employees. What kinds of responsibilities? Here are my Founder’s Commandments:

  1. Thou musteth communicate (clearly)

Being hired in a startup comes with a degree of uncertainty. Know that what you say to an employee is taken at face value. It will be executed exactly the way you describe because you are “the boss”. In order to avoid being destructive, you must practice effective change management, communicate clearly with all departments and keep your message consistent. Continue reading “The Responsibilities of a Startup Founder”

Internships at Startups: Do or Don’t?

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While I personally started at my current job as an intern, I’ve seen both the positive and negative effects of running an internship program. When determining whether hiring interns is right for your startup, I would strongly suggest asking yourself the following questions:

  • What functions is this intern going to provide?
  • Do I have enough time to adequately mentor an intern?
  • Does the business function require a lot of training?

Continue reading “Internships at Startups: Do or Don’t?”

The Importance of Saying ‘Yes’

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There is much speculation about whether being a ‘yes-man’ is good for your career. On the one hand, you make colleagues and superiors happy by taking on new responsibilities or projects. On the other hand, you run the risk of overloading yourself. So, where is the happy medium?

A major contributing factor in moving from intern to high-level manager was my willingness to say ‘yes’. Whenever a new project came up, I made sure I was involved somehow. Ultimately, I gathered a huge breadth of knowledge and quickly became everyone’s ‘go-to’ for everything from systems management to how things should operate.

Being the ‘go-to’, while sometimes stressful, has its range of perks. For one, it can help you move up the ranks in a relatively short period of time. This is because you are viewed as reliable and efficient. You will, also, inadvertently, become involved in decision-making processes because you will be whom everyone goes to with questions.

Continue reading “The Importance of Saying ‘Yes’”

4 Signs You Might Have Entrepreneurial Envy

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Recently I found out that a friend of mine had started his own company. His website was amazing and his vision seemed perfectly formulated. While I was enthusiastic for his success, I couldn’t help but feel envious. All of a sudden, I felt like I was missing out.

To be honest, I’m happy with my job and my current work-life balance. I feel fulfilled and challenged. However, I think that seeing others chase their startup dreams ignites a passion that reminds me there is still more out there to aspire to.

Entrepreneurial envy, in a typical sense, would usually one startup founder is jealous of another. However, I feel that some of us with 9-5’s feel a little desirous of the startup lifestyle. Here are some clues you’re starting to think the grass is greener: Continue reading “4 Signs You Might Have Entrepreneurial Envy”

An Interview with the Founder of Women as Entrepreneurs

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Orsi Parkanyi is founder and CEO of Women as Entrepreneurs, Australia’s #1 network for women entrepreneurs, start-up women and female business owners changing the game of business. Orsi is passionate about social entrepreneurship, diversity, gender equality and women entrepreneurs to be noticed and make a difference. Orsi regularly mentors and speaks at start-up events and writes/comments on female entrepreneurship related topics on radio and in online publications such as StartupSmart and Shoestring.   Continue reading “An Interview with the Founder of Women as Entrepreneurs”