Ask The Expert
As seen in The Union Leader
Answer: For the novice business entrepreneur:
1. Network like crazy with those who are already in your new business. You likely do not have the breadth of contacts that a mature entrepreneur will have therefore you will need to hustle to find the right people to talk to you about your product or service. Cold calling companies that you admire in your field will often yield initial conversations that can be mined into long term relationships. Look for competitors that are open to networking and have them share their successes and failures.
2. You need sufficient financial resources to invest in the business and to live for the one to two years it will take you to earn a decent profit. Some businesses make money right away but those are rare. Have patience because your prospects don't want to feel pressure from the "hunger" caused by a fledgling business owner who needs to make money to eat next week.
3. Many young entrepreneurs have worked in a family business and they have seen the possibilities that hard work can create. Tap into those family business connections for advice and support during the early stages of development. Ask them what strengths and weaknesses they see in you, focusing on the big things that you don't know about yourself.
4. Your technical expertise needs effective emotional intelligence that will help balance your pitch and ultimate success. Focus on flexibility, impulse control and reality testing in order to keep your emotions in check.
If a mature worker tries entrepreneurship and finds that it isn't for them, how can they best present their start-up experience to a potential employer?
Answer: Focus on the vision and values that drove you to try the new business venture in the first place. Assuming it was not just desperation (which you do not want to promote!), what was that vision? What did you seek to create? What lessons and themes did you learn? How did you deal with adversity, rejection and failure? These responses can often lead your prospective employer and you on a discussion that highlights your resilience, perseverance, optimism ----all of which they will want from you in their business. When asked about your decision to go back to working for a company, focus on your decision making, problem solving and analytic skills to discern your correct path.oup of people? Thanks.
A great deal of entrepreneurship seems to revolve around the individual; self-awareness, self-motivation and self-discipline, amongst many other qualities. To what extent do you foresee external factors affecting the success of a person's entrepreneurial endeavors? What may such factors be?
Answer: External factors can be totally out of your control and negatively affect your success. You can be the strongest and most resilient business owner out there and yet you will be tested by fierce competition, price wars, consumer buying habits, economic downturns and employee related nightmares (theft, absenteeism, poor work ethic, etc.). The best defense for these are the same five P's my grandfather told me about: prior planning prevents poor performance. You can create effective plans to address the major issues every business struggles with: marketing and sales, operations, finance, legal, quality control, communications, human resources, information technology, and executive management. Focus on what you can control and hang on for the ride when it comes to the difficult environmental risks that you cannot control. With firm knowledge that you have done many things to prepare for effectiveness, the storms don't seem as bad as they would if you were unprepared.
In your article you mentioned that good goal setting was necessary to having success in the first year. How many goals, long and short term, would you recommend setting? And would setting S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals be appropriate?
Answer: Yes! Every business needs effective goals and objectives in order to focus the whole organization on the desired results. A management by objectives (MBO) process is often used to accomplish this. (See chapter 11 in Peter Drucker's seminal work: The Practice of Management, 1954) Start with your vision (what you seek to create) which leads to your mission (why you exist in the marketplace) and from there flow your goals. I like 3-6 major goals with clear objectives (as many as 4-6 objectives for each goal) which can be specifically measured. Each part of the organization then must select which objectives are their responsibility to achieve, yielding more detailed tasks/actions with timetables that become articulated in written work plans. Every employee then knows how their daily work flows toward the goals, creating alignment and personal commitment to a common purpose.
I am a semi-retired senior in southern NH with a modest amount of venture capitol. My lifelong ambition has been to become part of a small electrical manufacturing startup, not be be just a money backer but to be part of the day by day operation. My question is how do I find and meet with the person(s) trying to make this start-up. I would consider any manufacturing idea. Thank you, I would appreciate any help you might offer in how to make this happen.
Answer: Fulfilling a lifelong ambition is wonderful to accomplish, yet so many of us do not have the resources, hutzpah, or opportunity to achieve it. I encourage you to reach out to:
Merrimack Valley SCORE (603) 666-7561, www.score-manchester.org. SCORE is a group of retired executives that help new businesses. They may know of one that meets your criteria.
Amoskeag Business Incubator www.abi-nh.com (603) 629-9511. Great resource for new startups.
NH Manufacturers Resource Center: This initiative is a collaborative effort between public and private organizations who are collectively working together to productively impact economic and community development in the State of New Hampshire. http://nhmanufacturer.com/m_angel.html
Vested for Growth, www.vestedforgrowth.com, (603) 224-6669. Contact John Hamilton, Managing Director. They can help you get in touch with investment opportunities.
Sapphire Consulting, LLC.