Category Archives: Entrepreneur
by Ed Frazier
I have always been involved in starting companies or acquiring them. This post however is related to the start-ups. I have been involved in over 20 start-ups in my career, working 20+ years in the media industry but also some in wind power, solar, real estate, and Internet technologies. In all cases, they have had some common patterns.
1. THE CHAMPAGNE STAGE
This is the initial planning stage where the math goes something like this. If we offer a product that everyone in our market loves and we capture 3% of the market we will make a lot of money. The model will also include some underestimated cost and time lines. However, as partners we are all excited about this prospect so we launch. It will include a plan to capitalize the venture, and some division of responsibility. This stage will last until the Champagne is gone.
2. REALITY IS NOT CONSISTENT WITH THE MODEL
This is the period when the venture partners and their investor watch the financial resources begin to deplete. There will be a realization that it’s going to take longer than planned. It is important to look at the end of year one and evaluate if there is a business to be built. The test of the concept can be determined by how much business has been secured related to the idea. If there are no customers it may be time to change direction. My experience has been that if I have some good clients by the end of year one the business has promise. If I don’t have some good clients its not a good sign.
3.THE HELMET AND FLAK JACKET STAGE
This stage of the business runs from year one to year three. It’s the time when the initial capital is close to being consumed and the profit line has not been obtained. The danger of running out of cash or calling on investors to contribute more is a real possibility. It’s the point in time when everyone questions the wisdom of the venture and self esteem can hit a low. It’s time to hunker down put on the flack jacket and persevere. About the end of year three you have been in business long enough that those potential clients you called on in year one are ready to trust you with their business. It comes at a time when one might considering giving up. Then a call from a client you called on two years ago comes in and orders. This is a sign that you have a future in your chosen business. Its also a good time to go back to all your previous prospects and touch base. Let them know you are still going.
4. ALWAYS KNEW YOU WOULD MAKE IT STAGE
This is the stage where all those skeptics that doubted you could ever succeed will start to say. “I always knew you would make it, everything you do turns to gold”. This is the point in time when you can go to family gatherings and instead of them asking when you will get a real job you can proudly say I own my own business and I love it. The most important thing at this stage is to remember the sacrifices that have been made share the wealth with those who helped you and extend a supporting word or resource to the pilgrims that are embarking on their journey. Above all, enjoy your success.
About Ed Frazier
Ed has been involved in media and Internet technologies for over 30 years. He was one of the founding individuals of the Regional Sports Networks that make up Fox Sports. Following Fox sports Frazier was involved in a joint Venture with Coserv Electric in the deployment and creation of advanced fiber networks. Through the CoServ Joint Venture he supplied advanced Internet technologies, for design, development and Internet marketing. Frazier has years of experience in Internet marketing and media, including, pay per click advertising, video streaming, banner advertising, Google adwords, Yahoo, MSN, and other directory and Internet marketing systems including direct e-mail, and user targeting advertising. His interest in Internet technology management for his clients is targeted to insure best practices in Internet marketing and ecommerce. Ed is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington. He provides consulting services in the field of Integrated Media. This involves traditional broadcast media and emerging media via satellite and the Internet. He has served on the boards of publicly traded companies, privately held corporation and non-profit organization.
Too often, we fall back on the mantra “the customer is always right.”
But is that always true?
Here are our five ways of telling if you aren’t a good fit with your customer:
1. You dread you interactions
Your day is going fine. Everything is lovely. You get a call, check the number on the caller ID, and your whole mood deflates. It’s not just that some customers only call when there’s a problem. Even if that’s the case, a customer could still be a good fit.
No, these calls are the ones that never go anywhere. Your staff complains about working with them. They are never satisfied and likely never will be.
Cut them loose.
2. They complain about who they used to work with
If you have a customer who seems to have never had a pleasant experience with anyone they’ve worked with, be weary. You’ll likely not be any different. You’ll just be the guy they complain about to the next company they work with.
3. They threaten your company
If a customer raises hell about something, you should definitely take notice. Not everyone who has had a bad customer experience with your company is a bad customer. You should be paying attention to Yelp and other business review sites to always improve how you deal with your customers.
On the other hand, if a customer is threatening to cause trouble and raising a stink, yet still continue to work with you, maybe politely suggest they would be happier with someone else. The threat of a bad customer review is exploitative.
4. They don’t pay on time
It’s uncomfortable talking about money. It’s unacceptable to not get paid. One late payment isn’t the end of the world or the destruction of your company. But, if it’s a pattern of behavior, you can’t keep that customer on as a business expense.
5. They don’t respect your expertise
You’re good at what you do. If your customer can’t see that, maybe they should find someone else. You should also have respect for your customer. If you can’t nourish a relationship, they might be better served somewhere else.
Have you ever fired a customer? Why? Share in the comments!
A mentor is an invaluable resource for the young entrepreneur. A mentor is someone who has taken the journey you want to take, someone who’s been there before. They are a valuable resource who you can turn to when you’ve hit a stumbling block. So, how do you get one?
There are plenty of places where entrepreneurs gather: conferences, MeetUp groups, online communities.
Here are our top 5 things to look for when trying to find a mentor:
If you’re going to be working with a mentor, you want good chemistry. You want someone you feel comfortable talking to and confiding in. Before you consider an specific entrepreneur as your mentor, do some research on them. What do they value? What kind of business do the have? What do people have to say about working with them? Chances are, if they’re in a similar business as you, they’ll have similar values.
Before you ask them to be your mentor, meet with them for coffee. See how you get along.
It’s no secret that entrepreneurs are busy people. When looking for a mentor, you need to find someone who is available to help you. When searching for your mentor, do fool around. Ask them if they’re interested in mentoring. Ask them if they have the time to take that on. There is another person involved here. They should know their limitations. In that same vein, figure out what you want from your mentor. Do you want to meet for coffee once a week, once a month? Do you want to go out to dinner twice a week? Do you want to be able to call them at any time? Figure out what your time demands are and see if their availability matches.
3. A positive attitude
This might seem like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised. Feel out your potential mentor. If you’re sensing some hidden resentment, it’s probably there. You want someone who will encourage you and help you grow. Don’t let a negative mentor drag you down. On the flip side, be careful that you don’t mistake cautious optimism and a realistic thought with negativity. Even if a mentor has a reserved opinion, they can still be helpful for your navigation of the startup world.
Does your new mentor treat you as an equal? Or are they condescending? Even if you’re a young or new entrepreneur, you still deserve respect. Find a mentor that will treat you as an equal. They should hear you out; all your thoughts, fears, concerns, and plans are valid. You should also have a high level of respect for them. If not, why did you want them to be your mentor in the first place?
5. Open mind
Just because your mentor has been through the startup/entrepreneurial process, doesn’t mean that’s the only way to do it. You want to find a mentor who can recognize there are different ways to achieve a goal. Someone who says, “This is how we did it. Your way might work, too.” You don’t have to take every piece of advice they give you as gold. You want someone whose experience you can learn from, not someone who will just tell you what to do.
What do you look for in a mentor? Where did you find your mentor?
Share in the comments below!
Let’s face it. At some point in your life, you’re going to have to go to a job interview. And, whether that job is for pizza delivery or the CEO position in a Fortune 500, some of those questions are going to be the same.
Here’s a list of the 20 most common job interview questions you need to be ready to answer.
1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?
This is time for a pitch, not a narrative on your complete job history.
2. How did you hear about this position?
Make sure you mention any connections you have with the company.
3. What do you know about the company?
Make sure you do a little research before your interview so you have some things to say here.
4. Why do you want this job?
Show your enthusiasm and passion. Talk about why this position is perfect for you in particular.
5. Why should we hire you?
Again, focus on your passion and experience. If you don’t have any experience, find something else in your background that will make you stand out.
6. What are your strengths?
Focus on the positives; don’t use negative terms (like “I don’t” or “I can’t”), even if they turn into positives. Be honest. It’s not a game. Don’t try to figure out what the interviewer wants.
7. What do you consider to be your weakness?
Again, be honest. “I don’t have any weaknesses” isn’t true. If you have anecdotes, tell them how you plan on working on your weakness.
8. What is your greatest professional achievement?
Make sure you give them the situation and the assignment, so the interviewer has context for what you accomplished.
9. Tell me about a challenge or conflict you’ve faced at work, and how you dealt with it.
Like question 8, make sure you give the interviewer context.
10. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Essentially, do you have realistic goals for your career, are you ambitious, and does the position you’re interviewing for fit into your long term career goals.
11. What’s your dream job?
Another question to discuss your goals and ambitions.
12. What other companies are you interviewing with?
This time, you should be more vague. Saw you are exploring other similar opportunities that utilize the same skills and talents.
13. Why are you leaving your current job?
Keep it positive.
14. What are you looking for in a new position?
What you’re looking for should line up with what the position offers.
15. What type of work environment do you prefer?
It should be the kind of environment the position offers.
16. What’s your management style?
This gives you the chance to show you know what kind of techniques are out there and the ability to modify to a situation.
17. How would your boss or coworkers describe you?
Try to find strengths you haven’t talked about already.
18. How do you deal with stress?
Specific examples of stressful situations help here.
19. What are your salary requirements?
There are places online where you can research what someone in the position would typically get. Try Glassdoor. Or, you can even Google what they typical salary is.
20. Do you have any questions for me?
Have a few things prepared that you want to ask.
What questions do you hear most often in interviews? How do you answer any of the questions above? Share in the comments!
Graduation is still a few months away, but it’s not too early to start looking a how you want to enter the job market. So, what is the graduate going to do? Where should you start? Here are our 3 career tips for the graduating class.
You want to have a goal when looking for your first job. Don’t approach it with an “I’ll take whatever I can get” attitude. How does your first job help you achieve greater career goals? Now, it might be that you don’t know what your greater career goals are. That’s okay, too. In that case, the goal of your first job will be to help determine what your long term goals are. If you really like what you’re doing, maybe this is the industry you want to stay in. If you hate it, you need to explore other areas.
2. Find an expert
You are not the first person to go on this journey. Plenty of other people have been there before. If you think you know where you want your career to go, find someone who has done it before and ask for advice. This means looking beyond your family and escaping the halls of academia. Your professors can help you if you want a career as a professor. Unless you plan on following in your parents’ footsteps, they can’t help you, either.
It’s easier than you think to find an expert. Start by going to a company website and searching through their contact information. You may not get a response on the first go, but if you’re up front about wanting to talk about an industry, many people are happy to talk about their careers.
Another way to find an expert is to go to a conference or convention. You may even be able to find a representative at a job fair.
3. Don’t go to grad school
Right away. Higher education is great and, in some cases, beneficial. But, is it beneficial in your case? Don’t commit to 5, 10, 15 more years of school unless you know that’s where you need to be.
What are your tips for the graduating class? What do you wish you knew before entering the job market? Share in the comments!
First there was Black Friday, then Cyber Monday. November 27, 2010 was the first ever Small Business Saturday. Small Business Saturday is the day we celebrate the Shop Small movement to drive shoppers to local merchants across the U.S.
More than 200 organizations have already joined American Express OPEN, the company’s small business unit, in declaring the Saturday after Thanksgiving as Small Business Saturday.
Small Business Saturday this year is on November 29th.
Are you working in a job you hate just to make ends meet? Are you afraid of taking that leap into becoming an entrepreneur? You can work in a job you love and still save for retirement. Here are our top 5 ways to invest in yourself and in your job future.
1. Go to a conference
If you have an interest in something, chances are there’s a conference about it. Getting to that conference is a great way to invest in yourself. You’ll meet people who share your interests, and, better, you’ll meet people who are working in the job you want. Talk to people. Make it known what your interests are. Don’t just walk the exhibit hall. See if you can find a group going to lunch or out for drinks. This is a great way to meet some people, but don’t forget to follow up with people.
Networking tip: Monday is the only bad day to follow up with people. Your email will be lost in the shuffle of the new week.
2. Participate in local events
Whether it’s a local performance, a gym class, or a local Meetup.com group, you should find ways to get out into your local community to start making connections. If you don’t tend to be a very social person, set some goals for yourself and ease into it.
3. Take a class
Improving yourself is a great way to invest in your future. What’s something you wish you’d learned but never did? Find the time to take a class or get a tutor. It doesn’t have to be applied astrophysics. Language tutors are everywhere. Community colleges offer a variety of classes to choose from. Pick something you think you’ll enjoy and dive in.
4. Earn a certification
If your dream job is in a field that requires a certification, there’s no reason to wait. It’s just another way of investing in yourself and your future.
5. Take a Myers-Briggs test
The Myers-Briggs personality test was developed as a career placement tool. It can give you insight on where you draw energy from, how you best interact with people, and what kind of working environment you’re best suited for. Finding your personality type will give you a glimpse of yourself and can help you grow.
What are some ways you have invested in yourself? Share in the comments!