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Help For Your Small Business & You

 Help for Your Small Business & You

When you own and operate a small business or are thinking of maybe starting one the act of hiring others to assist you in defining, fully understanding and growing your vision can play a crucial part in its future success.  Let’s face it, many small business owners are driven to succeed and spend much of their time in one or two areas of their business where they feel comfortable or excel at, like sales or operations.  Not paying needed attention to all areas like strategic planning, marketing, process improvement, pricing, finance, accounting, matching the right people to the right job function or motivating your employees can cause your business many additional challenges that simply can be avoided.

You may have built your business to where it is today by focusing only on certain key areas, but time needs to be spent on the other areas of your business as it grows, but it does not have to be your time.  Bringing in an outside set of eyes can get some of these activities done right away and bring a new perspective to you while helping your business succeed and grow to another level.

A qualified consultant, mentor or coach can listen and privately discuss how they see your business running and growing as a whole or in one of the areas you, as the owner, may not have time or the skills to spend developing.  They can act as a sounding board for your thoughts and should understand how you see your business working while playing devil’s advocate and brainstorming new ideas to help you create innovative ways to grow your business.  By using this type of professional person periodically you should be able to execute more strategic plans, accomplish more of your goals and increase your probability of further success while staying competitive in your market.  Have you thought of using someone like this as an avenue to further your business growth or fix some of the challenges your business faces?

There are many qualified people that can provide many different levels of professional help to you and your small business.  As a small business owner, you owe it to yourself to use these outside sources to assist you in perfecting your business processes and give you additional perspectives to consider.  Some of these professionals also will assist you with balancing your personal life as well as your business.

Below are some well known sources and organizations offering consulting, coaching and mentoring to individuals and small business owners:

Anthony Robbins is well known as a world authority on leadership psychology, successful entrepreneur and business strategist, philanthropist, award winning speaker and authority on peak performance and life coaching.  You might consider looking into his programs under Business Results Coaching. You can learn more at http://www.tonyrobbins.com/biography/

Michael Gerber is the well known author of the E-Myth as well as 13 other business coaching books.  He is considered to be one of the “best small business guru’s” assisting small businesses grow and prosper.  You might consider looking into one of his offerings called “The Dreaming Room”.  You can learn more at http://michaelegerbercompanies.com/web/about-michael/

Dave Ramsey  is well known as a trusted voice on money and business.  His four New York Times best-selling booksFinancial Peace, More Than Enough, The Total Money Makeover, and EntreLeadership have sold over 7 million copies combined.  You might consider looking into his seminars on building and growing a business.  You can learn more at https://www.daveramsey.com/company/about-dave/

SCORE  (Service Corp of Retired Executives) is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small business get off the ground, grow and achieve the business goals through education and mentorship of the owner.  With nearly 11,000 volunteers who offer you the business owner, real life experience and mentorship FREE, just for the asking, they are a great place to seek out qualified advice to start and grow your business.  They have been around for 50 years.

LifeLongU™  is about helping individuals and small businesses develop, grow and share with others while learning to chart your course and live your dreams.  LifeLongU™ helps you work on understanding and improving yourself, using your time wisely and developing additional income streams through small business development.  Their unique coaching approach may work well for a business owner to bring growth and balance to their personal and professional life.  You might consider looking into their programs at http://lifelongu.com/coaching/.

Local professionals in your area may also be a great source of help to you in areas you may not have time for or feel you are not qualified to run.  Many of them can bring unique knowledge from your local market and provide you with new insight if you simply give them a call.  These local professionals cover all types of areas including life and business; don’t be shy about calling several of them and discussing a challenge you may be facing.

This blog is intended to offer a business owner and entrepreneur some sources of outside help they may not have previously considered from like minded professionals interested in personal and business growth and development.  I look forward to your comments below…

 

Gary J. Kiecker

LifeLongU™

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“The Big Cheese”, Leadership

 The Big Cheese, Leadership

Every organization has a leader, even the organizations you belong to. Every entity, every company, every City, County, State and Country has a leader.  The leader is the person who is responsible for the direction of the organization they lead.  The leader makes sure strategic direction has been defined for the organization, that precise future goals are set and resources are available to accomplish those goals.  The leader is the person out in front, “the big cheese”; they get everyone to march to the same step.  The leader is the one the rest of the organization sees as the one to follow and the one person the followers trust most to make good decisions improving the organization so it benefits its stakeholders, which includes the followers.

Where would you follow your leader?  Are you following your leader?  Do you know what your leader stands for?  Do they work to benefit themselves or the organizations stakeholders?  How many different leaders are you following?

Over the years many different types of individuals have held leadership positions.  Some seek it out while others have it thrust upon them.  Some individuals rise to the occasion and do a fantastic job leading their organizations, while others, do not.

In my opinion a good leader should have the following traits:

  • Is a person with integrity; you either have it or you do not;
  • Believes in the Bible; adding nothing and taking nothing out;
  • Honors the value and concept of developing trust within the organization they lead;
  • Knows that many others are following and watches out where they step;
  • Is disciplined; saying yes or no can be very difficult when weighing different outcomes;
  • Believes in being a user of knowledge not simply one that wants to know it all;
  • Learns from their mistakes, admits them and moves along; we all make them;
  • Is a good neighbor and treats everyone like the leader themselves would want to be treated;
  • Builds strong teams to assist with the leadership responsibility;
  • Is someone that leads to a desired destination or gets out of the way;

Being a leader is not for everyone.  It’s a hard path to follow, especially when you are leading thousands of followers with many eyes on your every move.  But even when leading small groups, if you lack many of the traits listed above you may find it very difficult to be a successful leader and to stay in a prime leadership role.  Sometimes it may be better to support a good leader, rather than lead yourself and in these instances, again remember the traits listed above, they work well for us all, even when supporting a good leader.

Here are several great quotes by an amazing leader, Abraham Lincoln:

“Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm”;

“Be with a leader when he is right, stay with him when he is still right, but leave him when he is wrong”;

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power”;

 “I walk slowly, but I never walk backward”.

 

If you are going to be a leader, “The Big Cheese”, be one, but be a good one.

 

 

Gary J Kiecker

LifeLongU.com

 

 

 

 

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8 Small Business Challenges

 8 Small Business Challenges

Running a small business today takes a lot of determination, stamina and problem solving skills by the owner if they want to even attempt to run a business.  If they intend for it to prosper and grow, they will still be faced with many waves of challenges that may knock them off their feet from time to time.  A small business owner will need to be aware of, understand and will probably have to address each challenge at some point in their business.  Let’s look at eight challenges that may need to be addressed.

  1. The Owner Themselves

An entrepreneur is a special class of person that has something that is driving them to start a business in the first place.  It could be a passion or they may have something to prove, whatever their reasons for starting the business, chances are they will be lacking in certain knowledge and skills.  They may excel in some areas and they may be able to work 22 hours a day to make up for a lack of some knowledge, but at some point time, their fatigue and uncertainty, while trying to do it all alone may get the best of them.  A business that is largely dependent on the owner can only grow to the point of that owner’s ability, willingness and time spent on getting things done.

  1. Lack of Direction, Strategy and Planning

An ability to solve most problems as they come up is another of the entrepreneur’s talents but solving day-to-day problems will only get a business so far.  Time has to be spent by the owner working on the business thinking through possible strategies, coming up with plans and providing direction or vision for the employees.  This planning action, besides being necessary for the business and its growth, helps provide the employees a path to follow and see how they might fit in with the company’s long range future.  It also may help the owner rest a little easier at night.

  1.  Technological Innovation and Information Overload

A small business owner and their team usually are spread pretty thin and wear many hats.  Usually, someone within the company is dealing with someone outside the company to make all the technology work correctly.  Needed improvements or upgrading to a more innovative technology is usually shunned because of the lack of skills or disruption it would cause within the company.  This along with not fully using all the available data being generated within your company to aid in making key decisions puts the small business owner at a huge risk when savvy new competitors enter your market.

  1.  Regulation and Risk Management

Many small business owners may not deal with heavy regulation or have large product liability risks to manage so they may not worry so much about this wave.  But the ocean of business is large and waves are always being created.  The new healthcare mandates may certainly change the need for small business to spend more time focusing in this area to stay in line with regulations as new law is finalized and takes effect.

  1.  Gaining Customers and Their Loyalty

Gaining and keeping loyal customers has always been the name of the game for most small businesses.  In fact, sometimes you have a customer before you have a business.  But once you are in business a marketing plan needs to be created, even if on a very small scale.  The process you go through to develop a marketing plan helps you look at and understand your customers.  What do they purchase?  What are the average sales; total annual sales?  Is one or two of your customers generating a large share of your revenue; your profits?  What type of leverage or risk might they place on you?  What other products can be sold: at what margins?  These are all questions the small business owner needs to be asking to survive and grow.

  1.  Cash and Resource Management

How your cash is generated in your business is a must for each owner to fully understand.  Where is the cash being tied up?  If in inventory, how can it be converted quickly into cash?  If it’s tied up in receivables, how can it be collected?  What type of lending arrangements do you have with your bank?  Most lending to small business has been seen by many bankers as more risky over the past years and is not likely to improve.  What else in your company has value if sold or can generate new revenue?

  1. Hiring and Training The Right People

A small business work environment or culture is made up from the main body of its employees.  A small business owner needs to attract, hire, train and keep motivated its core group of employees.  If one leaves or is not satisfied in the company, it can cause quite a problem.  These are the people that help you attain the lifestyle you are looking for by being a small business owner; a lifestyle that can be had from owning a successful small business.  Find out if you core group is happy, if they are not, make them happy or make a change.

  1. The Right Level of Quality For Growth

Each small business owner should determine what they want their business to be and if they are working through a strategic plan, they should be able to see what the size potential is for their specific business.  They should also understand what level of quality their product needs to be to satisfy their customers.  If the quality is too low, but adequately priced, you may lose customers who want a higher quality product.  If the quality is higher than what your customers are looking for and competitively priced, you may be losing margin.  In either scenario, you should always understand what your quality strategy is, your future growth and profit depend on it.

There are many opportunities for different small businesses in America today.  If an entrepreneur uses their talents, skills, abilities and resources effectively, they can prosper and become one of those that can live a lifestyle only dreamed about by most.  That lifestyle is given to those that run a successful small business.

 

Gary J Kiecker

LifeLongU™

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Building A Team

Building “A Team”

Having a group of individuals come together to successfully accomplish a task is why most of us want to build a team in the first place.  Whether for a short-term project or long-term engagement, team building can take a lot of effort.

There are all kinds of different teams in the world; sports teams, project teams, corporate organizational or business management teams, political teams, family teams and even married couples are a team.  They are all brought together through various ways and motivated to succeed at all kinds of different tasks or events.

Have you ever wanted to be part of a special team? Humans are social people and want to be on a team; it’s human nature to want to be part of something bigger than our self and be part of a group.  What teams are you on or would like to be a part of?

Building “A Team” From Scratch

If you are in charge of building a team you need to focus on several key areas:

First, you need to understand the special talent, skills and abilities needed to accomplish the task (which should be clearly defined).

Second, you need to find individuals that have those special talents, skills and abilities and recruit them into your group.

Third, if none can be found, you need to find those with the aptitude to learn the necessary skills and then train them.

Fourth, you need to motivate or incentivize them to all want to work together to accomplish your task.

Fifth, a leader (captain, champion) needs to step up and take responsibility for the team’s overall success as well as the individual success of the members of the team.  Leadership respect will be given to those that earn it, whether it’s the leader or a team member.

Managing “A Team” You Did Not Build

What if you did not build the team you are managing currently?  How do you know if your team has all the talents, skills and abilities to be successful?  If you are the leader of such a team, you need to address the five key areas we just mentioned above.

On your own, quickly go through each one of the five and determine if the members of your team should in fact be on your team.  Do they possess the talents, skills or abilities your group needs to succeed?  Can they be trained in the areas they are lacking?  Are they properly motivated to work as a part of the team?

Remember, your job as the leader is to accomplish the task, and to know that your group needs to function as a team.  The leader makes sure each team member does their part; that each member is held to the same standards as the other team members, feels part of the group and supports the group effort.  A good leader will praise team members in public and reprimand them in private when appropriate.  A leader leads by example and gains respect by giving it.

Many teams have succeeded and failed because of bad leadership.  Team building takes a leader that understands how a team comes together, works together and succeeds together.  Diligently following the five key areas we discussed above will put your team well on the path to success.

Go Team!

 

Gary J Kiecker

LifeLongU™

 

 

 

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What Profit Target Are You Hitting?

 $$$  What Profit Target Are You Hitting  $$$

Are you successful at hitting what you are aiming at?  How do you know what target is the one you should be aiming at?  Small businesses have always had a challenge with identifying the proper profit target for their business.  In fact, many new businesses go out of business before they consistently turn a profit, much less worry about attaining a certain targeted profit amount.

Our LifeLongU™ blog today explores ways a small business owner could focus their aim on different targets of profit. You may be reading this and think, “Isn’t that what all business owners focus on.”  I don’t believe they do.  Many I have met think about sales first.  They become sales driven organizations with processes focused on driving up sales, whatever the cost.  They have a philosophy that if we only had more sales, we would make more profits which is very dangerous and can hurt a company as quickly as having no profits can.  This way of thinking can create lots of sales activity, lots of risk, lots of cash being funneled through the business and lots of extra loose spending if proper controls are not in place to protect profit margins.  It can also create a “feeling” of profitability within your business, which might be false.

Are you clear on what profit you or your business is aiming at?  Are you hitting it?  Are you sure that is a good thing for your business?

One way to think about it is shown below; looking at Sales and Profits only.  It is simple and may quickly tell you what you want to know.  But only aiming at top line sales and bottom line profit numbers can get a business owner in trouble.  It simply does not tell you what you need to know about how your business is doing and how to fix what might be wrong.   This is the simple method (Example 1):

Sales – Cost of sales and “All” other expenses = Profit (what’s left over)

Hit_Example_1

Example 1

A more detailed approached is discussed below:

Again we start with Sales, but this time we break out the sales by product type (You may also think of this as different projects).  In our example below, we show three types of product (A – small product, B – large product, C – service, and in your business you may have more).

Next all material costs associated with each individual product type is deducted.  This will leave a profit number we will call “Adjusted Profit Contribution.”

Notice in Example 2 product type C – service has the largest amount of sales and is currently contributing the most profit as well (circled in green).  Keep watching that as we move through our discussion.

Example 2

Example 2

We want to track the adjusted profit contribution for each product type after each expense category is deducted from it.  This will show us problems we may have with our profit in specific expense category and then we can create potential solutions on how to fix them.

We continue to do this with each expense category, the next one being “labor costs” and continue to view the new “Adjusted Profit Contribution” total.  Notice in Example 3 the high labor costs associated with providing product type C – service (circled in green), it no longer is contributing much to our profits.

Example 3

Example 3

Now we deduct all “overhead allocation costs” associated with a product type.  Some products will have larger amounts of overhead (building space, equipment or other costs) associated with it in order to provide that product or service to your customer.  Using this method helps to allocate other expenses within your business to a product type.  If you chose not to sell that product any longer, you should be able to remove that expense from your business without impacting your other sales.

Notice in Example 4 how the adjusted profit contribution by each product type is slowly decreasing (circled in green), as we deduct expense categories that have only the expenses unique to that product type.  You should begin to see what product sales are contributing more profits to your overall business and those are the products we want to aim at selling more of.

Example 4

Example 4

In the world of accounting and financial statement reporting, after we have deducted the expense categories mentioned above, we are left with our gross profit margin, by product type.  This is what we have been working towards by individually breaking apart our sales and costs.  We want to understand how much profit each product we sell contributes to our overall profit or bottom line Net Income (before taxes of course).

In our current example, up to this point, it appears that all products contribute profit to our overall gross margin.  This in itself is a good sign, but we are not done yet.  Let’s continue…

We still have some selling (advertising, marketing, online, literature, etc…) expenses to deduct, by product type.  This area is also very important to track.  If properly tracked, you should be able to see and understand how your marketing budget and the money being spent on various marketing campaigns and activities is impacting your sales by each product type.  Notice in Example 5 the amount of selling costs associated with product type C – service.  Our business is spending approximately $80,000 per year in marketing and advertising dollars to generate $800,000 in sales. Is this a good thing?  At this point, it’s actually absorbing ($18,000) of our cumulative total adjusted profit contribution.

Example 5

Example 5

We have one more main category of expenses to deduct and that is general administrative costs.  Normally this holds more of the administrative type costs associated with running a business and can be very large or very small, depending how well you have allocated all your cost on products or projects.  This could also hold some other large expenses like interest, office rents, depreciation or amortization, insurance, etc… (Some of these should get allocated out by product type and appear in the Overhead Allocation Costs area above, as applicable).

As we look at Example 6 below, you will see that product type C – service also has some cost associated with it in this category.  It now is absorbing a cumulative total ($58,000) of adjusted profit contribution.  To think of this another way, if the company were to get rid of product type C – service and the $800,000 of sales, it would gain $58,000 of profit each year.  But in the real world, it usually does not work so cleanly.  There may be many reasons an owner or business may want to keep those sales within the company.  For instance, the service sales may be generating most of the small product sales from product type A.  A business owner should be aware of why they have sales and expenses at the levels they do, what needs to be changed and how to change it.

Example 6

Example 6

By now you should be able to see why we want to break down our profit and loss statement to show the details of what is really happening within our business.  It is not just a simple task of aiming for a certain budgeted top line sales number or a bottom line profit number.  Even when we hit what we are aiming at, that may not be in the best interest for us or our business.

When breaking out the sales and costs in detail, we can pick other targets for us to aim at, like:

  • Sales dollars by product type
  • Material costs, labor costs and overhead allocation cost, as a percent of sales, by product type
  • Gross margins $ and %
  • Selling costs associated by product type
  • General administrative cost associated by product type
  • and this is just the start…there is much more…

When looking at the bigger picture of our business, we can quickly decide on a new target, adjust our internal processes, take aim and fire.  Then validate the affect our change has made on our business.

Take good aim at the right target!

 

Gary J Kiecker

LifeLongU™

 

 

 

Are You Producing Customers?

Are You Producing Customers

Are You Producing Customers?

Successful businesses focus on generating new customers in multiple markets while servicing current customers constantly strengthening the value being offered by their product and service.  This enables a business to add additional product offerings to customers and increase the lifetime value of each customer to their business.

Where do your new customers actually come from?  As an owner entrepreneur or business manager, you should have a good handle on how a prospect becomes a customer within your organization.  What type of sales team do you have?  Do they have the correct incentive plan motivating them to convert prospects to customers and generate sales?  Are they properly trained and managed?  Can you use Rep’s to plug some of the holes in your sales territories?  Do you know where the holes are?  Does your product or service have a good presence at area trade shows?  Is your company getting any business from trade shows?  How many new customers do you generate each month?  Again, where did they come from?  What are the average sales per customer?

As the owner entrepreneur or business manager, you should have the answers to these questions.  Cash is King, but without sales, there is no cash.  Every business should be generating new customers and trying to increase the average sales per customer.

How are you spending your advertising dollars?  What market segments are you targeting?  Are you hitting those targets?  How do you know? Metrics should be in place to determine how successful each advertising campaign is doing.  How much is spent and on what type of campaign?  How are the prospects being handled when they come into contact with your company representatives?  Is each prospect contact being documented, presented with the correct response to their inquiry and then later followed up on with additional information, offers for product or service or personal sales call scheduled to close a sale?

Today’s businesses cannot allow themselves to sit idle and wait for sales to come to them.  If they do, aggressive competitors correctly going after business will find your customers as their prospects and convert them to their own customers.  They will gain one new customer and you will lose one valuable customer; how many times can you afford to have that happen?

With today’s social media and online presence, it is very fast, easy and inexpensive for savvy small business competitors to show up almost daily and begin to chip at your customer base potentially weakening the market position you worked so hard and long to create.

Here is a “Must Research & Do List” to help you prospect, convert, grow and retain your customer base:

Prospect

  • Identify who your customer is
  • Learn where that customer can be found or where they do their business
  • Define what their needs are (from your product or service perspective)
  • Ask prospects what products or services they currently are not able to get adequately

 

Convert

  • Learn the different ways to approach your prospect
  • Develop a sales training program and train your sales team
  • Present your value offering with three ways to become a customer
  • Close one of your three ways during your sales cycle

 

Grow

  • Analyze what your customers are buying, their average sales and quantity of sales
  • Find out what they are not buying and why
  • Research your customers and find out what they may need or have trouble getting
  • Provide new products or services to fill customer’s needs
  • Add new customers
  • Incentivize your sales team
  • Manage your sales team

 

Retain

  • Deliver an acceptable quality product or service quickly for a fair price
  • Provide great communication often and customer service promptly
  • Take care of any problems customers have with your product or service quickly

 

The growth, prosperity and longevity of your business depends on how well you fine tune your prospecting and customer conversion process.  Make sure you are producing customers that want to purchase more and more from you.

 

Gary J Kiecker

LifeLongU™

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Opportunity?

Opportunity?

Opportunity?

Identifying a real business opportunity can be tricky…you have to dig deep and ask many questions.  Ask yourself if your product or service fulfills the needs of a growing market better than the current competition and better than any substitution technologies within the overall external market (e.g. cultural, economic, political, legislative, society, etc).

Is there a real need for your product or service?  Does your product or service truly fulfill those needs?  Do you or your product or service possess unique elements that will position your business in a very niche market in which you can become one of the market leaders?  When will your window of opportunity open or close?

What actually frustrates the current customers in your industry?  What problems have they had with poor product quality or not having enough options or limited selection.  Maybe the delivery is not fast enough.  Many times an opportunity lies in observing what can be done to better serve a customer’s needs.

What will your customers need in the near future that they are unable to get today?  Think about the problems you have had with the products you have been ordering.  Is there an opportunity to develop something better; a better product, service or process?

In an October, 2012 Harvard Business Review blog, Scott Anthony lists “The Five Cs of Opportunity Identification”, which can be summarized as:

  • Circumstances – The specific problems a customer cares about and the way they assess solutions is very circumstance contingent.
  • Context – Ask a customer to report what they did in the past or will do in the future and you will get something that bears only a loose resemblance to reality.  You must find a way to be with the customer when they encounter a problem and watch how they solve it.
  • Constraints – Understanding why a customer does not consume is critical. Are existing solutions too expensive, do they require specialized skills or are the just inconvenient?
  • Compensating Behaviors – Are customers using a product or service in an unintended way to try to solve a problem?
  • Criteria – Quality is a relative term; you can only determine if a solution is good by first understanding the criteria that matter to a particular customer.  Do they want something simple, reliable, cost effective, etc?

 

Consider those questions and then summarize your thoughts to create a concept statement which should include the following:

  • Description of product or service being offered
  • Intended target market
  • Benefits of product or service
  • Description of how product will be positioned relative to similar ones in the market
  • Description of how product or service will be sold & distributed

 

Feasibility Analysis Process

Feasibility Analysis Process

When complete with your concept statement, think about doing a feasibility analysis, similar to the one shown here.  It will provide additional insight into your product launch before you over spend on time and money.

Opportunities are all around us, but not all of them can be made into profitable businesses.

Good luck with determining your next true opportunity!

 

Gary J Kiecker

LifeLongU™

www.LifeLongU.com

 

Is Your Product Idea a Good One?

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Is Your Product Idea a Good One?

So you have an idea for a new product, process or service, but is it a good idea for a business? How can you tell if it’s viable? Do you think you are ready to throw the dart and are you really expecting to hit the bull’s-eye?

How unique is your idea? What will make your idea stand out in the crowd? What problem are you trying to solve? How do you differ from the competition? The most successful business ideas usually have a strong, unique new concept and will show the customer a clear identity they quickly relate to or have a clear picture of how your product adds value to them. Make sure you take time to define and refine your idea. You must add value!

How expensive is it design and build your product, create your service, refine a process or to simply start up your business around your new idea? These costs need to be known before you go too far. If you have to build it all yourself, how long will it take you. Keep in mind your lost opportunity costs of you creating your product and business instead of working and pulling in a paycheck. That lost opportunity is also an expense. Will you need to invest cash in equipment, inventory, molds or prototypes before you make any sales? How much and what about design changes?

Is it a good economic time to launch your idea into the public? Is your target customer spending in the area your product is focused? Is that spending increasing or decreasing? Who is your target customer? How is the industry your product is classified in doing as a whole? Is it increasing or decreasing? Will new technology soon change or replace products in your industry or change the buying habits of your target customer? Consider the seasonality of your new venture, when is the best time to launch your product or business idea?

There are many questions to ask and get answers to before you spend cash from your “I worked hard for these dollar$” war-chest. Make sure your idea has been tested and the market sees it as something they want and will pay for.

Testing your Idea?

One way to determine the viability of your product or service is with a feasibility study. A feasibility study can be completed many different ways and can help you discover some crucial information such as:

  • The level of risk involved with your idea
  • Is there really a market for your idea
  • Whether the product or business is viable
  • What return on investment you might expect
  • Any legal issues you might need to address
  • The amount of money the product development requires to be established
  • The working capital you may need from developing the product to collecting on your first sale
  • When the business will reach break even
  • What business skills will be critical to success
  • Any lack in your own skills and how they can be addressed
  • Strengths and weaknesses of your idea
  • The impact on your target customer

What makes up a Feasibility Study?

Some main ingredients to a good product feasibility study are:

  • SWOT Analysis (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats)
  • Market Trends Analysis
  • Customers Analysis
  • Competition Analysis
  • Suppliers Analysis
  • Financial Analysis (Costs to develop product, ROI)
  • Go / No Go decision if above analysis proves to be too risky
  • Concept development and testing (which is different than test marketing)
  • Metrics, forecasting and Benchmarks of expected product launch results
  • Beta test product or service & track results, both good and bad
  • Distribution Channels (explore all options)
  • Growth and Scalability

I love the saying “necessity is the mother of invention”…it always makes me think of improvements, change and adding more value to something. Will your product, service or business add more value to the customer? If so, good luck and I wish you much success!!

Gary J. Kiecker

LifeLongU.com

Are You An Entrepreneur?

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Are you an Entrepreneur?

An entrepreneur is generally someone that comes up with an idea and takes that opportunity to start, organize and grow it into a business or businesses.  The big question we may ask ourselves is, do we have a good idea, the skills and the desire to become a successful entrepreneur?

Just what skills do you possess?  Some underlying skills usually found in an entrepreneur include being an innovator or generator of new ideas or business processes, no matter what the industry. Strong team building and people management skills are also often found in a successful entrepreneur.  Recognizing your own skills and matching them against the skills needed to successfully run your business is certainly helpful as a skill as well.  A good entrepreneur also will simply hire others with the skills they lack.

What about genetic makeup?  Do men or women make better entrepreneurs?  Does it matter if entrepreneurship runs in your family?  If it does, would that make you a better entrepreneur?

What about your work history?  Does that added experience of doing the job you have been doing improve your chances for being a successful entrepreneur? What about your intellect, personality or identity?  Does who you are improve the chances of success for a business you may start?  What about your past successes and failures, do they?

The truth is, that if you take an idea and create a successful business from it using all available skills, you would be considered an entrepreneur.  Being called an entrepreneur certainly may not be your goal.  It is only a descriptive title.  What you may want to be seen as is a successful business person.  In fact, you may not care at all how others see you, and simply want to create the successful business around your idea and opportunity and enjoy your small businesses success.  To me, that is a sign of a true entrepreneur.

You May be  an Entrepreneur…

  • A Significantly high number of entrepreneurs are children of first generation Americans.
  • Successful entrepreneurs are not, as a rule, top achievers in school.
  • Entrepreneurs are not especially enthusiastic about participating in group activities in school.
  • Studies of entrepreneurs show that, as youngsters, they often preferred to be alone.
  • Enterprising activities usually can be traced to an early age.
  • Stubbornness as a child seems to translate into determination to do things your own way which is a hallmark of successful entrepreneurs.
  • Caution may involve an unwillingness to take risks, a handicap for those embarking on previously uncharted territory.
  • Entrepreneurs often have the faith to pursue different paths despite the opinions of others.
  • Being tired of a daily routine will often precipitate an entrepreneur’s decision to start an enterprise.
  • Entrepreneurs generally enjoy their type of work so much, they move from one project to another-nonstop.
  • Successful entrepreneurs are willing to use their savings to finance a project.
  • Many entrepreneurs make a habit of putting their goals in writing.
  • Handling cash flow can be critical to entrepreneurial success.
  • Entrepreneurial personalities seem to be easily bored.
  • Optimism can fuel the drive to press for success in uncharted waters.

These are also some critical skills needed by an entrepreneur to be successful at developing an opportunity into a business:

  • Focus
  • Vision
  • Leadership
  • Persistence
  • Passion
  • Technical Skills
  • Flexibility
  • Self Discovery
  • Ability to Learn

The world needs people to turn ideas and opportunities into small businesses and they exist all over.  Capitalize on yours and you may yet enjoy the benefits being a successful entrepreneur can bring.

Gary J Kiecker

LifeLongU.com