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Do You Have the Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs?

Do you know what it takes to join the ranks of successful entrepreneurs?

Do You Have the Characteristics of Successful EntrepreneursAs Score Mentors we are often asked, “what does it take to be a successful entrepreneur”?

What is an Entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurship is traditionally defined as the process of designing, launching and running a new business. It typically begins as a small business, such as a startup company, offering a product, process or service for sale or hire. The people who do so are called ‘entrepreneurs‘. They are generally identified as having the…

“…capacity and willingness to develop, organize, and manage a business venture usually with considerable initiative and risk in order to make a profit.”

Twentieth century economists such as Joseph Schumpeter define an entrepreneur as an individual willing and able to convert a new idea or invention into a successful innovation.

Entrepreneurship employs what Schumpeter called “the gale of creative destruction” to replace in whole or in part, inferior offerings across markets and industries, simultaneously creating new products and new business models.

Entrepreneurs, therefore, are leaders willing to take risk and exercise initiative. They take advantage of market opportunities by planning, organizing, and deploying resources often by innovating to create new or improving existing products or services.

While entrepreneurship is often associated with new, small, for-profit start-ups, entrepreneurial behavior can be seen in new and established firms and in for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. These include voluntary sector groups, charitable organizations and government. For example, in the 2000s, the field of social entrepreneurship has been identified, in which entrepreneurs combine business activities with humanitarian, environmental or community goals. Entrepreneurship within an existing firm or large organization is referred to as intrapreneurship and may include corporate ventures where large entities “spin off” subsidiary organizations.

The most significant characteristic that differentiates entrepreneurs is that they are risk takers and they tolerate uncertainty. If that were all that is required for success, then it appears that you need nothing more than to be a gambler. Obviously, more is required.

While there is no simple answer, research indicates several characteristics in addition to tolerance for risk and uncertainty that are commonly found in the personalities of successful entrepreneurs.

Successful Entrepreneurs Have:

  • Self Motivation – have the ability to wake up in the morning and immediately start working. Entrepreneurs do not waste away the day doing things that have no benefit to their business. Bosses told you what needed to be done. Now as an entrepreneur, you must know what needs to be done and take action to get it done.
  • Self Confidence – be confident in yourself, your product and your business. You need to know that your product can truly help people and that you are charging prices that are both fair to you, and your clients.
  • Behave Ethically and Morally – decide what you stand for and how you will conduct your business on a daily basis. Know before you get tempted to cross some line that could jeopardize your business.
  • Manage Time – this goes hand-in-hand with Self Motivation. You need to schedule your day and stick to that schedule. Your time is valuable. Take time to educate yourself on ways to improve your business or products. [Related: Staying Productive]
  • Sales – every business needs to develop a way to handle sales. An entrepreneur’s job is to develop the types of sales that work best for your business Constant effort should be on improving your sales skills.
  • Understand Finance – this a must if you are in business for yourself. Knowing how to balance a checkbook and keeping track of numbered invoices is all most small businesses need to do when they first start out. Remember to schedule time for your financial management.
  • Study Strategies – of successful businesses already doing what you wish to do and incorporate the best strategies into your own.
  • Value Quality – quality drive sales, which leads to business growth.

 Successful Entrepreneurs also meet these Requirements:

  • Clear, succinctly stated value proposition specifying benefits
  • Know target market
  • Strategic business plan
  • Unified, connected product line or service line
  • Competition based on a dimension other than price (e.g., quality or service)
  • Early, frequent, intense and well-targeted marketing
  • Tight financial controls
  • Sufficient start-up and growth capital
  • Corporation or LLC model, not sole proprietorship
  • One or more unique competitive advantages
  • Work experience in the start-up industry
  • Full-time involvement in the new venture

A SCORE mentor can help your through this process FREE! Click here to schedule a mentoring session.

Greater Phoenix SCORE also has classes and workshops on how to a start a business. Click here for the schedule.

Here are some free resources SCORE and the SBA.

About the Author:

Roger_RobinsonRoger Robinson, PhD has been a SCORE mentor for over 16 years. His specialties include non-profits, business planning, specifically in restaurants and hospitality, recreational and arts and Entertainment verticals. Read more about Roger here. Click here to schedule a free mentoring session with Roger or another SCORE mentor.

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How to Write a Business Plan for Success

December is National Write a Business Plan Month! So it’s appropriate that we offer an article on how to write a business plan for success.

how to write a business plan for successYou might ask, why do I need a business plan?

The real purpose of a business plan is to create a well thought-out document that states, in detail, your business dream and how you plan to develop and finance this business. Your business plan is, in fact, the roadmap to your future.

Additionally, investors and lenders usually require a written business plan. Just as important, stakeholders such as suppliers, customers and potential key employees want to know who you are and what you are all about.

A Written Business Plan also Serves as a Guide for You and Your Team.

The Real Value of Business Planning lies in the Process Itself.

This focuses your thinking and keeps you on track. In other words, the key to success is going through the process. Thus, it’s the process itself that leads you to issues that are required for their resolution and your ultimate success. Planning is the structure by which you determine the key steps needed to find the information required to develop your successful business. In fact, for many situations, the planning process is actually more important then actually writing the plan.

Currently, leading experts in business planning such as Alexander Osterwalder and Steve Blank suggest the development of the Business Model Canvas (BMC) as the key to the process. From their point of view a BMC is actually a prelude, a precursor to the creation of your Business Plan.

Here is an example of a simplified BMC:

how to write a business plan for success

Fully understanding each of these questions and developing appropriate responses will lead you to a clearer, better understanding of all of the elements essential for the success of your enterprise. Note the importance of starting with the value proposition and matching this with the customer segment. Once that benefit fit has been established all else follows.

As an example, let’s create answers for a hypothetical BMC for MacDonald’s as developed by Manasota Score:

  • Value proposition -> quick, inexpensive meal
  • Customer segment -> public / seniors / families
  • Customer relationship -> personal face to face service
  • Distribution channels (paths to customers) -> in store / drive through
  • Revenue stream -> company store sales / royalties / franchise fees
  • Key activities -> training staff / marketing
  • Key resources -> employees / locations
  • Key partners -> franchisees
  • Cost structure -> staff / locations / supplies /marketing

In conclusion, the BMC guides you to focus on all the key factors necessary to create the roadmap to the attainment your dream.

Note, developing a BMC is not something done all at once. It is an iterative process by which you are systematically testing out your ideas.

A SCORE mentor can help your through this process FREE! Click here to schedule a mentoring session.

Here is a list of Free Resources with Business Plan Templates from SCORE and the SBA.

Greater Phoenix SCORE also has classes and workshops on how to write a business plan. Click here for the schedule.

About the Author:

Roger_RobinsonRoger Robinson, PhD has been a SCORE mentor for over 16 years. His specialties include non-profits, business planning, specifically in restaurants and hospitality, recreational and arts and Entertainment verticals. Read more about Roger here. Click here to schedule a free mentoring session with Roger or another SCORE mentor.

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SCORE Wants Military Veteran Clients

Thank you VeteransSo why is that? I can think of three good reasons—although there are probably more. First, it’s the right thing to do. We know that coming back into the civilian world from military service can be a difficult transition—whether at a young age from just a few years of service or at an older age from a full military career. Those who have put themselves on the line to defend our freedom deserve all the help we can give to make it easier to be successful in the civilian world as well.

Second, many of us who serve as SCORE mentors are veterans ourselves. Though we are open to and happy to serve all, it is a special bonus for us to be able to “give back” to one of our own.

Third, we have found that veterans are often better equipped to succeed at business and thus are more satisfying clients. When you look at the traits necessary for successful entrepreneurs, you find that they need to be hard-working, dedicated, disciplined, multi-skilled, self-sufficient, and focused on accomplishing their goals. Those are precisely the traits that have made veterans successful in military service. Veterans bring that culture to the challenges that are inevitable in starting a small business and nurturing it to succeed.

SCORE wants to be part of extending the long history of military veterans finding success in business. For example, a Syracuse University study found that nearly 49.7% of WWII veterans went on to own or run a business. More recently, U.S. Census data from November 2015 indicates that veterans owned more than 10% of the 2,540,000 businesses in the United States. In Arizona, the ownership percentage was about 9%, probably reflecting that more of the veterans in Arizona are already retired from their second careers as well.

For veterans who see themselves as potential business owners, I encourage you to use the many resources that are there to help. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a great place to start. They are actively engaged in military transition programs like “Boots to Business” and, as a “resource partner of the SBA, SCORE is an active participant. As a continuation of your transition, you should engage with us to take advantage of the experienced business mentors, business training, and support we provide. For those of you in the Phoenix Metro Area, start with our website and make an appointment to meet with one of our 75 experienced mentors. We are there to help you no matter what stage you are in business—start up or long-standing existing business. And we never send you a bill—our mentoring services are always free. Take advantage of one of the best deals in town!

Jay Gladney, president of Greater Phoenix SCOREBy Jay Gladney; Chapter President, Greater Phoenix SCORE; Retired Mustang Major, USAF

 

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5 Branding Mistakes That Could Ruin Your Business 3 Oct

5 Branding Mistakes That Could Ruin Your Business

Branding is so much more than just a logo!

This video highlights the top 5 branding mistakes businesses make – no matter what size they are!

  1. Being insensitive. Some companies have taken advantage of a trending phrase on social media to promote their product, but they didn’t check to see why something was trending. It was a shooting or some other catastrophe.
  2. Brazen changes. Don’t do what Coke did! Hash out all the pros and cons before rebranding or making a major change to a proven product or service.
  3. Inconsistency between channels. If someone lands on your Facebook page or your website, they should know in seconds who you are and what you do.
  4. Ignoring the follow-up. Touch base with past clients. You never know if they might need your services again.
  5. Lack of sincerity. Honesty, openness, integrity. It’s no longer about B2B or B2C. It’s P2P – person to person.

Greater Phoenix SCORE offers many different classes including branding and marketing. Check them out here.

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Restaurant Management Success Tips 1 Aug

9 Restaurant Management Success Tips

Poor management and lack of expertise account for more than half of new restaurant failures!

Here are some operational tips that are essential to your restaurant’s success.

  1. Office Procedures. A simple, user-friendly manual based on Federal and State laws should define the management policy on sexual harassment and discrimination, dealing with customers or suppliers, employee performance reviews, terminations, and standards for operation of the business in a “real world” environment. Research on applicable Federal and State requirements are a must. Also included should be procedures or process flows on key work activities (budgeting, invoicing, accounts payable, credit and collection, purchasing and maintenance, etc.), employee benefits, training, disciplinary actions, records retention, and training. This manual should be developed early on, given to each employee and a signed receipt kept in company files.
  2. Profitability Through Financial Controls. Develop a progressing 12-month flexible budget defining estimated revenue streams and expenses.  As applicable, include a revenue projection based on prior year’s performance.   This exercise will provide a formula for projecting profit and loss based on expected revenue for the year and identifies trends and areas for management concern and corrective action.
  3. Restaurant Management Success TipsDevelop a Cash Flow Analysis. Show the break even point at which all costs and expenses have been absorbed and the business starts making money. This analysis will help you decide if projected yearly revenue and expenses will meet expectations and identify cost categories where improvements are necessary should a profit shortfall occur. Develop credit lines or other sources of capital to be available during potential negative cash flow periods.
  4. Develop Standard Budget Categories. Track sales and expenses, daily/weekly and quarterly/annual management variance reports. Review order slips versus register tapes to determine accuracy of reporting receipts and make recommendations for improvements. This will provide a level of management visibility and profit accountability in order to predetermine whether profit objectives are being met and form the basis for future reporting. Your accountant can help you here.
  5. Cash Flow Accountability. Implement cash controls that catch discrepancies in what is collected each night and what is deposited. All cash funds collected must go into the bank as soon as possible.  If there is a difference it must be identified and resolved by the manager on duty before they go home. The designated financial employee must then track down and resolve any difference in what is reported to be taken in for the week and what was deposited. Continually review daily and weekly register tapes by time and sales to determine an optimum operating schedule. Review cost of sales figures from prior years, if available.
  6. Training of Key Personnel and Management on a Flexible Operating Budget. The current operating budget will have the necessary operational relationships defined in order to calculate possible excursions in revenue or expenses and allow for timely management adjustments to meet year-end profit targets.
  7. Prepare Procedures and Flow Charts. These will become a reference source for all restaurant personnel on implementing and maintaining the financial and management control process. These procedures and charts are designed to be dynamic in nature and be changed or improved to fit the restaurants changing work environment.
  8. Functional Organizational Chart. Unlike a typical block organizational chart, this is a chart to graphically portray the added flow of responsibilities top to bottom throughout the entire business structure. This should be the foundation for complete understanding on work responsibilities and relationships between the owner and the restaurant team — and used in the development of job descriptions, management team development and controls.
  9. Financial and Management Reporting System. Design a financial and management reporting format that includes the required managerial controls. An efficient automated system that is designed specifically for the restaurant industry is required for updating and maintaining the financial data mandatory for professional and timely profit and expense control and reporting. An accountant with experience in restaurant financial controls could recommend a system suitable to fit the size of your business with the necessary accountability.

This is part of a series for new restaurant startups by Roger Robinson, Phd.

If you’re thinking of start a restaurant or any type of business, get FREE Business Mentoring at a convenient location in the Phoenix Valley.

About the Author:

Roger_RobinsonRoger Robinson, PhD has been a SCORE mentor for over 16 years. His specialties include non-profits, business planning, specifically in restaurants and hospitality, recreational and arts and Entertainment verticals. Read more about Roger here. Click here to schedule a free mentoring session with Roger or another SCORE mentor.

 

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SCORE Success Story: Heartsweet Cakes

Heartsweet Cakes, a SCORE Success Story“When starting your business, you are going to need a plan A, B, C, and D,” said my SCORE mentor Roger Robinson, at one of our first meetings together. I left this meeting frustrated and discouraged because I only had a plan A.

Upon graduating college with a degree in business, I moved to Chicago and began working downtown at a marketing research firm, working only the left side of my brain in a cubicle for three years. From day one, I yearned for something more. I knew I wanted a career that I was passionate about and fulfilling. I went back to my love of art and design and began searching for cake decorating programs at culinary schools. I enrolled at the prestigious French Pastry School and I never looked back.

A couple of internships later, I worked my way up and managed the top cake shop in the city. I honed my skills and learned as much as I could about the industry and cake design. It was at this shop where my vision and dream for Heartsweet Cakes began to take shape. I drafted a 40-page business plan, complete with a 600+ item inventory list with prices and suppliers, and I estimated all of my start-up costs.

I moved to Arizona with a plan, a single plan, a plan A. I knew what I wanted my business to become and I was confident that I had the skills and talent to achieve it, but I reached a point in the process where I needed some help. Specifically, I was looking for advice in finding a commercial property and financing support/advice. I reached out to the local SCORE office in Phoenix and both Roger Robinson and Bill Robinson were assigned as my mentors.

Haley Cairns of HeartSweet Cakes - a SCORE Success StoryOnce Roger and Bill had a chance to review my business plan, we dove into some in-depth discussions and analysis of my financials. This was when my plan A started to seem like something that may be too risky financially. They asked me, “Is there a less risky way to start your business but still produce the same product to the same client market?” The answer was “yes”, and I truly feel like they both guided me into a less risky start of my company.  I decided to begin my business out of my home and I installed all of my commercial equipment into a spare room with a separate entrance. I am able to produce the same quality product that my clientele expects from me with less overhead and minimal construction costs. I was able to invest my startup capital into my branding, website, high-quality equipment and materials. I now have room to steadily grow my business with less pressure and financial risk and I will have a lot more control over my work-life balance.

I owe a big thank you to SCORE and the mentors that devoted their time, knowledge, advice, and support to me with my journey of making Heartsweet Cakes a reality. I believed that I could start my business with my plan A but, along the way, I was guided into a plan B, which was the smarter way to achieve my dream and I can attribute this to my experience with SCORE. Thank you to my mentors, Roger and Bill, and all of the other SCORE mentors who support entrepreneurs like me, who are willing to work hard to turn their dreams into a reality.

Haley Cairns
Owner of Heartsweet Cakes – Phoenix, AZ

You can be a SCORE success story! Get free business mentoring no matter where you are in your business: thinking of starting, start-up, growing or established. Click here to schedule a mentoring session with a mentor in one of our many Phoenix Valley locations.

Are you a SCORE Success? We’d love to feature you here in our blog and in our newsletter! Contact your SCORE mentor or the SCORE office with your story.

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