Tag: small business

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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3 Reasons to Consider Using Gift Cards for Your Small Business

3 Reasons to Consider Using Gift Cards for Your Small BusinessWith the holiday season upon us, it’s time to talk gift cards. According to a survey done by the National Retail Federation in 2014, “gift cards [are] the most requested gift item eight years in a row.” And why not? Gift cards are more personal than cold, hard cash. They show that the giver took an interest in the receiver’s wants. And best of all? They practically eliminate the hassle of returning an unwanted item.

Gift cards put the power in your consumers’ hands. Whether you’re ushering in season’s greetings or simply considering adding another purchase path for your customers, here are three reasons why gift cards are a must for your small business.

  1. They make gift buying easy.

For the indecisive shopper, gift cards are a great way to save the day. As I mentioned above, they reduce the hassle of returns. Unless you’re armed with a shopping list of exact wants and needs, it can be hard to nail down exactly what your friends want. Wrong T-shirt size? Allergic to vanilla-bean coffee but not caramel? What if that scarf simply isn’t their style? These are common dilemmas all customers face when purchasing gifts.

Gift cards eliminate returns for unfavorable gifts. And when those customers do come into the store? Get ready for some serious spending. According to a study by First Data, “72% of gift card shoppers spent more than the original gift card value when redeeming their cards.” So not only are they easier for shoppers, they’re also great for profit!

  1. Gift cards boost new business while building relationships.

Generally speaking, we’re all creatures of habit. We eat at our favorite places, visit our preferred coffee bistros, and shop at the same stores. Why? Because we know what we’re getting. So how do you convince new customers to walk through the door? Gift cards are a great solution.

Gift card use study

Since they’re an easy go-to for consumers of all ages, you can expect a boost with first-time customers. Gift cards encourage new shoppers to branch out and try locations they otherwise might overlook. And when they come in to redeem their card, you’ll have the opportunity to impress them with your customer service and small business feel. Even if you primarily operate online, you can still use e-cards to bring in new shoppers.

Pro tip: Consider offering reloadable gift cards. They encourage shoppers to return and give you the chance to foster relationships.

  1. They help you compete with big box stores.

As a small business, it’s already difficult to compete with big box stores. Shoppers on the go can stop by any prominent retail shop and grab a gift card right next to the register. The entire trip could take less than five minutes. It’s great that you sell unique wares with heartfelt packaging, but sometimes ease and speed rank higher than your boutique feel.

Options are always better. Set up some gift cards near the register and promote e-gift cards on your site to help those in a rush. Customers will appreciate the ability to still shop local even though they’re on a time crunch.

Picking a solution

There are tons of reasons for adding gift cards to your arsenal, so now that you’re onboard start looking for the right gift card program. Prepaid cards, merchant bank cards, outside gift card vendors — be sure to do your research and find a program that fits your small business needs. You can even create your own to add branding flair to your business’s new plastic cash.

Just remember: Check out your state’s legislature concerning gift cards ahead of time. There are rules in place to protect both you and your customers.

With the right gift card program, you could be well on your way to more sales and new customers this holiday season. Happy Holidays!

[Image found at: http://research.nrffoundation.com/Default.aspx?pg=9007#.WDXRXuErIch]

About the Author:

Maxym Martineau Maxym Martineau is a copy editor and staff writer for GoDaddy. She’s an avid reader with an unhealthy addiction to Dr. Pepper and chocolate. She binge watches TV shows like there’s no tomorrow and is always up for a good plot discussion. You can follow her on Twitter @maxymmckay for further shenanigans.





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12 Blogging Mistakes You Need to Stop Making for 2017

Did you know that certain blogging mistakes can cause Google to ignore your website?

Blogging mistakes not to make in 2017


And, you DO want to attract people to your site, right?

What about converting visitors into leads or sales? Of course!

Amazingly enough, there are just a few tweaks you can make to your blog that will make a difference and make 2017 prosperous.

You Want To…

  • build credibility and trust
  • increase traffic to your site
  • entice people to visit
  • grow your email list with conversions
  • come up on the 1st page of Google
  • get visitors to stay on your site longer
  • get more sales!

Here are 12 of the Biggest Blogging Mistakes that I see Small Business Owners make. And they are all fixable.

  1. Using the free WordPress or other free, third-party blogging platform. Having your own website with a company domain gives
  2. Using industry jargon. You’re the expert, your reader is not. Write for an 11-year-old.
  3. Not creating fresh, relevant content regularly. Google ignores stagnant websites!
  4. Not sharing your content on social media. This is the main way to publicize your blog posts. Drives people to your site. Helps with SEO!
  5. Trying to be cute with your headline. Clickbait not allowed.
  6. Writing long paragraphs. Boring!
  7. Not adding the title of the post or keywords to image “alt text” descriptions. This helps with SEO!
  8. Not adding keyword tags relevant to your blog post. This is what the search engine sees.
  9. Not proofreading before publishing. Check spelling and grammar. It is your online reputation!
  10. Not having links to other internal, related content to entice people to stay on your site longer. The longer people stay on your site, the more chances they’ll do something.
  11. Not having relevant external links. Link to related sources or quote or other articles. This actually helps with SEO.
  12. Leaving default widgets like “archives”. No one is going to look for what your wrote on a specific day. They’re looking for topics.

If  You’re Making More Than 1 of These, then you need to Attend one of my SCORE classes! Click here for the Schedule.

About the Author:

Giselle Aguiar, AZ Social Media WizGiselle Aguiar, founder of AZ Social Media Wiz is a social media, inbound and content marketing specialist & trainer helping small business owners learn how to leverage the power of social media marketing, increase traffic to their websites, generate leads, increase brand awareness and establish themselves as experts in their fields. She’s the official social media, newsletter and blog manager for Greater Phoenix SCORE and teaches once a month at SCORE. She recently launched the Social Savvy Solution offering online, on-demand, easy-to-understand social media marketing tutorials. Helping the little guy get social savvy! You can connect with Giselle online at LinkedIn or on Google . Download a free ebook more mistakes you could be making!



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Veterans Small Business Week 31 Oct

Boots to Business: SBA Celebrates Veterans Small Business Week

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has a “Transition Mission” – special programs for Veterans who are transitioning back to civilian life to help them start their own businesses. It’s called “Boots to Business”. And the week of Oct. 31st – Nov. 4th is National Veterans Small Business Week.

Here’s the video story of a Navy sailor and his wife who took advantage of the SBA and SCORE to start Brewery.

He took a hobby and turned it into a business. But he didn’t wait till he was out of the Navy, he started while still on active duty.

“It’s takes a year, 2 years, 3 years to get a business started. So, don’t wait till your retirement party to start figuring out what you’re going to next.”

The SBA has several online sources and there’s a special free event at the SBDC:

#MyVetBiz: Phoenix Boots to Business- REBOOT
Monday, November 7, 2016 – 8:30 am
GateWay Community College
108 N. 40th St. South Building
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Boots to Business: Reboot is an entrepreneurial education program offered to veterans by the U.S. Small Business Administration in partnership with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF). The program provides assistance to veterans exploring self-employment opportunities by leading them through the key steps for evaluating business concepts and the foundational knowledge required for developing a business plan. Participants are also introduced to SBA resources available to help access start-up capital and additional technical assistance. Who: All honorably discharged veterans and their spouses are eligible for the program and can register for the free two-day workshop. Registration required click website link above.

Many of the SCORE mentors are Veterans and their mentoring is absolutely free! Click here to schedule a free mentoring session with a mentor in a location in the Greater Phoenix Valley.

Also, check out the Southwest Veterans Chamber of Commerce.

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How to start a business in 10 days. 24 Oct

How to Start a Business in 10 Days

What! Start a business in 10 days?!

Yes it can be done! However, you really have to be motivated to start a business.

Follow these steps from Entrepreneur Magazine and in 10 days you can have a business running.

(Whether you quit your day job right away, is up to you.)

Here’s a rundown of the steps to start a business:

  1. Create a business plan – whether on a napkin or complex software write it down!
  2. Study the market – define your target market, do some research on them and the industry.
  3. Build your brand – it’s more than just a logo!
  4. Incorporate (make it legal) – at least create an LLC to protect yourself. (No lawyer needed)
  5. Set up a lean machine – keep costs down initially
  6. Tell everyone you’re in business and have something unique to offer – spread the word!
  7. Work the media – and not just print and broadcast.
  8. Fake it to make it – think BIG!
  9. Work on your business – focus on income generating tasks
  10. Party, thank everyone and get feedback

But even BEFORE creating a business plan, attend one of the workshops/seminars that Greater Phoenix SCORE has to offer. Click here for the schedule.


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How to Know When to Change Your Business Plan 10 Oct

How to Know When to Change Your Business Plan

Sometimes you need to stick to your business plan to make it work. Even a mediocre strategy consistently executed over time is better than a series of brilliant strategies that keep going off in different directions. Strategy often takes time.

On the other hand, there is no virtue in sticking to a plan, just for having stuck to a plan. We live with constant change.

Which brings me to the dilemma that many business owners face:

Do I stick to my plan, or change it? If I change it, then is my plan vs. actual (reality) valid? Doesn’t it take consistent execution to make strategy work?

To which I’ll add;

“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.”
– Chinese proverb

I’ve been dealing with this dilemma for years, as a business owner, entrepreneur, and consultant. I want to suggest some guidelines to help you decide whether to change the plan midstream, or not.

A Good Planning Process

It starts with having a plan that includes priorities, milestones, and expected results. Also, you have to track results and compare them to what you had planned or expected to see. And also, as you developed those expectations, you should have included assumptions.

Ideally you have that process going on already. Without it, there’s no plan to change, and you are managing reactively. If you don’t have a process of planning in place, start it immediately in order that you have a better planning process later on.

The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today. – African proverb

Stay the Course or Revise the Plan?

Take some time each month to review your plan and its results. Once you have the process established, it doesn’t take more than an hour or two to get team members together.

Start that monthly meeting with a good hard look at your underlying assumptions. Identify the key assumptions and whether or not they’ve changed. When assumptions have changed, there is no virtue whatsoever in sticking to the plan you built on top of them. Revise your plan, automatically, when key assumptions have changed.

Then look at the differences between what you planned and what actually happened. Identify key differences between the plan and actual results. Some will be better than planned, and some worse.

For each key difference you discover, and all of them combined, use your best judgment and common sense to determine whether the differences were caused by false expectations or unexpected good or bad execution. Also, consider external and internal factors that may have influenced the results.

Maybe your expectations were too conservative, or too optimistic. In that case, you revise your plan. Use your common sense. Were you wrong about the whole thing, or just about timing? Has something else happened, like market problems or disruptive technology, or competition, to change your basic assumptions?

Maybe you discover you and your team have executed better than expected, or results were better than expected. Hooray. Stick to the plan. It’s working.

And maybe you discover that your execution was wrong, poor, or flawed. If any of those reasons are the case, work on executing better and change the plan.

Do not revise your plan glibly. Remember that some of the best strategies take longer to implement. Remember also that you’re living with it every day; it is naturally going to seem old to you, and boring, long before the target audience gets it.

About the Author:Tim Berry

Tim Berry, Guest Blogger

Founder and Chairman of Palo Alto Software and bplans.com, on twitter as @Timberry, blogging at timberry.bplans.com. His collected posts are at blog.timberry.com. Stanford MBA. Married 46 years, father of 5. Author of business plan software Business Plan Pro and www.liveplan.com and books including his latest, ‘Lean Business Planning,’ 2015, Motivational Press. Contents of that book are available for web browsing free at leanplan.com .

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