Category Archives: Entrepreneurship
Are you a master at addressing new people you meet, engaging them by asking the right questions? Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas, in their book, Power Questions emphasize that focused questions will help you build relationships and win more business.
It makes sense. Most people are flattered when you express an interest in them. When you ask open-ended questions of a new acquaintance or of a new client, you set the stage where you can actively listen letting the person opposite you do the talking. Listening is a powerful tool when you take the effort to absorb and synthesize what you are hearing.
Here are several useful tips from Power Questions they the authors refer to as the Socratic Approach:
Instead of “telling”, ask.
Instead of “being the expert”, encourage others to share their expertise.
Instead of “controlling knowledge”. Obtain the experiences of others.
Now for the one I like the best:
Instead of “showing people how smart you are”, “show others how smart they are.”
So, the next time, you are meeting someone new, see what you can learn about your new acquaintance by asking the right questions.
In our daily lives, we all have to communicate to influence the actions of others. Sales people in particular know this fact of life very well. They have to gain someone’s attention and they may only have a few minutes to get beyond the introduction. Similar, a job seeker maybe out and about trying to convince prospective employers that their skills and experience are worth paying for. A three minute introduction might be the launching point of a expanded discussion down the road.
A while back, as a business librarian, I began attending networking events at various chambers of commerce. At a monthly gathering I used to attend, we would stand around in a circle and each person would have an opportunity to give a 1 minute elevator (it was all we had time for). Over time, I began to observe which speeches sounded the most effective. Clearly, many of the introductions went as follows, Hi, my name is Mary, I run a full-service insurance agency, please call me if you are interested in purchasing insurance”. Once you heard enough of those, you tended to tune them out.
However, there were others that were creative, they were novel and had lots of pizazz. The best ones were so memorable probably because they made us all laugh.
So, where I am leading with all this? I recently picked up a book called, Small Message, Big Impact: the elevator speech effect by Terri L. Sjodin.
The importance of having a well-planned short and concise speech is not all you will learn. It provides great tips and tricks to help you get the foot in the door or pique someone’s interest to want to learn more about you.
I came upon an article today on the website, .Inc that resonated with me. The article was 10 Great Habits of Charismatic People by Jeff Haden. Have you ever stopped to think about what it is about charismatic individuals that make them charismatic? Hmmm. Rather surprisingly, it’s not all about having good looks although being physically attractive certainly doesn’t hurt. In fact, you may find that good looking folks are not necessarily charismatic.
According to the referenced article, personality probably trumps good looks in the charisma department. Rather, charisma is about taking a keen interest in others. They are good listeners. They are not solely focused on themselves and tend to be humble. Above all, they like to make others feel good about themselves. In my opinion, the last bit is paramount.
How is this relevant to being a small business owner or someone pursuing a career? We all need to establish and build relationships to be successful. In business, it’s about focusing on the customer and being interested in his or her needs.
Similarly, whether you are looking for a job or you wish to be successful on a job, one needs to focus on building relationships. In the book, “I Got My Dream Job and So Can You”, the author, Peter Leibman says, “Stop Looking for Jobs and Focus on People”. This simple statement really clicked with me. I have long believed, in order to be successful on the job, the most important element is getting along with people (although you also have to know your stuff).
So, focus less on yourself and develop a greater interest in others!
Are you tired of looking for a job or are you tired of the job you have? Chris Guillebeau, author of The $100 Startup cites numerous examples of successful startups that involved very little capital to start. He provides an interesting roadmap for anyone who is ready for the challenge of a new adventure.
It’s chock full of real examples of successful startups based on simple ideas that were launched with a modest amount of money. Each chapter contains a concise summary of the key points covered which is perfect if you would like to thumb through the book quickly.
I really enjoyed reading Chapter 2, “Give Them the Fish.” When the author began discussing the concept of providing “value”, initially, I said to myself, “Oh no, how many times have I heard this one.” But, alas, it sounded way better than what I had expected. Simply put, “value” is about helping people.
Above all give people what they want rather than what you think they should have. Hence, “Give them the Fish”.
Your appeal should be at the ground or emotional level. Aim to better people’s lives. There is nothing wrong with that.
With the growth in the use of smartphones among consumers, funny looking barcodes seem to be cropping up all over the place. What am I referring to? QR Codes also known as quick response codes. Instead of a horizontal string of black bars, a QR code looks like a randomly placed bunch of boxes that form a a square.
Find QR codes on product packaging, advertisements in newspapers, in-store displays, posters and signs. Consumers will be directed to web sites, email addresses, and yes, cooking recipes.
Android, blackberry and IPhones are all able to read these codes with downloadable apps. Businesses and other entities in the nonprofit world are using them to attract attention with customers, patrons, donors, etc.
An article in The Wall Street Journal, Small Retailers Take Advantage of Smart Phone Boom, cites a coffee shop that is using QR codes to direct customers to their menu. Busy people on the go can scan the QR code on its ads on trains in Vancouver, BC before ordering their morning coffee and breakfast roll. By the time, they reach the cafe, voila, their order is read to go!
With so many different channels of communications available today, it’s difficult to stand out in the crowded market place. So, market your business in unique and creative ways to be noticed.
Your local library has all sorts of books about the latest marketing tools. Just check’em out!
Obtaining funds to start a business can be difficult. Lenders even with a guarantee from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), expect the borrower to bring sufficient capital to the table as well as quality assets as collateral.
Here and there, you hear about how people manage to start a business with nearly nothing and you wonder how they did it. You hear about people who max out all the credit cards, continually transfering balances one from card to another. And that’s a job, to manage that charade.
Recently, I was reading an article on SmartMoney.com about a startup business owner who was able to fund his new business with a 401(K) rollover. It’s a really clever strategy if you can pull it off. It’s known as a Rollover as Business Startup or ROBS.
You set up a corporation with a new 401K. Then, you roll the funds from your old account into the new one to purchase stock in the new company. Alas, you now have the cash to fund your new company. Got all that?
For more information, please see article, How to Fund a New Business with a 401(K) in the digital version of Smart Money.
I believe most people are finding the volume of information available in cyberspace to be overwhelming. Fortunately, information professionals figure out ways of sifting through it. Within our own specialty fields, we tend to establish a comfort level with a select number of sources. I am one of them.
Several online newspapers provide some very help guides and tips for small business owners. Luckily they tend to be fairly dynamic and therefore their offerings are always changing. From day to day, you never know what you will find, so it’s not a bad idea to breeze through them every so often.
One of my favorite sites happens to be the Wall Street Journal. They have a tab at the top, labeled, “Small Business.” On April 3rd, I found an article, entitled, “Getting Money Into the Hands of Small Businesses”. Karen Mills, chief of the US Small business Administration was interviewed by the WSJ staff. Then, on the 7th of April, I found an article about tapping retirement money to fund a business.
Another favorite of mine is ColoradoBiz. As the title suggests, this is a Colorado specific magazine for business although the articles tend to have a broader perspective. Gain some inspiration from reading success stories of local entrepreneurs. You will also find lots of tips and steps to improve your business.
The online version of Entrepreneur magazine offers something for everyone. If you are looking for basic start-up information, you will find everything from business ideas, to business plans and obtaining financing. Beyond the fundamentals, other content includes, home based businesses, franchises, technology, sales and marketing and more. You will also find similar offerings on Inc. magazine’s web site as well.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg.