Serial entrepreneurs are a special breed
Being a serial entrepreneur doesn’t mean jumping from failure to failure, it is a phrase designed to describe a very small segment of entrepreneurs that have succeeded in more than one creation. One such people is Steve McIntosh, who started his first company, World Choice Travel at age 17, growing it to over 250 employees with over $500M in sales, eventually selling to Travelocity.
McIntosh later co-founded BeQuick Software, ad most recently, Fanhub where his is now working to combine CRM, ticketing, project tracking and pipeline management all in one cloud-based platform.
He notes that this special breed of entrepreneurs must understand some core tenets, which we suspect are based on hard lessons he and many others have learned along the way. In his own words below, McIntosh spells out five things that make for a successful serial entrepreneur:
1. Not all ideas are worth pursuing
Recognize that not all ideas are worth pursing. As an entrepreneur, you are naturally looking out for new ideas all the time. It is just part of your nature. Some of them will be really good and there will be temptation to shift your focus. Resist. What you choose not to do is more important than what you choose to do. When the you have found the right new idea, that next big thing, you’ll know it. Resistance will be futile.
2. Execution, execution, execution
Good ideas are only 5% of the equation. The other 95%: execution. Many entrepreneurs have great ideas. Very few have great execution of those ideas. Just what is execution? In a word: follow-up. As an entrepreneur, you provide direction and set expectations. Without follow-up, these have no value. When you follow up, it is not just about asking “did this get done?” It is about asking open-ended questions that give you the pulse of what is actually happening in your business.
For example, “When we did X, how did customers react?” or “What do you think we could have done differently” or “What are the mission critical things that could affect our launch?”. When you meet with an employee or vendor, write down on a task list or notepad what you will follow up on on when you meet next. When we consistently follow up with our employees, customers and vendors, the result is great execution.
3. Expand or start anew?
It is often better to expand your business rather than to start a new one. Serial entrepreneurs love the start-up phase of a new business. How easily they forget the blood, sweat and tears it takes to get a new business going. It is far easier to integrate new lines of business in an adjacent category or to organically grow your existing business into new markets than it is to start from scratch.
4. Nix the exit strategy
Forget about the exit strategy. I am always amazed how every business plan for a new startup includes a section on “exit strategy”. Why the rush? The best businesses run themselves. When you abandon your business just as things get good, you are missing out on the golden years of your creation. This is the time when the business affords you the opportunity to focus on the bigger picture opportunities without the stress and pressure of being in the start-up phase. The true serial entrepreneur is in it for the long haul.
5. Quit wasting time on investor hunting
Forget about finding investors. Almost any idea can be tested with very little capital. Scrap together your prototype. Fake it till you make it. Prove your business model works. Experiment. Iterate. When you invest your time and effort in trying to get investors, you are wasting precious time and energy that could be spent proving your idea. Once you have proven your idea in a controlled test, you’ll find it much easier to get an investor, if you still even need one.
The top 10 startup cities in America
(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) If you’re thinking about launching a startup anytime soon you may want to check out this list on the top 10 cities for startups.
The digital revolution is in full swing, and some cities are setting themselves up to capitalize upon these innovations by supporting startups.
In order to “better understand the U.S. cities driving the digital revolution,” several groups have come together to rank which cities are making the most of the tech startup boom.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 1776, the U.S. Chamber Technology Engagement Center, and FreeEnterprise.com have teamed up to publish a report called Innovation That Matters (ITM).
The report analyzes and ranks U.S. cities on such factors as startup capital, the connectivity of startups, startup culture, the availability of worker talent and specialization, and more. Data was taken from surveys of entrepreneurs and businesspeople, startups, and leaders in public and private sectors.
J.D. Harrison, senior director of strategic communications at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says that the “digital revolution has the potential to make winners of some cities and leave others behind.”
The study aims to find out which cities “embrace this shift to a digital economy and actively support technology startups,” arguing that these cities “will be the best positioned to unleash the power of high-impact innovation and cultivate vibrant, thriving communities.”
The top ten ranking cities are as follows:
10) Portland, Oregon because every city needs a nickname, has been dubbed the Silicon Forest, referencing its leadership in green tech.
9) New York City, New York. The largest tech hub on the east coast.
8) Seattle, Washington. Home to Amazon.com and several other tech firms, with Microsoft’s headquarters in nearby Redmond.
7) Dallas, Texas. Dtown moved up significantly by increasing startup connectivity and tapping into a large, diverse workforce.
6) Atlanta, Georgia. The “most improved” city on the ITM list, moving up 15 places to number six due to a surge in financial, educational, and health tech industries.
5) Austin,Texas. Home of The American Genius, Austin has become a “haven for tech-savvy millennials seeking good-paying job opportunities.” Besides hosting many tech startups, Austin still has a relatively affordable cost of living.
4) San Diego, California. San Diego is full of cybersecurity, Big Data, robotics, and software startups.
3)Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Also known as Philicon Alley, moved up from number eight by deregulating and becoming more business-friendly.
2) San Francisco Bay Area. The Bay also ranked number two last year. The seaside neighbor to the Silicon Valley has been doing a great job attracting seed funding these days.
1) Boston, Massachusetts. This is the second year in a row that Boston has topped this list, due to its large number of startups and robust entrepreneur population.
How does your city rank?
Customer surveys tell more than just satisfaction
(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) While they can be annoying for the consumer and cost time for the company, customer feedback surveys are crucial to your business.
While Richard Dawson, Louie Anderson, and Steve Harvey may not be able to personally help you with customer service, what they have in common can. Surveys, and personalized follow-up attention in general, help clients and consumers know that they mean something to your business.
For the sake of this article (and the fast-paced, technological world we live in) I am going to be speaking about surveys. However, I want to share this anecdote first.
I used to work front desk at a salon and part of my job was to follow up with new guests about a week after their appointment.
Now, most of the time, my calls went to voicemail, which were never returned; but every once in awhile a human answered.
After going through the spiel of why I was calling, I could almost always sense a sound of surprise from the other line before the person answered my question. One conversation in particular left me realizing how important this seemingly useless task was.
I called an older woman and asked her about a recent appointment she had at the salon. She thanked me for calling and then went into detail about how great the appointment was and how much getting her hair done meant to her.
Before we hung up she said, “thank you again for calling. A salon has never done this before.” It then hit me like a ton of bricks just how significant something as small as a callback is.
If you have the time, definitely make those callbacks to clients as it could be very meaningful. However, it’s understandable that most of us may not have the time in our schedule for personalized phone calls.
So if that’s the case, don’t forget about surveys. I know most of them will either go to spam or go unanswered, but the mere fact that you’re sending it out shows clients and customers that you care about their business.
And, for those surveys that do receive responses, it can be extremely beneficial for your company as you can get insight into what works and what doesn’t. There’s really no disadvantage to this tactic, so remember to make time for that follow up with existing clients rather than just focusing on getting new ones.
Entrepreneur blunders to bypass
(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) Being an entrepreneur takes a lot of hard work, as a result, it’s easy to make mistakes. Here’s how to avoid hurting your business from the get-go.
The entrepreneur business can be a tricky one. It’s not one of those career choices that have more of a clear-cut path, and it may require you to make your own rules along the way.
Along with making your own rules, it is also 110 percent likely that you will make mistakes along the way, as well. This is true of any career, but, when within the sphere of being an entrepreneur, responsibility has a tendency to weigh even heavier on your shoulders.
This is completely unavoidable, but if you keep an eye on your methods and not just your desired outcomes, you can help combat some of the biggest mistakes. Here are some things to keep in mind.
It’s obviously one of the first priorities to get the word out about your business. You may be inclined to hit up every social media platform known to man.
This can be harmful to you if you spread your social presence too thin and have no focus. Pick a few channels that are the most fitting for your business, build your presence, then expand to other channels from there.
Never promise more than you can deliver at the start of your business. You only get one shot at your first sale with a consumer and not delivering what they expected can hurt your next chance.
Also, be approachable and keep an open mind when it comes to networking and communicating for sales. Confidence can carry you and your business a long way.
So, you’ve found a strategy that works? Great! But, don’t get complacent. Consumers want to see innovation, and employees yearn for that, too.
Try and start each year with a calendar and determine what changes you want to make from the last. Figure out what worked and how you can expand upon it to make it fresh and possibly more successful.
With this idea, don’t settle for reusing the same knowledge over and over again. Keep learning as your business grows and turn that knowledge into actions.
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