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What really makes serial entrepreneurs successful?

(Entrepreneur News) Serial entrepreneurs are a special breed of professionals, and one success story shares with us his advice, and much of it flies in the face of conventional wisdom.

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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.

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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 American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

Business Entrepreneur

If you’re easily distracted, you’re more likely to thrive as an entrepreneur

(ENTREPRENEUR) If monotony and boredom at work- well bores you, it’s possible you may fit with the other entrepreneurs with a quick and constantly changing career.

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When Bill Gates was a kid, he knew he liked messing around with code. He couldn’t have known how it might evolve, but he was willing to live in the distraction, focusing on details when needed, but always learning, moving on, taking risks and growing in the process.

Some of the most successful folks among us are not content to sit and make widgets every day. They cannot thrive in a detail and focused work environment. So, it may come as no surprise to know that people who are more easily distracted are also more likely to thrive as entrepreneurs.

According to this study, if you are intelligent and get distracted more easily, those two qualities combined will likely enhance your creativity. And, that creativity and ability to use distraction as an advantage can be channeled to create new things, jobs, companies, etc.

For those of us who are more easily distracted, who enjoy doing different things every day, and who like learning, a recent article in the Harvard Business Review suggests a good option is to find a career path that provides the right amount of distraction and which is a great fit for your personality. If you do that your talent is more likely to be apparent because you are playing to your strengths. Also, if you are working in your sweet spot you will be more productive and motivated.

Maybe not surprisingly, the top job for those who live in distraction is entrepreneur. The term “easily distracted” often comes with a negative connotation, but considering an entrepreneur is taking risks, making things happen and creating companies, ideas, products that may have never existed, this spins that idea on its head. Entrepreneurs are the chief cooks and bottle washers of the world. They ideate, create, hire and inspire. None of that is possible in a monotonous work environment.

“Unsurprisingly, meta-analyses indicate that entrepreneurs tend to have higher levels of ‘openness to experience,’ so they differ from managers and leaders in that they are more curious, interested in variety and novelty, and are more prone to boredom — as well as less likely to tolerate routine and predictability,” according to the HBR story.

Other careers that are great fits for those of us (me included) who enjoy distraction are PR/Media Production, Journalism and Consultant. What these fields all have in common is, there is never a dull moment, switching from task to task is pretty commonplace, and you will do well if you can be a generalist – synthesizing information and weeding out the unnecessary.

Not sure where your strengths lie? Here’s a quick quiz to give you some feedback on how curious you really are.

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Business Entrepreneur

How can a small business beat a large competitor moving in next door?

(BUSINESS) How do you stand out when a big competitor moves to your neighborhood? Reddit has a few suggestions – some obvious, some not so much.

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Small businesses, especially restaurants have been hit hard by lockdowns. Many closed for good this year, and those that are still hanging on are in a precarious position as their local economies shift.

Last week, a user on r/smallbusiness asked a timeless question that is especially relevant right now. Reddit user longbottomjr writes: “We have a strong competitor moving in next door in a few months. Our restaurant is one that pays the bills but […] I feel that if this new competitor takes up enough market share we will lose our restaurant. Can anyone chime in with resources/ideas I can use to help put together our plan of action?”

Comments quickly pointed out what common sense would dictate.

First, ensure the basics are covered. Being clean, quick, friendly, and high quality will take you far, no matter what competition you’re up against. And as u/horsemullet said, “Customer service also happens before someone walks through the door!” So make sure that your online hours, contact info, menus and social media accounts are up to date and accurate.

Another point emerged that is less intuitive: Competing businesses will naturally gravitate towards similar locations. This is a well-established phenomenon known within game theory as Nash’s Equilibrium. In the restaurant industry, this is actually a good thing. It brings entirely new customers to the area and ultimately benefits all the other nearby businesses, too.

Take advantage of the attention by offering something other spots don’t, like loyalty rewards, specials, unique offerings, or meal deals.

Speaking of the area, a great way to stand out from larger competitors is to build relationships with the community you serve, as u/sugarface2134 emphasized. “In my city there are two Italian restaurants in the same location – just across the parking lot from each other. We always pick the smaller one because the owner truly makes you feel like a member of the family.”

That’s an advantage of being a small, local business that all the money in the world couldn’t buy. Get to know your customers personally and you will not only create loyal regulars, but friends as well.

One of the top rated responses, from u/seefooddiet2200, made an often overlooked but critically important point.

“Talk to your staff and see if they have any ideas. These are the people that are working every single day and may know one or two ‘annoying’ things that if they were switched would make things easier. Or maybe they see that there’s specific things people ask for that you don’t serve. Every single [one] of your employees is a gold mine of insight, you just need to be open to listening to them.”

That is applicable to any business owner who wants to improve their practices.

Ask employees what they think, especially the ones who have stuck around a long time. Not only do they know the ins-and-outs of their jobs, but this builds rapport and trust with your staff. A good boss realizes that employees are more than their job descriptions. They have valuable thoughts about what’s working and not working, and direct access to customer’s opinions.

Good luck, u/longbottomjr! We’ll be rooting for you.

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Business Entrepreneur

How a newly funded coffee delivery startup is thriving during COVID

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) Seattle’s Joe Coffee finds successful funding in hyper specific clientele and operations even mid-pandemic. But how did they do it?

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Amidst a pandemic, you might not expect a small company with limited clientele to thrive. Yet, Joe Coffee, a Seattle-based delivery service, is doing just that.

Joe Coffee, an aptly named coffee runner, has received millions in funding, a large chunk of which was raised mid-pandemic. Their mission is simple: to bring coffee from smaller shops to local consumers, especially without endangering either party.

There’s a lot to be said about Joe Coffee’s valuation and mission, but what’s more intriguing is their unlikely success.

A food delivery service that focuses on coffee may not seem that niche, but when you look at Joe Coffee’s determination to stick to the Seattle area, coupled with its staunch resolve for frequenting smaller shops (e.g., not Starbucks), the service begins to look pretty specific–and, in an economy that honors sweeping solutions, this is a welcome change of pace.

The way their service works is fairly simple: Joe Coffee provides shops with signs and information on how to order through the Joe network, then consumers are able to download and order through a mobile app on all of the usual platforms. Joe Coffee takes a nine percent cut of the order total, credit card fees included.

In return, customers are able to order from their favorite, local, non-chain coffee shops, both supporting them and sustaining their caffeine addiction at a time where alertness is paramount and grouchiness is all too common.

What’s truly interesting about Joe Coffee’s example is that it demonstrates an availability for small services with extreme specificity in terms of operating capacity. By sticking to unique businesses in a relatively small metropolitan area (as opposed to, say, multiple cities), the service is more likely to be successful in execution and delivery, thereby solidifying its relevance to both consumers and businesses alike.

And, by playing into the need for curbside pickup or home delivery these days, Joe Coffee only furthers the perception that its service is necessary.

If the country begins to reopen–whenever that happens–it will be no surprise to see Joe Coffee maintain a relationship between consumers and smaller businesses in the Seattle area. For anyone offering a similarly niche service, this is a perfect example of a company to which you should pay attention.

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