Posts Tagged ‘Entrepreneurship’

When Do You Know You’re an Entrepreneur?

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

As an “aspiring” entrepreneur I constantly asked myself,  “How do I know that I am an entrepreneur?”.  Being conditioned to “know” something is something through tangible and transitional reasoning I had no way of identifying myself as an entrepreneur.

Today I can confidently say that I am an entrepreneur. I am one, because I say I am, I feel I am and I make a unique contribution to the world.

Here’s me diving deeper into this topic…

When did you know you were an entrepreneur?  What is an entrepreneur in your mind?

Business Ventures With Friends. The Good, Bad & the Ugly

Monday, December 14th, 2009
Hands in

Hands In! Maybe?

If you are an entrepreneurs, it’s very likely some of your friends are entrepreneurs.  Which is fantastic right?  That means you can come together for ideas, advice and other forms of insightful collaboration.  Of course, there will be many opportunities for you to pursue ventures with your friends.  Pretty exciting stuff, I know.

However, one must consider the possible pitfalls of partnering with friends on ventures (impressive alliteration eh).  Many times friendships get tested and business decisions get clouded.

With a talented group of friends and more and more partnership opportunities coming my way, I have to consider the good, the bad and the ugly before I jump into a new venture.  And you should consider it as well.

The Good

The single most important thing is that expectations are set.  There must be one vision and one team moving in unison.  If they fall off track a bit, they have the wherewithal to hop back on and get moving in the right direction.  Since birds of a feather flock together, your friends most likely have some of the same skills, talents and interested.  That shouldn’t mean that roles and positions aren’t set.  Egos may be tampered with when one friend is named the CEO over another but a group must define roles in order to have expectations met and the organization operate effectively.  Setting expectations and defining roles based on each individual’s strengths and desires is the only way a business friendship combo can work.

When all is accounted for and everyone is on the same page, you can only imagine the benefits.  You are working side by side with people you care about on a project you care about.  There is nothing better in this world then spending quality time with good friends.  If you are able to start up a successful business with your friends, you live the virtues of spending quality time with them while changing the world and making money.  Doesn’t get much better then that.

The Bad

Business decisions sometimes takes emotionless fortitude to move the right direction.  On the other hand, for friendship’s to flourish, one must have the capacity to empathize with their friends on a deep emotional level.  If you cannot find a balance between the two temperaments, be prepared for a short and bumpy ride.  To find this balance the team must be committed to being as open as possible.  Disclose all, from you finances to your feelings.  If you stumble across a partner that is not willing to be open, pick up your bags and roll out.

Say you do get to the point where each team member can strike a balance between business and friendship and prove to be open with each other.  You’ve made it passed step one.  However, in step two, money is something that will need to be accounted for.  Many entrepreneurs have the idealist notion is that you create something great and the money will fall into place (I still work under the notion…yes I am a romantic).  But at some point some type of reality sets in, either your costs are piling up or money is flowing in (hopefully the later).  If your friends and business partners does not have a clear picture of their capital contribution things are liable to get bad.  Never, never let friendships break up over money.  Be smart and bring in a trusted third party part time CFO if you need to, the money is worth the money.  If you are in this position, go talk to my friend and financial expert Trishan. He is a honest and knowledgeable guy that will set up your company’s finances for you.

The Ugly

My first venture Blacktop Hoops is the quintessential example of friendships and ventures turned ugly.  I ended up collaborating with a friend I only knew for a short period of time.  We had our differences but since we believed we needed each other we stuck through it.  He later brought his friend on to be our developer.  Communication was terrible and there was far too much tippy toeing around people’s feelings.  End result, is that the partnership is now dissolved.  Learn the whole ugly story here.

Conclusion

Make sure you know what you are getting your self into before you jump into it.  Set expectations, roles and most importantly make sure your group compliments each other.  No good friendship is worth ruining over business and no good business worth ruining because of a friend. 

Have you worked with friends before?  What have you learned from the experience?

When Your First Start-up “Fails”. What Do You Do?

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Photo from Ethan Hein

Photo from Ethan Hein

If you are working on or thinking on working on your first startup, read this. It should help you avoid a messy situation.

In the journey of entrepreneurship, ups and downs are expected. So when BlackTop Hoops had an entire month of everything going right, it was to be assumed that the perfect storm was waiting right around the corner. Here is a quick story of how the perfect storm hit my first big scale entrepreneurial project, BlackTop Hoops, how I handled it and how you can do better.

I tried to forge the river and my wagon got flooded (everyone likes nostalgic analogies right?).

For those of you not familiar with me or BlackTop Hoops, I have been working on “BTH” for a little over a year trying to figure how to help recreational basketball connect and organize. I set forth to create social platform which would allow online communities of basketball players to highlight their basketball skill set, find courts to play on and organize game to play in (this was BTH’s core). Our (I’ll tell you the reason for the “our” usage later) grandiose plan was to help basketball organizations (leagues, tournaments and trainers) promote their companies and organize their members. We believe that rec. basketball is far too segmented to the detriment of basketball players …so we would build the community, bring in the organizations and create a meaningful/ profitable company Yayayy!! Easier written then executed. It turns out that when I started I knew absolutely nothing, but was ballsy enough to take the leap of faith and get going on the project. I guess I knew so little that a year later, I still didn’t have a finished product to push public. (more…)

Practical Tips on How to Increase Focus and Achieve Impractical Results

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

vipassana-meditation

I am boldly stating that one of the biggest obstacles entrepreneurs face with their ventures, or any type of online work for that manner, is to maintain keen focus on a task until completion. Being entrepreneurs (or aspiring ones) we are innately inquisitive to a point where learning about new and exciting topics can be a detriment to our productivity. In my case, I can’t help but uncovering a trail of interesting links: like a blog article that will help me market my brand on social media, then clicking a link that will show me how to boost my person brand, then of course I have to check out the author’s Twitter… I can’t help but to follow the bread crumbs (Is that the phrase?). All these social platforms that aggregate, syndicate and pollinate web content helps make social media enthusiasts’ lives easier by helping them discover and share information that they find important. However, on the other side of the coin, they create easily accessible distractions that can help steer you off course.  How can you find a balance between information input and output?…Here are 5 practical ideas to help you get there while working online:

1. Map 0ut your milestones ahead of time:

This is a key to the success in any endeavor!  I typically break down my list to three month periods, monthly milestones, weekly items and daily tasks (read this article by Jun Loayza to figure out how to do this).  Make sure each milestone written down aligns with your core focus in some way.  If it doesn’t, that task is secondary and must not be completed until your core milestones are finished.  This will let you envision your path before you have to pull out the machete and blaze the trail.

2. Use Google Tasks or another ToDo List Service:

I use Google Tasks (a tool included with Gmail) to organize my weekly milestones.  I believe keeping this list in your peripheral is vital.  I say peripheral because having the list in the forefront  is time consuming in its self and will gives your anxiety when you glance at the empty check boxes.  This list will hold you accountable and keep you in check (no pun) while you are performing a task.  No lie, checking a box once you fully completing a task is strangely satisfying.  Check out this list of other ToDo list products if Google Tasks doesn’t do it for you. (more…)

Bad Advice: "Err on the Side of Caution"

Thursday, September 10th, 2009
Image by r0adki11

Image by r0adki11

Throughout our lives, we have all heard our fair share of advice.  Do this, do that, DON’T do that, you can’t do that (whoops, that was a statement), I think you get and feel the picture.  Far too many people (myself included) take advice from whoever will send it our way.  But where has that gotten us?  That is something very important we have to ask ourselves before we’re sure the advice you’re are taking is right advice for us.  The absolute best way to decide if the advice given to you is right for you, is to…

First: Look at who is giving you the advice and ask yourself, “does this person have the lifestyle or results I want”.

Secondly: Take a second to access the advice and really understand the implications it will have on your life before you put it to use. (more…)

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