Posts Tagged entrepreneurial experience

International Entrepreneurs: Success Means Knowing Where to Go


In 1990, Robert Walsh, a Montreal engineer, launched Forensic Technologies inventing the Integrated Ballistic Identification System (IBIS), a crime-fighting tool so popular CSI and Jeopardy have featured it on television. Although Walsh had no knowledge of guns, his invention has become a sophisticated crime-fighting tool that fingerprints bullets and casings from guns by digitizing microscopic information about them. The company landed its first federal contract in 1994 in Washington and has gone global with sales in over 60 countries. Forensic Technologies has its technology installed in over 200 locations in the United States (Chapin, Righton, & Gallant, 2011).

Although Walsh founded the company in his native Canada, he noted the United States emerged as a natural place for this technology because of exploding gun crime. Forensic Technology’s vice president and general manager, René Bélanger, said expansion of the company did not come without challenges because doing business from one country to the next is quite different. Bélanger added a company has to pursue its target and know where it wants to go. Bélanger said a company has to tie to the segment of the market it wants to target to achieve success. Forensic Technology learned this lesson after trying to diversify its product offering, which did not go so well. Forensic Technology today boasts an IBIS hub at Interpol in Lyon, France as it targets the world (Chapin et al., 2011).

International entrepreneurs have to define their target market and go after it with a vengeance. Doing business across the globe is a complex task and a company has to know its customers. Do you have a business that you want to go global? Have you defined your market? If you do and have not defined your market you need to learn more.

References

Chapin, A., Righton, B., & Gallant, P. (2011). International success stories Canadian Business, 84(10), 52-54. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ent&AN=61074191&site=ehost-live

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Small Business Reclaims Made in America as an Economic Virtue


For the last several years politicians have tagged the economic idea of Made in America as a protectionist philosophy. The truth is manufacturing at home and exporting to countries overseas improves the American economy. Net exports (over imports) is what the economy needs to grow. Although importing can produce cheaper goods and services, quality problems and service has declined as a result. For example, lead in toys and brake problems in automobiles have resulted in recalls. Foreign manufacturers have stolen American intellectual property. The list goes on.

One small business has defied the protectionist name calling and built a successful business producing digital radiology equipment. Radlink, Inc. is a California-based company with 22 employees manufacturing its product in the United States and selling to China, Latin America, and the Middle East (“Small and medium…,” 2011).

Radlink calls on Dr. Peter J. Julien, the director of thoracic imagining at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles to provide expertise in reading x-rays and transmitting the results using the company’s state-of-the-art equipment. Thomas T. Hacking, Radlink’s chairman and chief executive officer, explained how Radlink’s digital equipment saves “time, money, and space,” (p. 772) while providing high-quality digital images needed for surgical accuracy (“Small and medium…,” 2011).

Small business is the engine for domestic manufacturing and Radlink sets an excellent example for other companies wanting to reclaim the Made in America economic virtue. Do you want your company to help lead the United States back to economic prosperity? Do you want to learn more?

References

Small and medium business technology alliance; SMBTA highlights an American small business success story. (2011). Investment Weekly News, 772. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/908910659?accountid=35812

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Attack Never Defend: An Entrepreneur’s Key to Success


Entrepreneurs do best in the face of uncertain conditions, but mature firms have a hard time with uncertain conditions because they plan for what is certain and has worked for them in the past. Entrepreneurs can succeed by doing what they do best and creating uncertain conditions for mature competitors.

ImproMed is one such company that has made “attack never defend” its mantra. Ron Detjen, ImproMed’s founder and president, says his company continues to grow and add employees because it keeps a competitive attitude. Detjen argues companies that go on the defensive can never grow as fast as companies that go on the offensive. Detjen encourages his employees to go on the offensive by finding something they excel at and keep working on it (Anonymous, 2011). What an excellent approach!

ImproMed is a company that helps veterinary practices deal with complex recordkeeping needs and has developed the world’s leader software products for both the business and medical needs of veterinary practices. ImproMed stresses a consultative approach for its employees is the key to its extraordinary growth (Anonymous, 2011).

A company that focuses on what its employees do well wins. Employees are critical to a small company because they are responsible for how the company performs. Encouraging employees to focus on strengths puts competitors at a distinct disadvantage because they do not know what to expect. A good entrepreneur works from his or her strengths and not weaknesses.

How does your company attack? I would love to hear your comments. If you want to know more about how you can design a way to attack using strengths you can learn more here.

References

Anonymous. (2011). 2011 Winners small business success stories Corporate Report Wisconsin, 26(7), 30-35. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/864104598?accountid=35812

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Small Business Needs Another Resurgence


Economic recovery depends on restoring middle class workers to the prominence they once had. Many large firms have moved operations overseas leaving holes in the market both from the absence of middle class jobs and tax revenues lost from large companies that moved overseas. The logical choice to fill these holes comes from small business. Small businesses quickly adapt to market voids and offer the creativity to fill holes, but small businesses grow into larger firms and lose their flexibility. Schumpeter (1975) coined the term “creative destruction” to describe when large firms falter and lose their adaptability to create. A blurred line exists about when “creative destruction” happens, but this condition is a normal part of the business cycle.

Most of the goods and services produced in the United States up to the mid-19th century came from small business. By 1914, firms with 500 or more employees accounted for about a third of the industrial workers with another third working in firms with 100 to 499 workers. Smaller firms developed market niches or supplied larger companies with 500 or more employees to compete in the markets until the mid-20th century (“The Limits of Small Business,” 1992).

From 1952 to 1979 the percentage of business receipts from small businesses plummeted from 52% to just 29%, but by the late 1970s and early 1980s the United States experienced a resurgence of small businesses. For example, out of 17 million businesses less than 10,000 firms employed more than 500 workers. By 1986 small firms produced 64% of the 10.5 million new jobs created (“The Limits of Small Business,” 1992). History repeats itself.

The time has come for another resurgence to replace the void left by large firm that have migrated overseas and take the country back to its roots. Small business is in the right place because small business is closest to consumers and has the ability to adapt and create what consumers want and need. The resurgence takes time to gather steam to propel the United States economy out of the recession. Small business entrepreneurs can sense holes in the market and will rebuild what the market has lost to “creative destruction.”

Are you up for the challenge? Learn more.

References

The Limits of Small Business. (1992). Available from EBSCOhost lkh. (03633276). Retrieved Summer92, from Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lkh&AN=10129578&site=lrc-plus

Schumpeter, J. A. (Ed.). (1975). Creative destruction from capitalism, socialism and democracy. New York: Harper.

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Bigger is Not Better: Discover the Sleepers!


Entrepreneurs can do extraordinary things no one ever imagined! Often people believe to succeed in an established industry bigness matters. Judith Rosen (2005) dispels this notion explaining how several successful writers like Walter Mosley do well using small publishers instead of “big six” publishers. Rosen noted that each year some of the best books come from the smaller publishing houses.

As an example, 82-year old Kurt Vonnegut, one of America’s most popular writers, used Seven Stories Press, a small publisher, to find his success. America knows Vonnegut for his Slaughterhouse 5 and Cat’s Cradle. Similarly, Steve Kaplan used Bard Press for his book Bag the Elephant on how to woo big clients. Bard Press had expected this book to land on the best sellers’ list which would make it the 12th publication out of 25 to achieve this status (Rosen, 2005).

Rosen (2005) offered four other titles, which became successes through smaller publishing houses. Publishing is just one industry, but the point is big does not mean better. Other industries can compete with the big guys just like the smaller publishers do with the “big six.”

The key is to develop products the big guys have not thought of or did not wish to invest in because they thought no market existed for them. Entrepreneurs take the risk to go where the big guys fear to tread. Entrepreneurs have an advantage because they are closer to consumers and understand what they want.

Are you a sleeper waiting for consumers to discover what you have to offer? Learn more.

References

Rosen, J. (2005, 2005/08/29/). Six sleepers for fall. Publishers Weekly, 252, 27+.

 

 

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Calling all Entrepreneurs: Does Your Spirit Move You?


Stephen Lagerfeld (2010) described his father’s work as a spirit transcending economics. As his father traveled to work each day he shook his head in pity at the “poor tied-and-jacketed drones” (p. 1) heading in the opposite direction. Although Lagerfeld’s father did not enjoy the security of stable employment, he had his own nursery business, which spawned several other ventures and employed more than 50 people. Lagerfeld said employing other people moved his father the most. Lagerfeld portrayed entrepreneurship as “the pursuit of happiness” (p.1) through autonomy and self-creation. Money is nice, but the entrepreneurial spirit overshadows all else.

Although Lagerfeld’s father almost lost everything during the recession in the early 1970s, he managed to escape with a decent retirement until his death. Lagerfeld’s father did not mind having to work six days a week and many hours without the same security of the drones to find happiness.  Lagerfeld’s father’s greatest joy came from the entrepreneurial spirit and his independence and self-expression (Lagerfeld, 2010).

Entrepreneurs often traverse in an opposite direction and rebel from traditional work. Entrepreneurs are the engine of creation and employment. Entrepreneurs enjoy the challenge more than the money. Capitalism relies on the entrepreneur to get through the rough times and rejuvenate the economy.

Does your spirit move you? If you have the spirit we can help you. Learn more.

References

Lagerfeld, S. (2010). The spirit moves us. [Brief article editorial]. The Wilson Quarterly, 34(2), 4.

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Qualities of a Successful Entrepreneur


The story of Tariq Farid provides some insight on the qualities one needs to become a successful entrepreneur. Tariq is a Pakistani American who emigrated to the United States at age 11 with his family. By the age of 17 Tariq owned a flower shop with the support and encouragement of his family. Two years later Tariq successfully operated four stores. Making a better experience for his customers thrust Tariq’s drive that led to him to create point of sale software for the floral industry. Tariq later founded and led NetSolace, Inc., which provides franchise management solution software. In 1999, Tariq’s thirst for starting new businesses propelled him to start Edible Arrangements®, a franchise organization providing fruit bouquets, which grew to over 1,100 stores worldwide (Crowley, 2012).

Tariq developed his leadership style from the values instilled by his family while growing up. These values included honesty, integrity, and passion. Tariq believed in preserving these values and always returns to these basic values. For example, Tariq responded to an interview explaining how his drive comes from keeping honest with the consumer and himself. Tariq said he believe a true entrepreneur has a focus not so much on making money, but on keeping a social consciousness and providing for long-term profitability. According to Tariq the successful entrepreneur strives to do better and take care of the customer. Passion is the main motivation of the true entrepreneur not making money (Crowley, 2012).

Another striking characteristic of the successful entrepreneur is to embrace change because people enjoy new and unique products. Tariq believes in rethinking everything to stay on cusp. Tariq likes to employ people who embrace new ideas and who serve as change agents to customize products to people’s evolving needs (Crowley, 2012).

One other idea Tariq’s parents instilled in him is to work hard and go after the American dream. Success does not come easy. A person must work hard to become successful. Tariq realized he must work hard to confront risks and overcome them. Successful entrepreneurs must pay their dues and embrace a willingness to make mistakes (Crowley, 2012).

In short, genuine entrepreneurs are ” leaders who lead with purpose, values, and integrity; leaders who build enduring organizations, motivate their employees to provide superior customer service, and create long-term value for shareholders” (Crowley, 2012; George & Sims, 2003, p. 3).  Tariq Farid provides an example of an authentic entrepreneurial leader. Do you have what it takes to become an authentic entrepreneurial leader? Do you want to learn more?

References

Crowley, K. (2012). CEO perspective: Entrepreneurship with a point of view. South Asian Journal of Global Business Research, 1(2), 177-182. doi: 10.1108/20454451211252714

George, W., & Sims, P. (2003). Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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The Small Business Financing Disconnect


Most small businesses start with a business plan to get financing for a venture, but entrepreneurs prefer managing risk through effectuation. Effectuation entails entrepreneurial control over what an entrepreneur can do to achieve a wanted result when the means to that result involves taking an uncertain action. The effectual thinker takes action toward an imagined state incapable of continuous planning because the entrepreneur is uncertain about the result of the action (Gabrielsson & Politis, 2011; Read & Sarasvathy, 2005; Sarasvathy, 2001; Sarasvathy & Dew, 2005).

Entrepreneurs create business plans to achieve early financing and develop plans like they understand the outcome of their actions, but this often is not the case. Entrepreneurs performance typically is significantly off from early plans not because of bad planning, but because of uncertain actions taken toward imagined outcomes. Planning is valid when actions are certain to produce a known result.

Financiers fail to recognize this disconnect, and conventional planning does not fit when an entrepreneur works toward an imagined outcome. Financial planners rely on existing business models and not newly created ones. Not until the entrepreneur perfects the model can planning have true substance in predicting a wanted result.

Financial planning done for business plans at best presents a plan conforming to existing conditions. When an entrepreneur wants to create a new market or product conditions do not yet exist to support such plans. Such conditions cause financiers to rely on risky projections.

This disconnect raises a question about how to evaluate a venture without a financial track record when future actions are dubious. What can an entrepreneur do to convince a financier of the merits of the venture when financial planning projections are so far-off from true results? I want to know your thoughts. Do you want to learn more?

References

Gabrielsson, J., & Politis, D. (2011). Career motives and entrepreneurial decision-making: examining preferences for causal and effectual logics in the early stage of new ventures. Small Business Economics, 36(3), 281-298. doi: 10.1007/s11187-009-9217-3

Read, S., & Sarasvathy, S. D. (2005). Knowing what to do and doing what you know: Effectuation as a form of entrepreneurial expertise. Journal of Private Equity, 9(1), 45-62. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=19164962&site=bsi-live

Sarasvathy, S. D. (2001). Causation and effectuation: Toward a theoretical shift from economic inevitability to entrepreneurial contingency. Academy of Management. The Academy of Management Review, 26(2), 243. Retrieved from http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=72362644&Fmt=7&clientId=13118&RQT=309&VName=PQD

Sarasvathy, S. D., & Dew, N. (2005). New market creation through transformation. Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 15(5), 533-565. doi: 10.1007/s00191-005-0264-x

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Entrepreneurial Lessons Learned: Twinkie, Twinkie, Little Cake How I Wonder What’s Your Fate


As the song goes the bankruptcy of the Hostess Brands, Inc. brings to mind how many companies today rest on their laurels. Many companies have forgotten how to compete because rapid growth has gotten in the way. Kalson (2012) noted how the Hostess company blamed the company’s problems on its unions and dispelled the idea bad corporate decisions, financial shenanigans, outdated strategy, and inept management could have caused the problems.

The Hostess brand emerged from a troubled history at Continental Bakeries. Interstate Bakeries later bought Continental pursuing its strategy of growth by acquisition and mergers. Interstate had a history of run ins with its workers and focused on rapid growth instead of its products and people. For example, in 1982 Interstate Bakeries raided an over funded pension fund to pay off debt on its inefficient plants (“Hostess Brands, Inc.,” 2012).

The Continental merger brought new enzyme technology to the company allowing its products to have a longer shelf life, lowering delivery costs, and improving profitability. Continental like Interstate engaged in an acquisition strategy. Similarly, the company had disputes with its workers and in 2000  lost a suit in San Francisco brought by 19 black workers claiming racial discrimination (“Hostess Brands, Inc.,” 2012).

Again in 2004 the government probed the company’s worker’s compensation reserves and problems with a new financial system the company installed. In 2004 the company filed for bankruptcy still under investigation for how it set its worker’s compensation reserves. In 2009 the company emerged from bankruptcy and relocated to Kansas City only to file for bankruptcy again in 2012 (“Hostess Brands, Inc.,” 2012).

The lesson learned is growth through acquisitions often is a poor strategy leading to financial difficulty if not managed carefully. An entrepreneur would do better by focusing on products and people to grow organically. Entrepreneurs should learn from the Hostess story, acquisitions and mergers often leads to discord between workers and management, and financial problems. Duplication of duties is costly without a plan to remove these costs. A company’s business strategy can become blurred, and the company can lose its focus on its vision and how it best serves its customers.

Kalson (2012) noted how Hostess sold its soul to private equity firms, hedge funds,  and investors while amassing over $1 billion dollars of debt. Acquisitions seemingly erase the competition, but can also serve as the deathbed of a company. Entrepreneurs should think about losing their Twinkies before entering such a strategy.

Entrepreneurs should understand both sides of this strategy before committing to it. If you want to know more about the pros and cons of different strategies contact us to learn more.

References

Hostess Brands, Inc. (2012). Hoovers Academic. Retrieved from http://subscriber.hoovers.com.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com/H/company360/history.html?companyId=15324000000000

Kalson, S. (2012). When all else fails, blame the union hostess gives the twinkie defense a whole new meaning Pittsburgh Post – Gazette. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1220357399?accountid=35812

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The Entrepreneurial Journey


Errico (2010) shared the following story about the Great Hill:

Before time was time, there was a Great Hill.
And on the Great Hill there lived the Yolks.
The Yolks spent their entire lives climbing the Great Hill, trying to reach the top.
Some Yolks climbed fast.
Some Yolks climbed slowly.
One Yolk in particular was a very slow climber. He was different than the rest of the Yolks.
When he climbed, all the other Yolks passed him.
It was hard for him to watch them pass by.
He felt like the worst climber in the world.
Some Yolks made fun of him as they passed.
Others didn’t.
Some Yolks wanted to help him climb but he didn’t let them.
It was hard for him to climb. It was even harder when it rained because the ground got slippery. Sometimes it seemed like it was only raining on him.
But it wasn’t.
There were times when he felt like he wasn’t moving at all.
But he was.
Then one day he met another Yolk who climbed even slower than he did.
He helped the slower Yolk climb.
“Thank You,” said the slower Yolk.
“You’re Welcome,” said the slow Yolk, “I can’t be of much help to anyone else since I climb so slowly.”
“Slowly?” asked the slower Yolk.
“Well yes. I watch other Yolks pass me all the time.”
“I do not know if you are slow or fast, but I do know that you helped me, and that you are still climbing.”
The slow Yolk said goodbye to the slower Yolk, and kept climbing.
“Still climbing,” he thought to himself.
“That is true.”
And he smiled.
So the Yolk kept climbing. He climbed when it was nice out, he climbed when it rained, and he even climbed when it snowed.
As he kept climbing he got better and better.
Sometimes he would pass other Yolks and sometimes they would pass him.
He had stopped paying attention.
He also noticed that some Yolks were no longer climbing.
When a yolk stops climbing it stays where it is.
Some Yolks stop climbing because they are happy with how far they have gone.
Others stop climbing because they don’t want to climb anymore.
The Yolks that had stopped climbing did not like to be passed, and they made it harder to get by.
But the Yolk kept climbing, right over them!
There were still times when the Yolk thought he was climbing an impossible hill, but he kept climbing.
Always, always, climbing.
Do you think he made the top ?

The Great Hill story highlights the entrepreneurial journey. Often entrepreneurs climb slowly to get to the top of the hill, but must persist to reach the top. Entrepreneurship is about persistence and keeping focused on the end goal (to reach the top of the hill). Some entrepreneurs climb more slowly than others, but the challenge is in the journey to the top.

Entrepreneurs recognize others want to trounce them and say, “I told you so,” but filter out the negativity and keep moving on the journey despite the odds against them. Few entrepreneurs are on the fast track, but advance at their own pace. Successful entrepreneurs preserve their passion by settling at a comfortable pace instead of racing to the top of the hill.

Most important, successful entrepreneurs do not let the competition intimidate them. Successful entrepreneurs want to help others succeed in their journey. The key is to keep moving toward the top of the hill no matter what position the entrepreneur is in at a given time.

As the entrepreneur approaches the top of the hill he or she notices other entrepreneurs quitting or conceding on their journey. The successful entrepreneur just keeps going no matter what the pace. The successful entrepreneur knows his or her limits and works within them.

Think about the Great Hill story! How do you describe your entrepreneurial journey? Are you working within your limits at a comfortable pace or are you trying to race to the top of the hill? If you want to get to the top of the hill and avoid stalling before getting there, let us help you find a comfortable pace and help you work within your limits. Learn more.

References

Errico, D. (2010, December 7). The great hill. Free Children Stories. Retrieved from http://www.freechildrenstories.com/story_details.php?st_id=156

 

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