Amidst COVID-19 PANDEMIC scourge, one can utilize every opportunity to be successful in life. mediocrity is self inflicted but Genius is self imposed. That we are in a world devastated by the Corona Virus pandemic, ravaging the whole world, snuffing life out of people and spreading fear everywhere, cannot be an excuse to be idle. Life is full with lots of opportunities, It depends on how you make every opportunity at your door step. You are what you made yourself to be. Being Entrepreneurial can mean knowing your industry inside out, and being able to exploit that knowledge to create new opportunities and having the qualities that are needed to succeed as an entrepreneur.
Starting a business takes time and energy, and one must undergo periods of extended self-reflection to find a business idea that is both realistic and viable. Better yet, once you have a good idea, how can you be sure it will blossom into a successful venture? These early planning stages are essential for a better and a greater output. In today’s context, when one is about to engage in business, he or she is said to be practicing entrepreneurship, and, as a result comes to be known as the entrepreneur.
There is this general perception that business people are automatically entrepreneurs. We always hear people who establish and manage business enterprises referred to as entrepreneurs. That is not entirely and automatically true. You see, an entrepreneur can become a business person, but not all business persons are assumed to be entrepreneurs. How is this possible? Let us have a look on the difference between Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneur.
An entrepreneur is an individual or a team thereof, having an innovative idea, and takes every step to turn the idea into reality, while bearing the risks. An entrepreneur is a Person who has an idea and gives shape to it. He is an innovator, who chased the dream, till it becomes true. He is the one who sets up the business venture, to turn a concept into reality.
Entrepreneurship is a risky activity of commencing a business usually a startup company, offering distinct products and services to the target customers, which may or may not get success. It is the process which gives shape to the idea, A procedure through which an innovation is done. It is the activity, which an entrepreneur undertakes to set up the business venture.
In a business setting, we can try to compare Mr. “A” and Mrs. “B”. Both are looking for ways to make a profit. Mr. “A” uses what resources he has in order to start a business that already has a ready market. The market he is trying to enter already has several of similar types of businesses. Mrs. “B”, on the other hand, takes one look at the market and, instead of starting a business that already exists within that market, proceeds to set up one that has not yet operated or opened up before. In fact, just as there is a huge possibility that the business will succeed, there is also that equally huge possibility that it will not work at all.
Between the two business people, Mrs. “B” is the entrepreneur. She is the risk-taker of the two, preferring to strike out on her own, with a business idea that has not yet been tried or tested in that market before. It goes without saying that being an entrepreneur involves having to deal with a lot of uncertainties; after all, entrepreneurs are known to be risk-takers.
This level of uncertainty and the high degrees of risk involved naturally drives entrepreneurs to become more determined and driven. They have more to lose, so they are more inclined to put in more work. Thus, they have to exert high levels of energy – including creative energy – in order to bring about results. Originality is also a trait that is never too far removed from an entrepreneur and, we are all aware that originality requires creativity – lots of it.
Industries would not be what they are today without the entrepreneur. If all business people played it safe, then there is no way that we would have a global business landscape as diverse and dynamic as the one that is thriving today. It is through their brilliant minds and creative ideas that business and industry have been molded and shaped to its current state. To be successful in a business venture, there are questions you need to ask yourself:
1) Start by analyzing yourself and your strengths.
After analyzing yourself and strength, then you ask yourself; how can I come up with a great business idea to be successful in life? What interests you? What are you naturally good at? What service do you wish existed that currently doesn’t? What do others tell you that you’re good at? Maybe you have a hidden talent that others see in you that you never thought of as a big deal. Another way to think about it is what problem exists that needs a solution? Some of the most successful businesses are ones with products or services that solve problems for others. If this is the case and that skill is something you could see yourself doing more, it could be a great business idea. Talk with your family and friends, and see what they think.
2) Study successful entrepreneurs.
It is hard to know where you’re going, if you don’t know where the great entrepreneurs before you, have been. Ask yourself, how did they come up with their business idea? What advice do they have to up-and-coming entrepreneurs? Learn all you can before you embark on your own journey. Use your Smartphone. If you know you want to create an app, but you’re not sure exactly what you want to create, search through the app store. Search categories of interest. Do you notice whether anything is missing or how apps in that category could be improved? Can you find similar products or services using search engines? The internet is incredibly helpful when it comes to finding products and services that you are in the market for. But have you ever searched and searched for something, and not been able to find it? That should be a tipoff of a potential opening in the market that should you act on. People on social media are often quick to identify issues and problems they have with current products, places, processes, etc., but few take the time to come up with a solution. Reading through people’s grievances can give you great insight into problems other people have that you can solve. Online review sites can offer the same.
True entrepreneurs are often described as possessing a “mix of creativity and irrationality”. They are creative in the sense that they have clear visions of what they want in the future, and they have the abilities to achieve what they have envisioned, but they are also somewhat irrational, in the sense that they are willing to take risks and face uncertainties. Even when others are going in one direction, they are willing to go against the tide, stubbornly taking another route, in the belief that, by following that route, they can obtain that vision.
There are several ways to define creativity. It is worthy to note that, Creativity is an ability, an attitude, and a process. First, it means having the “ability to use one’s imaginative skill in order to come up with something new, whether by production, invention, or innovation”. It mostly stems from coming up with ideas and, by manipulating, combining or reapplying with them, being able to generate more ideas that no one has come up with before.
In order to be able to come up with new ideas, one has to be flexible and become receptive to change. Otherwise, they would not be able to recognize if an idea has a potential to be manipulated into something fresh and new. This is where creativity being an attitude or state of mind is factored in. For the entrepreneur, change is always welcome. Change is normal; change is healthy. Change is inevitable, so they might as well take advantage of it and use it creatively to their own advantage. In fact, entrepreneurs, more often than not, actively seek change.
COMPONENTS OF CREATIVITY
Creative thinking skills
There are so many ways to look at one thing; why else would hundreds of people have hundreds of varying perceptions about a single subject or object? Similarly, there could only be one problem, but three different people could come up with three different solutions. This is a result of how differently they approach problems and formulate solutions. How is this possible? Because they have different ways of processing their thoughts, so that they come up with different ideas. Similarly, they also have different ways of combining these ideas together.
This is creative thinking at work. Creativity in business is embodied in creative thinking, where entrepreneurs use their logic and reasoning, combined with the force of their imagination, to come up with solutions to already identified problems and challenges. In order to fully make use of one’s creativity, there is a need to be open to ideas and to be flexible. Keep in mind that most of the brilliant ideas arise from other ideas, and entrepreneurs start small: with an idea. You should be able to form your own opinion and come up with your own ideas. This independence is a trait that is seen in the best and most dynamic entrepreneurs.
As mentioned earlier, entrepreneurs take the first step by having an idea. They used their imagination and logical reasoning; that is the creative thinking part. Now they need to use their other raw material, their expertise. This encompasses everything that the aspiring entrepreneur knows, primarily his technical know-how and knowledge in business, particularly those that can be acquired from formal education, trainings and actual business and work experience. An entrepreneur just came up with an idea; now, in order to make that idea bear fruit, he must use what he knows in order to make it happen.
You have the brilliant idea, and you have the resources to get it started. Now you have to want to make it happen. This component of creativity is called motivation. Entrepreneurs must have a passion for the work or endeavor that they are to embark on. More than just a passing interest, they must have a desire or thirst for it. This is a classic case of creativity of entrepreneurs being spurred by loving the work that they are doing.
From the discussion above, we can now have a better view on what entrepreneurial creativity is. It is the application of creative thinking by entrepreneurs when it comes to their ventures or business activities. It could come in the deceptively simple task of conceptualizing an amazing logo for the business, or it could be something more complex like drawing up a sales letter that will easily convince customers to spend their money on your venture, business, or product. Another example of a show of entrepreneurial creativity is the ability to identify a gap in the market, and thinking of a product or a service to fill that gap. Even information-gathering has a degree of creativity involved.
ENTREPRENEURIAL CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION
Creativity, in general, is a precursor to innovation, and Entrepreneurship has always been about innovation. The combination of creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit in the person of the entrepreneur will inevitably end up into innovation in business and value-creation. It goes without saying that creativity is already inherent among entrepreneurs; it is in their make-up. This entrepreneurial creativity is what sets them apart from your usual cardboard-cutout businessman or typical investor. You have the idea, you have the resources, and you even have a lot of motivation and passion to bring your idea to life. Now it is time to bring your brilliant idea to reality. This is called innovation.
In the words of Guy kawasaki, The simple definition of innovation is the “introduction of something new, fresh, or different”. From the point of view of an entrepreneur, it is the process where ideas and knowledge are combined to create new value, which are often new ideas that, in turn, create value that also results to more value-creating ideas. This series of events work like a chain reaction, triggering down the line. Innovation boasts several key elements, which are also known as the “9” ‘Cs’. They include; Challenge (the “pull), Customer focus (the “push”), Communication (the “life blood”), Collaboration (the “heart), Completion (the “muscle”), Culture, Contemplation (the “ladder”), Context and, of course, Creativity. Where does creativity come in? It is the “brain” that drives Innovation, since it requires a great deal of creativity in order to generate ideas, share them, and subsequently think about ways to move them along. Innovation, in business, can take any of the following forms:
Innovation in goods, products or services.
Creative entrepreneurs are always thinking up of new products or services that are so innovative they have the ability to create or open up new markets. This is probably the most popular and common form of innovation. It is at this point that we must make a clear distinction between invention and innovation. These are two different concepts: invention is the creation of a product or a process for the very first time, while innovation is an improvement or significant change to an already existing product.
Take, instance, the automobile industry of BENZ PATENT-MOTORWAGEN, which was built by KARL BENZ, A GERMAN INVENTOR. This is the invention. Here comes Ford Motor Company, and a whole slew of automobile manufacturers, and they continuously introduced their own take on the modern automobile, introducing new capabilities, improved parts. This is the innovation.
INNOVATION IN BUSINESS PROCESS.
These include technical and operational processes used in the manufacture of a product or provision of a service. For example, the creative entrepreneur can think of new processes, methods or technologies to reduce production costs, increase demand for the product, or even the overall productivity of the company. A simple veering away from a traditional operational structure is already a form of innovation. As the entrepreneur introduces innovations, new demand is created. When this happens, we are looking at a representation of the concept of “creative destruction”, where existing markets are destroyed to make way for new ones, only to be taken over and consumed by another set of newer market.
The Creative Entrepreneur and the Innovator
The creative entrepreneur is deemed to be the most ideal innovator, considering one of his personality traits of being flexible when it comes to change. In order to practice innovation, knowing when a change is looming and actually seeking it, and subsequently knowing how to respond to change, puts him in the best position to come up with innovative ideas. It has often been said that the entrepreneurship, as a whole, is characterized by taking risks and innovation, which is a roundabout way of saying that innovation and entrepreneurship almost always go together. When you add creativity to the mix, it is safe to say that innovation results from entrepreneurial creativity. If we go back to the previous definitions of entrepreneurship, we will be reminded of how the “newness” and “freshness” factors strongly figure in it. Entrepreneurship is mainly about coming up with and introducing new ideas, new products, new services, and the like, and it is no different from the general concept of innovation.
FIVE WAYS AN ENTREPRENEUR CAN MAKE PROFIT, LEAVE A LEGACY AND GIVE BACK TO THE SOCIETY.
1. Pick an impactful industry. Depending on your background and skills, you may feel limited about which area you decide to go into. However, this shouldn’t always be the case. The key is to pick an industry that has a real, tangible impact on the world.
2. Recognize the power of inclusion. Diversifying your startup team isn’t just good for public relations (PR). Recognizing that creativity and innovation can come from unexpected places, the more diverse your team, the more ideas they will bring to the table. You’ll also be creating an inclusive company culture that provides opportunities to those often overlooked.
3. Create a business model that gives back. If you want to have an immediate impact on those around you, why not create a business model that gives back? This could be something as simple — but effective — as apportioning a certain amount of your sales to a given charity or cause you feel strongly about. Weaving this kind of profit-sharing model into your company’s marketing materials and PR can have a major impact on sales. Almost two-thirds of consumers will pay extra for a product that has a positive impact on the environment or is made through socially responsible means. Moreover, companies that give back are seeing success across all industries, especially with their socially conscious millennial target. Try to find a cause that fits in with your company so that it makes sense with what you do. The more natural it seems to your core values, the more successful it will be and the easier for the whole company to get behind.
4. Sponsor local events. Unable to break into a life-changing industry? If your startup is built on other foundations, don’t worry. You can still find ways to bridge profit with purpose. If you can’t donate a portion of your profits while still making ends meet, or you aren’t in a position to add flesh to the bones of your skeleton team, start slowly. Try sponsoring local events. Not only will you get your name associated with causes or big brands, but you’ll become an integral part of your community. This can be something as simple as providing the shirts for a high school fun run, helping out with administrative expenses or donating a prize. You’ll get plenty of gratitude and promotion in return, and ample chances to send out press releases of your own.
5. Source Your Products Locally. Where possible, try to source your products locally. You’ll stimulate the local economy and have full control over the parts you use, the processes that went into them and where they came from. You can also select organic produce or materials from companies that offset their carbon footprints. Sourcing materials locally on the environment has a lot of benefits and these include; saving money, reducing pollution and helping cut down on greenhouse gases. You may not think that entrepreneurs can do much to tackle climate change or help solve world problems. But, it’s easier today than ever to strike a balance between turning profit and doing good. Solve real world problems while making a name and earning a healthy compensation to boot.
MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN STARTING A BUSINESS ACCORDING TO EXPERTS.
According to the data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20% of new businesses fail during the first two years of operation, and roughly half of all businesses don’t survive past the fifth year. So how do you successfully launch and run your startup? We reached out to hundreds of small business owners, growth strategists, financial advisors, legal experts, and business consultants to compile the 20 biggest mistakes that startups make so you can avoid them when starting your business.
1. Don’t be afraid to fail. “The biggest mistake you can make is to be afraid of failure. Failure is key to your success, and jumping into your fear is very positive for your future business. How you pick up after failure and learn from your mistakes is the key to great success.” – Audrey Darrow, president, Righteously Raw
2. Make a business plan. “Too many businesses start without a basic plan, and if you fail to plan, you are essentially planning to fail. A startup should map out a business plan, even if it is just one page. It should include how much it costs to operate, how much they anticipate selling, who would buy their product and why.” – Deacon Hayes, financial expert and founder, WellKeptWallet.com
3. Get organized. “Being organized is key. Running a small business is like being a circus ringmaster. It’s normal to have dozens of things happening at once. So, I have a daily task list, things that I need to do. And I list them by their priority. It sounds simple, but it works, and makes me far more productive.” – Tara Langdale-Schmidt, founder, VuVatech
4. Understand your market and target audience. “A common startup mistake is not taking the time to understand the market or customers you’re building for. For technical founders, writing code can seem easier than talking to customers, but there’s no way to know if you’re on the right track unless you’re constantly getting feedback from current or prospective customers. It’s important to recognize that building a great product often doesn’t translate into a successful business. Many companies find themselves focusing on a market that’s simply too small to build a big business in.” – George Deglin, co-founder and chief executive officer, OneSignal
5. File for the proper legal structure and business registration. “The biggest mistakes that startups make are not registering their business, picking the right business entity or protecting their intellectual property. These three areas are crucial to a business starting right, where if not done properly, will cost valuable time and money to correct.” – Heather Green Miller, attorney and owner, HGM Law Office
6. don’t try to do everything yourself. “A big mistake that entrepreneurs make is thinking they are all alone, and they try to operate independently without surrounding themselves with wise counsel. Don’t try to run a new business by yourself. Find and onboard trustworthy seasoned advisors to discuss your business ideas, strategy, challenges, and progress. Wisdom and power exist in the multiplicity of counsel. Incentivize four to six people to join your company as advisors in order to receive continuous feedback so that fewer mistakes will occur.” – James Zimbardi, chief executive officer, Rent Items
7. Don’t partner with the wrong investors. “An important piece of advice that entrepreneurs should know before starting a business is that their investors are more than just financial backers. A company’s first set of investors will make or break it. These individuals place their confidence in the business’s potential without having a proof of concept presented to them. Once businesses have undergone their seed funding, then they’ll interact with investors who look at the business’s growth and sustainability.” – Krish Subramanian, co-founder and chief executive officer, Chargebee
8. Don’t avoid contracts. “One of the biggest mistakes a business owner/entrepreneur can make when starting a business is the failure to implement contracts. No matter how good relationships may be, they can come to a screeching halt when systems and agreements are not put in place.” – Michelle Colon-Johnson, founder, 2 Dream Productions
9. Don’t hire too soon. “By far, the biggest mistake a startup can make is hiring employees too soon, such as hiring full-timers when a part-timer might make more sense, or hiring an employee when a subcontractor could have done the same job/function. It is very easy to run a small business with part-timers, subcontractors and the services of other professionals.” – Joseph C. Kunz Jr., CEO and president, Dickson Keanaghan
10.Don’t underestimate capital requirements. “Most entrepreneurs think they can get further with less. In an effort to minimize equity dilution, they forget to factor in unknowns, challenges or delays along the way. Startup leaders tend to plan for the best-case scenario, but that almost never happens. This mentality can be attributed to leaders’ positivity and having drunk their own Kool-Aid. Positivity has its place, however, when it comes to capital; it often results in having to go back to the well for a less-than-ideal raise.” – Wayne Schepens, founder and managing director, LaunchTech Communications
11. Don’t waste money. “Handling money incorrectly and being irresponsible with cash flow is a death sentence for startups with limited access to capital. I’ve made the mistake of hiring too many people instead of the right people, and spending money to fill the top of the funnel without having a well-defined process to manage the bottom of the funnel. Putting good money to bad use and trying to be everything to everyone instead of being niche-focused is a sure-fire way to waste valuable time and money, which are the lifeblood to any startup.” – Thomas Aronica, founder and chief executive officer, Biller Genie
12. Don’t give yourself the wrong salary. “Paying yourself too little or too much [is a mistake]. It’s often easier to determine the salary for a new hire than determining an owner or partner’s pay. Consider paying yourself a percentage of revenue. Whatever you choose, make figuring out your pay – and that of your partners – a practice and foundation to healthy expectation of management.” – Diana Santaguida, co-founder and creative director, SEOcial
13. Don’t undervalue your product or service. “Don’t price too high, but don’t price too low just to gain market share. If you are good, price like it! Many entrepreneurs start with the best of intentions and give things away for free, or do free things for charity, community or visibility. Be very careful with this, because you don’t want to be known as a source of freebies. Ring the cash register first.” – James Chittenden, small business consultant, OneClickAdvisor
14. Don’t launch too quickly. “One of the biggest mistakes startups make is launching before they are ready. The saying ‘done is better than perfect’ is the right advice, however, the ‘done’ needs to ensure it can handle new clients. Once you have launched into the public and you start getting clients, ensure that your systems and processes are in place, such as payment terms and process, contracts, communications, whilst still being able to maintain your marketing strategy. The back-end processes need to be watertight before you start taking on clients; if they aren’t, these are the cracks that will show and appear unprofessional.” – Gems Collins, online course creator, business coach and chief executive officer, Gems Collins LLC
15. Don’t expand too quickly. “When you start to see success, it can be easy to assume that growth will continue, and the best way to make the most out of it is to simply copy and paste your working formula. However, if you … expand your business too rapidly, it could have dire consequences. You may find that your period of growth was only temporary, and end up stuck with a bunch of new staff but no work and no funds to cover them. That’s why it’s important to take a slow and steady approach to expansion, and never act on a spur of good results.” – Mark Webster, co-founder, Authority Hacker
16. Implement a proper bookkeeping process. “Many startup founders begin without a bookkeeping process in place. Great bookkeeping habits help you make smarter business decisions, spot opportunities early on and head off problems before they become unmanageable. Understanding your financials helps to keep a pulse on your business’s financial health. Good bookkeeping practices also ensure that you’re on top of issues like tax and insurance payments that can get otherwise great businesses into trouble.” – Paola Garcia, vice president and small business advisor, Pursuit
17. Create a marketing plan. “If you have successfully validated the problem, market and idea for your startup, then you need to have a plan for how you’re going to get your first user, first 10 users, first 100 users, and so on. That’s where you need a detailed marketing strategy that encompasses the initial acquisition of users, the conversion of those users into paying customers, and making those customers so happy with your product that they help you get more users (through reviews, word-of-mouth, referrals, etc.).” – Sam Sheppard, co-founder, Cabana
18. Don’t hire the wrong people. “Different skill sets and backgrounds are needed for the different positions you’ll want to fill. When you get started, make sure you have hard-working, all-around generalists who can do everything you need them to [do]. When you begin to grow, look at hiring those who are specialized for the roles that need a specialist. Don’t hire a generalist when you need someone who is specialized, and don’t hire a specialist when you could hire a generalist to do it.” – Devin Miller, attorney, founder, chief executive officer and managing partner, Miller IP Law
19. Don’t overpromise or under deliver. “Don’t overstretch yourself in the pursuit of revenue. It is far better to tell a potential customer that you can take on their project next month, for example, rather than take on too much. Not only will this save you from failing to meet targets due to an increased workload, but it will also make you look like you’re in high demand. And that’s always good.” – Zhen Tang, business consultant and chief operating officer, AILaw
20. Don’t underestimate the demands of business. “The biggest mistake startups make is underestimating the demands of the business. Documentaries and blogs about startups are making people think optimistically; this is because the information available does not highlight the hardships of starting a business, but it glorifies the end, which is a thriving business. Because of this, people think that a startup is easy and fun, when in reality, it is quite the opposite. Startups take most of your time and money. It can even ruin relationships.” – Esther Meyer, marketing manager.
A successful startup is not built by one single person alone – surround yourself with subject matter experts and mentors you can lean on and learn from. Although there are several startup mistakes you will want to avoid while building your business, occasional mistakes are inevitable, and manage your expectations accordingly. Don’t be afraid of failure; instead, learn from your mistakes and pivot your business model as needed. Test new ideas and acquire feedback so you can tweak your product to better meet customers’ needs.