Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

The Young Entrepreneur

Over my career, I have managed many young adults, many of them in their first real jobs. In my current life, I have the privilege of working with a number of young entrepreneurs. It is a great experience for me as I get to help shape the ideas of and learn from some of these great young adults.

In general, the young entrepreneur is blessed with a number of advantages:

  • Energy
  • Lots of ideas
  • Unbridled optimism
  • No jaded perspective
  • Low cost of living
  • Self sufficiency

However, there are life lessons that they need to be aware of as well (with apologies to Robert Fulghum):

  • Grammar and punctuation count.
    People will sometimes judge you based upon how well you can present yourself in writing. Make sure to use your spell checker, but don’t leave it at that. Make sure you understand the difference between their and there, its and it’s and your and you’re. The caps key is there for a reason. Use it to start sentences. If you aren’t sure about the usage of something, find somebody who does know and ask them to review the piece before you send it out. If you have a table of numbers in your document, make sure the totals foot.
  • Communications is 90% of the game.
    Show up when you say you’re going to show up. Deliver when and what you promise. Document your understanding with your partner, client, vendor, investor. Get out from behind your computer or desk and meet people. Find opportunities to take people out to lunch or coffee. Yes, I know that sometimes we all have ADD, but your customers are counting on you to do what you say you are going to do. If you can stand out in this area, people will recommend you to others who can use your product or services.
  • Listen. Intently.
    When client describe what they require. When investors talk about what is important to them. When vendors explain how their product is different. I know that you are very keen on your idea. People will give you an opportunity to talk about what you are doing. If you have listened intently, you can make your presentation that much more relevant to your communications partner.
  • Always say thank you.
    I know that it sounds like I am talking to a three year old, but it is critical that you recognize when people help you. Saying thanks in a personal way (not a Hallmark card, but a handwritten note or personalized email) in a timely manner will make a huge difference in how people perceive you, the person and by association, your company.
  • Share.
    Find ways to connect people. Start to build a contact list of people that you admire or who have specific skillsets. When you meet with someone who has a need that you can help to connect to one of your contacts, do so in a professional way. Send an article that you think might be compelling. Point someone to a blog you like. Being perceived as a connector can only help to pay dividends for you in the future.
  • Dress well.
    It never hurts to dress one step higher than you think is necessary. Worst case, you can always take off that darned tie. Even if your company is in an edgy marketplace, see if there is a way to make it classy edgy rather than raw edgy. Again, people do sometimes make quick impressions that stick. I know people that console themselves with “If they only cared about what we wore and not what we do, we don’t want to work with them.”. However, often this comes up only as sour grapes, once the contract has been lost. It is always better to be ahead of the game.
  • Underpromise and overdeliver.
    While the true bean counters will not be happy that you were ahead of your forecast, everybody else will be delighted that you were able to do better than you promised.
  • Give something extra.
    The Cajuns have a word for this – Lagniappe, something extra. In many Cajun restaurants, you will get a little something extra – perhaps a small dessert or trial of another entree. It costs next to nothing and has people talking. Look at it as an almost free focus group.

More life lessons on young entrepreneurs to come in future postings.

Retail, Entrepreneurship, Financial and Politics

Retail: Microsoft has announced plans to open up retail stores and have hired their first VP of Retail.  Robert Scoble takes an opportunity to give Microsoft some pointers on what they should do to differentiate themselves from Apple and Best Buy.

Entrepreneurship: I just love it when I can uncover a new blog (to me) that takes a different look at things that I am interested in.  So, I found Micah who talks about entrepreneurship.  However, he looks at it at a little bit of an angle.  For example, here are three of his latest essays, “What is an Entrepreneur?“, “The Economics of Stripping” and “Cauldron of Friction“.

Financial: On Friday, I asked about what the big banks were doing with their taxpayer funds.  Apparantly, nothing, according to their testimony on Capitol Hill.

Politics: So, the Democrats handed President Obama the stimulus package that he asked for.  How are the Republicans taking this?  Frank Rich of the New York Times  talks about the win, while Andrew Sullivan of the The Daily Dish castigates the Republicans for getting us into this mess and then whining about fiscal responsibility.

Technology: Ever wonder about how the phone company figures out the charges for text messaging?  So, did Senator Kohl from Wisconsin.  He couldn’t get much further than you or I.

Fun: For a fortune cookie style blog, Amy Flanagan runs theshortestblogintheworld.  Today was a classic Amy: What if Snopes is a hoax?

Technology, Art, Entrepreneurship, Bailout

Irony Alert: Google just bought a paper processing plant in Finland, so that they could repurpose the building into a data center.

Technology: Kevin Kelly has written a great (and long) post about the Amish and technology.  To go back to my software days, the Amish are not in the Early Adopter portion of consumerdom, but surprisingly to many of us, they are a part of the technology buying spectrum.

Fun: Ever had a photo that you wanted to see reimaged as a charcoal sketch? You don’t have to break out the Photoshop. I have used the service at Dumpr in the past and been very happy with the results. Dumpr has some very interesting options, including celebrity pics.  There is a new site, BeFunky that offers a number of other transformations, including cartoon, stencil, sunburst and inkify.

Behind the Scenes: I admit it.  I love knowing what is going on behind the scenes.  Have you ever wondered what goes on when your television news team goes to commercial? Check this out.

Entrepreneurship: John Patterson writes A Counter-Intuitive Lesson in Clarity (grammar alert).  In it he talks about what makes entrepreneurs tick and why they need to surround themselves with people who have different worldviews. This is a key point in the growth of an entrepreneur… The ability to accept that you are a vision person and work with others who can help you refine your grand scheme into a viable moneymaking business opportunity.

Financial: Steven Pearlstein, writing in the Washington Post, today talks about Citizens South, a small bank in North Carolina. Citizens South is a well managed bank. They didn’t make risky loans and stayed conservative. Impressive among banks, they even turned a profit last year.  Their president, Kim Price, applied for TARP bailout funds and received $20.5 million.  Citizens South had no plans for the money until Price came up with a plan to offer, in conjunction with builders, low rate mortgages and no closing costs.  Now mortgages are available to people who otherwise wouldn’t buy a house in this economic climate.  A feel good story for sure.
However, I wonder about why a profitable bank that didn’t make bad loans is making the financial decision to take taxpayer money.  Apparently, the bailout funds don’t come with a strong enough deterrent to focus their use for the most heavily impacted banks. While I am excited that this bank thought outside the box enough to expand home ownership to their customer base, why is the American taxpayer paying for this and what have the big guys (Citi, Bank of America, Chase) done with their bailout funds?