One of the most important aspects of a strong entrepreneur isn’t just a business savvy mindset, a sound means of securing an investment or past business successes, it’s a desire to learn. Unfortunately, many young minds cross the stage and receive their college degrees in May of each year thinking they’ll never read another book or learn another lesson in their lives, and perhaps even more unfortunately, many are correct.
But an aspiring entrepreneur, one who is bound for success will never lose the desire to learn new things, open and expand their horizons of thinking and continue to grow as a professional. One of the most effective means of learning is, of course, by reading. And often, some of the most insightful material to young entrepreneurs is material written by those who have been there, those who have experienced building a business and the tumults that come with it.
Here are three books that every young entrepreneur should read to gain a harder, faster and better understanding of the ride that a trip down business lane can take them.
1. Improvise: Unconventional Career Advice from an Unlikely CEO–Fred Cook
The CEO of renowned PR giant Golin (formerly GolinHarris) touches on the ins and outs of the winding trail that lead to his current position at the top of his own public relations firm. The path is, in his own words, unconventional to say the least. Despite being a book that covers Cook’s career path to business, the relatively short (192 pages) read offers a fun and engaging set of lessons for finding yourself and your calling through improvisation. Take it from the unlikely CEO when he says that sometimes it isn’t your first (or second, or third) career that works out best, but through a series of small steps, such as picking a new magazine off the rack next time you’re in an airport, you’ll open yourself to a world of new experiences.
2. The Startup Playbook: Secrets of the Fastest Growing Startups From Their Founding Entrepreneurs–David Kidder
A compilation of sorts, Kidder’s book goes inside the minds and histories of some of the world’s most successful recent entrepreneurs. Forty founders are interviewed over the course of the book, each giving their unique take on building a business from the ground up, what it takes and the do’s and don’ts of entrepreneurship. The Startup Playbook is a fantastic place to start learning about different takes on similar businesses.
Buy “The Startup Playbook” from Amazon here.
An oldie but a goodie, “Nuts!” covers the formation and strategies employed by Southwest Airlines founder Herb Kelleher which are abnormal to say the least. Kelleher’s lighthearted attitude and colorful personality helped breed an airline with an atmosphere that was incredibly unique at the time. Perhaps the crowning achievement in doing things differently when it comes to Kelleher came in 1992, when a battle for a slogan came down to a highly publicized arm-wrestling match.
Buy “Nuts!” from Amazon here.
An aspiring entrepreneur shouldn’t stop attempting to expand his or her horizons at any and all times. A business owner and young entrepreneur can learn by doing or learn by failing, but one of the most efficient and cost-friendly ways of gaining invaluable knowledge of business is by reading.
To view David Kanbar’s article as a multimedia slideshow, click here.
There exists something in this world, a condition of sorts, to which none of us are immune. In fact, it’s sitting inside of all of us right now, dormant, perhaps just waiting to strike. It can hit us at any time, with no warning, when we least expect it. Sometimes we’re overcome by it when things in our lives seem to be running the most smoothly. The condition, as you may have guessed from the title of this post, is failure.
Lucky for us, it’s not fatal.
Failure is an easily treatable condition if caught early enough. Here are some tips on how to overcome failure once you’ve been diagnosed.
“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail,” -Confucius
Once failure has struck–which it inevitably will in some form in your life–one must not let it bog them down. It might be easy to back into a corner, tell yourself that you’ve failed, your business is done, and you’ll never get back on your feet, but step one in overcoming failure is accepting that it’s happened and moving forward.
Dusting yourself off and getting back on track is the only thing that can breed success, no matter what industry you’re in or trying to get into. Dwelling on these failures and letting them embarrass you will ensure that you don’t (and can’t) move forward with future endeavors. As General George Custer said, “it’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get back up.” Making sure you pull yourself up by the bootstraps after a failure is more important than the fact that you failed in the first place.
However, you did fail after all, which isn’t all bad because you can always…
Pull out the Positives
“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.” – Henry Ford.
Often called “failing forward,” this second step of beating failure is absolutely imperative.
It’s not easy to look at a creation that has failed, be it a business plan, invention or otherwise, and see it as nothing other than a failure. However, trying to pull out the positives from the experience of a failure is more important than the failure itself. So your product may not have flown off the shelves at the rate you and your investors hoped it would. Now ask yourself why. Ask why your product undersold and what you could do differently in the future to prevent yourself from falling in this pit again.
Got it? Now do it. Failure is never the end. When I founded Bambu White Rum in October of 2007 in the hopes of creating the first line of super-premium white rums in the nation, I had high hopes. I wanted to revolutionize the alcohol industry. Now, Bambu White Rum is defunct, not having sold as highly as I would have liked. So am I out of the alcohol industry now? You’re absolutely right I’m not. After the failure of Bambu, I learned from my mistakes and capitalized on the market, going on to start three of the most successful businesses I’ve been in to date- Bulldog Gin, Skinnygirl Cocktails and NUVO. The reason I was able to move forward after my failure was because I pulled out the positives and used them in my future endeavors.
Learn and Let It Motivate You
“It is fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” -Bill Gates
Ultimately, the only cure for failure is success. And although it isn’t always the first thing you try after you’ve found out you failed, it’s often the remedy that gets the job done. That’s why learning from your failure and allowing it to motivate you is the key takeaway from this post.
Failure shouldn’t be used only as a metaphorical large octagonal stop sign indicating what not to do, it should be used as a stepping stone that vaults you into future successes. You should allow your past failures to motivate change, be it on a personal or business level.
So if you have been weighed down by a diagnosis of failure, keep your chin up. Try treating it with a positive attitude and a drive towards success. The side effects are minimal.
Not quite at this stage yet? Check out David Kanbar’s Three Mistakes to Avoid When Starting your Business, or 5 Signs You Are on the Path to Success for more tips for entrepreneurs.
So you’ve formed an idea, labored over a business plan and decided, once and for all, that you’re invested in your new entrepreneurial enterprise. Now it’s time to execute. Unfortunately for most new businesses and business owners, there will be a lot of growing pains. The path to success will come with its fair share of obstacles. While many of these challenges are unavoidable, there are others that you can prepare for. As an aspiring entrepreneur, it is important to learn what mistakes you can avoid, and how to avoid them. Here are three common mistakes that entrepreneurs make when starting their new business and some quick tips on ensuring they won’t bog you down.
1. Setting Sights Too High
Not every new business venture is going to have the quick start that businesses like Facebook or YouTube enjoyed. When Youtube was sold to Google in 2006 for over $1 billion, it set a precedent of success that might be tough to match today. If you start your business with unrealistically high goals, it will make reaching them all the more difficult.
While goal-setting is an imperative step in starting a new business, setting smart and realistic goals is even more pivotal. When setting goals for a new business, try utilizing the SMART acronym that is commonly used in business today. Setting goals that are Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant and Time-Bound can help you keep your eye on the prize without shooting too high. Shooting for the stars and missing can hurt both morale and company growth, which leads to the next mistake to avoid.
2. Giving Up Too Easily
So you’ve set your goals and when your time-bound (remember, SMART) deadline came around, you fell a little short. A common mistake to avoid at this point is giving up. If your company hasn’t been valued over the $1 billion mark within a year like YouTube was, there is no need to call it quits. In fact, some high-ranking executives, such as Jason Fried, founder of 37signals, believe that slow growth can be more beneficial to a company in the long run.
In an interview with Fast Company magazine, Fried said in part “I’m a fan of growing slowly, carefully, methodically, of not getting big just for the sake of getting big.” Not every business booms from the start. Recall that Apple, which now has a market value well over $500 billion, was on the verge of bankruptcy in the 90’s before reinventing itself and becoming what it is today. Had Apple’s executives given up, the history of technology and computing would be changed forever. Luckily for Mac users everywhere, they chose not to relent, bringing us to the third and final mistake to avoid in your young entrepreneurial career.
3. Being Afraid to Adjust
All things considered, failure seems at this point to be too easy of an option for entrepreneurs today. Adjustment–or the openness to the idea–can prevent failure before it occurs. Undoubtedly by this point you’ve invested quite a bit of time and money in your product or service and you want nothing more than to see it succeed.
While failure to meet predetermined goals can certainly be a precursor for a company’s demise, it can also signal the need for flexibility. New competition in the business world can cause the need to adjust prices, marketing strategies or the core focus of your enterprise. Refusal to adapt to the constantly-changing world around you can spell disaster for an emerging business.
PR In Your Pajamas cites three quick and easy keys to maintaining business flexibility: listen, really listen, and open your mind. By opening yourself and your business to the idea of adaptation, you can avoid the pitfalls of businesses like Blockbuster, who refused to acknowledge the streaming-video market. Very few things in the world right now are stagnant, so why should your business be one?
Building your own business is no easy task. It takes a strong work ethic, an ability to adapt, and a willingness to learn. Any entrepreneur knows first hand that a successful business is not built on just a good idea, it takes much more to see your vision through. Here are five signs that you are on a path to success:
1) Your Business Excites You
The people who start a business primarily for the money or to please the people around put themselves in a position to burn out. The concept behind any business that you pursue should excite you right from the beginning. If you have the passion behind your vision, you are more likely to see it all the way through, no matter what obstacles you face.
You will know that your business excites you when it is all you can talk about and think about. When you wake up in the morning, you are eager to get started on making your dream a reality. If you find yourself struggling to get in touch with the fun side of starting a business, sit down and write a list of reasons why you started the business to begin with. Get back in touch with what you really care about and are excited about.
2) You Have People Talking
If your idea is good enough, something that people believe in, then people will start talking about it. Check out conversations that could be taking place on social media or other online platforms. If it does not take marketing on your end to get people talking, you are doing pretty well. People are always eager to tell their friends about the “next big thing,” position yourself to be that thing.
3) You Are Willing And Able To Adapt
The world of business is fluid: it is a continuously evolving organism. Successful entrepreneurs understand this reality, knowing that they always need to be ready to adapt to change. Those who do not are denying themselves an opportunity to impress their customers and achieve greatness over the long-term. If you are capable of adapting to the changing world around you then you can be confident that you are prepared for the road ahead.
4) You Welcome Criticism
No one is capable of growing as a person if they cannot accept criticism for what it is, free advice. This is especially true for entrepreneurs. Feedback can come in many forms, often unpleasant ones, but at the end of the day, this feedback is identifying areas for improvement. If you understand this principle then you will be able to receive criticism and turn it into positive change. Develop a thick skin, brush empty opinions off your back, and absorb the criticism that provides valuable tips to improve your business and yourself.
5) You Learn For Your Mistakes
A common misconception of successful people is that they do not make mistakes. However, the truth is that successful people make a lot of mistakes, but that use them as an opportunity to learn and improve. This concept is very similar to welcoming criticism, successful entrepreneurs are the ones who are capable of using mistakes as a springboard to push forward, as opposed to a roadblock that ends their dream. Do not fear failure, instead, embrace it. What could you have done better? What obstacles could you have avoided? These are the types of thoughts that should be in your head.
Many people dream of starting a business but they simply do not know where to begin. Taking the lead to pursue a business venture can be a scary thought. However, with a solid foundation and the proper guidance, pursuing your dream becomes a lot more realistic. You may not have an idea to pursue now, but it is important to always work on fostering the skills that help entrepreneurs succeed. That way when the idea comes, you can hit the ground running. Here are some essential tips for young or aspiring entrepreneurs.
1) Set Goals
Understanding how to set goals and accomplish them is extremely important. For each major goal that you would like to accomplish, you should have several smaller goals in place that will help guide you along the way. Accomplishing these smaller goals will ensure that you are moving on the right track and keep you motivated over the long term. If you have a vision for a business endeavor then you should write down your goals. When goals are written down they are over 80 percent more likely to be achieved.
2) Recognize Opportunities
Many people never meet their full potential simply because they fail to recognize the opportunities that sit right in front of them. When you experience a problem or hear of a problem someone else is having, brainstorm solutions to how they could be resolved instead of focusing on the problem itself. You should view problems as opportunities for improvement.
3) Financial Literacy
If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, it is important to have a strong financial foundation. Financial literacy is the confluence of financial, credit and debt management and the knowledge that is necessary to make financially responsible decisions. You are more likely to succeed if you have a strong grasp of the financial principles required to understand and negotiate the financial landscape, manage risks effectively and avoid potential pitfalls.
4) Don’t Fear Failure
In the entrepreneurial arena, failure should not be feared. In fact, it should be expected. Great things can be accomplished from failures if you approach them correctly and take the time to learn from them. As Napoleon Hill, author of Think And Grow Rich, puts it, “every failure carries with it a seed of equal or greater benefit.”
5) Take The Risk
You will never know the outcome of your efforts unless you actually go and do it. You will regret not trying much more than you will regret failure. If you have an idea that you believe in and care about then take the lead. Believe that you can succeed and that you will find a way to get past any obstacles.
Welcome to the blog page of David Kanbar. Happy New Year and stay tuned for posts regarding business and real estate endeavors.