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Buying A Franchise

(category: Entrepreneurs, Word count: 361)
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Buying a franchise can be a life changing experience. There are many good reasons to pursue your dream of owning a successful franchise. For starters when you buy a franchise you are buying a proven system. Buying a franchise comes with the advantage of knowing that the business has been successful in other locations. The idea and process of running this business has already been proven. Therefore the learning curve in operating the business can be virtually eliminated.

When you are buying a franchise your are also buying an established customer base or brand name. Most franchises are already recognizable to consumers. The brand awareness provides security and trust to the customer who expects uniform quality to be provided. Therefore a customer base is already established.

You can also benefit from any advertising or promotion that the franchiser (owner of the franchise) does at the national or local level, without absorbing the cost. The franchiser can also provide input to the franchisee on a local marketing plan.

If you buy a franchise you also receive ongoing support. Training and support is usually always part of the deal. Since the franchise company has a vested interest in how well you do, ongoing training, system upgrades, product enhancements, and question and answer resources are provided. The franchiser offers experience to franchisee in such areas as accounting procedures, personnel and facility management, and business planning.

Also, many times obtaining financing for buying a franchise is easier since the franchise name and reputation are usually recognized by the lenders. Therefore, banks are more likely to fund the franchisee. In addition, relationships with suppliers are already established; affording the opportunity to buy in bulk, enabling a great deal of savings for the business.

The first step when buying a franchise is choosing an industry you are interested in or have prior experience in. There are many great franchises out there to choose from. Auto franchises and coffee franchises are very popular franchises but it is important to research the each opportunity before investing. It is recommended you sit down with a Franchise Consultant and decide if buying a franchise is right for you.

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Make Money Fast With No Investment How Andrew Made 100 000 In 6 Months

(category: Entrepreneurs, Word count: 910)
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Andrew Newberry is a distant family friend that knew about my business acumen. He knew how I had been in his position only 24 months previously and had heard about the new life I was leading with the wealth I had generated. I could hear the earnest desperation in his voice, when he asked me "how'd you do it Jack"? His question was open and sincere. In my eye's he was at a point where there was only one direction for his life to go...up.

Andrew needed to make money fast. His family were in danger of losing the roof over their heads and although Andrew worked a fulltime job, there were difficulties that created this current crisis.

He couldn't understand how I had done so much considering my humble beginings, while he had worked at his current job for over 10 years and was saddled with the difficulties he was currently experiencing. He told me he had no money to invest or anything like that, but could I advise him on what if anything was possible.

This was my response to him.

You see, what he was asking me specifically was, "how do I make money with little or no investment" My mind ignored his emotional pain and focused on the reality. That is the reality of what he needed answering.

Talking about Real Estate investment or anything that needed a capital injection was futile for Andrew, he needed to hear something different. This is what I told him to do, step by step. I told him that if he followed these two steps, he would have $100,000 within 12 months. He did it in 6!

Step one, get a little money. Not much needed, a few hundred dollars would do, but he has to find something as a seed capital account. I gave him the URL of a broker that does paid surveys online. These brokers represent companies that pay ordinary people for their opinions. They typically pay between $50-$300 per hour. He got his wife busy doing these through the day and evenings, they had $1000 within 2 weeks.

Step two, Go Shopping I explained to Andrew the mechanism behind my success. Compounding, intrinsic value, leverage, rapid capital gains, pyramiding profits. I then asked him to compound that thousand dollars by 30% 19 times. In other words, I told him to find 19 investment-objects that were for sale that he could buy, that had at least 30% or more spare intrinsic value.

Intrinsic value is everywhere. Whether you are buying New York sky scrapers of marble pool tables or Bertram boats, every market has a percentage of sellers offering their goods at well below market value.

Andrew started with old cars because he was a mechanic and now he had a game plan he was going to compound his money with his existing skill set. He traded up and up until he had $12,000 in six weeks.

Get your calculator out and see how he did it, how he evolved his money without a hitch. Start with 1000 then multiply by "1.3" which is the same as 30% Don't press equals, just hit "1.3" and multiply symbol again. Do that 19 times.

When Andrew sold his last auto deal, he was ready to get involved in Real Estate. With $12,000 it wasn't much but it was enough to start applying the same principles with Real Estate. This is where his compounding really escalated.

It escalated, because now he was using leverage....borrowed money. He called me on the day he was ready to start compounding with Real Estate with another problem. As I advised him "get into Real Estate Andrew as quickly as you can, around the $10,000 mark its time to get into that game"

He had a problem. The houses in his area were dear, he couldnt see how having $12,000 was enough to get involved.

I advised him that he should forget about houses until he had at least $40,000 He should focus on raw land. Raw blocks are cheap, and easily re-zoned into a higher purpose. With just a small investment at the local town planning department he could re-zone a residential into a commercial or the other way around where appropriate. Its called a "soft" or "paper" rennovation. No painting, no work, just a few simple forms and a fee to pay.

Creating a new use is just one way to add value to raw land, there are many others. Andrew researched and discovered them all. He stuck with land after all was said and done. He discovered buying a large block and subdividing it was very profitable. The second deal he did, he bought a block of over an acre, surrounded by established homes for $300,000 (with a bank loan) It was a corner block and he split it into three handsome sized blocks, tailored to the upper market. The first two blocks paid out his loan and put profits in his pocket, the last block he used as collateral for another bank loan where he built his own beautiful mansion on.

He sold it for a final profit of $354,000

That was about 8 months after our little chat on that cold evening.

To your health and rapid success.

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Burgers And Bulldozers New Franchise Roundup

(category: Entrepreneurs, Word count: 532)
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With hundreds of new franchise concepts being started every year, it is nearly impossible to keep track of the freshest ideas. Here is an update of two new franchises and how they have fared in their first several months of franchising.

The Counter - No, this isn't just another fast food hamburger joint. Besides serving hamburgers, The Counter has as much in common with your local McDonalds or Wendy's as the World Cup has to do with your child's weekend soccer game. First opened in Santa Monica in 2003, this trendy update to the classic burger joint serves its burgers with any combination of 10 cheeses, 26 toppings, and 17 sauces. So, go ahead and order that Danish Bleu Cheese Burger topped with dried cranberries and a ginger soy glaze you always wanted.

Since 2003, The Counter has received the type of press that most companies can only dream about. After being listed as one of the top 20 burgers in the country by GQ, the holy grail of endorsers, The Oprah Winfrey Show, named it the "Best Burger in the USA." (An aside on the power of the O-nod, sales jumped from $44,000/mo to $245,000/mo after the endorsement)

With all of this success, The Counter did the only logical next step and began selling franchises in early 2006 with a $40,000 franchise fee and 6% royalty.

So how is it going? The company has already inked agreements for 60 restaurants in California alone. Next up is expansion into Florida, New York, Arizona and Nevada followed by the rest of the country. With long range projections of only 400 to 600 units, The Counter is well on its way to franchising stardom.

EQUIPRO - If Santa Monica and The Counter just seem too trendy and hip, this light equipment repair franchise from Wisconsin surely won't. EQUIPRO, a subsidiary of Wacker Corporation began providing repair service to the light construction equipment industry in 2003. At the same time that the light equipment market is growing at nearly ten percent per year, many large equipment dealers have been cutting back on service support. In response to these trends, EQUIPRO began to build out its network of service centers.

EQUIPRO focuses on providing service for the following manufacturers: ICS, MI-T-M, MK Diamond, Sullair, and Wacker. The franchises are also full-service dealers for Honda, Briggs & Stratton, Robin/Subaru, Wacker and Kohler engines.

For each franchise, the company hires a Metro Service Specialist (MSS). The MSS is an employee of EQUIPRO, Inc. hired on behalf of the franchisee to develop service sales and act as a liaison for EQUIPRO's OEM partners in the local market. The responsibilities of the MSS include effectively calling on contractor offices and jobsites, equipment and rental dealers, as well as national accounts to promote solutions for equipment repair and parts. In addition, EQUIPRO provides professional training on business operations and technical details both in the classroom and on-site.

Franchising since June 2005, new franchisees can expect to invest between $145,000 and $350,000. EQUIPRO has opened 12 service centers and plans on opening 33 units by the end of 2006 and 150 in the next seven years.

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Are You Derailing Your Business With Details

(category: Entrepreneurs, Word count: 627)
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Details can kill your web business. And I'm not talking about details killing your business from the standpoint of being careless about them. While it's true that being careless can hurt your business, everybody knows that (even if they don't always put it into practice).

The way I'm talking about that details can kill your business is if you focus too much on them.

Say what?

How on earth can focusing too much on details hurt your business?

Ever tried to walk on a railroad track?

When I was a kid, my aunt and uncle had a house right next to a railroad track. My uncle once challenged me to walk on the track without falling off.

Hey, it's not like walking a tightrope. That track was as wide as my feet. Should be no problem. So I started walking it, carefully watching my feet with each step to make sure I stayed on the track. But I couldn't get more than a couple of steps before I'd lose my balance and fall off.

My uncle taught me that the only way to walk that track successfully was to look at a point a ways down the track - not down at my feet. By setting a goal and focusing on it, I could walk on that track as easily as if I was walking right on the ground. It was only when I focused on my feet that I tripped up.

It works that way with business, too. Our natural reaction is to put all our attention into "watching our feet" as we deal with this short-term detail and that. But when we do that, we "fall off the track" of where we wanted to go.

Now, I'm not saying that we should ignore the details of our business as we gaze wistfully toward our vision of the knock-out business we dream of building. You never get anywhere without taking step after step after step to reach your goal. But you never get anywhere, either, if all you look at is the present step.

The point in the distance that you need to focus on is the need your audience has and the solution you have that will fill it. It requires you to understand your audience - who they are and what they need and what concerns stand in the way of them choosing your solution.

It's way too easy for us to focus on details, namely, on the latest traffic building tips or tools, the latest bells and whistles we can add to our site. Details are usually driven by facts, and facts are something we feel we can learn and control. Understanding the people who make up our pool of potential customers is a lot more scary. It requires us to step outside ourselves into the hearts and minds of other people.

Given the choice between dealing with predictable facts and details or dealing with unpredictable human nature, most of us will jump at dealing with facts any time.

But that just gets us stuck staring at our own feet as our feet inexplicably slip off the track. The only way to stay on track is by looking toward your ultimate goal: you helping people solve some problem in return for them repaying you fairly for the time and effort you put into it.

That's really the most simple definition of what business is. The details are not your business. The facts and the tips and the tools are not your business either. They're merely the steps you take to get to that point in the distance. And the more you take that to heart, the more easily you'll stay on the track toward your goal.

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Successful Entrepreneurs

(category: Entrepreneurs, Word count: 415)
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Studies have shown that successful entrepreneurs possess these characteristics:

1. Self-confidence

This is that magical power of having confidence in oneself and in one's powers and abilities.

2. Achievement Oriented

Results are gained by focused and sustained effort. They concentrate on achieving a specific goal, not just accomplishing a string of unrelated tasks.

3. Risk Taker

They realize that there is a chance of loss inherent in achieving their goals, yet they have the confidence necessary to take calculated risks to achieve their goals.

Entrepreneurs are people who will make decisions, take action, and think that they can control their own destinies. They are often motivated by a spirit of independence which leads them to believe that their success depends on raw effort and hard work, not luck.

So which of these three main characteristics is the most important? Believe it or not, it has to be self-confidence. Without self-confidence, nothing else is possible. If you don't believe in your abilities, then the first challenge that arises may knock you off the path to achieving your goals. Here are a few things to keep in mind for maintaining a higher level of self-confidence.

Positive Thinking

Well, it all starts with a positive attitude, doesn't it? Believing that something good will happen is the first step. Negative thinking simply is not allowed. You must truly believe that there are no circumstances strong enough to deter you from reaching your goals. Remember too, that positive thinking can be contagious. When positive thinking spreads, it can open doors to new ideas, customers, friends, etc.

Persistent Action

Now all of the positive thinking and believing in the world is useless if it is not applied towards a goal. You have to take action, no excuses are allowed. This action must also be persistent. Trying once and then giving up is not going to be enough. Keep at it one step at a time. If you can't get by a certain step, then find a creative way to try again or just go around it.

At the beginning of this article we identified a few traits that are common among successful entrepreneurs. You should be able to look ahead and see yourself where you want to be. Now just maintain a strong belief in yourself and your skills, stick with it, and don't give up. If you can do that, you're already half way there!

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The Reality Of Online Entrepreneurship

(category: Entrepreneurs, Word count: 270)
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Who doesn't want to run a business from their home and wear a bathrobe to virtual business meetings? Since the go-go days of the dotcom boom, the ideal of starting an online business has drawn many to try their business legs in the challenges of online commerce. And indeed, the statistics are attractive: Fifty-five percent of American households are wired for the Internet, and nearly a third, or 32 percent have made a purchase online, according to the US Census Bureau. There's buckets of money being made online, but who's making it and who's not?

When one speaks of "making money online," one creates an image of simply turning on a computer and getting money out of it as if it were an ATM machine. In fact, the Internet, and all the commercial features of it, are merely tools in the entrepreneur's toolbox that should be used alongside other, more traditional tools. When you're building a house, sometimes that high-tech, laser pointing thingamabob is great, but sometimes you just need a hammer. And so it is with online business, and supplementing all that high-tech with old-fashioned business, or in many cases, supplementing old-fashioned business with some high-tech, is what it takes to be successful. Success online comes not in replacing the old with the new, but blending them together.

With a few high-profile exceptions, most businesses that "make money online" successfully aren't exclusive virtual sales companies, but instead, they use the Internet as just one of several sales channels. While people are buying things online, they enjoy having the Internet as an option

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Higher Returns With Entrepreneurial Investing

(category: Entrepreneurs, Word count: 834)
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Long-term investing in the stock market can offer a passive return around 5-8% if you remain invested for 30 years; but, unfortunately, that return is before taxes and inflation. This is so low because the company founders, backers, early investors, investment bankers, etc., have removed all foreseeable profit from the company before it is ever offered to the public market. There is a spectrum of investments available to you that is dependent on how much effort you are willing to put into educating yourself, networking, and performing your own investment due diligence. If you don't want to do any work, you are going to receive the tiny return of a CD or mutual fund in exchange for supporting many people (in expensive suits) in between you and the actual business that is making money. For people willing to educate themselves and put forth added effort, they will be sitting across the table from business owners and managers; investing directly into a business that pays monthly or quarterly cash returns from 10 to over 20%.

For example, let's suppose that there is a great single-family rehabber in your area. This rehabber buys homes in bad condition, fixes them up, and then quickly sells them for a profit. If he or she were very good, they'd begin taking on several simultaneous or larger projects until they run out of money to buy any more homes. Once they run out of money, they start using their credit until that is used up as well. Once a successful entrepreneur is out of cash and credit, the only way to grow is to partner with investors. And to entice these investors, they offer higher than average returns. [I want to make a very important distinction between what I define as a "start-up" and an "on-going business". A start-up is a few people that only have a business idea who want to spend your money instead of theirs - never invest in them! Leave these to the professional evaluation of a venture capital firm. An on-going business is already being run by someone professional who has current customers, suppliers, location, products, or services - these are the types of businesses you want to invest in].

You may be simultaneously networking with local business owners, educating yourself about their industries and the local economy, and checking the reputation of those with whom you are interested in becoming a partner. Introduce yourself as someone that has been watching their success, and indicate that might want to invest in one of their future projects. It could be a business owner who has four retail stores and that you'd like to invest with them to open their fifth store; or the owner of a local manufacturer needs some capital to startup selling products overseas; or invest in a developer that splits large plots of land into residential lots; or an investor that packages privately held mortgages. There are many local investing opportunities that offer the investor greater control than buying public stock, along with higher investment returns.

Direct ownership requires a few skills that buying a CD or mutual fund doesn't require, but you will be well compensated for developing these skills. The first skill to learn is some basic accounting because financial numbers is the language of every business. You need the basics to start reading financial statements in order to evaluate potential deals. If your desire is to invest in car dealerships, you need to know the difference between a well-run or a poorly-run dealership from reviewing their financial statements. The next skill is networking to locate deals - get your phone ringing, business card circulating, and e-mail account filling with potential deals. Private equity and debt financing is normally offered to family and friends, then acquaintances; and this will only happen if you are meeting people and talking about what you are looking for. The third skill is performing due diligence; which means independently verifying as much as possible about the individual, the company, and the transaction so that you can be reasonably confident in getting paid in full. Few local private offerings will have a prospectus written by teams of lawyers and accountants who have dissected the offer, so you, personally, have to do the work. No matter if this is a relative or a friend, there are people who will steal your money and disappear or people that mean well but are unable to follow-through and build a successful business. In either case, your hard earned money is long gone so you should take great pains to get independent third-party verification of all the facts and history that you can.

I personally know a few people that have built their wealth with the high returns from private placement offerings, and wouldn't invest in the stock market due to the lack of control and lower average return. If you have the willingness to put forth the effort, great returns can be yours as well.

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10 Sure Fire Steps To Take The Fear Out Of Public Speaking

(category: Entrepreneurs, Word count: 1234)
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Do you "feel the fear" when asked to do some Public

Speaking?

Public Speaking is still one of our greatest fears and it

turns grown men and women into nervous wrecks. The mere

thought of it turns our tongue to cotton wool, causes our

internal plumbing to act up and turns our knees to jelly.

Well, there's no need for all of this because help is at

hand. All you need to remember are your P's and Q's. Let's

start with the P's

Preparation -

When you sit down to write what you're going to say, bear in

mind who you'll be speaking to. Will they understand what

you're talking about; will they understand the technical

stuff and the jargon? If in doubt remember the old saying -

"Keep It Simple Stupid".

Make sure that what you say has a beginning, middle and an

end. Think of some anecdotes that help reinforce your story.

People think visually so paint verbal pictures for your

audience. And always remember, people want to know what's in

it for them - so make sure you tell them!

Place -

Have a look at the venue before the event if you can. It's

not always possible, however, even if you get there half an

hour before, you can check out where you'll be speaking.

Stand at the point where you will deliver from, imagine

where the audience will be and check that they can see and

hear you. You may even wish to place a glass of water where

you'll be able to find it.

Personal Preparation -

Before any Public Speaking event, think about what you are

going to wear; when in doubt dress up rather than down. You

can always take things off for a more casual look. Men could

remove their jacket and their tie. Women could remove items

of jewellery.

Part of your personal preparation should include some mouth

and breathing exercises. Practise saying some tongue

twisters to give your speaking muscles a good work out. Take

a deep breath and expand your diaphragm. Then breathe out,

counting at the same time; try and get up to fifty and not

pass out.

As part of your personal preparation, write your own

introduction. Write out exactly what you want someone to say

about you, large font, double-spaced and ask the person

introducing you to read it. Believe me they won't object and

will probably be pleased and impressed.

Poise and Posture -

Whenever you're called to speak, stand up or walk to the

front quickly and purposefully. Pull yourself up to your

full height, stand tall and look like you own the place.

Before you start to speak, pause, look round your audience

and smile. You may even have to wait until the applause dies

down. Remember, you want the audience to like you, so look

likeable.

Pretend -

I'm suggesting you pretend you're not nervous because no

doubt you will be. Nervousness is vital for speaking in

public, it boosts your adrenaline, which makes your mind

sharper and gives you energy.

The trick is to keep your nerves to yourself. On no account

tell your audience your nervous; you'll only scare the

living daylights out of them if they think you're going to

faint.

Some tricks for dealing with nerves are:

Before you're called to speak, get lots of oxygen into your

system, run on the spot and wave your arms about like a

lunatic. It burns off the stress chemicals.

Speak to members of your audience as they come in or at some

time before you stand up. That tricks your brain into

thinking you're talking to some friends.

Have a glass of water handy for that dry mouth. One word of

warning - do not drink alcohol. It might give you Dutch

courage but your audience will end up thinking you're

speaking Dutch.

The Presentation -

Right from the start your delivery needs to grab their

attention.

Don't start by saying - "Good morning, my name is Fred Smith

and I'm from Smith Associates."

Even if your name is Smith, it's a real boring way to start

a presentation. Far better to start with some interesting

facts or an anecdote that's relevant to your presentation.

Look at the audience as individuals; it grabs their

attention if they think you're talking to them personally.

Talk louder than you would normally do, it keeps the people

in the front row awake and makes sure those at the back get

the message. Funnily enough, it's also good for your nerves.

PowerPoint -

And for those of you who haven't heard of it, it's a

software programme that's used to design stunning graphics

and text for projection onto a screen.

As a professional speaker, I'm not that struck on

PowerPoint. I feel that too many speakers rely on it and it

takes over the presentation. After all, you're the

important factor here. If an audience is going to accept

what you say then they need to see the whites of your eyes.

There needs to be a big focus on you, not on the technology.

Use PowerPoint if you want but keep it to a minimum and make

sure you're not just the person pushing the buttons. Why

not get a bit clever at using the faithful old Flip Chart,

lots of professionals do.

Passion -

This is what stops the audience in their tracks. This is

what makes them want to employ you or to accept what you're

proposing. Couple this with some energy, enthusiasm and

emotion and you have the makings of a great public speaker.

Give your presentation a bit of oomph and don't start

telling me - "I'm not that kind of person." There's no need

to go over the top but you're doing a presentation to move

people to action, not having a cosy little chat in your

front room.

That's the P's finished, so let's look at the Q's.

Questions -

Decide when you're going to take them and tell people at the

start.

In a short speech it's best to take questions at the end. If

you take them as you go then you may get waylaid and your

timing will get knocked out.

Never - never - never finish with questions; far better to

ask for questions five or ten minutes before the end. Deal

with the questions and then summarise for a strong finish.

Too many presentations finish on questions and the whole

thing goes a bit flat.

When you're asked a question, repeat it to the whole

audience and thank the questioner. It keeps everyone

involved, it gives you time to think and it makes you look

so clever and in control.

Quit -

Quit when you're ahead. Stick to the agreed time; if you're

asked to speak for twenty minutes, speak for nineteen and

the audience will love you for it. Remember, quality is not

quantity.

One of the most famous speeches ever - "The Gettysburg

Address", by President Lincoln, was just over two minutes

long.

Right, that's my cue to quit when I'm ahead.

Now that you're armed with this information you too can

minimise your fear of Public Speaking.

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Ten Entrepreneurial Mistakes

(category: Entrepreneurs, Word count: 1517)
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It's hard to avoid certain mistakes, especially when you face a situation for the first time. In fact, many of the following mistakes are hard to avoid even if you're an old hand. Of course, these are not the only mistakes CEOs make, but they sure are common enough. Take the following self assessment: give yourself ten points for each of these entrepreneurial blunders you are in the process of making. Deduct five points for those you have narrowly avoided. Your score, of course, will be kept confidential, but do seek help. Fast!

1. Big Customer Syndrome

If more than 50 percent of your revenues come from any one customer you may be headed for a meltdown. While it both is easier and more profitable to deal with a small number of big customers, you become quite vulnerable when one of them contributes the lion's share of your cash flow. You tend to make silly concessions to keep their business. You make special investments to handle their special requirements. And you are so busy servicing that one big account that you fail to develop additional customers and revenue streams. Then suddenly, for one reason or another, that customer goes away and your business borders on collapse.

Use that burgeoning account as both a cause for celebration and a danger signal. Always look for new business. And always seek to diversify your revenue sources.

2. Creating products in a vacuum.

You and your team have a great idea. A brilliant idea. You spend months, even years, implementing that idea. When you finally bring it to market, no one is interested. Unfortunately you were so in love with your idea you never took the time to find out if anyone else cared enough to pay money for it. You have built the classic better mousetrap.

Do not be a product searching for a market. Do the "market research" up front. Test the idea. Talk to potential customers, at least a dozen of them. Find out if anyone wants to buy it. Do this before anything else. If enough people say "yes" go ahead and build it. Better yet, sell the product at pre-release prices. Fund it in advance. If you don't get a good response, go on to the next idea.

3. Equal partnerships

Suppose you are the world's greatest salesman, but you need an operations guy to run things back at the office. Or you are a technical genius, but you need someone to find the customers. Or maybe you and a friend start the company together. In each case, you and your new partner split the company 50/50. That seems fine and fair right now, but as your personal and professional interests diverge, it is a sure recipe for disaster. Either party's veto power can stall the growth and development of your company, and neither holds enough votes to change the situation. Almost as bad is ownership split evenly among a larger number of partners, or worse, friends. Everyone has an equal vote and decisions are made by consensus. Or, worse still, unanimously. Yikes! No one has the final say, every little decision becomes a debate, and things bog down quickly.

To paraphrase Harry Truman, the buck has to stop somewhere. Someone has to be in charge. Make that person CEO and give them the largest ownership stake, even if it's only a little more. 51/49 works much better than 50/50. If you and your partner must have total equality, give a one percent share to an outside advisor who becomes your tie-breaker.

4. Low prices

Some entrepreneurs think they can be the low price player in their market and make huge profits on the volume. Would you work for low wages? Why do you want to sell at low prices? Remember, gross margins pay for things like marketing and product development (and great vacation trips.) Remember, low margins = no profits = no future. So the grosser the better.

Set your prices as high as your market will bear. Even if you can sell more units and generate greater dollar volume at the lower price (which is not always the case) you may not be better off. Make sure you do all the math before you decide on a low price strategy. Figure all your incremental costs. Figure in the extra stress as well. For service companies, low price is almost never a good idea. How do you decide how high? Raise prices. Then raise them again. When customers or clients stop buying, you've gone too far.

5. Not enough capital

Check your business assumptions. The norm is optimistic sales projections, too-short product development timeframes, and unrealistically low expense forecasts. And don't forget weak competitors. Regardless of the cause, many businesses are simply undercapitalized. Even mature companies often do not have the cash reserves to weather a downturn.

Be conservative in all your projections. Make sure you have at least as much capital as you need to make it through the sales cycle, or until the next planned round of funding. Or lower your burn rate so that you do.

6. Out of Focus

If yours is like most companies, you have neither the time nor the people to pursue every interesting opportunity. But many entrepreneurs - hungry for cash and thinking more is always better - feel the need to seize every piece of business dangled in front of them, instead of focusing on their core product, service, market, distribution channel. Spreading yourself too thin results in sub-par performance.

Concentrating your attention in a limited area leads to better-than-average results, almost always surpassing the profits generated from diversification. Al Reis, of Positioning fame, wrote a book that covers just this subject. It's called Focus.

There are so many good ideas in the world, your job is to pick only the ones which provide superior returns in your focus area. Don't spread yourself thin. Get known in your niche for the thing you do best, and do that exceedingly well.

7. First class and infrastructure crazy

Many a startup dies an untimely death from excessive overhead. Keep your digs humble and your furniture cheap. Your management team should earn the bulk of their compensation when the profits roll in, not before. The best entrepreneurs know how to stretch their cash and use it for key business-building processes like product development, sales and marketing. Skip that fancy phone system unless it really saves time and helps make more sales. Spend all the money really necessary to achieve your objectives. Ask the question, will there be a sufficient return on this expenditure? Everything else is overhead.

8. Perfection-itis

This disease is often found in engineers who won't release products until they are absolutely perfect. Remember the 80/20 rule? Following this rule to its logical conclusion, finishing the last 20 percent of the last 20 percent could cost you more than you spent on the rest of the project. When it comes to product development, Zeno's paradox rules. Perfection is unattainable and very costly at that. Plus, while you getting it right, the market is changing right out from under you. On top of that, your customers put off purchasing your existing products waiting for the next new thing to roll out your doors.

The antidote? Focus on creating a market-beating product within the allotted time. Set a deadline and build a product development plan to match. Know when you have to stop development to make a delivery date. When your time's up, it's up. Release your product.

9. No clear return on investment

Can you articulate the return which comes from purchasing your product or service? How much additional business will it generate for your customer? How much money will they save? What? You say it's too hard to quantify? There are too many intangibles? If it's too difficult for you to figure, what do you expect your prospect to do? Do the analysis. Talk to your customers, create case studies. Come up with ways to quantify the benefits. If you can't justify the purchase, don't expect your customer will. If you can demonstrate the great return on investment your product provides, sales are a slam dunk.

10. Not admitting your mistakes.

Of all the mistakes, this might be the biggest. At some point you realize the awful truth: you have made a mistake. Admit it quick. Redress the situation. If not, that mistake will get bigger, and bigger, and… Sometimes this is hard, but, believe me, bankruptcy is harder.

Assume your costs are sunk. Your money is lost. There is good news: your basis is zero. From this perspective, would you invest fresh money in this idea? If the answer is no, walk away. Change course. Whatever. But do not throw any more good money after bad.

OK, everybody makes mistakes. Just try to catch them quickly, before they kill your company.

To avoid some mistakes in the future, it sometimes helps to ask good questions ahead of time. Click the link if you would like a copy of my fractal strategic planning questionnaire.

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