Decide where/when to be able to respond.

Responsibility is truly the ability to respond: respond-ability. It is not a thing that is assigned to you. It is about readiness.

A well-run business has prepared itself for customers. The important decisions about where and when to be able to respond have already been made.

This is especially true when readiness means being able to go with the flow and follow. Follow the customer. Follow the lead. Follow the idea. When opportunity knocks, you’re ready.

These readiness decisions bring focus and allow for quick, firm  responses, based on convictions in real values.

Every apparent “over-night success” story I have ever encountered has a back-story of 10-20 years of preparation for the big break. Even those who seem to be plucked from obscurity to the world stage by talent shows, describe many years of practice, learning, and preparation for this moment.

Focus. Practice. Learn. Be ready. Respond. To needs, inspiration, trends, opportunities.

Recognize investments and expenses.

Entrepreneurs sort spending this way:

  • Expense:
    Spend this on a regular basis to cover the basics of running the business. I see the value of creating stability by laying a foundation of spending for regular operating expenses.
  • Investment:
    This spending could create more value later. I see strong enough growth potential for results that I value. These results may be money, resources, referrals, market share, and more. Continue reading

The “Magnificent Seven”

All of the distinctions between Classic Employee Tendencies and The Elements of Natural Entrepreneurial Thinking (listed in my last post) apply to these seven ways to exercise your entrepreneurial muscles:

  • Intrapreneur: A person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation. Intrapreneurs understand that entrepreneurship is truly a mindset, not a title or job description.  (See Appendix 4 for more about using entrepreneurial thinking while on the job.)
  • Freelance/ Self-Employment / Independent Contractor: A person who works for him or her self (1099) with no employees.  Many work from home or travel to work at their clients’ offices. Some work out of a small independent office space, and others share resources in a co-working environment.
  • Multiple Income Streams: A person with 3-5 sources of income, usually in some form of sales. Each Stream generates at least one fifth of personal income. Some common income streams include rental properties, tightly managed stock portfolios, royalties, and sales commissions (both direct sales and affiliate sales).
  • Social Entrepreneur: A person who recognizes a social problem, and creates a solution using entrepreneurial principles. The micro-lending trend started with social entrepreneurs who wanted to help small businesses grow. Out-of-hospital birthing centers are run by social entrepreneurs offering a family-centered alternative for healthy women and their families.
  • Franchise: A franchisee is a person who purchases a license to sell or rent another company’s products and to use its name. Buying a franchise usually includes an application process, training, and rules to follow. The best franchisee contributes to this kind of partnership with experience in the industry, a focus on helping systems become more profitable, or an affinity for the customer that supports better marketing and sales. Franchisees often collaborate and work cooperatively to support the entire brand.
  • Buying a Business / Acquisition: A person who buys an existing business. Usually there is an intention to make the company more profitable or take it in a new direction. The best acquisition is one that creates as many winners as possible. The worst acquisition results in presiding over a group who feels like you beat them.
  • Traditional Start-up: A person who starts a business that requires capital investment for inventory, equipment, property, and/or building. This might be a main street store front, or a manufacturing facility, or a business-to-business service corps.

I collaborated with Jeanne Larson, MBA, and founder of The Incubator, where students explore seven options for what she calls the Preneur Spirit. We called these options the “Magnificent Seven” after the heroes in the classic 1960 film by the same name. The “Magnificent Seven” are heroic roles that ethical entrepreneurs can play in their communities.

Flirting with captivity and freedom

When people speak with me about captivity, freedom, and entrepreneurial thinking saving their lives, I understand and encourage us all to take a deep breath and let it out with a big sigh.

In this moment, you may choose any place on the continuum between captivity and freedom. Like everything else, it’s a matter of perspective. No matter where you see yourself right now, you may see it as an advantage or a disadvantage. Freedom can feel both exciting and terrifying. Captivity can feel both protective and confining. It is all part of what is true.

The dance upon that continuum tells me something about us. I notice that we approach entrepreneurship much like we approach fire. Continue reading

The crackpot theory that could save your life

First, the theory

We are born with everything we need to become entrepreneurs.

The elements are simple and accessible to all who dare to remember.

When dormant, these elemental desires and behaviors merely await release and expression. Sometimes we just need a tickle in the right direction. Sometimes we require some deprogramming or healing to enable these experiences to have full expression. Sometimes we need to rally friends and family to help. Sometimes we need to find like-minded partners. Sometimes we just need to plow ahead on our own. In my experience, when the effort is made, the elements are always there in each person’s mind waiting to bloom.

Continue reading

Resolution for Small Business

Over the years, I have voted for people from Democratic, Independent and Republican parties, considering myself an independent thinker, even though I am technically currently registered as a Democrat. In the house where I grew up, each parent registered with a different party, just to be sure to get the scoop from both sides.

I attended my first Minnesota primary caucus two days ago and I sure wasn’t alone!

I want to share a resolution I proposed to the DFL. I want to share the experience with you for consideration as an Inspired Entrepreneur. Continue reading