Entrepreneurial Vision

Every Entrepreneuer Lives off Their Vision

Urgency to Innovate

Innovators are needed more than ever. Businesses that don’t innovate will perish. It’s already happened so many times; company xyz find a successful equilibrium until start-up 123 creates a better, faster, and cheaper offering. Company xyz is then caught red handed with nothing to counter the agile start-up 123 and begins to lose market share. When xyz loses market share the budget gets cut which affects R&D who is now under extreme pressure to create a miracle product with just a fraction of the resources it needs. Unfortunately for xyz the need urgency to innovate and the ability to innovate are inversely related.  Company xyz is now in real trouble.

 Those that do invest in innovation are rewarded handsomely. Think about the most innovative companies: Apple, Google, Honda, Procter & Gamble, Amazon, Nike, Target, Coca-Cola, Samsung, Tesla, Virgin, etc. Every year they spend millions on different types of innovation and receive a generous return through incredibly loyal customers.

 Innovation is what creates new customers and keeps the old ones. The market is so crowded that it is now a requirement to standout because your competitors are doing all they can to overshadow you. If you’re not making something that’s better, faster, or cheaper there is someone else who is. Think of your modern businesses as a shark: Sharks must constantly swim to survive. They can never stop moving or they will quickly run out of oxygen and die. In the same way businesses must always keep moving forward or die.

Innovation is also needed at a personal level. No matter what industry or type of business you’re in if you are seen as an innovator you become invaluable. People pay a premium for innovative products and in the same way companies pay a premium for innovative people. We are now part of a global economy and I can almost guarantee that someone in India can do your job for a fraction of what you’re currently being paid. The one thing that can be outspurced is the capacity to innovate. Innovate peoples’ jobs don’t get out sourced because they’re the only one who can think like they do. 

What Flavor is Your Passion?

There is nothing more energizing than a good brainstorm. The thought of creating new ideas and planning them out is just absolutely invigorating. The topic doesn’t even matter, we can brainstorm about fish, paper, canyons, or the stock market. My girlfriend says I have so many ideas that she can’t even begin to keep up with me. There is something so promising about an ideation session. It’s hard for me to believe that some people don’t like brainstorming. I don’t really care because I love it. My dream is to travel the world thinking of new ideas for businesses and other organizations. My creative talents and dreams inspire me to reach for that goal everyday. 

What makes you jump out of bed in the morning? Accounting? Horseback riding perhaps? Passions coupled with goals are a powerful force. Think of it like a recipe: passion+goals=happy vocation. This combination is a common trend among happy business owners. I imagine you would like to be a happy business owner one day as well. Start finding your passion and promise yourself that you will live out that passion. No more excuses.

5 Free Ways to Get Noticed

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Andrew Sieg successfully standing out.

Your mother probably told you that you are unique. Unfortunately when customers have an ocean of suppliers to choose from they’ll think otherwise. It’s more important than ever for you stand out from the competition. Use these five innovative tactics to draw attention to your brand.

1. Provide value before your customer buys anything or even asks. When the competition is clamoring for the markets’ money you’ll be making their lives better without charging a dime. Find out what what pains your prospect has and do a little research on how it might be solved. Put the solutions up on your website. If you have a subscriber list you can send it out as a newsletter. The most impressive option though is to put it in a report form like an eBook. The solution is probably on the internet somewhere, just do a little digging to find it.

2. Think outside the box. In college there was this internship I really wanted at a marketing firm. I sent in my polished resume and waited with anticipation. After a week I heard nothing. In response I found a cheap shoe and mailed it in a box to their main office. When they received the package there was a note that read, “Now that I’ve got my foot in the door can I get an interview?” They contacted me the next day. It never hurts to be bold. Especially when you have nothing to lose. 

3. Stay positive. We live in a world of negative news. With all the sickness, war, and poverty in the media, a little bit of optimism will go a long way. Express you your positive attitude proactively. Update you twitter about some exciting news or complement someone. When interacting with others be more accepting of their ideas. Encourage them by saying “How can we do that?” rather than “That won’t work.”

4. Hold true to your values. People who live their core values regardless of what other think get respect. There is something very authentic about someone who lives consistently with their beliefs. Even when someone doesn’t agree with you they will see you are true to yourself and others. People will find you to be stable which is rare in today’s dynamic world.

5. Ask open ended questions and probe. The best salesmen do this without thinking about it. Open ended questions create an opportunity for developing last relationships. You have given the other person permission to open up to you. Probing after an open ended question let’s you find out deeper needs and desire than most people see. You might ask “what is working well at your company?” After their answer follow with “why do you think that is?” Then you might email them an article relating to the conversation afterwords.

These are just a few ways to stand out from the crowd. What ideas do you have? Be sure to share this with friends.

Turn Any Obstacle Into an Opportunity

It looks like Callie and I may not be taking a trip to the Florida Keys due to a lack of income. This was something we have both been excited about for a long time. There is no question we are disappointed. I have a couple options here. First, I could complain that I can’t get what I want and curse God for my wretched existence or I can simply do something about it. Good thing I’m always full of ideas.

I am currently looking at closer alternatives for adventure. There is a beautiful park in Kentucky called Red River Gorge and its world famous for its hiking trails and rock climbing. Here would be an excellent opportunity to better my camping skills. With all the money we save we could also afford to splurge on food (hobo dinners are my favorite).

What if we’re still looking for that beach scene? After just a bit of research I came across Myrtle Beach State Park. This beauty lets you sleep on a mile of undeveloped beach for about $20 dollars a night. From the pictures on the site, it looks far away enough to enjoy costal nature but close enough for a night on the town. This alternative is great!

For a relaxing getaway there is a quaint place in central Indiana known as Brown County. This is Indiana’s best kept secret as it is lined with boutique shops, but at the same time adjacent to Indiana’s largest state park. If we wanted to get some adrenaline going, Brown County has the 3rd best mountain bike trails in the nation. When I browsed the website they had many itineraries for all different kinds of people. This place has the best of everything.

            There is an important lesson to be learned here. The happiest of people turn obstacles into opportunities. Also, most of these people happen to be very wealthy. When it feels like you’ve hit a road block stop and think for a moment. What poor assumptions have you made? What other actions can give you reasonable results? What are you actually trying to do? For me I thought for us to have an adventure we have to go to some exotic land. That assumption is wrong. There is a world of opportunity in my back yard! These other destinations offer 90% of the same things as the Florida Keys but at a fraction of the cost. In the end all we are really trying to do is have a good time together.

            A true entrepreneur lives in the “obstacles to opportunity” mindset. They know adversity is not a matter of if but when. This mind set gives them an advantage in the market place because they prepared themselves mentally so they can react quicker. Take these three steps to give yourself the “obstacles to opportunity” mindset.

  1. Know adversity is coming and accept it.
  2. Have a plan b and plan c based off the questions above.
  3. Invest your resources so they can be reallocated to other plans if needed. In other words don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

            What obstacles have you turned into opportunities? Be sure to follow my blog via email. When I’m done with my eBook I’ll send you a free copy if you sign up in the next 6 days. Be sure to share this with your friends.

My new ebook

Yesterday I started writing my first ebook. The topic will be a how-to guide for first time entrepreneurs who want to start a business they can enjoy. What my book will include that most don’t are are the steps it takes to build an entrepreneurial mindset. Too many people try to start a business but quickly give up after their first rejection. If a business owner sets realistic goals, makes small wins, and is held accountable they will see starting a business from a new light.

The material will be inspired by real entrepreneurs, investors, and other industry leaders. As an entrepreneur myself I have gone though the best books and pulled out only what works. My hope is that people who have a hobby or a talent will be able to do something they actually enjoy, even if it is only part time.

Sections that will be included so far are: goal setting, sales, marketing, business plan writing, innovation techniques, product development, and finances. I will be using methods from my book to promote this book to confirm its effectiveness. With that being said whoever comes across this blog and follows me via email for the next week will get a FREE COPY before it is officially released.

I am excited to be doing this and in the mean time if you have any entrepreneurial related questions just ask me. If I don’t know the answer I’ll find it.

Best Regards,

Andrew Sieg

Planning to Travel the World Part 2

“You want us to do what?!” said Callie. “Let’s travel the world. I’d like to start with Thailand” Andrew cautiously replied. Callie just gazed at Andrew with a look of disbelief. In hopes of getting a positive reaction from Callie, Andrew pulled up pictures of Thailand’s beaches and jungles on his laptop. “See how beautiful this is? It’s so cheap to stay in Thailand. I found a place in Phuket right on the beach.” said Andrew with a bit more confidence. “Andrew, Thailand has to be dangerous” Callie said. Andrew immediately interjected “Actually Thailand is one of the more popular travel destinations. It’s quite safe from what I’ve seen. We could go snorkeling, sit on the beach, and explore with kayaks. Doesn’t that sound fun?” Callie thought for a moment before giving her reply, “you like doing those things and I like doing them sometimes but there are other things I’d like to do.” “Like what?” Andrew quickly asked? “Oh I don’t know” said Callie. At that point Andrew had hit a brick wall. He had wanted to travel all his life. Now that he found the love of his life he was stuck between a rock and a hard place. It seemed like nothing he said would convince his girlfriend to live a life of adventure. All he could do was suggest where they should go eat for dinner. 

The next day while working a shift as a resident assistant at his university, Andrew began to really complain. “Why can’t we go where I want? There is nothing wrong with us going to Thailand. Doesn’t she know how bad I want to travel? What is wrong with me getting out of here for a while?” Then Andrew noticed a pattern in his thinking. Almost everything was me and I. Even when he used we, it still came from a selfish place. That moment he knew what was wrong. Later that day Callie came to visit Andrew while he was working. “How is work?”  Asked Callie. “it’s fine I suppose. Say Callie let me ask you a question. If you could go anywhere in the world where would you want to go?” Callie excitedly replied, “I’ve always wanted to go to Italy.” By now Andrew had a huge smile on his face. “Let’s go then” said Andrew. “Really?” Callie replied in disbelief. “For sure. We’ll find places to go, things to do, and we can stay as long as you like.” Callie became almost flattered that Andrew would consider her destination without question. For the rest of the day the couple looked up Italian destinations, restaurants, hotels, and everything else that allowed them to set a goal. Andrew learned two very important lessons that day. First, put your partner before yourself. Second, it’s not where you go but who you go with that matters.

Planning to Travel the World Part 1

For the past few years the concept of lifestyle design has been something that has interested me. The idea is that you build a life that you consider fulfilling and sustainable. A popular example is world travelers. Many of them are ex-corporate employees that realized a 9-5 job was not what they wanted. You can find them anywhere in the world. If you just Google “How to travel the world” you will find an astounding number of blogs, products, and websites dedicated to these travel junkies. They create location independent forms of income, sell their junk, and off they go. As crazy as it sounds I’m also planning to travel the world. It takes quite a bit of planning but it’s not impossible. Here is what I am currently doing to travel the world.

Commitment. I know this is not going to be easy so I have to be 100% dedicated to my goal. Fortunately I’ve traveled quite a bit, for an American, so I have already tasted the benefits. I know this is something I want to do so I set a goal. First things first, I need to graduate college. I have less than two semesters left. I would be an idiot not to finish.  When I graduate I’ll have roughly $30,000-$35,000 in school debt. I will pay that off before anything else. I use the Dave Ramsey methodology which is basically live like a hobo and pay off your debt ASAP. When my debt is paid off it is time to start saving. I imagine $15,000 should be plenty.

Own less stuff. This one is fun. People who are moving from place to place generally are living out of a backpack. The closer I get to travel time the more things I give away.  My collections of books are right in front of me and they are my pride and joy but I know one day they will have a new home. One way to practice this is to buy experiences instead of things. Don’t buy a movie rent one. You don’t need a dog, just visit the animal shelter. Collect these experiences with care, they’ll last a lifetime.

Enjoy the simple things. Even though my American currency will have leverage in other countries that money will dry up quick if I’m not wise with it.  Between plane tickets and surfing lessons (just wait Callie, I’ll be a pro yet) find ways to save money. For me I am learning to cook. This will be a skill that I can take with me all over the world. Not matter where I will go eating is something everyone will do. My secret to learning to cook quickly is The 4 Hour Chef. The author Tim Ferriss got me cooking fajitas and other goodies in a week flat. Hopefully my cooking skills will be enough to pick up a little side cash around the world. Find something you enjoy that is not expensive and is location independent.

Create an alternative form of income. This is the big one. There are so many ways to create a location independent business or even to just work in other countries. I am trying my hand at ecommerce and content marketing. I am currently designing a product that will hopefully sell over the internet. I can then outsource the fulfillment and customer service issues, and just check in on things via laptop or cell phone. Realistically I know the idea may not work so other ideas for me to consider are: teaching English, SEO work, and volunteer work. I think this issue is what keeps most people from pursuing extended travel. To be honest I’m a little worried because I have not made much money in a location independent manner before. Luckily I have an enterprising mindset to keep me motivated.

Check in soon to see how my planning is coming along and see how I convince my girlfriend to go along with this! What suggestions or comments do you have regarding travel?

At 22, Andrew Sieg has started 2 businesses and 2 fraternities. He enjoys learning about and creating business models that make more money and more free time to pursue his passion, traveling. Visit his blog http://entrepreneurialvision.wordpress.com/ to get advice for building a better business and life today. 

Sell Now and Plan Later

There are different schools of thought on when a new company should sell their first product. One group seems to think a product should be well designed and operates with minimal bugs. The second philosophy is to build a bare-bones product and let the market tell you what to make of it. My stance is usually with the latter group. So many would be entrepreneurs get so tied up in making the perfect business plan or product they end up with planning paralysis. The former group does have some ground to stand on though. If the products still has so many kinks that only the experts of your product can give feedback, it probably needs more work before introducing it. The solution to this is to create a prototype of your product that communicates the value to the main user.

I am mentoring a class of entrepreneurship students at the University of Louisville and they have created a concept for a device to save energy, but at the same time it uses energy in innovative ways. I am interested in how they will pitch their product to investors, as it requires hardware and an application. One solution (there are many) is to create screenshots of the application that are nonfunctional but still delivers the message of the benefits the user will get. Hopefully they will spend more time getting real feedback from potential customers and less time on the details. 

I have currently developed a product of my own. The aesthetic design of it is very important but my goal is to have a only a functional prototype finished in less than a week. I’ll spend the time I could be developing my product and more time getting input from people who will actually be in my target market. The way I keep myself in check is by following the 80/20 rule. This rule in short, states that 20% of my efforts give me 80% of my results. If I question my current activity I’ll stop and think if the outcome will deliver 80% of my goal. 

Why you need to Fail More

For some odd reason failing at anything has been discouraged in our culture for some time. We are only allowed to succeed and it has to be on our first attempt. Thankfully though this generation has started to acknowledge the benefits of temporary failure. Let me be clear, failing is good for one simple reason; if you are failing more then you are trying more. If you are failing are then you are trying hard. If you try enough you will eventually succeed.

Each attempt is like a seed that is planted. When your goal is not met that seed will grow to yield wisdom and with enough attempts you will have such an abundance you will have to give it away. Eventually all those who have fed off your experience will trust you. After you have you have failed enough all that will be left is to succeed. Your success will be attributed to those that you feed, including yourself.

My metaphor is not to be taken lightly. History highlights few successes but is built upon the countless failures of many. Here are entrepreneurial visionaries who have had more than their fair share of failures.

Colonel Sanders of KFC                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Here is a man who ate failure for failure for breakfast, rejection for lunch, and a bucket of his secret recipe for dinner. According to grasshopper.com the Colonel pitched his product to over 1000 restaurants and carried the secret recipe in his car.

Walt Disney                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Believe it or not Mr. Disney’s company was over $4 million in debt in the 1930’s. He failed time after time always managing to mess something up. It wasn’t until his company released “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” could he manage to pull his company out of bankruptcy. After that he quickly rose to the top becoming a visionary to this very day.

Andrew Sieg                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           That’s right, even I have a few failure notches under my belt. I started a business fraternity (Alpha Kappa Psi) on my college campus. As president I managed to keep it running for about a year before running it straight into the ground. The next week I started a social fraternity (Sigma Pi). After two years of hard work this fraternity is the newest and quickest growing fraternity at the University of Louisville. Failing was one of the best things I have ever done.

It doesn’t matter if you are starting anything from an accounting firm to a zoo. You need to fail. Every single day. Until you pitch your idea to 1000 customer like Sanders I don’t want to hear you complain about how much cold calling you’ve done. Eventually you will succeed. Every single day. How have you failed and what have you learned?

Network with me! Comment, share, and follow.

Think Like an Entrepreneurial Visionary to Inspire Employees

Everyday top team members are needlessly lost. Why? Not a single person at work gave them a convincing reason why they should be there.  It didn’t matter how much money they were banking or how big their corner office was. What they wanted deep down was to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Many of these lost employees (and maybe a few of yours) went to work for an entrepreneur. A good entrepreneur knows how to communicate a vision that leaves all who hear in awe. He or she will convince a top executive to leave their job for something as simple as an idea on a napkin. People will risk their entire financial fortunes to be a part of the vision the entrepreneur has created.  If you learn to take on an entrepreneurial mindset, you too will inspire your organization from the bottom up.

Give your employees a sense of ownership- This is an absolutely essential component to engaging and inspiring employees. Many entrepreneurs have nothing but an idea. They convince valuable people they want in their company that the idea will work and whoever works for them can have a piece of the success from the idea. Many people who have gone on too long without a pay raise or are underemployed can become very attracted to this. The most common example of ownership in a company is stock options. I love stock options because workers will put their heart and soul into something they truly own. If you can offer your employees equity options proactively promote the option anyway you can. When your workers own equity, they will have a true sense of ownership which will inspire a sense of loyalty you have never seen.

Reward all ideas, good and bad. This is a fantastic way to create a culture of innovation. Most ideas fail but remember quality comes from quantity. What is important is to encourage the process of ideation just as much as the value of any ideas. Schedule regular time to allow employees to participate in small group brainstorming sessions. Give them different problems to solve related to their work so that they can have a sense of ownership in the solutions. If a group comes up with an idea that may add value, delegate them the authority to ensure it gets implemented. Have them give you regular update on the progress. Google follows this by allowing employees to spend 20% of their work time on projects of their choosing. Since the 20% rule was established, it has produced 50% of Google’s products.

Remind employees how they are making the world a better place. People don’t just want a paycheck; they want to make a difference. Create and communicate a vision of what your product does for your customer. The more mundane your offerings appear to be the more important this is. For Instance, if you sell payroll services you might get a testimony from the business manager who can now go home on time every Friday and play with her kids because her payroll is now handled by your business. This is something that should be nested in your vision and mission statement. To really get the ball rolling check out this article I wrote on creating a dynamic vision statement.

As you begin to implement these practices, remember visionaries are made not born. Read this informative article by David Frick which goes into examples of entrepreneurial visionaries and the character traits they displayed. After everything is said and done the most important trait for an entrepreneurial visionary is persistence. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, only how many time you are willing to get up. How do you inspire people you work with?

 

 

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