Entrepreneurial Vision

Every Entrepreneuer Lives off Their Vision

Archive for the tag “innovation”

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. 

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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

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?

 

 

Hidden Entrepreneurial Strengths

While I have never been formally fired I have been told that I was too creative at work for my own good. Many people see this as a problem, as if I was a poor worker. The truth is I want to create something and continually innovate so that I may improve my world.

I also think people have had childhood experiences that have lead them to have an entrepreneurial personality. I was bullied in elementary school which shaped the way I saw others. I always make it a point to be inclusive as I can because I know what it is like to be left out or ridiculed. When everyone is included I open up a world of possibilities in which I leverage the strengths of everyone around me. Being bullied has also taught me to stand up to people who try to take advantage of me or other people I care about.

The most interesting trait for the college age would be entrepreneur is the fear of going solo. In college we are taught to be job takers and not job makers. We have been educated so a large company will hire us and we can start to be another cog in the wheel. If you are like me you dread at the very thought of this. At the same time we are scared to go out on our own because we feel we do not have the support of others or the talent to turn a profit. The reality is we have very little to lose because we do not have much to start with. We are usually not married, no obligations, and have nothing but time on our hands. If there is any time to be an entrepreneur it is while we are young. I think that children in elementary school should be taught about entrepreneurship as a career option. If small business is the backbone of this country why are we not promoting it from the ground up?

Many entrepreneurs I know also do not feel like they do not fit the “norm.” While many people are complacent in their jobs doing the same thing day in and day out, the entrepreneur just doesn’t feel right living this way. They often catch themselves thinking, “There must be a better way.” Consequently they are always looking for something that is better than what they have now. The entrepreneur is thankful to have a job, but she just knows she is not meant to do what everyone else does. It is almost a sense of destiny or a calling to do something great even if they don’t know what that is. I call it entrepreneurial awareness and it allows the entrepreneur to become very observant of opportunities that others easily pass over.

Learn From Einstein and be More Effective in Your Life



Albert Einstein may have been aloof too much of reality but unconsciously he exhibited many traits that are linked to top business professionals. Not surprisingly he attributed many of these actions to the discovery of some of his finest scientific work. Learn from these habits and find ways to incorporate them into your everyday life.

Have faith in your vision-the better you develop your vision and the more you believe in it, the more others will invest your vision

Do you think Albert turned the world of science upside-down by following the crowd? Of course not! He was aloof, often day dreaming about the results of experiments years before anyone tested them in a laboratory. He was way ahead of his time and you may be too if people are laughing you off the stage. That is why you must have the courage to create your own reality and believe in it so much that others will be intrigued by what you have to say.

Stand your ground-if you are on to something big, people will shoot you down.

Perhaps you’ve had an idea for months or maybe years. As soon as your idea starts gain traction others will aggressively attack you. The biggest thinkers always face the most resistance. Einstein challenged the leading scientists of his time. He could have conformed at their demand but he believed in what he knew to be true so deeply that nothing else mattered. When he was criticized Einstein was slow to get angry. Instead he would usually just smile and let the results speak for themselves.

Pursue your passion-what kind of life are you living if you are not doing what you love?-

To Albert Einstein nothing else matted other than science. He ate equations for breakfast, had theories for lunch, and devoured a textbook for dinner. He didn’t start out as a scientist but rather as a patent inspector. People noticed that he finished his work at the patent office unusually fast. He would work like a madman so he could spend the latter part of his day working on unfinished science problems. He knew what he was meant to do and would incorporate it into everything. Even on his deathbed Einstein had a notepad with simple math formulas written down.

Master your mind –

What have you learned today? Albert knew the importance of education. He was always curious about how things worked and never found any question too unreasonable for him. He studied broadly so he could take information from one field to solve a problem in another. His friends were just as diverse discussing everything from philosophy to cigars. In fact, many of his friends possessed knowledge that was absolutely critical to complete some of his most important work.

 

Keep relevant records-

Keeping clear organized records in essential if you want others to do your work as good as you. There is a simple and effective way to make this happen. Simply take time to write down how to do the most important things. Try to keep it to two pages at the maximum. These references will be useful in teaching your workers to be self-sufficient. If they know how you want the most important things done in a way they understand, this will translate into solving problems as you would. If this is done correctly your employees will start working just as good, or better than you.

 Know thy strengths

Albert knew what he was good at and he always sought to apply his strengths. He never was a great experimenter. Breakthroughs were made when he theorized with thought experiments. His brilliant mind could great create theories that could only be proven with experiments that could only be imagined. This is how he was always able to stay ahead of his time. Sometimes he would sit for days only thinking of thought experiments because he knew this was how he would create results that would make him valuable.

Complement your strengths

Einstein was not only aware of his spectacular strengths but he knew where his shortcomings were. He never really liked taking care of day to day tasks. His wife loved to be in charge which allowed her to excel in organizing and getting things done. She did everything from doing the bills to giving Einstein pocket money when he went out with his friends. Even when he needed his theories conformed he would ask other scientists to perform the experiments that needed to be done. Partnering with those who covered his weaknesses allowed him to concentrate on what he was the best at.

Question everything-

If you want to get the right answers you must first ask the right questions. Be like Einstein and develop a childlike sense of curiosity then refine your questions so they produce the right answers. Einstein would look at problems that people overlooked or just assumed what the answer was. This was a critical skill that helped him challenge and overthrow old theories like the concept of the “Ether.” A good starting point is to asses yourself and find your biases so you can challenge them. Do you give equal consideration on subjects you feel strongly about? What assumptions have you made when assessing this passionate topic?

Creatively Utilize your resources-

The story of Einstein failing math is a myth. In fact he excelled so well in math he started learning advanced math on his own. He eventually ran out of material to learn so he borrowed the books of a medical student who lived with his parents. He could have easily paid for books but he recognized the opportunity to receive something of value without giving up cash. He utilized a win-win mindset.

Share Credit-

There is speculation that Albert Einstein was not the first person to create the theory of relativity. Another scientist had described very similar thoughts at almost the exact same time. Did Einstein quickly assert his knowledge as the first and final say? No, in fact he conceded that he may not have been the originator of the theory and that his colleague was quite capable of figuring it out. It was routine for Einstein to ask the opinions of others and he often humbled himself when it came to being right. Albert would constantly ask others to read over his papers. He even credited his first wife to helping him with his first published papers. This made Einstein very well received and others often wanted to work with him because of the good things they heard of him.

Apply these ten principles and watch your effectiveness with yourself and others grow….at the speed of light! Be sure to post your thoughts.

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