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My Crazy Project – Read 52 of the Best Business Books in 52 Weeks, and Post a Weekly Review

My Crazy Project – Read 52 of the Best Business Books in 52 Weeks, and Post a Weekly Review

“You wasted $150,000 on an education you could have got for a buck fifty in late charges at the public library.”
– Will Hunting (played by Matt Damon), Good Will Hunting. First of all I want to introduce myself to those who don’t know me: I am Olivier Roland, I’m 27 years old, I’m French and I manage an information services company that I created when I was 19 (with 3 people).

Are you familiar with the Personal MBA? It’s a concept created by Josh Kaufman. Going off the assumption that business schools don’t have a monopoly on knowledge and wisdom, he suggests that every one of us passes a personal MBA by reading a selection of the best business books that exist, around 77 published in 2008 (93 with supplements) in 12 different categories.

  1. Quick Start

  2. Productivity and Efficiency

  3. Psychology and Communication

  4. Design and Production

  5. Marketing, Sales and Negotiation

  6. Entrepreneurship

  7. Management and Leadership

  8. Strategy and Innovation

  9. Finances and Analysis

  10. Personal Finance

  11. Supplement : Business History

  12. Supplement : Business Reference But what is an MBA, you might ask? It stands for Master of Business Administration – a degree that is the result of some very expensive classes (about ¬50,000 in europe, $100,000 in the United States!) and at a high level for doing business in the global economy, strategy, marketing, finance, human resources and management. Usually it takes from 12 to 24 months and it’s often pursued by students who want to finish off their education with a prestigious degree, usually executives in mid career who wish to boost their professional potential by acquiring high level knowledge – at an outrageous cost – quite apart from the cost itself, an MBA requires that you sacrifice a whole year or two, sometimes requiring you to give up your salaried job.

    That’s why Josh came up with the idea of acquiring the essential knowledge distilled in the MBA – that 20% of people accomplish 80% of the results – by reading a carefully chosen list of the best books covering the subject areas taught in the MBA – for less than $3,500, if you buy the books new, and even less than that if you buy the books used or borrow them.

    Started in 2005, the personal MBA has been aired twice, and now the idea is beginning to take off: take a look at this article in Business Week or this one in Lifehacker. It seems that the idea of getting a quality education by yourself is not new. To learn more about the personal MBA, read The Personal MBA Manifesto.

    My project consists of 52 books from this list. I am approaching this project seriously, and I am preparing for it in the same way I would train for a marathon: I know that the challenge will be long and difficult, especially once the initial motivation – as well the enthusiasm of getting started – wear off. Why am I doing this? Here are my reasons:

    • Because I am a an autodidact and I love to learn. What’s more I love to read and I love to learn by reading. Since I built my business when I was young – 19 year old, I would be the happy owner of a degree if it weren’t for 10 or 20 missing credits, and I have learned most of what I know on the job, learning a lot from my mistakes, and also taking some classes here and there. I have also taken some night classes, but the practical application of these classes is not always apparent in my business.

    • Because I feel the need to get more knowledge to better run my business, to better understand the workings of the business world in which I find myself, to be more effective in all the projects that I have taken on or will take on, and to get a better appreciation for the world in general.

    • Because I have read several of the books listed in the PMBA already, and I found them all to be excellent, with a special mention for The 4-Hour Workweek. They all changed the perception that I had of certain things, sometimes radically. They have all changed my life on at least one level or have given me a new tool to work with. In light of the important changes that these 7 books induced, I can hardly imagine what 52 will do!

    • Because reading 52 books in 52 weeks, and writing a review, and posting it here without ruining my professional life and my social life represents a challenge in itself, which will call into action all my abilities for organization and self motivation. If I procrastinate too long, if I don’t organize myself well enough, if my motivation sinks like a rock, I won’t get there. And you will be the first to know it. I will learn as much from the project itself as I will learn from the books.

    • To do a real life experiment to see if it’s possible to change your life by reading the right books. That’s the point of this blog – I don’t want to create a blog that only talks about this challenge – and I will try to show that it’s possible by sharing with you what it brings to my business, to my projects and to my daily life.

    • To share the results of this project with others, in particular by writing clear, concise and relevant summaries.

    • To improve my English (About 80% of the books are only available in English). How shall I undertake this task? Here are the rules of the challenge:

      1. Choose 52 books from the actual list of The Personal MBA.

      2. Read one a week for 52 weeks. Write a relevant summary, that includes an overall summary as well as chapter by chapter, if the book lends itself to that.

      3. Sacrifice only what is useless. I don’t plan on giving up my other activities – my business, improv theater, sports, my two entrepreneur clubs, my other blogs, my leisure time, my personal life. I am going to try and organize myself better and get rid of only what is useless – casually surfing the web, video games, YouTube, everything that wastes precious time in general. I can’t cut out TV, since I hardly watch it anyway.

      4. Take action. To think without doing something is just as stupid as to do something without thinking. Thought is based both on our experience – in the field – and our knowledge – acquired from books, school, in conversation with others. The first problem is to choose the 52 books from among the 77 or the 93 of the PMBA. This wasn’t an easy task. First, there are several books that I have already read (7 in all). For the most part, I decided to add them all to the list because (1) they are worth reading again and (2) I want to write a review for them because it seems to me they are all important.

        In the end, I got rid of the two Supplement sections (Business History and Business Reference), that’s 16 books, the books are only available in an audio version (being French, it’s much harder for me to understand spoken English than written English), a large part of the category Design and Production (being about services and software, this seemed less important to me), everything in the category Personal Finance (I have already read The Millionnaire Next Door, which has already opened my eyes on this subject – as well as the blogsGet Rich Slowly and The Simple Dollar and I will wait to be richer before I get deeper into this topic 😉 and the ones that seemed too specialized or too specific to the USA.

        Here, then, is the list of the 52 books that I will read. The original PMBA obviously suggests a list that is exclusively English titles, but some of them have been translated into French. I will read them in French when possible, to save time, and I will read the rest in English.

          Quick Start

        1. 10 Days to Faster Reading by Abby Marks-Beale
        2. >StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath
        3. Lead the Field by Earl Nightingale

          Productivity and Efficiency

        4. The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker
        5. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
        6. Bit Literacy by Mark Hurst
        7. The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
        8. The Path of Least Resistance by Robert Fritz
        9. The Simplicity Survival Handbook by Bill Jensen
        10. Cut to the Chase by Stuart Levine
        11. The Unwritten Laws of Business by W.J. King
        12. Making Things Happen by Scott Berkun
        13. Results Without Authority by Tom Kendrick

          Psychology and Communication

        14. How to Win Friends & Influence Peopleby Dale Carnegie
        15. Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
        16. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Deliveryby Garr Reynolds
        17. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath
        18. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
        19. Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions by Gary Klein
        20. Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales
          Design and Production

        21. Getting Real by 37signals (free PDF ebook)
          Marketing, Sales and Negotiation

        22. All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin
        23. Indispensable by Joe Calloway
        24. Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got by Jay Abraham
        25. The Sales Bible by Jeffrey Gitomer
        26. The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes
        27. SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham
        28. Bargaining For Advantage by G. Richard Shell
        29. 3-D Negotiation by David A. Lax and James K. Sebenius

          Entrepreneurship

        30. The New Business Road Test by John Mullins
        31. Ready, Fire, Aim by Michael Masterson
        32. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
        33. How to Make Millions with Your Ideas by Dan Kennedy

          Management and Leadership

        34. First, Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman
        35. 12: The Elements of Great Managing by Rodd Wagner & James Harter
        36. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith
        37. Growing Great Employees by Erika Andersen
        38. >45 effective ways for hiring smart by Pierre Mornell
        39. Judgment by Noel Tichy & Warren Bennis
        40. The Halo Effect by Phil Rosenzweig
        41. The Essential Drucker by Peter F. Drucker
          Strategy and Innovation

        42. Purpose: The Starting Point of Great Companies by Nikos Mourkogiannis
        43. Strategy Blue Ocean by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne
        44. Seeing What’s Next by Clayton M. Christensen, Erik A. Roth, Scott D. Anthony
        45. Learning from the Future by Liam Fahey & Robert Randall
        46. Innovation and Entrepreneurship by Peter F. Drucker
        47. Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun
        48. Green to Gold by Daniel Esty & Andrew Winston

          Finances and Analysis

        49. Turning Numbers Into Knowledge by Jonathan Koomey
        50. Show Me The Numbers by Stephen Few
        51. Marketing Metrics by Paul W. Farris, Neil T. Bendle, Phillip E. Pfeifer, and David J. Reibstein
        52. Web Analytics: An Hour a Day by Avinash Kaushik

        I don’t plan on necessarily reading the books in this order, but I will try to read everything one category at a time so that it is easier to compare and connect my new knowledge.

        My project kicks off officially on the October 1st. Let’s meet the 4th or 5th for the first review of the first book, 10 Days to Faster Reading.

Source: Source by Olivier Roland

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Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Part of the romanticism of entrepreneurship is the thought that entrepreneurs are creative, innovative, go-getters, risk takers, driven. All of that implies a high self-esteem and determination. In reality, having a clear understanding of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship allows managers of institutions and corporations, as well as individual, manage each area differently to get the best results.

People like creativity simply because it is fun. We reconnect with the pure pleasure of getting something that did not exist before. When we create we forget our problems, we are just being, the child comes out, we connect with ourselves and it simply feels good. Our energy pours from the inside to the outside and leaves our imprint, the object of our creation becomes an extended part of ourselves. Creativity also lives in a time and purpose vacuum. The worst enemy of creativity is a good idea.

People like innovation because it implies progress. When we innovate, we have a structure. Innovation becomes change. To change we need the reference, the constraints, the structure, the present, what is there. When we do things differently, we are also creating, but we create with a purpose, fun stops until we reach our goal. Thus, innovation has less power as a self-expression than creativity.

Then we come to the field of entrepreneurship, one of my favorite topics. Entrepreneurship is more about creating wealth than it is about creating a company. It is closely linked to creativity, entrepreneurs MUST have something NEW to offer. It is related to innovation, entrepreneurs MUST find new ways of getting in the market, making something new, doing things differently.

When we check most new businesses, they are me-too’s, and most so-called entrepreneurs are people who have bought themselves a job. They don’t create, innovate or add wealth. They shift what exists to a different person.

Entrepreneurship then is the process of exploring how to add value to others in a new or different way. Entrepreneurs capture that value in the form of wealth, and then that wealth with others: clients, users, employees, suppliers, community, governments, etc. To understand that being creative and being innovative is not enough and to be aware that there is a maximized value waiting to be discovered or created, is what entrepreneurs do best when they plan, then they take action, and finally, they evolve.

It is not a matter of luck as most people link entrepreneurship with creativity and innovation. If you don’t have anything, you create. If you have an unwanted present, you innovate. If you want to create wealth, you give that creation or innovation, the best chance. You don’t need money to create wealth, you need creativity and innovation.

It is by thinking and taking action, by consciously discovering where the creations or innovations have the highest perceived value that entrepreneurs build their wealth… and by doing so, create prosperity beyond themselves. It is not about becoming rich but building wealth.

Without the notion of creating wealth, creativity and innovation can’t find a place in the market. To be able to distinguish where the highest value is, who is the ideal customer or client is to bring prosperity to our communities, and to act upon that thought, is what entrepreneurs thrive at.

There are many tools and methods that capture how entrepreneurs create wealth. It is not an art, or a science. It is the conscious effort of making the best of a product or a service, to find those who value it best, and capture that value, what lies inside the entrepreneur.

Creating wealth escapes the obvious, and creates new valued propositions. Sometimes we use innovation to improve what is there, but most likely, the best results come from a free, playful, fun exercise of creating wealth. Whatever you do to create wealth will improve your skills and build up that wealthing muscle. Even if you compose a song in tribute to your wealth when you are showering!

Here is to your wealth and joy,

Source: Source by Alicia Castillo


Pros and Cons of Having a Small Business Voicemail System

Pros and Cons of Having a Small Business Voicemail System

In any business, application of advanced technologies can contribute towards ensuring success. Your office may require a better telephone system and voice mail system to carry out effective business transactions. The success of any business depends mainly on client satisfaction. In order to maintain steady contact with clients, small business owners can make good use of the voice mail system which functions as an answering machine.

The pros and cons of having a small business voicemail system are many. The main point in support of having this system is that, it is featured with a personalized answering facility which allows you to brief your client in situations when you are unable to answer their calls. The voicemail system is provided with caller identification facility which enables you to respond to your client at a later stage when the client might have forgotten to provide his contact information. It is also provided with date and time stamps which give a clear idea about the date and time when the message was actually obtained.

Most of the voicemail systems are provided with alerts which inform you about the arrival of new voicemail, and with this facility you can respond to your client without delay. There is also the interactive voicemail system which is feature rich and can help to make your small business venture a success. Through these systems small business establishments are able to reduce the time and space limitations. They help a lot in decision making; moreover, it can also bring a steady decrease in your telephone expenditure.

Even though there are many advantages in having a small business voice mail system there are some negative aspects also. Voicemail systems are capable of managing only a restricted number of voice mailboxes. As far as security features are concerned, it is possible for hackers to crack the passwords and read the messages, which can have a negative effect on your business goals.

Source: Source by Alen J Smith


Why the Need for Brainstorming?

Why the Need for Brainstorming?

Brainstorming can be the most abused word when it comes to meetings and group activities. It is often used by students, teachers, successful businessmen and even criminals. A lot of projects and activities have become successful due to creative brainstorming sessions.

It is a fact that a person normally uses less than ten percent of their capacity to think and use their brains. This means that there is a lot of room for more creativity and thinking if only a person can find the right enlightenment or inspiration.

A person has to think for so many reasons. He may have to think to solve his personal problems. He may also have to think to come up with very good business ideas for himself or for the company he works for. A lot of successful ideas were produced from very good thinking.

School activities, business establishments and even political activities benefit a lot from brainstorming. Brainstorming is really the word used by most people to encourage a group to come up with wonderful ideas.

A person who is alone could not think much because he only has his own ideas to bounce on. However, put that person in a group that is a little competitive, supportive and friendly and expect him to come up with some ideas which he would not have thought of while thinking alone.

Brainstorming sessions are sure to come up with plenty of ideas that can be used for a business or a political campaign. Brainstorming is called as such because it is really the process of encouraging people to think out of the box and contribute their ideas to the ideas of his peers.

Some people wonder why brainstorming sessions are really effective in bringing up new and innovative ideas. It may be because of the excitation generated by the thought that a person is not alone into this but he is thinking along with a group of people. They are all contributing their creativity into coming up with a good proposition or idea.

Brainstorming among children can be effective because children will always welcome the chance of being heard and to have their ideas recognized. The same goes for adults who have not outgrown the need to be recognized.

A bunch of office workers who appear dull and unmindful of their office activities can be pooled together in a brainstorming session. They may be dull but when their energies are harnessed and they are given the proper encouragement then they might come up with good business ideas for the office.

A business enterprise should not always rely on the brains of the chief executive or other managers. No one has a monopoly of good ideas and it will be beneficial for the company if the untapped ideas of the other workers can be made available to the company. Some people can come up with silly ideas but with proper thinking and improvement these ideas can be the start of something good.

Brainstorming sessions should be a free-for-all session, no holds barred and very open to all ideas no matter how silly they may sound. This would encourage the participants to express what they think and to contribute to the whole process.

The importance of brainstorming in almost all activities is a given fact. Thus, every company, activity or organization should make use of this process to come up with the best ideas possible.

Source: Source by Mario R. Churchill


Business Online Advantages and Disadvantages

Business Online Advantages and Disadvantages

Increasingly, more people own or are growing their businesses online with varying degrees of success. It is important for internet entrepreneurs to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of doing business online as this knowledge will empower them to make the right decisions and implement the correct strategies if they do go ahead and start a business on the internet. Below are the main advantages and disadvantages of running an online business.  

 Advantages

Start-up costs are relatively cheaper than bricks and mortar businesses. Some business-in-a-box programs cost as little as $400, some even cheaper. If you are setting up your own website with your business plan you may only need to pay for a domain name and web hosting which would cost you less than $100. Even for the most expensive opportunities, they are still way cheaper than other businesses. The top scale start up costs for internet business could be $20k, which might seem expensive but when compared with businesses like the MacDonald’s franchise which cost over a quarter of a million dollars, then it puts things into better perspective.   Operational costs and administrative expenses are also relatively lower than other businesses with little or no staff required. Many internet entrepreneurs work from home which means that expenses like lighting and heating and office expenses which would normally be incurred in an office block, are saved.   Running a business online gives great flexibility. This is because the business can be run from anywhere. An entrepreneur could be on the beach on holiday with her family and still be running her business normally. This flexibility helps the entrepreneur does as she pleases with her time. She may decide to work between 12 midnight and 6 am if that is her most productive hours.   Online businesses can reap the rewards of free and cheap advertising, through videos, article marketing and social marketing. Even with more expensive advertising options like pay per click, due to the number of Internet users, to potential to grow your business is very high especially if you can effectively drive traffic to your website.  

Disadvantages

Competition is high as increasingly people are becoming switched on to the advantages of running an online business and also more technology savvy and are growing their businesses. The number of people starting a business online is increasing at high levels and they are all competing for traffic which makes it harder to break through.   The Internet is a very dynamic marketplace. Consumer tastes vary widely and change frequently. Therefore, by focusing on one business idea or income stream, the entrepreneur risks being left behind by new products and services as consumers chase the next best product or service.   Even when the entrepreneur has a winning business model, competitors can easily copy it and therefore impact negatively on profits.   Getting to grips with technology to sustain competitive advantage can be a limiting factor especially if the entrepreneur depends on himself and hires no staff. This disadvantage can be overcome by either outsourcing or employing staff full time or on contract basis.   It may take time for the business to get off the ground as the entrepreneur builds his online presence and if the business is not run properly cash flow problems may hinder the success of the business. It is important that the marketing and other costs are very carefully budgeted for over a period to take into account the possibility that profits may take a while to materialise.   Running an online business is empowering and can be profitable. A lot of these businesses fail because entrepreneurs are not mindful of the advantages and disadvantages and have not planned accordingly. While it is relatively easier and cheaper to start and grow an online business than a traditional bricks and mortar business, that advantage can also be an advantage as competitors enjoy the same benefits. 

Source: Source by Festus Sowah


9 Things That Hinder Business Growth

9 Things That Hinder Business Growth

Have you ever wondered why some small businesses take off and grow very rapidly and others stay the same for years and years?

Small business growth takes strategy and strong leadership. Some new business owners achieve a certain level of success, sit back and fail to do what is necessary to grow the business.

9 Things That Hinder Small Business Growth

1. Lack of Vision

All businesses need a written vision statement to help direct their planning and decision making. If there is no clear vision, a business can waver with no specific direction. Lack of vision is detrimental to any organization. How can you plan, or have a business strategy without knowing where you want to go?

2. No Strategic Plan

Every organization needs strategy and should have a strategic plan to map out steps to achieving the strategy. The strategic planning process helps to keep an organization’s vision fresh and moving forward. Strategic plans need to be updated every few years as the market, environment and focus changes.

3. No Written Goals

Not having SMART Goals, and accountability for achieving those goals, is a sure way to impede the growth of an organization. Goals are what make a strategic plan happen. Not writing goals, and having a structured performance management process to achieve those goals, is an invitation for business failure.

4. No Desire to Grow

Believe it or not some businesses don’t have a desire to grow. With growth comes growing pains and sometimes business owners aren’t comfortable making the necessary changes for growth. Hiring the first employees and dealing with human resource management issues is an example of a growing pain. Other areas of growing pains are delegating and trusting others to do things the way you would do them. Growth requires a commitment from the top of the organization.

5. Not in Tune with Customer Needs

This is where many organizations get stuck. The world is changing at such a fast pace that unless an organization understands customer expectations and puts systems in place to take care of their customers, competitors will do it for them. Ensuring good customer service is critical to long term success. The fact is, customers pay the bills and employee salaries so you’d better find out what they want and give it to them!

6. Failing to Reinvest Back In the Business

When a business is just starting out it is sometimes difficult to reinvest back into the business, but not doing so can affect business growth. Keeping up with changing technology and updating facilities are examples of areas that can consume considerable resources but are important to meeting customer expectations. Clean, updated facilities can have an impact on customer perceptions and customer loyalty.

7. Failing to Delegate

As a small business grows, it becomes more and more important to learn the art of delegation. It is important for business owners to develop employees, delegate and trust others to complete tasks. Small business owners can quickly get overwhelmed with trying to manage every aspect of the business and learning to allow others to help is critical at this stage of growth. Successful small businesses have learned the skill of developing, delegating and letting go of lesser things so they can continue to drive organizational vision.

8. Not Collecting and Believing Data

Collecting, analyzing and making decisions based on data is another critical aspect of small business growth. Confronting “the brutal facts” (as described in Good-to-Great by Jim Collins) is one of the most important aspects of managing a small business. Understanding what the data is telling about the business can lead to changes in practice or improving processes. All organizations should have established critical success factors to help monitor and track performance toward goals.

9. Not Having a Clear Problem Solving Process

The reality is, every business has problems and as soon as one problem is solved another problem takes its place. That is what management does – solves problems. As small businesses grow, problems are created that need to be solved. As an example, outgrowing office space creates the problem of finding new office space. Finding new office space creates the problem of planning out the layout of the new space. Once a layout of new space is done, planning to move offices needs to be done. Organizations need to have structured processes for planning and problem solving. Having good leadership, coupled with good processes, can result in successful problem solving.

Lastly, thriving small businesses understand how to remove those things that impede growth and put a lot of focus and energy into strategy, planning and goal setting.

Source: Source by Patricia S Lotich


The Importance of Business Presentation in Any Business

The Importance of Business Presentation in Any Business

If you are working in the corporate world, then you should know that one of the most important aspect of business that needs to be considered is business presentation. Presenting a business or sales proposal in an oral manner is a very common practice, but unfortunately not everyone is an adept when it comes to speaking to a group of people. The success of any presentation relies heavily on how the presentation is delivered. If your business presentation is of high quality and interesting, then chances are high that your potential clients will be interested to consider your proposal. On the other hand, if your presentation is boring and not memorable, then they will most likely be inattentive to the presentation and won’t even have an idea what you are presenting. So knowing how to properly deliver a business presentation is a must for those who are involved in the corporate world.

If you are someone who is good with business presentation, then people will most likely perceive you to be a great leader. Leaders are known for their communication skills and to say that it is a requirement in achieving a high position of power would be an understatement. Being a good communicator means that you can impart your message to the listeners in an effective manner and this becomes an indispensable tool when applied in a business. Aside from attracting potential clients and profit for the company, someone who’s good in presentation is also an excellent representative for any company. By having excellent communication skills, you would be able to gather a positive appeal for the company that you are working for.

As it is mentioned before, not everyone is skilled when it comes to business presentation. In any social situation, talking to a group of people is common among many people. Fortunately, business presentation is a skill that can be learned and as with all other sorts of skills, it can be further developed through constant practice and experience. If you find yourself having trouble with presenting a business idea or proposal, then you might want to consider enrolling yourself to a presentation training course. These training will not only aid you on how to deliver an effective presentation but it can also help improve your public speaking skills in general. But the most important thing that you need to do if you have an upcoming business presentation is to prepare for it. If you are unprepared by the time the presentation comes, then it will surely be evident during the presentation. Being prepared can significantly increase the chance for success of the business presentation and leaves you with very little margin for error.

Fortunately for you, there are many devices and equipments that can aid you in improving the quality of your business presentation. Hardware such as projectors and touch screen displays are just some of most common devices that are used in business presentations. So be sure that you take advantage of these technology during your presentation.

Source: Source by Matthew Hohn


Creativity and Entrepreneurship

Creativity and Entrepreneurship

We will commence our assignment with a discussion of sources of new ideas. We will then examine methods of generating ideas, creative problem solving, the product planning and development process, and then e-commerce. We will then generate several new ideas using brain writing, the checklist method, and free association. We will apply the product development stage to our new ideas and end our discussion with two alternatives to e-commerce.

Sources of new ideas include consumers, existing products and services, distribution channels and even the Federal Government (Hisrich, 2008). The files of the patent office are full of new ideas and new product ideas can form as a result of government regulations. Research and development is the largest source of new ideas and can occur in a formal lab or in a garage or basement.

Many methods can be use to generate new ideas. In focus groups, a moderator leads a group of people through open, in-depth discussions. These groups generally consist of eight to fourteen participants. They are stimulated by comments from other group members in creatively conceptualizing and developing a new product idea to fill a market need. Focus groups are also an excellent way to screen ideas and concepts. Problem inventory analysis is another great method of generating new ideas. It uses individuals in a manner that is similar to that of focus groups. Consumers are provided with a list of problems in a general product category and are then asked to identify and discuss products in this category that have the particular problem. This method should be used primarily to identify product ideas for further evaluation.

Creative problem solving takes the generation of new ideas to a higher level. Brainstorming allows people to be stimulated to greater creativity by meeting with others and participating in organized group experiences. Rules include the following:

a)Criticism not allowed

b)Freewheeling is encouraged

c)Quantity of ideas is desired

d)Encourage combinations and improvements of ideas

Brainstorming should be fun and not contain any domination or inhibition of discussion. It is highly effective in groups of six to twelve individuals and can generate ideas about a problem within a limited time frame through the spontaneous contributions of participants. Reverse brainstorming offers a different perspective as it is similar to brainstorming, except criticism is allowed. It is based on finding fault by asking in how many ways an idea can fail. The focus is on the negative aspects of a product, service, or idea. One must be careful to maintain group’s morale though. Reverse brainstorming can be used prior to other forms of creative techniques to stimulate innovative thinking and involves the identification of everything wrong with an idea. It is usually worthwhile since is easier for people to be critical about an idea instead of coming up with a new one.

Brainwriting is a form of written brainstorming and gives participants more time to think than brainstorming. It is silent and each group member writes down three ideas within five minutes. A form is passed around to all participants while a leader monitors time intervals and can even modify them. The Gordon method is another method of creative problem solving and begins with group members not knowing the exact nature of a problem. This ensures that a solution is not clouded by preconceived ideas and behavioral problems. A general concept associated with the problem is mentioned and the group then expresses a number of ideas. A concept is then developed and related concepts are developed. Finally, the actual problem is revealed.

The checklist method involves the development of a new idea through a list of related issues or suggestions. The following questions demonstrate how the checklist method is used:

ii.Put to other uses? New ways to use as-is?

iii.Adapt? What else like this? What could I copy

iv.Modify? New twist? Change meaning, color, form, shape?

v.Magnify? What to add?

vi.Minify? What substitute? Smaller?

vii.Substitute? What else instead? Other material?

viii.Rearrange? Other pattern?

ix.Reverse?

x.Combine? Blend?

Free association is another form of creative problem solving and is one of the simplest and yet most effective methods. It is helpful in developing an entirely new slant to a problem. First, a word or phrase related to a problem is written down. Then other ones are written down and so on. Each new word attempts to add something new to the ongoing thought processes. This creates a chain of ideas ending with a new product idea.

The product planning and development process is crucial to an entrepreneur’s success. One must first establish evaluation criteria by assessing the market opportunity and size. One must evaluate current competing producers, prices, and marketing efforts. New idea should have synergy with existing management capabilities and marketing strategies. The proposed product or service idea should be able to be supported by and contribute to a company’s financial well-being. One should evaluate the compatibility of a new product’s production requirements with existing plant, machinery, and personnel. Entrepreneurs should be concerned with formally evaluating an idea throughout its evolution. The idea stage involves identifying new product or service ideas while eliminating impractical product or service ideas.

One must determine the need for the new idea as well as its value to the company to ensure both prior to proceeding with the ideas. The need determination should focus on the type of need, its timing, the users involved with trying the product or service, the importance of controllable marketing variables, the overall market structure, and the characteristics of the market. In the concept stage, a new product should be developed further and refined through interaction with consumers. The refined idea is then tested to determine consumer acceptance. Features, price, and promotion should be evaluated for the concept being studied and any major competing products. The product development stage involves determining consumer reactions to the physical product. An entrepreneur can provide samples in this stage. The final stage of the development process consists of the test marketing stage, which provides actual sales results that indicate the acceptance level of consumers.

E-commerce is a relatively new concept in the business world and should be used creatively. An entrepreneur must address additional specific issues due to continually-evolving technology. For instance, one must decide if he will run the internet operations of the business or outsource the task to another firm. A website is often created and must be aesthetically-pleasing and fully functional. Ninety percent of small businesses use websites and ease of use is important with websites. The website is a communication vehicle in which search capability and speed are equally important. A website should have a shopping cart, secure server connection, credit card payment processing, and a customer feedback feature. It should be customized for specific target market groups and should be compatible with various browsers.

The tracking of customer information is vitally important when dealing with e-commerce. This is often accomplished via electronic databases. Doing so supports personal marketing and captures customer attention with customized one-to-one marketing. It is critically important to protect the privacy of individuals when keeping databases.

When conducting e-commerce as an entrepreneurial company, one’s products should be able to be delivered economically and conveniently. Products must be interesting to a large number of people and a company must be prepared to ship products out of its geographic location. Online operations must bring significant reductions in cost as compared to having a store.

We now turn our attention to the generation of clothing ideas for Libya. We utilized brainwriting with a time limit of five minutes to come up with a new idea. We drafted an adjustable robe for women that can be rolled up and then attached with velcro to shorten it when desired to offer additional clothing and styling capabilities. We then used the checklist method and came up with the following:

xi.Modify? New twist? Change meaning, color, form, shape?

a)Can offer robe in multiple colors such as white, red, and blue

xii.Substitute? What else instead? Other material?

a)Can make robes out of breathable polyester / nylon material as used in athletic wear

b)Allows for wicking away of sweat and moisture to keep clothing dry and light in weight

We then used free association to come up with a list of related words:

-xiii.cooling, light weight, windproof, light colors, reflective material xiv. End result is metallic-colored fabric that will reflect sunlight like aluminum foil

We then applied product development stages to the new ideas to formulate a final product concept. We first established our evaluation criteria by assessing market opportunity and size. The population of Libya is 6,173,579, so this will serve as our potential market (Wikipedia, 2009). We then turned to the idea stage to identify new product ideas. These ideas included the following thought process:

a)Can offer robe in multiple colors such as white, red, and blue

b)Can make robes out of breathable polyester / nylon material as used in athletic wear

c)Roll-up velcro to shorten robe for greater cooling and comfort

d)metallic-colored fabric that will reflect sunlight like aluminum foil

xv.Eliminate impractical product/service ideas in this stage

a)Metallic-colored fabric will be eliminated

b)Reflecting sun can create an oven effect on wearer

c)Can actually make customer hotter and not cooler

xvi.Determine the need for the new idea as well as its value to the company to ensure both prior to proceeding with ideas

a)Multiple robe colors will appeal to different people

b)Wicking-material robe will appeal to men more

c)Roll-up robe will appeal to women more

d)Can result in greater sales and market share

e)Is beneficial to company to sell more robes while meeting individual needs of customers via mass customization

We then moved on to the concept stage to further develop and refine our new product ideas through interaction with consumers. We plan on participating in trade shows to present our new ideas. We will display prototypes and obtain feedback from potential customers. Our refined ideas will then be tested to determine consumer acceptance. We will take consumer ideas into consideration and tweak prototypes accordingly. We will then consider the pricing and products of our competition and price our products accordingly to maintain a competitive edge. In the product development stage, we will determine consumers’ reactions to the physical product by allowing customers to try our robes on at trade shows. We will then participate in the test marketing stage by proving actual sales results once our products enter the market.

Alternatives for the use of e-commerce in conducting one of the product development stages for the actual commercialization of our final product idea can involve the creation of a company website that is easy to use. We will incorporate powerful search capabilities while ensuring that our site performs with acceptable speed. We will include a shopping cart, secure server connection, credit card payment, and customer feedback feature in our website. In addition, our website will be customized for specific target market groups and be compatible with various browsers. We will also track customer information by creating an electronic database that supports personal marketing. This will allow us to capture customers’ attention with customized one-to-one marketing while protecting the privacy of individuals via strong database encryption. Incorporating online operations will bring significant reductions in cost as compared to having a store. This will allow us to pass savings on to customers via lower prices and greater value.

Bibliography

Hisrich, Robert D., Peters, Michael P., and Shepherd, Dean A. (2008). Entrepreneurship

(7th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill Irwin.

Wikipedia (2009). Libya. Retrieved July 23,2009 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libya.

Source: Source by Bobby Mobini


Simple Accounting For The Small Business – Bookkeeping Using A Simple Spreadsheet Template

Simple Accounting For The Small Business – Bookkeeping Using A Simple Spreadsheet Template

Starting a small business out of your home, offering products or services like business consulting, photography, selling on the web or a MLM? You are now faced with tracking all your expenses and revenues for your business and you certainly don’t have the money yet to engage a bookkeeper or accountant. If your business is a sole proprietorship, whether it be a Canadian Proprietorship or a US-based Proprietorship, you do not require an accountant to submit your company financials (books) to the IRS (USA) or Revenue Canada). Your business revenue and losses are reported as part of your annual personal income tax. For this small business start-up, you won’t need to buy fancy accounting software, like Quick Books or AccPac to track your business.

Only as part of incorporating Bizfare Enterprise Inc in 2005 was it a requirement to engage an accountant. My accountant did insist on using Quick Books software for my business accounting. Up until then using a simple spreadsheet template served my business accounting needs for over ten years. This simple spreadsheet accounting stood the test of multiple audits by Revenue Canada (CRA and Revenue Canada Goods and Services Tax. Both the hardcopy columnar pad and an electronic spreadsheet version of my financial books were accepted by Revenue Canada. (BTW the audits disclosed more ways for me to claim back additional taxes for the previous three years! Now that’s my type of audit!)

In your new start-up business venture, you likely will generate somewhere between 10 to 30 accounting transactions per month. These transactions would be items like Expense, Revenue (sales), Liability (Loan) type transactions and Sales Tax (Federal + State/Provincial) Collection/Deductions. These transactions are further broken down into various Business Accounts. All the Accounts you set up for your business is called a Chart of Accounts. Recording your business financial transactions (Journal Entries) can be executed with pen and ink on an accounting columnar pad or electronically with your computer using a spreadsheet program (MS Excel, Open Office, Star Office).

Whether you employ electronic or hardcopy media, you need to develop a simple Journal template to create your Business Synoptic Journal. This Synoptic Journal format has the advantage of allowing you a complete view of all your individual journal entry transactions against all your various Business Accounts. Creating this Synoptic Journal is easier to do than you think and requires no prior accounting or bookkeeping knowledge.

TIP #1: You could further reduce the accounting line items (Journal Entries) by consolidating like items such as ‘all the Sales for the month’ and ‘all parking receipts for the month’ into one totaled line item for the month.

Where do you start to identify the various Business Accounts required for your Synoptic Journal?

If you currently work for a company or government, secure of one of their employee expense forms. Look at each of the areas identified as expenses – meals, mileage, hotel accommodations, taxi, car rental, telephone & cell phone, air fare, office supplies, etc. This is an excellent place to identify the various Business Expense Accounts you need to set up for your business accounting books. To complete your business Chart of Accounts, include a Business Bank Account, Sales, COGS (Cost of Goods Sold), Sales Tax Collection, Marketing Expense and others as required. Each of these Accounts will be a listed as a title across the top of each column of your Synoptic Journal. Each row (line item) will be the individual journal transactions entered by you. The journal transactions are grouped and summarized for each business month; usually, January through December.

So your Synoptic Journal would look something like this Sample Synoptic Journal at http://picasaweb.google.com/carl.chesal/BookkeepingTemplate.

The column headings might be in this order (from left to right):

DATE | DESCRIPTION | BANK DEPOSITS | BANK WITHDRAWALS | SALES REVENUE | COGS | SALES TAX COLLECTED & REMITTED | OFFICE SUPPLIES EXPENSE | EXPENSE #2 | EXPENSE #3 | ETC

TIP #2: Unless your business is Incorporated or an LLC, you don’t need to go through the expense of opening a business account with your bank. Usually Business accounts charge a higher monthly fee, charge for printing checks (cheques) and don’t offer any interest on your monthly account balance. Instead, open a separate personal bank account (maybe savings). This will show the ‘taxman’ that you are keeping the business separate from your personal banking. Remember you are a sole proprietor and all your business income (and losses) are to be applied directly to your personal income tax submission ( a s per IRS and CRA).

To save you time and make is very simple, I have already created a simple spreadsheet Synoptic Journal template that performs all the calculations for each month and rolls up the 12 business months so it can easily be included in your annual personal income tax preparation. This Synoptic Journal template has Debit/Credit checks and balances, tracks sales taxes, mileage and totals each account for your entire fiscal year. If you want this FREE Bookkeeping template, you can get it at Communicate Innovate. With a few key strokes, which will help identify yourself, I will gladly send you this FREE Synoptic Journal Template and also any future Small Business Tips.

TIP #3: One Rule of Accounting is that every time you record a journal entry (line item which applies the transaction against the appropriate business accounts) the Debits and Credits MUST REMAIN EQUAL at ALL Times. This Debit Equals Credit calculator is built into this FREE Bookkeeping Template. When you have completed entering a line item (journal transaction), check to ensure that the amount the the Debit cell equals the amount in the Credit cell. If they are not equal, you have not entered the amounts properly in your journal transaction. Correct the problem before entering your next journal entry.

You are now equipped to capture your business financial books with some simple accounting software. Happy bookkeeping! And Happy Selling!

Source: Source by Carl Chesal


Marketing Ideas For Vitamins And Supplements Business

Marketing Ideas For Vitamins And Supplements Business

With people becoming more health-conscious, the market for vitamins and dietary supplements has increased significantly. Customers are given an exciting array of choices, with many different brands competing with each other and offering better products at fairer rates.

People use vitamins and supplements to lead healthy lives, with greater energy and vitality, improved memory and strength, and improved nutritional quality. Nearly everyone makes use of vitamins and supplements these days.

Manufacturers of vitamins and supplements face stiff competition because there are so many firms offering various combinations of products for the target customers. It is imperative that your advertisements be unique and informative, inducing customers to buy and use your vitamins and supplements. The advertisements have to be consistent and convey the message intended to the customers to choose your brand over others. You can do this by listing the benefits of using your brand and may attract customers by offering freebies that are useful.

Some Marketing Ideas for Vitamins and Supplements

  • Infomercials on TV, which if implemented correctly, can have a great ROI. It helps people become familiar with your brand and will help them choose your brand the next time they buy vitamin or supplements.
  • Having advertisements appear in health-oriented magazines as well as other magazines. They have to be frequent, as repetition is the essential ingredient to advertising success.
  • You can have brochures of your vitamins and supplements be made available in the local gyms and beauty parlors and spas, clinics, and supermarkets, etc.
  • Forming partnerships with pharmacies is another marketing idea. Having signboards and fliers advertising your products and brand name can influence many customers.
  • Using medical representatives to entice practicing doctors to prescribe your brand of vitamins to patients.
  • Using celebrities to endorse the vitamins and supplements. This has a very high ROI, as many fans will follow through.
  • Organizing health camps and awareness camps and offering the services of doctors for free can be very effective ways of marketing your products.
  • Using trade shows to promote your brand name and products.
  • Giving out educational leaflets in schools and colleges can influence some customers to try your products.
  • Using MLM to sell your products can be successful, too.
  • Develop catch phrases that will stay in the minds of customers and bring uniqueness to your products.
  • Opting to have referral programs with affiliate services. This may be very advantageous. You may have a website to promote your products, too.
  • These are a few marketing ideas for vitamins and supplements. There are firms that offer services as well as products to help run a successful business.

    Source: Source by Alexander Gordon