Zebraheard

Helping entrepreneurs turn ideas into a business

My Grandfather once said, “Don’t Plow The Field Without A Horse.”


Plowing the field with a horseI am not sure what exactly that meant either. What I think it might have meant, at least in the case of entrepreneurs, is that you can’t start a business by yourself. You have to be open to discretionary listening and take advice of selected information sources.

Entrepreneurs are known for either operating with blinders and ignoring everything except the finish line or without blinders and noticing everything but the finish line. Neither one are  good for the new entrepreneur.

When thinking of starting a business everyone will be giving advice. Choose who you ask wisely. Look for people with experience with entrepreneurs or start-up companies. Not everyone who is successful in business is a good source of advice for the new entrepreneur. Find a core of mentors to access for advice. They will probably give you, at  times, differing opinions. That is also good. Your job as a new entrepreneur is to do your own due diligence, listen to your core mentors, and then make a decision on how to proceed. Ultimately you are the one accountable for the success or lack of success for your business.

The article“Start-up Tips I Didn’t Believe at First” written by Eileen P. Gunn, is spot on when discussing her account of ignoring some advice given to her as she started her business.

Here is a little excerpt: “Before I launched FamiliesGo! I spent the better part of a year talking to people, reading articles and blogs, and taking classes on starting and running a business. I heard a lot of the same advice over and over.”

To read the whole text from this wonderful article here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/3q4d72v.

To find a location with real life information and products for entrepreneurs go to http://www.zebraheard.com/featured-topics/entrepreneurship/ 

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May 27, 2011 Posted by | Entrepreneur | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Economic Challenges Creates Innovation Caution


InnovationThe recent economic challenges faced by businesses in the last couple of years cannot happen without changing the way business is accomplished. One change is the way companies approach innovation. Faced with trepidation about the future, thinner margins, and limited resources Senior Management and Board of Directors are requiring an increased sure certainty in innovation initiatives.

The article “Why Some Companies Successfully Innovate and Others Don’t” written by Christine Crandell, discusses what 280 product executives have found are the best practices in today’s economy to continue to be innovative.

It is a great article and here is a little excerpt:

“In a survey commissioned for our company, involving more than 280 product executives in 17 different industries, we found common patterns among the study’s top performers. Among the good management habits of innovative, high-performance companies:…”

To read the whole text from this terrific article here is the link: http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/mar2011/id20110318_758366.htm?campaign_id=rss_topStories

To discuss this article with other innovative and thoughtful entrepreneurs go to LinkedIn and join the group Zebraheard – Helping Entrepreneurs Turn ideas Into A Business. http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Zebraheard-Helping-Entrepreneurs-Turn-Ideas-3845731?mostPopular=&gid=3845731

March 29, 2011 Posted by | Entrepreneur | , , , , | 3 Comments

Entrepreneurs – Keep the “WELL” full!


There is a saying, “Don’t wait until you are thirsty before going to the well”. Unfortunately, entrepreneurs, when starting a business often lose sight of their current business relationships and ignore networking to develop new ones. As the saying above indicates, you should not neglect your network of business relationships. It is critical to your success and your business success to keep active in your industry, and community.

You are excited about your new venture. This is understandable. However, in your excitement to launch a business you must not forget to keep attending networking events. Take someone new to lunch. Not just once a month, but several times a week. Networking is as much of launching and sustaining your business as is building a web site, but often overlooked.

An article that illustrates this very point is http://tiny.cc/islua. This site underscores the necessity to stay connected and gives you guidance on how to continue networking.

 

November 29, 2010 Posted by | Entrepreneur | , , , , , | 1 Comment

CAPITAL FUNDING OPTIONS FOR ENTREPRENEURS


  

 

Dollars

Funding Your Business

As they launch their business entities, entrepreneurs frequently have trouble grasping the various types of capital funding they may be able to secure to run their business operations. The following piece explores several of the more frequently utilized capital sources and discusses the positive and negative aspects of each type of funding.

After you have concluded that your business is in need of external funding, you must determine which kind of funding source to seek. There are several options available to business owners, and all of them come with good and bad elements. Let us now investigate the available choices as well as our impressions of the benefits and drawbacks of each one.

Per usual, it is my suggestion that you consult with your accountant and attorney with regard to these kinds of matters.

Bank Lending

Many refer to this as debt financing. Under this type of arrangement, you will be indebted to the bank for money borrowed. The loan terms will determine the amount of interest which will attach to the principal amount you must repay to the bank. Debt financing can be used at various stages of a company’s evolution, from its earliest days to the time it reaches full capacity. Different phases of a company’s lifespan will call for different loan terms, based on several factors.

 Positives:

* The business will remain under your ownership and control.

* You will be able to deduct from your taxes the interest paid on this kind of borrowing.

Negatives:

* Collateral is likely to be a requirement for securing this kind of funding.

Factoring of Accounts Receivables

This is an alternative which many fail to consider. This is an option offering you instant cash availability, though it will require or strenuously recommend that you sell a portion of your accounts receivable to a factoring firm, which works to collect money from your customers.

Positives:

* This is perhaps the quickest method of obtaining funds.

Negatives:

* Should you have customers who are unwilling or unable to pay money owed, you will be responsible for paying their outstanding balance.

Friends, Family and Acquaintances

This is an alternative in which a business owner turns to friends and family to provide money for their business enterprise, ranging from a small amount to several thousands of dollars.

Positives:

* There is no trading of equity for funding.

Negatives:

* Possibility of harming relationships with friends and family members.

Revolving Credit Card Usage

While there are surely cases in which a business owner managed to succeed through funding his or her operations with credit cards, this is, to my mind, one of the last alternatives a business owner ought to select. However, the option does exist, and the fact that it is selected fairly often merits further exploration.

Positives:

* There is no security requirement.

Negatives:

* This type of borrowing can easily get out of hand.

Borrowing Against Home Equity

Prior to the recent economic downtown, this was an appealing possibility for many. But, in recent years, this type of solution has become far less available. That is not to say that you should forget about the possibility altogether, but banks are sure to have fairly stringent requirements in place. At the time this article is being produced, banks still require good to superior credit in order to grant credit to applicants. With that stated, we should examine the positive and negative aspects of this solution.

 Positives:

* If you can gain approval, you may secure a longer term loan at a more advantageous interest rate than several of the other alternatives discussed.

Negatives:

* Your home is at risk should the business fail.

* If you have a spouse, he or she will likely need to serve as a signatory on the loan as well. You may think this is not a problem at the present time, but what happens in the event of divorce? What would happen with the loan? It is my suggestion that you speak honestly about this possibility in advance in order to avoid potential difficulties in the future.

Assistance from Angel Investors

Angel investing is a funding method which is frequently misunderstood or overlooked by entrepreneurs. But, if you can show evidence of a great concept, a solid management group, the ability to endure, as well as a viable exit strategy, it is possible that you will be among the 1-3% to win funding.

 Positives:

* These investors are ready with the money necessary to launch or build your fledgling business. The total funding amount will be disbursed incrementally. Different angel groups prefer different levels of direct oversight. It is likely that they will require a position on the company’s Board of Directors.

Negatives:

* You will have to trade a portion of your business in exchange for the investment you receive. What proportion of the business you must trade will probably be determined by how much money you receive from the investors and the level of risk they have assumed. Keep in mind that investors are concerned with making money. You must conduct an appropriate amount of research in advance. It is vital that you seek the expertise of attorneys and accountants before you enter into any agreements.

The Bottom Line

 It can be difficult and taxing to obtain business funding. This article has explored several alternatives open to entrepreneurs. You must always conduct due diligence when considering possibilities. After you have narrowed the options a bit, talk things over with your lawyer, accounting, business acquaintances and professional contacts. Remember that you have various alternatives, and do not necessarily need to choose one to the exclusion of all others. You must always make decisions carefully, taking all of the negative and positive aspects into consideration.

Author Box

Brenda Collins is a seasoned business coach with vast experience helping entrepreneurs launch and nurture new business enterprises. Ms. Collins’ background includes collaborations with firms of all types and sizes all over the globe. Most recently, she worked with a successful launch within the internet technology business sector. Focusing on business strategies and marketing techniques, she has collaborated with politicians, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and angel investors to help fledgling business owners secure funding opportunities.

Her interest in aiding business owners began long ago. She started as an employee in her father’s business while still quite young. “My background is almost entirely based on my experiences with business owners,” says Ms. Collins. She believes that the education she received while earning a teaching degree from the University of Cincinnati has been tremendously helpful in her work with entrepreneurs. Ms. Collins’ most recent project involves serving as an owner and founder of a web-based group named Zebraheard –Turning ideas into businesses. The Zebraheard group is an extremely valuable outlet for anyone contemplating launching a business. She is always accessible through the main social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Anyone desiring to connect with Ms. Collins to discuss business issues can write to her at bcollins@zebraheard.com.
 

November 4, 2010 Posted by | Entrepreneur | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Entrepreneurs Get Too Busy Making Money…


It sounds crazy doesn’t it?  How can you be too busy making money? The truth is you can and it will ultimately hurt  

Fundamentals

Focus On Fundamentals

your business. Why?  Because when you focus on making money you forget about all the little things necessary to continue making money. You are focusing totally on the prize and forgetting about the process.  

Basketball Goal

Focusing On The Result

 

Think of this as a basketball player focusing completely on making a basket and not developing his or her skills necessary to be a successful scorer? You might get lucky for a period of  time,  but eventually your lack of preparation and training will catch up with you and the player who did prepare and train will surpass you. It is the same in business. Prepare and train. In business training is putting the right processes, and people in place.  

Write down 5 to 10 questions you should ask yourself at a minimum once a week. Get in a habit of asking yourself these questions. Doing that will keep you focused on the little things that will make you successful as you grow. An example of a few of the questions would be: Am I getting the correct information to make the right decision?, Do I have right amount and quality of people in place that I need to move forward?, Am I delegating enough?, How can I make my company be more prepared for growth?. These are few examples and should give you the sense of the type of questions that you should ask yourself.  

My hero is John Wooden, the basketball coach.  He was a great coach and better leader of people.  His take on this is:

 “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”  

 John Wooden quote  

September 21, 2010 Posted by | Entrepreneur | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Entrepreneur Board of Advisors – Yes or No?


The question you should pose is not whether you should have a board of advisors but who should be on the board of advisors. Small business owners fail for a variety of reasons. Not knowing your competencies and poor planning are two of those reasons. Small business owners have a passion and a drive for their products or services, but may lack the skills in a critical area of success such as marketing, financial planning or networking. It is crucial for any business owner to surround their business with a diverse group of advisors. Some small business owners are wary of trade secrets escaping for the benefit of some other person or company. It is vital that the selected advisors are trusted business partners that are thoroughly vetted. The function of the group of advisors is to act as a strong sounding board, pointing you in the right direction and allowing you to focus on your core competencies while making you plan for the future success of your business.     

Business Advisors

Advisors

 

Your group of advisors does need to be a formal board of advisors. There are benefits to formalizing a board such as fiduciary duties to the small business and structured efficient meetings. Drawbacks to formalizing include a lessened ability to change directions when the market dictates the need for a change and advisory pay considerations. Formalizing the board of advisors has to be an individual choice and has to fit the attitude and the environment of your small business.    

One last point needs to be made.  Don’t choose people because they are or have been CEO’s of Fortune 500 or 100 companies.  Unless they grew that business from its inception they are probably as knowledgeable as you on how to run a start-up.  Find successful entrepreneurs to put on your board. Use the CEO’s, if you must, as funding sources but don’t rely on them for sound advice on running your business.  

Three Additional Points

April 29, 2010 Posted by | Entrepreneur | , , , , , | Leave a comment