How to Amaze Your People

The world is full of tribes. Some use words. Some use clicks. Some use clay. Some use ancient corn, harvest fruits, and wild locusts.

Whether you’re a metropolitan American or a rural Peruvian, you’ve got your tribes too. Social tribes. Media tribes. Startup tribes. In fact, the best entrepreneurs in the world all do one thing fantastically well: thrill their tribe. These tried-and-true tips will help you do exactly the same.

1. Listen fabulously.

People thrive off people who listen. Walls are torn down. Bridges are built. Partnerships are forged in the thick of it. Agatha Christie, who had a huge cultic following in her day, clearly got this.”An appreciative listener,” she explained, “is always stimulating.”

Yet even the best us are capable of missing the mark, of forfeiting the best opportunity in the world: the chance to listen. So practice like an Olympian. Learn to hear to what people say… how they say it… when they say it… what they fail to say.

Take deliberate steps. Enable comments on your blog. Create a cyber suggestion box. Host a weekly call-in talk program. Organize a bite-sized focus-group. Talk over coffee. Whatever you do, remember to actively listen to (yes, stimulate!) your tribe regularly.

2. Dish the beef.

Good information is better than a Picasso. And no one gets this more than Eli Pariser. In a world of ever-increasing “secret” collection of personalized data, he wrote a startling 300-page book–The Filter Bubble–to reveal “what the Internet is hiding from you.”

Bright Simons, a native of Ghana, created a business to stop medicine fraud in developing nations. Currently operating in eight countries worldwide, the Pedigree Network lets people determine with a text message whether their medicine is legitimate.

Sojourners magazine recently published an article to hip its tribe to the corporate world’s next move: eyeing the earth’s public water sources–salivating at the chance to turn it into a billion dollar “pay-to-drink” commodity.

Follow Pariser, Simons, and Sojourner magazine’s example. Folks need to know what’s happening, preferably from an engaged tribal leader like you. Be forward-thinking. Be brave. Never skimp on a slab of good information.

3. Bring the fireworks

What do Kaggle, YouNoodle, and Dwolla all have in common? They “wow” the socks off their tribes. And it’s not about rocket science.

For Kaggle, it’s about data science. A startup that marries “minds” to “matters”, Kaggle hosts online contests that allow the best and the brightest minds to solve hard-to-crack data problems. Able to enter from anywhere in the world, contestants are wowed not only by the sheer crank of the challenge, but also by the juicy rewards. (Think $6K or more, on average, per solution!).

YouNoodle builds competitions at the intersection of technologists and entrepreneurs. CEO Rebeca Hwang, much like Anthony Goldbloom of Kaggle, knows how to use her ‘noodle.’ Calling herself a “mega-connector” who helps make innovation happen, she’s got the right idea and the right platform: digital wonderment.

Ben Milne is educating business owners everywhere about unfair transaction fees–costing U.S. merchants alone a total of $66.5 billion in 2012! His solution? Dwolla: a no-fuss, bank-connected payment system that charges only.25 cents for any transaction of $10 or more. Anything less is hilariously free–signaling many corner-stores and coffee-shops to make a mad dash for Dwolla. (Thanks, Ben!)

Truly: The list doesn’t end here. Add your name today. Become a tribe-thriller and set your followers ablaze today. After all, this is not a job for the ‘Fantastic Four’. It’s a job for anyone who can lead with good listening, good information, and good innovation.

(Hint: That means you, Sherlock).

Do You Have an Idea For a Dream Business?

Generally a business idea starts as a dream. We all dream daily but most times we cannot remember what the dream was about. The best way to remember your dream is to always keep an ongoing journal or a small notebook by your bedside.

Immediately after you wake up jot down the person, place, things, colors, sounds or any minor details you may recall. Some details may be revealed as a business idea for a product even if it is unpleasant or vague and especially if you have dreams about the same things.

An example would be if your dream reveals to you the idea of playing with children’s toys. Take that idea and think of the many kinds of toys you can visualize and create. You can even expand on other accessories for this toy. This could be your new dream idea for a business.

Here are just a few ideas or suggestions:

1. Do extensive research on the different toys children really like

2. Do a random survey on different age groups

3. Do settle on a target age group to focus your plans for a toy

Perhaps you could ask a local school Principal’s permission to hand out surveys to their students. Print out a fun and colorful survey with pictures on it so the children can view and mark which items they prefer.

Certain age groups vary in their likes and dislikes. Write your survey for several groups to get a feel of what girls versus boys may like. Boys often like toys that make a loud noise whereas girls may like a quieter sound. Boys may not even notice the color of a toy while girls like softer colors like pink or yellow.

Now you see how your dream can turn into an business idea and possible expanding to include product accessories and school products like lunch boxes, dolls, trucks, comic books, etc.

Go for it!

Is Fear of Failure Holding You Back From Starting Your Own Painting Business?

It’s a known fact among house painters that over 90% of new painting businesses never make it past the first year. But did you also know that one of the main reasons so many good painters never get started is due to fear of failure? Fear of failure paralyzes painters into remaining in dead-end jobs doing this for bosses who don’t appreciate them and who barely pay them enough to survive.

Although our industry desperately needs better customer service oriented painters in the field, there is a right and wrong way to go about getting started. The thought process for most house painters considering starting their own business is “I know how to paint so I will start my own painting business” but it quickly becomes clear that there is more to owning a business then the ability to apply paint well. Don’t get me wrong good skills are a very important part of the process, but there are two other skill sets that must be developed also. Having a grasp of these two skill sets practically eliminates the fear of failure and will put you on a firm foundation to grow your painting business.

The first skill set is marketing, which is the ability to get your phone ringing and consistently bring in new work.

The second skill set is bidding and estimating, which is the ability to come up with the right price and land jobs on a consistent basis. There are really only two ways to develop these two areas of specialized knowledge. You can take the frustrating, costly and time-consuming route of trying to figure it out on your own through trial and error, or you can research study and apply proven techniques found in a quality painting business building home study course.

My point is that the information gathering phase is arguably the most important first step, but unfortunately it’s also the most overlooked. The good news is there’s one sure fire way to overcome the fear of failure and that is to gather information and educate yourself about what it takes to start, profit and succeed before you jump right in. Spend some time searching the Internet looking for websites and gathering information such as articles and interviews, presented by people who are already experiencing the type of success that you would like to achieve.

Decide what type of paint jobs you would like to target (for example, interior residential repaints). Speak to your local professional store manager and ask questions about your local market. The funny thing about the fear of failure is that it only exists because of “lack of knowledge”.

So if you spend some time gathering information from credible sources about how to develop a cost effective marketing system and how to competitively and profitably bid and estimate paint jobs you will quickly gain the confidence to finally take the step and be your own boss. The more knowledge you gain before you get started, the greater your chance for long-term predictable success.

Can You Make Money Without Money?

When I ask why you don’t start your own business, I always hear, “I don’t have money to start a business.”

This is a common excuse people give for not starting their own business.

There is truth in the statement. You actually need money to make money or to start a business. But the question is “Do you need a lot of money or little to start a business?” and “Whose money do you use?”

Yes, I admit that it does take money to make money but it doesn’t need to be your money!

Recently, one of my friends closed his restaurant business due to staff problems. But he quickly jumped to another business opportunity.

The business idea is so good that I want to share with you.

He is now running a training company. He focuses on corporate training. Basically, what he needs to do is to bring in famous trainers to his workshops. Market and promote the workshops and get people sign up for the workshops.

How much money do you think he needs to invest to organize one workshop? From getting the speaker to marketing, from selling tickets to renting a venue?

It will definitely cost a lot of money! Even if you only talk about marketing.

You know how much money my friend put in to organize a workshop? Close to zero!

How could that happen? How on earth that he doesn’t use his own money to organize a workshop but all the profits go into his pocket…

Here is how.

He got the idea to look for sponsors for his workshop. After a few rounds of searching and corresponding, he managed to get big companies to be the sponsors for his workshop.

For companies to become my friend’s sponsors, they need to contribute money to promote the workshop. This single idea helps my friend to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in marketing.

Not only that, his sponsors also help him to market and sell tickets for his workshops. He also can leverage on the sponsors’ client databases.

Of course, my friend doesn’t mind to give some commissions to the sponsors from the sales of tickets. It’s only a small fraction of the whole profit.

By making such an arrangement, a lot of work is off-loaded from my friend. It’s like having a well-oiled machine working for you without much of your involvement.

My friend doesn’t need to invest a big sum of money for his workshops. Someone else will pay for his workshop expenses.

Does this sound like an excellent business idea? Of course, it does.

This is what I call ideas at work. Making money does not necessarily require huge capital, it’s all about coming up with ideas that other people are willing to invest in.

As Napoleon Hill once said, “One sound idea is all that you need to achieve success.” And also stressed by Robert Kiyosaki “Money is an idea.”

Acquisition – Are You Ready for It?

Selling your business is not that different from selling your house. The home shows on television give all kinds of tips about preparing your house to get the best offer. Here are three things you can do to get a better offer for your company.

1. Curb appeal is important. You probably don’t stop at a restaurant that looks dirty and poorly maintained. You pass by service stations that look dirty and have visible maintenance issues. If you were buying a house, there would be many you would just drive by based on their lack of curb appeal. The same rule applies to a business. If it’s a mess on the outside, people assume the worst about the inside. Your outside is not just your building. It’s your reputation, your website, how you answer your phone, – in short, every face that you show a potential customer. Your potential buyers are looking at every way that you communicate value or lack of value before they even come into your building. Be sure that they see value from the outside to get them inside.

2. Up to date equipment is essential. If you go into a restaurant and can see ancient equipment and hear the employees telling customers that they can’t make a milk shake because the machine is broken or they don’t have waffles today because the waffle iron broke, what does that tell you about the restaurant? If you’re looking at a home, and the kitchen and bathrooms are seriously out of date, you can tell at a glance that there is work for you to do. The same rule applies to a business. If you go out on a shop floor and see equipment that is obviously not being used but taking up floor space, you can definitely assume the worst about the things that aren’t immediately visible. Can you find current preventive maintenance manuals for your equipment?

3. Neatness counts in the organization. If you’re on a shop floor and you can see tools in odd places, inventory piling up, or just plain clutter, you have to wonder about what you can’t see. If people aren’t taking care of the little things, do you think your buyer will believe they’re taking care of the bigger, much more costly issues? What does your inventory area look like? Can you find a specific part if you try? Will your potential buyers be able to ask for a part and see a quick response from your employees or will they discover a lack of inventory accuracy? Is your documentation where it should be? Are people following clearly defined standards and procedures? Do people know where things are supposed to be kept and make sure they’re in their proper place?

Conclusion: Relevant, clear, concise communication of your expectations to your employees sets the stage for your exit plan. Making sure that they know, from the webmaster and the line worker to your top managers, how you expect your business to be seen will make the difference in your return on the investment you’ve made when you’re ready to move on to your next venture.