Tag Archives: Growth

Reflect & Keep Going: 3 Keys I’ve Learned This Year

This year has been by far one of the best years I’ve had regarding on growth. The amount of knowledge that I have acquired is twice as much as I did in the previous year. I am to say that I am happy with the amount of work I did and consumed, yet I still find more desire to grow from my capacity.

I want to give out three keys that I’ve learned that can help other individuals grow from where they currently are, and get to where they want to be. I believe they are a great starting point for those who want an advantage. The three key factors that I’ve learn that helped me grow this year are: people, books, and execution.

People:

This year I set out to spend more time with the people that were experienced with the area of expertise that I wanted to be. Examples of this are going to networking events that you are most interested in, conferences, seminars, it was all about getting in there and not be afraid of the outcome. It makes such a huge difference as you spend more time with them. Your mindset adapts, and you learn insights better than on your own. The saying of ” you are the average of the five people you spend your time with” is about right. You feed what they bring in, however; we can’t always be selfish, we as well have to bring something to the table and show them that we appreciate their time for giving us their time. It’s one of the best keys I could tell someone that has helped me so much this year.

Books:

Reading is nourishment for the mind, need I say anymore? Reading the books on the area that you want to further expand your abilities will give you the knowledge and confidence that helps you gain results you want them to be. There is something about reading I think that gets you way ahead of your competitors that don’t read. Of course you need to put in the time to get reading checked off, but there are alternatives. Some people read, while others would rather listen to the audio form. A great time to read I recommend would be first thing when you wake up in the morning. Your mind is empty, at peace, and having your brain consume what you picked up, is the first thing it will think about.

Execution:

Many of us have placed in mind that someday we will start a business, they keep procrastinating, and soon it becomes their habit that someday they will. This is quite irritating and frustrating for the person receiving these words and the one saying it. I know starting a business is hard, it’s not easy, but there are small methods we can do that can at least get the foot in the door so you can start a business. Worried about something going wrong? Get the knowledge on what to look for by meeting people or reading books. Starting something and doing it is all the experience you need. This is how I learned quickly. JFDI

These three key factors are a great starting point that helped me gain a vast amount of knowledge and skills in order for me to get ahead to where I want to get, and I believe this will help you out also. If you have any other key factors you would like to add, please do so as I would like to know what three factors have helped you further grow this year.

Create Brand For Your Value

“Branding is limitless…”

This is quote aspect I completely agree on when it comes to branding your business. I had a discussion with close friends of mine about how most new up and coming business owners aren’t aware how big branding can be for their business. Many come to believe that branding is about a nice fancy logo or having a name that is relevant to what service they will be doing, but there is more to it that just that; that’s the minor half.

So what exactly is branding? Let’s put it into simple terms: branding is the value that the customer makes of it within that service or product. It’s what determines if they become loyal to a business and continuously use them. It can be very vital to a business if it grows fast or doesn’t grow at all.

What’s in the minds of a particular customer that follows a business often? The marketing has left the room, but branding is what stays behind and follows through in the thoughts of customers. Many large corporations I know spend large amounts of money to get across customers head that their branding is one thing while customers on the other hand think that business is another.

When we are used to something being the same, we are often are in auto-pilot mode. I finished reading a great book by Phil Barden titled “Decoded: The Science behind Why We Shop”.

In the book it gives out many scientific studies about what goes on in our brains when we shop. A vast majority of why we shop is due to a products brand. We carry ourselves automatically knowing what we want, where to find it, and how to properly distinguish it from other products. The way of a products shape, size, color, we can easily recognize with no problems at all because it’s been implemented in our brain that we can picture it even without looking at it physically.

If a well known product decides to do a complete makeover, it has a large chance of bringing that product’s brand to the ground. Loyalists of that product will question what is that product? They will stop what they’re doing and question themselves should they keep continuing using a certain product/business or is it best to try something different so that can find that comfort they had previously. It’s one of the things I look at that automatically can kill a product quick. The strategy to implement is by doing very minor changes and studying if there are any changes in mood with loyalists of that product.

Another intriguing question that the author asks are if emotions play a large part of branding? The correct answer would be no but we get carried away with it that as being loyal, we start to form emotions through time. We shouldn’t form strong emotions either way because business is not a living thing, humans have emotions towards living things, and quite frankly business doesn’t live but we make it live.

So what can we do to implement branding in our business?

One book I would highly recommend is by Scott McKee titled “Power Branding”. He gives out powerful insights on how small valued things can turn out  be widely beneficial for the brand of the business.

A great example would be the way Nordstrom handles their customer service. Many of their following know that they have remarkable service, it’s unbeatable. They go out of their way to bring value to you in the simplest form. It stands out from other retail stores and loyalist quickly have in mind what they represent.

To get more deeper into how we can implement branding into our business. Let’s think of Starbucks. When we walk in what’s the first thing we see, hear, or smell?

In my mind when I walk into a Starbucks, I first smell that fresh coffee aroma in the air. My mind gets to a state of being happy ready to sip on some coffee. I am then followed by the view of the environment. I see a calm, laid-back atmosphere where people sit down, enjoy their coffee and either talk with friends or work on their computers. To me, they don’t need advertising. There is no need for it because the thought has already been implemented in my head of knowing where to go when I want to sit back and get coffee on a warm afternoon.

Most startups need to understand that to exceed that growth fast, a good branding strategy has to take place.

Concluding this post, what branding strategies have you implement in your business? Or what do you think can be implemented that can help grow your business to a new level? When you think of a certain product, what is it that makes you think of that product, and what can you learn from it to get inside the minds of other customers?

Structuring the Entity

In the venture I find myself in, so far it’s been a great experience of learning new things. Starting the idea for a business is a simple part, but the recent articles that I’ve read about starting a business may have skipped over the legal paperwork side that needs to be done in order for you to be protected in case something goes wrong. I found myself in that situation when me and my co-founders decided to step forward with a business idea and start executing it.

One thing I can assure you is that it’s costly but very worth getting the legal structure taken care of by a lawyer that is familiar with the field. All of the founders get along but when the decision of how much of the company’s share-hold came up, we all brought a different side of us out. It took a few days to come to an agreement if it’s the best we all get equal shares or have one founder getting a little more. The operating agreement alone seemed so overwhelming that it consumed most of our time. Upon being finished, the bylaws and other legal matters had to be taken care of especially deciding what our exit strategy would be. We did however end up coming to agreement and worked things out correctly so that everyone is protected in case the idea doesn’t work out.

Having being done with the legal paper work side of the business, I’ve learned one of the foremost lessons to always set up a restricted stock purchase agreement with schedule vesting. This secures everyone especially the business in case one of the founders decides to leave early on. There won’t be any fighting going on about how much one should get because they left the business early to start another venture.

But again, a lawyer is helpful in setting up this case. There are ways to negotiate prices that can best serve you. A flat-rate fee of $2,000 is the average cost of having an attorney set up all the incorporated legal structure for the business. $600 for an LLC depending on what state, although in most cases, this can be done without a lawyer. But always seeks advice from an attorney that is familiar with the field.

Another tip I’ve learned is to do some research on what entity is best fit for your business you’ll be starting. Aside from speaking with lawyers, find events/articles that go over the pros and cons of each business entity and most important, the tax side of things (CPA is the best thing to guide you through). There are lots of videos online as well that go over the legal structure. A recent video I’ve watched covered over the mistakes a founder makes when setting up the business structure by Scott Walker.

I consider it very important that if you’re planning to launch a business, make sure you get the right protection you need. Once it’s done, then all systems are go. But what if you don’t have the funding to cover the attorney fees? From the advice I’ve received of people who have gone through this phase, this is what they stated me: “If you have $1500 dollars that you can only invest in legal fees, tell your lawyer “This is how much I have, what can you do with this much, to help me get started setting up my business?” They will find a way to help you.”

I’m sure to hope this helped as much possible when you decide it’s time to set up your legal structure. There are resources that can help you with more information towards structuring your business. The SBA are always there to give small business resources that are sure helpful and SCORE as well.

What can we learn from setting up the legal drafts of the business? Was it frustrating for you as well or did you go through it rapidly? What advice would you give out to those who don’t know about the legal protections of the business?

Defining What Value Is: How We Use It

What is the meaning of value to you? What is it mean to your team? It seems we often get confused with what the true meaning of value is upon giving it to the customers. We get distracted with our businesses that we tend to focus more on the money and if the money will be there at the end of the financial quarter. When this happens it’s mostly likely our customers start to decline or better yet, when we are starting to plan for a business, we often go into this mindset of asking ourselves if this market we are getting into will bring us a good amount of ROI. Upon this brainstorming phase, we get ourselves stuck and it starts to get painful because the indecisive thinking we can’t get out of.

I have a great friend of mine who is planning to launch his business but he asked me recently about what I thought about the product he was going to release to  public. I liked the idea and told him he should go for it, why is he worried or not executing it right away. He was worried that he wouldn’t make enough profit and all the time putting into it would be wasted, instead he’d be focusing on something else.

It came to me that this issue he was dealing with is very common. Many people who want to start a business have the idea that the only purpose for them to start a business is to make large amounts of money.

Perhaps some is true, but most of whom I’ve spoken with have stated the sole purpose of entrepreneurship is not to make money, but rather to give value to customers. Making customers’ lives easier by solving their problems.

This is the mindset we need when we plan to start a business, we have to deliver value unto customers instead of putting money in our minds. That value people will love and of course will trade in their value (money) in exchange, which will duplicate in time. A history lesson I was taught was that before there was paper as a way to exchange for currency, people would trade something valuable they had in exchange for something they wanted from the other person. This made complete sense; now people are taught to worry more about money thus creating mind full of selfishness and greediness.

Y Combinator’s own Paul Graham says it best in his essays about the true meaning of value and what it really is. How much value is worth is determined by how we and our customers see it. If it doesn’t solve a painful problem they face, that value isn’t worth much. But if the value you create solves their pain and makes their day go by better, that value becomes worth millions.

Instead of focusing if a business idea will make us rich, focus more on if this idea will bring in value to customers with their everyday needs. In other words: value=profits.

I think this is why starting a successful business again for entrepreneurs who already had success with one or more of their businesses is easier because they tend to think more about what is the next value they want to give out to customers and serving them with their needs. It’s something I’ve learned now as I’m maturing more into this leadership phase and this mindset of value can actually be applied to anything we do.

When we work for others as an employee, don’t put yourself with a negative attitude about not doing a certain role because it’s not what the job description stated. Let’s remember that anything we do at work, let’s do it with the cause of value. Not because it’s for the company itself, but for us as well. You may not notice, but others will notice the value you start to give. The more value, the more profit.

As my friend got into that mindset, we began to brainstorm more thorough ideas on how this business would give better value instead if the profits would be there. There is profits everywhere, millionaires know how to make profit anywhere because they understand that giving value first turns it into money in the end.

Now thinking of great ideas to solve customers needs are much simpler, the next part would be having your mind set only on that idea.

As this post comes to conclude, what is the meaning of value for your business to customers? Have you had the thought of value being the same as you previously thought? What would your advice be for someone that is solely focused on a revenue driven mindset?

I Am Growing: Put it in Your Mind

Recently I’ve been reaching out to other leaders and trying to get that momentum going. The response time didn’t come as expected, but I knew many of these figures can’t reply to everyone on time due to the available time they may be having.

When I did get a response it felt very great, a flow of positivity going through my body. However, upon having the courage to reach out to them, I did feel nervous replying back to them. Not sure if you feel nervous yourself when beginning to form relationships with others you most admire, but I began to experience this numbing feeling of what should I say next.

When starting to form relationships, this experience is both nerve racking and exciting at the same time. I do consider it very important to build relationships with people who may help you further down the road, but getting rid of this nervousness seems difficult to handle. How do you work this?

I spoke about this and asked for advice dealing with this situation. He batted off a few but I captured one important advice that I thought was extremely helpful to ease up the nervousness I was getting. First off, that feeling we get of being nervous is quite normal. But the main reason for getting nervous is due to the uncomfortable level we are in. When we feel uncomfortable in an action we are doing, we seem to go numb or question ourselves if we should continue going (self-doubt).

This leader that I spoke with explained to me that if it continues to occur; keep in mind whenever you begin to feel the doubts or nervousness, implement in your head that nervousness or uncomfortableness means you’re directing yourself towards growth.

With this in mind, it helps ease up those nerve-racking feeling one gets and that’s because we are doing something not many people are willing to do. Since that great advice I now focus on implementing it when reaching out, and I hope this advice benefits you as well.

I know there are other helpful ways when dealing with these situations, what helps you the most when dealing with that nervous feeling? How has it improved yourself and how can we implement those strategies?

Is Important? Should Leaders learn Everything

Ever feel like you have to know all the skills relevant to your business? Do you feel it’s a necessity to learn every vital thing? I’m sure we all felt this way; we are focused into our business, we want to be informed a little more about the overall roles of those areas. We go off course of what our roles are and instead take the time to study another area and learn as much possible. Trying to learn everything however, may not be suitable for leaders, it’s instead stealing us taking our time from what we should really be doing.

There are mixed feelings about learning everything, but I’ve came across blog posts and spoke with several leaders indicating that most don’t need to or should know everything. Many who responded to this rather told me that it’s not about what you know, but what you should ask. Asking the correct questions about your organization is one that should be learned. I picked up quickly three important questions: What are the steps needed to fulfill our organization’s vision? Why are we delivering it to the public? And how will our purpose bring an impact to those who use our services?

I recently wanted to learn new skills from another new area. It’s exciting learning new things and demonstrating those new gained skills to friends and associates. The capability of what our minds can capture is astonishing and it’s great to see how we progress even more. However I asked myself why did I want to learn these skills? It came to responses such as saying to myself I want to be able to understand how other areas work. I feel like perhaps there will be a day where a team member and I have trust issues, and his work isn’t what it’s ought to be.

From what I understand now, this could be a waste of time. Instead of trying to spend that time wondering what could go wrong or spending time learning that skill, I should be sharpening more the skills I already have. We have to own what we already have.

The key part here is by surrounding ourselves with people that know more than us relevant to that business area. Our role is to keep the organization at hand running smoothly and keep maintaining that vision we seek. I understand also that we want to seek new skills for pleasure, but what we do is create a team that leaves a brand behind that people will love.

It’s a very opinionated topic for many whom I’ve spoken with. The start-up community, some investors will question what the founder knows in relation to what they will be starting. Would you agree knowing everything from your business’ task are important to learn? How has that experience been? If you look back when starting your organization, would you spend that time again trying to learn those tasks?

Explaining To Someone What Entrepreneurship Is

Recently I had the chance to speak with my uncle who I find as such a great person. He’s very motivational and inspiring, but we had this long talk about him wanting to see me instead complete school and find a job, living happily ever after sticking with that job. It was quite difficult getting to him that the way the school teaches us is off course to what the real world experience will give us. I told him I’m a very entrepreneurial minded person and only focus on what I know will benefit my present and future. Still couldn’t get it! How would you explain to someone that has no point of view of what the entrepreneurial side looks like?

To get started, as an entrepreneur I feel I’m unemployable. It’s uncomfortable working with others I can’t get along with and don’t have the same mindset I have. Applying for a resume and they ask for skills. What skills may I have? Does leadership count? To some yes, to others no, they’re looking for a seat to be filled. The feeling of having a job just brings a chill down my spine, all I would be doing is helping complete someone else’s goal(s) while being paid at a reasonable price for that period of time. I’ve learned that the way society works is that we end up depending on a job, and while the job may be something to be proud of, there’s always that minor point of being laid off. All that hard work and time well spent gone out the door. What do we do after we lose a job? We go berserk, we panic, we feel desperation coming and the negative emotions start taking over our mind. At the end of the month, that income that we are comfortable seeing being deposited no longer comes in. We start making late payments because of expenses we can’t handle, and banks start calling in for mortgage payments being late. The life is ruined! Or is it?

As we got more deeper into the conversation I wanted to let him know that his idea still is reasonable but I couldn’t see myself in that category. As an entrepreneur, life is always filled with experience. There’s no depending on one person for income rather it turns into self-reponsibility. Having switch into this mindset there always has to be room for learning, whether consuming it from books, audio, video, conferences, networking, you name it; continuous education is priority. But there’s still that debate if school should be an option. School is always an option, except most people rather skip the school part and start what they always dreamed of. Why waste the time on learning something that may end up not being used once graduating. The sources of where we can learn from have expanded dramatically: Learnable, Audacity, Coursera, Udemy, those are just a few but there are so many places one can learn from. I’m so in love with the world of business, everyday I have a business lecture or podcast playing while I go for a drive. Darren Hardy best stated this when he said a year’s worth of listening to material you’re into is about the same year’s worth in a graduate class. Your mind is never-ending and you see so much beauty into this.

Next, we move into what happens if our business doesn’t work? There’s fear and experience, but never failure. To fail means having the mindset to not bounce back up and be comfortable where that failure landed you. Learning from a system that didn’t work and tweaking it up and make it work to call it experience. And I think this is where experience becomes more of value than a paper stating where you went to school. I’ve witnessed people completing their masters, unemployed, yet they go back to school to change their major. To me it feels like it’s time wasted. Why not go out and prove you created, accomplished, and failed some businesses instead?

This is where the mindset of fear comes into place, we deal with fear almost non-stop but as entrepreneurs, once we learn to control fear, there’s nothing stopping us. What is there really stopping us? The quote says it best “What would you do if fear didn’t exist?” I love this quote because it’s not something everyone is capable of controlling, a majority are used to being comfortable. Working all week, going out on a weekend to spend everything they made that week, and repeating the cycle. The upside to this is they value money over themselves, something I’ve learned from Pejman Ghadimi is that money does not equal value, rather value equals money.

Later into the conversation he did agree with what I had to say except he’s never been exposed to the life where one has complete control of it. My response was that I too think I wouldn’t have known about this side if it wasn’t for my parents, although they see their customers as their boss instead, this makes them happy.

How have your experiences been explaining to an individual what entrepreneurship is? They have no understanding, but what are some easy ways that you did to describe it to them? Do you think it’s important to aware people about the possibility of having control of their lives?