Category Archives: Work Hard

Real-world Entrepreneurship: Why Hard Work isn’t Enough

A lot of people find refuge in buckling down and getting busy with a project. They’re often called “workaholics,” lumped in with the passionate, the driven and the desperate souls who populate the entrepreneurial landscape. There’s a mental kind of release in feeling like you’re actually getting something done.

Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t get that same feeling from some of the less concrete parts of startup life, like planning, researching and analyzing. So they try to lose themselves in solid work. Yet all those other things are absolutely critical to my point, which is that you can’t get by on hard work alone, not for any project, not ever.

Stressed Businessman

“you can’t get by on hard work alone”

A Successful Business isn’t Built on Just One Thing

Just like an idea alone can’t bring you real success, work alone isn’t going to help you succeed if you don’t have the other elements required for your business to succeed. This is one of the reasons that you need a good team; different working personalities fill in gaps in one another’s abilities, which helps to make the idea reality. The key aspects of your business need to be ensured by someone:

  • A killer business idea that sets you apart from the competition
  • A growing customer base for your product or service
  • The talent required to create and deliver on those products or services
  • The ability to manage and attract said talent

Really, those are the broad strokes, but there’s not much else to it. And you can’t get this stuff covered if you fly blind, just buckling down on grunt-work tasks.

Someone has to be aware of economic conditions affecting your industry and your customer base. Someone has to research new technology and competing products that may be putting you behind the times. And someone needs to be watching the way your entire organization works to ensure that you’re actually getting done what needs to get done, that you have the capital and the plan to make it six months, a year, five years. And when you’re living the startup life, that someone is you.

Fighting the Desire to Disappear into the Details

Being consumed by work may be psychologically rewarding, but it can distract you from things that really matter. You can’t just charge ahead, single-minded and taking no stock of the shifting business climate around you. You need to be the vanguard, the person blazing the trail for your entire organization, whether you’re the whole show or the head of a growing team.

There’s a reason we retreat into mindless busywork when there are real strategic and conceptual challenges to be tackled. It’s the procrastination bug that causes us to look for something else to do—anything else—than the hard stuff. But isn’t that why you became an entrepreneur, so that you wouldn’t be doing someone else’s gopher tasks, grinding away at the mindless minutiae of it all?

The truth is that we’re tempted to avoid that stuff because we’re scared of fully investing ourselves and then failing and having nothing left. It would be a confirmation (not really) that you aren’t good enough. But if you’re not willing to take that risk—to put all of your energy, hope and emotional force behind an idea you believe in—then you may need to ask yourself if you’re really cut out to be an entrepreneur.

Mike Mann is a serial entrepreneur and author seeking to drive real-world change using profits from his many profitable business ventures. To learn how to make your own business a success, and to hear more about Mike’s charitable vision, read or download his book.

3 Reasons Why Your Business Plan Stinks

There’s a problem with your business plan. I haven’t read it. I don’t know what your product or service is, or what problem it solves. But I know this: there are holes in what you think is an amazing business plan, and you need to fix them if you want anyone to read it, let alone invest.

Most people never even finish reading poor business plans because they have learned to recognize instantly when an idea hasn’t been fully fleshed out, the entrepreneur doesn’t understand the problem they’re trying to solve, or when there’s just no evidence to support the claims being made in the business proposal. I go over how to write an effective business plan in my book on business success, in which I lay out the principles you need to know to write a convincing proposal that really does your idea—and the work behind it—justice.

Your Idea Gets Lost in the Details

Any good idea you have is lost in an overwritten business plan. Sure, people want figures and facts that will back up your business plan (market research, competitive analysis, budget estimates, financial projections for the first few years, etc.), but these elements should be referenced in your business proposal, not spelled out in full like a master’s thesis.

Unless you avoid common mistakes, people will spot you as a entrepreneurial wannabe.

Unless you avoid common mistakes, people will spot you as a entrepreneurial wannabe.

Hide the details elegantly; you don’t need to front-load everything into the proposal. If an investor is intrigued, they can drill-down into that cost analysis to see your staffing plan, your materials estimates and your projected revenue. Put those things in separate documents and keep the main proposal itself as a birds-eye view of the business plan essentials, as laid out in my book, MakeMillions.Com:

  • The problem that needs a solution.
  • Your solution to that problem.
  • Convincing evidence that your solution will work.
  • A non-sugar-coated assessment of the risks associated with your venture.

If you lay these things out in a simple, easy-to-digest form that doesn’t try to win readers over with jargon, your idea will be able to stand on its own. You’ll really have a good chance that people will read the whole proposal, and your research will show through in the organization of the data you’ve collected.

Your Market Research is Light or Nonexistent

If it’s evident that you haven’t done an exhaustive amount of research on the niche you want to occupy, people will simply pass your proposal over. In fact, I’d say that a proposal without research isn’t really a proposal at all; it’s just wishful thinking on paper.

No one will believe you can compete without understanding the current players in the market space you want to break into. No matter how impressive your product is, investors will want to be reassured that established players don’t already have something better in the pipeline. If you’re entering an already competitive niche, you’ll really need to spell out why you’ll be able to compete with the big players in the space, and that your idea is unique enough not to get lost in the crowd.

The worst thing you could do is leave out analysis of some of your obvious competitors in the space or ignore similar products to yours from even smaller players who may be poised to eat your lunch. If someone can find out more about your competition with a simple Google search than they can reading your proposal, they’re not going to take you seriously, and they shouldn’t.

You Don’t Talk about What You Don’t Know

Experienced investors and business people will be able to see blind spots in your plan. Do you? If so, you’d better spell them out in detail, describing exactly what information you don’t have that could impact the likelihood of success, and why you think you’ll be able to succeed anyway.

Every business plan involves some basic assumptions (about the economic climate, about customer demand, about competition, etc.), which you should spell out logically in order to show your investors and potential partners that your plan is firmly based in reality. Avoiding these subjects makes it seem like you’re either unprepared or being deceptive about the actual risks associated with the proposal.

Mike Mann, social activist and serial entrepreneur, is the author of MakeMillions.Com, a business book focused on making money in small business in order to better serve society. Read or download the book today for insight on his philosophy on wedding entrepreneurship and charitable goals

Why Persistence and Luck are the Keys to Success

Success in business requires that you follow a few sound and well-tested principles and nurture some important traits. Throughout the years, we’ve seen the same things over and over again – truly successful entrepreneurs can be characterized by their determination, knowledge, persistence and… luck?

We hear it a lot. Someone will claim that a certain business leader was just lucky – that he or she was simply in the right place at the right time. What is luck in business, though? Is it really a defining factor in success, or does it go beyond that? Without a doubt, luck can play a big part in how we see opportunities, but perhaps there’s more to it than mystical chance. It might just be that with some persistence and the right attitude, you can make your own luck and take control of your own success.

What is Luck?

Luck, in a way, is really just a personal awareness. It’s not a special chant or tasty elixir. When we say someone is lucky, it might just be that they have a level of attentiveness that other do not, and they pay attention to specific impressions they get in every circumstance or event, letting them recognize opportunities that others miss. So how does that help you with your business?

Everyone sees and describes luck differently. Just because one CEO climbed to the top faster or more efficiently than another company president doesn’t mean he had more luck; there are a lot of other factors, and luck is one. You can’t control luck, but you make it more likely that you can take advantage of it by controlling the level of creative thinking, hard work, and tenacity you bring into a business project.

Hard work and luck can unlock real success, if you know how to use them.

Hard work and luck can unlock real success, if you know how to use them.

Be Original and Inspired

Let’s be clear, first of all. Most success in business comes by following sound business principles and being consistently serious about their endeavor. You begin with an idea, service, or product and create a solid plan around it. Surround yourself with other creative and resourceful people and come up with a detailed concept and business model. That’s the bulk of the foundation that successful businesses are built upon.

You could say that if you’re “lucky,” all of these things will fall into place, and your business will be up and running in no time. Or, you could be smart, be objective, and be ready to take on any task or project that you believe in. If you go out on a limb, try new things, and offer a unique perspective, you will inspire others to help you succeed. It’s the act of putting yourself out there that allows you to take advantage of the natural ebb and flow of opportunities that naturally occur. The luck occurs when your efforts coincide with favorable conditions and things catch fire.

Be Positive and Work Hard

Luck seems to hover around those people with a positive attitude, and this is not a coincidence. Be bold and approach jobs with confidence, then you can motivate others and share a passion for getting the work done. A positive attitude can be contagious, which encourages others to work harder and more effectively. Do not sit back and watch things happen around you. Don’t wait for luck. Be the kind of businessperson who has the mental strength to survive the tough times.

Keep Moving Forward

Everyone makes mistakes. Is that bad luck? No, it just means there may have a situation that was beyond your control. Bad luck is merely when those mistakes cascade into other consequences and magnify the mistake. There may be many roadblocks or setbacks, but businesses that overcome these things and, in fact, use the experiences to find even greater success down the road. Someone else may call that “good luck,” but by then you’ll know the difference.

Take the time to learn from other innovative and hard-working businesspeople. They most likely struggled along the way but maintained a vision and reached a goal. The person who believes in himself or herself the most, irrespective of their nominal brainpower, is usually the most successful.

Luck is for the Lottery – Persistence for the Entrepreneur

Luck comes to those who make room for it, and by being serious about success and always following sound business principles there will be plenty of room for great things to happen. Watch for these opportunities as your business grows. Be ready to take a chance because routine is the anti-luck. There’s no room in routine for anything but the ordinary. In a way, luck does have a formula, and once you discover it in your own business, it will be easy to replicate time and again.

Mike Mann, social activist and serial entrepreneur, is the author of MakeMillions.Com, a business book focused on making money in small business in order to better serve society. Read or download the book today for insight on his philosophy on wedding entrepreneurship and charitable goals.