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Start-up Advice

Steve Wozniak Offers 4 Pieces Of Advice For First-Time Entrepreneurs

Wozniak put Apple before his ego, which led to his having a hand in developing some of the world’s most legendary products.

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Steve Wozniak

In November, Steve Wozniak, famous Apple co-founder and sidekick of Steve Jobs, had a fireside chat with Nextiva co-founder and CEO Tomas Gorny at the final session of NextCon in Scottsdale, Arizona.

During that conversation, Wozniak shared some impactful tips for business owners from all industries, tech and otherwise.

Here are four key lessons every entrepreneur can take away from his speech.

1You can make a difference without the spotlight

Jobs has often been portrayed by the media as a god-like visionary. Yet while Jobs was usually the one in the spotlight, Wozniak was busy working behind the scenes. He built the foundation in the background while Jobs sold the vision to the public.

Related: 10 Innovators On What They Learned From Steve Jobs

Wozniak portrayed himself as completely okay with this, a position that highlights his first lesson: Success doesn’t always happen in the spotlight. If both Apple co-founders had striven for the fame Jobs attained, neither would have gotten it. In fact, it was their differing skill sets that allowed the entire vision to unfold.

Takeaway: This is not an easy lesson to learn. Founders are encouraged to dream of being on the cover of Entrepreneur or having a Social Network–like movie made chronicling their story. But when you really think about why you’re building your business, fame shouldn’t be the main driving factor. Instead, avoid leading with your ego and risking making the wrong decisions for the business.

Wozniak always put Apple before his ego. As a result, he helped create some of the best products in the world.

2You must have passion for your work

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PC: afr.com

Wozniak conveyed passion and happiness throughout his entire NextCon presentation. His ever-present smile was especially sunny when he talked about technology. There was no doubt that his passion was what helped build such disruptive and impressive products.

Wozniak didn’t co-found Apple for the money and he didn’t have a grand vision for Apple at the outset. He just got involved for the love of the craft. He wanted to build products he loved.

Takeaway: When starting a new business, it is important to focus on what you enjoy. Then find a customer to buy your product. Don’t worry about the size of the market. As you test your business and refine your strategy, you’ll find a way to expand.

Said Wozniak: “My goal wasn’t to make a ton of money. It was to build good computers.” The greatest companies in the world start with just that simple a vision.

Related: The Secret Sauce to Apple’s Start-Up Successes

3Find somebody willing to build in his garage

Listening to Wozniak speak at NexCon gave audience members the sense that he is the epitome of someone who does what he loves, regardless of the limitations involved.

Too many aspiring entrepreneurs get into business for the wrong reasons. A would-be entrepreneur would rather be seen as an expert or a thought leader than devote hours to studying his craft and letting his reputation blossom organically.

As Wozniak put it: “Find somebody who has been building things in their garage. That’s the person you’ll want to work with.”

The reason: Such people are problem-solvers, Wozniak said. They do what they do regardless of the incentive, regardless of the title, regardless of the acclaim or the attention.

Takeaway: Garage builders do what they do even when no one is watching. And, as Wozniak explained, they are usually much more capable of figuring things out than someone with a fancy degree.

4Build a team that wants to use your product

“Create solutions to your own problems,” Wozniak said clearly and simply. There is a clear difference between people who set out to become trendy tech innovators with no clear problem to solve and whose who are extremely aware of a particular pain point and do everything in their power to fix it.

You always want to be the latter, Wozniak said. You want to be building something you and your entire team will actually use. Something that you all believe in and would be excited to have in the world.

Related: Hollywood’s Greatest Financial Lessons For Entrepreneurs

Takeaway: That something you create as an entrepreneur should solve a personal issue, and deliver value to your life first. Because, if you and your team want to use it, then chances are others will, as well.

All first-time entrepreneurs should take a page from Wozniak and his lessons. After all, he was a key player in creating one of the greatest companies in the world and some of the most innovative products of his generation.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Deep Patel is a young writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of A Paperboy's Fable: The 11 Principles of Success. In the book, he interviewed 15 industry luminaries including professors, entrepreneurs, CEO’s and General David Petraeus. In addition, Patel has served as script editor and creative consultant for the comedy She Wants Me (2012), produced by Charlie Sheen. He has also been featured in Forbes, The Huffington Post,Entrepreneur Magazine and Elite Daily. Patel is currently finishing up his second book, The Gray Veil.

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Start-up Advice

Put On Your Wellies: It’s Time To Wade Into Risk

Entrepreneurs aren’t all leaping into the unknown like lemmings off a cliff, but they do need to consider it…

Chris Ogden

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You’ve had a great idea. You’ve looked into its development. You’ve recognised that it has potential beyond just what Auntie Mabel and Mike From The Grocer think. And you’ve clearly nailed a pain point that can make money. Now it is time to take the risk of running with it.

Every big idea comes with risk. You can’t step out into the world of entrepreneurial thinking and business development without it. Your idea may fail. It will also be time consuming, demanding, hungry for money, and hard work. It is unrealistic to expect that your project will leap out into the world and be an unmitigated success.

It is also unrealistic to assume that it isn’t worth taking this risk.

There are steps that you can follow to ensure that your risk is managed so you aren’t blindly leaping off that cliff…

Step 01: Do your research

No, canvassing your neighbours, friends and family is not doing research. You need to know that your idea will appeal to a broad market and that it will have significant legs. This may sound like daft advice, but you would be surprised how many people think an idea will take off just because Susan in Accounting said so.

Step 02: Understand the costs

Projects are hungry for money and investment. Realistically work out your budgets and how much it will cost to take your project off the ground and then stick to it.

A calculated risk is a far better bet than one that shoots from the hip and hopes for the best. You can also use this as an opportunity to draw a clear line under where you will stop investing and end the project. If it keeps eating money and isn’t getting anywhere with results you need to be able to walk away.

Step 03: Know when to walk away

As mentioned before, this can be defined by a line you’ve drawn in the proverbial sand (and budget) but no matter where you draw this line, you have to stick to it. Often, when time, money and energy have been poured into a project it can be incredibly hard to walk away.

You think ‘but I have put so much into this, just one more’ and then it gets to a point where the ‘just one more’ has taken you so far down the line that walking away feels impossible. Leave. Learn the lessons. Apply them to your next project.

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Start-up Advice

Mind The Gap

The entrepreneur’s guide to finding the gaps and building the right solutions.

Chris Ogden

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Innovation may very well be the key to business success but finding the gap into which your innovative thinking can fit is often a lot harder than people realise. Some may be struck by inspiration in the shower, others by that moment of blinding insight in a meeting, however, for most people finding that big idea isn’t that simple. They want to be an entrepreneur and start their own high-growth business, but they need some ideas on how to find that big idea.

Here are five…

1. Network

It sounds trite but networking is actually an excellent way of picking up on patterns and trends in conversation and business problems. The trick is to note them down and pay attention. Soon, you will find patterns emerging and ideas forming.

2. Look for pain

Just as networking can reveal trends in the market, so can spending time reading. The latter will also help you find common business pain points. These are the touchpoints that frustrate people, annoy business owners, affect productivity, or impact employee engagement.

Be the Panado that fixes these pains.

3. Luck

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This is probably the most annoying of the ideas, but it is unfortunately (or fortunately) very true. Luck does play a role in helping you capture that big idea. However, luck isn’t just standing around and random people offering you opportunities. Luck is found at networking events, it is found in research and it is found in conversations with other entrepreneurs.

4. Luck needs courage

You may have found the big idea through your network, a pain point or pure blind luck, but if you don’t have the courage to take it and run with it, you will lose it to someone else.

Being bold in business is highly underrated because most people assume that everyone is bold and prepared to take big leaps into the unknown. However, not all brilliant entrepreneurs were ready to throw their family funds to the wind and leap into an idea – they were courageous enough to figure out a way of harnessing their ideas realistically.

5. Pay attention

This is probably one of the most vital ways of finding a gap in the market. Often, people are so busy that they don’t really pay attention to that niggling issue that always bothers them on a commute, or in a mall, or at a meeting. This niggling issue could very well be the next big business opportunity. Pay attention to it and find out if that issue can be solved with your innovative thinking.

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Start-up Advice

5 Things To Know About Your “Toddler” Business

As you navigate this new toddler phase of your business, here are five things to bear in mind.

Catherine Black

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Ah, toddlers. Those irresistible bundles of joy bring a huge amount of energy, curiosity and fun to any family – but there’s also frustration and worry that comes with their unpredictability, as they grow and start to become more independent. If you own a business and it’s successfully past its “infancy” of the first year or so, it’s likely it will also go through a toddler stage of its lifecycle.

Pete Hammond, founder of luxury safari company SafariScapes, agrees with this. “Our business is now three and a half years old, and we’ve found that we’re not yet big enough to justify employing a large team of people to handle the day-to-day admin tasks, yet we still need to grow the business as well,” he says. “As a result, our main challenge is finding the time to step back and see the bigger picture. Kind of like when you are raising a busy toddler and you spend most of your time running after them!”

As you navigate this new toddler phase of your business, here are five things to bear in mind:

1. This too shall pass

Everything in life is temporary – and that goes for both the good and the bad. It’s as helpful to remember this when you’re facing the might of a toddler temper tantrum, as it is when you’re facing throws of uncertainty in your business. If your new(ish) venture is going through a rough patch in its first few years, it can be easy to think about giving up – but don’t. As long as you have an overall big idea that you believe can add value to your customers, keep pushing through the rough parts until you come out the other side.

2. Appreciate what this phase brings

The toddler years mean that the initial newborn joy is officially behind you. But these small humans also bring their own kinds of joy, as you watch them learn new skills, say funny things, and give affection back to you. While your two-year-old business may not hold the same exhilaration for you as it did during those first few months, there are now different things to appreciate about it: Maybe you’re expanding your product range, or employing new people who can take the workload off you.

3. Establish boundaries

Toddlers thrive on boundary and routine – and your toddler business will too. As it grows into a new phase, try and establish limits in terms of the type of clients you want to work with and the type of work you’ll do. It’s also a good idea to make a decision about the hours you’ll work and when you’ll switch off, which will help you establish a good work-life balance.

4. Take a break

Every parent with a toddler needs a break every now and then, even if that means a walk around the block (on your own!), a dinner out with friends, or even a few days away. The same is true for a demanding small business: every so often, remember to take time out to rest properly, where you switch off your laptop and completely unplug. You’ll return much more inspired and resilient to deal with the everyday uncertainty that it brings.

5. Give it space to make mistakes

While the unpredictability of a young business can be stressful and tiring, it’s also a time for trying new things without the risk of huge consequences if they don’t quite work. After all, it’s much simpler to change your USP if you’re a small business employing a few people, rather than a big company where 50 people are relying on you for their salary, or where you’ve received a huge amount of investment capital. While you may fail in some of the things you try with your business (in fact, this is almost guaranteed), see it as a toddler that’s resilient enough to pick itself up, dust its knees and keep moving forward.

During this phase of business growth it’s also essential to have the right type of medical aid cover. There are medical schemes such as Fedhealth which has a number of medical aid options and value-added benefits to ensure that your health and wellness is taken care of too. After all, the healthier you and your staff are, the more productive your business will be – during the toddler (business) stage and beyond.

While this phase can be frustrating, it’s a sign that your business is growing and adapting, rather than remaining in its infancy, and that can only be a good thing! So embrace the difficulties, learn from them, and watch as your business strides forward confidently into the next exciting phase.

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