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Start-up Advice

The Most Powerful Advice Entrepreneurs Ignore

Follow these six steps to dropping your ego and finding the right mentor.

Graham Young

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Study any successful entrepreneur and nearly every single one will point to a mentor as the key ingredient to their success.

Getting a mentor is arguably the most powerful piece of advice any budding entrepreneur can receive when embarking on a career in business. Research the wealthiest people in world and you’ll discover that they all had mentors.

Warren Buffett’s mentor was Benjamin Graham. Bill Gates early mentor was his father, then later Warren Buffett. Mark Zuckerburg’s mentor was Steve Jobs. However, if having a mentor is the most important step an entrepreneur can take, then why do so many ignore this advice?

Why ‘get a mentor’ advice goes unheeded

richard-branson

Richard Branson, who’s a huge advocate of mentorship once said, “Understandably there’s a lot of ego, nervous energy and parental pride involved, especially with one- or two-person start-ups…

Going it alone is an admirable, but foolhardy and highly flawed approach to taking on the world.” Branson’s assertion was that ego and pride prevents entrepreneurs from reaching out for help.

Related: 10 Young Entrepreneurs Under 30 Share Their Start-Up Secrets

One of the deepest negative beliefs we all have as humans is feeling that we aren’t enough. In the back of your mind you’ve likely questioned whether you are good enough, smart enough, funny enough, attractive enough, successful enough, patient enough etc. to get the things you truly want in life. This belief of not being enough, is so common because it is also linked to our deepest fears.

Our brain knows that when we don’t meet expectations, it often leads to failure at work, rejection in relationships and the feeling of guilt from letting others down.

This is why asking for help can be so hard, because it ultimately is proving this detrimental belief correct.

Seeking mentorship can seem counterintuitive for an entrepreneur. Whether you’re working on your own as a consultant, the founder of a start-up or the CEO of an established company, why would you want to expose your weaknesses? What would happen to your reputation if other people found out where you lacked? What would investors, customers and competitors think?

We often avoid looking for a mentor or seeking help because of our ego. We’re concerned that if we ask for help we’re going to be perceived as weak, like we lack knowledge, experience and the ability to make things happen on our own.

Finding the right mentor

Once your ego, pride and fears are set aside, you can embark on finding the right mentor. But the ideal mentor may not be easy to find. Phil Pustejovsky was in that position 15 years ago.

Phil’s story provides a wonderful case study with many lessons on how you can find the right mentor. His real estate investing start-up was failing and he was so humbled by the experience that he was open to seeking help.

Not knowing any successful business people, being in a small niche of the greater real estate space and having no real connections in an estranged city, Phil had no idea how to find the right mentor.

However through his daily interactions, Phil ran into a successful out-of-state real estate investor that just happened to be in town for a few weeks who was looking to duplicate himself.

Now that Phil was consciously aware of his need for a mentor, he recognised the opportunity. From these experiences Phil now believes that when the student is ready, the teacher arrives.

The arrangement was that Phil would split 50/50 the profits from his next $500,000 with new mentor. Through the tutelage of his mentor, Phil became an extraordinarily successful real estate investor and eventually created the iconic organisation, Freedom Mentor, a company that mentors real estate investors on creative real estate investing.

Related: 8 Secrets Your Business Mentor Won’t Tell You

That’s great news if you’re a budding real estate entrepreneur, but what about everyone else? Here’s some ideas on finding a mentor for yourself.

1Understand your ego

ego

No one likes asking for help. You can blame a deep rooted belief system called your ego for this. It ultimately tells us what needs to happen in our lives in order for us to feel good. It makes us believe that in order to feel confident we need to be self-reliant and competent, and that vulnerability is a sign of weakness. Over time this way of thinking has created a habit that avoids looking for external help.

2Eliminate your ego

To be successful it’s important to feel confident in your vulnerability. To alter any habit, consistency is critical. Start small by reaching out to friends and people close to you for advice.

Literally write this down as a daily or weekly goal. As you get more comfortable with feeling vulnerable and verbalising what you need, you will be preparing yourself to expand beyond your immediate circle. In business, this practice will help you tap into your emotions and enable you to connect with your customers on a deeper level as well.

3Determine the value you bring first

We often perceive mentorship as a one-way street, where the mentor is always guiding the mentee. The reality is that those roles can be reversed depending on what each person needs help with. So before asking for help, determine what value you can provide others in return first. What do you specialise in? What are you most skilled at that could benefit others?

4Online search

You may be able to find a first class mentor in your niche, like Phil Pustejovsky, by simply conducting an online search. However, it’s quite rare to find a mentor type company in most business niches. To discover a particular individual in your field, LinkedIn is a great resource to research and connect.

Remember that when you reach out to someone, you’re not asking them to be your mentor immediately. You’re simply looking for some guidance and advice from a seasoned professional. After that initial connection is made, you can follow the tips in the next step to take your relationship to the next level.

Related: 5 Business Lessons From Billionaire Mentors

5
Daily interactions

Through daily interactions in your business, you may run into an ideal candidate who is open to sharing their wisdom. When reaching out to these people focus on creating a connection first and foremost.

Then in your initial meeting make sure you are honest about where you need help, and at the end ask if it is ok for you to reach out to them in the future for assistance. When you reconnect with them weeks or months down the road, this is where that mentorship relationship can begin to be established.

6Hero reach

Think of the heroes in your niche. Although they may be hard to get a hold of, reach out to them. If you knock loud enough and long enough, you’ll eventually wake someone up. Successful entrepreneurs will appreciate your ambition and determination to learn.

As you probably already knew, having the right mentor is one of the most powerful pieces of advice anyone can give you in business. However, ego, pride and fear can prevent someone from heeding that life transforming tip. Therefore, humble yourself and when the student is ready, the teacher will arrive.

Finding the right mentor may vary in difficulty depending on your niche so choose wisely, because the wrong mentor could lead down a frustrating path. With the right mentor though, you will achieve far more than you ever dreamed possible.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Graham Young is a performance strategist who simplifies the science behind human achievement. He works with leaders of companies and business professionals to shift human behavior by breaking through personal obstacles, enhancing emotional intelligence and creating strategies that lead to extraordinary performance. He is the vice chairman of an investment holding company, a former Microsoft consultant and former personal trainer to corporate executives. Connect with him at GYstrategies.com.

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Start-up Advice

Start-ups Need More Than Money To Succeed – They Need Smart Money

Start-ups need investors who bring not only cash to the table, but also their networks and business acumen.

Max Lyadvinsky

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Ask any start-up what the single most important element to success is and – more often than not – the answer will be money. Financing always ranks as a high priority for the small fish trying to make it happen in the big pond of business – but often discussed with less fanfare is where this cash comes from and what will come with it. These are actually the most important details to a start-up.

That is not to say that money is not important. In fact, the second most common reason for start-up failure is lack of funding, according to CB Insights. Although, perhaps ironically enough, the top reason for start-up failure is lack of market need – a problem which could have been identified and avoided by investors who bring money with direction and money with experience.

Start-ups don’t just need money, they need smart money.

Start-ups need investors who bring not only cash to the table, but also their networks and business acumen. Essentially, they bring experience and direction to outfits that are usually inexperienced or directionless. So, let’s talk smart money and the start-up.

What is smart money?

“Smart money” refers to investors who are simply more intuitive and aware of market movements and business health. The Financial Times describes “smart money” as “sophisticated investors who tend to pick the right moment to buy or sell assets because they can identify trends and opportunities before others do.” These investors calculate based on history and profit and invest accordingly. Where they go, other investors follow.

These business heavyweights are invaluable to a startup because they put more than simply their money where their mouth is; they also invest their expertise. A start-up could have all the money in the world but it will fail more without the proper business direction and market placement.

Smart money works best for start-ups when nascent businesses pair with investors who provide a holistic approach to business. They can help in hiring the best talent, attracting interest from the most relevant stakeholders, securing a continuous presence in the press, avoiding pitfalls and, ultimately, fulfilling ambitions.

There are more than a few ways that money can be termed as smart. Perhaps the cash infusion also comes with experts in thought leadership and strategy, or executional capacity, or the ability to increase sales and raise funds. Whatever the method, smart money brings something more to the table than dollars. This becomes abundantly clear when conducting post-mortems of the startups which have failed.

Related: Government Funding And Grants For Small Businesses

Why do start-ups fail?

Start-ups fail all the time – and it is important to understand why. As mentioned above, the top reason start-ups fail is simply the lack of market need. Tackling problems that are interesting to solve rather than those that serve a market need is the most common issue start-ups cite for their downfall. The next most common reason for start-up failure, as likely predicted, is money. Smart or not, money does need to flow into any start-up to make it possible. Meanwhile, the third most common reason for startup collapse was team composition. More to the point: Start-ups need to comprise a diverse team with different skill sets.

These top three reasons for start-up failure could be solved with the right management approach from the top down. Each of these reasons can be addressed with smart money. The right business and management structure will allow the right hires to be made and course to be charted. Smart investors can identify the right people for your team and help you to hire staff who will take the business to the next level.

While start-ups think money is the key, it is not the end-all and be-all for their potential success. They need skills and networks. Business and innovation expert Rosemarie Truman explained this misunderstanding best: “A common mistake entrepreneurs make in their struggle to find funding is focusing too much on getting the money under specific terms and not paying enough attention to who is providing the funds.”

Show me the (smart) money

Savvy entrepreneurs recognise their businesses need more than cash to be successful – especially those at the top. Alibaba chief executive officer Jack Ma, who ranks as one of the richest people in the world, described the need for smart hires and smart staff as thus: “At first, I knew nothing about technology. I knew nothing about management. But, the thing is, you don’t have to know a lot of things. You have to find the people who are smarter than you are.”

Smart business owners want to work with investors who provide not just money but also their expertise, time and access to networks – and this is especially important for businesses looking to scale. The proof is in the research: Take for example a paper by Morten Sorensen, professor of finance at Copenhagen Business School, about venture capital and its impact on an overall business. Sorensen found that companies funded by more experienced venture capital funds were more likely to go public, and also that more experienced venture capital funds invest in better companies, leading to better long-term business health.

So, the question then becomes: Where does one access smart money? The answer will depend on whom is asked, but startups that have survived and later grown into viable businesses are a good place to start. The founders of collaborative blogging platform Niume, Daniel Gennaoui and Francesco Facca, have this advice for start-ups who are on the hunt for smart money:

“First, you need a strong founding team with complementary skills that can actually deliver on their promises. Second, you need a working minimum viable product (MVP), showing that there is traction and interest for the product and people willing to use and pay for it,” the founders said. “The actual amount they invest is far less important than the value they bring to your company.”

It is also worth noting that crowdfunding can be considered a form of smart money, as it brings an ecosystem of partners who will help to scale and countless brand ambassadors who have invested their hard-earned cash.

Related: The DTI Funding Guide You’ve Been Looking For: The What And How

It’s simply more than capital

Gaining start-up finance is not only venture capital or crowdfunding – it should also provide an ecosystem of business management and be viewed as such. It’s simply wrong to think funding is only funding. Start-ups can have all the money in the world but will fail more often than not without the proper business direction and market placement. Those who want to make a lasting impression in their given field need the guidance and support smart money brings.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Start-up Advice

7 Lessons For The New Entrepreneur To Take Into 2019

You already have what it takes to make this year successful, but keep these points in mind.

Dr John Demartini

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Human behaviourist, Dr John Demartini upacks some important lessons that new entrepreneurs would be wise to take into the new year.

1. Find a need to fill that will also fulfill you as well

First and foremost, the most important thing an entrepreneur needs to do is to find out what exactly it is that businesses or people need, and make sure that this matches what is absolutely most meaningful and inspiring to you.

This need or value that you are going to fill must also be important to you and on your list of highest values so that you have a relentless drive to go and serve this need. In other words, it is important to make sure that you are doing something that’s meaningful and inspiring to you and serves a great number of people.

Related: Awaken Your Entrepreneurial Spirit

2. Clearly define all the functions required to build your business

Those functions are based on exactly what is systems and structures are required to fulfill your customer’s needs or values and to profit.

You must imagine every single step required to serve the customer. This helps build an infrastructure step by step.

3. Meet the need and generate the income

I think a great number of entrepreneurs set up fantasies that they have to depend on money to get their business started. Many have this grandiose idea that they’re going to do this, and then they need a certain amount of capital to get it going, instead of going in and actually meeting a need and generating income and then infusing capital into a proven model.

If you do it that way, then you don’t have to give away portions of your business and accumulate possibly unnecessary debt.  Ask how you can be paid up front to fulfill each essential step instead of how you can borrow to fulfill them. Sure selling in advance is often wiser than borrowing and gambling on what customer might want.

Those who decide to wait for capital before they start their business often feel they can’t get it started without outside capital. Then, a year later they’re still trying to get the capital together to get their business started. It’s often wise to actually make sure you have something that really meets a need and be willing to work from the grassroots up and prove yourself and then infuse capital based on what’s already produced and proven and build it that way.

Related: 7 Character Traits Every Entrepreneur Can Cultivate

4. Manage money wisely

Save a portion of the money earned, and take another portion and return it back into the business to grow it. It’s important to have a liquid cushion – it’s unwise spending all your money or putting all of it back into the business and then having no cushion to fall back on.

Make sure that a portion of the money is put into liquid cash. The greatest companies have a great reserve of cash. Liquid cash is important. Many entrepreneurs are gambling instead of investing and looking for a quick return instead of being patient.

5. Have adequate liquidity to prevent opportunity take overs

Watch out for opportunists – when you are running a successful business. There will be opportunists who come along and offer to purchase the business for much less than it may be worth.  That is another reason to have adequate liquid capital on hand, because without it, you can become vulnerable to others coming in and taking over the business. Leverage buyouts can occur.

Remember, cash is king. Cash grabs opportunities. So be sure to save and invest.

6. Keep focused

If you are not making money, then you must not be serving people. So make sure you are truly meeting your customer’s needs and serving them. Don’t take your focus off your mission. Don’t forget what got you to a point of success.

Related: Make A New Start In 2019

7. Be true to yourself

Don’t try to be somebody that you are not. Don’t envy and imitate other companies, you may end up not being authentic and true to what your values are. It is wiser to recognise where and when you already own the traits of those you admire according to your own highest values.  You already have what it takes.

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Start-up Advice

Outdoor Versus Indoor: How Different Conditions Will Impact Your Budding Marijuana Business

When starting out you should know the difference between indoor and outdoor production and why it matters to your future cannabis business.

Nicole Crampton

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If you’re looking to start growing and cultivating a strategy in the hopes that weed will be legalised, you’ll need to do some experimentation. Growing marijuana is a science and will require more than just a splash of water every other day like normal house plants.

Firstly, you’ll need to determine if you can grow your “crop” outside or if you’ll need to set-up a space inside. Here is what you need to know about growing cannabis inside versus outside:

Optimised versus natural

Deciding which option will work better for you depends on your unique circumstances. If you have access to an outdoor area you can use the natural resources of the sun and wind. If, on the other hand, you prefer to grow your crop inside you’ll need to cater for the natural elements you’ve lost, but you can also optimise the environment to give you exactly what you’re looking for.

When growing indoors you can control:

  • Temperature
  • Light source
  • CO2 production
  • Humidity.

This will create a stable habitat for your weed plant to grow in, without having to risk any outdoor elements. Keep in mind, no bulb is going to be able to produce the same spectrum of light as the Sun, which will leave you will smaller yields and less vigorous plants.

You’ll also find it challenging to simulate the natural environment. For example: wasps, ants and ladybugs are natural helpers against mites, you won’t be able to mimic this ecosystem indoors, and if your plants become infested with mites it can be difficult to control. To avoid using pesticides and insecticides some cultivators could find the trade-off of growing outdoors appealing.

Outdoor growers will need a suitable climate for cannabis production such as:

  • Good sun exposure
  • Hot days, warm nights
  • Low humidity.

cannabis-production-pros-and-cons

Related: 6 Fundamental Steps To Consider Before Venturing Into The South African Cannabis Industry

Can you afford to grow indoors versus outdoors?

planting-marijuanaWhether you’re growing indoor or outdoor there will be significant initial costs, however, the difference will come in when it comes to long term costs.

An indoor climate control system can be quite capital intensive compared to outdoor where the majority of the costs are in the initial start-up.

The expected labour costs for indoor and outdoor are also quite different. There is always work that needs to be done to create an optimal environment with indoor marijuana growing. With a smaller yield, like in indoor growing, pruning, trellising, watering, feeding and harvesting are more demanding and continuous.

When growing cannabis outdoors, you’ll work on one crop throughout the seasons. A farm with a large output typically can sustain four full-time workers until harvest, when more employees will be needed.

You can recoup the high cost of indoor weed farming through:

  • Breeding projects
  • Year-round harvests
  • Potent products
  • Higher selling points.

Indoor marijuana farming also allows you to cultivate strains that wouldn’t thrive outdoors.

Pro tip: Keep in mind, with the rising cost of energy and an increasing demand for more product within the current marketplace, outdoor farming could produce quality product at a more reasonable price.

indoors-versus-outdoors-pros-and-cons

Related: 12 Cannabis Products You Can Legally Start Selling Right Now

Will outdoor or indoor offer you better quality?

Being able to optimise your environment and accelerate breeding has allowed indoor cannabis to hold the title of top of the line product and generate beautiful strains with powerful flavour profiles. With indoor marijuana growth you can increase the CO2 level increasing bud growth and producing higher THC levels, which are difficult to obtain outdoors.

Indoor buds also remain in pristine condition as they aren’t exposed to the elements. Having an indoor operation enables you to harvest crops at peak conditions and curing the product in a controlled climate.

On the other hand, many users prefer the sun-grown organic marijuana. Although the actual plants tend to be more damaged, so the product isn’t as pristine. However, once you’ve gained enough experience you should be able to produce products of the same high quality as indoor growers.

outdoor-quality-pros-and-cons

Related: 10 Cannabis Business Opportunities That Can Grow Your Wealth

The best of both options

There has been a growing trend of commercial greenhouse marijuana farming. This seems to capture the best of both methods. It produces high quality cannabis, while using natural elements and optimised environments simultaneously.

Both styles of farming offer positives and negatives, and as a consumer or a future producer, you’ll need to continually educate yourself on the current trends. Continue to evolve your process, try something new and keep your mind open to possibilities.

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