Being an Entrepreneur: Skillful, Creative, Committed

A small business owner is expected to be creative and inventive, if s/he is expected to succeed in the operation of his/her enterprise. While small business owners are not expected to be geniuses, most of them are entrepreneurs, and therefore must possess the skill, creativity and commitment to their craft in order to be successful. If you have a sneaky feeling that creativity is not one of your strong points, you may then ask, what can I do to stimulate my brain and get it kicked-started?

Here are a few ideas you might take a look at to help you reach your creative objectives:

Be Unlimited

Too many people are ‘limited thinkers’. They have their world placed squarely in a box and nothing can exist outside of that. If the newspaper reports something then it must be right. If Joe next door says that something is impossible then he must be right. As a small business owner, you cannot afford to be a ‘limited thinker’.

You have to be an ‘unlimited thinker’ in order to be a successful entrepreneur or enterpriser. Get into the habit of seeing no boundaries; decide that there are no taboos. Be imaginative, originative, even fanciful. Have the belief that with a bit of focus you can find a creative solution to all of your problems. This is the foundation for a creative thought process.

Be Future-Focused

Creative ideas invariably come when you ‘look’ into the future. The feeling of propelling yourself forward and seeing the problem solved is a great motivator. Do you think you could achieve the same result if you were backward focused? I don’t think so! Train yourself to be future-focused, always looking ahead, not a traditional thinker who tries to find answers in today’s world.

Be a Writer

Once you open your mind to the joys of creativity the ideas will quickly start flowing, as if someone has opened the flood gates! Just like flood water, unless you catch it the ideas are lost for ever. Capture all your ideas by carrying a small pocket notebook with you. As soon as an idea pops into your mind, write it down. It doesn’t matter how outlandish it is, you can look at it in the cold light of day later on.

The fact you are responding to the ideas by noting them will further encourage you to be even more creative – good deeds encourage more good deeds! And the same can be said of “good habits”. If you get into a good habit routine, you will be pleasantly surprised at how your actions will automatically adjust to the good habit routine with little effort on your part.

Be Clutter-Free

If you are naturally an untidy person, then get out of the habit! A cluttered office will lead to a cluttered mind. You cannot expect your brain to work efficiently when all it’s doing is constantly reminding you how untidy your office is. To be creative remove all the clutter from your life and free your mind.

Be Action-Oriented

All of these points are great, but if you don’t take any action with your ideas, then you may as well not have bothered. An idea is nothing but a thought unless you take a specific action to help bring it to life. Periodically review your notebook and see if there are any hidden gems, or ideas which can be quickly actioned.

A lot of your ideas may not suit at all but in there somewhere is probably an idea, which if acted upon, could change you or your business. Commit fully to move forward on as many of your ideas as you can. Don’t be afraid to break down the boundary walls. As John Stuart Mill said, “That which seems the height of absurdity in one generation often becomes the height of wisdom in the next.”

And Yes…Be A Dreamer!

There’s a great line in Alice in Wonderland when the Queen says, “Sometimes I think of 6 impossible things before breakfast.” I think you’ll agree that this has to be creativity at its best! As a small business owner this is an ideal you really need to strive for … but how on earth can you open up your mind to get to the point where ideas just spill out?

I’ll leave you with this thought to ponder: If you can be creative enough to be dismissed as a dreamer, you may just be on the fast track to success as an entrepreneur. If not, you need a little practice, and NOW may be as good a time to get started as any.

Avoid Wasting Money On Ineffective Advertising And Marketing

During the years that I was responsible for the advertising and marketing budget of the real estate and mortgage broker agencies I owned and operated, it seemed that almost every day of the week one or more sales rep(s) had a great advertising/marketing package to sell me. From magazine and newspapers spots to business cards and pens with my business name on them. I must admit that I did purchase some advertising that did absolutely nothing for my bottom line back then.

That having been said, it is so very important for today’s small business owner and/or entrepreneur to be as smart with his/her advertising and marketing dollars as possible and stay focused on the business’ objectives. With that in mind, I recently came across an article by Debbie LaChusa on the subject of effectively spending your advertising dollars, and thought I would share it with you.

Here is the article.

If you own your own business, you’re probably innundated with advertising and marketing opportunities and salespeople. You probably get asked to sponsor events and donate to organizations. Maybe you’ve even been hit up by the premium company trying to get you to buy pens with your company name on them.

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So how do you know what to spend your marketing dollars on, and what to pass on? How do you avoid wasting your money on marketing that isn’t going to result in more clients and more sales? How can you ensure you’ll get the “biggest bang for the buck?”The answer is to go back to your marketing plan and look at your goals and objectives.

You’ll also want to look at who you identified as your ideal prospects or target clients. Then you simply evaluate these potential marketing activities based on their ability to help you achieve your objectives, and their capacity to put you or your company in front of your ideal prospects.

While sponsorships and donations are in part a goodwill activity and can be very worthwhile for that reason alone, if you are evaluating them from a marketing perspective (and I recommend you do, especially if you get asked to sponsor or donate frequently) you need to make sure they will give you exposure to your ideal prospects and contribute toward reaching your objectives.

The value of the exposure you receive should be worth the investment you are making. Consider what it would cost to reach those prospects in another manner to help determine the value of the exposure.

As far as purchasing pens with your company name on them, the same tests apply. Ask yourself how you will use the pens. Will they provide exposure to your ideal prospects or clients? Will they reach your prospects in a manner no other marketing activity can? For example, if you are looking for repeat business from your clients, if they have a pen with your name on it that they see and use everyday perhaps they will be reminded to frequent your business.

If you are planning to do a direct mail follow up to clients who haven’t done business with you in awhile, a pen might be a nice premium to include in the mailing, and it will continue to serve as a reminder long after the direct mail piece is read and thrown away.

But do not order the pens if you don’t have a plan for using them and an objective for what you hope to achieve. Just having pens with your company name on them without these two items defined is definitely a waste of your money.

Whenever you are questioning whether you should take advantage of a particular marketing opportunity, ask yourself these three questions:

1) Will it provide exposure to my ideal prospects or target clients?

2) Will it help me achieve my marketing objectives?

3) Is this exposure worth the dollars I am investing?

If you can answer “YES” to all three questions, and you have marketing budget available, then you’ll want to seriously consider the opportunity.

If your answer is “no” to the first two questions, and the opportunity doesn’t put you in front of your ideal prospects or help reach your objectives, you’ll want to “just say NO!” to that particular marketing opportunity.

If the answer is “yes” to the first two questions, but “no” to question number three and the opportunity is well-suited to your marketing plan but the value just isn’t there, you may want to go back and negotiate more exposure or a lower price.

And, last but certainly not least, if you don’t have a marketing plan to help you evaluate these kinds of opportunities when they come your way, my advice is simple: You NEED to get one.

If you haven’t identified who your ideal prospects are and what you want to achieve with your business you will most certainly waste valuable time and money on marketing opportunities that are not a good fit for your business. In fact you’ll be in danger of doing this everyday.

If you need help creating a marketing plan, The 10stepmarketing System is a great way to do it. When you create your own marketing plan using the simple, step-by-step 10 step marketing System you are setting your business up for success and you can be sure you are not wasting valuable dollars on marketing that won’t deliver you the results you deserve.

(C) 2005 Debbie LaChusa

What’s interesting about the article you just read is the year of publication. It was published in 2005 but is just as relevant today as it was 7 years ago. I hope you enjoyed reading it.