104: Validating Your Business Idea [PODCAST]

How to find out if you have a good (profitable) idea for your business

There are ideas, and then there are opportunities. How do you find out if your business idea is a true winning opportunity or a dud? In this podcast Anthony Witt and I help you find ways to validate your business idea, connect passion to profits, and find significance along with revenue.

validating your business idea

“Validating Your Business Idea” by Todd Quackenbush is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Check out Entrepreneur Dream Academy!

Want to learn how to find your passion and make it profitable? Anthony and I are launching Entrepreneur Dream Academy in mid-September! We will be coaching a small group of hopeful entrepreneurs to help them find a business they love and develop a solid plan. We will walk each person through the process and give them the tools and connections they need to make a real go of it. Have you ever dreamed of starting a business? Have you ever thought about leaving the corporate world? Or are you just looking for something on the side. (Everyone needs to make 25% of their income from a side business – see why here!)

**We are only going to take the first 8 who signup. Once we have 8, it closes!

Validating Your Business Idea – Quick Notes from the Podcast

  • Passion is not enough when it comes to business. You have to have skills and a viable market.
  • However, skills can be developed or hired and a market can be found, but we cannot create passion.
  • Many new business owners fall in love with their ideas and yet fail to do their homework.
  • Over 60% of startups (in the US) never make over $25,000 per year.
  • Doing an opportunity analysis tells you if you have a viable and sustainable business.
  • An opportunity analysis consists of 1) determining the size of the market, 2) getting a percent of the market you can hit (start with less than 5%), and 3) determining the potential revenue per year by multiplying potential sales (from 1 and 2) by product or service price.
  • You have great ideas within you, but you are likely blinded by the obvious. (Or as I like to say, you are blinded by your own genius.)

 

Interesting Facts About Business Startups

  • Over 543,000 new businesses start each MONTH in the US alone
  • Over 50% of small businesses are based out of homes
  • Over 75% of US businesses are solopreneurs (no employees)

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103: How to Find Your Passion and Your Why [Podcast]

Your passion will lead you to your business idea

To succeed in business you need do something you love –  you need to find your passion. It is the driving factor or “WHY” of your work. But, finding your passion is something that many find hard to do. Today, Anthony Witt and I, do the second in our series on getting started in your business by addressing the question “How do you find your passion?”

How to Find Your Passion and Your Why

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How to Find Your Passion and Your Why

I talk a lot about passion. Many think it is a touchy-feely issue and not worthy of discussing – especially in the hard world of innovation and engineering where I live. But I am talking passion because I know it can connect you to profit. I am reminded of the need to connect to your passion daily with the living dead – those people working in jobs they do not enjoy.  They are suffering from that corporate lobotomy.

In todays show we answer these questions:

  • How does brainstorming fit into finding your passion?
  • What about those assessment tools like Strengths Finder? Do they work?
  • Practical steps to finding and getting wise counsel about your how to get started in a venture you might be passionate about.
  • Hangups we all have in connecting our passion to future profits.

Check out Entrepreneur Dream Academy!

Want to learn how to find your passion and make it profitable? Anthony and I are launching Entrepreneur Dream Academy in mid-September! We will be coaching a small group of hopeful entrepreneurs to help them find a business they love and develop a solid plan. We will walk each person through the process and give them the tools and connections they need to make a real go of it. Have you ever dreamed of starting a business? Have you ever thought about leaving the corporate world? Or are you just looking for something on the side. (Everyone needs to make 25% of their income from a side business – see why here!)

**We are only going to take the first 8 who signup. Once we have 8, it closes!

 

How to Evaluate Your Business Idea

In the upcoming show (Stay tuned), Anthony and I will get into business idea evaluation. We all know ideas are a dime a dozen. So how can we determine if we have a good idea and one that will generate real profits over time. Join us for Episode 104 to find out.

 

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102: Finding Your Why with Anthony Witt [Podcast]

Why entrepreneurs need a powerful why to survive!

Why do you want to be an entrepreneur? Sounds like a silly question, but finding your why can be a big part of your long term success. Your why will get you through the rough days, teach you when to say yes and when to say no, and will keep you laser focused on serving your customers. In today’s show, Anthony Witt, of The Champion Entrepreneur, and I discuss finding your why.

Finding Your Why - Business clarity

“Finding Your Why” by Tiago Aguiar is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Finding Your Why

In today’s show we discuss some of the issues we discuss with new and hopeful entrepreneurs.

  • Why do you want to be a business owner?
  • Why should you even ask why?
  • What does passion have to do with it?
  • What about skills? How important are they?
  • What about following the market? Should I just do what is hot today?

How to Find Your Why – A Formula

In the upcoming shows (Stay tuned) we will cover specific plans that will get you moving to help you discover your own why. These plans will get you moving and bring incredible clarity to your business startup ideas. See next week for episode 103 – Using Your Why to Find a Business Idea You Love.

Note to Subscribers

You will find that the email you get about my podcast/blog will soon be changing. I have moved to a new and more powerful email server. The transition to new servers and systems took me a while – which partly explains my absence. Perhaps I will share some of the adventures of moving a site that is making money – not as trivial as I thought! But hopefully the new emails will serve you better. As always – I welcome feedback,  so let me know.

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If you liked this, please subscribe to it on iTunes.

Subscribing is simple!

  1. Go to iTunes.
  2. Click OPEN IN iTUNES
  3. Hit subscribe!

While there why not leave me a review!

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101: Thinking About Starting a Business? What You Need to Do Now. [Podcast]

Are you thinking about starting a business? Over 3000 new businesses are started each day in the United States alone. But, most new owners are not prepared for what they are getting into and have failed to prepare – which is the reason many will fail. I am not talking big issues or big strategies to get started – but some common sense things each person who is looking to start a business needs to do to improve their chances of success and increase their enjoyment when they become the boss.

Planning to start a business?

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What to Do Before Starting a Business

1. Know your goals

Why are you starting a business? Is it to control the money, more time with the family, to make your fortune, or just because it is a life long dream? Knowing your WHY will prevent you from starting a business you learn to hate. For instance, if you are wanting to be with the family more and love to cook for family, you might think owning a restaurant is in order. The result will have you working long hours to the point you forget you have a family. There are other options in food services – but keeping your why in check will prevent you from killing your why.

2. Kill the debt

Debt kills business ventures. Get out of debt before you start, and certainly NEVER go into debt to start a business. You could, however, start a side business to generate cash to help you get out of debt. Just remain hyper-focused on on goal of being debt free before you grow or quit the day job.

3. Gather cash

Starting a business, even on the side, will take some money as well as plenty of time. The average cost of a startup in the United States is $7000. But the bigger issue is you will not have a steady income for the first few months. So prepare by saving up 6 to 12 months of personal AND business expenses before you start. If you are starting a side business, you can use the income from the business to build up this cash fund. Being debt free and having cash on hand gives your new venture (or old venture) room to breathe.

4. Get your ego in check

Many who work the corporate world have nice and powerful sounding titles such as director or vice president. If you have an awesome title, you might feel important and powerful – like you really know what you are doing. But, in the corporate world, titles are easy reward. Very often, your title has little to do with ability, intelligence, or control. And more importantly, the skills of getting along in the corporate world are not all you need to make it in business alone.

But now you get to name your own title –  such as president or CEO. If you have an ego you will really feel important now. But, no one cares. You are chief grunt and everyone knows it. Stop trying to be Mr. Big Pants and get down to reality. Egos cause mistakes. Remember, pride goes before the fall.

Starting a Business – the Next Steps

Sure – there is more to do then the simple steps above. But, these steps can get you ready and put you mentally and strategically in a winning position. Check out some of these posts for more information:

 

100: Finding Your Why – Do You Have a LIFE? [Podcast]

A few years ago I was consulting with a telecom startup. One day the chairmen of the board (and primary investor) called me to ask a quick and simple question. “Dale will you take over as CEO?” I did not answer immediately – but somewhat out of obligation felt I needed to step up and take the reigns. I really enjoyed the people and the company. I became VERY busy. But one day I looked in the mirror found myself asking “Why am I doing this? I hate telecom?” Have you ever looked in the mirror and asked yourself a similar question?

Finding Your Why with LIFE

“Finding Your Why” by Mikael Kristenson is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Ask Why Often

Now I have learned to ask WHY often. The question brings clarity. But more importantly to you – I  find I am often asking my coaching clients WHY. Not only do I need to know they have clarity – but knowing their why helps me direct the conversation.

Recently a good friend of mine shared his WHY with me. He called it his LIFE model. Wow – it hit home with me – and apparently with many others.

The LIFE Model

I forget when Jonathan Milligan of Blogging Your Passion first shared his LIFE model – but it stuck with me. Jonathan helps people who want to become full time bloggers. His LIFE model was needed to help him help others – but it goes so much further than that. I think it describes almost everyone I have met – certainly everyone I have coached.

LIFE stands for Lifestyle, Influence, Financial, and Effort.

L – Lifestyle: Jonathan wanted to be able to work where he wanted, when he wanted, and doing the things he wanted to do. If he wanted to work at a coffee shop today – no one was stopping him. If he decided to take some time with the kids today – he did not want to have to ask for time off. Even better, if he decides to take a month in the mountains, he can work from there.

I – Influence: Jonathan wanted to impact the lives of others in a positive way.

F – Financial: He was tired of getting a paycheck where he did not control the flow. He could at best expect two small bonuses in the year – a tax refund and/or a bonus. Otherwise, he was tied to a number all year he could not change. While having a steady paycheck is nice, it offers you no flexibility or control.

E – Effort: Jonathan is a hard worker. He wants to enjoy working hard. And he wanted to have something that drove him to work hard.

 

What is Your Model for Why?

When I saw his model I just knew he had described almost everyone I know. Clearly I was right. Him sharing his model has had a huge impact on his audience on Blogging Your Passion.

If LIFE works for you, then you need to get clear on the details. What matters to me and Jonathan might not matter to you – but from my experience this is going to be very close.

What would you like to change? Your career? Your income? Those you serve? The beginning of making progress is a clear view of where you are now vs. where you want to be.

 

Questions To Clarify Your Why

What does your tomorrow look like? Take a moment (or more) and decide. Think about what you really want from your work, your money, and your time.

Take 5 minutes and answer these questions?

1. Who do you want to serve? (If you are a Christian or of other faith the correct answer here is not Christ or God – that is a given.)

2. What are the constraints in your life that are in your way as you try to accomplish #1 above?

3. What are the challenges where you work today?

  • Miserable
  • Bored
  • Physically exhausted
  • Poor morale
  • Hostile environment
  • Poor leadership
  • Not enough money
  • Others (list them)

4. Do you want to fix the feeling or the reality?

Get real here. Would you be OK if you could fix the work place with a new boss or some changes on the job? Would you feel like everything was perfect then? Or would that be a temporary solution only and later you will feel like you settled?

Make a Decision

DO NOT THINK ABOUT THIS LATER, do it now. Make a decision. You do not need more time to make this one. It might be one of these:

– I want to start my own company and get control of my life.

– I want to find a job where I can get control of my life.

– I am happy where I am and want to make it work even better.

Now you can answer yes to two of them, even three. But making this decision is a commitment. It is a start. From this decision, write it on a piece of paper and put in in front of your face daily. Time to quit thinking – time to act. The rest is details. I can help you there, but you have to decide to get off the fence and start moving in a direction.

 

099: Are You Limiting Your Options? [Podcast]

I hate A or B decisions. You know, those times when you have to decide to take a job or not, move or stay, and/or sell your business or keep it. Yet I have I counseled with multiple people recently caught in the “whether or not” trap. One person had a job offer which was going to pay him significantly more money – but in a job he would not like. He told me “I think I am going to literally throw up because I feel I have no choice but to take this job.” Another told me he was going to sell his business to another company because he did not know how to grow it and they did. Both needed to step back and look at more options. We do this WAY too often in our own lives. How can we learn to automatically broaden our options?

Are you limiting your options?

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In their book Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, Chip and Dan Heath call these A or B decisions narrow framed because we tend to narrow our view so we “see only a small sliver of the options available” to us. One area we tend to “narrow frame” is about starting companies.

1. Widen Your Options – Create Option C, D, and E.

When making decisions we tend to focus on the opportunities to analyze them. When picking between two cars to buy, we drill in and look at features vs cost, doing an in-depth analysis. In Decisive the authors remind us about sight when they point out the visual anomy “when we focus we sacrifice peripheral vision” So step back and think big picture. What are your real options? And what are the reasons for the decision?

2. Opportunity Cost – What are you giving up?

What are you giving up when you spend time or money on something. If you did NOT do this, what could you do with that time or money? This is the famous economic argument “guns or butter”. If a government uses money for defense it has less money to use for domestic issues. (This trick is often used by politicians – however they sometimes trap us in another A or B rut.)

3. Use the vanishing options test. Helps you to refocus your spotlight on what you are thinking.

What would you do if some of your options suddenly went away? For instance, if you are thinking about moving to Tennessee or Florida. What happens if you cannot move to either. What would you do then?

Anytime you find yourself  in a “whether or not” decision, send up the warning flares. Stop and think broader.

Just for Fun

When you find others making  “whether or not” decisions, frame the question into A and B and them ask them what option C is.

 

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098: Forget Networking. What to do instead! | Interview with John Corcoran [Podcast]

Do you just hate networking? Does the word feel slimy. Yeah – me too. So don’t network. Instead, do something that matters more. Listen in today to my interview with John Corcoran as we discuss why networking does not work and what you should think about instead.

forget networking - interview with John Corcoran

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In this episode John and and I talk about networking in a way that just makes more sense to me. Forget shaking of many hands and showing up at events trying to meet the right people. Here are a few points from the interview.

  • Good networkers can be introverts. See the 2011 best networker in Fortune Magazine where Adam Rifkin is profiled. He is also mentioned in Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success.
  • Why you need to network even if you are in the corporate cubicle and want to stay there.
  • You should be intentional. You would never show up on a college campus and randomly walk into courses. Instead, we are intentional in what we do and where we go. In networking we should also be intentional.
  • Challenges for new startups
    • Trying a hard pivot. If you are working in flower shops and wanting to start a yoga studio, you are having to learn everything from scratch.
    • Fear. This is mostly a lie since you are not nearly as secure as you feel.
  • Challenges John is having in his business (as you might know – this is one of the favorite questions I like to ask)
    • Growing the business. Hiring help.
    • Developing systems and processes.
    • Keeping the growth up. Most of this is through connections in webinars. (You will  find many people doing webinars with John as a guest.)

Steps to take to grow your connections

Observations Made

About John Corcoran

 

 

Looking forward to being with BBVA team!

Date: May 21, 2015
Time: 09:00am
Event: Compass BBVA Leadership Forum
Topic: Leadership from the Cubicle
Sponsor: Compass BBVA
Location: Birmingham, AL
Public: Private

Looking forward to presenting for the Information Engineering Management program at in Hoover.

Date: May 20, 2015
Time: 11:30am
Event: IEM Lunch and Learn
Topic: Social Media for Technology Professionals
Sponsor: Information Engineering Management
205-934-8480
Venue: Hoover Library
Location: Hoover, AL 35244
Public: Public

097: Engineering Your Career – Turning Your Technology Skills into Bigger Cash [Podcast]

Do you have the technology skills, but feel left out of the leadership and decisions? Do you feel under appreciated? Is it as if all the important decisions go on with limited input from you – even when they are stupid decisions? How can you become part of the bigger conversation and get the bigger salaries to go with it? Do you need to do some engineering for your career?

Engineering Your Career - Turning Your Technology Skills into Bigger Cash

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Announcements

Have questions you want answered? I plan to start a Questions and Answers segment of this podcast soon. So here is how to ask YOUR questions!

OR

Shoot me a Twitter or Facebook message with hashtag #COOQA.

 

Key Principles for Engineering Your Career

  • It isn’t about technology stupid
    • No one talks about a hammer. The hammer is the technology.
    • People care about the result of using the hammer.
  • Only those who get noticed get rewarded – The Janitorial Principle
    • You never notice a janitor unless they have done something wrong.
    • Key is to add value in natural ways.
  • Question the power – The power is not the answers you give – it is in the questions you ask.
    • What are we trying to accomplish here?
    • Why?
    • What does success look like?
    • What happens once we have success? What does that mean?
  • It is always about the people
    • team members
    • customers
    • leaders

What Can You Do Now to Engineer Your Career

1. Ask Better Questions – Who are the leaders and thought leaders. Seek out chances to ask them questions.
– What challenges are they facing?

The goal is to learn how your technical skills can solve their problems. But, you have to know about and really understand the underlying problem.

Often the problem being worked on is not the real problem. Recently I was working with a company who had a lot of effort in developing prototypes. But they needed to ask what the purpose of the prototype was. They needed to win over investors. Once a few questions were asked – they realized they needed less work to get in front of investors – at a savings of $200k.

2. Ask for Counsel  – Everyone likes to be asked for advice. Seek out thought leaders to get feedback on your issues. The result will be that you get into a discussion and will learn of bigger things going on around the company.

3. Make Meetings Count 
– Listen for the purpose of the meeting. The REAL purpose.
– Ask the “elephant in the room” question. You are not the only one who wants to know the answer.
– Ask the question behind the question – in other words – keep asking why.
– Example: A friend started paying attention to the purpose of the meetings that droned on all day. He started asking the obvious question. Before the meetings he would ask the purpose. Often with one phone call before the meeting, he solved the problem. The result was no meeting and a savings of wasted time. When he does find himself in a meeting, he asks about the desired outcome.  his simple questions of meeting purposes has him labeled as the get it done guy.

4. Bring People Together. Be the one who knows of the other technology people who should be at the table. They may be in the same company. I was working as a consultant for a large organization. A few rows over from where I was meeting was another team working on a significantly different problem. But – one of them knew me and knew I had expertise in their area. Soon I was brought in to help solve their problems. The real winner (for me and them) was the person who introduced me.

To do this – grow your network intentionally. How? Check out Networking for Introverts!