Since You Can't Manipulate Time, Try These 13 Time-Saving Tips
As an entrepreneur you
have no limits or restrictions. There is nothing that you can’t achieve. Well,
except for freezing time.
Time is the most valuable commodity to an entrepreneur. Most of us
would do anything to have another hour in the day. But until someone creates an
app to manipulate time, we are forced to manage our time extremely efficiently.
Here are 13 tips to help make your days more productive.
1. Schedule “You” time.Set aside a block of
time to get your personal stuff out of the way. Things such as paying bills and
attending to personal emails can take away from your work.
2. Disconnect when you need 100 percent focus.Preparing for an
important meeting or a pitch? Turn off your mobile phone, close your
email and route your office calls to voicemail. You will be more
productive without the distractions.
3. Maintain a “to-do” list.Keep an accurate list
and cross tasks off as you complete them. Create your list at the end of each
day for the next day -- this allows you to attack the tasks as soon as your
start your day.
4. Don’t be scared of technology.Embrace technology.
I’ve seen people at their desk waiting on hold, holding the phone to their ear.
Throw a Bluetooth headset into the situation and you can answer emails or
attack your to-do list while you wait.
5. Say no.You may hate to
disappoint people, but for your own productivity, learn how to say
"no" to people. It isn’t always the greatest feeling, but it is
impossible to appease everyone. If you said "yes" to everyone and
every request you would have no time to do what you need to accomplish.
6. Be ultra responsive.We all have iPhones
and smartphones, so use them. If you are out of the office and receive an email
that you can easily address on the spot, do so! The other day I received
"I’ll email you when I get back to the office.
Sent from my iPhone"
The response didn’t require this person to be in the office. It
was a simple "yes" or "no" response that would have
taken less time to type out than the response they sent. If you can reply
while out of the office it eliminates wasted time when you get back.
7. Eliminate negative energy.Nothing can drain your
energy or ruin your day faster than individuals with negative energy. Dating
someone who is negative about everything? Have a friend that dumps his or her
sob story on you daily? Cut ties. Don’t let negative individuals take time
out of your day.
8. Don’t put off the non-glamorous tasks.When your “to-do” list
has some unattractive tasks, they will consume your thoughts until they are
completed. Knock them out first so you can have a clear head to plow through
the rest of your tasks.
9. Address problems or issues immediately. In that same vein, waiting to fix a problem can be the
difference between a 15-minute quick solution and a complete mess that takes
you days to clean up.
10. Get physical.Get 30-minutes of
physical activity in every morning before you start your day. You will have
more energy throughout the day and you won't feel sluggish. Feeling tired or
lazy sucks up valuable time. When I hit the gym each morning it gives me the
energy to focus onmy brandthe
11. Delegate.If you have a team or
staff at your disposal, utilize them. Many entrepreneurs are so stubborn and
think they can do it all. Delegating appropriate tasks will free up your time.
12. Write everything down.Use the
"notes" app on your smartphone or use a traditional notepad and
pen -- and make sure it is always next to you. Have you ever sat down and tried
to remember something from earlier as the clock ticks away? Precious time
13. Keep a schedule.If you have tasks that
require your attention each week, stick to a schedule. Things such as
accounting, payroll and reporting can typically be done at the same time
each week. Rather than scrambling to find time to get it done, establish a
designated time and stick to it.
10 Pointers Every Young Entrepreneur Needs to Know
A young entrepreneur
might run across a lot of articles offering advice for the new business
owner. But how many articles are actually geared toward the young
As a former young entrepreneur myself (now I'm 30), I’ve decided
to share my insights from my past experiences -- all the types of
things that I wish someone had passed on to me when I was first starting
1. Do what you love.
When I graduated from college I worked at a job that I didn’t like
because it paid me well. I hated to go into work each day. I admit that
entrepreneurs typically make the worst employees because they want to be out
there growing their own enterprise. Figure out what you love and then become
the best that there is at it.
Your passion for your product or service will keep you motivated
and get you through the tough times. Yes, there will be challenging moments.
But when you work on something that you actually care about (as opposed to just
trying to make a quick buck), you'll probably be happy, have direction and
fight as hard as you can to make this crazy idea of yours become a reality.
2. Stay focused.
It’s awfully tempting to jump from project to project, especially
when it seems as if a million opportunities are flying by. But don't
become distracted from the big picture. Instead of working on multiple
projects, stay on track and complete the task at hand. If you’re working on
multiple projects, you can spread yourself too thin, which will have an effect
on your performance, productivity and resources. Perfect that one thing instead
of working on five so-so projects.
Whether you turn to a local entrepreneur, a business leader or a
weathered vet that you meet through LinkedIn, having a mentor is one of
the best resources you can have. Not only might a mentor have experience
(such as dealing with venture capitalists), he or she also could possess an
extensive network and help you connect with the right people to make your
startup a success.
Don’t be afraid to cold call or email a big name in the industry.
Many of these big names like to help younger entrepreneurs as a way of giving
back. I met my mentor when I was 12. He was the owner of a large carpet
store. I was his paper boy. I delivered his paper in the perfect location every
day for three months till one day I saw him. I asked him straight up, Will you
be my mentor? He said yes. He’s still a mentor to me today along with many
5. Take care of yourself.
I was a young go-getter once. (At age 12 I started my first candy
stand and had three at one point.) I know exactly how it is: You think
that you're invincible. Here’s the breaking news: You’re not.
As an entrepreneur, you might find it easy to push aside
healthy lifestyle essentials, such as getting exercise, eating a balanced
diet and securing enough sleep. But what good will you be if you’re tired
or your immune system if weak? Plus, exercise is a great way to relieve some
Don’t forget to make time for yourself. You need to take a
break from work or you might burn yourself out. I personally love to
listen to books and have since I was a kid. I’m not very good at reading as I
have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder so I listen to
books. Find what works for you!
6. Define your market.
Failing to define the market is a common mistake of a lot of
young entrepreneurs. Always remember to consider if your business plan makes
sense for your market. If you're dreaming up a late-pizza delivery
service, do you start it in a business district or a college town? There are a
number of ways for you to try to define your market, such
as by demographics or psychological factors.
I always hear people in the fashion industry tell me
that their world is a $1.2 trillion market. Technically they may be correct.
But if your product is hipster pants, the market isn’t $1.2 trillion. How many
hipsters are there in the world? How many of them would purchase your product
on a yearly basis?
7. Be able to explain your business at a whim.
You never know when you’ll have to explain your business. You
could run into an investor in an elevator or end up making a sales pitch
to a customer while out to eat. Always be ready to clearly and quickly state
your mission, service and product or goals.
This is something I learned from Derek Anderson, the founder of Startup Grind, which hosts
events for entrepreneurs. He took me to lunch about three years ago and asked
me what I did and the business I was promoting. I really didn’t know how to
answer. Since then I have refined my pitch so that when someone asks me what I
do, I can tell them in five words or less. Practice your 5-second, 15-second
and 1-minute pitch over and over. This will help you be able to explain your
business to anyone out there in any situation.
8. Remember, you run a startup.
Just because you secured some funding that doesn’t give you the
right to act like you’re a rock star. A luxury home, an office with an actual
shark tank or a really fast car are all just a big waste of money, especially
in the beginning. Remember, you run a little-known startup (and you're
not Richard Branson overseeing a large successful company). Be
careful about managing your cash flow and make sure that you keep track of
expenses. That's not being cheap. It’s being wise. You don’t want to burn
through all your cash too early.
9. There are still rules.
A major perk that comes with being an entrepreneur is that
you’re the boss. You can make your own hours and develop your vision of a
company. In short, you’re doing whatever you want. And it’s awesome. But there
are some rules that all entrpereneurs have to follow like registering
your business and paying
taxes. These are just some of the not-so-much fun things you have to
handle. If not, you’re going to be in just a little bit of trouble.
10. Know when to fold 'em.
Sure, I’ve had success running and selling several different
companies, but do you know how many I’ve started and stopped because they
weren’t taking off? Tons. Some say 9 out of every 10 business fail within
the first couple years.
Don’t let your pride get in the way of closing your
company. I learned this the hard way in college when I launched what
became my first failure, Utefan. I knew that what I was doing wasn’t
going to work or make money. I kept putting money into it and spending time on
it. Eventually I had to give up my pride and stop. Know when to let go.
If you’re not familiar with the classic Kenny Rogers song “The Gambler,”then stop
what you’re doing and check it out. It offers some of the best advice ever.
Why? Just like any great gambler, you have to know when to fold 'em. Instead of
continuing to work on a fledgling business, it’s best to walk away and reflect
on what went wrong. It’s not going to be easy. But it’s inevitable. And you’ll
take that lesson with on your next venture.
Do You Still Need a Marketing Plan? Yes, But Constant Updating Is Key.
Today’s marketers face
a different challenge than did their predecessors of just a decade ago. The
constant rise and fall of new online networks of people and platforms, from
MySpace to WhatsApp, has changed the way companies find, connect with and acquire
Real-time marketing has involved companies demonstrating quick
response to public events (thinkOreo’s
year's Super Bowl power outage). Today, effective digital marketing is typified
by use of rapidA/B testing, iterating and
optimizing on ideas and campaigns and aggressively scaling the tested
strategies that prove most promising. This more scientific approach has been
formulated by forward-thinking online marketers under the pressure of managing
In today's fast-paced world the old marketing plan is
antiquated. While planning is still important, it needs to evolve into a
more iterative and nimble process.
Agile contemporary marketers know there’s a good chance that
conditions will be different next month. Unlike marketers a decade ago, they
have better visibility about which programs succeed and which fail. Successful
campaigns can be doubled down on, shifting resources from poor performers to
maximize growth. This newfound dexterity is the key to their success.
Since marketers have adapted, why haven’t most marketing
budgets and plans?
In a world of constant adjustment and real-time performance
feedback, long-term plans and fixed budgets are becoming increasingly
unrealistic. It’s enough to make someone wonder whethermarketing plansare even relevant anymore. Yet
implementing a marketing program without any sort of plan or strategy seems not
only unwise but flat out reckless.
So what does an agile marketing plan of today look like?I asked this very questions of
the community at the site I started, Growthhackers.com, where marketers share
ideas and best practices, and participants in the conversation had a lot of
interesting insights, which I've synthesized below:
1. The stage and size of the company matters.
Startups and Fortune 500 firms have very different priorities and
challenges. By definition their planning needs are different. For startups,
being noticed and acquiring new users trumps devoting hours to developing
a long-term vision. Large brands have a different challenge: Finding
initiatives that will create meaningful growth is key, and these big bets
require more planning to protect the company from big losses. The first step in
creating a more nimble planning process is to right size it for the company's
stage. There is no one-size-fits-all marketing plan.
2. Agile companies
need agile plans.
For startups and perhaps all companies, the 50-page Powerpoint
marketing presentation is a relic. Shorter feedback loops necessitate
shorter-term, more focused planning. Companies that try to create year-long
plans and budgets lock themselves into a structure that won't allow them to
capitalize on rapidly emerging opportunities or cut campaigns that are clearly
Big companies can miss out without flexibility built into their
planning and execution.
Rather than formulating one- or two-year plans, many companies now
choose to create three- or six-month road maps that are designed to target the
next business milestone as quickly as possible. In one such short-term plan,
the goal might be to focus on validating a new market segment or completing a
series of tests for ways to better attract and convert more consumers into
Once those growth hypotheses are proved (or disproved) over the
course of a few months, the next stage of a plan might focus on expanding
deeper into the market, testing ways to acquire customers in an adjunct segment
or retention strategies to handle new customers.
3. Design a plan that's cohesive, with adequate vision.
During a time of constant change, keeping everyone in an
organization on the same page is a challenge. Moving fast can throw even the
closest knit of groups out of sync -- particularly when staffers work across a
large organization. Even as the day-to-day operational reins are loosened so
teams can capitalize on short-lived opportunities, everyone must row in the
Yet the plan still needs to keep everyone aligned with a vision
for the company: What the company is -- its branding, positioning, target
markets, competitor analysis and product information -- must be clear. Set the
growth goals, major initiatives for achieving them, which key performance indicators
will be used and the resources required. The plan should also express the
company's knowledge about what’s worked and why.
4. Be open to change
Marketing plans should be created in a format so staffers can
provide feedback and learning based on a campaign's performance and suggest new
opportunities for driving growth. Rather than a Powerpoint etched in stone, agile
plans must be living documents that are constantly referenced and updated. With
team members contributing real-time data, this document can serve not just as a
plan but a nerve center for the marketing organization to keep tabs on what’s
A plan that's continually updated, packed with relevant test and
program results, is not only more relevant. It's also more effective for
driving growth, keeping staffers aligned and ensuring that opportunities are
capitalized upon. Business owners can then allocate resources not according to
annual budgets but on performance, putting more wood behind their most potent
arrows and deftly making adjustments when conditions change. Keep planning
docs on a company intranet or wiki that can be updated and commented on, or use
Google Docs for smaller teams.
5. Collaborate across
Today’s companies that are growing fastest haven’t done so with
traditional marketing campaigns. It’s been the products themselves that
generate the growth. While marketers previously weren't involved in product
decisions, tighter collaboration is needed across departments. Product,
engineering and marketing need to work together to create sustainable growth.
In researching successful companies, Morgan Brown and I repeatedly
found that removing barriers between teams is essential for finding new growth
opportunities. For the 10 companies we profiled in our book,Startup
Growth Engines, agility came through coordination
throughout a company, with every department involved in and invested in driving
growth. Plans need to account for growth everywhere, not just at the marketing
don’t fail due to a lack of talent but more so because of poor harnessing of
the smart people under your roof. That’s the key takeaway fromThe
short read that covers everything you need to know about instilling culture and
communicating clearly throughout the organization.
Creating a consistent culture is key to effectively scaling your
business. It permeates all aspects and, if done right, guides everything through
hiring and firing, enforcing daily productivity and employee engagement and
effectively measuring performance.
If you’re honest not
just with yourself but with your colleagues about your own weaknesses, you can
hire the right people to fill the gaps. The counterintuitive argument Dalio
makes inPrinciples-- available as a free pdf download --
is that instilling honesty about failures and shortcoming lays the ground for
risk taking. The book was instrumental in helping us realize when we had found
myown replacement as COO of NerdWallet.
“If you find that you can’t do something well, fire yourself … If you are
disappointed because you can’t be the best person to do everything, you are
terribly naïve because nobody can do everything well,” Dalio writes.
Dalio is definitely on to something. His hedge fund, Bridgewater
Associates, is the largest in the world, making him one of the richest men on
In the Plex can be read several ways: as a
"fanboy" journey into "geek never-never land" or as an
inspirational journey of a pair of entrepreneurs who, against the odds, created
one of the world’s most admired companies.
As an entrepreneur, I read the book with a great
deal of relief. Google went through all the same bumps in the road other
startups go through: hiring and management problems and difficulties trying to
maintain culture as growth occurs. At every stage of growth, Google’s problems
are relatable to any startup.
In his book, the
co-founder of venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, literally dissects all
the difficult things that come along with owning (and running) a company. For
instance, he writes: “The hard thing isn’t hiring great people. The hard thing
is when those “great people” develop a sense of entitlement and start demanding
unreasonable things. The hard thing isn’t setting up an organizational chart.
The hard thing is getting people to communicate within the organization that
you just designed." Amen.
This book is
controversial and some of its tenets are honestly total crap but there are some
nuggets of wisdom for working smarter, not harder.
Running a high-growth company, you can’t expect to
only work four hours a week, or only check your email once a week. But if you
cut out the extreme examples, Ferriss provides excellent tips on how to hack
your time to be more productive. He covers how to most effectively outsource
time-consuming tasks, how to cut out unnecessary correspondence to best manage
an overflowing inbox and how to use the80/20 ruleto
hyper-prioritize your efforts.
Organizational Challenges Can Be Overcome With Transparency
With five different
generations active in the workforce, it is more important and difficult than
ever to keep morale high, employees engaged and turnover low.
According to a 2012 report byBersin and Associates,
$720 million is spent annually on employee-engagement activities alone, and
that is expected to increase drastically to about $1.5 billion.
However, the real solution is relatively simple and completely
free, yet very few companies embrace the concept: organizational transparency.
At ClearCompany, we conduct annual goal-setting and alignment
meetings with presentations by executives and department heads, as well as
quarterly check-ins to report on progress. As a result of this company-wide
transparency, we have a highly-engaged team and amazing morale. Very few people
Getting started on the path to transparency might be easier than
you suspect. Follow these tips to make positive changes that will impact your
1. Bring everyone together in an informal setting.
One of the most
powerful aspects of transparency is the clarity it brings to the workplace.
Without both transparency and clarity, employees can feel overlooked and
confused about their role within the company.
Bring small groups of management and employees together in an
informal setting. Present the opportunity as one in which employees can express
general concerns, share positive experiences and have an open conversation
about what is working and what isn’t.
Beginning the dialogue can be as simple as discussing interesting
happenings in the industry and your team’s take on them. Then, lead the
conversation into current projects, milestones, and areas of difficulty that
need to be overcome.
Don’t come into these meetings with a formal agenda, but allow the
opportunity for your team to speak freely and feel comfortable engaging. Just
by introducing transparency within a company, employee morale increases
2. Identify and share the “5 W's” of company
decisions are made -- whether big or small -- fill employees in on the
details. If information is consistently withheld, it is difficult for employees
to understand the strategy and trajectory of the company and their role within
it. As such, their work can easily become misaligned or out of scope.
Share the “5 W’s” -- who, what, where, why and when -- of company
pivots. This not only engages employees and helps them feel valued, but also
clarifies how they will be impacted by the changes. Also, make sure management
is available and able to answer questions.
To remain engaged, productive members of your corporate community,
employees must understand what their personal responsibility is relative to any
changes coming down the pike.
Being open and transparent about company challenges also allows
employees to see the bigger picture and feel more empowered to play an active
role. With this level of understanding and engagement, your teams will
proactively introduce new and creative ways of finding solutions.
3. Be transparent about turnover and encourage
If employees are
continually watching team members come and go with no understanding of the
cause, retention will suffer.
Remain transparent about employee departures. Clearly
communicating team changes in a timely manner will keep employees confident in
the team you have worked hard to put in place. They will feel secure not only
in their jobs, but also in their specific role and contributions.
Also, leverage transparency to build more collaborative processes.
Encourage your leadership team to be true mentors and take an active interest
in improving employee skills. Try setting long-term personal goals for each
employee that affect the company and their continued growth within it.
By valuing and championing transparency like we have at
ClearCompany, you will naturally develop a culture of honesty, collaboration
and strong leadership, helping everyone grow. This type of transparent and
value-driven culture will see employees stick around for the long haul.
Advice can be a great thing,
but sadly the average entrepreneur receives so much that he or she must become
an expert in filtering out the information that simply won’t work. But there is
one piece of advice that is worthwhile that works across all industry sectors
and types: Have regular, relaxed companywide meetings where members of
the team can receive important updates, hang out and wind down together.
gathering all employees to discuss what is happening and creating a scenario
where honesty and ideas run freely can help companies build toward the
our managers knew it was the right word for what we were
doing, transparency was part of my company's culture: At Wix.com, the
status of every marketing campaign and product in development is
routinely made available to every employee. We've even taken this concept
into the physical realm by making sure all our walls are of glass. Regular
meetings take place at the team, department and company levels to discuss
priorities, challenges and potential new directions.
these decisions have helped us build a stronger company and these are the
startups mature and grow, they inevitably run into the challenge of
transferring the passion for the company to those who weren't there from the
beginning. The key to building commitment at a growing company is ensuring
that all employees, no matter when they joined the team, are given a voice and
empowered to collectively help lead the organization forward.
plays a critical role. Keeping employees informed of wider company issues,
struggles and accomplishments pays off: Any employee could have an opinion or
idea that leads to a breakthrough. It also helps break down departmental
walls and barriers that can sometimes hamper the sense of company unity. By keeping
the full team in the loop, the leaders are showing that every individual
is necessary and appreciated, a feeling that will only breed a stronger
commitment to working together and furthering the organization's goals.
the first day, Wix instituted a companywide communication system that
automatically informs the entire team about status updates for
products, campaigns and sales. Throughout the company, massive screens
show projects going on in the company.
serving as an efficient internal communications system for a staff that now
numbers more than 700 employees, it also allows for maximizing our most
important asset: human capital.
the last six years, employees from marketing have developed brilliant
ideas for feature updates. Ad campaigns have been initiated as a result of
quirky ideas from developers and products dreamed up by the customer-service
only is important to spend lots of time and energy in hiring and retaining
talented and creative professionals. Part of maximizing this talent is giving
employees access to information.
needs to set the vision for a company makes a big mistake by assuming
that he or she is the smartest person in the company. Opening up access to
information means trusting that the best ideas may come from other places.
We've embraced this mentality and because of it our company has thrived.
that don't offer access to information will inevitably suffer from problems of
accountability and finger-pointing. For example, one course of action might
help a certain project while simultaneously damaging another. Or managers might
oversee tasks with incomplete information, with only the senior leadership
possessing the ability to put the puzzle pieces together. The result is a team
that will constantly and rightfully say, How could I have known?
when all players on a team understand how the pieces fit together, their
actions can be channeled in ways that foster growth and progress.
employees responsibility and demanding accountability aren't harsh realities:
They are signs of respect, appreciation and trust. Colleagues will know when
they're appreciated, and few things show this more than the willingness to
put faith in them.
effort to conceal information from employees is not only counterproductive.
It's exhausting. So a leader might ask, What do I gain by deciding who
gets to know what? Transparency, on the other hand, pays off by facilitating a
high level of employee involvement and encouraging staff contribution to
quality decision-making. It also requires far less energy.
Pressed to describe
the stereotypical entrepreneur, which words would you use? Passionate?
Dedicated? Optimistic? Sure, those apply. But insecure and troublemaker are
more accurate, according to 'treps who know a success when they see one. Do the
following traits, characteristics and quirks describe you? Well then, you might
be an entrepreneur (at heart, if not yet in practice).
1. You take action.
Barbara Corcoran, founder
of The Corcoran Group, co-star of TV'sShark Tankand author ofShark Tales:
How I Turned $1,000 into a Billion Dollar Business, says people who
have a concept but not necessarily a detailed strategy are more likely to have
that entrepreneurial je ne sais quoi. "I hate entrepreneurs with beautiful
business plans," she says.
recommendation? "Inventas [you] go," rather than
spending time writing a plan at your desk. In fact, she believes that people
with life experience have an active problem-solving ability and
think-on-your-feet resourcefulness that can be more valuable than book smarts
alone. Those who study business may be prone to overanalyzing situations rather
than taking action.
2. You're insecure.
"Many entrepreneurs judged as ambitious are really insecure
underneath," Corcoran says. When evaluating potential investments, she
adds, "I want someone who is scared to death." Those who are nervous
about failing can become hyperfocused and willing to do whatever it takes to
succeed. If you feel insecure, use that emotion to drive you to achieve your
3. You're crafty.
"One of my favorite TV shows growing up wasMacGyver,"
confides Tony Hsieh, CEO of Las Vegas-basedZappos, "because he
never had exactly the resources he needed but would somehow figure out how to
make everything work out."
entrepreneur, Hsieh has done everything from starting a worm farm to making
buttons and selling pizzas, so he admires MacGyver's "combination of
creativity, optimism and street smarts. Ultimately, I think that's what being
an entrepreneur is all about--playing MacGyver, but for business." It's
not about having enough resources, he explains, but being resourceful with what
you do have.
4. You're obsessed With cash flow.
Before founding Brainshark, a Waltham, Mass.-based developer of
technology for business presentations, Joe Gustafson bootstrapped a venture
called Relational Courseware. "All I ever thought about wascash flowand
liquidity," he says, admitting, "there were seven times in [the
company's] eight-year history when I was days or hours away from payroll and
didn't have enough cash to make it."
How did he respond? "In the early days, you could step up and
put expenses on your personal credit card, but that can only go so far,"
he says. "You need cash--even if you have the best company and the best
receivables in the world--to fight the battle one more day." Other
strategies he recommends include working with a partner who can provide cash
advances on projects and maintaining close communication with suppliers.
5. You get into hot water.
Stephane Bourque, founder and CEO of Vancouver, British
Columbia-basedIncognito Software, says true entrepreneurial types are more
likely to ask for forgiveness than permission, forging ahead to address the
opportunities or issues they recognize, even without approval from higher-ups.
"Entrepreneursare never satisfied with the status
quo," says Bourque, who discovered he was not destined for the corporate
world when he kept coming up with new and better ways of doing things--ideas
that were not necessarily appreciated by his bosses and often were interpreted
as unwanted criticism. Now, he says, "I wish my employees would get into
more trouble," because it shows they are on the lookout for opportunities
to improve themselves or company operations.
6. You're fearless.
Where most avoid risk, entrepreneurs see potential, says Robert
Irvine, chef and host ofFood Network'sRestaurant:
Impossible. True 'treps are not afraid to leverage their
houses and run up their credit card balances in order to amass the funds they
need to create a new venture. In some ways, he says, they are the ultimate
optimists, because they operate under the belief that their investments of time
and money will eventually pay off.
7. You can't sit still.
Entrepreneurs have unbridled energy that fuels them long past the
time when their employees have gone home. They are eager, excited and energized
about business in a way that makes them stand out. Irvine would know: He owns a
restaurant in South Carolina, is opening another in the Pentagon and has a line
of food and clothing products, on top of hosting his TV show.
8. You're malleable.
"If you have only one acceptable outcome in mind, your
chances of making it are slim," cautions Rosemary Camposano, president and
CEO of Silicon Valley chainHalo Blow Dry Bars. If you are willing to listen, your clients
will show you which of your products or services provide the most value.
Her original vision for Halo was part blow-dry bar, part gift
shop, "to help busy women multitask," she explains. But she quickly
learned that the gift shop was causing confusion about the nature of her
business, so she took it out, replaced it with an extra blow-dry chair, and
things took off. Smart entrepreneurs constantly evolve, tweaking their business
concepts in response to market feedback.
9. You enjoy navel gazing.
Without direct supervisors, entrepreneurs need to be comfortable
with the process of evaluating their own performance, says Laura Novak Meyer,
owner of Pennsylvania's Little Nest Portraits. That requires "a
willingness to solicit feedback from those around you to self-improve,"
she says, as well as paying close attention to feedback you may not have asked
for, such as customer complaints or being outpaced by competitors. Little Nest
surveys every client to ask for opportunities for improvement, and Meyer has
worked closely with a business coach for the past five years to identify
personal areas where she needs to improve.
10. You're motivated by challenges.
When confronted by problems, many employees try to pass the buck
or otherwise wash their hands of the situation. Entrepreneurs, on the other
hand, rise to the occasion. "Challenges motivate them to work
harder," says Jeff Platt, CEO of theSky Zone Indoor Trampoline Parkfranchise. "An entrepreneur
doesn't think anything is insurmountable … He looks adversity in the eye and
Candace Nelson, founder ofSprinkles Cupcakes, agrees. Despite naysayers who questioned
her idea for a bakery in the midst of the carb-fearing early-2000s, she
persevered and now has locations in eight states. In fact, she was one of the
first entrepreneurs in a business that became an ongoing craze, sparking
11. You consider yourself an outsider.
Entrepreneurs aren't always accepted, says Vincent Petryk, founder
of J.P. Licks, a Boston chain of ice-cream shops. They may be seen as
opinionated, quirky and demanding--but that is not necessarily a bad thing.
"They are often rejected for being different in some way, and that just
makes them work harder," Petryk says. When his former boss didn't approve
of his off-duty research into ice-cream quality, he went out on his own to
develop a made-from-scratch dessert in bold flavors. Rather than copying what
most other ice-cream shops were doing, including buying from the same
well-known suppliers, Petryk forged his own path. His early competitors? All
but one are no longer in business.
12 . You recover quickly.
It's a popular notion that successful entrepreneurs fail fast and
fail often. For Corcoran, the trick is in the speed of recovery: If you fail,
resist the urge to mope or feel sorry for yourself. Don't wallow; move on to
the next big thing immediately.
13. You fulfill needs.
Many people recognize marketplace holes, but it is the true
entrepreneur who takes them from cocktail napkin to reality, says Jennifer
Dawn, partner in New York City-based Savor the Success, a business network for
women. "Entrepreneurs think of a way to fix it and take steps to fix it.
They are innovators." So when Savor's network of women began asking for
advice and input from co-founder Angela Jia Kim, she and Dawn created a new
product: Savor Circles. These mastermind groups connect four members who give
each other tailored input and expertise; even better, they provide Savor the
Success with a new revenue stream.
14. You surround yourself with advisors.
Actress Jessica Alba, co-founder and president of Santa Monica,
Calif.-basedThe Honest Company, which sells baby, home and personal-care
products, notes that "it's important to surround yourself with people
smarter than you and to listen to ideas that aren't yours. I'm open to ideas
that aren't mine and people that know what I don't, because I think success
takes communication, collaboration and, sometimes, failure."
"Success takes communication, collaboration and, sometimes,
--Jessica Alba, The Honest Company
In other words: True 'treps don't hire yes men; they talk to those
with experience and conduct thorough research, gathering as much information as
they can to make informed decisions rather than taking a shot in the dark.
15. You work and play hard.
"Entrepreneurs fall down and pick themselves up until they
get it right," says Micha Kaufman, who snowboards and sails in addition to
runningFiverr, the fast-growth online freelance marketplace he
Like in sports, the
key to success in business is staying super-focused, the CEO notes. During
Fiverr's launch, instead of trying to deal with "an endless number of
potential challenges," Kaufman and his team focused on "the single
biggest challenge every marketplace has: building liquidity.
Without liquidity, there is no marketplace. It's like worrying
about the skills needed for frontside-360 jumps before getting on a snowboard
and learning the basics."