What You Need to Become an Entrepreneur?

EntrepreunerWhen I speak to my audience, I love to ask warm-up questions at the beginning. If I ask them whether they know what they need to become an entrepreneur, most of them answer in one voice – “Capital”, “Capital”, “Capital”. True, capital is one of the major requirements to start a startup. And most of them consider the capital in terms of financial aspect only. Capital is more than just money and there are more other forms of capitals equally or even more important than money to become an entrepreneur. Besides capital, you need many other fundamental things. In one of my articles, I discussed about the Integrity as the ultimate requirement for excellence in business and on Innovation as the mantra for survival in business. Today I will discuss on one of such essentials, the capital and their other forms:

Emotional Capital
I have not seen coaches on Entrepreneurship speak on this capital, the emotional capital. This is your aspiration, passion and perseverance that always keeps you thriving to excel and drives to become successful entrepreneur. If you can not keep your emotional capital leveled high, in many cases the start-up entrepreneurs tend to pull back themselves so often even at small waves. In another way, emotional capital is an entrepreneurial instinct, which is a well-rooted desire to have your own business. You must have that instinct, loyalty and dedication to be fully directed towards your goal. The indulgence towards your goal is likely if you love your business.

Knowledge Capital
Academic certificates may prove your academic intelligence, but Knowledge capital means more than scholastic achievement. I like it to call it “entrepreneurial brains.” To become a successful entrepreneur, you must have knowledge, appropriate experience and skills about the business you plan to start before you start it. The knowledge capital is made up of the knowledge, experience and skills in you and your startup team. Team members with distinguishable knowledge capital in different business domains may have synergistic power to push the startup ahead. They can outperform if together than each of them ever could do individually.

Networking Capital

“It’s not only what you know, it’s who you know”.

Professional networking, business networking, social networking, community networking, global networking and all sort of contacts fall upon the networking capital that help you to promote, sell and reach to your real business market. Each of your startup team members should use these contacts to promote business.

People Capital
Select right people. You will be successful only if you have right people around you. People capital may mean the skills to do the things, experience doing the things before, specific trainings on the business you are doing, knowledge acquired over the time, that you should be able to use from the very first day of your venture. You are not supposed to develop each of these skills from scratch by yourself,

Cultural capital
There is a big challenge today knowing multi-culture business norms, when we are talking about competing in the the same playing field. You and your team must posses knowledge about cultural ethics, do and don’t, quality standards, people preferences and aspirations of the specific culture. You should be well aware about different geography, ethic groups, communities, country norms and based on that your actual target market. You may read my one of previous blog posts on challenges on going global.

The Courage to Lead: How to Develop Your Leadership Confidence

leadershipEveryone admires courageous leaders. But there are different kinds of leadership. To become President of a country or a Chief Executive takes courage because you are in a win-lose competition with other candidates. You put your neck on the line in a very public way. When you campaign for election, you face aggressive opposition and intense scrutiny of your life and track record. It also takes courage to champion unpopular ideas in the face of severe opposition.

Courage is required for any competition. When you apply for a job, you are in a public race that only one person can win. You need courage to enter the fray and to face your supporters if you lose.

What about the courage of Martin Luther King? He was assassinated despite his courage and attacked in a number of other ways. To stand up for your beliefs and values in front of an angry mob takes a lot of courage. But this situation is different. King wasn’t competing with other candidates for election to a position. He was simply challenging the status quo to promote a better way of living.

Not many people have this much courage. It is because it is so rare that we admire people who have it. Courageous leaders in business, politics or war are naturally seen as heroes.

Developing Your Leadership Courage

The key to developing your courage to lead is to start small. It takes much less courage to compete for a first line supervisory position than it does to be President of your country. Similarly, you don’t need to lead civil rights marches like Martin Luther King to challenge the status quo. Whatever job you do, you will have ideas on how it could be done better. Do you have the courage to make suggestions for improvement to your boss? If you do, then you have sufficient courage to show some small scale leadership in your own local environment. The amount of courage you need to question existing practices also depends on the way you express your challenge. If you speak aggressively in a meeting with your boss and colleagues, you need to be very courageous. However, if you have a quiet word with your boss alone, it is not so risky. Even here, you could be confrontational or you could take a low-key approach and simply ask your boss what he or she thinks about a certain idea you have. If your tone of voice is one of asking for advice rather than aggressively saying the boss is wrong, then you don’t need to be quite so courageous.

Leadership Requires Challenging the Status Quo

All leaders have a better idea. They want to change the world. It takes leadership confidence to stick your neck out. To be a leader, you need to build your confidence to question the way things are done. The easiest way to start is to make quiet, non-confrontational suggestions and see how it goes. You need to see these actions as showing leadership, even if they are on a very small scale. Once you have gained some confidence on small issues, try scaling up to larger matters. If you think a particular stand you want to take is high risk, try it out on a friendly audience before you go to your boss or other prominent stakeholders. With subtle influencing skills, built mainly on using clever questions, you might even get your target audience to think it was their idea.

Like Martin Luther King, you can show leadership every day in all sorts of ways by suggesting a better way or even just by setting a good example. You don’t need to be in charge of the people you are trying to lead to show this sort of leadership. Remember, Martin Luther King showed leadership to the U.S. Supreme Court when his demonstrations influenced them to outlaw segregation on buses, and they did not report to him.

Large scale courage is heroic, but it isn’t necessary for everyday acts of leadership.

The Contents of a Winning Proposal: Five Steps to Successful Proposal Development

win proposalsA proposal is the response by a business to an opportunity, and is a way for a business to showcase their products, services, skills and talents to prospective clients. Creating a winning proposal is as easy as following these five simple steps.

  1. Define The Project – The first question to be answered when responding to a solicitation is, “What is our objective for this project?” It is important to have a clear understanding of the problem to be solved, and to have a firm idea about what your company goal is in responding to this solicitation. If the project statement in the solicitation is not clear, contact the project administrator or other point of contact as specified in the solicitation. One of the factors that the review team will use when considering your proposal is how well your plan responds to their needs.
  2. Assemble a Stellar Team – A project team will consist of a program manager, who will be the point of contact with the contracting organization, and an array of people with specialized skills that can accomplish the goals of your project. Your project team should show your expertise in accomplishing all facets of the project. If you do not have employees to fill all niches, consider hiring consultants or contractors to round out your team. For example, if you are part of a product design firm and the project involves developing a product for high-volume manufacturing, be sure that you have an expert on design for manufacturability and partners in the manufacturing sector.
  3. Draft a Work Plan – In this part of the proposal, you should detail your plan of action for the project. Break the project down into relevant and workable chunks. Describe your approach for each task, and identify milestones and deliverables for each section of the work plan. Include a schedule or Gantt-style chart to illustrate the timing of and the relationships between your tasks.
  4. Review Past Performance – The majority of solicitations will require some examples of similar projects to illustrate your past performance in the industry. Start by assembling projects with direct relevance to the solicitation. Refer to the solicitation for specific requirements, but it is generally useful to have between 3 and 5 examples of past performance. If you do not have that many directly relevant projects in your portfolio, add projects that involved specific skill sets that will be applicable to the solicitation, but may be outside of the specific industry.
  5. Get an Independent Review – When you spend a lot of time researching and writing a proposal, the familiarity of the work can sometimes allow errors to creep into the work. A review of the proposal by a colleague can uncover inconsistencies in the content, breaks in flow, and simple textual errors. A colleague can act as a devil’s advocate to ensure that the arguments you create in support of your proposed work are strong and backed up with sufficient evidence.

Microsoft’s Silverlight Technology: Developing Rich Internet Applications for Any Browser on PC or Mac

rich internet appsWebsites are not the only thing developed for the Internet. Many applications are developed using web tools and technologies. Even with all the advances in web technologies, there is still often a large gap in user experience. The ability to design a rich user interface using web technologies is slowly happening with technologies like AJAX. Microsoft, never to be left out of any technology space for long, has introduced their solution to developing rich Internet applications: it’s called Silverlight.

What is Silverlight?

Silverlight is a lightweight cross-browser web presentation technology that can run on both Windows and Mac OS platforms.

It is also used to present rich media and audio to web pages.

Silverlight Technologies

The foundation of the Silverlight presentation technology is XAML – eXensible Application Markup Language. XAML is the presentation technology used in Microsoft’s Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) – which is part of the .Net Framework 3.0.

Silverlight is essentially a browser plug-in that is installed the first time a user hits the site. It has a small footprint (about 2 MB). This free plug-in is what reads the XAML and creates the visual presentation in the browser. The plug-in exposes the underlying XAML page to Javascript developers (using the DOM – document object model – model). Developers can then interact with the XAML content by writing event handlers or changing its contents.

The 2 main components of the Silverlight architecture include:

  • The Core Presentation Framework are the components and services required to build the presentation interface layer of the application, including XAML and DOM, digital assets management, etc.
  • The .Net Framework for Silverlight is a subset of the .Net Framework components and libraries that can be used to develop the applications.

Developers and designers use Microsoft Visual Studio and Microsoft Expressions Blend to code and design Silverlight applications. Developers can code Silverlight applications using languages they are already well familiar with (Visual Basic and C#).

Some of the additional programming features include File Management, Isolated Storage, Asynchronous programming, POX services (simple XML web services) and XML libraries.

Uses for Silverlight

Some of the best uses for Silverlight include the following:

  • Rich media
  • “Islands” of rich, interactive content on a web page
  • Web visualization elements – like navigation, advertising, data display

There are currently 2 versions of Silverlight available. Version 1.0 is the first version that is out as a Release Candidate (which means it’s pretty much the final version), and Version 1.1 which is currently in Alpha state. Only version 1.1 has the ability to develop against the .Net framework API.

There’s an entire online community available to show you all the ins and outs of developing applications using Silverlight, including creating them and inserting them into existing .net applications.

There are also a number of MSDN technical articles related to developing with Silverlight. Start with the Getting Started with Silverlight and go from there. This type of technology creates the new generation of rich internet applications that are required for the Web 2.0 community. If you aren’t learning how to develop in technologies like Silverlight and AJAX, then you aren’t keeping with the Joneses

How to Write Business Proposals: Effectively Communicating Great Ideas Through Project Bids

Business proposalsWhat is a Proposal?

A proposal is a document generated by a company to obtain funding from another organization. While a business plan can be considered a proposal for the company as a whole, a proposal generally focuses on a specific opportunity for the business, whether it is a bid for a solicited job, or proposed research and development work.

While business people and innovators may come up with some great ideas, those ideas will simply languish unless they can be communicated in a way that gives them credibility. Proposals are one way that businesses can sell their ideas to organizations that will provide the business with funding. Proposals often have many of the same components as a business plan, just on a more focused level.

Proposals can be written in response to solicitations or grant announcements, or can be unsolicited; that is, the organization proactively approaches organizations that may have funding, rather than waiting for the announcement of a funding opportunity. Solicited proposals are generally more widely accepted, because they respond to a need that the soliciting organization has publicized.

Writing a Proposal

Like a business plan, a proposal requires a significant effort to effectively address the needs of the soliciting organization, to clearly express the solution brought forth by the proposing business, and to prove that the proposing business is the right person for the job.

A Project Bids should be written by a group of people within the organization that meet the various needs of the project. This could include, but is not limited to, project management, technical expertise, financial expertise, manufacturing and commercialization (for product development), and legal counsel.

Proposal Contents

A quality proposal should include (but is not limited to):

  • A detailed description of the work to be performed
  • Background of the problem to be solved (if applicable)
  • A task-based work plan with schedules and milestones
  • A listing of key personnel, including resumes and descriptions of each person’s responsibility within the proposed project
  • Summaries of relevant work performed in the past
  • Information about the company as a whole, showing why the business is the best choice for the job. Include general capabilities, facilities information (if applicable) and relevant assets
  • Information about consultants or subcontractors (if applicable)
  • Financial information including overall budget, labor and material costs and other information specified in the solicitation.

Different solicitations will require different content to be included in the responding proposal. It is important to refer to the solicitation or to the point of contact for the exact requirements for each proposal.

Managing People Effectively: How to Get the Best out of People

employee-recognitionEmpowerment, career development and recognition are standard ways of motivating employees but the real key is employee engagement.

The talent war can’t be won by recruitment alone. Talent retention depends on crucial skills for managing people, motivating them and making them feel valued. Unfortunately many of the standard techniques are too superficial to have much lasting effect, but they are better than nothing.

Standard Approaches to Motivating Employees

Empowerment goes a long way toward managing people well. Giving them the authority to make decisions for which they used to have to seek approval from their bosses is liberating. Recognition also helps; giving people a pat on the back for a job well done is a good lift, even if the effect is temporary.

Some companies stress the value of career development. They feel that giving employees personal development opportunities will motivate them to stay. The power of this technique depends on whether it is given out freely or is dependent on performance. Rewards are more valuable if the employee feels that they are earned rather than freely given which causes them to become taken for granted. This is why recognition is more powerful than annual pay increases. Showing employees that you appreciate how they handled a tough challenge is directly linked to the effort they made to get the job done. Direct reinforcement generates more personal satisfaction at work and increases the likelihood of similar performance in the future.

Engagement: The Key to Motivating Employees

The best way to engage employees is to ask them for their ideas, advice or solutions. When employees approach their bosses with a problem, smart managers will ask them what they think, what they see as the options for dealing with the problem and what they would recommend. Similarly, when great managers have an issue they can’t resolve themselves, or even if they already know the answer, they ask employees for input.

Weak managers lack sufficient confidence to ask employees for their suggestions. They base their confidence on their ability to know the answers, to appear strong and decisive. They feel that it is a sign of weakness to ask anyone for help or input. It is not entirely their fault. Most organizational cultures still promote people to senior positions based on their ability to convey a macho ability to call the shots in a very self-reliant, individual manner. Such managers make themselves look good but their short term gains are at the long term expense of the organization. This is because the boss takes all the credit for being the hero, for having all the answers and always knowing what to do while employees reporting to such a boss are made to feel like menial assistants.

Smart managers know that their long term success depends on talent retention and employee motivation. They also know that the world is too complex for them to have all the answers. As a result, they make themselves even more successful because, by getting more input, they develop better solutions and they have a more motivated, loyal workforce.

In summary, a combination of techniques is recommended to manage people effectively, but the real key to making people feel valued is to ask them for their advice or opinion. Knowledge workers work with their brains more than their hands. They want to feel they are contributing. So, to keep them interested you need to ask them for their ideas. Managers who don’t understand this vital point are blocking their own success as well as their organization’s.

Sales Integrity: Selling Well Without Selling Your Soul

sales integrityWe all know the snake-oil salesman cliché. In an increasingly interconnected and yelped world, however, there is little space for the chicanery that typified that deceitful sales model of old. Rather, competence and reliability are the watchwords of modern-day sales.

Honesty is the Best Policy

“Had honesty not existed, a salesperson would’ve invented it,” the saying goes. Sales is a multiply repeated game. Cheating or lying on your first turn might gain you immediate payoff, but will definitely hurt your long-term prospects. The successful salesperson will earn trust in order to turn their one-time customers into longtime clients and thus benefit from a perpetual income stream.

Details, Details

It’s not enough to be honest. To succeed in sales, attention to detail is essential. Not only is it imperative to listen to what a customer says, but also to react to it and follow through on the appropriate response. A great meal stands out as much for its server’s near-telepathic attention to your needs as it does because of flawless execution by the chef. It’s that service that will distinguish you as a salesperson, and reward you financially.

Be Prepared

You needn’t have been a Boy Scout to know the value of preparation. All the follow-through in the world is useless if you’re not ready. Know your product. Clients rely on your for crucial information about the product you are selling. Likewise, you will be better able to counter a prospective client’s objections if you have done your homework.

Selling isn’t a one-way street, though, so you also need to know your customer. What are they looking for? What concerns might they have? How can you solve them? If you can answer these questions before a meeting, you will have a much higher likelihood of sales success.

Get Out of Your Own Way

The biggest barrier to any salesperson’s success is usually their own ego. Whether it’s because you don’t think you should go the extra mile or because you’ve been shot down too many times, your ego will sometimes tell you to stop just short of success. Persistence in sales pays off, always. This is especially true as you start in a new territory or with a new client. Your clients need time to recognize that you are going to be there for them. Don’t give them an excuse to say “no” to you by not showing up.

The biggest differentiator in today’s global marketplace is the human touch. Selling with integrity and competence is the surest way to make your impact felt

Challenges Facing Organizations: Avoiding Sexual Discrimination Lawsuits

challenge facing orgsChallenges Facing Organizations

All organizations are at risk for sexual discrimination lawsuits. In 2006, Boeing paid more than $70 million to settle a class-action lawsuit by female employees and Morgan Stanley paid over $50 million to settle a similar suit that same year. Lawsuits against large corporations make the front page of the newspaper or the evening news, but that does not mean that small companies are excused from these types of lawsuits. Nearly half of all sex-discrimination charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2006 were against companies with less than 200 employees. Smaller organizations may be even more vulnerable than larger organizations because they may be less likely to have a formal sex-discrimination policy in place.

Dealing with the Challenging Issues

The first step in dealing with these issues would be for companies to comply with the laws already in place to deal with this subject. This seems like an obvious suggestion but organizations need to be aware of the laws imposed by the EEOC and others and make sure they are in compliance. Companies should also advocate promoting diversity at all organizational levels as well as promoting inclusion of all employees into the organizational culture (Powell & Graves, 2003). Discrimination laws in this country can be extremely costly to a firm. In addition to fines, legal fees and punitive damages; a company can suffer irreparable damage to their reputation, loss of morale among their employees, loss of productivity and loss of confidence by their stakeholders. As the labor force becomes more diverse organizations have little choice but to become less homogeneous. Women are more prepared now than ever to enter the work force as they continue to earn advanced degrees and bring varied experiences to the work place. A recent study of Fortune 500 companies found that those companies that had a high proportion of women in their top management positions, had greater profitability than those that did not (Powell & Graves, 2003).

Diversity Goals

All organizations regardless of their size or type of business need to set goals in regards to what they wish to accomplish regarding diversity, non-discrimination and inclusion. Once the goals are set, the company needs to monitor these goals to make sure they are implementing the plans correctly. Communication across and between all levels of the organization is paramount to the success of achieving the companies diversity goals. Those departments and/or individuals, who are complying with the goals, should be rewarded whereas those who are not should be reprimanded. Management has to enforce a zero-tolerance policy for non-compliance. Employees should be involved in as many ways as possible. They can set up a mentoring program, interest groups, newsletters, and bulletin boards encourage the flow of communication.

Diversity Education

Ongoing education for all members of the firm is imperative to a successful diversity program. Diversity education should be mandatory not voluntary as allowing voluntary participation suggests that management does not take it seriously. Implementing a change to a current company culture can be difficult but if all departments work together and plans are put into place, the results can be rewarding for everyone involved.

Rural Intergovernmental Relations: Many Agency Programs Depend Community Implementation

community implementationIntergovernmental relations dramatically reflect the present and historical tensions present between political subdivisions at work within a state. An understanding of these interrelationships is vital to the success of any proposed program within a rural community.

States may not have much of a presence within a small rural community. Representatives of state governments often work at a distance and are restrained in their ability to travel in rural areas. State officials are likely to only appear in a village during a time of crisis. State resources are increasingly being diverted to more urban areas that magnify the divide between highly and less populated regions.

Federalism – The Federal government has a huge impact on communities in terms of land owned, wages paid, funding provided and regulatory program administered. Many administrative functions remain vested with the Federal government. Various schemes of Federalism have changed the way local government organizations interact with various agency initiatives. Many current Federal policies represent unfunded mandates or can be very incoherent in their intent. Many Federal and State programs depend on local communities their for successful implementation.

Project Planning – Community leaders need to met and establish the framework for how they will interact with State and Federal agencies during development of a proposed project or effort. It is important to enter these discussions with the idea that any agreement with a Federal or State agency will be for the good of the community. Project goals need to be aligned with local values and realities. The State and Federal governments represent minimal oversight in many communities and local government officials have an excellent chance to participate in entrepreneurial management of projects occurring in their community. Local communities are not just cog in a greater hierarchy, but important players in the overall government system. Some items for local leaders to consider in planning a project with an outside agency are:

  • Partnering of all local political subdivisions and nongovernmental organizations will improve the community’s bargaining position
  • Consider your relationship with the donor. The grantor agency often needs you to accomplish their mission
  • Employ an experienced facilitator to represent the community’s interests that has the time and resources to follow through with the entire effort
  • Local steering or planning community needs to be carefully crafted with the right membership

Public Facilitation – Once a community has decided investigate a project, public participation in the planning is vital. Factors that will affect participation in the planning process are personal motivation, previous experiences, project resources, time and clear objectives. Stakeholders need to be identified and an outreach effort made to include them in the selection process. Cries of disenfranchisement can quickly derail a project when the outcome is near. Depending on the complexity of a planning project, there may be more than one committee. A steering committee, planning group, or technical review committee are examples. Facilitation is important in the conduct of public planning meeting. People can tell when their input is genuinely accepted and opinions valued. Community support can be an enormous positive or negative factor in the project’s success.

Collaborative Public Management – The community will need to negotiate with sponsoring agency throughout the entire project planning process. Communities need to stay on message and remain consistent. Federal managers will not be traveling to the community at every point of the planning process. Managers need to be focused on the possible benefits arising from the project and be ready to construct their response to regulators creatively. Communities should consider using jurisdiction-based and donor-recipient models of collaborative public management. A community can plan for growth and seek out multiple financial partners, and understand the needs of donor agencies. The sponsor agency is likely to need the community’s help in advancing the agency goals and there should be maneuvering room for activist manager.

Get Great Results From Employees: SAFE uses the Law of Attraction to Achieve Dramatic Performance

great results from employeeAs a manager you probably use a process for goal setting and tracking that is based on the acronym SMART. SMART provides you with the ability to track your subordinates’ progress and gives you opportunities for coaching and performance improvement.

SMART is a linear, logical process that fits nicely with traditional management styles. But it may not be the best tool for supporting great breakthroughs and getting dramatic performance improvements. In this, as well as employee development, a new goal setting process, SAFE, may offer superior results.

SAFE is non-linear and a bit illogical, in that faith plays a big part in SAFE’s process.

SAFE combines the best aspects of SMART with the power of the Law of Attraction. SAFE stands for

  • See your goal,
  • Accept it,
  • Feel it with emotion, and
  • Express it.

You may be initially reluctant to acknowledge, let alone utilize, the power of the spiritual world. Traditionally, business has relegated spirituality to something employees do on Sunday. But that is changing. The science of quantum physics is beginning to confirm much of traditional spiritual wisdom, including the Law of Attraction. Businesses that thrive in the future will take advantage of Universal wisdom and learn to access the full power of attraction and creativity.

The SAFE Method of Goal Setting

Pick a business goal for your group that involves the entire group. Perhaps there’s a quality or customer service target that would set your group apart from the average group others doing similar work. Let’s use a customer service goal as an example.

See the Vision

Begin by imagining the customer service goal that would set a new standard for your business or industry. Do you feel excited? Good, now ignore the next thoughts of how in the world you’ll accomplish this new standard. That will come later. For now, it’s important to See the goal achieved and to Accept that the ways to get there will come.

Accept, Feel, and Express

Spend some time visualizing your world after the goal is achieved. See, with rich emotion, the recognition you and your group receive from your company, from customers, and from business analysts. In your mind, read the articles about your group’s accomplishments. Feel the pride that comes with a team of people making a great accomplishment.

Replay (Express) this vision several times over a few days, each time enriching it with emotion and detail.

Share Your Vision

Now it’s time to enroll your employees. Gather them together and share your vision for the future. Ask them to withhold questions about how to achieve the vision. Share your vision in great detail, painting a rich picture that includes customer’s positive reactions and stunning recognition for each employee.

Seek to enroll everyone in the vision as something worthwhile and exciting. Ask them to think about the vision over the next few days without trying to figure out how to accomplish it.

Each day, send out an email or a voice message reinforcing some aspect of the vision. As you discuss business issues make it a point to touch on the vision. Perhaps put together a collage of the vision and post it on a bulletin board.

The How

Refrain from trying to lay out the action steps to reach the goal. Instead, accept the nudges of intuition and inspiration that naturally come as a result of holding the vision strongly in mind.

Soon you’ll find that the appropriate action steps are apparent; they’ve surfaced as inspirations, questions, and suggestions during your many vision meetings. Begin working toward the vision as actionable ideas unfold. Don’t worry about identifying all the action items; they’ll unfold over time. Continue to see the vision clearly and with emotion, trusting the process.

SAFE

Using SAFE, you’ll find your employees engaged, enthused, and motivated. They’re a part of the vision, perhaps each seeing it from a different perspective and with differing motivations. But they will be engaged and committed as long as the vision is held firmly in view as the group’s future.