May 2021
The Leading Edge - Taking Care of Business
Nurturing an Entrepreneurial Mindset


Nurturing an Entrepreneurial Mindset

No matter how big or small your business, the ability to think like an entrepreneur is vital to success. Often people think of entrepreneurs as people who launch businesses, grow them, and then sell them or open another business and build an empire. You know, Richard Branson, Elon Musk and the like. But, that is only one kind of entrepreneur. What about the plumber or electrician who is working for a company and decides to become self-employed? They are entrepreneurs too. Then there are the people who have a sideline business making just about anything and selling it to supplement their income.

There are also entrepreneurial employees; those people who think outside of the box, or at least their job description, who are always looking to help make the company they work for bigger, better, and more profitable.

What all these people have in common is that they are most likely very successful. Having an entrepreneurial mindset means you are always thinking about how to do things better, and more to the point make more money.

Never before has it been as important to think in this way, whether you are employed, self-employed, or running a small business. Why? Because the world is changing at an incredibly rapid pace. Our parents lived their whole lives and enjoyed secure careers without a whole lot happening to change things. Discounting the two world wars, things moved on at a sedate pace.

Fast forward to the past 20 years and everything has changed. We went from renting videos at Blockbuster to streaming Netflix. PVR’s made watching commercials on cable a thing of the past, or at least a choice. Cell phones went, from well, phones, to mobile computers, still and video cameras, voice recorders, and more. Texting became the communication method of choice for a large percentage of the population. The internet entered every aspect of our lives and social media’s voice replaced sound journalism, leaving the door open to fake news.

Today, people can compare what you sell to your competitors’ offerings in seconds, even while in your store or talking to you on the phone. All of these things changed the way companies do business and the way you sell and market what you produce. Some people and companies have prospered by taking advantage of the changes that are happening; take Amazon which now dominates the retail world. Those lacking an entrepreneurial mindset were late to the party when it came to selling online, some never even saw the need to have a website until relatively recently. Others saw their products and services become extinct. Anyone want to purchase some CDs?

Since then we’ve seen a pandemic change the way we live completely, and exponentially fast-forward online retail all but destroying bricks and mortar stores. The winners were those who thought entrepreneurially. Do you wish you had started a local courier service in 2018?

Looking back, the technological, social, and cultural changes that occurred since Y2K are nothing compared with what will happen in the next ten, twenty, thirty years. If you are employed, consider branching out on your own. If you run your own show, be prepared to reinvent yourself frequently - there’s a bullet train headed your way.

Here are just a few things to make you think. If you are under 40 today you can expect to live well beyond 100 years and enjoy a healthier life - assuming you look after your body in between. You will retire much later and be retired for longer, have more careers, and reinvent your business several times over during the next thirty years. If you think the internet and technology will slow down or level out, think again; the 40% of the world’s population that don’t currently have access will be online soon, very soon. And, 5G is here! Brain to Computer Interface (BCI) is a reality and already being used in healthcare - simply think and Google will do as you ask/think.

If all of this has you shaking your head, then you would be wise to start researching and reading about what the near future is going to look like. Once you do, then you can let your entrepreneurial mind loose on the incredible opportunities that will be open to those who can recognize the links between what they currently sell, what they could sell, their talents, and the new world.

To help you get started, check out authors Peter Diamandis, Stephen Kotler, and Ray Kurzweil; they are currently the most respected soothsayers of our future.

Nurturing an Entrepreneurial Mindset


The Power of S.W.O.T. Analyses

The word swot means to study assiduously. It is often used as a derogatory term for someone who these days we would call a nerd. It’s a classmate who does all of his or her homework on time and even, for heaven’s sake, does extra because they enjoy it! Swotting is what you do prior to a test or exam.

A S.W.O.T. analysis, however, is a strategic planning method which if you have never used it before will surprise you with its simplicity and effectiveness. It is something you can use to assess your current situation during these pandemic and fast-changing times. It will also help you plan for the future. The acronym stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. To carry out a SWOT analysis, create a table with four columns each headed with one of the terms. Then, with your team, business partner(s), investors, or whomever you want to involve, look at each column in turn and create a list of things that apply.

For instance, what are your company’s strengths? Where do you perform well? In what ways are you better than your competition? Do you have excellent parking? Are you well located? Do you offer better guarantees or warranties? Do you offer online shopping? Is your web interface better than competitors? Do you offer quicker delivery? Are your staff friendlier? Are you financially secure – well-financed? You get the idea, list anything you can think of that is an advantage your business has over its competition.

What are your company’s weaknesses? Take the list above and turn it on its head. Where does your competition outperform you? What things would you like to improve on, if you had the resources? Be honest – if not it’s only you who you are cheating.

Once you review your strengths and weaknesses it should help you to recognize opportunities. Things you might promote to your customers, areas of potential growth, and of course things you could do better. Growth and prosperity lie in seizing opportunities. If you read the other article in this newsletter you will also see that understanding what the immediate, or near future might bring can also help you recognize opportunities (think technology, social and cultural change, etc.). Note these down too!

In the final column, you need to look hard at what could threaten your success. Threats can come from weaknesses, but they can also come from positive things like growth. They can come out of left field such as the current pandemic, or from new technology that opens up your market to greater competition (think Amazon, Netflix, and the like). List anything that might threaten your company over the next 12-months. For instance new competition, poor cash flow, equipment breakdowns, obsolete technology, outdated thinking, key staff leaving, etc. Then add things that might potentially affect your business over the next decade. The earlier you identify threats the better.

Once you have your SWOT analysis, refer to it continually as you start to pull your business, or strategic plan together. It will help keep your feet firmly on the ground as you plan the future of your business.

Nurturing an Entrepreneurial Mindset


Coach's Corner - Reflecting on Covey’s Seven Habits (Part I)

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey has been on my bookshelf since it was first published in 1989. Although over 30 years old, this classic Covey book still holds some valuable lessons for us all.

Over the years, I have read and reread the book and often leaf through it for nuggets of wisdom. It is one of those books that contains so much to reflect upon and incorporate into both our personal and professional lives.

Covey’s 7 habits are 1. Be Proactive; 2. Begin with the End in Mind; 3. Put First Things First; 4. Think Win/Win; 5. Seek First to Understand…Then to be Understood; 6. Synergize; and 7. Sharpen the Saw. Each of the habits alone, and in conjunction with each other, provide concepts that promote personal growth and change.

In this article, I would like to explore the first three habits as they relate to what Covey calls the “private victory” where someone moves from dependence to independence.

  1. Be Proactive. This essentially means we need to take the initiative when faced with any sort of stimuli. As humans, we have the freedom to choose our response and for every stimuli we have multiple choices. The key is to be self-aware and mindful and avoid reacting without first thinking about your response. Ask yourself, what can I do to be more proactive in my life?
  2. Begin with the End in Mind. Often, in our professional and personal lives, we create an idea about what we would like to see in the future. These can be individual goals, those for our family, or those for our organization. Identifying and envisioning what things will look like in the future is the first step to creating that future. The second is to put your vision down on paper and outline the steps you will take to reach your ultimate goal. What are your important goals? Is there one in particular on which you want to focus?
  3. Put First Things First. This third part of the “private victory” is based on the Time Management Matrix in which we find 4 quadrants—Urgent/Important; Not Urgent/Important; Urgent/Not Important; and Not Urgent/Not Important. In all aspects of our life, be they personal or professional, we really need to focus on the first two quadrants that outline what is important. Working with intent, you need to ask the following question: What is the most important thing I should be doing?

When you incorporate the three habits outlined above, you will find yourselves working more effectively and feel that you have accomplished something worthwhile.

In next month’s newsletter, I will focus on the remaining four habits.

Paul Abra, Motivated Coaching


Community Futures Alberni-Clayoquot
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