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Archive for February, 2007

A Baseball Player as an Entrepreneurial Role Model

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

by: Geoff Ficke

Watching the Chicago White Sox win the World Series for the first time since 1917, I was struck again how wondrous this beautiful sport still can be. The purest American game, baseball teaches so many of the values we appreciate in all areas of life. Hard work, doing the little things, hustle, overcoming adversity and never quitting are lessons we learn playing Little League baseball.

My firm specializes in small business development and boot strapping entrepreneurs. The virtues we see in every baseball game are directly applicable to success or failure for inventors and companies. The Chicago White Sox, and one player in particular, are wonderful endorsements for the baseball/success ethos. Scott Podsednik is the poster boy for every virtue essential to positive entrepreneurial achievement.

It Took Nine Long Years

Scott Podsednik was born and raised in tiny West, TX. West is a hamlet, founded, and still principally inhabited by Czech immigrants. No great sports traditions here. As a 150-pound outfielder, Mr. Podsednik was drafted and played minor league baseball for nine, very long, frustrating years. Every year in spring training, Mr. Podsednik would be returned to the minor league camp, traded from team to team and generally stuck with the label “not a prospect”.

Several times he considered giving up and seeking another calling. Nevertheless, he knew, believed in his heart, that given a chance he would be a success at the Major League level. Three years ago an injury opened a spot on the Milwaukee Brewers. The team took a chance on Scott Podsednik, believing he would be a back-up player until the injured star returned. This was the chance he dreamed about since Little League in West, TX. He never looked back.

Rookie Record Breaker

As a 29-year old rookie, Scott Podsednik hit over .300, scored over 100 runs and stole over 50 bases. He played the game with drive, hustle, smarts and courage. Mr. Podsedniks value has rapidly escalated and during the off-season he was traded to the White Sox for power hitting Carlos Lee. The White Sox had not won the World Series in 88 years. Hitting in the key leadoff spot, stealing bases and playing sparkling outfield defense, Scott Podsednik is the emotional leader of the new champions.

A Model for Entrepreneurs as Well

Scott Podsednik heard the dreaded word “NO” for years. Every business start-up, inventor or entrepreneur faces the same hurdle at various points in time. Mr. Podsednik did not like hearing the cursed word, but it did not deter him from seeking and attaining his goals. It is the same for every successful entrepreneur. “NO” has to be handled as a temporary roadblock, not a final, death knell for opportunity.

Success is very seldom linear. Setbacks, stumbles, mistakes happen, will happen and must be handled as challenges, not disasters. Thomas Edison performed over 1000 experiments before perfecting the electric light bulb.

That is a lot of “NO”! He never thought of stopping his pursuit of success, and no successful entrepreneur ever let NO stop the drive to succeed.

The Chicago White Sox are champions because they did the little things better than any team in baseball. A team with virtually no stars vanquished other squads with more All-Stars and much higher payrolls. This is a template that every inventor can use as a positive example. Creativity, effort, diligence and determination can overcome almost any obstacle. Scott Podsednik and the Sox are real world models we can all admire and emulate.

10 Essential Traits for the Successful Entrepreneur

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

What Makes an Entrepreneur Different

By: Geoff Ficke

Studies indicate that entrepreneurs are born, not made. As a serial entrepreneur myself, having worked with dozens of successful entrepreneurs, I can confirm that this is a truism. No two are exactly alike, but they are different from those who fail, or worse, never try.

I am often asked what makes an entrepreneur. In answering, I use the quote made by Supreme Court Justice Harlan when asked how he defined pornography. “I know it when I see it”. Entrepreneurs have a demeanor that separates them from the herd. They are different. Ready to take risks, fearless, passionate, problem solvers, positive and focused: entrepreneurs are the power that runs the engine of any capitalist economy.

I have assembled 10 traits that all successful entrepreneurs seem to acquire during their life’s experience. Some are stronger in one area or another, but the basics are covered here and represent qualities and beliefs that are remarkably consistent in successful entrepreneurs.

10 Essential Traits for the Successful Entrepreneur

#1 Passion in Their Project Opportunity

     Passion overcomes many deficiencies in experience and/or education.

     True passion cannot be faked, and is contagious!

#2 Courage in the Face of Doubt

     Every entrepreneur experiences bouts of worry and self-doubt. The

     ability to overcome, push ahead and achieve your goals requires courage.

#3 The Ability to Handle Rejection

     Success as an entrepreneur requires a thick skin. You will receive

     Criticism, and hear the word NO much more often than YES.

#4 The Ability to Remain Open to Change

     Hardened attitudes and dispositions will cut off the ability to innovate,

     improve and add creativity to an invention or new idea.

#5 The Glass is always Much More Than Half Full

     Successful entrepreneurs know they have obstacles to overcome.

     They just get on with it. Negatives are like gnats, to be flicked away.

#6 Small Ideas Become Big Ideas

     Coca-Cola was not created with a goal of being a mass-market beverage.

     A pharmacist created the formula for his soda fountain as a tonic.

#7 Only You Can Shape Your Life

     You control all aspects of your life. When you look in the mirror do you

     see a man or a mouse? The answer is a reflection totally of you. 

#8 Regret Only What You Have not Done

     To die and have wishes or nightmares about lost opportunities, or

     never having gotten into the game, is some kind of sin. What a waste!

#9 Get Rich Slow

     Dreamers want to get rich quick and rarely do. Hard work, enterprise,

     innovation, and focus makes the hare the winner over the flashier rabbit.

#10 Listen to Learn

      While you are talking you can’t be learning. Ask questions, probe,

       inquire! Listening is crucial to overcoming objections and success.

The Ten Commandments for Entrepreneurs

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

By: Geoff Ficke

I am often asked by aspiring entrepreneurs for tips that are essential to being successful in launching a new commercial venture. Below I have assembled the big 10, something like the 10 Commandments, only for entrepreneurial success. The items covered below are not negotiable in the process of taking projects. Trying to short-circuit the list is a death knell for any start-up.

The Ten Commandments for Entrepreneurs

#1 Never Take Shortcuts!

The market is unforgiving. You only get one shot at making a GREAT First Impression! Do everything in a first class way.

#2 Never Offer an Opportunity for Consideration Without All of the Facts!

Until you have fully researched the market, pricing, demographics, etc. never attempt to take your project to decision-makers.

#3 Bootstrapping is always a Great Option!

The ability to pre-sell, minimize cash needs and prove the viability of your project can be handled by bootstrapping yourself. You keep the equity!

#4 Know Your Cost of Goods to the Penny!

The lowest possible cost of goods, with the highest possible quality features, is essential in creating realistic sales models.

#5 Your Opportunity Must have a Definable Unique Selling Proposition!

The Unique Selling Proposition defines your products niche in the marketplace. This establishes the level of risk you face.

#6 Innovate, Innovate, Innovate!

The market rewards products with creative, innovative new features and benefits. Think weird and outside the box.

#7 Address Opportunities From Your Life’s Experience!

Most successful ideas germinate from your job, hobby, lifestyle or educational experience. Keep looking around yourself!

# 8 Help Is Available for the Inexperienced!

There are many places an inexperienced inventor or entrepreneur can get guidance. Do not let fear of sales or marketing kill your great idea.

# 9 Customize Exciting Business Plans

Do not waste your time mailing poorly written fill in the blank, inter-net business plan templates. They will not be read.

#10 Never, Never Give Up!

The ability to understand, not like, but understand, the word NO is crucial to becoming a successful entrepreneur. You will hear a lot more NO than Yes.