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Jan presenting for AARP in Dublin, Ohio (Sept. 2013)

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Entrepreneurs Share Their Best Business Advice by CEO Blog Nation

No matter how you look at it, starting a business is hard. One of the hardest things you may ever have to do. There’s the business plan to think over, a name, government policies to consider, how it will affect your family, finances and the list rolls on from there. Some hardened entrepreneurs suggest spending a long time thinking about if that’s really the path you want to take. If so, there is plenty of advice floating around to help you with the grueling journey. Entrepreneurs are always willing to lend their words to the younger generation of business seekers and give them assistance when the time comes. Below we have asked entrepreneurs for their best business advice.

 

Photo Credit: Jonas Falk

Photo Credit: Jonas Falk

Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know

Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. Most likely, if you are starting a business you have a great idea, but don’t know handle all the aspect of it. Finance, accounting, operations, human resources–the list can be daunting, and a lot of people get intimidated. At the same time, each decision you make can have negative repercussions, and it is easy to imagine how new opportunities could lead to pitfalls. The lesson? Don’t worry about what you don’t know and can’t control. No one can know everything, or predict every outcome. You will certainly encounter problems, but they will be manageable as long as you deliver a great product and have happy customers. Take care of the problems you can and sleep easy knowing that a quality business can overcome almost anything

Thanks to Jonas Falk, OrganicLife

 

 

Photo Credit: Jack A. Bass

Photo Credit: Jack A. Bass

Executive involvement is key

Our consulting work stresses CEO involvement in the organizational development program. We start with a survey to identify the top teen issues and then select one to three to work on as we begin. If the CEO decides to ” sit out ” the process and only get reports as the team develops strategies the process is doomed before it begins. ” Command and Control” from the corner office are passe and send a message that the organization does not value the process or the people . We stress that the Executive Team must be fully committed and involved. This involvement is often helpful in breaking down the ” silos” that exist between departments and teams that are now competing for resources.

Thanks to Jack A. Bass

 

Photo Credit: Alan Knitowski

Photo Credit: Alan Knitowski

Form, scale and finance

I’ve had the privilege to see a lot in my entrepreneurial journey. I’ve seen a lot go right and a lot go wrong but it always comes back to three key areas – form, scale, and finance. The approach to these categories will make or break a business. For young entrepreneurs or new business owners I would say three things to ensure that form, scale and finance are being set up for success. Hire your first employees like your life depends on it. These are people you should trust and respect and who have a proven track record of business success – you’ll never get a second chance to hire your first employees. Focus your company service or product early on. Lasting value comes from delivering a product or service to market that people will pay for in droves. Figure out what problem your company solves and prove it with a paying customer base. Lastly, select a financing approach that is consistent with your business goals. You have to know early on if you will self-fund or choose third party financing. If you plan to take third party financing then you must know what is the best fit for your company, bank, government, or Angel investments from family, friends, and high net worth investors. Even as your business or company continues to grow, it is imperative that you continuously evaluate and re-visit these three key areas to ensure that your approaches are consistent with company goals, mission and vision.

Thanks to Alan Knitowski, Phunware

 

Photo Credit: Dave Ramsey

Photo Credit: Dave Ramsey

Take your time when hiring

Take your time when hiring. Proper hiring creates a good team, and a good team lowers turnover. Turnover is expensive, particularly in a small business. When you lose a team member, not only is their job not getting done, but oftentimes your job isn’t getting done because you have to stop what you are doing and begin the interview process again. Plus, new team members have to be trained. That takes time away from other tasks, and the new team members take a while to become good at their jobs, costing you even more productivity. The person properly hired will perform better, will not cause problems and will be more likely to stay. Once we realized it is much easier and takes less time to go through a lengthy hiring process rather than rehire the position three times, our quality of life got better.

Thanks to Dave Ramsey, The Lampo Group, Inc.

 

Photo Credit: Steven Annese

Photo Credit: Steven Annese

Being good to people is absolutely paramount

Something really important to me is to do what I love. Being able to work in a fast paced environment where ordinary people can benefit from our services. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but when you do what you love, you are presented with many more opportunities both personally and professionally. It creates an overall positive environment where everyone shares in the culture; your coworkers, employees and customers. It provides the drive you’ll need to do your best without “burning out”. While you’re taking care of day-to-day tasks, being good to others is absolutely paramount. Being good to others and being helpful wherever you can makes everyone involved feel good; you radiate a positive aura and people enjoy being around and dealing with you. Ultimately, this leads to better networking, happier customers, and good business growth.

Thanks to Steven Annese, EliteFixtures

 

Photo Credit: Greg Slamowitz

Photo Credit: Greg Slamowitz

Liberate your human capital

People often say that you need good command and control to run your organization well. Wrong. Command, control and micromanagement at first appear to be the easy road, but do not be tempted by this route. It leads to misery for all involved. Within this organizational framework, liberate your organization’s human capital. Magic will happen.

Thanks to Greg Slamowitz, Ambrose

 

Photo Credit: Fiona Jefferies

Photo Credit: Fiona Jefferies

Be of service

Be of service be of service, be of service. For years I thought my business was designing and project managing stands but I now see my business was about relieving the pain points and stress my clients experience pulling a trade show or a sales office together. I take on the project so my client can concentrate on their own work and earn kudos from their boss and stakeholders. Figure out how you can deliver mind blowing service – as there is so much mediocracy out there – and you will always have a business that shines!

Thanks to Fiona Jefferies, Diva Works

 

Photo Credit: Senen Garcia

Photo Credit: Senen Garcia

Have a plan and work that plan regardless of what comes

The best business advice I can give is make sure to have a plan and work that plan regardless of what comes about. Also, make sure have the right team surrounding you. You are the best at what you do but you need to focus on certain aspects of the business. Therefore, embrace the concepts of delegation and empowerment.

Thanks to Senen Garcia, SG Law Group

 

Photo Credit: Shandon Harbour

Photo Credit: Shandon Harbour

To know when to step on the gas pedal and when to pump the brakes

While I don’t purport to have anything more than swift luck – my best business advice is “to know when to step on the gas pedal and when to pump the brakes”. Typically big business mistakes are made with decision making that happens to quickly or in the adverse, decisions made to slowly or not at all. It applies to all elements of the business – hiring, firing, investing in new markets, advertising, growing a new division of the company, etc. I have seen many businesses fail around me because the leader did not make careful, timely decisions – they held on to staff too long and the business sank, they moved too quickly and over leveraged, and the list goes on. The best advice I can give is to read the signs around you and make sure that you have that instinct of when to pull back when it is not a popular decision or the insight to go for it (take the risk) and bring the business team along …even if others are a little nervous. The key is to know when it matters.

Thanks to Shandon Harbour, SDA Security

 

Photo Credit: Tom Hopkins

Photo Credit: Tom Hopkins

Work your database wisely

While it’s important to be involved in most of the hot trends in social media and advertising, your best source of new business is your existing client database. Making wise and solid connections with a few of your ideal clients can bring you more business than spreading yourself over a global network but not being able to serve the masses well.

Thanks to Tom Hopkins, Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

 

Photo Credit: Donna Hartney, Ph.D.

Photo Credit: Donna Hartney, Ph.D.

Have a pivotal aha moment

Have a pivotal “aha” moment, or two or three. A flash of clarity can profoundly change your life, and the world. Unfortunately, life- and career-transforming insights are as rare as they are powerful. They are the product of fate, luck, or chance. So says our collective wisdom. What if our collective wisdom is wrong? I know that it is. Through my personal experience, research, and work with executives, leaders and professionals; I have found that it is possible proactively to prime ourselves for pivotal insights. Be alert to seeing yourself clearly. Notice how you see the world. Be curious about what you discover, reflect on what you find, and then relax while you wait for an insight.

Thanks to Donna Hartney, Ph.D., Hartney & Associates, LLC

 

Photo Credit:  Jason Goldberg

Photo Credit: Jason Goldberg

To know your why

The best piece of advice I could give to aspiring entrepreneurs and even established business owners is to know (or reconnect with) your WHY. There is a reason far bigger than producing widgets or delivering XYZ service as to why you started, or want to start, a company. That purpose, the real reason you exist, is not only integral to you as the business owner and to your (future) employees to ensure that decisions align with your personal and/or company values BUT it is a huge point of differentiation for potential customers who are evaluating you versus your competitors. If your WHY is simply to make money, I would start browsing the want ads now. If your WHY is to NOT have a boss, think again (remember that EVERYONE, even the solopreneur ultimately has a boss; whether it’s an investor, the end-customer or the spouse who let you mortgage your house to follow your dreams). Your WHY has to connect to something bigger than you or profits or products. It has to be something that, if made into a neon sign and placed a foot away from your face anytime you wanted to give up, would immediately kick you into high gear and reenergize you to move forward in order to fulfill it. As an example, my WHY is to help those who seem successful but are struggling with finding passion, purpose and true happiness in their lives, to (re-) envision their ideal selves, be inspired to take action and reap the benefits of living the life they have created. As long as I keep that WHY front of mind, none of the speed bumps, setbacks or stresses I encounter will force me to stop!

Thanks to Jason Goldberg, MEometry.com

 

Photo Credit: Carrie Smith

Photo Credit: Carrie Smith

Follow your obsessions

Don’t listen to the “follow your passion” advice. As multi-faceted human beings, we’ll have multiple passions and interests throughout our lives. Following that advice can lead to frustrations and failed attempts to create a successful business. However, from my personal experience I can say it’s vital to “follow your obsessions”. What topic or product are you obsessed with enough that you can live and breath it 24/7? What do you constantly think about, talk about and care about? If you aren’t obsessed with a particular idea or passion, there’s no way it will sustain you for the long-term. Passions come and go, but obsessions will stay with you — and fuel your success — for many years.

Thanks to Carrie Smith, Careful Cents

 

Photo Credit: Celeste Zimmerman

Photo Credit: Celeste Zimmerman

Stick to your plan

Revenues, expenses, employees, social media…where to put your time and money in running your business. All are important. But the biggest, deepest and darkest hole that I have seen is in the advertising expense area. Companies have spent thousands of dollars in the advertising arena, never to see any return from their dollars invested. Advice: research, learn, and then develop an advertising plan and budget. There will be lots of temptation to sprinkle money here and there, as various ‘deals’ come along. But stick to your plan. Your business will benefit.

Thanks to Celeste Zimmerman

 

Photo Credit: Teana McDonald

Photo Credit: Teana McDonald

Make a list and categorize it

When I first started my business I wanted to work on as many tasks as I could. At the end of the day when my list was crossed off I felt like I had accomplished so many things. But did I really? No. How many of the things on my list were making me money? How many things on my list were not the best use of my time? How much more effective could I have been if I delegated some things on my list? My conclusion, make your list and categorize it with M’s (money) and NM’s (no money). All of the items that you have an M next to need to stay at the top of the list because they are making you you money (bringing in income). All of the items with NM can either be delegated or handled at a later date.

Thanks to Teana McDonald, The Instyle Diva

 

Photo Credit: Niquenya Fulbright

Photo Credit: Niquenya Fulbright

Make marketing a daily practice

Make marketing a daily practice. This is the one activity that you must truly be diligent and consistent about. Even when your client list is long, your portfolio is full and your books are overflowing with revenue, you can not let your marketing activities fall to the wayside. You must have a good marketing strategy in place that floats you through both the peaks and the valleys that occur in almost every industry. Whether it’s making a cold call, mailing a sales letter or launching a full-on campaign, you should do something every day to maintain your brand’s visibility among your target audience.

Thanks to Niquenya Fulbright, Building Bridges Chicago LLC

 

Photo Credit: Patrick Patterson

Photo Credit: Patrick Patterson

Do your homework

Do your homework and never think you know it all. In fact, the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. Hence, why doing your homework is so important. Just because you might be a great mechanic, doesn’t mean you’ll be a great owner. So when starting out, learn about your customers and what they want, not what you think they want. Learn about your competitors and survey their customers – what they like, what they don’t like, etc. this will help you gain your niche in the market and you can start to separate yourself from your competition. Also, survey other owners at every opportunity.. Ask questions like “if you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?” You’ll be amazed at how much you can learn, and in a world of life long learning, that information will be invaluable and give you knowledge necessary to make your business successful.

Thanks to Patrick Patterson, Champion Services

 

Photo Credit: Jan Cullinane

Photo Credit: Jan Cullinane

Passion, persistence and people

Be sure you have the three Ps: Passion, Persistence, and People. Passion: have a love of what you do, whether you’re in business for yourself or working for others. I revel in learning, finding answers and sharing information with people about retirement, so I wrote two books and do presentations about retirement. Persistence: it took a good amount of time to do the research, write a book proposal, find an agent to represent me, and a publisher to publish my books. Persistence is key. People: be sure there is an audience for the product. You can be dedicated and passionate, but without people who need what you are selling, it can’t be successful. With 78 million boomers I knew there was a large market for my books and presentations.

Thanks to Jan Cullinane

 

Photo Credit: Ken Lewis

Photo Credit: Ken Lewis

Putting innovative ideas into action

My success is dependent upon my capacity to take my innovative ideas and put them into action. To do this I need identify the idea or innovation. Then I put it onto paper. With it on paper my mind is free from having to hold the thought and this supports my mind in being clear. I then develop a strategy on how to implement this idea, as well as work with my employees to develop a procedure to execute the strategy. Without a procedure there is no action. Strategies are close to procedures, but they don’t define each step, and thus they often end with silent deaths. Once the idea, strategy, and procedures are in place, I let my team run with the execution and all I do is give it the ocassional glance to see if it looks like direction is right and the results beneficial. I am already on to my next innovation.

Thanks to Ken Lewis, ClientExpander.com

What do People Want in Retirement?

 

 

               A new study by Merrill Lynch involving 6,300 people age 45 and over was recently released, providing interesting insights into what pre-retirees and retirees think about retirement.  Ten of the major findings:

 

  • ·        What’s the most important thing to pass on to future generations?  Answer: 74% said values and life lessons; 32% said money and real estate.
  • ·        Are you worried about outliving your assets?  47% said yes.
  • ·        What do pre-retirees think they will miss most about work when they retire?  The most popular answer was “reliable income.”
  • ·        What do retirees miss most about work when they retire?  The most popular answer was “social connections.”   
  • ·        More than half of pre-retirees planning to work in retirement said they would like to pursue an entirely different career.
  • ·        Top concerns about living a long life:  experiencing health problems, becoming a burden to others, and outliving their money.
  • ·        71% of people plan to work after leaving their primary career; 29% say they never want to work for pay again.
  • ·        58% of women and 56% of men retired earlier than they thought.  Biggest reason:  personal health issues, followed by believing they have enough money to fund their retirement.
  • ·        Besides receiving financial advice, 45% said they would like help deciding where to retire.
  • ·        Among those with children, 52% expect to provide some kind of support to their children, and 35% to their grandchildren.

 

 

So, how do your answers compare?  This kind of date can provide interesting discussion and food for thought. 

Jan Cullinane is the author of AARP’s The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement (John Wiley & Sons)

 

 

 

 

Senior Outlook Today: Five Fabulous Functional Foods by Jan Cullinane 

We know we have to eat to live – food provides the building blocks to grow and repair our bodies, and we need food to produce energy to run vital processes. Beyond those basic needs, though, is the concept of “functional foods” – foods that might “provide benefits beyond basic nutrition” according to research and the International Food Information Council. What are some examples of these “functional foods” and what can they do for us?

  • Blueberries – the color of blueberries are from pigments called anthocyanins; these may help reduce the incidence of cancer and stroke, and improve memory and learning.
  • Walnuts – the Omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts have been found to reduce “bad” (LDL) cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and reduce inflammation. About 14 walnut halves is a good serving size (at close to 200 calories per serving, it is an energy-dense food).
  • Broccoli – we might remember how George Bush declared he didn’t like broccoli, but perhaps he didn’t realize that the sulforophane in this veggie has anti-cancer properties that have been linked to the reduction of lung and stomach cancers.
  • Legumes – this group includes kidney beans, lentils, green beans, soybeans, peanuts, and edamame (my favorite). Research indicates legumes have resistant starch which lowers blood sugar levels.
  • Avocado – like guacamole? You’re in luck. The healthy monosaturated fats in this fruit (yup, it’s a fruit) help raise “good” HDL, and the avocado’s high level of potassium helps keep blood pressure in check.

So, there you have it – five fabulous functional foods that not only provide nutrition, but can actually improve our health.

Jan Cullinane is a best-selling author, speaker, and consultant. Her current book is AARP’s The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement (John Wiley & Sons). She is co-author ofThe New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale) and Retire Happy! (Hallmark). Visit Jan at www.jancullinane.com

From today's Daytona Beach News-Journal: Single and over 45? Get all the facts on the issues

Find solutions within these pages

 

What's 25 million strong and growing? It's the number of single (never-married, divorced, widowed) women over the age of 45 in the United States. And, even if you're happily married now, there's an 80-90 percent chance you'll be making all decisions, financial and otherwise, at some point. 

Single women are the second-largest category of homebuyers; women surpass men in college graduation rates and are slowly catching up to men in salaries. But, single women are also the most likely to end up in poverty, have concerns about outliving their money and worry about taking care of themselves — and their aging parents — as they age. 

This 307-page book addresses relocation, health, working, boomer-age children, caregiving, money, divorce, death of a spouse, relocation and what to do with 168 hours a week. It includes the latest research about mature single women, references, fascinating tidbits and lots of anecdotes, examples and suggestions all wrapped up in a friendly, easy-to-read format. Real single women share their challenges, solutions, exhilaration, fears and ideas as they approach or begin this journey we call retirement. 

AARP's “The Single Woman's Guide to Retirement” by Jan Cullinane is designed to be a guide for single women about all aspects of this transition and to provide a blueprint for a satisfying and successful retirement. 

About the author: Jan Cullinane is a best-selling retirement author. In addition to AARP's “The Single Woman's Guide to Retirement,” she is the co-author of “The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life” (Rodale), which reached the overall No. 2 ranking on both Amazon and B&N.com, and “Retire Happy!” (Hallmark) . She has been featured on TV, on the radio and in many newspaper and magazines. Cullinane is a speaker and consultant on retirement-lifestyle issues whose clients include Ford Motor Co., Deloitte & Touche LLP, Wells Fargo Advisors, the federal government and the Smithsonian Institution. She lives in Palm Coast.

 

 


 

“The Single Woman's Guide to Retirement,” by Jan Cullinane, John Wiley & Sons, 307 pages, $31.99 large-print hardcover, $18.95 paperback, $9.53 e-book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons from Parker

 

 

 

I recently had the privilege of watching my 11-month old adorable grandson for eight days while my daughter and son-in-law went on a vacation.  What did I learn?

 

  • Wake up smiling each day.  Parker views each morning as a great adventure waiting to happen, and he relishes every day.  So should we.
  • Take pleasure in the little things.  Who knew balloons or a box could be so intriguing?  Approach even the mundane with fresh eyes.
  • Live in the moment.  When Parker is devouring his cantaloupe and Cheerios, he is fully involved  and engaged. Enjoy the present.
  • Balance is important.  Parker can take about a dozen steps at a time, but needs to be “centered” before he takes off.  Good advice for us all.
  • Love generously.  Parker hasn’t met a person he doesn’t like.  He accepts everyone, regardless of race, religion, politics, or sexual orientation. Try it.
  • Get plenty of sleep.  Eleven hours a night, plus two naps during the day keeps Parker in a good mood and full of energy. Slumber like a baby.
  • Try new things.  Each day brings new opportunities: trying a new food, looking at a new book, investigating new surroundings. Makes the mind grow.
  • Be resilient.  When Parker falls down, he might cry a bit, but he gets back up, crawls to a piece of furniture (or grammy’s leg), and pulls himself up again. He views failure as a temporary set-back.  Nice outlook.
  • Laugh often.  Nothing like a huge belly laugh from a baby watching a tennis ball thrown in the air.  Find the humor in everyday things.

 

 

 

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