4 Important Things that Start-Up Entrepreneurs need to always remember

I haven’t been posting consistently on this blog lately (I have decided to break the silence – and follow my own advice ^_^)

I was inspired to blog due to an interview I was invited to during the week of the GE Summit for a radio program called The Conversation for The BBC World Service. I was proud to be part of such an inspiring program and I met a lovely lady who was also guesting on the program; she is a co-founder of Closet 49, Serah Kanyua.

Our lovely hostess; Presenter Kim Chakanetsa, asked us several questions. One that really stood out for me and I thought was very important (enough to warrant a blog post ^_^) was: ” What do you think are the top tips for aspiring business women and men out there?” I will share my four top important tips for those who want to be or are starting out businesses.

1. Planning

Make sure before you start your business to plan ahead; make a business plan, including your start-up budget. Make an action list of what you need to do in order to get started properly. It’s also important to plan all other aspects of your life; if you’re an employee quitting a job to start a business, your personal life will change as well. Depending on what you were doing before starting your business, you need to adjust your life accordingly in order to focus completely on your business venture.

It's very important!

It’s very important!

2. Research

While you’re in the planning process for your business start-up, you also need to do a lot of research. It is imperative for your business’ success to conduct research on your business industry, your target customers, business location, whether your product or service is viable in the market and many other important aspects of your start-up. The reason it’s very important to conduct research is to reduce your business’ chance of failure. When you research thoroughly and plan properly; you have knowledge and insight that will increase your chance of success.

3. Mentorship

At any phase of starting up your business; whether it is during planning and research, after starting your business or during your entrepreneural journey – I think it’s important to have a mentor (or if you’re lucky, mentors). Mentors can be different types of people who help you gain insight into entrepreneurship. They can be individuals in your industry who guide you in the right direction while doing business; they can even be your customers or family members who also own businesses or among other individuals who offer insight and positive guidance to help improve your life. Mentors can help you “fail fast” as an entrepreneur – or at least help you avoid some business failures that slow down your business’ success. I can personally attest to the importance of having a mentor in your life as a start-up entrepreneur.

Get your own Yoda ^_^To guide you on the right path

Get your own Yoda ^_^To guide you on the right path

4. Self-Motivation

I said it on the interview and I will say it again – sometimes you don’t have someone to give you a pep talk; or to support you and inspire you daily. You have to wake up everyday and motivate yourself; you need to get up and tell yourself that you’re going to make it. You should be able to find various ways of getting inspiration to keep going; especially on those tough and challenging days. Whether it’s your favorite inspirational music, quotes that motivate you to do better or just an amazing pep talk to get you revved up for the day. Find your motivation daily, from within – then go out there and succeed!

Motivate yourself to succeed

Motivate yourself to succeed (Image Credit: BusinessDailyAfrica)

I hope those four business tips have helped you, especially if you’re planning on starting your own business soon. Make sure you are prepared before starting your venture (or as prepared as you can be).

Do you have any other important business tips to any aspiring start-up entrepreneurs you would love to share? Please do so below on the comment box – feedback is always appreciated ^_^

Don’t forget to share this awesome post with your friends – I bet they’ll thank you for it ^_^

6 Steps To Holding A Productive Meeting

As a manager in your start-up business; you will find that as your team grows, you will need to have weekly or monthly meetings. It’s also important to have meetings with either your co-founders or investors that are involved in your business.

Productive meetings are the best

Productive meetings are the best

I have found that some meetings can be very long-winded and at the end, attendees find that they have not really achieved anything. This is highly unproductive and quite a waste of time (I’ve been in my share of useless meetings ^_^). As I’ve been attending and holding some meetings myself; I’ve gradually discovered some tips that work, as well as the ones that don’t. I want to share six tips that I’ve found assist towards having a productive meeting.
1. State your agendas and set a time limit for the meeting

Set your agenda for the meeting

Set your agenda for the meeting

If you’re holding a meeting; make sure you set agendas for the meeting. State specific agendas that will be discussed in the meeting; however, keep it to a minimum of 7 to 10. Too many agendas can make the meeting very long. It’s also important to set a time limit for your meeting, my goal for all meetings is to keep them between thirty to forty five minutes long. If it’s a meeting that involves many departments and many agendas; try and keep it to a minimum of two hours. The longer a meeting is; the harder it is to maintain focus – for both the attendees and yourself as well.

2. Set objectives for the meeting

Each meeting should have goals or objectives to be achieved. Try and keep them as simple as possible; and as few as possible. I would advise a maximum of three objectives. The reason that you should set objectives is so that you are able to see if you have had a meaningful meeting or whether you just wasted the attendees’ time. It also gives your meeting focus, or a direction that you will not stray from.
3. Make sure only the required members attend the meeting

Pizza for meeting attendees only - no crashing ^_^!

Pizza for meeting attendees only – no crashing ^_^!

This is a very important aspect of holding a productive meeting; as well as a very popular one. It’s been written that the late Steve Jobs had a ‘pizza rule’ for all Apple meetings. Each meeting had only enough people to be fed by two pizzas. This ensured that there were no unnecessary attendees in the meeting who didn’t need to be there. Make sure only the required people attend your meeting for utmost productivity.
4. Give all the attendees the agendas, objectives and time limit ahead
Make sure you share the agendas and the set time limit to all the attendees at least one day ahead. This allows them to be prepared for the meeting and be aware of the time they have to discuss the agendas. It also allows the attendees to be accountable for the time spent in the meeting.
5. Make sure you keep time and stick to the set agendas during the meeting
When you’re running the meeting; make sure that you keep the time that was set on the agendas and on discussion topics. During meetings; it’s very often that attendees stray from the set agendas and the discussions go out of hand. If that happens during your meeting; set the new discussion as another agenda for another day and steer the discussion back to the right agenda. If there is an attendee who takes too long on his/her agenda or discussion topic; let them know they have a limited time and urge them to wind up.
6. Check to see if you have achieved your objectives & get feedback from the attendees

Get feedback on objectives achieved

Get feedback on objectives achieved

As you wind up your meeting; check your objectives to see if you have achieved your goals. Ask feedback from the attendees and see if they feel that the objectives have been achieved. This will assist you in realizing whether your meeting was productive and if improvements need to be made the next time. This is an important part of the meeting process; make sure you don’t ignore this step.
Those are just a few ways to ensure you hold productive meetings; no matter how small or large a meeting is, these steps will be effective.
Do you have any other tips that help you have more productive meetings? Feel free to comment below and share.
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3 Easy Ways to avoid distraction from your business goals

I went to a lovely wedding today for a sister of one of my best friends. It was a joyful and infectious affair (and I got helpful tips on wedding cake ideas of course). I was then invited to go to the after party and I was sooooo tempted to agree. However, I said no and excused myself ( I had to go back to my Bakery – new staff I’m training). I was rather proud of myself but it was very hard since it’s rare to have my best friend ask me to go out with her and she looked awesomely made up (yes, just made that word up). I also really love to socialize and party (and of course go dancing ^_^). However as a start-up entrepreneur, one has to learn self control and discipline. I thought to myself that I should share how I have been working towards ( and actually have been succeeding) staying focused by staying away from distractions that will derail me from my success.

1. Remember your business to-do list.

When someone asks me these days to join them for some fun (e.g. after-parties, party sleep overs etc), I make sure I remember my mental (and mostly written) to-do list; such as Frost 3 birthday cakes for next morning pick-up, call potential investor for fund-raising to add more bakery equipment etc. This brings reality back into focus and you’re able to prioritize very fast (exactly what I did today ^_^).

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Prioritize (thepinstripedsuit.com)

2. Avoid the party crowd – they’re very convincing

As an entrepreneur, I’m constantly looking to meet and network with other entrepreneurs, you get to learn a lot from them and hear about their challenges and how they deal with them. I make it a point to interact and surround myself more with entrepreneurs, especially start-up ones. Another reason I do this is that when I spend time with career people, they don’t have the same challenges ( and small, almost non-existent budget) that I do. The are more likely to extend a coffee meet-up to a night out or even a brunch into a shopping spree.

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Coffee dates are ok (Courtesy:www.rookie-manager.com)

That is very bad for my personal and business budget as well and I avoid it completely. If you can, spend less time with your employed friends (be nice about it ^_^) and more with entrepreneurs that are less likely to splurge.

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Shopping Sprees… soon(courtesy: 123freevectors.com)

3. Have very few (2 or 3) main goals to achieve

The less goals you have to remember or achieve, the better. I sometimes have 2 business goals for the month only (e.g. Hire & train new production staff, focus on online marketing for the business, purchase a bread proofer for the Bakery etc).

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Set few goals (courtesy: peerlessgolf.ca)

This will make your focus much more easier as well as stronger until you achieve those set goals. Two goals are also easier to remember than a long list of ten goals per month.

I hope those few, but very important, tips are helpful to you as they are to me.

Cheers and have a great time dancing to music in your bedroom (cuz you can’t even afford to go to a club right now ^_^)